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Homer Simpson Ponders Politics: Popular Culture as Political Theory

edited by Joseph J. Foy and Timothy M. Dale foreword by Margaret Weis

Availablecloth$40.00s 978-0-8131-4147-3
272 pages  Pubdate: 05/01/2013  6 x 9  None

It is often said that the poet Homer “educated” ancient Greece. Joseph J. Foy and Timothy M. Dale have assembled a team of notable scholars who argue, quite persuasively, that Homer Simpson and his ilk are educating America and offering insights into the social order and the human condition.

Following Homer Simpson Goes to Washington (winner of the John G. Cawelti Award for Best Textbook or Primer on American and Popular Culture) and Homer Simpson Marches on Washington, this exceptional volume reveals how books like J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, movies like Avatar and Star Wars, and television shows like The Office and Firefly define Americans’ perceptions of society. The authors expand the discussion to explore the ways in which political theories play out in popular culture.

Homer Simpson Ponders Politics
includes a foreword by fantasy author Margaret Weis (coauthor/creator of the Dragonlance novels and game world) and is divided according to eras and themes in political thought: The first section explores civic virtue, applying the work of Plato and Aristotle to modern media. Part 2 draws on the philosophy of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Smith as a framework for understanding the role of the state. Part 3 explores the work of theorists such as Kant and Marx, and the final section investigates the ways in which movies and newer forms of electronic media either support or challenge the underlying assumptions of the democratic order. The result is an engaging read for undergraduate students as well as anyone interested in popular culture.

Joseph J. Foy, associate campus dean and associate professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin–Waukesha, is the editor of Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture and coeditor of Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture.

Timothy M. Dale, assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, is coeditor of Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture.

“Today, film, fiction, and television reflect our notions of civic virtue, morality, and the human condition—or at least help us to struggle with understanding and defining these. The ubiquitous nature of popular culture means that it will have an effect upon us, whether one likes that or not. The authors argue that, given this fact, even those who doubt the ‘seriousness’ of popular culture would do well to pay attention to it.”—Margaret Ferguson, Assistant Vice President for Statewide Academic Relations at Indiana University

"Since ancient times myths and stories have been used to convey our deepest thoughts about how to live together in community. With this book we now have a fun and engaging way to learn and think about political theory through the myths and stories of our time, popular culture."-- William Irwin, author of Black Sabbath and Philosophy: Mastering Reality

"Foy and Dale have done it again, this time with political theory! Political theory is one of the most difficult subjects that political science undergraduates encounter and Homer Simpson Ponders Politics opens up an avenue for students to engage many of the broad theories through some of the cultural artifacts with which they are most familiar: popular culture. These important theories bubble up through all areas of popular culture from Machiavelli and The Godfather to Plato and Star Wars— there is much to learn from this compendium. This is a useful book for students of political theory of any age or training and for those who are intrigued by the many political concepts popular culture teaches us." --Lilly J. Goren, coeditor of Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics

Most essays in this collection employ their "philosophical guides" in ways that can...disabuse undergraduates of the notion that political theory can better address the sterile and obsolete concerns of forgotten eras than fundamental questions about contemporary political life. -- Choice