Uncategorized | April 28, 2004

In my ninth grade English class, we celebrated Halloween by watching “Treehouse of Horror,” an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa reads Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven” to Bart, and her narration becomes part of the plot. Since then, I’ve seen many episodes of The Simpsons (weekly viewings actually became a ritual in my dorm’s hall), and the show’s numerous clever literary references often amused me. In the episode “Bart the Genius,” for example, Bart finds a comic book in the Enriched Learning Center for Gifted Children’s library collection, which is shown to have mistakenly gotten mixed up with books such as Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Dante’s Inferno. Another episode, “Dog of Death,” references Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” and Anthony Burgess’s novel, A Clockwork Orange. Many episode titles have been literary spoofs such as “A Streetcar Named Marge,” where Marge plays Blanche DuBois in a parody of Tennessee Williams’s play “A Streetcar Named Desire” or “Much Apu About Nothing,” taken from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I’ve enjoyed seeing familiar texts shed in a new light in these episodes, so if you’re looking for that dose of literature (or, for that matter, plenty of other academic subjects), search no further than The Simpsons.