PCA Questions on Superheros

by Dr Davis on April 15, 2015

Questions on superheroes

Q not evil but revenge or justice?

A some situations in game can be said this. But using Ardt’s ideas, elves are treated animal-like. Making these others not even have human characteristics.

Q Video game trend… completely justified uprising
Leader of uprising wants to oppress those who oppressed her.
Is this sort of narrative (oppressed becomes oppressor) problematic in real world?

A agree with what you are saying. It’s why I chose 3 different games. Different options.
Possible that there are other options.
Sometimes you are forced to choose a side.

Q doctor isn’t getting help. Picking up companions. “His way to interact normally” to keep him being functional…

A wanted to address. Separate paper, though.
Entire field of study within PTSD about companion support. Not just friends, but the right friends and the right people around.
Clara is an abusive companion.
Donna is an ideal companion.

Q seems like 10 displayed almost all the things you describe and chose to die, wasn’t allowed to die. Each reincarnation has to relive.

A regeneration as another manifestation of avoidance
Abandons everything associated with it.
Like starting an entirely new life.
Changed patterns of behavior—even changing which shoe on first
Attempt to start new but stuff comes back. Repressed memories. “Family of Blood” old traumas were leaking through.

Q avoidance overarching theme. Can see the singularity. Doesn’t want to go where he dies. Self-sacrifice ever used is being erased. Whatever happens?

A they don’t say what happens.
Everybody knows the doctor lies. He lies to himself.
All kinds of places that he avoids that aren’t canonically necessary to avoid, but he avoids anyway.
Doesn’t go back places he’s been before. The doctor’s daughter planet.
Easier for show runners, but is very consistent with PTSD.

Q model… Thinking consistently about superhero movies so different because they are informed by another media, comics. So much genre where self-aware characters, some have become pomo (?). Fan culture.
Maybe reason 4-stage model doesn’t work is because there is so much informing it from comics and fan culture.
New 52 when first started coming out from DC. First Aquaman… first pages comes in and orders fish. Can’t you not eat fish? Addressing how everyone hates Aquaman.

Q earlier stuff… in the 60s on television, Batman was seen as camp. Making fun of comic book character. Next season CBS and NBC did Mr. Terrific and Captain Nice. Camp parodies. Late 70s Greatest American Hero. So when Superman and Batman come out at late 70s get almost a neoclassical.
Like what you’ve done with neoclassical, inter-genre fertilizing.

A genre has moved from print to television to film.
That’s where the 4-stage theory works. Spiral. Goes in a circle, but moving forward. Goes through parody, but moves into new medium and starts over at primitive.

Basis is steeped in ridiculous and absurd.

That’s what is so interesting about parody existing concurrently. Still very popular.

Q Wouldn’t argue you might need a new genre description?

A revisionist and parody feed back to influence classical models
Guardians of the Galaxy structure, arcs, classical

Maybe we’ve birthed a new genre, new genres.
Conspiracy theory superhero film
Superhero science fiction

Q Shield shows non-super people views.
Liked Avengers classical and revisionist. Villain is not classical. Think that’s a characteristic of neoclassical wave?

A Don’t watch Shield.
Shield does present human perspective. I can’t speak from experience, can surmise from earlier paper, yes about normal people. Black Widow and Hawkeye in Avengers are Shield Agents. Little bit reacting to enormous things that are way out of their league.
Shield still non-powered humans, but still so intrinsically connected to world of superheroes. Not normal… What about the guy who sees Ironman fly by and that makes his week?

Reporter who lived through 40s and 60s during superhero revelations… aspect of superhero genre that hasn’t been explored as much. Could be an aspect of revisionist stage.

Loki as atypical big bad.
Joker Big Bad but comes off quite differently. Much harder than when campy.
Loki by Thor 2 becomes almost an antihero.

Q regarding name Doctor, play on that he needs a doctor?

A No. Because 1963 PTSD was shell shock. Back then was just something to make the character more interesting and ambiguous.
Interesting people tend to have suffered some trauma as well.
New Who has become more character driven. Old Who was static character.

Q One of ideas for where going to go, oversaturation falling into disrepair. Maybe more like Westerns. Space operas now. Probably where it will go.

A One part of 4-stage theory is otherly proposed 5th stage of nostalgia. Long period of silence and then a remake, reminiscing about Golden Era.

