Conference

Talks

Notes or slides from past presentations.

Scribble

WW 2022

The years 1975-1985 have been dubbed "the United Nations Decade for Women," for a series of small, mostly unnoticed but revolutionary, events – reports, meetings, demonstrations, and petitions by thousands of women around the world that granted women a public forum in which they would be heard, work for remedies, gain representation in government, and change laws. Similarly, from 1973 to 1978 in the comics, Wonder Woman, as Diana Prince, was unremarkably employed by the United Nations as a tour guide, interpreter, and publicist. This presentation considers Wonder Woman’s work in the United Nations within the larger context of the "Decade for Women," the U.N.'s efforts to use popular culture (mostly film and television) to educate and to garner popular support through the 1970s, and Wonder Woman's ill-fated term as an honorary U.N. ambassador for women and girls in 2016.

Scribble

NCA 2022

For years, we have debated the merits of teaching public speaking online. The question usually focused on aspects of audience and immediacy, and the answer was frequently to request that students have live audiences, visible on their, unedited, recorded speeches. But now many of us find ourselves teaching fully synchronous remote courses, which presents a range of new concerns for online public speaking, such as live but absent audiences, different nonverbal demands, technical considerations and "production" concerns, offline applicability of the student experience, class size, and instructional limits of faculty’s technical abilities

Scribble

NCA 2022

Political cartoonists took Trump’s pronouncement of being a "wartime president" in the fight against COVID-19 as a cue for their depictions of the pandemic and the government response to its medical and economic impact. Based on previous studies of wartime political cartoons, analysis focuses on depictions of leadership, combatants, weaponry, and the enemy in the pandemic battle and suggests a lack of shared symbolism available to political cartoonists in their responses to the war on COVID.

Smackdown 2021

A defense of Hellboy (2001) as my “favorite” cinematic adaptation of a comic book, based on the aesthetics of the film, which capture the stasis of Mignola’s original art through carvings, background grids, and faithful frame recreations.

Scribble

CSS 2021

The divisive political climate of 2020 was symptomatic of a shift in American culture throughout the 2010s in which Americans grew suspicious of empathy, becoming more likely to empathize for those they perceive as like themselves, and not for those who are different – leading to direct political consequences for vulnerable populations. These are the issues addressed in Commanders in Crisis, in which a team of superheroes takes on timetraveling emotion bandits, bent on stealing the hope from the present because there is none left in the future. When Compassion itself is murdered, the heroes face a case of “Idea-icide” which threatens existence itself. This ideological analysis of Commanders in Crisis will draw from research in the role of compassion in politics from sociological, psychological, philosophical and political theory perspectives, to discuss what the text reveals about community and compassion in contemporary crises.

Scribble

RRII 2021

This presentation considers depictions of politicians as servants of the Dark Side in political cartoons and political satire comic books from 2015-2020 - with particular attention to images of Donald Trump as Darth Vader. The use of such pop culture references provides what Morris (1993) called “domestication” – the conversion of abstract ideas into concrete ones, unfamiliar people to familiar ones, and/or distant events to close ones. Guided by the interaction view of metaphor offered by the philosopher Max Black, discussion considers how different audiences may decode Dark Side allusions in political satire differently and, significantly, how the domestication of public figures like Trump as Darth Vader and Darth Sidious may result in greater public acceptance of egregious political acts.

Scribble
Scribble

NCA 2020

Conners’ (2014) analysis of political cartoons of the 2012 general election revealed that nearly half made some reference to the debates, focusing on a few key moments, consist with the media’s attention to debate highlights rather than substance. Cartoons of the early 2020 primary debates paint an equally insubstantial picture, mostly eschewing both substance and specifics for an impressionistic portrayal, framing the debates as absurd spectacle and the candidates as unelectable jokes.

Scribble

Flyover 2020

Military folkculture sexualizes war by anthropomorphizing the weapons of violence as either phallic symbols or as women needing attention. Pin-up art was thus used to both motivate and educate soldiers. The DC Comics Bombshells complicates and reinforces gendered norms of war and superheroes. Based on DC Collectibles’ designs that reimagines superheroines as vintage pin-up girls, Marguerite Bennett wrote Bombshells as a WWII-era "elseworlds" story, in which DC female, not male, superheroes dominated the landscape of fighting crime and war. The stories work to reclaim feminine sexuality and promote feminist ideology by engaging the playful and subservice elements of pin-up art.

