Popular culture is consequential, yet not enough of us here have spent time thinking and writing about movies, television, music, comic books, video games, and various other mass culture items. Well, actually, we're always thinking about it, but not together. So here we are.
Reading Alyssa Rosenberg and Emily Nussbaum, writers for Think Progress and The New Yorker, respectively, will give us a place to start. No, Rosenberg and Nussbaum aren't the only writers out there in their expansive fields, but you wouldn't go wrong by thinking of them as touchstones and gateways to various others.
They are both really sharp and prolific. So we'll have a large archive of their writings to draw on (Links to some of their "top" writings are forthcoming). We can also trust that more of their works are on the way.
By the way, I'm aware that there are limits to being followers. As the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates recently noted, "Never trust anyone posing as a tour guide. Learning things is hard. Do the work." I agree in some cases, we have to do the work. We must.
But then, there are instances when it's helpful to consider ideas of those with considerable expertise in a field. I mean, you don't want to walk down a dark alley in a strange city by yourself, right? Well, similarly, why not consult experienced travelers, or in this case, cultural commentators, along this or that alley in pop culture?
In my line of work as a literature teacher, people typically define "writers" as those who publish novels and scholarly books and volumes of poetry. Rosenberg blogs relatively short entries about super heroes, films, the politics of all of that and Nussbaum? She's written about cliffhangers, Sex and the City, and...well, just about everything you've seen and thought about seeing on television. If Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead are writers that I read and so are Nussbaum and Rosenberg, then it means I get the chance to redefine my views of writers. And reading.
Among other things, we're covering Emily Nussbaum and Alyssa Rosenberg this semester to expand our views of writing and reading.
Related: A Notebook on Emily Nussbaum & Alyssa Rosenberg