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Challenging the Normative in Popular Culture and Pedagogy

Cultural and educational paradigms shift over time. Currently, we are amidst changing mindsets within American society, as well as internationally. As part of these changes, attitudes and practices also evolve, with effects and important considerations for teaching and learning. The once “traditional” or “normative” notions of culture and learning are shifting. Here I draw from Niall Richardson’s (2010) description of “normative,” as referring to something culturally imposed and suggested as “normal.” These shifts in representations of normativity have been shown in varied ways, such as in TV series’ changing narratives of motherhood, infertility and surrogacy (Le Vay, 2019) or in YouTube’s beauty community (García-Rapp, 2018). As audiences and scholars, we have an opportunity to learn from popular culture’s changing ideals of normativity.

In this issue, Bodies in Motion: Rethinking Imagery, Tradition, and Teaching, I am pleased to present a collection of eight rich articles. These works explore and evolve our understanding of popular culture and pedagogy to meet the needs of current and future generations. They critically engagewith cultural expectations and pedagogical practice related to literary, musical, visual, textual and digital understanding. What we see, what we experience, and what and how we learn all provide means for challenging the normative in popular culture and pedagogy.

The first two essays both draw from a critical theoretical perspective of bell hooks and reconceptualize thinking about normativity in representation in body presentation and in musical form. The first of the essays, written by Marie Gethins reconceptualizes disability through an examination of The Tin Woodman of Oz. The author applies Chopfyt to show “the psychological effects of limb loss and the concept of usefulness.” Gethins explores the ways L. Frank Baum was influenced by the Civil War and World War I amputees while addressing essential “cultural lessons” of “characterizations of prostheses, physical normalcy, and what constitutes a sense of self.” Moving beyond “flat characters” portraying disability in children’s literature, Gethins details how Baum’s work in the Tin Woodman challenges cultural perceptions.

Subsequently, in Robert Tinajero’s essay, Relandscaping the Rhetorical Tradition through Hip Hop, he repositions rap music and hip hop culture from the margins of rhetorical studies to a central locus of discussion. Applying the term “relandscaping,” Tinajero argues for a “dynamic and inclusive rhetorical tradition.” In the article, he emphasizes a shifting: of perspective, of rhetorical subject, of circle of practice and shifting of theoretical frame, to reconceptualize rhetorical studies with rap music and hip hop culture involved.

The next two articles examine pedagogical practice. First, in Kyle Hammonds and Karen Anderson-Lain’s, The Batman Comes to Class: Popular Culture as a Tool for Addressing Reflexive Pain, the authors use a case study to examine culture through the application of comics and graphic narratives within the undergraduate classroom. Hammonds and Anderson-Lain demonstrate how critical pedagogy and “comics as a learning tool” can be applied in effective ways for teaching and learning in higher education. Then in Erin Guydish Buchholz’s article, Pedagogy, Ideology, & Composition: Is There a Better Way to Teach?, she presents valuable insights about stimulating students’ critical thinking. As demonstrated through a research study integrating “significant learning experiences,” Guydish Buchholz concentrates on student growth, drawing connections between the development of a new pedagogical practice and real-world learning and application.

The final four essays re-examine the visual and literary in film, written text, cultural event, and video games. In Natasha Chuk’s, A Gaze of Cruelty, Deferred: Actualizing the ‘Female Gaze’ in Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome (2017), the author upends the concept of the male gaze to reexamine the female gaze. In her essay, Chuk uses Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome (2017) to lead the reader through a mechanized and reinforced cinematic construct. In Kristin Leonard’s essay, the author discusses the “delicious sensory smorgasbord of grammar and syntax strategies” presented in Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style. She notes in First-Person Adolescent Storytellers and Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style that amidst the excellent text there is a general lack of first-person adolescent storytellers. As such, Leonard uses two first-person adolescent narrators, one from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793 and another from Moira Young’s Blood Red Road to extend the utility of Tufte’s syntax to a yet fully explored genre. Then in Luc Guglielmi’s, Finding the Sacred in the Profane: The Mardi Gras in Basile, Louisiana, the author links spirituality around Ash Wednesday to the celebratory nature of Mardi Gras. He reconsiders the aesthetic event through folklore and analysis to show how it is “tolerated” and “accepted” by the Church. The final essay, by Graham Oliver, rethink how to analyze video game storylines. In Renegade or Paragon?: Categorizing Narrative Choice in Video Game Storylines, Oliver suggests a “nuanced” manner for “dissection of gaming narratives.” He argues for the need to “push the boundaries” to better understand narrative for audiences and narrative change in general, presenting a new typology for game studies.