Scribble

NYSCA 2020

This lesson-activity teaches students the basic steps in, and persuasive theories behind, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (MMS). It was inspired by the games "Infomercial" and "Props" on the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? in which comedians improvise sales pitches and uses for random objects. After providing appropriate instruction in MMS, lead the class in discussion of how variations of MMS can be found in "as seen on TV" product commercials, and have the students develop and present their own MMS ad pitches with provided or found props.

Scribble

RSA 2020

RPGs have been understood as a rhetorical genre. Within this genre exists cartography; player-artists craft fantasy maps based on RPG stories that are sold as both artwork and playable gameware. Maps and games are extensions of the animal organism, social man, and the body politic. They are popular, social reactions to the drive and activities of culture, and thus may be understood as representations of socio-eco-political concerns, and guides for making sense of and navigational those concerns. This paper discusses how fantasy mapping is an invitation for communities of engagement, both among gamers and beyond. Analysis borrows from Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope to consider fantasy mapping as hypermedia that shapes interactive possibilities through unifying in/hospitable spatio-temporal settings.

Scribble

ECA 2020

Following the success of The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation came The Torture Report: A Graphic Adaptation, "The Trump Russia-Memos" comic, the Mueller Report Graphic Novel and other sequential artworks premised on government documents or covering political events (including 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail). This presentation examines such works as a particular type of comics journalism and media activism, which encourages lesser-heard voices and recognizes narrative as a mode of knowing.

NYSCA 2019

From Wonder Woman's short term as honorary United Nations ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls, to Women's March signs filled with images of the rebel Princess Leia, to pro-choice protestors clad in red robes from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale, women's rights activism is marked by popular culture. Such imagery can be advantageous when operating as "memetic signifiers" that constitute a rallying point for transient political communities. But, they also propagate a consumer culture that isolates individuals and reflects market segments rather than political ideologies. As part of mass culture, they often embody a Western, white, cisgender, heteronormative, feminism that has been vetted, even created, by the patriarchy. This presentation explores some prominent pop culture icons in women’s rights efforts to discuss the limits of fan-based citizenship.

Scribble

APES 2019

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people, fostering a more compassionate world by teaching the value of listening. Data from online listener surveys suggest that StoryCorps has been successful at increasing understanding and acceptance of diverse peoples and experiences, especially of people with a disability or serious illness, Latinx, African-Americans, and immigrants. StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative provides a platform for veterans, service members, and military families to share their stories, recognizing that “few civilians truly understand the complex realities of our troops’ service and sacrifice.” #VeteransVoices currently includes six animated shorts that depict terror and torment, calamity and comradery of veteran experiences of WWII, Vietnam, and Iraq. This presentation will build on studies of the uses and themes of military cartooning, both still and animated, and on the yet-limited literature of web comics, to explore how the #VeteransVoices animations may work to bridge the civil-military gap in ways that other oral history formats might not.

Scribble

Geek/Art CON 2019

This presentation focuses on the multi-media influences in the DC Comics Bombshells, exploring how the characters developed from pin-up art to embrace multiple period-media genres including pulp serials, war movies, propaganda reels, romances, slapstick comedy, film noir, and Hammer horror. Discussion encompasses cosplay, arguing that the genre-mashups and vintage stylings of the Bombshells both promote and co-opt fan culture. The retro-genre-inspired artwork reflects the same kind of customization that occurs within material fan practices to create transformative narratives. The female-centric stories parallel crossplay, especially in a world where Batwoman’s existence prevents that of Batman. The genre-crossovers are akin to the “Read/Write Culture” or “Commons-Based Peer Production” of fan communities and to the cross-marketing and transmedia storytelling of corporations.

