PHILADELPHIA -- Students in University of Pennsylvania Professor David Grazian's "Sociology of Media and Popular Culture" class were surprised and delighted when a guest lecture they'd been told in advance was not to be missed turned out to be a taping of an episode of the MTV-U series "Stand In."
Nothing appeared too out of the ordinary on April 18 when students gathered in the basement lecture room of Meyerson Hall. Grazian began the class as usual, talking about class evaluations and the upcoming final. Then he stopped abruptly to tell them about the big surprise in store for them. Malcolm Gladwell, the New York Times bestselling author of "Tipping Point," and Interscope recording artist Kenna would be standing in for him to teach the class that day. The pair immediately walked onstage to the podium with MTV cameras, and reporters and photographers following close behind. The students burst into a loud round of applause.
Viewers will be able to take a virtual seat in the classroom when "MTV Stand In: Malcolm Gladwell and Kenna" premieres on demand at MTV-U.com at 7 p.m. (EDT) on April 30 and debuts on MTV-U at noon (EDT).
Grazian, an associate professor of sociology at Penn, said that Gladwell's research was particularly relevant to the goals of his course, given Gladwell's expertise on the marketing of popular culture in the mass media. Every semester Grazian's students read selections from Gladwell's "New Yorker" articles, and his books "Blink" and "The Tipping Point."
"I was especially excited to give my students the rare opportunity to meet with him and ask him what I thought were insightful and challenging questions about his work," Grazian said. "Rock musician Kenna added to the richness of the lecture by sharing his experiences as an artist working his way up through the industry in search of recognition, fame, and, ultimately, a living. Together, their Q&A session gave the students a stimulating pedagogical experience, a lively blend of theory and practice."
MTV-U "Stand In" episodes are available at www.mtvu.com.