Satire and The Simpsons—next topic of UMF New Commons Project

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– Keynote by Jonathan Gray, “The Simpsons, Parody and Television Satire,” Nov. 13 –

FARMINGTON, ME  (October 17, 2019)— The next topic for the New Commons Project is “The Simpsons” — a television show that has been making people talk about important topics such as books, news, history and more for almost 30 years. In that time, the animated series has been awarded 32 Emmy Awards and 34 Annie Awards. The show has been able to create satire through incongruity, sarcasm, exaggeration. This combined with current events, historical events and hot topics have made it the longest–running American sitcom.

UMF New Commons events on The Simpsons will run between October 30 – November 14:

The Simpsons

Panel Discussion on The Simpsons
The Simpsons has been a powerful force in American culture for over 30 years, blending satire on current events with the humorous pastiche of famous television, literary, film and musical works. This panel discussion features UMF faculty members Steven Quackenbush associate provost and dean of Arts & Science, Jeffrey Thomson professor of creative writing, Scott Erb professor of political science and Sabine Klein, associate professor of English, who will explore key aspects of The Simpsons extended cultural resonance.
Wednesday, Oct. 30, 11:45 a.m.–1 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center

Dr. Jonathan Gray

Keynote Event: Jonathan Gray, “The Simpsons, Parody, and Television Satire”
Join Dr. Jonathan Gray, professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for an analysis of the ways in which The Simpsons changed television history. Gray, the author of “Watching With The Simpsons: Television, Parody, And Intertextuality” and several other works of media studies, will discuss how The Simpsons integration of other television, literary, film, and musical works fundamentally shifted the way American audiences understand media.
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 11:45 a.m.–1 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center

The New Commons Film Series: The Problem with Apu
The New Commons Film Series presents the controversial 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu. Written by comedian Hari Kondabolu, the film explores the problematic cultural stereotypes that characterize Apu (the famous Indian convenience store owner on The Simpsons, voiced by Hank Azaria). The Problem with Apu takes on the real-world impact of this character on Indian-Americans.
Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30–9 p.m., Lincoln Auditorium, UMF Roberts Learning Center

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project’s 12 topics so far have been submitted by people from around the state and represent some of the principles and cultural values that fascinate Maine citizens. The events are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the New Commons Project, or to submit a nomination for the next round of selections to be announced in 2019, visit the website at:

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Media Contact: Kristen Case, associate professor of English, 207-778-7239,

Image: RP190-017A
Photo Caption: Dr. Jonathan Gray
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

Image: RP190-017B
Photo Caption: The Simpsons

April Mulherin
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
office: 207-778-7081
cell: 207-491-0064

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