Professor introduces new class during summer session

New summer class “Neoclassical mermaid fan fiction” will fulfill non-Western history requirement

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling


During the months of March and April, students have reported unprecedented amounts of emails flooding their inboxes pushing obscure courses available for the summer session.

The response rate to these emails have shown most of these classes spark little to no interest in the students they are offered to, so the courses are rarely conducted.However, a recent addition has sparked a different trend.

The latest class email was sent by liberal studies professor David Jones on March 13. “Neoclassical mermaid fan fiction” has a waiting list, and the professor is considering adding another section due to high interest from students.

The class, which is receiving critical appraisal from the entire campus community, will be taught for the first time ever this summer 2017 by Professor Beluga Clearwater in the Chippewa River, with the meeting place being the footbridge.

“They offered me the pool, but I could not resist the fresh water’s calling,” Clearwater said.

Clearwater has been teaching at the university for 12 years, mostly giving lectures on history and literature in the College of Arts and Sciences. She completed her doctorate in Australia, living on a beach for one year and meeting several underwater and land creatures. She said the class will allow her to recall her past and share her numerous aquatic discoveries with students.

The class will analyze a selection of mermaid texts, embark on a magical three-day underwater adventure, and write their own fan fiction stories, among other tasks throughout the three-week period. The class will also fulfill the non-Western history requirement, a university-mandated category.

The class runs from July 17-August 4. Several students have remarked on this new class, including Helga Bubble, junior English student who has a minor in religious studies.

“I’m super excited for this new course,” Bubble said. “I think it will be profound and give students a new chance to get close to the river we have crossed, but haven’t dived into.”

As part of the requirements for the course, students must know how to swim and dive. The three-day excursion is a true test of application, Beluga said, as the students use mermaid techniques to survive underwater.

While the course was under university review, administration said the course seems to have real potential in the everyday lives of UW-Eau Claire students.

“Neoclassical mermaid fan-fiction will prepare students in the real world, teaching them how to survive underwater, which is a skill not many people have in the changing climate,” Chancellor James C. Schmidt said. “The earth is changing, and our students need to be equipped, not only mentally, but physically as well.”

In case of inclement weather, the class will continue to take place, but will use Little Niagara, the stream by Phillips Science Hall and Davies Center.

The university highly cautions professors who depend on the environment to run their class, as the weather in northern Wisconsin can fluctuate as much a kite on a windy or still day.

However, they decided to abandon the guideline for this class, because it is the first class dedicated solely to mermaids and their fan fiction to exist in the history of Midwestern universities.

Classes similar to this already exist in Rhode Island, Washington and California, where oceans are easily accessible. There, these courses have been enjoyable, as reported by students’ course evaluations and local newspapers.

One newspaper, entitled “Nautical Endeavors,” urged students to take the class to learn about the various subcultures in the California bay area.

“This class is the most fun, educational and relevant class for all students in the bay area,” Riley Wet wrote. “Students will now be prepared to not only analyze texts, but communicate with creatures in the underwater population.”

To register for the class, Clearwater can be found in Schneider 757 or by phone at (715) 867-5309. There is a class limit of 20 students. Each student will be required to take a swim test in order to be admitted to the class.