Lastly, in addition to the eight articles delving deeply into issues of popular culture and pedagogy, we are pleased to share a Musing on pedagogy and three Book Reviews. The Musing, by B Mann and Meg Greenberg Sandeman, shares pedagogical practice with high school students to support teaching and learning about problematic narratives. The Book Reviews include Julie Watts review of Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (2019), followed by Holly Chung’s review of Anna Tso’s Hong Kong Stories (2017, 2018, 2019), concluding with Laura Davis’s review of Angie Manfredi’s edited collection, The (other)F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce. Across these three reviews, the authors take readers across worlds: from fantasy, to worldly travels, to embodied personal experiences.

As with any product, it is only as good as the individual parts and the people involved. To that end, I would like to thank the exceptional work of our Dialogue team for this issue: Managing Editor, Kelli Bippert; Book Review Editor, Karina Vado; Creative Designer, Douglas CohenMiller; Copy Editors, Miriam Sciala and Robert Gordyn; and the peer review team and authors.

Overall, Bodies in Motion: Rethinking Imagery, Tradition, and Teaching, provides insightful commentary and innovative approaches for taking another look and reflecting on our own academic and personal lives. As we move into 2020 with the release of the first issue of the year, we look forward to your feedback about the articles, Musing, and Reviews. Moreover, we look forward to continuing moving beyond “traditional” and “normative” ways of practice and thinking and encourage you to think creatively about ways you can contribute to Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy.

Anna S. CohenMiller, PhD
Editor in Chief

References

García-Rapp, F. (2019). Trivial and Normative? Online Fieldwork within YouTube’s Beauty Community. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 48(5), 619–644. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891241618806974

Le Vay L. (2019) Introduction: Family in Crisis—The Rise of Surrogacy and Its Impact on Popular Culture. In: Surrogacy and the Reproduction of Normative Family on TV. Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Richardon, N. (2010). Transgressive Bodies: Representations in Film and Popular Culture. Routledge: London.

Suggested Reference Citation

APA
CohenMiller, A. S. (2020). Challenging the normative in popular culture and pedagogy. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/challenging-the-normative-in-popular-culture-and-pedagogy/

MLA
CohenMiller, Anna S. Challenging the Normative in Popular Culture and Pedagogy. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/challenging-the-normative-in-popular-culture-and-pedagogy/

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Finding the Sacred in the Profane: The Mardi Gras in Basile, Louisiana 

Luc Guglielmi
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA
lguglie1@kennesaw.edu

Abstract

In Basile, a small community in Southwest Louisiana, there would not be any Mardi Gras without Ash Wednesday and vice-versa. Most of the people in Basile speak of Ash Wednesday when defining the Mardi Gras as there is a reciprocal spiritual relationship between Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. The people from Basile, therefore, in giving equal spiritual value to these two feasts, assign a liturgical value to Mardi Gras because they need, and will admit this freely, to have a good Mardi Gras in order to enter into the sacred season of Lent.

Mardi Gras performs a function that is similar to the other religious feasts which have been established to break the monotony of the liturgical cycle. Folklorists who have studied Mardi Gras in Basile support the idea that it is the same people  dancing, singing, eating and drinking that one finds at Mardi Gras who will kneel before the priest to receive their ashes (Ware 1994, Lindhal 1996a, Mire). The Church tolerates and/or accepts the Carnival as a necessity. By accepting the carnival within its liturgical time, the Church exerts better control over that time of the year. 

Keywords: folklore, Mardi Gras, Southern, sacred, profane 

Author Bio 

Luc Guglielmi is an Associate Professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and an Affiliate Associate Professor for the Gender and Women’s Studies program in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Kennesaw State University. He also coordinates the French program for the Department of Foreign Languages. His research focuses on folklore and sexuality.  

