Grassy knolls, aliens part of new English class

Travis Perry

This fall, Washburn students will be encouraged to question authority, examine what they’ve been told is true and analyze the very nature of the “magic” bullet theory.

Created by English professor Paul Fecteau, Conspiracy Theories in Postmodern Literature will give students the opportunity to analyze popular conspiracy theories behind the JFK assassination, alien landings in Roswell, N.M., and the terrorist attacks of September 11.

“I was told I could come up with whatever topic I wanted,” said Fecteau. “[Conspiracy theories] are sort of a major interest in my work.”

Designated as a special topics course for the fall semester, the goal of the class will be to objectively analyze conspiracy theories and how they have shaped and been shaped by American culture.

“We treat the theories clinically,” said Fecteau. “It doesn’t mean that somebody couldn’t believe the conspiracy is accurate, but our aspect is their popularity. Whether it’s true or not is beside the point.”

The class will begin using the JFK assassination as a launch pad for the semester, as Fecteau pointed out that was the point where the American conspiracy truly became what it is today.

Conspiracy theories prior to 1960 focused primarily on smaller, outcast groups and the danger they caused to the larger community, such as the Jewish and Communist conspiracies.

“The Kennedy assassination seems to be ground zero for this kind of thought,” said Fecteau.

Since the ’60s, theories have centered on the relatively-small group of people in power in the United States government. Major theories to be covered also include the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as well as the idea that the CIA is responsible for introducing crack cocaine to the African American community.

Of the 25 spots available for the class, only a few have been filled. Fecteau encouraged anyone interested to enroll, so the class doesn’t get canceled.

“I think it’s suspicious that there are only four people enrolled,” Fecteau joked. “I think there might be a concerted move on the part of the university to quash this class and keep it from happening.”