Showing posts with label Popular Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Popular Culture. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

CFP: 2nd Call: Teaching Popular Culture

So the submissions are starting to trickle in so I thought I would take the opportunity to remind people about this CFP!  I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  


First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 



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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reality & Continuity, Or Why 9/11 Reveals Some Insights About Live-Action Superheroes

The following is an except of a blog post, I wrote for Jeremy Flagg's blog in celebration of his upcoming superhero novel, Nighthawks.


Word cloud of this post in the form of a person reading a book.
Superheroes aren’t real. (Gasp, I think one may have just died because I said that). They aren’t, but the rise of realism in comic storytelling that emerged in the second half of the 20th century, means that readers demand realistic elements to the storytelling. Even though our capes are walking deus-ex-machinas, we prefer the veneer that all things are genuine struggles for them. But surprisingly, superheroes do have limits. They are not perfect. Because for all that the superheores can do in their fictional realms, they cannot leap from the page and be a part of this world. However, they can appear increasingly life-like through good and sustained storytelling.


A good measure to think about superheroes is to consider how they operate in response to the world around us? How do they deal with real tragedies such as 9/11 and other tragic events wherein they are specifically designed to protect us from? Herein, I will explore how both DC and Marvel have grappled with that idea and the implications it has had for their cinematic and television universes.


I turn to Peter Coogan and his seminal book on the superhero as a genre (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/222322.Superhero) to highlight the power of the genre over others and how it may operate or deal with the real world.


“Real events from the past are worked in…Likely it will become more prominent as creators are freed from the burden of timeless continuity and are able to present stories that deal with the passage of time in more flexible ways….The superhero has a unique signifying function. It can be used to express ideas that other genres cannot portray as well. Superheroes embody a vision of the use of power unique to America.


Superheroes enforce their own visions of right and wrong on others, and they possess overwhelming power, especially in relation to ordinary crooks. They can project power without danger to themselves, and they can effortlessly solve problems that ordinary authorities cannot handle. This vision of power fits quite well with the position America finds itself in after the Cold War. America is the only superpower in the world, something like Superman in the days before other superheroes and supervillains.”

For the rest, visit Jeremy's blog and check out some of his other great content!

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, January 23, 2017

CFP: 1st Call: Teaching Popular Culture

So as some of you know, I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  


First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 



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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Review: With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830

With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830 With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830 by LeRoy Ashby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ashby's mammoth text (700 pages long; 33+ hours of listening on audiobook) was a fascinating and excellent discussing of popular culture that was great in terms of timing as I listening to it just as I was revising my online Popular Culture in the US course (You can see the course preview here or the course playlist here). Ashby covers a whole lot of content, arenas of popular culture, and events within popular culture. But equally important, he ties it together well as he drifts in each chapter from sports to reading to radio to television to other arenas. In reading it, you get a much fuller sense of mesh of intersections within popular culture while also a framework for understanding how it connects to the culture at large and history. Now, I just need to find a way to integrate the book within my own course.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Review: Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives

Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives by Howard J. Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like this is a book I need to read at least once a year because as much as I agree, understand, and deeply appreciate its message, I also know it's horribly easy to ignore. The message is that we--all of us--you, me, the author, and everyone--are innately biased in ways that are not clear to us. Unfortunately, many of these biases are arbitrary and many of them may incline us to think and act in ways that are against our actual beliefs. Ross traces the many different ways in which we are blind to our biases and the various ways we succumb to our biases. He also illustrates ways of overcoming some of our biases some of the time but makes clear it's probably impossible (and probably for the best) to overcome all of our biases all of the time. Rather, the goal is to reduce it in places and situations where it undermines our sense of fairness and equality. Ross comes from this with a nonjudgmental tone and works hard to help the reader understand that the bias itself is not an indicator of guilt or blame, but rather something that exists beyond our rational minds.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 1, 2016

Catching A Classic At the Cabot

I enjoy films and have had the opportunity to use it in several courses and even teach an adapting fiction into film class over the years.  I've also been a fan of movies and enjoy the experience deeply.  However, I most recently had one of the most magical experiences of watching a film.  