Suggested Reference Citation

APA
Guglielmi, L. (2020). Finding the sacred in the profane: The Mardi Gras in Basile, Louisiana. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/finding-the-sacred-in-the-profane/ 

MLA
Guglielmi, Luc. Finding the Sacred in the Profane: The Mardi Gras in Basile, Louisiana. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/finding-the-sacred-in-the-profane/ 

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A Gaze of Cruelty, Deferred: Actualizing the Female Gaze in Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Natasha Chuk
School of Visual Arts
New York, NY, USA
nchuk@sva.edu

Abstract

Australian director Cate Shortland’s dramatic thriller Berlin Syndrome (2017) follows the conventions of the genre involving a psychologically unstable male perpetrator and his female victim, thus could hinge on patriarchal control. Instead, based on a close reading of feminist film scholar Laura Mulvey’s theoretical definition of the former, Shortland’s cinematic apparatus can be read as an inverse of the male gaze, a type of systematic ‘female gaze’. This observation both warrants clarification of the term and concept behind the female gaze and suggests a pressing need to re-evaluate the language of cinema and its habitually damaging depictions of women. In doing so, it may encourage a counter cinema in which such cinematic language is more readily accessible and asserted from a non-male perspective. This essay addresses the question of the female gaze, a term that refers, in fuzzy terms, to the subversion of the male gaze in cinema and elsewhere. To do this, key points in Laura Mulvey’s argument are unpacked in reference to other examples of male-on-female on-screen violence — a kind of accepted and frequently employed gaze of cruelty extending Antonin Artaud’s celebration of the theater of cruelty. All of this is in support of the argument and demonstration of how Shortland upends key cinematic and genre conventions throughout Berlin Syndrome to effectively enact what the female gaze purportedly entails. 

Keywords: Laura Mulvey, male gaze, female gaze, film studies, theater of cruelty 

Author Bio

Natasha Chuk researches and writes about the affordances and limitations of creative technologies as language systems at the intersection of formality, expression, and perception. She wrote the book Vanishing Points: Articulations of Death, Fragmentation, and the Unexperienced Experience of Created Objects (Intellect, 2015), which examines the relationship between presence, absence, and perceptual experience across a variety of artworks, including film, photography, and video games. She teaches courses in film studies, digital culture, and media theory at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. 

Suggested Reference Citation

APA
Chuk, N. (2020). A gaze of cruelty, deferred: Actualizing the female gaze in Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome (2017). Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/a-gaze-of-cruelty-deferred-actualizing-the-female-gaze-in-cate-shortlands-berlin-syndrome-2017/. 

MLA
Chuk, Natasha. “A Gaze of Cruelty, Deferred: Actualizing the Female Gaze in Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome (2017)”. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/a-gaze-of-cruelty-deferred-actualizing-the-female-gaze-in-cate-shortlands-berlin-syndrome-2017/.

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Embracing the Darkness: A Review of Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s The Dark Fantastic (2019)

Book Review: Thomas, Ebony Elizabeth. The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. New York University Press, 2019. 225 pgs., $28.00.

Julia Watts
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN, USA
jwatts4@vols.utk.edu

When Ebony Elizabeth Thomas was a child, her mother told her, “There is no magic.” As a black girl, Thomas was expected to know and accept reality. For her, there were no fairies or princesses or mermaids; there were no white knights on equally white horses. These fantasies were for white people who had nothing better to do than escape into the imaginary worlds created by and for them. Thomas was taught that magical stories were not for black readers, and she, like the speaker in one of Nikki Giovanni’s (1970) most famous poems,” “…learned/black people aren’t/suppose to dream” (lines 3-4). Continue Reading →

The Batman Comes to Class: Popular Culture as a Tool for Addressing Reflexive Pain

Kyle A. Hammonds
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK, USA
kyle.a.hammonds@ou.edu

Karen Anderson-Lain
University of North Texas
Denton, TX, USA
karen.anderson-lain@unt.edu 

Abstract

In this essay, a case study approach is used to examine ways in which comics and graphic narratives can be used to provide a context within which undergraduate students may theorize about culture. The authors employed Batman: Year One as an organizing narrative for students to theorize about culture and communication. Specifically, students were challenged to (1) understand applications of communication theory in the context of graphic narrative, (2) use graphic narrative as a space for theorizing about communication and culture outside of comics, (3) utilize narrative theory to extrapolate meaning from complex, multi-modal forms of communication. While this case study is situated within the Communication Discipline, the project may be customized to fit courses related to Rhetoric (English), Narrative Theory, or Critical/Cultural Studies.

