Colleges are for learning on a wide variety of subject matters and you can now include heavy metal among them as Bowling Green State University will host the first 'Heavy Metal and Popular Culture International Conference' next month. The event, which runs April 4-7, was founded by BGSU's Jeremy Wallach, Esther Clinton and Brian Hickam -- all metal fans who got the idea while attending similar heavy metal educational conferences in Europe.

Wallach, a popular culture professor at the university, told the Toledo Free Press, "It was clear the whole metal studies thing was taking off and we had this idea that we would do a conference on heavy metal here in Bowling Green, which made a sense for a lot of reasons. Toledo's always been a metal town and Ohio's a metal state, especially in the northern part of the state. Toledo is part of the Rust Belt and industrial wastelands have always been a part of the heavy metal mythos from the beginning."

Hickam added that the focus of the event is on heavy metal, music and culture and "it's completely scholarly." The conference is free to attend and registration is encouraged, though not required.

The conference will feature keynote speeches from Laina Dawes, author of 'What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal,' Keith Kahn-Harris, author of 'Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge,' and Robert Walser, author of 'Running With the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music.' Plus there will be many panel and roundtable discussions.

Some of the topics addressed in sessions during the conference include metal's transgression of genres, racial politics and gender issues in metal, the cultural identities associated with metal, the origins and meanings of the genre and metal's place in comics and sci-fi.

For a complete schedule and to register for this year's event, check out the 'Heavy Metal and Popular Culture International Conference' website here.