You Can’t Beat It!

, Cory Chandler, Leave a comment

Michael Jackson changed music and pop culture, but a Texas Tech University pop culture guru can speak about the King of Pop’s impact in fields such as engineering, law, medicine and psychology.

Rob Weiner, a pop-culture author and associate librarian in the Texas Tech Libraries, recently helped compile a bibliographic guide for a special issue of The Journal of Pan African Studies showing Jackson’s influence into the often dusty halls of academia.

The list of scholarly papers and peer-reviewed articles, culled from more than 100 databases, found the King of Pop referenced in psychology, medical, chemistry, mass communications and even engineering journals.

For instance, researchers used Jackson to critique the media’s handling of criminal cases. A 911 call made by Jackson prompted an article in Fire Engineering journal, while a British Medical Journal piece written after Jackson’s death discussed ethical issues that arise when a patient is more powerful than the attending physician.

One chemistry professor argued that reframing popular songs such as “Billie Jean” could help students understand difficult chemistry concepts.

“I knew that Jackson permeated pop culture, but academics can be kind of snooty about what they choose to study,” Weiner said. “The fact that someone would take a Michael Jackson song and co-opt it as a means to convey chemistry concepts just shows the pervasiveness of Jackson’s influence.”

Weiner has expertise on topics ranging from the Grateful Dead to American presidents in film. His books include “Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings,” “Graphic Novels and Comics in Libraries and Archives,” and Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide.

To read a copy of the article, visit the Journal of Pan African Studies (pdf).

CONTACT: Rob Weiner, associate librarian, Texas Tech University Library, (806) 742-2238 ext. 282 or