• Ph.D. 2001 – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Curriculum and Instruction

Areas of Expertise

  • The Lettrist International
  • The Situationist International
  • Dètournement
  • Psychogeography and the Dèrive
  • The Spectacle
  • Cultural Studies and Education
  • Popular Culture Representations of Education
  • Critical Media Literacy
  • English Education


James Trier earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin and joined the faculty of UNC’s School of Education in 2001. He teaches a core course about critical social theory in the Culture, Curriculum, and Teacher Education program. In the Master of Arts in Teaching program, he teaches an English Methods course. In the Ed Minor program, he teaches courses on representations of education in popular culture, and a course on public pedagogy. Prior to entering UW’s doctoral program, he taught composition and literature courses at various colleges in and around Boston, and prior to that he had been a high school and middle school English teacher.


Trier’s most recent scholarly work is the book Guy Debord, the Situationist International, and the Revolutionary Spirit, published in 2019. This history of the Lettrist International and the Situationist International was preceded by his edited book Dètournement as Pedagogical Praxis, which won an American Educational Studies Association Critic’s Choice award in 2015. He has also written extensively about representations of education in popular culture. His publications include “Representations of Education in HBO’s The Wire, Season Four” (Teacher Education Quarterly); Half Nelson and Dialectics” (Journal of Thought); “Inquiring into ‘Techniques of Power’ with Preservice Teachers through the ‘School Film’ The Paper Chase” (Teaching and Teacher Education); “Exploring the Concept of ‘Habitus’ with Preservice Teachers through the Use of Popular School Films” (Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education); “Detournement as Pedagogical Praxis” (Journal of Thought);“‘Sordid Fantasies’: Reading Popular ‘Inner-City’ School Films as Racialized Texts with Preservice Teachers” (Race, Ethnicity and Education); and “The Cinematic Representation of the Personal and Professional Lives of Teachers (Teacher Education Quarterly).