Prof. Dale’s new book examines popular culture and dissent
Move over Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau and Rosa Parks, to make room for the Simpsons, and Mulder and Scully, and Rosie O’Donnell, too. And Starship Capt. Kathryn Janeway’s got something to say.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Assistant Prof. Tim Dale, Social Change and Development, is co-editor of the just-released Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture, published by The University Press of Kentucky.
With co-editor Joseph Foy of UW-Waukesha, Dale helps examine how dissenting voices have become a feature of popular American culture – from television sitcoms to talk shows to hip-hop music.
“One of the arguments is that these messages of dissent are already out there, but this is about how people are hearing them and how the message is sent about reforming society or politics,” said Dale. “Popular culture often brings marginal voices into the mainstream.”
Homer Simpson Marches on Washington features a forward by actor Kate Mulgrew, who played Capt. Janeway in the television series Star Trek Voyager, and helped challenge television conventions about women as scientists and military leaders. In time, Mulgrew found herself at the White House speaking to some leading female scientists and learning that First Lady Hilary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton were fans.
Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture is a scholarly work written for a general audience.
Among the essays:
• Matthew Henry, who teaches African-American literature at Richland College, examines how The Simpsons has offered a satirical and often insightful look at subjects as wide-ranging as religion to animal rights to the war on terror.
• Jamie Warner, who teaches political theory at Marshall University, has written an essay that examines how, through parody, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has become a leading example of truth telling.
• Sara Jordan and Philip Gray from the University of Hong Kong consider how the medical series House raises the subject of the anti-hero (Dr. House) often challenging the red-tape-loving regulatory state.
• Paul Kantor, from the University of Virginia, notes that The X-Files with its message of dark conspiracies became intertwined into the mythology of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
• The final chapter returns to the Star Trek theme originated by Mulgrew (Capt. Janeway), with Diana M.A. Relke from the University of Saskatchewan examining the gradual shift in women’s roles as new chapters of the popular space series were unveiled.
Homer Simpson Marches on Washington is available online and in bookstores. Dale will be discussing the relationship between popular culture and politics at several invited lectures and events in the spring, and he will teach the book in a freshman seminar class in the 2010 fall semester.