The infamous characters of MTV's "The Jersey Shore," will be the subjects of a class at Oklahoma University this summer.
Prof. Sarah Barry says through her online class, "Depictions of gender, race and class on the shore," she wants to change how students view the shore and look at the social issues surrounding the cast of controversial characters like the Situation, Snooki and J-Woww, Fox 25 Oklahoma City reports.
"Gender, race, and class are all socially constructed issues that we tend to create as a society," Barry says.
The class description on OU's website reads, "we will explore how aspects of critical theory, specifically gender studies, understanding of the self and the “Other,” class conflict and racial issues come together to reflect how popular culture views and interprets socio-economic and socio-historic conditions and how the youth is responding to these conditions. Finally, we will look at the impact this phenomenon is having on society and youth identity formation."
Barry says she was inspired to create the class when Snooki was applying for jobs and "she didn't tick the white-racial ethnicity. She ticked other instead and wrote 'tan.'"
"They don't ascribe to dominant white culture. They feel they have a cultural designation of their own," Barry said.
Barry says the show brings up discourse on Italian-American ethnic issues. The course descriptions says the class "will look at European, specifically the Italian diaspora and how American’s response to the nations globalization and subsequent cultural contact constructed the image of the Italian-American, beginning in the 19th century and how that compares to images and personalities of the Jersey Shore cast."
Italian-American groups have denounced the show for its glorified use of ethnic slurs such as "guido and guidettes," known as Italian-American slurs for decades.
"They would rather be orange than white," Barry says.
She hoped the class will help students "understand why this is happening, why we are reacting to it the way we are and what the deeper implications are."