University of Southern California professor Todd Boyd will discuss contemporary America on Feb. 9 as part of the Washington State University Comparative Ethnic Studies’ Spring Speaker series. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Pullman’s Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, Room 202. Boyd, who has been hailed as the “hip-hop professor,” is an internationally recognized expert on film, sports and popular culture. His cutting-edge book, “Young Black Rich and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the Hip Hop Invasion and the Transformation of American Culture,” was published in 2003. For more details, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4341

The first research symposium of Gendering Research Across the Campuses (GRACe) will be held Feb. 13 on the Washington State University campus in Pullman. GRACe is composed largely of WSU female faculty members. The group provides a framework for discussion of scholarly work on gender and plans collaborative research and teaching activities with gender as a central theme. According to political science professor and symposium organizer Amy Mazur, the goal of the symposium is to provide WSU and other regional researchers the opportunity for an academic discussion of gender research. For more information, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4349 

In the news

The Jackson controversy: In the past week, Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” has become the most searched-for event in the history of the Internet. T.V. Reed, WSU associate professor of English and director of American Studies, says the controversy is one in a long line of moral panics in popular culture, and like previous ones it is likely to lead to little action because economic self-interest will likely trump moral outrage. Reed predicts this controversy will lead to much huffery and puffery but strong competition in the area of sexually explicit representation from cable television and the Internet mean that CBS and other broadcast TV stations will continue to feel pressure to push the envelope of controversial content.  Meanwhile, Reed says, most people in America and the rest of the world will continue to express amazement that Ms. Jackson’s right breast became the most pressing social issue in a culture facing continuing economic instability, wars on several fronts and a federal debt in the trillions of dollars. Reed can be reached at 509.335.3022 or reedtv@wsu.edu.

The Kerry bandwagon: It was another good weekend for Sen. John Kerry, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, who won caucuses in Washington, Michigan and Maine. Is Kerry, who only a month ago was being written off by many political pundits, now a sure nominee? Or will Super Tuesday — March 2, when primaries and caucuses will be held in 10 states, including California and New York – be decisive?  Travis Ridout, an assistant professor of political science at Washington State University, has studied the presidential nomination process and how voters make their decisions as it moves forward. He can be reached at 509.335.2264 or tnridout@wsu.edu.