Your Yale Education 2011: A Class on NYC Clubbing and “Nightlife Culture”

Ah, the rich merits of the Ivy League education, the plush learning it affords.  Like this Yale University class in the American Studies department: “Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City.”

Behold the rich harvest of learning that will accrue to the student who signs up (from the Yale Daily News):

A junior seminar called “Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City,” has drawn attention from global hotspots like London, Toronto and New York. According to the syllabus, the class seeks to answer the age-old question: “Why do we go out at night?”

While we’re still certainly searching for answers, students in the American Studies seminar “Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City” are working til the world ends to find an answer. The seminar is taught by American Studies graduate student Madison Moore GRD ’12, whose dissertation “looks at iterations of glamour in fashion, nightlife, and music,” according to his website. Seminar sessions include topics ranging from “The Scene of Harlem Cabaret” to the “The Birth of the Mega Club.” There’s even a class on “Getting Past the Velvet Rope,” a class Cross Campus could probably use.

And here are the potential pedagogical tools of this “class”:

The class includes readings from Langston Hughes and Prof. George Chauncey, with some sessions jiving to in-class audio samples. Potential final paper topics include naked parties, a concert at Toad’s, a drag show at 168 York Street.

If only Allan Bloom were here to see how far we’ve come.  Also, Tom Wolfe?  You know the drubbing you took for I Am Charlotte Simmons?  Your fair alma mater has abundantly vindicated your searing portrait of the modern university.

If anyone out there sees this and wants, I don’t know, an actual education, and wants to prosecute said education in an environment that gives attention to hard-core theological and spiritual formation grounded in a conquering Messianic king, then I suggest you check out a school like Boyce College chock-full of professors who love the Lord, love holiness, and desperately want to see students transformed by the gospel of grace.  At Boyce, you can take classes with far less interesting titles–”Christian Theology 1″–that will nonetheless knock your socks off.  The rest of one’s clothing, however, will very remain on one’s person, and final exams are decidedly–and thankfully–traditional.

More seriously, as a college professor, I grieve to see classes like this taught at elite American schools.  The upper echelons of our culture seem so decadent, so beyond the western moral tradition.  We need to pray for Trinity Baptist Church of New Haven (a great church!), for the outreach of the Christian Union, and for many church planters and church revitalizers to mount up and take on the very hard but very rewarding work of ministry in very dark and secular places.

(Image: New England Magazine)


  • Charlie

    “Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City”

    I don’t know…throw in the words “missional,” and/or “contextual” and we could get that class into a Bible College ;)

  • BC


    I wonder whether your criticism is somewhat misplaced. Academic departments compete with each other for students and their tuition dollars (depending on how a college’s financial structure works). It’s hard to fault a department for trying to get students by offering (at least what appears to be) the most trendy courses. Often, though, that’s just a marketing ploy, and the syllabus is actually rather traditional. Of course, that may not be the case here.

    And, I do want to object to your comment about Wolfe’s alma mater being Yale. He did get his Ph.D. there, of course, and in American studies, no less. But his undergrad degree was from somewhere else. I think it’s a small school in Virginia.


  • owenstrachan


    Thanks for your thoughts. Hmmmm. Well, we can agree to disagree. It’s one thing to compete for students, it’s another thing to hold a course on nightlife. I have difficulty seeing how that offers students the basic intellectual building blocks they need to think well and deeply about the world. But perhaps you do think it meets that criteria. I would suggest, however, that the opportunity to have “naked parties” and attend a “drag show” is not appropriate for undergraduate education. Call me old-fashioned, if you will.

    In terms of “alma mater,” here’s Webster’s for you: “a school, college, or university which one has attended or from which one has graduated.” Traditionally, the term may have referred only to one’s undergraduate, but it seems to have acquired a broader usage. I hereby object, in only the friendliest of terms, to your objection.