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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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?The Simpsons? offers inspiration for writers

By Rita Totten

Students looking to fulfill a humanities credit now have a more animated class option. Writing about the Simpsons, which debuted last spring, offers students the chance to explore the cultural contexts of post-modern satire, according to the course guide.

Paul Ketzle, the writing instructor who teaches the twice-a-week course, said it introduces a number of concepts concerning visual rhetoric and narrative in the context of post-modern satire of mass media culture8212;or to put it in language Homer Simpson might understand, it’s approaching the art of writing through analyzing the American sitcom.
When he tells them about his course, people usually do a double take.

“You mean the TV show?” Ketzle recalled being asked.

Because the class is so new, Ketzle said he believes people are still getting used to the idea and are trying to understand exactly what the class entails.

A freshman in psychology and self-proclaimed Simpsons fan, Kelsey Wilker said she’d be skeptical to take the class.

“I think it would ruin the show for me,” Wilker said. “There might be too much analyzing.”
Scott Brothers, a senior in history, is taking Ketzle’s course this fall and said he went into the class not really knowing what to expect. He decided to take the class because he needed some extra credit hours and the topic seemed interesting.

So far, Brothers says he has learned how a sitcom is designed and how an episode is built from a writer’s standpoint. The class is taught to look for certain aspects of the episodes and Brothers said the course teaches students to pay more attention to what is going on in a TV show.

“I thought we’d watch more episodes,” Brothers said. “It’s definitely more depth in the writing aspect.”

Ketzle said once students realize it is a legitimate course and decide to stick with the class, he believes they get a lot out of it.

“  ”The Simpsons’ is our jumping-off point to a lot of similar subjects, but it’s also a fascinating project in and of itself, both in its successes and failures over its 20-plus year run,” Ketzle said.

The course is offered during Fall and Spring semesters.
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