Annotated Bibliography

Notebooks

Knopf, C.M. (2022). Shark storms: Syfy’s splasher and splashstick films. In J. Wigard & M. Ploskonka (Eds.), Attack of the new B movies: Essays on SYFY original films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

Lists of over 100 shark-centric movies can be found on the Internet, many of them made by, and many others featured on, the Syfy network. “Jawsploitation” films, “the franchised sequels, unlicensed rip-offs and other imitations that followed the un-precedented success of Steven Spielberg's Jaws in 1975” may be considered “a horror sub-genre in its own right.” I.Q. Hunter divides these films into Creature Features, which substitute some other rogue animal for that of the monster shark, and Sharksploitation, which are shark horrors that may/not (re)appropriate Jaws. This essay will argue that Syfy’s sharksploitation films have established their own subgenres, termed here as “splasher” and “splashstick”: postmodern Jaws rip-offs that push the boundaries of believability and transcend the boundaries of littoral zones.

Knopf, C.M. (2022). Heterotopia and horror at Show’s End. In F.G.P. Berns & J. Darowski (Eds.), Critical approaches to horror comic books: Red ink in the gutter. Routledge

Described as “equal parts brutal and beautiful,” Show’s End takes place in Georgia during the 1920s and follows Loralye, a 12-year-old runaway seeking refuge with a traveling freak show. Monstrous mysteries and cruel carnage follow. The fearsome freaks of Show’s End exemplify the collision of circus and horror as uncanny figures that are at once familiar and unsettling, distortions of “normalcy” that disrupt the established hierarchies of society. Through application of Foucault’s principles of heterotopia, analysis consider how the comic depicts the performance of freakery, with specific attention to both the reactionary element of the heterotopia that marks difference as grotesque and the revolutionary element that celebrates, even empowers, nonconformity.

Knopf, C.M. (2022). Caped crusaders and cartoon crossovers: A nostalgic look “Beyond” DC superheroes. In D. Brode (Ed.), The DC comics universe: Critical essays. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

DC Comics’ Hanna-Barbera Beyond Initiative invokes multiple nostalgias. Commercially, it depends at least in part on evoking memories of an idyllic past. But these comics are not the classic cartoons fans remember, and so another aspect of nostalgia triggers a sense of loss through devices such as the deaths of  long-beloved characters. The nostalgic reflection also offers critical commentary on both the eras of the original texts and the contemporary culture of the new adaptations, inspiring a need for social resistance and political action against the power structures that would enable the destruction of innocence through such means as censorship, cultural annihilation, chemical warfare, animal cruelty, warlord governance, or environmental devastation.

Knopf, C.M. (2022, Feb 14). Joker, jesters, and gender: Subverting social standards. In Media Res, Transmedia Joker Week.

Gotham has a new clown in town! The introduction of Punchline as Joker’s new girlfriend, now that Harley Quinn has gone her own way, points to the importance of the “bad clown” as a symbol for resistance Clowns embody a collision of horror and comedy, enacting “innocent” violence, and they are liminal figures, corrupting social norms. The Joker and his girlfriends, Harley Quinn and Punchline (described in the video clip), embrace the clown aesthetic, which is symbolic of their gendered relationships and roles – and their rejection of the same.

Knopf, C.M. (2022). AfterShock’s Rough Riders and the reification of race reimagined. In M. Goodrum, D. Hall, & P. Smith (Eds.), Drawing the past, Vol. 1: Comics and the historical imagination in the United States, pp. 212-227. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

Though alternative histories ask and attempt to answer the question of what sort of world would exist if all things were possible, daring to challenge historical record as well as the accepted limits of both the physical and social worlds, this essay argues that there are racial limits to the experiment when they depend on particular generic traits. The superheroic steampunk president, as found in the series Rough Riders and Rough Riders Nation, demonstrate that an alternative history founded on an aesthetic of capitalist and colonial violence and prejudices has limits in promoting a progressive vision of new possibilities.

Knopf, C.M. (2021). The Democratic primary debates in political cartoons, or Santa Claus gets voted off Fantasy Island. In R. Denton, Jr. (Ed.), Studies of communication in the 2020 presidential campaign, pp. 83-104. Lanham, MD: Lexington.