I certainly enjoy watching new films up on the big screen as opposed to at home but I don't got too often because the price is often not worth it and very few movies warrant it.  However, I find myself more and more wanting to watch older films on the big screen.  I get particularly excited when I discover that a local theater is playing a classic movie on their big screen because the opportunity to sit in a darkened theater and experience a film as it was originally conceived to be presented puts me in touch with a past that I will never really know.  

This is particularly true for older black and white film, before an age of television when the films could only be shown on the big screen.  There are interesting differences in the black and white films of the early 20th century as opposed to the modern film and it's always a lot of fun to watch and connect with that history of film.

Film poster for 1925 film, Varieté
Thus, when The Cabot, a local historical theater in Beverly, Massachusetts offered up the 1925 film, Varieté, I was excited to watch a silent black and white film on the big screen.  I knew nothing about the film.  I only knew I had a free Friday night and the show would be a good activity.  

However, this was no mere showing of the film.  The soundtrack for the film was to be provided by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO).  Yes, there is a silent film orchestra and they are absolutely fabulous!  The orchestra stems from a film-score course at Berklee wherein students find a silent film and over the course of the semester create a film score for it.  They do not listen to the original score but rather work hard to come up with a score that embodies what they see happen throughout the film and they did an amazing job, coming up with 90 minutes of music and sounds that perfectly captured the film's mood, actions, and themes.  

The film itself is a fascinating film in terms of its cinematography and aesthetics.  It follows the antics of an acrobat who leaves his wife for a newly acquired (literally) love, only to lose her to another acrobat and thus feels compelled to murder the other acrobat.  The plot is problematic to say the least as the violence towards and possession of women is problematic (e.g. he has no issue leaving his wife and child for a woman he essentially owns but has fault with her leaving him; she is raped by the second acrobat but somehow this encourages her to fall for him) feels beyond antiquated but outright barbaric.  Looking beyond that (as hard as it may be), the cinematography is quite impressive for a 90-year-old film.  The use of camera angle, the capturing of the acrobatics, and some of the inventive shots and pans were fascinating.  Equally, this film as much as Nosferatu and many other classic silent films captures the power of the silent film in the sense of how much it could convey with only a handful of title cards.

But the BSFO made the movie absolutely magical.  Its power was in its almost entire absence.  As I sat in my seat in the mezzanine seat (more on that later) and could not see them, it was often hard to remember that I was actually listening to live music in an old theater.  Their music for all ninety minutes of the film blended seamlessly with the film and added such a strong ambiance that throughout they felt as part of the natural landscape (soundscape?) of the film.  The only times I was drawn to their existence was when the audience would break out into applause at their work (not entirely sure when this happened but it might have been at the switching of conductors or clear pauses in their performance).  
A picture of the Cabot theater from the upper mezzanine level.
A picture of the Cabot theater from the upper mezzanine level.

Besides the amazing music, something else made the cinematic experience so transcendent and magical.  I opted to buy tickets in the upper mezzanine at The Cabot.  I've been to many events here but never when the mezzanine has been opened.  I opted for the mezzanine because I thought it would be cool but also, the upper mezzanine (think: partial nosebleed) was also cheaper (not by much).  But these were the perfect seats.  I still saw the film perfectly but I also felt enveloped in the theater in such a way as I rarely experienced before.  I love the new theaters with their comfortable, spacious and reclining seats.  But sitting in the mezzanine section with few others lost in a beautifully restored and visually-well constructed film with amazing live music--it was something I won't soon forget and wholly had not experienced until this point. 

The next time The Cabot does this, I will most definitely be there.  I hope to see you there too!



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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever

The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sepinwall's book reminded me to some degree of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad for You Is Good in that he creates a strong and coherent argument about the amazing complexity of modern television--one that destroys the idea that the television is an idiotbox. In his exploration, Sepinwall shows the depth and power of storytelling provided by some of the best shows of the last 15 years including Oz, Sopranos, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, and The Shield.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Doctor Who: A History

