Monday, May 11, 2009
John Putman Helps Library 'Live Long and Prosper'
The Department of History professor, who teaches a course on "Star Trek," worked months to obtain a donation of DVDs from CBS/Paramount.
There's a newfound interest in the long-standing pop culture phenomenon, Star Trek, these days. However, John Putman is a long-time fan of the sci-fi series.
Putman, a history professor, teaches "Star Trek, Culture and History." The course examines how Star Trek reflects the culture and times of the United States. Earlier this year, Putman helped the library obtain a complete DVD collection of the five Star Trek series.
Cultural lens of Star Trek
"Because the five series span the last 40 years of American history, the show tends to reflect the political, social and cultural landscape of the United States," Putman said.
"For example, the original series premiered in the midst of the Cold War and Vietnam War and several episodes address the larger issues indirectly. Though the show was set in the future, the writers and producers were addressing their contemporary problems on the show."
The course, while looking at American history through the Star Trek lens, also examines how the various Star Trek incarnations on television addressed contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.
Obtaining the collection
Putman pursued the Star Trek DVDs for use in his class and for his students' course-related research.
"I wanted to have access to all the episodes from the five series, both to show in my Star Trek class and for students to use for research," Putman said. "In these times, the library couldn't purchase them all, so I though CBS might be willing to help me out. It took a few months, but the president of CBS/Paramount contacted me and just asked where to send them."
Putman's thoughts on the new film
Of course, Putman also had some thoughts on the recent "Star Trek" film.
"The new film is simply fantastic," Putman said. "I saw it on Thursday and it was action-packed, but also a great story of dealing with one's own past. Die-hard Star Trek fans will love it because it revives a show that many feel a strong attachment to, but it will also draw new fans because it is fresh and just plain fun."