The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 4 – Bewitched (1964-1972)

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.

Continue reading “The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 4 – Bewitched (1964-1972)”

The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 3 – Carnival of Souls (1962)

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.

Continue reading “The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 3 – Carnival of Souls (1962)”

From Reaffirming to Challenging Traditions: A critical comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II

This post is based on a presentation that I delivered along with Dr. CarrieLynn D. Reinhard at the MPCA/ACA annual conference which took place October 3-5, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This paper is part of a larger project exploring how exorcism films deal a variety of cultural tensions, including female subjugation/rebellion, colonialism, and more. We hope to develop this project as a book, and recently submitted a prospectus and a version of this sample chapter to a publisher. As always, I welcome any and all feedback, so if you have an suggestions or questions, please leave them in the comments below the article. In any event, thanks for reading.

From Reaffirming to Challenging Traditions: A critical comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II

 Introduction

This paper examines how The Last Exorcism (2010) and The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) differ in their representation of the concepts of possession and exorcism. While The Last Exorcism makes use of the found footage conceit to project the illusion that the events onscreen are real, the film’s narrative reflects what we have termed the “traditional exorcism narrative” initially established in The Exorcist (1973). Beat for beat, The Last Exorcism presents a savior priest attempting to exorcise a helpless woman whose possession makes her at once a monster and a damsel in distress. Thus, the film’s innovation primarily lies in how it portrays these events, rather than in its content. In contrast, The Last Exorcism Part II rejects the found footage conceit in favor of a more straightforward Hollywood narrative structure. The film’s portrayal of exorcism, however, problematizes the traditional exorcism narrative due to the way it ultimately resolves the central character’s possession, because it represents the rare occurrence of a possession narrative that does not align with the idea of oppressing or suppressing feminine power, sexuality, and agency.

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Feminist tensions in exorcism cinema, Part 1: The Exorcist (1973)

I am currently collaborating on a project with Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University, in which we propose to examine the feminist tensions that exist within what we are calling exorcism cinema. In her latest blog post, Dr. Reinhard discusses The Exorcist (1973, dir. William Friedkin), which is arguably the most famous exorcism film, and the one that is almost solely responsible for establishing the genre in the first place.

“As previously mentioned, we could not do this project without considering the series of movies that began with William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist, released by Warner Brothers and based on William Peter Blatty’s bestselling 1971 novel. I had only seen the movie once before, and it is one of Chris favorites. We watched the Extended Director’s Cut that was released in 2000. Before seeing the movie, I had read a more recent edition of the novel, which included more scenes that had originally been edited out.”

You can read more at Dr. Reinhard’s blog right here.

Carnival of Souls and Emergent Feminism in the Early Half of the Sexual Revolution.

This is a paper I wrote for a class on Hollywood and the sexual revolution, taught by Dr. Michael DeAngelis during the Fall 2013 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. This is yet another paper I will be revising and sending out for publication over the next few weeks. At this time, I know that I want to further explore how Mary Henry is repressed through the removal of her voice, and also through isolation, as she is often positioned apart from other characters through framing and editing. If you have any suggestions or feedback on other areas I could be looking at, I would greatly appreciate hearing your ideas. Also, because this paper is is not the final version of the paper and it is 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.

“I DON’T BELONG IN THE WORLD”: CARNIVAL OF SOULS AND EMERGENT FEMINISM IN THE EARLY HALF OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION

INTRODUCTION

According to Diana Wallace (2004) “The ghost story as a form has allowed women writers special kinds of freedom…to offer critiques of male power and sexuality which are often more radical than those in more realist genres” (p. 57). Similarly, as Cynthia Murillo (2013) writes, “The female gothic has proved a convenient and suitable forum for challenging conventional gender roles and implicating an oppressive patriarchal structure” (p. 755). While both authors were writing about short stories or gothic novels, their assertions could just as easily be applied to the film Carnival of Souls (1962), despite the fact that the film was written and directed by men. Directed by Herk Harvey and written by John Clifford, the film centers on Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), a strong-willed, independent, sexually liberated young woman who is being pursued and persecuted by a character known simply as The Man (Herk Harvey).

Continue reading “Carnival of Souls and Emergent Feminism in the Early Half of the Sexual Revolution.”

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.

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, INTO THE FALLOPIAN TREE, AND THROUGH THE VAGINAL TUNNEL: FANTASY, FAIRY TALES, AND FEMALE SEXUALITY IN SPIRITED AWAY, PAN’S LABYRINTH AND CORALINE

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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