BHSU history professor explores the Geek Chic trend

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, November 17, 2014/Categories: 2014

Dr. Robert Campbell, associate professor of history at Black Hills State University, presents this week's Geek Speak lecture on the social wave known as "Geek Chic."  The lecture is free, open to the public, and will be held Thursday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall 110 on the BHSU Campus.

It's hip to be square.

Black Hills State University associate professor of history, Dr. Robert Campbell, will examine the latest "Geek Chic" cultural phenomenon in a public lecture Thursday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 110 on the BHSU campus.

According to Campbell, the current Geek Chic wave emerged in the early 2000s and describes the turn American culture has made towards striving for success, attaining skills, and expressing knowledge gain.

"There's a dose of humility in calling yourself a geek, a little self-depreciation, and you're now perceived as smart," said Campbell.  "Geek Chic is a way of bragging about yourself without saying you're bragging."

The Geek Speak lecture series, an open forum for exploring diverse topics not normally addressed in general education courses, is one example of Geek Chic in action, said Campbell.   

"Geek Chic is a hopeful sign of people being proud of their education, being proud of their smarts and their capacity for upward mobility," said Campbell.

A scholar of environmental history, Campbell said he was inspired to research cultural movements after teaching U.S. history courses.

"I've always tried to teach up to present day in general American history courses," said Campbell.  "It's a challenge to explain recent history, because it just happened or you're still busy living it.  You don't necessarily have the objectivity to look back and see what's really going on."

Campbell said historians of the future will look back on the current decade with amazement at the amount of focus on cellular phones.

"Its 1890s technology, a radio telephone, that's all it is," said Campbell.  "A computer as small as a phone, well, that's kind of interesting."

After attending Thursday's lecture, Campbell hopes his students will leave with an understanding of the power of cultural movements.

"Part of having a liberal arts education is the ability to recognize cultural tides.  They carry us all," said

Campbell.  "You can go with the tide.  Or, you can swim wherever you like."

Upcoming Geek Speak topics:

Dec. 4 - The Fall Defense:  Students in the University Honors Program Defend their Capstone Projects.

To confirm topics, dates, and room numbers, check the BHSU Campus Calendar at

For more information on the Geek Speak lecture series, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or

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