Satire in Springfield: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Simpsons as a Pedagogical Tool

21 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2020

Date Written: January 23, 2013

Abstract

Many universities require an introductory course on American politics or government for all students or for students of many different majors. This presents a significant challenge to those teaching the introductory course; with so many non-political science majors in a class, how do you create a class that is useful and engaging to majors and non-majors alike? One possibility, explored by previous research, is to rely on humor, and political satire specifically. This paper expands upon previous research in three ways. First, in this paper, I extend the consideration of satire in the classroom beyond The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report to cartoons, specifically The Simpsons. Second, I articulate a specific analytic frame through which my students analyze The Simpsons, and one that can be applied to analyzing other forms of satire. Finally, drawing on student evaluations, I offer a brief discussion of student responses to the use of nontraditional material in the classroom. While more research is needed to determine how, why and in what circumstances satire is pedagogically beneficial, there does seem to be mounting evidence that it is useful for promoting engagement and learning outcomes among students, particularly among non-majors.

Suggested Citation

Widestrom, Amy, Satire in Springfield: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Simpsons as a Pedagogical Tool (January 23, 2013). 2013 APSA Teaching and Learning Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2206066 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2206066

Amy Widestrom (Contact Author)

Arcadia University ( email )

450 S. Easton Road
Glenside, PA Pennsylvania 19038-3295
United States

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