American University is set to offer a course on the trilogy of erotic novels in the Fifty Shades series. Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in the series, has been widely described as “mommy porn.” It’s the story of a literature student who, upon meeting an entrepreneur, finds herself “shocked” yet “thrilled” by his “singular erotic tastes” and, in her relationship with him, “explores her own dark desires.”
To some, such a novel might seem appropriate for the supermarket checkout line. But American University anthropology professor Stef Woods, who will teach the course in the spring semester, tells USA Today that she instantly thought the material would make for stimulating discussion in the classroom. “When it comes to a trilogy that inspired so many conversations and such discussion, whether related to PR, marketing, sexuality or health, the Fifty Shades trilogy has broken a lot of records and a lot of rules,” Woods says. “When I thought of discussion with that, it seemed perfect for an academic setting.” Woods also notes that taking the class teaches students to “turn anything into a learning experience of an academic caliber” and encourages them to “approach things without judgment.”
Among the course’s assignments will be rewriting the first 150 pages of Fifty Shades of Grey.