Pop culture major offers new soap opera course

Amira Ahmetovic

Starting next semester, students will have the opportunity to spend some of the days of their lives learning about soap operas in class.

The popular culture studies program is offering a special topics class about soap operas in the spring.

The class is listed as Pop 399, special topics in popular culture studies.

The Tuesday/Thursday class will be taught by WKU alum Sam Ford, who previously taught this course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a book coming out on the subject.

“The Survival of Soap Opera,” co-edited by Ford, comes out on Dec. 1 and will be used as a source for the course.

Ford said the book has 20-plus contributors – fans, critics, academics and people who work in the industry – looking at various aspects of how soap operas have evolved.

Ford said the class will look at how television shows tell their stories, how fans build relationships around these stories and how the television genre has evolved alongside changes in U.S. culture and media.

Scottsville junior Craig Lonas signed up for the spring course.

“I believe that the soap opera class is proof that the pop culture major is doing its best to offer classes that challenge people to critically analyze our culture and the things that people consume to help tell us more about ourselves,” he said.

Lonas said he’s never been a huge soap opera fan.

“I’ve always been too busy to start watching a midday show,” he said via e-mail. “However, I can always remember staying at home when I was younger and being amazed at just how obsessed my aunts or grandma was in the story.”

Lonas said he enjoys the occasional drama like “Glee,” “The O.C.” and “True Blood.”

Anthony Harkins, the head of the popular culture studies program, said soap operas are some of the oldest forms of mass media entertainment.

“Soaps are important spaces through which important social issues from teen pregnancy to divorce to homosexuality have been addressed,” he said via e-mail.

Harkins said the popular culture program is in its second year at WKU, only the second major of its kind in the country and the first in Kentucky.

Popular culture majors earn an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies.

“Students in the major analyze critically a wide range of past and contemporary American and international popular culture forms, their uses by the audiences and their impact on the broader, social, political and economic landscape,” Harkins said.