The Simpsons in the Classroom

Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield


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About the Book

The object of much debate, attention, and scholarship since it first aired more than 20 years ago, The Simpsons provides excellent, if unexpected, fodder for high school and college lesson plans. After all, laughing students are hardly sleeping students! But The Simpsons also provides a familiar student knowledge base which instructors can use as a jumping-off point to introduce concepts in literature, composition, linguistics, cultural studies, gender studies, and media appreciation. The authors, both of whom have been teaching The Simpsons for more than a decade, share exercises, prompts, and even syllabi that have proven successful in their own courses. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

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 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

Karma Waltonen and Denise Du Vernay

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 340
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4490-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5692-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      viii
Preface      1
I’m Learnding!: An Introduction to Simpsonology      3

Chapter 1. They Have the Internet on Computers Now—A Collection of Simpsons Resources      77
Chapter 2. The Composition Class: Me Fail English? That’s Unpossible!      111
Chapter 3. A Noble Spirit Embiggens the Smallest Man, or The Simpsons and Linguistics      159
Chapter 4. Literature with a Capital L: Fiction, Poetry, Film, Theater      179
Chapter 5. The Simpsons and the Outside World: Culturally Literate and Socially Significant      210
Chapter 6. The Simpsons Class: Satire and Postmodernism      265

Chapter Notes      303
Bibliography      313
Index      317

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “offers a wealth of ideas…annotated with themes, discussion points, and teachable elements”—C&RL News
  • “well-written and fun to read…a practical, useful, and engaging book”—Behind the Grammar
  • “the show permeates American and other cultures to such an extent that to ignore or overlook The Simpsons runs the risk of seeming culturally illiterate…methodically outlines the various ways the show can be used to help students develop their awareness of linguistics, composition, Literature with a capital L, social and cultural literacy, and finally—in perhaps the book’s strongest section—postmodernism”—Journal of American Studies of Turkey
  • “Universities across the country are using satirical references from The Simpsons to grab students’ attention and convey lessons in literature and all manner of popular culture.”—Charlotte Observer
  • “intended to help teachers incorporate the show into their syllabuses…can be used to introduce concepts such as critical thinking to a generation of students for whom it is a universal reference—Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel
  • “I don’t want to oversell this book, but it’s better than ten Super Bowls! Probably fourteen to sixteen Super Bowls to be exact. Highly entertaining, thought-provoking and, most importantly, funny. Using The Simpsons Denise Du Vernay and Karma Waltonen have given us a new way to look at the world and that’s pretty cool. This isn’t just for academics: any Simpsons fan with half a brain will enjoy it, and those with full brains will love it.”—Josh Weinstein, former Showrunner, The Simpsons, current Co-Executive Producer, Futurama
  • “A practical, useful, and engaging book for teachers”—Mignon Fogarty, host of the Grammar Girl podcast and bestselling author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  • “Like The Simpsons itself, this book can be enjoyed on multiple levels—both for its trenchant, incisive sociocultural commentary and for its poop jokes. Okay, maybe there aren’t so many poop jokes in there. But the trenchant, incisive stuff more than makes up for it.”—Robert Siegel, writer-director of Big Fan, Editor-in-Chief of The Onion 1996–2003
  • “A delightful and engaging work that is sure to be a useful and often referred to resource for anyone engaged in popular culture studies. Not only does the book offer a helpful reference guide for the bourgeoning scholarship dedicated to textually analyzing and exploring the social and cultural impact of The Simpsons, it also provides helpful ways in which academics can use to connect with students in teaching otherwise foreign and difficult concepts from composition to critical thinking to linguistics. I believe that both scholars and fans of The Simpsons will find this to be a perfectly cromulent introduction to the world of Simpsonology.”—Joseph J. Foy, editor of Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture and co-editor of Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture