Studium Generale presents ‘Zen and the Art of Chickenman’

Professor Matt Toerey.

Professor Matt Toerey.

PORT ANGELES —Peninsula College English Professor Matt Teorey will present his study, “Zen and the Art of Chickenman,” when he speaks at the Studium Generale series at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Join the Zoom meeting at https://pencol-edu.zoom.us/j/89616075652. The meeting ID is 896 1607 5652. The event is free and open to the public.

Last summer, Teorey was awarded a research stipend via an Exceptional Faculty Grant from the Peninsula College Foundation to incorporate new material into his IS-105: Pop Culture course.

“Zen and the Art of Chickenman” was published in Journal of American Culture in August and can be seen at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-StudiumSpeech.

His area of research was the 1970s radio program “Chickenman” and its connections to the classic book by Robert M. Pirsig “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Teorey sees connections between these works as a way to help students consider issues in the current culture and engage in philosophical analysis in his Pop Culture class.

He was introduced to the “Chickenman” podcast by Peninsula College math Professor Andrea Motyka, who knew he was a fan of old radio shows. She gave him a CD with episodes of the program, encouraging him to consider writing an essay about it.

“I enjoyed the show’s satire of superheroes,” Teorey said. “I have always enjoyed the voice acting in radio shows, and this aspect hooked me and kept me listening.”

A long-time fan of older radio shows from the 1940s and 1950s, Teorey lists “The Shadow,” “Yours Truly Johnny Dollar,” “Nightbeat” and “Fibber McGee and Molly” among his favorites.

He was intrigued that Pirsig used Chickenman in his novel and that this is the only specific reference he makes to popular culture in the book.

“Once I started doing research and thinking about writing an essay, I considered using it in the Popular Culture class,” Teorey said. “In the class, I have a unit on superheroes and a unit on radio/TV shows, and a unit on podcasts, so I could see how these ideas would fit into the class.”

For more about Teorey, who has worked at Peninsula College since 2005, see https://pencol.edu/faculty-staff/matt-teorey.

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