Doctor Who: A History Doctor Who: A History by Alan Kistler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did not get into Doctor Who while growing up and even with the series reboot in the early 2000s, I largely avoided it. However, a friend got me to try Torchwood and I really enjoyed that towards the end. So I started to flirt with Doctor Who and was slowly making my way through the show. David Tennant was growing on me but I still wasn't sold on the show--it was something to have on in the background while playing games and such. Then, I listened to Alan Kistler's book and that changed pretty quick. Kistler provides a keen history of Doctor Who from inception to it's forthcoming new doctor (the 12th) and strikes a great balance between the background of the show such as the actors, the writers, the politics of it all and explaining the ongoing character development of the doctor from season to season and from doctor to doctor. It's a complete joyride for fans and for those who are interested in fully understanding Doctor Who without having to watch (or re-watch) all the older episodes (though I will likely do that at some point). It's clearly a work of passion and one that readers will definitely enjoy if you're looking to know more about Doctor Who.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

CFP: Teaching Popular Culture

The Northeast Popular/American Culture Association is seeking papers on popular and American culture, broadly construed, for its annual fall conference to be held on Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22, 2016 in Keene, New Hampshire from October 21-22.  NEPCA prides itself on holding conferences that emphasize sharing ideas in a non-competitive and supportive environment.  We welcome proposals from graduate students, junior faculty, and senior scholars.  NEPCA conferences offer intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects.

CFP:  TEACHING POPULAR CULTURE



The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012

In particular, I am the chair of the Teaching  Popular Culture area and I'm really interested in hearing about and seeing the different ways instructors use popular culture in their courses--be it their core curriculum or even courses on popular culture.  If you have some ideas about a panel as a whole or individual papers that you would like to present on regarding this area, please be sure to submit.  A larger goal of this area is to create a place to foster ideas and approaches to teaching popular culture, regardless of the discipline.


Some particular ideas you might consider with regards to a paper in this area may include sharing unique approaches to:
  • Teaching courses focused specifically on “popular culture”
  • Teaching courses on an area within popular culture (e.g. courses that focus on the content and cultural aspects–not necessarily the “how-to” aspects of comics, video games, horror, Harry Potter, baseball, The Beatles, etc).
  • Teaching mainstream courses using popular culture (e.g. baseball statistics for explaining, statistics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for explaining political theory, Star Trek for exploring biology).
This particular area is focused more on sharing successful and interesting teaching practices for other scholars and educators to learn or borrow from.

Presentations should be 15-20 minutes in length and lively in nature! The deadline for the submission of a 200-word abstract is May 1, 2016. Individual and full panel proposals are considered. Submission information is available at the Northeast Popular Culture Association conference page. 

NEPCA Fall Conference information, including the paper proposal form, can be found here.  Please submit the form, including a brief CV and abstract, located on the site.  Both proposals for individual papers and complete panels will be considered.  Please direct any questions to either 20165 Program Chair Karen Honeycutt (khoneycutt@keene.edu) and/or to the appropriate Area Chair.  For a complete list of Area Chairs, please visit the NEPCA website.   The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2016.

If you have specific questions about submitting to the Teaching Popular Culture area, please let me know!


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture

Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Big surprise--I enjoyed a book about comics. Who saw that coming? Maslon's discussion and history of comics is pretty decent and filled with quotes from many of the different key players in comics. If you get the audiobook, some of those quotes are actually taken from the people who said them and it's not just a narrator. This book was released in tandem with the PBS documentary that came out last year or so. It's a solid history of superhero comics that covers the major points and even some that you didn't realized were particularly significant. For anyone looking to wrap his or her head around the history, Maslon's book is a good text to start with.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Top 101 Films Part 10 (of 10) (Finally!!!)

And we finally get to the end!  It only took a year or two.  Here's the running list of previous entries!

Stand by Me (1986)

The wild and coming-of-age adventures of four boys as they travel to discover a dead body is pure Americana.  It may seem a little morbid by today's standards and yet for many I grew up with this was a powerful and moving story--still is.  The childhood antics (debating who is better, Superman or Mighty Mouse) contrast with the flashbacks of a lost brother and disconnected parents and comes to a head when confronting the dead body and the older gang.  Filled with an impressive cast of people who have gone on to other fascinating projects and a great sound track, it's a great film to watch again and again.     
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Swing Kids (1993)

