Business Course on Oprah’s Success Taught at University of Illinois
URBANA, Ill. A history professor at the University of Illinois, recently started teaching a class titled “History 298: Oprah Winfrey, The Tycoon.” The full-credit course is taught by Dr. Juliet E.K. Walker, who specializes in Black business history in the United States. It is believed to be one of the first college courses of its kind in the nation. Walker says the course will focus on how one of the wealthiest celebrities in the world built a multimedia empire that includes a talk show, a magazine and other ventures. Winfrey also reflects “the extent to which the celebrity as a phenomenon in American life and culture has a voice as influential as other ideological, societal and political institutions in impacting the global economy and transnational and cultural practices,” Walker says. At least one other academic thinks the course is a good idea. “Nobody can argue about the tremendous positive impact Oprah Winfrey has had,” says Dr. Lisa Gundry, an associate professor of management at DePaul University Graduate School of Business in Chicago. “She has shown how you can use your life — and she has used hers and her business — to symbolize how to make things better.”Along with scholarly readings, students in the class will examine Winfrey’s television show, Web site and her O magazine. They will also study the issue of why so few Black Americans have achieved tremendous wealth and why those who have are mostly entertainers and athletes.
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