The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield

Essays on the TV Series and Town That Are Part of Us All

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About the Book

First aired in 1989, The Simpsons has become America’s most beloved animated show. It changed the world of television, bringing to the screen a cartoon for adults, a sitcom without a laugh track, an imperfect lower class family, a mixture of high and low comedy and satire for the masses. This collection of new essays explores the many ways in which The Simpsons reflects everyday life through its exploration of gender roles, music, death, food politics, science and religion, anxiety, friendship and more.

About the Author(s)

Karma Waltonen teaches professional writing, literature, popular culture (including The Simpsons), and stand-up comedy at the University of California, Davis. She is the president of the Margaret Atwood Society and edits Margaret Atwood Studies.
Denise Du Vernay taught college courses in composition, literature, The Simpsons, speech, and the humanities for seventeen years. She is the treasurer and social media manager for the Margaret Atwood Society. She lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she works in Advancement for Loyola University Chicago.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Karma Waltonen and Denise Du Vernay
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7455-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3612-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction: Putting the Spring in Springfield (Karma Waltonen and Denise Du Vernay) 1
The Simpsons Timeline (Forever Incomplete) (Karma Waltonen and Denise Du Vernay) 9
This Town Is a Part of Them (and Us) All (Denise Du Vernay )15
The Simpsons, Gender Roles and Witchcraft: The Witch in Modern Popular Culture (Sarah Antinora) 22
“Owning Your Okayness”: The Simpsons as “Good Enough”
Parents (Summer Block) 37
Be Sharp: The Simpsons and Music (Durrell Bowman) 44
RIP in Springfield: Rhetorics of Death (Jennifer Richardson Burg) 56
The Grotesque and the Beautiful: The Bodies of Springfield (Brent Walter Cline and Matthew Nelson Hill) 67
“Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?”: Commercials and Consumerism (Brian N. Duchaney) 80
“I’ll repress the rage I’m feeling!”: Food Politics (Timothy L. Glenn) 92
This Is Not a Library! This Is Not a ­Kwik-E-Mart!: The Satire of Libraries, Librarians and Reference Desk ­Air-Hockey Tables (Casey D. Hoeve) 103
Just a Little Kick in the Bum: The Simpsons vs. the Nations of the World (Travis Holland) 117
“So you’re calling God a liar!”: An Unbiased Comparison of Science and Religion (Wm. Curtis Holtzen) 130
“Animation is built on plagiarism”: The Simpsons and Hitchcock, Parody and Pastiche (Zachary Ingle) 143
Is Yellow the New Green? The Banal Environmentalism of The Simpsons (David Krantz) 160
Fear of a Yellow Planet: The ­Eight-Fingered, Cartoon Version of Anxiety (Seth Madej) 183
In Search of Another Story: Satire and The Simpsons (Duncan Reyburn) 196
“It’s not selling out; it’s ­co-branding!”: Watching and Consuming The Simpsons in a Digital Age (Tyler Shores) 207
Aristotle in Springfield: On Friendship (Zachary Tavlin) 220
Homer as Homework: The Simpsons in the College Classroom (Lisa Whalen) 233
What We All Came Here to See—Sex (Karma Waltonen) 244
About the Contributors 261
Index 265

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The book provides a deeper reading of the show, discussing its music and film allusions and how it examines themes such as nationalism, gender roles, and environmentalism. … This is a perfectly cromulent resource and a fun read. Simpsons fans will appreciate academics geeking out, and scholars will benefit from this embiggening of Simpson-ology.”—Library Journal
  • “Fans of The Simpsons will welcome the opportunity to delve deeper into their favorite show.”—Booklist
  • “Nobody ‘steams a ham’ [writes and edits academic material] about The Simpsons quite as well as Denise and Karma!…a brilliant book…read their book”—Bill Oakley was writer, producer, and show runner of The Simpsons with his partner Josh Weinstein. He is currently Co-EP of Disenchantment and is known as “The Gordon Ramsay of Fast Food” for his Instagram food videos
  • “Laboriously researched and deeply philosophical, The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield makes you think about The Simpsons in waaaaaays you can’t imagine.”—Neil Arsenty, host of classic Simpsons trivia in Chicago and runs the popular @dailysimpsons fan account on Twitter
  • “As a chef, my biggest connection to The Simpsons is with food. In each of the essays of this book, the authors share how they connect to The Simpsons, a show that really is a part of us all.”—“Chef John” Mitzewich of Foodwishes.com is one of the most-watched chefs on YouTube.