It's like a quasi-musical.  No really signing, but plenty of music and plenty of dancing.  This paired with Newsies and you have a early Christian Bale singing and dancing mini-marathon that is delightful.  Coupled with Newsies is and interesting dialogue because one offers a criticism of unbridled fascism and the other critiques unbridled capitalism (which is also present within Rent--ok, who's surprised by that pattern in my movie selections?).  But Swing Kids was the first film to introduce me to ideas about popular culture and it as a form of cultural resistance.  That is, the film fixates on how music was a focus point and means of resistance.  It's strange but I never entirely realized how much this film has in common in parts with Footloose--another film that I am fond of (though it did not make the list).  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Station Agent (2003)

DVD Cover - Station Agent
I implore you to watch this film.  If you watch Game of Thrones or just want to see an amazing performance by Peter Dinklage, this is an essential film.  He is amazing and when I first saw this film, I fell in love with Dinklage as an actor.  Though he speaks so very little, there is so much complexity in his body language and performance.  If you want to understand why he was chosen for Game of Thrones, it's worth looking at, but if you just want to see a powerful performance, you still need to see it.  The film focuses on three lost-souls.  The main character is a short person who inherits a station from his close and recently-departed friend.  There is also Patricia Clarkson who plays a mother who has lost her child, and Bobby Cannavale, a young guy operating a food truck whose father is sick.  The three make the oddest grouping possible, but it works so amazingly well.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


The Thing (1982)

DVD Cover - The Thing - Carpenter
I generally like John Carpenter's works, but I never really watched The Thing until I was an adult and teaching a horror course.  Then, it became one of my favorite horror films.  Since then, I have read and appreciated the novella it is based upon, John Campbell's Who Goes There.  So much of the drama and horror focuses on the idea of not knowing who is the alien or not.  A narrative clearly evocative of a communist regime, the film works in numerous ways to make views feel claustrophobic, distrustful of everyone, and anxious about what it might mean to not resolve the question of who goes there.  The film has some great features to it including point-of-view camera shots that prove frustrating to the viewer because you know there are things beyond your vision.  The sound track also proves to provide an oppressive and haunting heartbeat that lingers throughout the film--it almost makes one wonder if it is the film or their own heartbeat.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Trainspotting (1996)

DVD Cover - Trainspotting
Beyond the Scottish dialect and the mayhem that makes up the film, the film goes down in my own personal history for the first film that I watched that included a full frontal shot of a male.  I applaud Ewan McGregor (who does this again in another film years later) for this (and for Danny Boyle for including it).  I found this an impressive statement given how rare such shots are.  But the film itself is such a fascinating pastishe of the hardcore drug life and McGregor's character gives us the full tour from the highs to the lows.  In some of its more funky scenes, it reminds me a great deal of A Clockwork Orange--there is a hyperactivity about both films which seems present.  There is also moments that are genuinely strange and freaky--such as the baby on the ceiling scene (you'll have to see it to get it).  I believe there is going to be a sequel to this that will include most of the main actors and Danny Boyle as director as well.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Trollhunter (2010)

DVD Cover - Troll Hunter
If you are looking for another great Scandanavian horror film on this list (the first being the Swedish Let The Right One In), then Trollhunter is you rnext option.  This film follows a group of documentarians as they stumble upon real trolls and a whole network for trollhunters wardens who are meant to keep them frome ever being made known to the public.  Lots of great scenery is coupled with tense and terse moments throughout the film in the Norweigan woodlands as the characters continue to record their own demise.  It is largely invocative of The Blair Witch Project in its execution but still feels it has something unique to offer.  The trolls--which are largely kept in the dark--do make several direct appearances and the films makes them reasonably troll-like without feeling entirely ridiculous.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Unbreakable (2000)

Back in the day, when M. Night Shyamalan made some interesting movies--until we all realized that his gimmick was to keep everyone in suspense and confusion until the last ten minutes of the film when he unlocked it all.  Regardless of the fact that this is how he has done nearly every movie, I still have an appreciated of Unbreakable as a modern-day (and mayhaps post-modern) telling of a superhero story.  I also like that there is not entirely an origin story--dead parents, magic-bestowing elder, power-granting rays from a moonrock, etc--but rather the story focuses on the character's discovery of his powers, more so than why he must fight crime (we get this by proxy--protecting his family, but it's not so explicit).  The final reveal of the villain proves to be just the start of the journey and in some ways, one could argue takes away from the development because the villain appears to be just a villain for villain's sake--not necessarily as full formed as the hero.  Regardless, it proves one of the better narratives about a superhero coming into his own.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


