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The Cartoon Society: Using "The Simpsons" to Teach and Learn Sociology

Stephen J. Scanlan and Seth L. Feinberg
Teaching Sociology
Vol. 28, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 127-139
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1319260
Page Count: 13
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The Cartoon Society: Using "The Simpsons" to Teach and Learn Sociology
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Abstract

In this paper we introduce a wonderful video resource that can enhance the undergraduate learning experience. The animated television series, The Simpsons, can be particularly effective for illustrating sociological themes and encouraging critical thinking among today's undergraduates. Borrowing from Mills (1959), The Simpsons complements teaching philosophies that stress applying the sociological imagination to the observation of everyday life. We have found that the show is an effective pedagogical tool for demonstrating sociological concepts and fostering students' understanding of the course material. Students can relate to the show and by engaging them in critical discussions, The Simpsons is a valuable pedagogical resource to the sociology curriculum. The true indication of successful teaching is measured by the students' ability to grasp course material effectively, and then use that knowledge beyond the classroom. The Simpsons provides an excellent way to accomplish this goal.

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