Keywords: Popular Culture Pedagogy; Batman; Graphic Narratives; Comics; Narrative Theory; Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication

Author Bios

Kyle A. Hammonds is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma (M.S., University of North Texas; B.S., Texas A&M University – Commerce). His research is in the area of cultural studies with special attention on the communicative aspects of popular culture. 

Karen Anderson-Lain (Ph.D., University of Kansas) is a Principal Lectuer and Basic Commuication Course Director in the Communication Studies department at the University of North Texas. Her research focuses on pedagogy and communication with particular interest in critical pedagogy, popular culture pedagogy, narrative and pedagogy, service-learning and community engagement; and assessment. 

Suggested Reference citation

APA
Hammonds, K. A., & Anderson-Lain, K. (2020). The batman comes to class: Popular culture as a tool for addressing reflexive pain. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/the-batman-comes-to-class/

MLA
Hammonds, Kyle A., and Anderson-Lain, Karen. “The Batman comes to class: Popular culture as a tool for addressing reflexive Pain.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/the-batman-comes-to-class/

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Relandscaping the Rhetorical Tradition through Hip Hop

Robert Tinajero
University of North Texas at Dallas
Dallas, Texas, USA
Robert.Tinajero@untdallas.edu

Abstract

The field of rhetorical studies is rich and complex but has, in many ways, ignored or marginalized the study of rap music and hip hop culture. This article analyzes ways in which hip hop rhetoric adds to the terrain of rhetorical studies and posits ways that it can shift perspectives, subjects of study, practice, and theoretical frameworks within the discipline. There are also reasons hypothesized for why hip hop has been marginalized in pedagogy and academic writing within the rhetorical tradition and why it should not be ignored.  

Keywords: rhetoric, discourse, rap, hip hop, rhetorical tradition  

Author bio 

Robert Tinajero is assistant professor of English at the University of North Texas at Dallas. In his academic career he has taught numerous writing, rhetoric, literature, and communication courses. He has masters degrees in religious studies and creative writing and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing studies from UT-El Paso. His research focuses on race, hip hop, the history of composition studies, and integrating rhetorical studies into the composition classroom. He loves sports, music, poetry, and his favorite color is blue. 

Reference citation

APA
Tinajero, R. J. (2020). Relandscaping the Rhetorical Tradition through Hip Hop.
Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). Retrieved from http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/relandscaping-the-rhetorical-tradition-through-hip-hop/ 

MLA
Tinajero, Robert Jose. “Relandscaping the rhetorical tradition through Hip Hop.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/relandscaping-the-rhetorical-tradition-through-hip-hop/

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Pedagogy, Ideology, & Composition: Is There a Better Way to Teach?

Erin Guydish Buchholz
The Grier School
Birmingham, Pennsylvania, United States
erin.guydish@wilkes.edu

Abstract

While academia tends to focus on differentiating various groups of students, prioritizing similar learning practices can have surprising and potentially transforming outcomes. In classrooms that are often filled with students who do not quite comprehend the significance of critical thinking processes or practices, the role they will play as global citizens, or why studying abstract topics is necessary, interchanging effective pedagogy from one classroom or student type to another may result in more engaged and productive learning. Additionally, students may mature and create their personas more clearly when classes interject ‘basic’ classroom practices such as modeling respect while discussing politics or more ‘advanced’ techniques like scaffold writing and hands-on activities. If instructors are more reflective as they interact with students as adult learners, their lessons may provide chances to explore identities, ideologies, and a deeper comprehension of the impacts of their actions within and on society. 

This article will discuss a combination of personal experience and research-based pedagogy with the aim of illustrating useful ways to stimulate students’ critical thinking abilities. While many educators and recent assessments have focused on significant learning experiences and valuable course outcomes, this research focuses on creating practices to serve students better within writing courses, general education, and in their future careers. Interchanging conversational practices, writing activities, and research processes across classrooms with specific student demographics (such as developmental learners, international students, non-traditional students, and traditional college learners) may be key in helping students understand how their academic education could serve them more usefully in their post-graduation communities. 