Scribble

CSS 2019

Political satire in comics can be traced back to editorial cartoon lithographs and the emergence of underground comix, with explicit political/presidential satire comic books becoming a staple of the medium by the 21st century, with more than 30 known one-shots and series published since 1966, two-thirds of which were published after the turn of millennium. This presentation builds on political communication and political science scholarship on editorial cartoons and political satire, to discuss how parodic political comics warp the American monomyth to offer a bombastic, but politically ambivalent, depiction of the American presidency that lead critics, readers, and even creators to ask, in the words of Barack the Barbarian’s publisher Josh Blaylock, “What the hell is this?”

Scribble

Page 23 2019

Introduced in 1966, the Batman rogue Poison Ivy is a femme fatale in the tradition of Poisonous Damsel tales such as Hawthorne's Rappaccini’s Daughter. Over the years, her character has become synonymous with ecoterrorism. In 2016, writer Amy Chu wanted to realize the untapped potential of a character caught between worlds, fighting for survival, in the Poison Ivy mini-series "Cycle of Life and Death," and Marguerite Bennett redeveloped a powerful Poison Ivy (among other female heroes in DC) in the WWII-era DC Comics' Bombshells. Meanwhile, in the TV series Gotham Poison Ivy was completely reimagined as an orphaned girl whose maturation through puberty is chemically enhanced. Each variation offers a powerful woman who uses femininity and the roles socially-sanctioned by patriarchy to assert that power, exemplifying such empowerment strategies as eco-feminism and militant motherhood. In so doing, they reflect gender-double binds by presenting the character as simultaneously good and evil – just as her character’s name suggests "look but don’t touch."

Scribble

RRI 2019

This presentation 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, in regards to the Women’s March(es), the resonance of empowered female characters in the latest cinematic installments of Episodes VII and VIII.

Scribble
Scribble

NCA 2018

At the Republican CNBC primary debates in October 2015, moderator John Harwood asked Trump, "Let's be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential primary?" Picking up repeated connections between Trump and the superhero comic book formula, this research focuses on the comics that place Trump in superhero and mainstream comic book parodies. The analysis here is two-fold. The first portion of this paper uses the taxonomy of graphic discourse put forth by Medhurst and DeSousa to demonstrate that political satire presented in a comic book shares the same rhetorical form as a political cartoon. The second portion of the paper, inspired by the work of Conners, uses postmodern rhetorical criticism and intertextual criticism to reveal how the popular culture references in the Trump comic book parodies participate in larger political discourses.

Scribble

NYSCA 2018

Donald Trump is known for a "clunky" speaking style. Though often derided, his communication has a populist appeal in its plain style that makes him sound decisive and politics seem straightforward. Trump presents basic ideas to address big issues. Complicating Trump’s simplicity are a host of cartoonists. While many have skewered Trump's tweets, other artists have gone beyond the single-frame, single-appearance of a political cartoon to give provide context to Trump's quotes, adding their art to his actual words. Indeed, a February 2018 review in the New York Times proclaimed, "There are more Trump-branded spoofs, parodies and sendups than there are Trump-branded hotels." Nonetheless, Sarah Boxer, in The Atlantic, identified twenty reasons that cartooning Trump has been "tricky." As we consider what we have learned in the Trump era about the power of narrative, this paper will explore strengths and weaknesses of re-framing Trump’s rhetoric in the comic frame.

Scribble

PCA/ACA 2018

In 2014, W.J.T. Mitchell wondered about the possibility “of a whole new genre of graphic epistles?” (263). This paper demonstrates a much longer tradition of symbiosis between graphic and epistolary narratives by showcasing and analyzing the use of illustrations, both original and published, in soldiers’ letters from wars, military cartoons about the sending and receiving of letters and mail, and the use of epistolary narrative exposition in war comics. Artefacts considered include: posthumously-published drawings in the Civil War letters of a Union soldier named George; unpublished Great War cartoons found in the illustrated letters of Captain Henry Lamb, archived with the International War Museum; illustrated envelopes from World War II, archived at the Library of Congress; cartoon newspapers created by artist Marion Gurfein for her husband during the Korean War, archived at the Library of Congress; and, popular war comics like Charley’s War by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun, and Bill Mauldin’s Up Front.

