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My Favorite Carleton Courses

Ben features some of his favorite classes at Carleton as a rising senior.

Ben features some of his favorite classes at Carleton as a rising senior.

I have taken some fantastic courses at Carleton. In true liberal arts fashion, a lot of them were not related to my major/minor in the slightest. I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you and give an idea of the cool learning and classroom experiences unique to Carleton. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite Carleton courses I’ve taken thus far:

Spain Today: Recent Changes through Narrative and Film

As a Spanish minor, I have taken many classes in the department and this has to be one of the best. We learned about modern-day Spain by watching contemporary documentaries, video essays, and movies. I knew nothing about Spain coming in, and coming out I feel well versed in Spanish history post-Franco. But this class was more than just a history class—it taught me how to view current events and society in a more analytical way. I was able to gain this skillset because our professor invited the directors of the audiovisual works to our class. It was a crazy, cool experience watching a documentary and then being able to interview the director the very next day.

The directors often tried to investigate hidden truths. They would take an issue, such as Spain’s migrant crisis, and reject the popular, state-sponsored perspective in an attempt to understand the situation in its entirety. I feel that because of this, I do the same now with regards to our country’s current events and history.

pau faus
Pau Faus – a filmmaker from Barcelona who we spoke with regarding the Spanish Housing Crisis. Source:

The Origins of Manga: Japanese Prints

This was the first art history course I took at Carleton. The course centered on “ukiyo-e” (pictures of the floating world)—something I was vaguely familiar with before taking the class. Ukiyo-e was an integral part of popular culture in Japan and reflective of Japanese culture and society. One thing I appreciated was how the class challenged the Western, traditional views I had on gender as it was a recurring subject matter in ukiyo-e prints.

At the end of class, we got to visit the Perlman Teaching Museum in the Weitz and see Carleton’s very own collection of Japanese prints. Seeing the prints in person was a great way to end the course! Below are some of the prints we saw:

A famous warrior with a bat-themed umbrella. Ukiyo-e Batman perhaps?
kabuki actors
Two Kabuki acting groups competing against each other in a neck tug-of-war. President Ulysses S. Grant is sitting in the bottom right corner. Yes, this is an actual print from the late 1800s.

Machine Learning

This is a course I took while studying abroad in Denmark, but there is a Carleton equivalent. This course is probably one of the coolest applications of computer science. We learned how to build neural networks which can do lots of different things. One of my projects was building a ‘Where’s Waldo’ puzzle solver. With 99% accuracy, my neural network can correctly identify and locate Waldo in any given puzzle.

waldo map


I hope these examples provide a good idea of some of the fun classroom experiences and projects at Carleton. If there is a department you are interested in, check their website! They will have courses, faculty, research projects, comps, etc. all listed.

Ben is a rising Senior from Boulder, CO. He is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Spanish. Outside of academics, Ben is a long-distance runner for Carleton’s Cross Country and Track teams (his favorite event is the steeplechase) and he also plays the drums for The Megs, a student band that covers Australian punk rock music. Meet the other Bloggers!