Keywords: pedagogy, reflective practices, diverse learners, student-centered learning, general education 

Author Bio

Erin Guydish Buchholz completed her studies at Wilkes University and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has spent her time teaching at a variety of higher education institutions. Currently, she holds a position teaching American Literature at an all girls’ boarding school where she enjoys the opportunity to encourage young women to become empowered. 

Suggested Reference Citation

APA
Guydish Buchholz, E. (2020). Pedagogy, ideology, & composition: Is there a better way to teach? Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/pedagogy-ideology-composition-is-there-a-better-way-to-teach/

MLA
Guydish Buchholz, Erin. “Pedagogy, Ideology, & Composition: Is There a Better Way to Teach?” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/pedagogy-ideology-composition-is-there-a-better-way-to-teach/

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Renegade or Paragon?: Categorizing Narrative Choice in Video Game Storylines

Graham Oliver
Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas, USA
grahamiam@gmail.com

Abstract

Choices made during video game gameplay set the stories told in that media apart from other media. Narrative-affecting choices have existed since the earliest games, from character creation in role-playing games to performance-based narrative changes in Metroid to morality-based choices in Ogre Battle. In the contemporary gaming landscape, some games derive a significant portion of their gameplay from character decisions: exploration, dialogue options, quick-time event reactions, etc. In this article, I give a history and breakdown of how choices have existed and evolved in gaming narratives since their inception. I then propose three categories for significant narrative choices: aesthetic, social, and reflective. 

The aesthetic choice is one influencing surface-level elements of the game. An example is Kentucky Route Zero, wherein dialogue choices largely serve to fill in the motivation and background of the characters while not actually influencing the narrative trajectory of the game. The social choice is one which impacts the characters’ relationship with one another. Perhaps the most well-known social choices are Dungeons and Dragons character alignments, Fallout’s Karma system, or Mass Effect’s renegade versus paragon. The reflective choice is one that asks the player to consider the gameplay or the ramifications of the decision. Spec Ops: The Line, to widespread acclaim and criticism, centered its story on calling into question the typical structure of kill-everything-that-moves first-person shooters.

While these categories do not account for every possible decision in a game, they work toward a structure that will allow for a more nuanced dissection of gaming narratives. By focusing on choice, it highlights an area of storytelling that gaming is constantly pushing the boundaries of.

Keywords: game studies, narrative studies, player studies 

Author bio:

Graham Oliver holds an MA in Rhetoric and Composition and an MFA in Fiction from Texas State University. His reviews, interviews, and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Harvard Educational Review, and elsewhere. He currently lives and teaches in Taipei, Taiwan.

Suggested Reference Citation

APA
Oliver, G. (2020). Renegade or Paragon?: Categorizing narrative choice in video game storylines. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(2). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/renegade-or-paragon-categorizing-narrative-choice-in-video-game-storylines/

MLA
Oliver, Graham. “Renegade or Paragon?: Categorizing Narrative Choice in Video Game Storylines.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 2., 2020. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/renegade-or-paragon-categorizing-narrative-choice-in-video-game-storylines/

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First-Person Adolescent Storytellers and Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style

Kristin Leonard
Northern Arizona University
Pittsfield, Maine, United States
kristinjleonard@yahoo.com

 

Abstract

In Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, Virginia Tuft illustrates how grammar, word choice, and syntax strategies help to generate the perfect juxtaposition of words and punctuation that will make each sentence pop (Clark). Tufte’s handbook includes examples from a variety of texts; for example, John Keats, Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingway, Julia Child’s The Joy of Cooking, and more. However, there is a noticeable lack of adolescent narrators in Tufte’s smorgasbord of literature examples. This lack is significant, due to the popularity of first-person narrators in adolescent literature. Therefore, in order to analyze whether Tufte’s syntax strategies can also be applied to first-person adolescent narrators, two contrasting teenage protagonists were examined: Matilda, in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793, and Saba, in Moira Young’s Blood Red Road. The final analysis illustrates that Virginia Tufte’s syntax strategies, in Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, are equally effective when applied to first-person adolescent storytellers, particularly strategies that include verbs, fragments, and the creation of cohesiveness.