Also as far as Western goes. Transmuted Western idea is a good one. How many Westerns do we see a year? One or two a year. Especially about The Lone Ranger.

Q part of whole superhero thing is reboots and comic books. Told this story in one way. Need to do something different. Also dumping huge amounts of marketing. We as pop culture scholars changes in genre, large multinational corps get people into movie theaters.

A interesting to watch how it goes into different media.

Q Grey Wardens, gray allude to opportunity to choose to be neutral.

A In dragon age series, not always about keeping peace. Killing the blight. Fight off the dark spawn.

Q Joseph Campbell… because of what has happened to them, they are not pure good guys or evil.
Arbitration, too. Neutral line. Experienced both.

Q talking about flexing muscles of making decisions about evil
In this context, do you think trying to keep YA away from this kind of game a problem or innocence too long?

A talking about sex. Deny it doesn’t work. Makes issue worse. Still recommend Witcher series not be played by kids because there are a lot of mature content.
Q help them develop a moral compass

A not morality, helps them decide what is evil
Evil is different than morality.
Many decisions were moral but those decisions of absolute evil.


PCA Video Games Evil versus Morality

by Dr Davis on April 15, 2015

Grey Wardens and the White Wolf
Caleb Metott

When 2 years old Dad played video games with me on computer. Have always loved video games.
How can we learn from them?

Role playing games:
Witcher video game series
Dragon Age: Origins

Hannah Ardent’s view of evil and morality
George Kateb’s interp
Richard Ryder speciesism

Trailer for the Witcher…
“evil is evil, lesser, greater, makes no difference”
What are you doing? Killing the monsters
“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt-Killing Monsters Cinematic Trailer” YouTube.

Hannah Ardent was a Jew who escaped horrors of Holocaust.
Morals and evil are different.
Immoral = lying, adultery, murder
Totalitarian evil = absolute evil, strips victims of humanity
Made people think of them as less than human.
Banality of evil (coined phrase) = something everyday people do

George Katebs argued the existence of these values.

People find it easier to do evil when think of victim as not human.
Speciesism is discrimination based on species, 1970.

Common occurrence in Star Trek. Comic books.


PCA Superhero Film Genre

by Dr Davis on April 15, 2015

Evaluating the Superhero Film Genre: Up, Up, and Away
Ryan Lagerstrom, Tyler D. Welch
Independent scholars

Where superhero movie came from, where we are today, future guessing

What is the genre?
“distinguished by a characteristic set of conventions in style, subject matter, and values” Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies

blueprint –formula, patterns
structure—indiv framework
contract—audience expectations
Rick Altman Film/Genre

Giannetti’s model of genre life:
Primitive stage
Classical stage
Revisionist stage
Parody stage
Cultural death

How does this model relate to superhero genre?

primitive = tropes
classical = canonized
revisionist = questioned
neoclassical = classical and revisionist tropes like
Spiderman, The Dark Knight, Avengers
Spiderman is very bright and colorful. Undoubtedly good hero. Classical.
The Dark Knight much more revisionist movie. Questions hero’s ethics.
Avengers equal blend of two. Classical superhero good v evil and good guys win. But at same time, characters much more flawed. Ironman alcoholic, sleeps around. Hulk desperately trying to restrain his power. 2 have no power.

Revisionist films happen concurrently with the neoclassical stage. Critique is fed immediately into the new films being made.

Parody has jumped mediums. Almost entirely located on internet. Mocked, laughed at, but unlike in 4-stages, it acts as a wink and a nod—We all love this anyway.

Then revisionist 2.0 or mainstream decline or ???

We will not be bereft of superhero films any time soon.
After the neoclassical stage, what will happen?
Revisionist 2.0 more serious, normal human point of view is lost, so maybe adaptation of normal human POV
Mainstream decline May burst the bubble because we’ve seen so many.

