News

FACULTY SERIES: DAVID M. EARLE Class puts sideshow in spotlight

Few people like the circus as much as David M. Earle. He likes it so much that he is studying to become an expert on the subject.

Currently Earle teaches an American Studies course focusing on the sideshow and other cultural oddities.

In his own words, Earle believes modern American society and the history of the country can be explained by the odds and ends one finds in the sideshow.

Studying the circus is Earle’s passion.

“The space of the sideshow is to show how the norm in today’s society is reinforced by sensationalism or spectacle,” he said, “I draw a parallel between that and today’s culture.”

Earle said he focuses his lectures on what society considers to be abnormal. He then uses the information to determine what is considered to be “normal” in America.

“What I’m interested in is what constitutes a freak,” Earle said.

Throughout the semester, Earle has used sources such as the movie Freak from 1933, pulp magazines, paperbacks and modern texts. His students explore subjects ranging from tattoos to Michael Jackson to bodybuilders.

“It all forces students to re-evaluate what we consider normal and challenge those things,” Earle said.

Earle, 35, said he has been collecting comic books since he was 12.

He received his B.A. in literature from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio and spent about eight years traveling and bartending before deciding on his course of study.

Earle said he spent time in various locations in Europe and the United States and eventually did graduate work at the University of London, Cleveland State University and UM.

He will return to Cleveland State in the spring to teach and work on his thesis but will defend his dissertation in Miami in April. His thesis deals with much of what his class deals with: American history, pop culture and the way Americans construct images of themselves through the lens of the American sideshow.

“The sideshow is so obviously a construction, so obviously marketing and so obviously fake,” he said. “You can learn a lot about culture through what society considers ‘different.'”

Jillian Bandes can be contacted at jillianbandes@hotmail.com.

November 14, 2003

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s the play Miami Hurricanes fans will never forget — and Florida State fans are trying to forget. ...

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

UM dining services team earns national recognition for special event catering. ...

From hammerheads to great whites, University of Miami researcher Neil Hammerschlag is a dedicated sp ...

An ACLU report authored by UM sociologists documents racial and ethnic disparities in Miami-Dade Cou ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

Miami senior Tyler Gauthier was named to the 2018 Fall Watch List for the Rimington Trophy presented ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.