Editorial: The Bowling Green
Tradition in Popular Culture
ULTURE HAS JUST SEEN ITS FIFTIETH
anniversary, and the Popular Culture Association’s ﬁftieth
anniversary is coming up in 2020. This is a time to celebrate
our intellectual heritage and its contributions to our collective future
as popular culture scholars in the Bowling Green tradition. A new
volume edited by Gary Burns—A Companion to Popular Culture—is a
timely contribution to that endeavor. Bringing together many schol-
ars with a long connection to the organization, A Companion to Popu-
lar Culture begins to assess the intellectual history of the Bowling
Green tradition, already the subject of several institutional histories.
One of Ray Browne’s proteges, Michael Marsden (Dean of the Col-
lege and Academic Vice President Emeritus at St. Norbert College),
sets out the stakes of this intellectual history. Marsden contextualizes
popular culture studies in the long-running culture wars, where self-
designated “gatekeepers of culture” like Allan Bloom, Dinesh
D’Souza, and Roger Kimball pilloried popular culture and mass
media and extolled the preservation of high “Western” culture
against corruption. In the other political camp were defenders of pop-
ular culture studies—like Gerald Graff—who argued for a broaden-
ing of the humanities to better reﬂect cultural diversity and taste.
Marsden sees popular culture studies as adding to, rather than oppos-
ing classical studies and the traditional canon. As he writes, “True
liberal education embraces all cultural forms from all levels” (545).
This has been the mission of the Bowling Green tradition since its
inception in the late 1960s, in a time of political upheaval and calls
for greater democratization of the academy.
As Marsden also points out, popular culture studies, in a way, won
the culture wars, in that popular culture is now studied and taught
The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 51, No. 3, 2018
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.