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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Sopranos goes on university syllabus
The Sopranos
The series shows a different side to the mafia
Cult TV crime drama The Sopranos is to be studied at university - alongside the great works of English literature.

This autumn the University of Calgary in Canada will offer a course that examines how the award-winning Channel 4 series fits into the gangster film genre.


They really are remarkable works

Professor Maurice Yacowar
English professor Maurice Yacowar says the show, which follows the tormented mafia boss Tony Soprano and his wife Carmela, is worthy of academic study.

"They really do stand up to the kind of analysis I'm used to giving for a Pinter play, or a Tennessee Williams play, or a Hitchcock film, or a Shakespeare play," he said.

"The text is that rich, the context is that lively.

"They really are remarkable works as individual films."

Mr Yacowar, who will be teaching the series as part of a film studies course, said The Sopranos represented an evolution of the gangster genre - by showing that even hoodlums suffer from the same basic problems as the rest of humanity.

The cast celebrate another award
The Sopranos has won numerous awards
Students on the course - which has been booked solid for months - will first watch the 1931 James Cagney classic The Public Enemy, then Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather series.

They will then move on to six episodes of The Sopranos from the first two seasons.

The series has made a star of James Gandolfini who plays mob boss Tony Soprano, struggling to keep his gang of heavies in line while maintaining the fašade of suburban living.

Serious-minded

Mr Yacowar, who believes the course is a good example of the academic study of popular culture, added that it was not intended as a soft option for students.

"For me, while The Sopranos are a very rich and very serious-minded text, the real purpose is about the student learning to analyse the text," he said.

The Sopranos, made by US TV network HBO, has been one of the most critically acclaimed TV series in recent years.

In 2000 it won four Golden Globe awards, three Screen Actors Guild awards and a Directors Guild award. It has also won nine Emmys since 1999.

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