United States of Leland (2003)

DVD Cover - United States of Leland
For all those Ryan Gosling fans, all I can say is that I saw him first--in this film and you really should too.  Like the above mentioned Station Agent, this was a film I saw early on that secured my respect and interest in all things Ryan Gosling.  His role in this film is fascinating and his acting is amazing.  He plays the titular, Leland who has killed his girlfriend's little brother without reason.  He is now in juvenile detention and everyone wants to know why he did it.  Other performances are strong in this film, but it's Gosling who commands every scene he is through his poise and body language.  The desire to get inside of his head drives everyone--even the viewer to keep eyes focused on a young man who is clearly intelligent and sensitive but has committed a most-heinous act. 
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Watchmen (2009)

DVD Cover - Watchmen
For some, I may have lost all disrespect, but as I've said before in this blog, I'm a fan of adaptation and I do not expect tit for tat.  I'm curious in the ways a narrative will evolve in another medium and I rather like what they did with Watchmen.  I think to fully appreciate it, it's probably useful to rely on all three elements of Watchmen--the film itself, The Tale of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood, as these films provide the full richness that is the original comic, Watchmen.  I found the adaptation with its use of music, updated technology, and chosen actors to be rather well chosen.  I think for many people, the film doesn't feel as powerful as the comic, but again, that often has to do with two things.  One is that they have already read the comic and using it as a comparision.  The other is that Watchmen is a powerful narrative, but we have to remember it was written in the 1980s and has been influential enough in our narratives that many of its core ideas are already mainstream ideas in television and film.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Whale Rider (2002)

This proves both a beautiful and heart-warming film.  Set in New Zealand and focused on a Maori tribe as it reconciles an aging chief and no apparent male heir.  The protagonist, Paikea Apiran (Pai), is the grand-daughter but the grandfather refuses to believe that  a woman could lead the tribe.  What follows is Pai's constant challenges to show she is worthy while her grandfather grows increasingly angry and distant.  The contrast between the adorable and stubborn Pai is met with an equally adorable and stubborn grandfather.  The film's power lay in the clear love between these characters and their refusual to accept each other in their ways.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Wizard of Oz (1939)

It feels quite right to end with this one.  The Wizard of Oz is still a favorite of mine in all its technicolor glory.  As fantasy films go, it still holds up decades later.  And to those who hate remakes, you should know that Wizard of Oz is indeed a remake.  But the film is just a fantastic trip to another world and of course, down memory lane since it's one of the earliest films (besides Star Wars) that I can remember watching regularly when growing up.  Despite the hokey outfits--today I imagine they would all be CGI characters--the film and its atmosphere works and easily transports the view to Oz and all its majesty.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


So that's all 101 films...finally!  What are some of your favorite films and why?  Post them in the comments!

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Waving the Confederate Flag

This piece I recently wrote got published in both the Salem Evening News and the Daily Item.  
Confederate Flag at 58 Bridge Street Salem Mass
Confederate Flag at 58 Bridge Street
Salem Mass
"To whomever at 58 Bridge St., Salem, proudly displays a Confederate flag in your first-floor window, I appreciate the U.S.’s right to freedom of expression that allows you to do so.
Though it’s unclear what you are expressing.

Are you are celebrating the Confederacy’s repression of freedom of expression for millions of U.S. citizens? Are you lamenting the lost art of slavery?

Are you demonstrating your faith toward people who killed U.S. soldiers to keep U.S. citizens enslaved?

Perhaps, you are embracing history (the history of people who wanted to keep humans enslaved for profit)? Might you be showing solidarity with Dylann Roof?

Or are you truly dismayed that TV Land has stopped airing the “Dukes of Hazzard”? It’s simply unclear."

