Possessed Women, Haunted States: Cultural Tensions in Exorcism Cinema

9781498519083

I am proud to announce the impending release of my first monograph (co-authored with Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University), Possessed Women, Haunted States: Cultural Tensions in Exorcism Cinema. The book considers the various ways that the exorcism films produced since the release of The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973) either reflect, reinforce, or challenge prevailing sociocultural and historical anxieties relating to women, people of color, and the nonheteronormative.

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A collection of my recent podcast appearances

Over the past few weeks, I appeared as a guest on a couple of podcasts, and I thought it might be useful to collect those here for anyone who may have missed them. (it’s also a good excuse to post some new comment on this dusty ol’ blog of mine)

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The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 6 – The X-Files (1993-2002)

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 6 – The X-Files (1993-2002)”

The Pop Culture Lens: Episode 5 – Planet of the Apes (1968)

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 5 – Planet of the Apes (1968)”

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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Violent Masculinity in the films of Nicolas Winding Refn: Part III

This is the third post in a series looking at how Nicolas Winding Refn engages with a recurring notion or approach to masculinity in his films. This series is based on the first draft of the second chapter of my Master’s thesis, titled Gangstas, Thugs, Vikings and Drivers: Global Hegemonic Masculinity and Cinematic Masculine Archetypes in the Films of Nicolas Winding Refn. In this post, I examine the concept of individualism as it relates to masculinity. As always, this is a work in progress, so if you are interested in quoting any of the information here, please contact me first for permission. Additionally, I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions about how the work could be improved or altered. Thank you.

INDIVIDUALISM AND MASCULINITY

In addition to stoicism, Nicolas Winding Refn is also using his films to explore the concept of individualism, which is another important component of the hegemonic masculine ideal that is perpetuated by mass culture (Cowen, 2004; Connell, 2005; Nestingen, 2008). Indeed, many of the films that Refn claims he is drawing upon when making his own films feature lone heroes, such as in the Leone Westerns, or protagonists who consider themselves tough individualists, such as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) or Popeye Doyle in William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971). Furthermore, stoic heroes are often portrayed as rugged individuals who possess an excess of physical toughness and a personal set of skills (Robinson, 2013). Thus, stoicism and individuality appear to be two hegemonic masculine traits that often go hand in hand. The protagonists in nearly all of Refn’s films are (or consider themselves to be) rugged individuals who are determined to make it on their own, whether they directly embody the hegemonic masculine ideal, or are simply engaged in an act of complicit masculinity in order to gain the benefits of hegemony (Kahn, 2009). Therefore, Refn’s exploration of individuality indicates that he is once again drawing from this mythical masculinity that represents a stable notion or approach to masculinity that has been created and reinforced by mass culture.

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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.”