Would You Take a Course on Hipsters?

GLOBE

What even is a hipster?

Is it that girl next door who wears thick-rimmed black glasses, Urban Outfitters beanies, and never shaves?

Or maybe it’s your bearded friend who only drinks Fair Trade coffee and randomly quotes Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” at parties.

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If you’re a student at Tufts University this fall, you can get one step closer to understanding what makes a hipster a hipster. Professor Jacqueline O’Dell will be teaching a one-credit class called “Demystifying the Hipster” at Tufts Experimental College, which offers courses in Arts and Sciences that are the result of collaborations between faculty and students. O’Dell told Boston.com that these courses often cover topical, trendy issues.

She came up with the idea for the course after conversations she had with people about the author David Foster Wallace, whose literature is often described as “hipster,” she said.

According to the course description, in addition to figuring out what a hipster is, students will “focus on film, fiction, fashion, and music (among other genres and media) produced in the last twenty years.”

“I think it’s important for students and anyone in general to think about why there’s anxiety about producing a definition for it,” O’Dell said. “Hipster reflects larger changes to media, art, and literature. And socially and politically as well.”

O’Dell said the students will watch the 2005 film “Me and You and Everyone We Know” by Miranda July and will also read “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers.

O’Dell said the rest of the course will be up to the students, who will be required to bring in and present any kind of music, literature, or work of art they consider hipster and explain why they feel that way.

“The fun part for me is that I don’t know exactly what the course will be,” O’Dell said.

Students can’t register for the course till the first day of class, so Tufts students still have a chance to register for the interesting elective. But there are only 20 seats, and O’Dell expects they will fill up fast.

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article referenced the fact that identifying a hipster is not an exact science, and in that sense is similar to identifying pornography. But then, a B-list Boston area hipster found himself bored on a Friday afternoon and wrote an entire post asking that everyone stop comparing hipsters to porn. Trolling, as it turns out, is also kind of like porn. You know it when you see it.)