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Creativity 101: From Monsters and Freaks to Hollywood Field Trips, Oklahoma City University Offers Diverse Courses

OKLAHOMA CITY – When enrollment opened for English 2273 at Oklahoma City University this year, students scrambled for a spot in one of the newest arts and sciences offerings – Western Literature II: Monsters and Freaks.


“This was the first semester we offered it and it filled up in two days,” noted Abigail Keegan, PhD, Oklahoma City University English professor.


By popular demand, the course will be offered again this spring. Students will examine monstrosity and freakishness for what they communicate about various times and places as well as what they say about social and psychological fears in people.


“Monsters are pure culture,” Keegan said.


Literature examined in the course will include Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and HG Wells’ “Invisible Man.” Two film works will also be studied including "Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Elephant Man.”


In another classroom next semester, students in Moving Image Arts Professor Bryan Cardinale-Powell’s State of the Art – Hollywood class will research Hollywood hotspots including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Warner Brothers Studio in preparation for a Spring Break class trip to the movie capital of the world.


On-site visits will include Panavision, DreamWorks Animation, Mole-Richardson, Warner Brothers, Kodak, the American Film Institute and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum.


“We program activities where students get to have face to face time with Hollywood professionals to ask questions and manipulate equipment,” Cardinale-Powell said.


He said he balances production-oriented activities with opportunities for students focused on film studies topics including history, preservation and cultural studies.


Theater students in Professor Judith Palladino’s Children’s Theatre Lab course will combine their interest in theater for young audiences with a laboratory serving learning experience. Students read a play and spend at least 15 hours researching, writing and designing performance materials. The play is co-produced by TheatreOCU and its professional theater partner, Oklahoma Children’s Theatre. Through the lab experience, students produce a study guide used by young audience members and their families both before and after they see the production.


Palladino explained students research study guide best practices shared by The Kennedy Center and Piaget’s theory of cognitive development as well as other practices to guide the pre and post-show materials they produce.


“The distinctive element of this, and all well-designed service learning, is that it will enhance the community through the service provided, but it will also have a powerful learning consequence for students who are providing the service,” Palladino said.


Oklahoma City University’s Addiction Prevention Program also is providing one-of-a-kind courses. This spring’s Faith and Addiction class is one.


“Often, when facing issues of substance abuse, some people’s natural instinct is to turn to their faith for comfort during the many storms of addiction,” said OCU Addiction Prevention Studies Director Peter Messiah. “What happens, however, when one turns to their place of worship only to be turned away?”


Messiah said the course is designed to raise awareness of factors that influence addiction in ecumenical communities and teach students how to develop and implement programming to reduce risk factors for congregants.


To browse other course offerings at Oklahoma City University, visit