Giannetti’s 4-stages of genre theory “does not allow for the theory’s growth beyond the parody stage”


PCA Doctor Who PTSD

by Dr Davis on April 15, 2015

Doctor Who superhero paper
A Good Man Survives the War
An Analysis of the Doctor’s Madness Using the 4-Factor Model for PTSD (grammar issue in title)
Romeo Cerimele

grouped core symptoms into four factors
re-experiencing (one or more)
upsetting thoughts
upset by reminders
feelings in the body (internal reaction)
Avoidance (one or more)
Trying not to talk about personal things, things associated with trauma
Avoid activities
Numbing (two or more) reactionary
Cannot remember
Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
Emotional distance
Restricted affect, problem experiencing right emotions at the right time
No future plans, no schedule
Hyperarousal (two or more)
Trouble sleeping
Concentration problems
Overly careful

The symptoms can cause each other.
Nightmares -> trouble sleeping -> irritability

We’re going to talk about how these symptoms are manifest in the doctor.
Can be a cover for other symptoms.

Hyperarousal (one of easiest things to see)
Hyper in hyperarousal 11th doctor
Further characterized by reckless and self-destructive behavior (coping mechanism for number of these symptoms)

“little is known about the mechanisms underlying emotional numbing” Litz, Schengler, Weathers, Caddell, Fairbanks, and LaVange
doctors’ hyper-arousal symptoms as a complex coping mechanism for emotional numbness

Things likely to see in the doctor
Continue to lash out more
Punish friends and foes
Alienate form others
Insulate from those that question
Withdraw into himself
Pursue more reckless behavior


PCA Who Questions

by Dr Davis on April 14, 2015

Q Saba: 3

A River Song,
Examining glass something magical blue books that take over people’s minds, steampunk Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
Karen Marie Monning, Ireland and Dublin, woman researching murder of sister, she’s not a person but a book come to life. The Fever Series
Discourse of psychoanalysis and xxx

Q tech
“Closing Time”
Actively fights her/for love?

A It’s the one thing he hasn’t figured out yet. Having to figure out how to deal with Stormageddon.

Capaldi’s first season, where natural parts are taking place of mechanical parts

Q “Victory for the Daleks”
Have you ever fallen in love with someone you know you shouldn’t? That is humanity.

Tennant episode where he has the watch. Doesn’t call on ????
Grandchildren and been married 4 times.

Q interactive/
Do you use these methods to teach your students narratology?
You can teach this to lots of things.
Have a friend sucking at Shakespeare, watches Sons of Anarchy, used it to explain Shakespeare.

Q teach a comp course using Doctor who as theme
Terrible time trying to explain Jack Harkness.
Tech vortex time manipulator…
How do you position Jack Harkness?

A silence
Amazing actor. Only episode that Steven Moffat wrote where everybody lives.
52nd Century hormones… Army and Air Force… officer at the guard and hits on him. Then hits on cyborgs.
Take him with a big grain of salt.
Jack straddling the bomb and caption is “literally anything that moves.”
Opens up discussion of sexuality and homosexuality.

Episode based on game show… “What Not to Wear” or “The Long Game”

River and Jack are both aggressively sexual.

Function outside of time and impacted by trauma. Face of Bo… story exists in Torchwood quite substantially.

Easier to make Jack appealing when you bring in the rest of his story and timeline.
Speaks to trauma, regaining agency.

As bad as it is “Miracle Day” you get Jack’s history. Lover killing him over and over again and selling tickets to folks to watch.
Really tortured by families.

Q Sarah Jane also had a lipstick case that she used. Sonic lipstick.


PCA River Song Writing

by Dr Davis on April 14, 2015

Doctor Who River Song Lyricism
Spoilers: The Transgressive Invitations of River Song’s Writing in Doctor Who
Saba Razvi
University of Houston, Victoria
Teach composition and writing

Larger research on stories of characters are told, lyricism
Considers three different series…

Figure of a book included
Women abducted in past.
Retaliatory drama

Narrative of River Song specifically as configured in her diary

River Song is frustrating
Meets doctor on her own terms

Time being written
Gestures being altered to save people
Spaces for uncelebrated individuals

Series manipulates viewer’s understanding of story.

System of writing and written object
How we connect information controls what arises.

Discusses all the myriad of ways River Song writes. As River Song is one of my favorite characters, if not my absolute favorite, I was surprised that I did not think of all the ways she writes (and more) than Saba brought up. Fascinating.

Resisting the narrative that is being imposed onto her.
She’s been saying Hello, sweetie all the time. Then at end says Goodbye, sweetie.


