What a week! Two very smart people appear in high profile news outlets. First, Chuck, whom I’ve been friends with for over a decade, is one of the bloggers mentioned in a Guardian article on academic blogging. Then Seth Silberman, with whom I went to grad school, is quoted in a CNN story. I have a feeling the academic conference on Michael Jackson is going to attract criticism from the usual reactionary quarters (haven’t looked yet). Seth is no stranger to controversy: when he taught a course on sexuality at the University of Maryland, there were those who were up in arms over the use of the film Showgirls in the classroom.
Thanks, George! I certainly enjoyed contributing to the blogging article. Interesting story about the Michael Jackson conference. I saw a Yahoo! link to the story a few days ago but forgot to click through, and like you, I worry that it will unnecessarily attract negative attention.
Oh, and I remember when someone took a lot of heat for teaching Showgirls, so that must have been Seth. I think people sometimes forget that we’re not necessarily teaching the “best” texts in our classes, especially when we teach popular culture, and Showgirls is actually an interesting film. Really.
Well, of course, the basic problem is convincing many people that popular culture is something worthy of academic study in the first place. Contemporary/recent popular culture anyway; it seems that it’s OK if it’s historical. Perhaps because then the sources are of necessity mainly written, so that’s magically different. The written text is still king; the high-art film-as-text (ditto music) is acceptable; but all those trashy things that the smelly plebs enjoy? Can’t have that, can we?
Mustn’t overlook this.