U of C hosts Jersey Shore discussion

October 28, 2011 (CHICAGO)

A series of lectures and panel discussions underscored the cultural significance of the loud, obnoxious, oversexed and over-served characters of the popular cable television series.

But where many see purely shallow entertainment, 21-year-old David Showalter sees value in Snooki, the Situation and the rest of cast.

Showalter organized the academic study event with the help of $4,500 from a UofC fund that promotes out-of-the-box thinking

"Jersey Shore has become such a popular and important show in American culture that it's really deserving of more attention than it's received so far," he said.

Professor Alison Hearn of the University of Western Ontario was among the guest lecturers. She considers Jersey Shore an interesting sociological study.

"Looking at the use of language, looking at the representations of sexuality, of ethnicity," she said. "Looking at sort of the political debates. Looking at it like a sociological experiment."

When another guest lecturer, Professor Brian Collins of the North Carolina State University, was asked how he thinks he would fare on the show, he replied. "Not very well at all. I think I'm way to pale."

Despite the critical examination, many who attended see the show as just a guilty pleasure. But Showalter hopes people become more thoughtful and critical consumers of popular culture.

"We're surrounded by these sorts of shows all the time," he said. "We should really pay attention to what they mean."

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