About the Book and the Authors

About the Book

Using The Simpsons in a classroom is more common—and varied—than one might think; instructors teaching American studies, women’s studies, literature, composition, communications, science, psychology, sociology, religion, political science, and even math employ The Simpsons to better capture the attention of students. The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield, from McFarland Publishing, emphasizes the availability of The Simpsons as a teaching tool written by two Simpsonologists and educators who have used the show for over 10 years each in their teaching. It is more than just a show, more than just a cartoon—it compells the student to think about the familiar with a critical eye. With clear descriptions of terms, activities, and syllabi, this book gives instructors an understanding of how to integrate The Simpsons into their lessons, so the classroom is full of laughing, learning students—not sleeping ones.
 
Overview of Chapters

The introduction offers a timeline of the show and other notable pop culture and world events and an episode guide, geared to allow teachers to find the Simpsons episode that fits the topic they’re interested in. We are continuing the episode guide on this site, starting with season 20.

Chapter 1 is an overview of secondary sources on The Simpsons, including books, Internet resources, and significant articles; we consider this an annotated bibliography. Our goal with this bibliography is to save your time: We discuss all the major sources that appear in a general search, good or bad, useful or not. If we found the source useful, we explain how it's useful. (See the Links page for some recommended Internet sites).

Chapter 2 discusses the use of The Simpsons in composition classrooms, reviewing critical thinking and argument terms before launching into activities and paper assignments related to argument, logic, and style, and editing. This chapter is useful for students in T. A. training, or for anyone teaching composition.

Chapter 3 deals with linguistics. This chapter discusses many of the subfields within linguistics (phonology, morphology, language acquisition, etc.) and gives examples, not just of how The Simpsons has interacted with these subfields, but in the case of morphology, how The Simpsons has actually affected language. The chapter closes with some activities and assignments suitable for students taking introductory linguistics.

Chapter 4 details how The Simpsons intersects with literature, including poetry, fiction, drama, and film. While many of the assignments from Chapter 2 would be appropriate in a literature classroom, this chapter ends with a general discussion of literature with targeted paper assignments.

Chapter 5 is concerned with how The Simpsons intersects with cultural literacy, including popular culture, social issues, and cultural issues and shifts. Particular attention is paid to using The Simpsons in humanities classes.

Chapter 6 discusses the show as art in and of itself. Its genre and methods (postmodern satire, parody, etc.) are discussed, before moving on to activities and a sample syllabus. Due to the problems of defining postmodernism, parody, and other relevant terms, this chapter is the most theory-laden.


About the Authors
Both Karma and Denise are available for speaking engagements and will work with you to come up with suitable topics (related to The Simpsons, popular culture, comedy, social networking, and/or teaching). Email du@simpsonology.com for more information. 
Karma Waltonen
Dr. Karma Waltonen has been a fan of The Simpsons since she first saw the family on The Tracey Ullman Show. While some might argue that she’s wasted years of her life by watching the best. show. ever., she has been able to turn her love for it into a rewarding teaching experience and now a book. Thus, to her detractors, she taunts, “ha-ha!”  She has four degrees (and a minor in determination). Karma teaches at The University of California, Davis (not Bovine University, as is often reported) is the editor of Prized Writing, and hosts the Margaret Atwood Book Group of Davis. She resides with her two cats, whose breath smell like cat food, and her son, aka “the boy.” 
 
A writer and a comedian, Karma hopes that one day we might look forward, not backward, upward, not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom (horrible, horrible freedom).  Her highest goal, of course, is to write using only Simpsons quotes, but then she couldn’t mention her love of baking, getting caught in the rain, and people who recognize Shakespeare as the pre-postmodern postmodern mastercraftsman that he was, or her hatred of exercising, piña coladas, and people who think A Separate Peace is ninth grade level.

Other works by Karma:

(Note: Only book-published works are listed here; we both have many articles on various topics in numerous places online. The Simpsons-related articles can be found on the Links page).



"Our Cannibals Ourselves" (article in American Review of Canadian Studies, 2006)


Contributor to Shaw: Volume 24 Dionysian Shaw. (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004).
















Denise Du Vernay
Denise (just call her "Du") has held many jobs: auto travel coordinator, door-to-door sales, Red Lobster server, clerk (video store and hotel front desk), Applebees hostess, housecleaner, token female employee at Cheapo Records, press operator (die cutting and thermoforming machines), and technical writer, to name a bunch, but her favorite job is teaching.
 
Denise currently resides in Illinois. She is the treasurer and secretary for the Margaret Atwood Society. She has taught humanities, composition, business writing, technical composition, literature, and speech (and uses The Simpsons in class whenever possible). Denise currently teaches writing at St. Xavier University in Chicago.
 
In her free time, Denise likes to cook, play Words with Friends, and see movies.

Other works by Denise:
(Note: Only book-published works are listed here; we both have many articles on various topics in numerous places online. The Simpsons-related articles can be found on the Links page).

Forthcoming: [Pre-order now!] Contributor to Homer Simpson Ponders Politics: Popular Culture as Political Theory (University Press of Kentucky, 2013)

Contributor to Breaking Bad and Philosophy (Open Court Press, 2012)

Contributor to SpongeBob SquarePants and Philosophy (Open Court Press, August 2011).