Would a hipster take a class on hipsters? That is the question — one that leads to an even more “Inception”-esque query: Would a hipster who would take a class on hipsters ever identify themselves as a hipster? Is your mind a unsolvable maze yet? I thought so.
Well, one Tufts educator is soon going to find out. Yup, the college is offering a class on that most perplexing of modern counter-cultures, and its instructor, too, is curious as to who will sign up.
Adjunct professor Jackie O’Dell’s class, Demystifying The Hipster, kicks off next week at the Experimental College at Tufts University, a program that serves as “an incubator for new ideas about teaching, learning, and curriculum,” according to the website.
She first came up with the idea for the class while teaching a previous course during which the popularity of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” among hipsters became a heated topic on the school ListServ.
“There was a debate on there about whether or not the fact that hipsters were reading ‘Infinite Jest’ now would degrade [Walker's] literary seriousness,” she told MTV News. “I thought that was an interesting and strange debate among professional scholars and laypeople.”
“In my own work I became interested in the way that hipsters got attached to certain novelists that were aspiring for literary seriousness,” she added.
From that thread of an idea, O’Dell decided to create an interdisciplinary class in which she and her students will explore the idea of hipsterdom together — via books, movies and music. The class will kick off with a historical overview of the term — which originated in 1940, in case you were wondering — and will include source material such as the literature of Dave Eggers, essays on hipsterdom from N+1, “Portlandia,” and LCD Soundsystem’s documentary “Shut Up and Play the Hits.” The class will also, of course, touch on normcore.
“I would give a very broad, murky definition — just insofar as it’s somebody who has one foot in the mainstream and one foot in the counter-culture,” she said. “And there’s a lot of anxiety around whether or not that person is called a hipster and by whom. Kind of somebody who is anxious about their own status as being hip or cool.”
O’Dell, for the record, said she is not a hipster. She does wonder if “they” — whoever “they” are — will enroll in her 20-person class, however.
“I wouldn’t think anyone who has that sort of reaction against normal culture would want to take the course,” she said, adding, “[But] I don’t know if people who would identify as hipsters would even think that they had no reason to take it.”
And ’round we go.