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UFOs and American Culture

Below, interested students and members of the Society can learn about our newest course tackling the UFO phenomenon & American culture, which approaches this subject from a scholarly anthropological standpoint. This course is sure to appeal to anyone interested in how this puzzling phenomenon has intersected with an influential cultural power such as the U.S. remains, even today.

6 Jan - 24 Feb 2025 Mondays
5 - 8 pm EST

all courses are 125 USD or 50 USD for 3 months

Desert Mountains

Course Description


This 8 week course (now planned for January - February 2025) will trace the emergence and continued subsistence of the UFO phenomenon in American culture, from its origins in the Cold War era to its endurance in the Digital Age.


The course operates on the following premises:


1. The UFO phenomenon and the culture that surrounds it can only be properly understood through an interdisciplinary lens that incorporates historical, folkloric, and anthropological perspectives.


2. The UFO phenomenon, along with other so-called “fringe beliefs,” exists as a site of struggle between believers and nonbelievers over what constitutes “normative belief” in contemporary American culture.


In dealing with topics such as contemporary folk traditions, Cold War paranoia, conspiracy culture, and new religious movements, this course will teach students to critically examine how contemporary belief systems are formulated and integrated into popular culture, as well as how these beliefs inhabit “battlegrounds” of meaning between modern rationalist and quasi-religious ideologies.

No no matter what your time zone, or your schedule, we encourage you to enroll! For the benefit of any student who can't attend live, the Society will record the sessions and make them available to students (once video processing is complete - generally, two to three days).

The Stars

Weekly Topics

Week 1: UFOs and the Cold War


Week 2: The Rise of Conspiracy Culture


Week 3: Science, Aliens, and the New Age Movement

Week 4: UFO Folklore and Alien Abductions

Week 5: Alien Abductions (Continued)

Week 6: Skepticism and Traditions of Disbelief

Week 7: UFOs and Counterintelligence

Week 8: UFOs and an Interdisciplinary Approach

New Moon

William Dewan is University Lecturer in the Department of Social Policy & Public Service (SPPS) at the University of California, Irvine. Prof. Dewan holds a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, and publishes widely on media and social problems, digital culture, cultural studies, folklore and religion, social movements, conspiracy theories, and moral panics. He is currently editing an important volume of essays by academics from around the world focused on academia and the subject of UFOs/UAP.

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