Bookbag: AAAS/CULANTH 333S The Wire

Monday, March 6, 2017
Lucas Hubbard

Television isn’t a standard jumping-off point for an academic course. But The Wire, the acclaimed HBO series that ran from 2002 through 2008 and that Entertainment Weekly ranked as the best-ever TV show, isn’t standard television. Its layered, engrossing depiction of Baltimore—informed by creator and writer David Simon’s work as a police reporter for The Baltimore Sun—appealed to Anne-Maria Makhulu, an associate professor of cultural anthropology and African & African American studies. After hearing about the show “through colleagues who were raving about it,” she consumed the entire series in a five month span. “It struck me quickly that it was extremely teachable,” says Makhulu, who this spring is teaching the fifth iteration of the course (eponymous with the show). “It seemed like really good urban anthropology. It tells a really compelling story about American cities in decline, about large structural forces of de-industrialization, and outsourcing shipping jobs and manufacturing overseas.”