The trials and tribulations of television's favorite dysfunctional crime family, "The Sopranos," are set to be yanked from New Jersey's mean streets and dissected alongside Shakespeare at a Canadian university.
The University of Calgary is offering a course this fall that will examine how the gritty, award-winning HBO series that features mob boss Tony Soprano, wife Carmela, his gang and his troubled psychiatrist fits into the gangster film genre.
Inappropriate subject matter for an institute of higher learning? Fuhgedaboudit, said English professor Maurice Yacowar, who will be teaching the credit course as part of the university's film studies program.
"The Sopranos" episodes represent the evolution of the gangster film style by showing that even denizens of organized crime suffer the same basic human problems as the rest of us, said Yacowar, author of the recent book "The Sopranos on the Couch: Analyzing Television's Greatest Series."
"They really do stand up to the kind of analysis I'm used to giving for a [Harold] Pinter play, or a Tennessee Williams play, or a Hitchcock film, or a Shakespeare play," he said Tuesday. "The text is that rich, the context is that lively." The course has been booked solid for months. Students will view the 1931 gangster classic "The Public Enemy," starring James Cagney, then Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather" series before studying six episodes of "The Sopranos."