I have always called Jersey Shore the most important sociological experiment of our time, and it seems one intrepid University of Chicago student agrees with me because he's not only stolen my tag line, but is trying to organize an academic conference around the reality show. This is a brilliant idea.
Reality TV junkie David Showalter has taken to the internet to try to get funding for his endeavor, a one-day conference that would include papers and presentations from a number of students, academics, and other experts. "The conference will be the first of its kind, and should be of interest to scholars in the fields of media and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, race, ethnicity, and gender studies, and the social sciences more generally." Yes, David! I have been saying this all along!
Here are some of the other topics for debate he came up with.
- What, exactly, is the Guido?
- Gender roles, gender performance, and normativity, or, "Why do the guys cook and the girls fight?"
- Reality TV as documentary/laboratory/fieldwork
- The construction, localization, and performance of ethnicity, or "I'm not white, I'm tan"
- Temporality, narrative, and the duplicated self of the reality TV star
- Celebrity and the illusion of "reality"
- GTL as a practice of the self and way of life
- Shore house politics: tribalism, ostracism, and violence
- Parody, self-referentiality, and intertextuality in the later seasons of Jersey Shore
- Fetish and metonymy, or, The Situation as man/abdominals
- Familial metaphors, relations, and imagery
- Textual/characterological analysis of Snooki's novel, A Shore Thing
I want to go to every single one of these lectures! Maybe if college was more like this when I was there, I wouldn't have fallen asleep in every single session of my "Freud, Shakespeare, and Dostoevsky" class. Also, if I don't get invited to be a speaker at this, I'm going to kick someone's ass.
Anyway, MTV needs to cut this kid a check and help him get his high culture/low culture conflagration off the ground. This is what they need to legitimize their culturally bastardized hit show. Once people know that it's being studied at a serious academic institution, they'll stop using Snooki for their punchlines and start giving her honorary degrees. Hear that, Rutgers!
Update: David Showalter says that the conference got its funding and it's going to be October 28. You can find it on Facebook and Twitter. Also, for you wannabe academics, you can submit papers yourself. I'm still waiting for my engraved invitation.
[Image via Getty]