Research suggests that political cartoons about presidential debates are likely to focus on a few key moments, consistent with the media’s attention to debate highlights, particularly gaffes and soundbites, rather than debate substance. Cartoons of the 2020 Democratic primary debates offered an equally insubstantial picture, but eschewed substance not for highlights but for general impressions that framed the debates as absurd spectacles and the candidates as unelectable jokes.

Knopf, C.M. (2021). Superman, a super freak: Returning the Man of Steel to the circus in DC Bombshells. In J. Darowski (Ed.), Adapting Superman: Essays on the transmedia Man of Steel, pp. 207-215. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

The DC Bombshells adaptation of Superman is both restorative and transformational. Styled as a twentieth-century circus performer, the image speaks to the strongman-inspiration behind the Man of Steel’s original costuming in 1938, and thus carries with it all the nationalistic and racialized weight of social Darwinism and biological superiority that was bound to ideals of physical development at the turn of the century. This new old-fashioned look also embraces the costuming of the circus aerialist, whose ability to transcend Earthly confines was once perceived as godly, connecting the Bombshell to the philosophical concept that bears his name – the Übermensch. But the strongman and the aerial contortionist were also part of the human oddities in circuses often referred to as “freaks.” This marks the Bombshell Superman as transformational, allowing him to be a symbol not only of male power fantasies, human ideals, or the American way, but also of transgendered identities, human fears, and complex international civics.

Knopf, C.M. (2021). “Like his dad”: Epistolic constructions of American children in World War II. Home Front Studies, 1(1), 59-83.

Limited attention has been given to how propaganda positioned children in the milieu of World War II – perhaps because they were effectively little adults, small versions of their parents, playing the same roles as the women and men in their families. Children, with their youthful innocence and whole lives ahead of them, were naturally symbolic of The Issues – what America was fighting for. And when fathers missed out on the births and/or milestones of their children, it was understood as part of the Sacrifice needed to win the fight. The propaganda message that most strongly defined children and childhood of World War II was OWI’s theme of Work and Production – the war at home and how each can fight. They bought bonds. They emulated soldiers and starlets. They boosted morale. They helped at home. Normal familial responsibilities like household chores took on added significance in the absence of fathers. Normal childish play became vital to the emotional well-being of mothers, grandparents, and extended family who had many worries and few entertainment options.

Knopf, C.M. (2021). Politics in the gutters: American politicians & elections in comic book media. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

Comic books are an art form and a mass medium with considerable reach. From a critical standpoint, they offer a popular yet complicated vision of the American political tableau. The purpose of this project is to examine the political myths, moments, and mimeses, in comic books – from non-fiction to science-fiction, superhero to horror, dramatic to satirical, golden age to present day – to consider how they represent, re-present, underpin, and/or undermine ideas and ideals about American electoral politics.

Knopf, C.M. (2020). Back chat: Subversion and conformity in dominion cartoons of the World Wars. In T. Tuleja (Ed.), Different drummers: Military discipline and its discontents, pp. 32-47. The University Press of Colorado/Utah State University Press.

This essay focuses on cartoons created by artists-at-arms in the countries of the British Empire during the World Wars. The strict discipline and brutal training regimens of Great Britain were credited for enabling soldiers to endure the harsh conditions of World War I. Conformity was rewarded and rebellion was penalized with loss of privileges, dangerous duties, or Field Punishment. Jokes at the expense of the officers would, therefore, be particularly subversive. The analysis, drawing on the Goffman, of such insubordinate humor will argue that cartoons work as a rhetoric of polarization in which the enlisted are set in opposition to the officer-class, thus strengthening a shared identity among the rank-and-file warriors.

Knopf, C.M. (2020). Bill Mauldin’s legacy in military cartooning. In T. DePastino (Ed.), Drawing fire: The editorial cartoons of Bill Mauldin, pp. 87-103. Chicago, IL: Pritzker Military Museum & Library.

This short essay considers Bill Mauldin’s place with the tradition of military cartooning, war comics, graphic reportage, and editorial cartooning. It considers the tradition he inherited from previous generations and how his work uniquely eclipsed that of his predecessors and became the standard for his successors.

