Article List by Author

Editorial: On Media Literacy, Power, and Representation

As popular culture scholars and enthusiasts who recognize the usefulness of media in all its forms, we know the stories we tell and those we consume are always complicated by questions of power and representation: How we choose to narrate such stories (including who gets to tell these) matters. How can we be responsible consumers and creators of media? And how can we, as educators, simultaneously draw on media sources as teaching tools to help students relate to abstracted topics while complicating and problematizing media? As Stuart Hall (1981) notes, 

Popular culture is one of the sites where this struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged: it is the stake to be won or lost in that struggle. It is the arena of consent and resistance. It is partly where hegemony arises, and where it is secured… That is why ‘popular culture’ matters.

This profound statement underscores the responsibility we hold as consumers and creators of media. Media is not only a reflection of society; it is a powerful tool for shaping perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs, and often functions to naturalize hegemony. 

Thus, media literacy must extend beyond mere the use of popular culture or other media sources to ground theory. Though this, in itself, is important as media can and does help us reflect on how theory connects to our lives and communities. In the classroom, the inclusion of media can help make topics more relatable and tangible for students. We also have the opportunity, and indeed the obligation, to critically analyze media content, understand its underlying messages, and recognize its impact in maintaining or resisting norms and hegemonic ideologies. By doing so, we can become more informed consumers of media, as well as responsible creators and advocates for a more inclusive and representative media landscape that can shape culture towards more just futures. As teachers, this also elevates our task from simply using media as a teaching aid to engaging with it as an important instrument for social change. Classrooms can be sites of imagination and resistance. As such, our classrooms become critical laboratories for exploring and challenging the dynamics of power and representation in media, fostering a generation of learners who are equipped to navigate and shape the ever-evolving media-saturated world they inhabit.

The articles featured in this issue explore the very possibilities and tensions of engaging the intersections of media literacy, power, representation, and pedagogy. In our first featured article, “‘This is music!’: What Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson Reveals About the Power of Metal,” Ashley Butterworth Brumbelow argues that though “The wide reach of digital technology has further diversified student perspectives in the contemporary classroom… this diversity is often not reflected in school curricula.” Butterworth Brumbelow thus makes the case for integrating more media, and more diverse forms of media, into classrooms as potential windows to subjugated perspectives that invite disruptions to the status quo. In particular, this article explores the potential for challenging conventional social norms, engaging marginalized students, and teaching themes of nonconformity and social justice through a case study where metal music from Stranger Things is integrated into secondary English curricula. 

In our second featured article, “Gender, Age, Class, and Racial Stereotypes and Power Relations in Television Ads: 2011-13 vs 2021-22,” Thomas Clark and Julie Stewart provide a helpful framework and resources that faculty and diversity, equity, and inclusion experts can use to dissect and teach about how advertisements create and reinforce social stereotypes. By analyzing stereotypical depictions of gender, class, age, and race across eight television ads from 2011-2013 and 2021-2022, Clark and Stewart draw on the concepts of intersectionality and intercategorical complexity “to help gain a deeper understanding of how various stereotypes operate and intersect in specific ads over time.” In so doing, Clark and Stewart reveal the enduring power and ubiquity of stereotypes in media and importantly call for their disruption and undoing vis-a-vis the power of critical interrogation. 

In our third featured article, “Three Years of Misinformation: A Case Study of Information Literacy Methods,” Elizabeth Zak emphasizes the importance of adapting media literacy to keep up with constantly evolving media. Zak delineates how misinformation evolves alongside the internet, challenging the effectiveness of information literacy methods like the CRAAP test, RADAR framework, and SIFT method. Zak’s study emphasizes the need for ongoing research to understand trends in misinformation, counteract increasingly sophisticated forms of misinformation including visual deceptions like deepfakes, and predict potential future threats. 

Finally, in our fourth featured article, “The Art of Inclusion: Theatre’s Contribution to Popular Culture Literacy for Students with Intellectual Disabilities,” Catherine R.P. King provides an example of how to integrate popular culture in the classroom through their study on integrating theatre into special education curricula. King uses case studies to examine the versatility and effectiveness of using theatre in special education to empower students with [dis]abilities. Integrating theatre into special education curricula can not only provide students with opportunities to learn social and life navigation skills but also enable students to engage with popular culture in critical and meaningful ways. As such, King argues that integrating theatre into special education can have a transformative effect on students. 

