Colonnade course teaches pop culture through comic convention

Damon Stone, News reporter

Most class field trips visit museums or historical sites. A certain WKU colonnade course strays from that norm. 

POP 201, Introduction to Popular Culture Studies, took a class trip to the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention, which ran from March 24 to March 27. The point of the trip was to demonstrate and showcase pop culture on a large scale, along with the business of pop culture and how it has become so immersed in everyone’s lives. 

“Since [the class] is a general overview of pop culture, I enjoy bringing students to a convention because I find that because it’s a colonnade course, there’s people interested in pop culture and plenty of students taking it to get that requirement met,” Joseph Hoffswell, the professor who teaches the course, said. “When I bring them to the [conventions], everyone gets a good experience. Some people come back and say that they enjoyed it but don’t plan on going to another one, and others have always wanted to go to one and keep going.” 


POP 201 is a colonnade course, which applies to the explorations credit. According to Hoffswell, the class covers the general history of pop culture while touching on important theories and major media changes as well as tackling the internet age and meme culture.

Another facet of the class is to look at the business aspect of pop culture, focusing on how conventions bring in a large amount of revenue to creators, convention hosts and the cities themselves. 

“There’s so many things that people can absorb and see,” Hoffswell said. “I bring them because there are only two conventions in Kentucky… depending on the semester, I try to take students to the [conventions] to get that experience.” 

Karlee Wheeler, an English major, took the class even though it had no connection to Wheeler’s field.

“I’ve always been interested in pop culture, and it’s always stuck with me and I’ve become even more interested in it now,” Wheeler said. “I didn’t even know there was a class like that here. It didn’t even count towards my major, but I just wanted to take it.”

Wheeler learned about several facets of pop culture that were reflected in the convention, such as the history of film, comics and music.

Karlee Wheeler, an English major, was able to interact in-character with convention attendees during the POP 201 field trip. (Provided by Karlee Wheeler)

“I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve never been to anything like that before,” Wheeler said. “When I got there, I was in awe of the people in their costumes and at their booths, with all the interactive stuff. I wasn’t as overwhelmed as I thought I would be, and I really enjoyed myself.” 

Students came away from the trip with the knowledge that there are people all over the state that share their same interests and passions. This was shown in Wheeler’s connection to an attendee dressed in a Batman costume, where they had the chance to interact as the characters they were portraying. 

“If people are interested in attending [conventions], they should definitely sign up for the class when it’s available.” Hoffswell said. “If people can’t, and they’re just interested in learning about pop culture, it’s still a good overview of everything.” 

The class is offered to traditional students in the fall and to international students in the spring, depending on the demand. 

News Reporter Damon Stone can be reached at [email protected]