Knopf, C.M. (2020). The American nightmare: Graveyard voters, demon sheep, devil women, and lizard people. In D. Picariello (Ed.), The politics of horror, pp. 3-16. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

With zombie-voters, claims, economics, websites, PACs, partisanship, and campaign ads, counter-zombie military strategy, and zombie-plague preparedness kits, American politics are synonymous with horror. Symbols of the uncanny, from the Biblically apocalyptic to the cinematically campy, have increasingly manifested in political discourse, from the communication of campaigns to the dramas of democracy. Undead metaphors help the public to make sense of a political discourse that calls out hidden evils to prey on primal fears. But in recent years, our monsters have become emboldened. We now have an explicit blending of the Gothic and the government, of politics and poltergeists, and of campaigns and carnage. A rhetoric of monstrosity used by politicians and pundits alike exposes the decaying landscape of American public discourse.

Knopf, C.M. (2020). UFO (unusual female other) sightings in Saucer Country/State: Metaphors of identity and presidential politics. In S. Langsdale & E. Coody (Eds.), Monstrous women in comics, pp. 257-273. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.  

Saucer Country and Saucer State follows the leading Democratic candidate for President of the United States, New Mexico Governor Arcadia Alvarado, while she negotiates her gubernatorial duties, presidential bid, alcoholic ex-husband, and fragmented memories of an alien abduction. To consider the blending of feminist possibilities in science-fiction and politics with the monstrous othering that happens in both realms, this project uses metaphor criticism to isolate, sort, and explain the extra-terrestrial alien/Monstrous Other as a metaphor in “Saucer,” with the female lead – Arcadia Alvarado, a woman in the masculine realm of American politics, and the granddaughter of illegal/alien Mexican immigrants – as the point of alien contact.

Knopf, C.M. (2020, Apr 15). Menacing and maternal: The limits of motherhood in Spider-Man. In Media Res, Spider-Man Week.

Second-Wave Feminist ideas about the boundless capabilities of women linked motherhood to superheroism through the nomenclature the “supermom.” Ironically, the superhero genre itself, with its power fantasies of hegemonic masculinity, limits the options for maternal roles, highlighting conflicting messages about womanhood. This note briefly considers how Spider-Man perpetuates the double-binds of modern motherhood, with a specific look at the villain Shriek.

Knopf, C.M. (2019). War is hell: The (super)nature of war in the works of Mike Mignola. In S.G. Hammond (Ed.), The Mignolaverse: Hellboy and the comics art of Mike Mignola, pp. 144-155. Edwardsville, IL: Sequart Organization.

Traversing the richly dramatic settings of the trenches of World War I, the European theater of World War II, and the atomic test sites of the Cold War, Mike Mignola’s readers have been confronted with the horrors of war. Human violence takes shape in supernatural evils, offering a stark glimpse of what war hath wrought and questioning the essence of humanity. Soldiers and landscapes alike are transformed through encounters with weaponry. Veterans are left wounded and haunted by the spirits of the dead. Casualties mount as people are sacrificed and ideas die. Creation gives way to destruction, and action triumphs over reason. This essay explores these themes of war by examining intertextualities.                

Knopf, C.M. (2019). “Carrie Fisher sent me”: Princess Leia as an avatar of resistance in the Women’s March(es). Unbound: A Journal of Digital Scholarship, 1(1).

Multiple news organizations noted the heavy use of Star Wars allusions in the symbols and signage at the 2017 Women’s March. Many fans and commentators observed the political power of pop culture and acknowledged how the use of fandoms could engender a sense of community among March participants. This essay argues that the use of Star Wars iconography in protests act as “memetic signifiers” that allow for inclusivity and viral diffusion. Star Wars as protest symbols merge the collectivized patterns of communication within fandom communities with the processes of collective identification within social movements to produce a position of difference that depends on the collective memory content of the Star Wars franchise and the resonance of empowered female characters in its latest multi-media installments.

Knopf, C.M. (2019, Oct 14). The new nostalgic impulse of Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop gaming. In Media Res, Tabletop Gaming Week.