PCA Doctor Who and Technology

by Dr Davis on April 14, 2015

It takes a good man to be a good Dalek…
April Toadvine

An outpost, isolated, suddenly you find out person in charge doesn’t want to listen. Doctor will have to appear. Happened so many times.

Tropes got me thinking about what is going on in those episodes.

Solutions are usually technological.
Way the show is depicting technology.
Either tech is there to save the planet or destroy it or both.
Depiction of tech comes down to way humans use their devices.
Too connected = at risk to attack through
Disconnected= at risk for other reasons (which didn’t say)

Tech in early DW not really a lot
New Who we are more comfortable with technology.
Looking at different techs. Fears may be the same but expression is different.

Tech in old Who
1971 floppy disk
1972 VCR
MRIs, artificial heart transplants, super computer
Cell phones got started in the 70s. (Really?)
Entertainment and communication potential. Augmented our lives as humans.
Don’t sound like bad things. But in hindsight might wonder.
Healthy dose of skepticism about the role/goal of tech in society. Automate everything and put humans out of the workforce? Fears of the day.

cyberman helmet“The War Machines” wonderful supercomputer and has decided it’s going to take over the world and has started hypnotizing them via their phones. Obviously able to take advantage of human weakness.
Cybermen also hypnotized.
“Age of Steel” earbuds
Devices shown to be potentially a problem.
Danger comes from machines that are able to use tech against us.

Cybermen and Daleks.
One removes all emotion and encases in metal shell.
One encases in metal shell and tries to eliminate everyone else.
Using tech to keep us alive longer. Change us too much?

Depicted as loss of humanity in form of lack of empathy and sometimes lack of creativity/imagination.

“Ice Warriors” isolated station, controller’s nickname is The Machine
eventually his plans go awry, war coming, machines aren’t as reliable as he expected

led to companion Zoe, human computer, better at math than the doctor, point of her journey is that she could learn things that weren’t computing.
When her character departed, with basically no memory, all progress she had made, all of the fiction about here has revolved around her getting her memories back and losing them again.

Humans have potential that requires ingenuity, but is damaged by tech.

Has an entire other discussion on potential for damage versus progress. Interesting stuff.


PCA Doctor Who and Narratology

by Dr Davis on April 14, 2015

A big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey wimey stuff
Fernando Rodriguez

Personal favorite is when war doctor says “timey wimey, who talks like that?”

baby tardis and Who cutNarratology
Mieke Bal writes about Narratology: An Introduction to the Theory of Narrative
Narratology- theory of narratives, narrative texts, images, spectacles, events, cultural artifacts that tell a story

Fabula = material/content worked into story, arranged = logic of events

Wolfgang Iser “Interaction Between Text and Reader”
Hands Robert Jauss “Literary History”
Mieke Bal “can only be articulate in opposition to that normality”
We don’t just jump the shark. We put a sleigh on it and ride it around the sky.

13 regenerations
War doctor doesn’t follow “The War Doctor”
He’s actually regeneration of 8th doctor.
Going to sisters of Karn. Forced regeneration to bring an end to the Time War.

“The Moment” how he’s going to talk the time war
Who is going to put out a bomb that can judge you?
“The Bad Wolf” Rose destroys leader of Dalek
Rose Tyler… interactions between War Doctor and Moment and Bad Wolf
Opens up a time when 10th and 11th doctor

9Worlds 2014 steampunk who-623510 says don’t cross your own time
11th discovers can rewrite
at end of episode, The War Doctor going to put his hand on bomb, but they say they’re so strong…

all 13 regenerations show up at same time to save Gallifrey

Melody Pond and River Song
introduced in the episode “Silence in the Library”
Dies in the following episode “Forest of the Dead”

Who says “I point and laugh at archaeologists.”
Then next episode sees baby and points and laughs.

She reveals herself to be the Doctor’s wife, but her time stream runs opposite to the Doctor’s.

If watched on a weekly basis, we wouldn’t be able to go back and see how amazing the actor of River Song is.

River Song gets Amy and Rory together, goes to the wedding (in two different time streams). Who says he dances with everyone at wedding, but he doesn’t remember Melody.

River Song’s Time Stream… watch it in River’s timeline.
4.9 “Silence of the Library”
4.10 “Forest of the Dead”

Why was he crying? She told him she was going to die.
“The Madman in the Box” cat pictures
“finally a ginger”

How could we explain how narrative works?
Works like time lord’s corpse works.
Fixed place in time that catalogs life.

