The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 7 – Godzilla (1954)

The Pop Culture Lens is a scholarly podcast hosted by myself and Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University. In each episode, we seek to offer fresh perspectives on past media as we attempt to determine whether or not it holds any relevance to the contemporary sociocultural experience. We structure the podcast so the format loosely resembles an academic paper, but we present the information in a way that everyone can understand.

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The Hobbit International Research Project

Are you a Tolkien nerd? If so, Dr. Martin Barker of Aberystwyth University needs your help with his massive international survey of Lord of The Rings fans. Check out this blog post from Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard’s site, and learn how you can participate in a huge, international research project.

It's Playing, Just With Research

Are you a Tolkien fan? Did you enjoy the Lord of the Rings films? What do you think of The Hobbit films? Join in with thousands of others and share your thoughts in this massive international survey!

From Dr. Martin Barker, one of the lead researchers on the project, who previously oversaw a similar project on the Lord of the Rings films:

“In December 2014, the most ambitious film audience research project yet undertaken launched.  Based on research groups in 46 countries, and operating in over 30 languages, the World Hobbit Project has set itself the challenge of answering a series of difficult research questions.

With minimal research funding (just enough from the UK’s British Academy to create the complex website, multi-language questionnaire and associated database), we are totally dependent on our ability to use online means to reach a wide range of people around the world.  Our survey went…

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Exploring the Trauma of the Spanish Civil War at the Intersection of Fantasy and Reality

This is a slightly revised version of a paper I wrote for Dr. Michael DeAngelis‘ Cinema of Peace class, which was taught at DePaul University during the winter 2013 quarter. I am currently in the process of sending this paper out for publication. Also, be aware that this paper contains spoilers for both films. Also, because this paper is currently unpublished, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.


The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is a trauma that is specific to the nation of Spain, but one that had far reaching consequences that touched several other nations far beyond Spain’s borders. Indeed, the conflict drew soldiers from France, Germany, the Soviet Union and even China, and is often seen as a precursor to World War II (Raychaudhuri, 2001). It eventually took on a significance that went far beyond a Spanish cultural context, with people around the world viewing it as a battleground between fascism and Communisim, and an ideological conflict between oppression and freedom (Preston, 1996, p. 6). The Spanish Civil War left its mark on countries such as Wales, which is home to numerous Spanish Civil War memorials. However, while the Spanish Civil War would have an impact on Spain (and the rest of the world) for decades to come, those within Spain’s borders were not interested in memorializing the conflict, but rather were content to forget that it ever happened. There was a collective effort to forget the trauma caused by the war and the nearly three decades of fascist oppression that followed (Brinks, 2004). Unfortunately, even when an entire nation chooses to forget, the trauma nevertheless remains, and in this case it cast a shadow over not only Spain’s national history, but over the history of the entire world as well.

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Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Female Sexuality in Spirited Away, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Coraline

This is an edited transcript of a presentation I gave at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference that took place Oct 11-13 in St. Louis, MO.  I am currently in the early stages of revising it for publication, and hope to start sending it out to journals early next year.  As always, I welcome any and all feedback and comments on the ideas presented within. Also, because this paper is incomplete and not currently published in any journals, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.


Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865), the films Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001), Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006), and Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009) all feature stories in which young girls enter a new world of adult responsibilities and concerns, and are guided on their journeys through these worlds by an older male character. All three films use fairy tales and fantasy tropes to explore the various challenges and opportunities faced by the female protagonists as they navigate both their emergent sexuality, and the tensions that exist between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

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