In 2016, headlines began proclaiming the resurgence of the tabletop roll-playing-game Dungeons & Dragons. Its new-found acceptance has been attributed to multiple factors: recognition of the game’s value in therapy and skills-building, simplified gameplay, Internet-enabled networking with players, widespread popularity of fantasy and adventure, and exposure through mainstream mass media. This final component points to another element in renewed tabletop gaming interest: nostalgia.

Knopf, C.M. (2019). Politics as “the sum of everything you fear”: Scarecrow as phobia entrepreneur. In D. Picariello (Ed.), Politics in Gotham: The Batman universe and political thought, pp. 159-176. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

David Altheide noted the “pervasive use of fear is part of the social construction of reality in the modern age,” what Barry Glassner calls “the culture of fear” and Hisham Ramadan and Jeff Shantz label “social phobias”: Fears of others within contemporary society, related to terror, cultural decay, invasion, and more. These contain several recurring themes including fears of poverty, contagion, and violent disorder. Such anxieties are constructed by social actors - what Shantz and Ramadan term “phobic entrepreneurs” - often decision-makers who use fear to control populations. Politics of fear are the result of perceived social chaos, though fear is, as outlined by Corey Robin, a hindrance to civilization. This essay argues that Batman’s nemesis Dr. Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, is a phobic entrepreneur who manipulates fear in the crime-ridden Gotham City in ways that are historically analogous to the politics of fear found in a troubled America.

Knopf, C.M. (2019, Sep 16). Queer female Superheroes: DC Comics Bombshells tell their own story. FLOW: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture, 26(1) “New Faces, New Voices, New Bodies.”

The feminist, queer, comic book series DC Comics Bombshells achieves “a level of representation still largely absent in most mainstream films and TV shows.” DC Comics Bombshells, with its all-female starring cast, established by an all-female creative team, exemplifies the validation of women’s experiences and self-expression. This essay looks at how the comic’s WWII allohistory offers an effective metaphor and nostalgic frame for successfully presenting situated knowledge to a mainstream.

Knopf, C.M. (2018). Queen of burlesque: The subtle (as a hammer) satire of Bomb Queen. In M. Goodrum, T. Prescott, & P. Smith (Eds.), Gender and the superhero narrative, pp. 101-123. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

Using a postmodern rhetorical criticism, this project explores the use of satire, irony, parody, and Carnivalesque humor in Bomb Queen comics. The carnivalesque and burlesque are a paradox for women, and Bomb Queen is no exception. In the power reversal of a strong and sexually dominant female lead character, the men are figuratively and literally emasculated, perpetuating stereotypes of gender relations. While Bomb Queen might take these roles to absurdities, the public woman is already seen as transgressive, which diminishes the incongruity of the farce. Despite the ambiguities in its approach, Bomb Queen does fulfill the desirable functions of political satire: it highlights gaps in dominant myths, especially about politics and gender roles; it offers a plurality of perspectives for understanding experiences, particularly through its topsy-turvy treatment of right and wrong; and, BQ represents embodied opposition to dominant political and behavioral norms. 

Knopf, C.M. (2018). Sinne fianna fáil: Women, Irish rebellions, and the graphic novels of Gerry Hunt. In N. Tal & T. Prorokova (Eds.), Cultures of war in graphic novels: Violence, trauma, and memory, pp. 123-137. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

In the age of reconciliation, political commemoration and art in Ireland are controversial and Gerry Hunt’s historical graphic novels on periods of Irish rebellion are no exception. One particular aspect of memory still being negotiated and challenged is the place of women in Irish rebellion. Recognizing the importance of storytelling form in nonfiction comics, goals and narrative choices in historical texts, and the interaction of narrative and public memory construction, this study uses narrative criticism to consider the portrayal of women in Irish rebellion and revolution as told in Hunt’s graphic novels. As contested participants in a contested history, the status of republican, and even loyalist, women in Irish memory has been complicated, but Hunt’s acknowledgement of their roles both as women (mothers, sisters, wives, lovers) and as warriors (medics, dispatches, fighters, protestors) in revolution helps to demonstrate their inextricable place in history.

