FARMINGTON — The next topic for the UMF 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 and exaggeration. This combined with current events, historical events and hot topics have made it the longest running American sitcom, according to a news release from the University of Maine at Farmington.

UMF New Commons events on “The Simpsons” will run Oct. 30 through Nov. 14:

• Panel Discussion on “The Simpsons” is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.Wednesday, Oct. 30, in the Emery Community Arts Center, 111 South St.
The Simpsons has been a powerful force in American culture for more than 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.

• Keynote Event: Jonathan Gray, “The Simpsons, Parody, and Television Satire” will begin at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Emery Community Arts Center.
Dr. Jonathan Gray, professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will share 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.

• The New Commons Film Series: “The Problem with Apu” is planned from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, in Lincoln Auditorium, UMF Roberts Learning Center, 270 Main St.

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.

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.

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