This kind of thing was all the rage when I did my undergraduate studies, and was the primary reason I avoided sociology until I learned what I was missing (though, to be fair, this event is student-initiated):
Earlier this month, [U. of Chicago student] Showalter used JoinStart to raise money for the one-day conference [on Jersey Shore], 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.
“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.”
Though I would love to see some of the abstracts they’re getting.