By Shantae Taylor

A pop-art style rendition of the “Breaking Bad” promotional poster Image created by Laura Pol
A pop-art style rendition of the “Breaking Bad” promotional poster
Image created by Laura Pol

The KU Communication Studies Department is adding a new course for Spring 2015. Popular Culture, taught by Professor Lisa Weckerle, is a special topics class only offered this spring.

Students will touch on television, movies, YouTube, novels, radio, music, advertising and fashion. They will learn how to explain and critique popular culture from a variety of theoretical perspectives as well as looking at how race is portrayed on television. This course focuses on how popular culture challenges and reinforces stereotypes, creates communities and reflects social and political realities.

“I’ve always been interested in pop culture. I think it’s important to offer this class because we have these images and messages around us and we need to be able to think about them critically,” said Weckerle.

Only one section of this course is being offered. Within two days of registration this fall, it reached capacity. Fortunately, Weckerle is looking to open up five more seats in the class for those students who were interested but ultimately unable to join the class.

KU student Kirk Griffiths said he wanted to take this special topics class because it not only seemed like a fun course, but also because Professor Weckerle is an insightful instructor.

Weckerle’s critiques on the series “Breaking Bad” is what made her develop the class here at KU. She produced an article concerning gender roles in the well-known AMC crime drama, discussing themes of feminism and mythic criticism.

“The course flyer included images of ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ both of which I have always wanted to watch. The shows have become extremely popular among my peers and I would love to figure out why. I am hoping that this class will be able to help me do that,” said KU student Kailee Charles.
According to Communication Studies Department Chair Clair Van Ens, if the department sees that this class is doing well in the spring, it will be offered for both spring and fall semesters. Van Ens said, “We want classes that connect to students. We live in such a mediated world and I think it is important for us to study popular culture so that we can get a critical viewpoint.”

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