Abstract: YouTube in the Classroom: Late Night Comedians and English Composition

Accepted Abstract for the Southwest Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Conference, presented in Albuquerque, NM on February 9, 2018.

On days when current events seem to intersect with class curriculum, YouTube can be a boon to teachers seeking to show students the relevance of their studies. I will discuss several lesson plans from an English Composition college class that use clips from John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and the Daily Show to bring various readings to life. After all, when the students are reading about gender equality and discrimination while the Harvey Weinstein scandal breaks, examining that scandal allows the students to see how relevant the subject is and the best way to engage them is often through comedy. Similarly, John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight produces well-researched, well-documented segments that use comedy to analyze many important topics ranging from charter schools to the opioid addiction. In a Composition class where students must write several papers per semester or quarter, having subjects that are immediately relevant to them can inspire their creativity and give them a greater sense of ownership over their writing. Because one of the key objectives of the course is to emphasize the revision process, following up with continued clips on the subject throughout the writing process, from brainstorming to drafting to the finished product (and occasionally further revisions), can help them feel like their writing, like the world around them, is always changing and always open to revision.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.