Friday, the University of Chicago will play host to the first known academic conference centered on the often caustic MTV series "Jersey Shore."
The one-day conference, titled the UChicago Conference on Jersey Shore Studies, begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the campus's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St.
Conference organizer and U of C student David Showalter told HuffPost Chicago earlier this year the conference, funded through a JoinStart campaign, "should be of interest to scholars in the fields of media and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, race, ethnicity, and gender studies, and the social sciences more generally." He is a self-professed "avid and unabashed" fan of the series.
The conference has attracted the attention of some high-profile speakers and panelists alike, including Gawker's Brian Moylan, The A.V. Club Chicago's Marah Eakin, Alison Hearn of the University of Western Ontario, Candace Moore of the University of Michigan and others. The conference also received shout-outs from late night talk host Jimmy Kimmel, the New York Times and Time.
"The University of Chicago is hosting an academic conference called 'Jersey Shore Studies,' Kimmel said this summer. "Meanwhile in Korea, students are learning something called 'math.'"
(Scroll down to read the conference's program.)
Some of the keynote titles are due to include "Guidosexuality," "'You're Not Even Italian': Stereotype, Authenticity, and the Warped Reality of 'Jersey Shore'" and "The Monetization of Being: Reputational Labor, Brand Culture, and Why 'Jersey Shore' Does, and Does Not, Matter." Other panels will address the construction of "Guido identity," morality and ethics, gendered relationships and performance and celebrity.
Meanwhile, papers being presented at the conference include titles such as "GTL (Gym, Tan, Labor): Reproducing Labor-Power on the Shore," "The Jersey Saga: Honor Culture in Medieval Iceland and Modern Seaside" and "Foucault's Going To The Jersey Shore, Bitch!"
Showalter told HuffPost Chicago he felt the conference was important in allowing academics like himself to step away from "restrict[ing] their work to so-called 'high culture,' but to seriously engage with popular culture as well." Further, he hopes that the conference will inspire other students to delve into their research interests, "no matter how unusual they may seem to others."
As of Tuesday, registration for the conference, which is open to the public, is still open.