The diverse perspectives and methodologies presented in these studies collectively emphasize the vital role of media literacy in resisting and transforming systems of power. Media literacy can equip us with the critical and adaptable tools necessary to navigate our complex and ever-changing media landscape. Each study, in its unique way, contributes to a broader understanding of how media shapes and is shaped by societal norms and power dynamics. The studies also show that by incorporating varied forms of media into our curricula, we can not only enrich students’ educational experience but cultivate a generation of critical thinkers and change-makers who are capable of using media to challenge norms and contribute to the creation of a more equitable and just society.

Barbara Perez
Managing Editor

Karina Vado, PhD
Associate Editor



A note from the Editor in Chief:

With this issue, I am delighted to share with you the expansion of our Editorial Team. We are honored to have Karina Vado take on the new leadership position of Associate Editor. Her  expertise in popular culture and pedagogy has added significantly to Dialogue’s commitment to research and conversations around popular culture and pedagogy. Additionally, we have brought on two excellent colleagues to the team. Barbara Perez joins us as Managing Editor and brings specialization in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, as well as Latinx Environmentalisms in comparative studies. And Tyler Sheldon joins us as Assistant Managing Editor bringing specialization in poetry and popular culture, taking on the  

If you would like to join us, feel free to reach out with ideas regarding innovative and emerging directions for popular culture and pedagogy (e.g., Video Game Editor, Film Review Editor, Podcast Review Editor). Looking forward to hearing from you!

Anna CohenMiller, PhD
Editor in Chief
Co-Founding Editor

The Art of Inclusion: Theatre’s Contribution to Popular Culture Literacy for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Catherine R. P. King


This essay explores the transformative role of theatre in special education, focusing on its capacity to foster social skills and life navigation abilities in students with disabilities. In light of the fundamental importance of these skills for social inclusion and quality of life, the article highlights the innovative and effective approach to integrating theatre into special education classrooms. It discusses how theatre can empower students with disabilities by enhancing their social interaction, communication, and life navigation skills. In addition, the article delves into the intersection of theatre and popular culture, showcasing how theatre can serve as a valuable tool for helping students with disabilities understand and engage with the ever-evolving world of popular culture. Through live performances, immersive experiences, and creative exercises, theatre offers a unique pathway for students to connect with and appreciate popular culture elements, from fashion and language to societal trends.

Additionally, the essay draws upon case studies and success stories that highlight theatre’s versatility and effectiveness as a tool in special education, demonstrating its capacity to empower students with disabilities. These case studies encompass a range of disabilities in students, from Down syndrome and ADHD to deafness and physical impairments, highlighting the transformative impact of theatre on their lives. In conclusion, theatre emerges as a powerful tool for enriching the lives, of students with disabilities, equipping them with essential social and life navigation skills, and enabling them to engage with popular culture in meaningful ways. By integrating theatre into special education curricula, educators can contribute to the development of more inclusive and compassionate societies where individuals with disabilities can thrive academically, personally, and socially.

Keywords: special education, theatre education, drama therapy, popular culture, disability culture 

Author Bio

Catherine R. P. King, Ed.D., is the managing editor of the Metropolitan Universities journal. She received a doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University, where her dissertation explored the role the fine arts plays in university students’ development of 21st-century skills. She also received an M.S. in Strategic Design and Management from Parsons School of Design, a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech, and a Women in Leadership certificate from Cornell University. Her research interests include interdisciplinary arts integration, design thinking, and visual culture.

Suggested Reference Citation


King, C.R.P. (2024). Art of inclusion. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 11(1).


King, Catherine. “Art of Inclusion.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 2024, vol 11, no. 1,

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Gender, Age, Class and Racial Stereotypes, and Power Relations In Television Ads: 2011-13 vs 2021-22

Thomas Clark
Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio USA

Julie Stewart
University of Texas, Dallas
Richardson, Texas, USA 


This article demonstrates how faculty and DEI experts can use resources included in this paper to highlight how a range of stereotypes are created and reinforced in television ads, and it identifies several topics for future analysis. To understand how depictions of gender, class, age, and race intersect in 8 television ads featuring the relationship between the race of individuals depicted in romantic and platonic relationships this article examines 4 pairs of commercials from 2011-13 and 2021-22. Drawing on concepts of intercategorical complexity, it describes product, setting, characters and relationships to help gain a deeper understanding of how various stereotypes operate and intersect in specific ads over time. The findings indicate that while interracial relationships were portrayed positively over both time periods, which was not the case with same race ads. In addition, stereotypes of age, class, and gender were perpetuated in the some of the ads from both periods. 

