Education: Pop Cult 101

They are hardly standard academic fare, even in the most freewheeling college: the barbecue as an American phenomenon; Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks as capitalists; All in the Family as Greek comedy. Yet these and other bizarre topics are often the subjects of class discussions, projects and papers at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, the home of the first and largest department of popular culture in the U.S.

Taking Root. Department Chairman Ray B. Browne first decided to promote popular culture as an academic specialty in the late 1960s, when he was teaching English literature at Purdue. But Purdue would have...

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