by Alexa Schwerha
Westminster College, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, will offer a course titled “Dead White Women” during the spring 2023 semester which will analyze society’s “(unhealthy) obsession with the death of white women,” according to the course catalog.
The four-credit course is offered in both the film studies and gender studies departments, according to the catalog. The class will study why shows on the Investigation Discovery channel feature the deaths of white women more than the deaths of men.
“With programing that holds salacious titles such as Stalked, Last Seen Alive, Surviving Evil, Southern Fried Homicide, House of Horrors: Kidnapped, Beauty Queen Murders, Dates from Hell and Swamp Murders the Investigative Discovery (ID) channel is the go to place to marvel at the frequency of violent deaths white women suffer at the hands of deranged murderers,” the description reads. “It would be erroneous to assume that the ID channel only sets out to tell the story of white women, but, with very few exceptions, most of the programming evolves around the horrifying deaths or near deaths experienced by white women.”
It continues to acknowledge that while white women are also depicted in the shows as “murderers,” the shows rarely “include, unless it is at the hands of hysterical or evil white women … the deaths of men.”
“As the 11th most watched prime time cable TV channel for people 18-49 and the most watched ad-supported TV channel for women ages 25-54 of 2015, we must ask, why? What is so attractive about watching dead white women? What is it about white women’s deaths that peeks our voyeuristic instincts?” the description reads. “Do we as a culture find pleasure at the horrifying deaths of white women at the hands of abusive lovers and husbands? What is so titillating about these TV series?”
Students are required to have access to Netflix and the internet to view documentaries, shows and films to analyze the “obsession” with white women’s deaths “from an interdisciplinary approach that includes theorists from film studies, cultural anthropology, feminist studies and critical race studies.”
The course will be taught by Stephanie Stroud, an associate professor of theatre, and Eileen Chanza Torres, reportedprogram chair for the English and gender studies departments.
Westminster College fell under media scrutiny for offering a spring 2022 course during which students watched pornographic films to “discuss the sexualization of race, class, and gender and as an experimental, radical art form.” The course description called porn “as American as apple pie and more popular than Sunday night football.”
Westminster College, Stroud and the Investigation Discovery channel did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Chanza Torres could not be reached.
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Alexa Schwerha is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Westminster College” by Westminster College.