Psi in TV, Movies, and Literature - Syllabus

Course Description

Is the truth really out there?

Movies and TV shows like the Exorcist, Ghost, Stranger Things, The OA, and the X-Files all represent psychic phenomena and the paranormal with great insight and often engaging stories. Of course, many of the events in these shows are completely fictional, but some of the stories actually reflect real events or results that have been observed by parapsychologists! On the other hand, paranormal reality shows claim to present events and phenomena truthfully, but actually reflect a “reality” created by uninformed television producers.

This fun, 4-week course will explore movies, TV (fictional and reality), and literature and separate the truth from fiction. It will explore how popular culture is influenced by psi experiences, beliefs, and misconceptions about the phenomena. More importantly, it will explore how media representations of psi influence the public's beliefs in and about psi, even to the point of affecting how people experience psi events when they happen.

Course Outline

Week 1

Introduction and Overview

Introductory lecture covering the various pop culture and media sources we’ll be considering, as well as some of the themes (with examples) to be covered. Included will be:

  • Discussion of the course, the flow of individual classes/topics, and assignments
  • Definition of Concepts and Terms
  • Scope and a little history of Pop Culture Sources and the Media (literature of all sorts, radio, film, TV and the Web) in relation to our topics
  • Themes in pop culture to be covered related to Consciousness and expressions of Consciousness (such as psychic abilities and experiences, death and dying, mind-body healing, etc.)

Specific Themes of the week:

  1. The Brain Holds Consciousness
  2. States of Consciousness
  3. Keeping the Mind (Brain) Alive (usually in a jar)
  4. Mind Transfer
  5. Artificial Consciousness (Artificial Intelligence)

Week 2

A Review of Pop Culture and Portrayals of Consciousness

  • Considering Fiction: general and the roots of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
  • Supernatural Folklore
  • Ghost Stories
  • Science Fiction Rises!
  • The Pulps
  • The Golden Age of Superhero Comics
  • Radio is Out, TV is In!
  • Changes in Television and Film in the latter 20th century
  • The Rise of the World Wide Web

Specific Themes of the Week:

  1. Consciousness is Different than Brain
  2. Non-Human Consciousness (Embodied)
  3. Non-Human Consciousness (No Body, Energy Body)
  4. The Undead: Body without Consciousness of Soul
  5. Resurrection

Week 3

Consciousness Survives Death of the Brain/Body

Presentations of the following phenomena in Film, TV, Literature, and Comics:

  • Out of Body Experiences and Astral Projection
  • Near Death Experiences
  • Survival of Bodily Death/Life After Death
  • Reincarnation
  • Ghosts
  • The Afterlife
  • Mediums and Seances

Week 4

Psi and the Media Today: Where are we?

  • Expanded/Boosted Mind/Consciousness
  • Mind Over Matter, Poltergeists and Telekinetic People
  • Psychic Abilities and Psychics: ESP
  • Catching Up with Pop Culture & Consciousness in the 21st Century
    • The Rise of Reality TV and it’s creation of the “Paranormal Community”
    • Movie and TV Portrayals Today (scripted)
    • The Podcast/Internet Radio Revolution
    • Fiction and Comics Today
    • Consciousness, Pop Culture and the Internet (as a Pop Culture Repository)

Summing Up: The Impact of Popular Culture on the Study and Understanding of Consciousness (Pop Culture Influence…Good or Bad?)

Course Materials

  • Main reference or materials for the course
  • Various articles, videos, and links selected by the instructor and provided for download throughout the course.

Course Activities

  • Students will be expected to view the class broadcasts or the recordings of the classes each week.
  • Though this course is not graded, to get the most out of this course, students should participate in weekly discussion forums and activities. In the forums, each student will be expected to provide an original posting each week and to respond to at least one other student. This is the fun and interactive part of the course!
  • Optional assignments or projects should be included here.