`Studying Soaps as Valid as Literature'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

`Studying Soaps as Valid as Literature'


Byline: Joanne Atkinson

STUDYING soap operas is just as academically valid as analysing classic literature, according to a senior government adviser.

Professor Leslie Wagner said EastEnders and Coronation Street were as effective a social commentary for the 21st Century as Dickens and Austen were for the 19th.

Prof Wagner, who retired as the vice-chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University last week, also claimed that so-called ``Mickey Mouse'' degrees such as media studies were the latter-day equivalent of English literature courses.

``Through a rigorous analysis and examination of our media we are better able to understand our cultural and social development,'' he said.

``Can anyone who has read or watched our media in the last month or two deny that an in-depth study of the branding of David Beckham might be of value to business and social science students?

``And do not EastEnders and Coronation Street provide the insight to modern personal relations and cultural values which Jane Austen and Charles Dickens provided in the 19th Century?''

Prof Wagner's comments were made in a lecture delivered last week, after he had been appointed chairman of the Government task force on foundation degrees, the two-year vocational courses which are being promoted to attract thousands more students into higher education. …

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