Keywords: adolescent fiction, grammar, first-person narration, Virginia Tuft, creative writing strategies, young adult fiction

Author Bio

Kristin Leonard holds an M.A. in English (Northern Arizona University) an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (University of Southern Maine).She is also a doctoral student (Education, Northern Arizona University). She teaches at Husson University in Bangor, Maine, Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, and Unity College in Unity, Maine. Her critical and creative work has appeared in The Explicator, Postcolonial Text, The Atlantic, The Ekphrastic Review, Maine’s Best Emerging Poets, and more. She is also the 2019 recipient of the Maine Literary Award for Drama. Join her kristinjleonard.com

Suggested Reference citation 

APA
Leonard, K. (2020). First-person adolescent storytellers and Virginia Tufte’s Artful sentences: Syntax as style. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/first-person-adolescent-storytellers-and-virginia-tuftes-artful-sentences-syntax-as-style/

MLA
Leonard, Kristin. “First-Person Adolescent Storytellers and Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol 7, no 1, 2020, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/first-person-adolescent-storytellers-and-virginia-tuftes-artful-sentences-syntax-as-style/

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The Tin Woodman, Captain Fyter, and Chopfyt: L. Frank Baum’s Portrayal of Body Image and Prostheses in the Wake of World War I

Marie Gethins
University of Limerick
Sreelane, Limerick, Ireland
marie.gethins@ul.ie

Abstract

Nineteenth and early twentieth-century children’s literature frequently depicts characters with disabilities as flat stereotypes — villains or saintly invalids. L. Frank Baum’s The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918) provides a sharp contrast to these typical portrayals, as well as contemporary “socio-cultural” beliefs on physical normalcy and sense of self. Written as the U.S. entered World War I and details of trench warfare reached the home-front, it presents an interesting exploration of society’s response to physical disability and prostheses. In addition, it highlights the psychological devastation associated with body changes.

During Baum’s formative years, disabled Civil War veterans returned to New York state in large numbers. Initially respected for their service and their subsequent loss, Civil War veterans gradually found themselves the subject of resentment across much of the United States. Many cities passed ordinances prohibiting the disabled from frequenting  public areas to avoid “disturbing” the populace. Baum’s portrayal of three characters contrasts with contemporary “socio-cultural” mores. 

In The Tin Woodman of Oz, the Tin Woodman and Captain Fyter, who progressively dismembered themselves and replaced body parts with tin prostheses, are shown in a positive light. When these “tin twins” Captain Fyter and the Tin Woodman encounter Chopfyt — a man assembled from a combination of their flesh body parts — the three characters reflect on what constitutes physical normalcy, as well as the value and beauty of prostheses. Through Chopfyt, the psychological effects of limb loss and the concept of usefulness come to the fore. 

This paper considers the influences the Civil War and World War I amputees may have played on Baum’s writing of The Tin Woodman of Oz and what cultural lessons underlie his characterizations of prostheses, physical normalcy, and what constitutes a sense of self. 

Keywords: Disability, prostheses, amputee, Oz, World War 1, physical normalcy

Author Bio

A medical writer for more than two decades, Marie Geth­ins also has more than 80 creative writing publications. Marie is a Pushcart, Best of the Short Fictions, British Screenwriters Award Nominee and a recipient of the 2016 Frank O’Connor Bursary. In 2019, she presented academic papers at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA), Irish Association for American Studies (IAAS), Children’s Literature Association (ChLA), International Gothic Association (IGA), and Gothic Spaces Tokyo conferences. Awarded B.A.’s in Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture and Dra­matic Art/​Dance from U.C. Berke­ley, she has a Master of Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Suggested Citation

APA
Gethins, M. (2020). The Tin Woodman, Captain Fyter, and Chopfyt: L. Frank Baum’s portrayal of body image and prostheses in the wake of World War I. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/the-tin-woodman-captain-fyter-and-chopfyt-l-frank-baums-portrayal-of-body-image-and-prostheses-in-the-wake-of-world-war-i/

MLA
Gethins, Marie. “The Tin Woodman, Captain Fyter, and Chopfyt: L. Frank Baum’s Portrayal of Body Image and Prostheses in the Wake of World War I.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol 7, no. 1. 2020. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/the-tin-woodman-captain-fyter-and-chopfyt-l-frank-baums-portrayal-of-body-image-and-prostheses-in-the-wake-of-world-war-i/

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