I hold a Ph.D. in English from Western University, specializing in word-image relations in twentieth-century literature and popular media. My scholarship centers on an interdisciplinary approach to visual culture, focusing on the ways in which alternative representational modes, such as text and sound, complicate and compete with our understanding of the visual, particularly in a promotional context. My publications examine these issues in such varied mediums as television and film to literature and comics. This interdisciplinary background informs the courses I teach for FIMS, where my teaching has been recognized through various nominations and awards every year since 2009.
COURSES COMMONLY OFFERED IN FIMS:
MIT 2151A/B “Consumer Society”
This popular course examines the complex role of advertising, promotion, and marketing in our culture. Our examination of ‘consumer society’ encompasses its psychological, sociological, geographic, and even psychopathic dimensions, pulling us from a consideration of coffee, cake mix, and Coke to the sometimes surprising connections between advertising and propaganda. Additionally, we look at the way marketing may or may not be used for purposes other than profit, and how markets and marketing influence the media we consume on a daily basis.
MIT 3207F/G “Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture”
This course provides a critical survey of issues related to children’s advertising, marketing, and consumer culture. The historic rise of children’s marketing, the value advertisers place on children, and contemporary controversial debates are investigated in this course and located within broad theoretical, cultural, social, and institutional contexts. In our consideration of the children’s market, we look at everything from Disney and Barbie to Lunchables and the contemporary licensing of Lego. We also explore the way in which recent technological developments have completely shifted the landscape of the contemporary child consumer.
MIT 3354F/G “Music Videos, MTV, and the Birth of New Music Media”
At 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 1981, a small cable channel went to air with a video montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Even at its inception, MTV brashly - and correctly - recognized that it would be one of the most important television events in history. What MTV did was revolutionize both music and television, primarily through the popularization of the music video genre. This course explores how music videos have served as a site for the interaction of art and advertising. It investigates the music video’s cultural, sexual, and ideological influences on a generation of television viewers who have been moulded into an ideal demographic for the consumption of both media and consumer goods. Moreover, we consider the processes and institutions involved in creating, marketing, and disseminating music videos past and present.
MIT 3223F/G “Tales of Tinseltown: Representations of Hollywood”
This course examines representations of Hollywood in film, television, and print. Hollywood is an institution known for generating its own imagery; indeed, much of what we know about Hollywood is through meta-textual films and television shows produced by the industry itself. How do such representations ‘sell’ Hollywood to the masses, and how does this message shift according to the medium? In our consideration of these questions, we examine the tension between art and commerce in the entertainment industry, and we also look at the wide reach of Hollywood’s influence. From Day of the Locust (1939) to La La Land (2016), we explore Hollywood as a model for what constitutes the 'real' in contemporary culture, and how these representations inform the American political landscape as well as constructions of sexuality, race, desire, and identity.
In addition to the courses listed above, I have taught a range of special topics courses in MIT, exploring the media's engagement with monstrosity, urban spaces in popular thought and media, and Japanese visual culture. I have also offered courses in English - focusing on 'image-texts'- as well as in Writing and Public Speaking.