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I Want My MTV

Your idea of a perfect summer probably isn't spending eight weeks in a classroom with fluorescent lighting, studying calculus or writing essays. Who wants to take an organic chemistry textbook to the beach--or wake up to a grating alarm clock through the sultry months of July and August.

But wait, don't go home yet. Take the time to scan the 270 courses listed in the Summer School catalog, and you'll discover that many can't be classified as reading, 'riting or 'rithmetic.

So forget the Three R's. This summer, you can get credit for just about anything, including watching MTV and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

How about heading south to study tropical plants? Summer School students enrolled in Biology S-105, "Plants of the Tropics," will spend the next four weeks studying botany in the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, Fla.

Even in Boston, you may be blessed with a blazing hot day. You'll go to the beach; your tan will be progressing nicely. Suddenly, the man or woman of your dreams may approach and ask to borrow your suntan oil. Is it love, or is it Comp S-164, "Studies in the Theme of Love in Literature?"

This course covers "the mythos of love and its attendant social and sexual rituals as portrayed in some great works of literature during the past hundred years," according to the Summer School course catelogue. The reading list includes classics such as Nabokov's Lolita and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover--both the film and book versions.

The Video Generation

Move over PBS. MTV is taking over in at least one Harvard classroom. Students taking Royston Coppenger's course, "Popular Entertainment: From Melodrama to Rock and Roll," will spend classtime watching film and video screenings of popular works.

The course catelogue notes that, by focusing on television, movies and rock music, "Popular Entertainment" hopes to address "entertainment as the natural outgrowth of a specific historical and cultural moment."

In addition to calculators and typewriters, many Summer School scholars will have packed frisbees, baseballs or footballs in anticipation of sunny Cambridge afternoons. But a friendly game of catch could turn into homework for sports fans taking William Littlefield's creative writing course, appropriately called "Writing About Sports."

In the classroom, students will tackle competing, winning, losing and other "issues central to sports: race, medicine, economics, politics and cultural definition."

Still not happy with the world of Summer School? That's nothing new, according to a government course entitled "Utopias."

"Discontents with this world and longings for a better one are almost as old as the world itself," reads Dr. Delba Winthrop's course description.

The course will cover scientific, contemporary liberal and anti-utopianism perspectives--from the Biblical Garden of Eden to More's Utopia to the writings of Marx and Engels.

Last year, the three most popular summer school departments were Economics, Expository, Creative and Professional Writing, and the English as a Second Language program. Psychology courses ranked fourth in attracting students, with biology coming in fifth and government sixth.