It looks like television's most guidolicious show made it from TV set to classroom projector slide faster than any program this decade. Yesterday, The New York Times had a report gawking at what appears to be the world's first-ever academic conference on the Jersey Shore, which took place at the University of Chicago this past weekend. While the conference itself must have been fantastic (the names of papers presented include "'Pickles Is My Thing': Snooki and the Ascendency of Ordinary Celebrity," "Guidosexuality," and "Foucault’s Going to the Jersey Shore, Bitch!"), one claim from The Times piece caught our eye in particular: "this gathering, taking place a few days after the conclusion of the fourth season of 'Jersey Shore,' may represent the quickest turnaround between the debut of a cultural event (December 2009) and a full conference devoted to it."
After crunching the numbers, it looks like The Times was on to something. Oklahoma University offered a class on Snooki and Co. this summer, a mere 19 months after the show's premiere. That's the fastest turnaround time between television show and college course inception we could find after hunting for the decade's most popular shows that have been turned into college coursework. Charted below are those turnaround times for Mad Men, Sex and the City, and a few other programs that critics like to say make up television's Second Golden Age.
Generally, it looks like professors have become quicker and quicker at creating TV show-centered classes, ever keen on finding new hooks for keeping college kids interested. Consider the shows debuting in the early 2000s: the University of Illinois's class on Sex and the City, the University of Calgary's course on The Sopranos, and Berkeley's course on The Wire all took three and a half years or more to get off the ground. But by mid-decade colleges got quicker writing up syllabi (and press releases) for their new, hip courses on programs that just premiered. Big-name schools like Tufts and Northwestern offered courses on Lost and Mad Men in 28 and 38 months, respectively. And now, Jersey Shore holds that record. Up next: colleges renaming their degrees "JTLs" and Snooki speaking at college graduations. Oh wait.