Knopf, C.M. (2018). Marvel’s Shamrock: Haunted heroine, working woman, guardian of the galaxy. In M. DiPaolo (Ed.), Working class comic book heroes: Class conflict and populist politics in comics, pp. 206-225. Jackson MS: University Press of Mississippi.

This chapter considers the interplay of gender, nationality, powers, and vocations in the character of Molly “Shamrock” Fitzgerald. A reluctant superhero, Shamrock served as a voice for the voiceless: women, children, workers, and the dead. Spiritually connected to a war she disavowed, she stayed modestly in the background when possible and took on maternal responsibilities of educator and caretaker – low-profile, emotionally-draining roles that would necessitate her working odd jobs through retirement. With strengths found through feminine agency, Shamrock’s intermittent appearances throughout the Marvel universe between 1982 and 2015 are strikingly representative of the complicated history of women in society, war, and work.

Knopf, C.M. (2018, Jun 11). BrainDead: The horrors of election 2016. In Media Res, Politics & Horror Week.

Discourse surrounding the 2016 presidential election cast Barack Obama as the antichrist, Hillary Clinton as Illuminati, and Donald Trump at Cthulhu, thus establishing public dialogue that equates politicians with monsters – a theme developed in BrainDead, a science-fiction/political-satire television series that premiered on CBS, June 13, 2016, just weeks before the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. With a Stepford Wives meets House of Cards vibe, this piece argues that BrainDead’s brief one-season run used creatures and gore to highlight issues of political inhumanity, economic disparity, growing distrust in government, and loss of rationality in political discourse.

Knopf, C.M. (2017). “Hey, soldier! - Your slip is showing!”: Militarism vs. femininity in WWII comic pages and books. In J. Kimble & T. Goodnow (Eds.), The 10 cent war: Comic books, propaganda, and World War II, pp. 26-45. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

Total U.S. mobilization in World War II raised concerns about the sanctity about the proper place of women in society. To overcome public opposition to women in the workforce and the military, media portrayed women war workers as strong and competent, yet feminine and temporary, balancing patriotic duty with domestic commitments. Several comic artists explicitly tackled America’s perceptions of women in the military, and this chapter contends that by working within the public’s latitude of acceptance, characters such as Winnie the WAC, Molly Marine, War Nurse, the Girl Commandos, Diana Prince, and others provided reassurance to the American public about women’s place in society while simultaneously and surreptitiously demonstrating women’s competence for military duty.

Knopf, C.M. (2016). Zany zombies, grinning ghosts, silly scientists, and nasty Nazis: Comedy-horror at the threshold of World War II. In C.J. Miller & A.B. VanRiper (Eds.), The laughing dead: The comedy-horror film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland, pp. 25-38. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Comedy-horror-war films tend to fall into three types: zombie, funny ghost, and mad-scientist. Using theories of cinema as door, such as Bakhtin’s concept of the Carnivalesque, this chapter explores the presentation of comedy and liminality in these films, this chapter highlights how comedy-horror of World War II helped audiences to confront and defeat the shadow of death by demonstrating the message of the era – “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Knopf, C.M. & Doran, C.M. (2016). PTXD: Gendered narratives of combat, trauma, and the civil-military divide. In C. Bucciferro (Ed.), The X-Men films: A cultural analysis, pp. 61-73.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 

Using a feminist critique that draws from studies of civil-military relations and trauma, this chapter argues that although the X-Men film franchise seems invested in challenging privilege -racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc. - they nonetheless ultimately reinforce the divide between soldier and civilian by questioning who should fight and how. Discussion focuses on mutants whose powers/killing-potential were weaponized in the battles between humans and mutants: Wolverine, Mystique, Rogue, and Phoenix. Analysis reveals a cinematic reflection of social fears of defilement from unrestrained violence, pitting civil society against the dangerous veteran and the dangerous woman.

Knopf, C.M. (2015). The U.N.dead: Cold War ghosts in Carol for another Christmas. In C.J. Miller & A.B. Van Riper (Eds.), Horrors of war: The undead on the battlefield, pp. 136-53. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

In December 1964 the United Nations broadcast its first in a series of 25th anniversary, promotional television movies, Carol for Another Christmas. This apocalyptic film is described as the darkest retelling of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Facing the threat of nuclear war, isolationist Daniel Grudge, made intolerant by the death of his son during World War II, is taken on a spectral journey to understand the possibility of a world at peace through global cooperation and humanitarianism. Drawing on literature of the “spectral turn” in humanities and social science, analysis reveals this anti-war movie as a unique Cold War haunting, blending Victorian ghost story with atomic science-fiction.                   

