BYP Researcher Raises Money for Academic Conference on ‘Jersey Shore’ at the University of Chicago

Huffington Post | May 19, 2011

For many, the “Jersey Shore” is a guilty pleasure, but for University of Chicago student and reality television enthusiast David Showalter, it is a social experiment worthy of critical analysis.

Earlier this month, Showalter used JoinStart to raise money for the one-day conference, saying it “should be of interest to scholars in the fields of media and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, race, ethnicity, and gender studies, and the social sciences more generally.” The funding came through, and the conference will be held on October 28 at the University of Chicago.

Showalter, an Oklahoma native and third year undergraduate student at U of C, told HuffPost Chicago he has been an “avid and unabashed Jersey Shore fan since the beginning of Season 1,” and explained why he decided to organize the conference.

“I think it’s very important for academics not to restrict their work to so-called “high culture,” but to seriously engage with popular culture as well,” Showalter said via email. “The images and sounds of pop culture surround us and entertain us, and for those reasons alone they are deserving of study. With regards to ‘Jersey Shore’ specifically, I believe the show is both a fascinating and innovative example of reality television, as well as a useful lens through which to examine many of the issues that animate contemporary life: problems around gender roles, ethnic identity, celebrity, the influence of mass media, the notion of ‘reality’ itself, and so on.”  (Read more)