This past Wednesday, continuing this year’s Humanities Symposium on “image”, History Professor Jim LaGrand, Jonathan Lauer, and five students presented on the “Beautiful Images of Breaking Bad.” Each of the students (Zoe Novota, Jacob Edmunds, Juline Moussa, T. J. Cole, Kelly Henderson, and Naomi Henry) had undergone a semester-long analysis of Breaking Bad while taking Professor LaGrand’s new World Views class The Wages of Sin is Death: Breaking Bad as the New American Tragedy. Presenting on a carefully chosen collection of haunting images, each speaker highlighted key themes of evil, innocence, corruption, and redemption through the television series’ use of light and darkness, color, and perspective. They also described how the show impacted their own world views and transformed the way that they perceived money, family, the consequences of sin, and the values of American culture.
When asked why he selected Breaking Bad as the topic of a class, Professor LaGrand looked incredulous and answered with conviction: “Because it is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on screen!”
I think it is fair to say that more than a few audience members went home that evening to check out an episode of Breaking Bad.