UC Berkeley Devotes Class to ‘Mad Men’

It’s no secret that Mad Men—the critically acclaimed AMC drama created and produced by Matthew Weiner ’87—has been a stunning success. In 2008, the show made television history, receiving 16 Emmy nods and the Outstanding Drama Series award—the first basic cable series to do so. In a feature for The Good Men Project book/blog/documentary, Weiner discussed the show’s Wesleyan origins. This season the show continues to draw in nearly three million viewers.

But still, here’s a new one: the show is now the subject of a popular new weekly class at UC Berkeley, discussing the engaging series in a historical and cultural context:

During the weekly class, the TV show is given the treatment normally reserved for works of literature. Words like “archetype” and “tragic” pop up frequently as students analyze Mad Men’s glamorous yet troubled characters. The class explores the politics and culture of the early ’60s and discusses themes such as the role of women in the workplace, class and society, marriage and family.

The class is part of UC Berkeley’s DeCal program, a student-run education undertaking that allows students to create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of often unconventional subjects. Considered a unique and “democratic” aspect of Berkeley’s undergraduate program, the program offers 150 courses each semester for up to two units of academic credit on topics that range from Harry Potter and “Sex and the City” to numismatics and swing dance.

To Powers and Dowd’s surprise, 80 students showed up for the first “Mad Men” class even though there was space for only 30. They filled the coveted spots by asking the prospects to analyze an episode and write about why they like “Mad Men.”

Read the whole article here, at SFGate.com.

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