Professors in College of Arts and Sciences present at international conference

Dr. Russ Pottle
Several members of the Misericordia University academic community presented essays and research papers at the 43rd Annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference (PCA/ACA) in Washington, D.C., in March.

Russ Pottle, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, served as Area Chair for two sessions of the Literature and Madness panel and offered the research paper, “Suicide and Ernest Hemingway’s Submarine Hunting Missions,’’ at the Literature and Madness panel. His work examined Terry Mort’s recent book, “The Hemingway Patrols,’’ which examined an overlooked episode in Ernest Hemingway’s war experience: Hemingway’s anti-submarine patrols in the Gulf of Mexico during World War II. Mort’s analysis of Hemingway’s possible plans for confronting a German U-Boat with a lightly-armored wooden fishing vessel indicates at best a blind heroism and at worst a suicidal impulse, according to Dr. Pottle. His analysis is placed in context with suicides in Hemingway’s short stories and with Hemingway’s own suicidal tendencies – contexts that Mort does not fully explore in his work.

Amanda Caleb, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, presented, “Once Upon a Classroom: Fairy Tales in the Core Curriculum,” before the Fairy Tales Pedagogy panel. Her research addressed how the interest in fairy tales is on the rise, especially with the recent television and film boom of fairy tale adaptations. That interest has also translated to the classroom, at both the elementary and university levels. The appeal of fairy tales for students is that they are familiar and accessible, while they allow professors to use them to teach skills, content and cultural diversity on various levels. Dr. Caleb examines how fairy tales can function in core English classes, specifically writing classes. Fairy tales offer students a level of comfort that allows for greater engagement in the material. More importantly, she says, fairy tales lend themselves to multiple applications in the classroom. They are ideal vehicles for teaching writing skills, according to Dr. Caleb, from synthesis to analysis and evaluative writing. The dissection of fairy tales also forces students to better understand and then question assumptions about social and power structures, including the often misunderstood notion of patriarchy. They also allow students to explore different cultures and think about diversity and collectiveness by looking at the variations of certain fairy tales, such as “Cinderella.’’ In choosing what appears to be a familiar genre, teachers can force students to question their understanding of what is true and what is universal, thereby challenging their own, long-held values, according to Dr. Caleb.

Dr. Caleb also was invited to present at the Fairy Tales: Pedagogy Roundtable, where she discussed how fairy tales can be used to teach notions of cultural diversity and the revision process.

Marc Entze, Ph.D., a part-time instructor in the Department of History and Government, presented the paper, “Promoting Opportunity: Railroad Advertising and the Second World War,’’ before the Historic Advertising panel. In his research, he wrote how railroads were relied upon to transport war materials and troops during World War II, which strained the railroad network. In addition to their critical transportation role in the war effort, railroads provided a vital encouragement to the American public through extensive advertising campaigns. Initially, campaigns urged travelers to understand and cope with the limitations of war-time travel and the necessity of conserving resources. As the war progressed, ad campaigns transformed into a discussion of postwar opportunity. This change in focus is well represented by the Union Pacific Railroad’s “Your America’’ campaign. The ads, published for each state the railroad served, reflected on the sacrifices Americans had experienced, but pointed to a bright future for agriculture, industry, recreation, and travel. The paper discussed the shift in railroad advertising against the critical role railroads played in the transition to postwar prosperity.

Amanda Van Lanen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of History and Government, made the presentation, “Food Will Win the War: The United States Food Administration’s Advertising Campaign during World War I,’’ to those attending the Historic Advertising panel. Dr. Van Lanen examined how the U.S. Food Administration, which was established in 1917, played a crucial role during World War I. The agency was responsible for regulating the sale and distribution of commodities during the war. Food was seen as a critical element of the war effort, not only for feeding America’s troops, but also for preventing famine in Europe. Through an extensive advertising campaign, American consumers were encouraged to consume less sugar, wheat and beef to support the war effort. The campaign resulted in a 15-percent decrease in the domestic consumption of food, and eliminated the need for rationing. Dr. Van Lanen discussed common themes in the advertising campaign and their success and failure with American consumers.

Alison Piatt, M.A., a pro-rate instructor in the Department of History and Government, served as the session chair for the Sports: Social Constructs panel and offered the research paper, “Looking for Someone to Sweep With? Click Here!: The Impact of Social Media and Webcasting on the Sport of Curling in the United States,’’ which addressed the national attention curling gains during the Winter Olympics. When the Olympics are not a factor, though, how do curlers, clubs and associations continue to grow the sport and recruit new fans? Curlers and curling clubs have been increasingly turning to social media, websites and email lists to promote events and to get people interested in the sport. The increased presence allows both curlers and fans to stay more connected and to network with one another year round, according to Ms. Piatt. Web casting also has grown in popularity, as games are streamed live online or archived on the web for fans’ convenience. Using information from online broadcasters, clubs and the United States Curling Association, Ms. Piatt examines how social media and webcasting are being used by the curling community to promote and grow the sport in America.

David Wright, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of History and Government, offered the presentation, “Songs of Social and Political Criticism from the 1960s to the Present,’’ to those attending the Music and Politics panel. In his paper, Dr. Wright provides an historical account of music of social and political critique. He examines rock and popular songs, from the 1960s to the present, in order to provide a decade-by-decade overview. Among others, lyrics sung by Bob Dylan, The Jefferson Airplane, Marvin Gaye, The Clash, The Dead Kennedys, Rage Against the Machine, Ani DiFranco, Green Day, Tom Waits, and The Black Eyed Peas, are analyzed. Dr. Wright shows that while there have been significant changes in political content and geographic origin over the decades, claims that recent music has failed to play the role songs of protest did in the 1960s and early 1970s neglects historical context, overstates the prevalence of oppositional lyrics in Vietnam War-era rock and pop, and neglects significant recent songs that take a critical stance. Dr. Wright’s work delineates patterns of protest music in social, cultural and political context in order to show how music is influenced by its historical milieu and how music in turn can impact those living at the time.