Keywords: stereotypes, intercategorical complexity, television, advertisements, race, class, gender, age

Author Bios

Thomas Clark, PhD, is President of CommuniSkills and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Management, at Xavier University.  His publication interests include popular culture, environmental communication, and all aspects of business communication.

Julie Stewart, PhD., is Associate Professor of Instruction at the Naveen School of Business, University of Texas, Dallas, Richardson campus.  Her publication interests include advertising, media, and public relations.

Suggested Reference Citation


Clarke, T. & Stewart,J. (2024). Gender, age, class and racial stereotypes, and power relations in television ads: 2011-13 vs 2021-22. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 11(1).


Clarke, Thomas & Stewart, Julie. “Gender, Age, Class and Racial Stereotypes, and Power Relations in Television Ads: 2011-13 vs 2021-22”. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 2024, vol. 11, no. 1.

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“This is music!”: What Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson Reveals About the Power of Metal

Ashley Butterworth Brumbelow
University of Georgia
Athens, Georga, USA


The wide reach of digital technology has further diversified student perspectives in the contemporary classroom and what was once considered mainstream has become less pronounced due to the vast assortment of television programming, music, and other forms of media available. Still, this diversity is often not reflected in school curricula. Though examining music as text is a common practice in the secondary English classroom, the songs selected for study are usually representative of mainstream trends and rarely include selections from alternative genres like punk rock, rap, or heavy metal. These genres are avoided due to misconceptions surrounding how their messages affect young people, despite the potential for many positive outcomes. Educational applications for metal music, though seemingly dissonant, can disrupt exclusive and limiting social norms in school settings, provide a sense of community for socially “othered” youths, and have long-term emotional benefits. This paper explores the social/emotional and literary potential of integrating metal music as text in the secondary English classroom, using Stranger Things character Eddie Munson as a frame of reference. Implications for practice include employing the metal genre to engage socially “othered” students and pairing these texts with canonical pieces to examine themes of nonconformity, social justice, and resisting oppression.

Keywords: metal, music, literacy, secondary English, Stranger Things

Author Bio

Ashley Butterworth Brumbelow teaches honors ninth-grade literature and Advanced Placement English Language and Composition in North Georgia. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in English education and master’s in curriculum and instruction through the University of North Georgia, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in language and literacy education at the University of Georgia.

Suggested Reference Citation


Brumbelow, A.B. (2024). “This is music!”: What stranger things’ Eddie Munson reveals about the power of metal.  Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 11(1).


Brumbelow, Ashley Butterworth. “This is Music!”: What Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson Reveals About the Power of Metal.  Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 2024, vol 11, no. 1,

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Three Years of Misinformation: A Case Study of Information Literacy Methods

Elizabeth Zak
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, USA



Misinformation is an ever-evolving digital issue. As the internet evolves, so too does misinformation and the ways in which it is propagated. Information literacy methods, such as the CRAAP test, the RADAR framework and the SIFT method, can help information users discern between real and fake information, and prevent the spread of misinformation. Unfortunately, the speed with which misinformation evolves often makes information literacy methods obsolete when they are designed and implemented. Furthermore, when people trust misinformation, they struggle with identifying correct information. Visual misinformation presents another concern: people trust what they see, and new misinformative developments such as deepfakes are especially convincing. I chose to explore three examples in 2004, 2013 and 2020, as these years were each dubbed “the year of fake news” by various media outlets. I evaluated the examples using methods popular in each year, and further evaluated how effective the method is at identifying misinformation. Each method is relatively effective when evaluating news and information in its time; however, each possesses its own drawbacks. A better understanding of the methodology used to identify each year’s misinformation will allow us to understand the misinformation of the past and look forward to potential future threats. More research into information literacy methods and their implementation is necessary.

Keywords: information literacy, information literacy methods, misinformation, news outlets

Author Bio

Elizabeth Zak is a PhD candidate at the University of Iowa. Her current research focuses on misinformation, information visualization, and information literacy.

Suggested Reference Citation


Zak, E. (2024). Three years of misinformation: A case study of information literacy methods. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 11(1).


Zak, Elizaveth. “ Three Years of Misinformation: A Case Study of Information Literacy Methods  ”. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 2024, vol. 11, no. 1.