Couple RenFair Dr Who“The Doctor’s Wife” written by Neil Gaiman, TARDIS completely out of sync, 24 backgrounds saved,
narrative is like the Doctor, the reader is Sexy
Rory and Amy meet the Tardis, who’s that?
Tardis is a woman. “Did you wish really, really hard?” Hi, I’m Sexy.

Good stuff. Obviously I’m redacting part of my notes. But good stuff here.



by Dr Davis on April 13, 2015

I had intended to put up partial notes from the different presentations I attended at PCA (Popular Culture Association) one at a time. I enjoyed the event considerably and I first learned about PCA and decided to go because of a blog post. However, I realized (finally) that it will be the end of May before I finish my PCA stuff and I have another conference this weekend.

So I’m going to fast-forward and post a bunch of PCA posts each day for a few days.

PCA was in New Orleans this year and had about 3200 presenters.

It will be in Seattle on a Tuesday through Friday next year (March 21-25) and Seattle ComicCon is the weekend following it. I need to get my hotel reservations now.


PCA Harry Potter Learning Communities

by Dr Davis on April 13, 2015

Kate Fulton and Alicia Skipper
San Juan College
Harry Potter Learning Community

Love and Tokuno provide a set of categories:
Common cohort of students taking class
Interdisciplinary teams of faculty teaching courses around a common theme
Students forming study groups and socializing together

Students were interested in HP. Will be teaching 4th time this fall.

13/16 said theme was what drew them to the course.

Lack of understanding about learning community
Unfamiliarity of theme
Expectations of easier courses because of theme

Ways to overcome challenges
Embracing the theme

First step: The Letter
Young witches and wizards get an invitation from the owls
Significant—formal invitation
Lets them get a wand
Helps them become full members
We send a letter in same format, same font.
Received letter with HP postage.
They were psyched.

HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Psychology of Harry Potter
Exploring Psychology
Laura King

Include information that you should watch the HP movies…
Movie marathon with their family so will be refreshed/familiar.

Policies Connected to Theme
In red have the related points…
Leave early, you’ll be hunted like a horcrux.
Plagiarism, not even Hermione, should be doing your work for you.
Group work “even a suspected Deatheater, is unacceptable… We don’t take that even from Slytherin.”

Creating a Community: Sorting into Houses
Sorted on first day with Myers-Briggs type assessment, link personality theory with their sorting
House points by knowledge and discussion “5 points for Ravenclaw”
Students really hold each other accountable.
Peer review by houses sometimes doesn’t work.
Really want to win the house cup. Who knew that Chocolate Frogs was so motivating?
One student created a poster so could visually move up and down… So she could see visually who was in the lead.
Competed up until the last day of class.

Common assignments
Good aspect of a learning community

Easy- sleep and dreams play an important part of the HP series. You have been reviewing consciousness and dream theory. Take concepts and analyze one dream from HP using two different dream theories.

Reading response…
Discuss chapter in psychology, read related essay in Psych of HP.
Explain to HP and to their own lives.

Theme helps them understand…
They get it, when HP.

Multigenre research project:
Collection of documents in different genres that relate to a concept.
Write a research paper, annotated bibliography, and 3 creative pieces. Bind those together. They present to class last day.
Have to show they understand English concepts and psych concepts.
Letter to the reader to introduce the concept.
Last reflection…

Because they get to do creative stuff, they get really excited about it. Publishing it and presenting it to the class.

One student created a contract on wand use and bystander effect. Also made wands for every student. She said they had to read the contract before they could get a wand.

Project keeps students involved.

Benefits for psychology
Every concept covered in Intro to Psych can be related to HP and the lives of the students
Personality theory
Psychological disorders
Social psychology

Split on Harry and PTSD
Ron has arachnophobia
Dobbie has anxiety

Benefits for English
Minimizes fear factor
Provides clear connections
Makes research more meaningful (doesn’t just only relate to English, also psych)
Holds student interest

Instructor Benefits
Classroom support
Immediate feedback on teaching and lessons
Makes class more fun

Students don’t want to leave.
In fall we’re doing Intro Psych/freshman comp
Advanced psych/advanced comp
“Now I just have to find a way to do the rest of my degree this way.”