NEW HAVEN, CT—Last year, Harvard University shocked academia by offering a course on the HBO drama The Wire. Not to be outdone, The 2010-2011 Yale University Course Catalog revealed its own groundbreaking course that will change academia nationwide. This Yale History Department is expected to be the most popular this year, as it will offer a course based on the sitcom Saved by the Bell.
Saved by the Bell, a series about a group of high school friends, will be the centerpiece of history Professor Warren Winsome’s offering, “Manifest America: Saved by the Bell and the Greatness of a Nation.” Prof. Winsome was gracious enough to sit for an interview about the new course and shared what his expectations are for it:
Marz Daily Media: So this course-
Prof. Warren Winsome: “Manifest America: Saved by the Bell and The Greatness of a Nation”-
MDM: Right. I’m pretty sure you know that kids will be lined up around the corner of the registrar’s office to sign up for this class.
PWW: Yes, but all the students who actually get in will probably be in for a rude awakening.
MDM: How so?
PWW: This isn’t a Mickey Mouse course. Although even Yale has some of those, “Manifest America” isn’t one of them. I simply capitalized on a focal point to which most college-aged kids have access as a way of connecting them with the pathos of American development.
MDM: Can you give an example?
PWW: Certainly. Zack Morris, the protagonist of Saved by the Bell, characterizes white America: driven, persuasive, and completely inconsiderate of anyone who gets between him and what he wants.
PWW: Yes. Naturally, every series episode that we will discuss has parallels to the way in which white, male anglo-saxon protestantism has exploited other cultures for its own gain.
MDM: So you plan on, say, teaching Saved episodes that echo the age of slavery?
PWW: Oh absolutely. Anyone who remembers the episode where Zack forces his black friend Lisa to operate his relationship advice hotline but doesn’t share the profits with her, knows that America has engaged in that kind of underhanded activity in the past…and continues to do so today.
MDM: Fascinating…Before I started recording, you mentioned that the class will also cover more contemporary American themes as well, such as the role of the Jewish in this country.
PWW: Ah yes! Zack Morris’s best friend Screech is Jewish. It doesn’t get talked about at all, but his name is Samuel, a Hebrew name. Samuel Powers? A Jew Powers? A Jew powers the WASP effort to succeed in his own nebbish way? The connections are undeniable.
MDM: Riiiight…Please forgive me, but the vagueness with which you’re describing these themes makes me a bit skeptical.
PWW: Well I don’t want to give everything away in case any of your readers planning on taking the class. I’d hate it if they decided to do their own independent study without my expert guidance.
MDM: For instance, if someone went off on their own and linked the Good Morning, Miss Bliss years of the show to the early colonial period when the British Empire still had influence?
PWW: (annoyed) Yes.
MDM: I was just joking.
PWW: I am not.
MDM: I see. Well, before we let anything else out of the bag, I’ll give you the opportunity to sell the Marz Daily Media readers at Yale on why they should sign up for your class this Fall.
PWW: Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Italians and the Polish have woven themselves into the American fabric, but mostly for the benefit of the Protestant founders of this nation. Nowhere has this been figuratively depicted better than with the hit teen show Saved By The Bell. Come with me on a journey to find out how Zack Morris and his “friends” essentially reenacted pivotal moments in the history of our country. You may have thought that the makers of Saved By The Bell hated school, but one thing is certain: they know their US history, and so can you.
MDM: That was great. Thank you, Prof. Winsome.
PWW: The pleasure’s mine.
Off the record, I tried to wrangle away what Prof. Winsome’s parallel to Principal Richard Belding was in the context of his course. I was unsuccessful in getting him to disclose that information. But when I joked about how he was probably the United States Government (constantly outwitted by corporations and influenced by personal greed), Prof. Winsome’s dour expression suggested that it might not be far from his truth. I doubt he will avail himself for another interview with Marz Daily Media. But we will see soon enough just how successful “America Manifest: Saved By The Bell and The Greatness of a Nation” will be.