Crash course: The best classes to take at NU

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Michele Corriston, Print Managing Editor

Class registration can be a daunting time. Scratch that. Registration is, no matter how old you get, the most stressful, nail-biting, throw-your-Mac-through-the-library-window period of each quarter. As you’ll soon learn, Gretchen had it right: “We should totally just stab CAESAR!” Why can’t you toggle between class search and CTEC evaluations? How many times must you update your contact information? What dark sorcery determines your registration time?! But don’t worry, freshies — The Daily’s got you covered. Here are the classes you absolutely must throw into your shopping cart.

Introduction to Russian Literature 
Only offered in the fall, this course will change your life. OK, I wouldn’t go that far, but don’t underestimated the raves of upperclassmen. Prof. Morson is a genius. His lectures breathe new life into normally dull, thick, intricately complicated Russian novels “The Brothers Karamazov” and “Anna Karenina.” The reading load isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you keep up and pay attention in lecture, the two essay-based exams will be a breeze.

Gay and Lesbian History 
If you’re going to attend Northwestern, home of the fu**saw scandal, you better schedule at least one sexuality course. Nothing’s better than this history and gender studies cross-curricular, which combats the common logic that homosexuality didn’t exist before modern times. Prof. Fenrich is one of the funniest, sharpest, most engaging lecturers on campus. He’ll teach you that the Victorian Era wasn’t so buttoned up and analyze why AIDS became marketed as a “gay disease.” Forget vampire hunting — you’ll discover Abraham Lincoln’s secret had more to do with his male bedfellow.

Sociology of Law 
This small, seminar-style class is suited for all majors, so don’t worry about looking like Elle Woods at Harvard Law. Each week, you focus on a different type of legal issue, from frivolous tort suits to racial profiling to whether the violence in Darfur qualifies as genocide. You’ll learn the basics of reading legal materials and examine the social issues behind them. Other pros: it meets twice a week, and your grade is based on participation plus four incredibly short papers.

Religion in Human Experience 
Anyone can memorize the tenets of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Rather than focus on comparing and contrasting the big three religions, Prof. Molina takes you through the theories of different religious philosophers and offers case studies of Christians who see Jesus in a burrito or tribal societies who worship totems. In one magical class, she read aloud Dumbledore’s funeral scene (Oops! “Harry Potter” spoiler!) and asked students to analyze it.

Journalism of Empathy 
Hate to be exclusive, but this suggestion is only for the Medill students. Once you’re through with the 200-level intros and can choose an elective, pick this one. You’ll be taught by Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning writer and the maker of last year’s hit documentary “The Interrupters.” You’ll throw the inverted pyramid away and work on long-form narrative nonfiction. Think of the kind of work found in The New York Times Magazine or The Atlantic. The class meets once a week and only includes three assignments. But it will be the most challenging and rewarding journalism course you’ll ever take.

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