COLUMBUS, Miss. – What do the words TARDIS, celery and sonic screwdriver all have in common? Just ask any Whovian and they can tell you.


"Doctor Who," a show that has spanned a little more than 50 years and gained millions of fans (also known as Whovians) and international viewers, is the topic of discussion in one of the various intersession classes being offered on the campus of Mississippi University for Women this summer.

The intensive, two-week courses are learning opportunities that provide faculty with the chance to offer innovative courses and students with the ability to earn up to four hours of credit during a compressed period of time.

"Selecting 'Doctor Who' for an intersession class was not an easy decision to make and narrowing down the episodes of such an awesome show for class was even harder, but I was able to come up with a syllabus that would capture the new viewers and explain the show’s history," said Dr. Barry Smith, associate professor of communication at The W.

During class, about a dozen students have examined the show itself and have also taken note of the offshoots and influences "Doctor Who" has exerted during its five decades. The class is teaching students something about popular culture, as well as historical and mythological elements that influenced the series.

"Doctor Who" was introduced in 1963 and since then has become the world’s longest-running science fiction series on television. Production began at the British Broadcasting Corporation’s antiquated Lime Grove Studios.

The plot starts with an alien life form that takes on human identity, the Doctor, who travels through time and space in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) with various companions.

Along the way the Doctor encounters villains and is sometimes forced to regenerate and take on different human-male characters. There are approximately a dozen different actors who get an opportunity to play the lead role, including the Fifth Doctor, who dons a celery stalk on the left lapel of his frock coat. Of the many personal and versatile items used by the Doctor, the sonic screwdriver is one of the longer lasting devices viewed on the show. "Tom Baker is by far my favorite doctor, but I’m going to let the students decide on their favorite, and hope that they agree with me," he said.

January intersession at The W will run from Jan. 2-13.

Aug. 12, 2014
Contact: Sayonara Jones
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