Knopf, C.M. (2015). The comic art of war: A critical study of military cartoons, 1805-2014, with a guide to artists. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

For military cartoonists the absurdity of war inspires a laugh-or-cry response and provides an endless source of un-funny amusement. Cartoons by hundreds of artists-at-arms from more than a dozen countries and spanning two centuries are included in this study—the first to consider such a broad range of military comics. War and military life are examined through the inside jokes of the men and women who served. The author analyzes themes of culture, hierarchy, enemies and allies, geography, sexuality, combat, and civilian relations and describes how comics function within a community. A number of artists included were later known for their work with Disney, Marvel Comics, the New Yorker and on Madison Avenue but many lesser known artists are recognized.

Knopf, C.M. (2014). Sense-making and map-making: War letters as personal geographies. NANO, 6/Cartography & Narrative.

This essay suggests the cartographic potential of war letters as spatial artifacts, demonstrating the usefulness of spatial narratives to cartographic studies, and touches on the importance of spatial rhetoric in sense-making for persons in war.

Knopf, C.M. (2012). Relational dialectics in the civil-military relationship: Lessons from veterans’ transition narratives. Political & Military Sociology: An Annual Review, 40, 171-192.

This article examines U.S. veteran narratives of transition from Iraq combat to civilian life, using relational dialectics to explore the under studied aspects of communication and interpersonal interactions in civil-military relations theory and studies. A close reading of eight veteran narratives at SupportYourVet.org extrapolates common themes of tensions regarding veteran interaction with civilian and military communities, suggesting lessons to be learned about the civil-military relationship as enacted and as studied.

Knopf, C.M. & Ziegelmayer, E.J. (2012). Fourth generation warfare & the US military’s social media strategy: Promoting the academic conversation. Air & Space Power Journal – Africa & Francophonie, Q4, 3-22.

In the 21st century, technology, demographics, and socio-political transitions are altering the character of warfare in a manner akin to the changes wrought by the French Revolution. Contemporary military commanders must incorporate the effects of this transformation into planning for future operations. This article relates Defense Department strategies and official and unofficial military practices to theories of war and to and military sociology and media research. As such, the work draws on scholastic, military, and popular sources to explore the various facets of the US military’s use of Web 2.0.

Knopf, C.M. (2011). Those who bear the heaviest burden: War and American exceptionalism in the age of entitlement. In J. Edwards & D. Weiss (Eds.), The rhetoric of American exceptionalism: Critical essays, pp. 171-88. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Press.

This chapter begins with an overview the definition of American exceptionalism, with special attention to hard work and sacrifice in the formation of the exceptionalist identity, then reviews the rise of narcissism in the American ethos. Discussion continues with an explanation of the significance of war in the creation and maintenance of exceptionalist identities, and concludes with an analysis of war rhetoric that traces the surfacing of entitlement in the American ethos and its role in reshaping American exceptionalism.        

Knopf, C.M. (2010). Al Gore’s rational faith and unreasonable religion. In D. Weiss (Ed.), What Democrats talk about when they talk about God: Religious communication in Democratic party politics, pp. 93-113. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

As a presidential candidate, Al Gore, Jr., proclaimed that everything in the Bible made sense to him, and his faith in God guided his life. As an activist and spokesperson for the environment and against the Bush-Cheney administration, Gore’s “faith tradition” informed many of his arguments and colored his prose. Since 2001, he called for an America that relies on the rule of reason as the preferred path to truth, with facts, and not ideologies, at the basis of all public debate. Ironically, he does so while speaking of intangibles like hope, faith, and spirit, and referencing verses of the Old and New Testaments. This chapter discusses how Gore’s rhetoric of rational religion, his use of faith to create a case for reason, may have been contradictory, but was accessible to sympathizers of varying beliefs and it allowed him to answer the religious arguments of his opponents in kind.