Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon
Chapter 33: Teaching international relations with film and literature: using non-traditional texts in the classroom
Does interstellar diplomacy belong on an international relations (IR) syllabus? How about little green men? If the answer to both questions is, as we suggest, ‘Yes’, then will Mars Attacks! serve just as well as War of the Worlds? These questions are plausible rather than ludicrous insofar as instructors are increasingly willing to use films, television shows and novels in the university classroom. This move represents not only a pedagogical strategy but also IR scholars’ growing acceptance of the use of popular culture as a resource for thinking through the discipline’s central questions (Weldes 2003; Nexon and Neumann 2006; Hunt 2007; Grayson et al. 2009). Film and literature have always had the capacity to inform and instruct as well as entertain. While Hollywood blockbusters and graphic novels surely count as non-traditional texts in IR, we hold that they can be just as useful for understanding politics today as earlier pop culture artifacts such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Birth of a Nation and The Jungle were in their own time.
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