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Challenging Conventions: Provoking Thought with Engaged Teaching and Learning in Popular Culture

As 2023 comes to an end, we are delighted to have celebrated 10 years of Dialogue, exploring, questioning, and promoting engaged teaching and learning in, with, and through popular culture. In this special issue, we bring together highlights from across the decade, showcasing popular culture and pedagogy across themes, and modalities, from classical interpretations to current sociocultural, environmental, and political directions. These articles, starting from 2014, offer insights into how multimedia platforms such as literature, film, and comics, provide directions for interrogating the relationship between power and popular culture, questioning the status quo, and incorporating informal and formal pedagogy within and beyond traditional educational spaces.

As we reflect on the past decade of Dialogue, we also look ahead to the future possibilities that popular culture holds for education. The journey has been marked by a dynamic interplay between traditional and contemporary perspectives, demonstrating the evolving nature of pedagogy in response to societal shifts. Looking forward, we aim to continue fostering a space where educators and learners alike can explore the intersections of popular culture and education. In the coming years, we anticipate delving deeper into emerging themes, embracing technological advancements, and further amplifying diverse voices in the discourse. The articles underscore the importance of connecting timeless and contemporary narratives to present-day concerns, whether through interpretive frameworks or contemporary retellings, to foster meaningful engagement and pedagogical exploration. As we embark on this continued exploration, we express gratitude to our contributors, readers, and the broader educational community for their unwavering support in making Dialogue a vibrant hub of innovative pedagogical discussions and transformative opportunities.

The past decade has seen a great number of excellent and timely articles come across the editors’ desks. Interpretations of pedagogy and pop culture have been varied during this time, but a consistent linkage between these articles—particularly the vibrancy of the selected work for this tenth-anniversary issue—has been the notion of communication as a form of change. From a discussion of postmodern influence and re-envisioning in Homer’s The Odyssey to a meditation on the power of books to impart lessons about social justice, to discussions of queer culture, mixtapes, and the classroom itself, Dialogue authors have demonstrated their awareness of how communication in its many forms can change both individuals and societies at large. This has held true from the earliest modes of storytelling through the permutations of written communication and into our flourishing digital age; there is real, tangible power in transmitting information. At Dialogue, we’ve been grateful to witness our readers and contributors step into their positions of communicative power, changing the lives around them for the better as they go.

Leon Trotsky argues that art, including the cultural products borne of popular culture, is not just an individual’s isolated expression of genius but arises from the interplay between an artist’s life and their environment, including the social and political contexts it emerges from. Art can be a tool through which we forge–or resist–a collective social and standpoint. Because of this, cultural products from literature to video games are mirrors that reflect back to us the naturalized values and norms of the particular social and historical contexts they emerge from. Popular culture can also reflect our dreams for the future of society. As Audre Lorde (1984) argues, poetry “forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.” As a social and political act, art is, thus, an invaluable pedagogical tool that can make deconstructing abstract or complex political concepts more relatable and accessible. The articles highlighted in this issue demonstrate the immense potential of using popular culture as case studies through which to critically engage with broader social and political issues. These articles also show how some pop culture products can function as beacons that prompt alternate ways of thinking in the classroom.

Similarly reflecting on the potent educational possibilities of popular culture, late Black feminist scholar bell hooks argued that

whether we’re talking race, or gender, or class, popular culture is where the pedagogy is, is where the learning is.” Indeed, bell hooks stressed the primacy of popular culture as a “pedagogical medium for masses of people globally who want to, in some way, understand the politics of difference (1997)

For hooks, popular culture was (and perhaps remains) a generative site of learning and unlearning, of personal and collective transformation, one where questions of power, social identity, and (mis)representation can be engaged in complex and meaningful ways. The articles highlighted in this issue not only speak to the transformative potential bell hooks witnessed in her own experiences incorporating popular culture in the college classroom but also highlight the myriad liberatory modes of knowing and seeing that such critical engagements with popular culture invite.

Thank you for joining us throughout these last 10 years. Here’s the next years!!

Anna CohenMiller (she/ella)
Editor in Chief

Karina A. Vado (she/ella)
Associate Editor

Barbara Perez (she/ella)
Managing Editor

Tyler Sheldon (he/él)
Assistant Managing Editor


hooks, bell (1997). Cultural criticism & transformation. Media Education Foundation.

Lorde, Audre. “Poetry is Not a Luxury.” In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1984.

Trotsky, Leon. Art and Revolution: Writings on Literature, Politics and Culture. Pathfinder, 1992.