To read the rest, check out the full piece at the Salem Evening News and the Daily Item


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, May 11, 2015

CFP: Teaching Popular Culture

The Northeast Popular/American Culture Association is seeking papers on popular and American culture, broadly construed, for its annual fall conference to be held on Friday October 30 and Saturday October 31, 2015, on the campus of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.  NEPCA prides itself on holding conferences that emphasize sharing ideas in a non-competitive and supportive environment.  We welcome proposals from graduate students, junior faculty, and senior scholars.  NEPCA conferences offer intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects.
Black and white photo of an old classroom.  Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-13055-0008,_Hohendorf,_JP_mit_Dorflehrer.jpg

In particular, I am the chair of the Teaching and Popular Culture area and I'm really interested in hearing about and seeing the different ways instructors use popular culture in their courses--be it their core curriculum or even courses on popular culture.  If you have some ideas about a panel as a whole or individual papers that you would like to present on regarding this area, please be sure to submit.  A larger goal of this area is to create a place to foster ideas and approaches to teaching popular culture, regardless of the discipline.

NEPCA Fall Conference information, including the paper proposal form, can be found here.  Please submit the form, including a brief CV and abstract, located on the site.  Both proposals for individual papers and complete panels will be considered.  Please direct any questions to either 2015 Program Chair Kraig Larkin (kraig.larkin@colby-sawyer.edu) and/or to the appropriate Area Chair.  For a complete list of Area Chairs, please visit the NEPCA website.   The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2015.

If you submitted prior to April 29th and did not receive an email confirmation of your submission, please contact nepca2015@gmail.com ASAP.  We've had some reports of people submitting their abstract and not receiving a receipt and we want to make sure we have everyone who has submitted.


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Another CFP Reminder: Teaching Popular Culture

The Northeast Popular/American Culture Association is seeking papers on popular and American culture, broadly construed, for its annual fall conference to be held on Friday October 30 and Saturday October 31, 2015, on the campus of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.  NEPCA prides itself on holding conferences that emphasize sharing ideas in a non-competitive and supportive environment.  We welcome proposals from graduate students, junior faculty, and senior scholars.  NEPCA conferences offer intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects.
Black and white photo of an old classroom.  Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-13055-0008,_Hohendorf,_JP_mit_Dorflehrer.jpg

In particular, I am the chair of the Teaching and Popular Culture area and I'm really interested in hearing about and seeing the different ways instructors use popular culture in their courses--be it their core curriculum or even courses on popular culture.  If you have some ideas about a panel as a whole or individual papers that you would like to present on regarding this area, please be sure to submit.  A larger goal of this area is to create a place to foster ideas and approaches to teaching popular culture, regardless of the discipline.

NEPCA Fall Conference information, including the paper proposal form, can be found here.  Please submit the form, including a brief CV and abstract, located on the site.  Both proposals for individual papers and complete panels will be considered.  Please direct any questions to either 2015 Program Chair Kraig Larkin (kraig.larkin@colby-sawyer.edu) and/or to the appropriate Area Chair.  For a complete list of Area Chairs, please visit the NEPCA website.   The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2015.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, March 23, 2015

CFP: Teaching Popular Culture

The Northeast Popular/American Culture Association is seeking papers on popular and American culture, broadly construed, for its annual fall conference to be held on Friday October 30 and Saturday October 31, 2015, on the campus of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.  NEPCA prides itself on holding conferences that emphasize sharing ideas in a non-competitive and supportive environment.  We welcome proposals from graduate students, junior faculty, and senior scholars.  NEPCA conferences offer intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects.
Black and white photo of an old classroom.  Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-13055-0008,_Hohendorf,_JP_mit_Dorflehrer.jpg

In particular, I am the chair of the Teaching and Popular Culture area and I'm really interested in hearing about and seeing the different ways instructors use popular culture in their courses--be it their core curriculum or even courses on popular culture.  If you have some ideas about a panel as a whole or individual papers that you would like to present on regarding this area, please be sure to submit.  A larger goal of this area is to create a place to foster ideas and approaches to teaching popular culture, regardless of the discipline.

NEPCA Fall Conference information, including the paper proposal form, can be found here.  Please submit the form, including a brief CV and abstract, located on the site.  Both proposals for individual papers and complete panels will be considered.  Please direct any questions to either 2015 Program Chair Kraig Larkin (kraig.larkin@colby-sawyer.edu) and/or to the appropriate Area Chair.  For a complete list of Area Chairs, please visit the NEPCA website.   The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2015.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.