The Baker Orange

Rob Howard brings pop culture to the classroom

Story by Reece Loridon, BU Student Media

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The Quest program not only allows students to learn about subjects that interest them, it allows professors to teach what interests them as well.

“We [professors] get to design a class around the stuff that we love the most,” English Instructor Rob Howard said. “Students are going to get the most out of us if we are teaching stuff that we really are interested in.”

Howard has only been teaching full-time for two years, but he has been at Baker for almost 10 years. Before teaching full-time at Baker, Howard also taught at the University of Kansas.

Howard finds that if students are more enthusiastic about a subject, then the class is more enjoyable for the students and the professor. He believes that pop culture can help spark that enthusiasm.

Quest classes that Howard has created are titled “Vampire Literature”, “Monsters and Mad Men in Film”, “Comparative Mythology”, and “J.R.R. Tolkien and his Works.”

Vampire Literature studies the evolution of the vampire through the generations, from the 18th century to the modern-day “Twilight.” Howard said once in this class the students read the first book of the “Twilight” series, but Howard realized that it was not a good idea because they were merely making fun of it.

Monsters and Mad Men in Film studies how people who become insane lose a part of themselves. “Frankenstein”, “Silence of The Lambs” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are a few of the texts that Howard shows or reads in this class.

One of Howard’s favorite classes to teach is Comparative Mythology, which covers ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Greece and modern superheroes. Some of the texts include “Gilgamesh,” “The Aenied,” and the dark knight himself, Batman.

Freshman Evan Eckwall said Howard’s Comparative Mythology class “gives us a good understanding how different people see the world and where it came from.”

Howard was a classics major as an undergraduate at the University of Southern Illinois. Latin, Greek and classical mythology really interested him.

“Designing Comparative Mythology has been a lot of fun and usually gets really positive reactions from students,” Howard said.

The last class that Howard has created is one all about J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of “The Lord of the Rings.” This class, however, focuses on his other writings and his contributions to the modern concept of fantasy.

“Dr. Howard is a good professor. He brings up good conversation and lets the class interact with each other as well,” Eckwall said. “He always has relevant topics to talk about, and it always leads to a positive discussion.”

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