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Austin Peay State University honors students join quest for knowledge with Dungeons and Dragons class

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – A small band of Austin Peay State University (APSU) honors students have more than final exams to worry about this semester. On Tuesdays and Thursdays this fall, the freshmen also are battling giants, dragons, and a mind-flayer or two as part of the APSU Honors Program’s new Dungeons and Dragons writing and cultural history course, “Fighting Dragons.”

“I’m taking a class now that is a substitute for my English 1020, and it is on Dungeons and Dragons and the relationship between interdisciplinary thinking and it is so fun,” Jade Mays, a freshman honors student, said. “For some of my homework, I had to play a Dungeons and Dragons session, and I’m going to have to write a session review and analyze how it made me think, how it made me feel. It’s so cool.”

Darren Michael, professor of theatre and dance, developed the class, Honors 1045: Foundations of Interdisciplinary Thinking, as a way to offer a challenging writing course that provides students with both creative and analytical assignments. And with the 47-year-old game featured prominently in the hit Netflix show, “Stranger Things,” and a new Paramount Pictures film coming in 2023, the class is also examining the game’s lasting cultural impact.

“I remember playing my first roleplaying game in the early ’80s – Dungeons & Dragons,” Michael said. “At the same time, I was reading lots of fantasy novels – obviously Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy were at the top of that list. From that point, I was hooked on the fantasy genre.

Darren Michael
Darren Michael

“Now in the last two decades with a resurgence of geek culture – comic books, video games, etc. – role-playing games of all types are found everywhere. Their influence from tabletops to computer games to movies has permeated every part of our society.”

The class is only open to APSU honors students, but it provides many of them with an opportunity to think beyond their fields of study.

“I’m an engineering major, but I’m doing a D&D class,” Josh Rye, an honors freshman, said. “It’s a great class. You get to meet new people. It got me to step out of my comfort zone and talk about real problems that are going on.”

The Honors Program is also offering other Foundations of Interdisciplinary Thinking classes this semester, including the History of the Book and Science in the Movies.

For information on Austin Peay State University’s Honors Program, visit www.apsu.edu/honors.

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