I thought I would play along with a couple of bloggers’ meme today with a “We Are All [fill in the blank]” today. It does seem appropriate given the popularity and success of Joss Whedon‘s Cabin In The Woods as well as Marvel’s The Avengers (or known by those across the pond as Avengers Assemble!).
I have been meaning to do a post on why scholars should engage pop culture, and yesterday, friend and commenter Seth on The Twitter sent me an interesting article, Pop Culture Studies: Why Do Academics Study Buffy The Vampire Slayer More than The Wire, The Matrix, Alien, and the Simpsons? [linked here].
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer by a mile. More than twice as many papers, essays, and books have been devoted to the vampire drama than any of our other choices—so many that we stopped counting when we hit 200. Buffy even has its own journal: Slayage, a publication of the Whedon Studies Association (named for the show’s creator, Joss Whedon), which features titles like “Real Vampires Don’t Wear Shorts: The Aesthetics of Fashion in Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Killing us Softly? A Feminist Search for the ‘Real’ Buffy.” “
Well, they forgot to mention my forthcoming chapter on Buffy, Theology, and Critical Race Theory in the Joss Whedon And Religion work by McFarland that’s also forthcoming.
Whether it’s New Testament scholar James McGrath and his current works on Religion and Science fiction: a book I would recommend for starters, or Celucien Joseph’s and others new focus on Black theology and The Harlem Renaissance, I think it is very important for academics to work with popular culture. Now, there are many roads a scholar can take. It can be science fiction, comic books (I prefer both), others choose music, and even sports. The importance of connecting scholarly work with pop culture is to break down abstract theories we get from the Ivory Tower and make them concrete and relevant so that everyday people (meaning, not interested or not involved in the Academy) can know what’s going on and even put these ideas into practice.
Today, Amanda Mac asked What Would the Church Look Like If More Pastors Had PhDs?, and I think that if there were more PhDs in the pulpit, or even in Congress, engaging pop culture would be a way to be both relevant and practical.