Northwestern University Professor Teaching Course on 'Mad Men'

7:14 PM PST 11/30/2010 by Kimberly Nordyke
AMC

Recently launched class centers on consumerism and social change in the '60s as seen through the lens of the AMC series.

A professor at Chicago's Northwestern University apparently thinks that Mad Men is not just entertaining but also has educational value.

Michael Allen, an assistant professor of history, has created a course titled Consumerism and Social Change in Mad Men America, 1960-1965. Sixteen freshmen are enrolled the course, whose syllabus includes watching the first season of the AMC show, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Mad Men provides a good understanding of how ordinary people participated in history and produced change in politics broadly conceived," Allen told the Northwestern News.

Allen said the show offers an accurate depiction of life during the '60s, from the clothes and decor to the interests and concerns of the time, as well as frequent references to political events.

"But more importantly, the writers are well-versed in source materials from and about the period," he told the Northwestern News. "Their familiarity with the literature, film and advertising of the late 1950s and early '60s gives them a deft feel for the complicated office politics, gender conventions and sexual mores of the day. "

Although Allen has high praise for the show, he added that it does have some shortcomings.

"I don't think it fully addresses the complexity of race and ethnicity in the early 1960s," he said. "I also don't think it gives a full understanding of class and socioeconomic relations of the period. It doesn't always make clear the government policies and structural inequalities that underwrite its characters' lives."

Mad Men has won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes along with nearly universal critical acclaim. Allen told the Sun-Times that he plans to keep teaching the course "if the show maintains its high quality."

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