Article List | Reviews

RSS feed for this section

Taking Back the ‘F’ Word: A Book Review of The (other)F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce, edited by Angie Manfredi

Laura Davis
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville, TN, USA

Manfredi, Angie (Editor). The (other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce. Amulet Books, 2019. 224 pgs., $18.99.

“Your body is perfect. Yes, yours. Exactly the way it is, right now in this second.”

In The (other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce, editor Angie Manfredi brings together thirty voices, from middle grades and young adult authors to fat influencers and pioneers, to provide young adult readers with differing modes of storytelling – personal essays, poetry, and visual art – to celebrate the “fat” body. Across the anthology, authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds convey their experiences with fat bodies. The variety of concepts throughout the anthology celebrate the uniqueness of the human body and champion owning all aspects of identity. With Bill Maher proposing “fat-shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs a comeback,” books like Manfredi’s push back against fat-shaming and encourage those who are fat to “realize there’s nothing wrong with being fat” (p. 1). Continue Reading →

Review of Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens

Debbie Olson, PhD
Missouri Valley College
Marshall, MO

Pimpare, Stephen. Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen. Oxford University Press, 2017. 376 pgs., $34.95.

Stephen Pimpare’s Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens is a unique jaunt through Hollywood films that feature society’s most marginalized and maligned, the homeless and the poor. Pimpare, PhD, is a senior Lecturer in American politics and public policy at the University of New Hampshire and has authored two previous books on poverty and political policy. And while Pimpare carefully acknowledges he is not a film scholar, his insightful examination of the way film (re)presents the poor and homeless is a valuable addition to both political science and cinema scholarship. Overall, Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens is a perceptive look at the intersections of popular imagery and public policy. Continue Reading →

Groupthink in the Cave: A New Perspective on The Matrix

Kelly Salsbery
Stephen F. Austin State University
Nacogdoches TX USA

Anne Collins Smith
Stephen F. Austin State University
Nacogdoches TX USA


While analyses of the movie The Matrix abound, the authors propose a new perspective, particularly useful in the current polarized political milieu in the US. The Matrix provides an excellent example of the phenomenon known as “groupthink,” and a pedagogically helpful way to address it. It is especially significant that the hero of the movie, with whom students identify, has to struggle to overcome groupthink within himself.

Keywords: The Matrix, The Wachowskis, groupthink, Plato, Manuel Velasquez, Irving Janis

Continue Reading →

Engaging Interdisciplinary Conversations

Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN, USA

Timothy D. Saeed
Northern Vermont University
Lyndon, VT, USA

Petermann, Emily. The Musical Novel: Imitation of Musical Structure, Performance, and Reception in Contemporary Fiction. Camden House, 2014. $85.   

The Musical Novel: Imitation of Musical Structure, Performance, and Reception in Contemporary Fiction was first published in 2014 by Camden House. This year the book appears in its paperback edition, with Boydell & Brewer. As its author Emily Petermann notes elsewhere, the new edition contains no drastic changes: a paperback version of the book seems to be an opportunity to remind the audience of the acuteness of interdisciplinary links that literature may inspire and strengthen. However, it responds to the changes of the environment shaped by interdisciplinary dialogues. Conflating at least two fields—literature and music—The Musical Novelpotentially contributes to the ongoing conversation regarding teaching across disciplines. Continue Reading →

Connecting the Disconnected: Pedagogy Goes Digital Native

Kurt Depner
New Mexico State University – Dona Ana
Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA


I remember the first time I encountered Twitter–everyone’s favorite, love-it-or-hate-it microblogging miasma. I dismissed it as many do; it was too callous, too “mainstream,” too much about #twerking and not enough about #OnlineLearning.  Then a few years back, I was teaching a composition course when word came in that a tornado had just swept through Joplin, Missouri, where many of my spouse’s family lived.  Immediately, we stopped class to pause and reflect, looking for any sources that could give us information about loved ones.  The traditional narratives of local news and The Weather Channel told us nothing.  Then some students pointed out that people living there were #LiveTweeting video of the tornado’s destructive path, complete with videos of what used to be the south side of the city, now a stream of rubble and destruction.  In this brief and sobering moment, my students and I collectively realized that online education, even through the seeming banality of Twitter, was real and profound.  And like all tools, Twitter was more than a steady stream of Miley’s latest shenanigans; it had powerful pedagogical implications as well. Continue Reading →

Film Review: Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing: Whedon, Branagh, and the Anxiety of Influence

Jessica Maerz
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona, USA

Long before he was the internationally famous head of a major Hollywood superhero franchise, Joss Whedon was a beloved writer/director of cult TV shows, boasting a dedicated following of fanatics who parsed his every quirky turn of phrase.  In the 1990s, when Whedon was building his fanbase with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kenneth Branagh was at the height of his dominance as a mainstream interpreter of screen Shakespeare, thanks to the series of adaptations that he inaugurated with 1989’s Henry V.  While Shakespeare plays like Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth have received multiple big-screen adaptations, Much Ado About Nothing has received only two: Kenneth Branagh’s own in 1993, and Joss Whedon’s, exactly twenty years later.  This essay examines Whedon’s adaptation through the lens of Branagh’s, noting the many conceptual, stylistic, and industrial similarities that unite them—for despite Whedon’s insistence that Branagh’s Much Ado did not provide him with an adaptational roadmap, the films demonstrate striking similarities in context and content that can’t be simply explained by their shared source text. Continue Reading →

A Pedagogical Journey: Albuquerque 2015

Laurence Raw
Baskent University
Ankara, Turkey


The subject of pedagogy and popular culture has assumed increasing significance in academic circles, especially since the publication of Phil Benson’s and Alice Chik’s anthology Popular Culture, Pedagogy and Teacher Education (2014), a series of interventions discussing how popular culture can be implemented in a variety of teaching situations across the globe. The book offers valuable insights into how popular culture can inspire learners through materials drawn from everyday life but tends to avoid essential questions such as what constitutes popular cultural material (and how it differs from other textual forms) and what learning outcomes might be accomplished through its deployment in the secondary or tertiary classroom (Benson and Chik). Such questions are intrinsic to all efforts to improve pedagogical standards. Continue Reading →