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How To Take A College Class On Red Dead Redemption

The Red Dead Redemption series, which inspired games like Ghost of Tsushima, is rife with themes about American expansionism, unbridled colonialism, and, above all, redemption. The series is so brimming with points of analysis that a history professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is developing a college course designed to study history through its lens.


In a series of tweets, University of Tennessee professor Tore Olsson outlined the content of his upcoming course, titled "HIUS 383: Red Dead America." Commenting on the how the games "skillfully broach a number of crucial historical issues in the 1899-1911 period," some of the topics Olsson plans on covering include the "frontier mythology and its long afterlife," the "expansion of monopoly capitalism and how railroads extended corporate power," the "Mexican Revolution and its transnational impacts," "Women's suffrage and its opponents," and the "privatization of law enforcement via the Pinkerton detective agency."

The issues above can be seen throughout the bulk of the popular open-world franchise, now backward compatible on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. In the series' first entry, protagonist and player character John Marston ventures into Mexico during the Mexican Revolution while Red Dead Redemption 2's Arthur Morgan (who looks even better as Breaking Bad's Walter White) confronts the Pinkerton agency head-on as well as the obtrusive nature of Red Dead Redemption 2's fictitious oil beneficiary, Leviticus Cornwall. Throughout the events of Red Dead Redemption 2, the Van der Linde Gang pushes against the ambitious oil titan, who attempts invasive expansions into Native American lands.


In Red Dead Redemption 2, players can also come across and do their worst to a group of Ku Klux Klan members. Furthermore, Lenny Summers, an African-American member of the Van der Linde gang, faces multiple instances of racism from Red Dead Redemption 2 antagonist Micah Bell, who often makes racist threats to both Lenny and other members of the Van der Linde gang who belong to minority groups. 

According to Olsson, his "Red Dead America" course is scheduled to run in the 2021 Fall semester at UT Knoxville. "The course is currently capped at 35 [students]," Olsson wrote, but the professor is apparently willing to increase that number if enough people sign up. Judging by the replies to Olsson's first tweet, a lot of Twitter users would happily take a Red Dead Redemption course if given the chance. Olsson will soon find out if students at UT Knoxville are just as interested.