Popular Culture degree proves, um, popular
Is popular culture the frivolous fluff floating on the surface of human existence, or the very glue that binds societies together? Well, it’s both, really. You can watch The Simpsons just for laughs or analyse it as a serious social barometer. However you choose to consume it, though, the show sprang up spontaneously without intervention from the Establishment and is not highbrow, so it’s part of popular culture.
Which makes it mildy uncomfortable to think about taking a DEGREE in popular culture. It is true to the nature of the phenomenon to study it from within a formalised academic structure? Surely just keeping your eyes and ears open every day gives you an all-you-can-eat feast of zeitgeist? And the longer you are alive, the more of the bigger picture you see and the more aware you become of the way trends, memes, fashions, music, art and attitudes develop over time?
You could argue that if you’re going to do a university degree and aren’t into the hard sciences, then you might as well do something that’s fun. And a thorough grounding in popular culture can be of great benefit in careers like journalism, PR, advertising, teaching, library and museum work. So let’s run with it and take a look at a BA in Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University Near Toledo, Ohio which is proving to be, well, popular.
The fact that BGSU has a Department of Popular Culture that was the first such department in the United States and offers both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Popular Culture is evidence of the strength of the program. Add to it that its founder, Distinguished Emeritis Professor Ray Browne, was founding editor of the Journal of Popular Culture, the Journal of American Culture and the Popular Press, and you have the promise of a pretty compelling offer.
BGSU’s course guide says, “Popular culture studies everyday life, including but not limited to everything that is mass produced by us and for us. Its subject matter is the world in which we live, relax and have fun. By examining television programs, movies, cars, houses, music, museums, celebratory events, holidays, magazines and many other manifestations of culture insights can be used to examine society presently and historically.”
So if you want a deep knowledge of the stuff society is fed on and is happy to consume, and what it all says about us – and also want a structured academic education in it – then BGSU is definitely the place to go.