Monstrous Women '17

Science-fiction tends to reproduce a rational and regimented masculine modernity in a so-called “galactic suburbia,” wherein strong women may be hypersexualized for male acceptance. Such a struggle between reality and potential exists in Saucer Country where various boundary transgressions are plentiful: legal (border crossing), political (female empowerment), physical (rape), social (nonconformity), and extradimensional (alien invasion). But, whereas many modern comics with strong female leads depict the protagonists embracing monstrosity – whether supernatural or attitudinal – Saucer Country’s Arcadia Alvarado finds her strength in resisting the monstrous. Extraterrestrials, a monstrous other with a mythos of invasion, represent oppression. Her paranormal encounter is, therefore, symbolic of how she - an abused, divorced, Mexican-American, female politician - negotiates the Other and struggles with her own alien identification.

Scribble
Scribble

SOAR 2016

This multi-media presentation discusses the use of humor as both a leadership strategy and coping technique in the military and war, with a focus on comics and animated cartoons.

Scribble

CAC-SDCC 2016

Zombies and soldiers have much in common – they have both touched death and have therefore been isolated, even ostracized, from the society that created them. DC’s eight (plus) issue run of "The New 52 Star Spangled War Stories Featuring GI Zombie" follows the modern-day, yet futuristic, adventure of a flesh-eating, special ops soldier named Jared, code-name G.I. Zombie, "a man who is neither dead nor alive, who fights for his country again…and again…and again!" Zombie narratives revisit and revise past anxieties and traumas to suggest something about the present and future. G.I Zombie is no different. Casting post-9/11 domestic politics into an apocalyptic scenario the short comic book series explores, exploits, and explodes popular narratives of dangerous and melancholy veterans. The presentation will explore how the stories’ zombie motif directly and metaphorically presents issues of surveillance, drone warfare, biological weapons, civil-military relations, and PTSD.

Scribble

Guerres et BD '16

This paper engages image function analysis to compare and contrast how war is visualized in primary graphic accounts created by soldiers during the Great War, in secondary graphic accounts, and in tertiary graphic accounts. Primary graphic narratives emphasize the spatial and sensory orientation of experiencing war, indicated through visuals suggesting movement, distance, and distorted perceptions of danger. Tertiary graphic narratives suggest emotional responses to war, separate from sensory experiences, as expressed through detached, abstract or static, scenes. Secondary graphic narratives blend historical accuracy, emotional reflection, and details of banal and horrific daily life, denoted with carefully researched, detailed visuals. Each type of visualization has challenged conventions of war depictions and contributed to the collective memory of World War I.

PROJECT Comic-Con '16

Image Comics’ action/satire series Bomb Queen by Jimmie Robison switches the dominant male-centered gendered binary of politics and war with a strong, active female lead and weak, inactive male antagonists. The series follow the (s)exploits of the super-villain Bomb Queen, who rules over a city of criminals under watch of the U.S. government. She gets and keeps her power through any means necessary – from blackmail to murder – and has influence in the highest levels of government. This consideration further looks to the implications of a having a strong female lead inappropriate for youth audiences.

Scribble
Scribble

RSA 2014

In scholastic and aesthetic considerations of comics – both books and strips – discussions of "borders" usually involve attention to the use of outlines/frames and page space and usage. In this analysis of soldier-created war comics/cartoons, the discussion will, instead, focus on the representation of real-world borders. Informed by studies of military geography and by research on enemy creation and archetypes this project utilizes Fantasy Theme Analysis to uncover the Soldier point-of-view, or rhetorical vision, of the Other. It examines how military cartoonists have portrayed ideas of Us and Them, Here and There. In short, it is concerned with how borders are re-imagined, to borrow from Anderson, within highly structured, cohesive, and continuous military groups.

NCA 2011

This paper explores soldier-created comics as an often-overlooked aspect of military service. Specifically, it will take an historical perspective on how American soldiers have conceived of gender relations and sexuality from World War I through OEF/OIF. Theoretically grounded in Symbolic Convergence, which offers an explanation for how groups develop and maintain shared worldviews, this research uses Fantasy Theme Analysis to make visible the thoughts and expressions of common soldiers in wartime, in relation/comparison to the very public debates about women and gays in the military.

Scribble
Scribble

Pratt 2007

This colloquia presentation offers a discussion of civil religion, American myths, and George W. Bush’s place in U.S. inaugural tradition as the first president to invoke and acknowledge religions outside the Judeo-Christian faiths.