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Humanities Unbound 2018 is hosted by Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, in the Eastern time zone.

Schedule at a Glance

Pre-Conference Workshops


Please register for this free conference to get in on these remarkable conversations! Session descriptions  appear below the schedule at a glance.

EDT Activity Description
10-10:15 a.m. Opening Remarks
10:15-10:45 a.m. Panel 1: Displacement & Recovery Digital Annotation Interfaces and Re-situated Readership
— Miranda Egger, University of Colorado DenverThe Canon Takes No Notice of the Negro: Recovering Black British Literature in the Victorian Literature Course
— Angela Jacobs, Old Dominion UniversityBy the Numbers: Using Numeration as Narrative Strategy in Displacement Rhetorics
— Monika Reyes, Old Dominion University
11-11:30 a.m. Panel 2: Narrative Media The Uncanny Patient: Reconciling the Psychological Trauma of Abject Horror in Medicine
— Johan Clarke, Georgetown University“For the record, if anyone out there still cares, I’m not actually gay”: Technology, Masculine Performance, and Fan Production in BBC’s Sherlock
— Dana Gavin, Old Dominion UniversityPoetic Characters: Video Games and their Chronotopic Markings
— Mike Piero, Old Dominion University & Cuyahoga Community College
11:45a.m.–12:30 p.m. Roundtable 1 Finding Our Humanity in an Age of Forced Migration
Lead: Erika Frydenlund, PhD, Old Dominion University

  • Etta C. Jones, Old Dominion University
  • Bnar Mustafa, Old Dominion University
  • Luz Diaz, Old Dominion University
  • Monica Reyes, Old Dominion University
12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30-3 p.m. Roundtable 2 The Future Work of the Humanities
Lead: David Metzger, PhD, Old Dominion University

  • Andrew Marcus, MFA, The School of Disappearance
  • Timothy Richardson, MFA, Ph.D., University of Texas at Arlington
3:15-3:45 p.m. Panel 3: Media & (Re)presentation Scandal in the White House: Olivia Pope’s Role as an Outsider-Within
— Lily Kunda, Old Dominion UniversityInternet Memes and the Resurgence in White Nationalism and White Supremacy in America
— Jeannine Owens, Old Dominion UniversityTime Lords and Gender: Emotional Labor on Doctor Who
— Jennifer Hartshorn, Old Dominion University
4-5 p.m. Panel 4: Gender & Politics “I’m Looking for a Mind at Work”: Reclaiming Angelica Schuyler Church
— Nicole Hancock, Old Dominion University#MeTooAtonement: The Rhetoric of Hollywood Apologists
— D’An Knowles Ball, Old Dominion UniversityVIP in the 6ix
— Diana Edelhauser, York University & Ryerson University, Toronto
5:15-5:45 p.m. Keynote Address Nature Versus Nurture
— Ellie Ragland, PhD, Professor Emerita, University of Missouri-Columbia
6:00 Closing Remarks
6:15 p.m. Dinner Join us for dinner with Dr. Ragland (dinner costs not covered)

Presentation Descriptions

10:15-10:45am – PANEL 1: Displacement and Recovery

Digital Annotation Interfaces and Re-situated Readership
Miranda Egger, University of Colorado Denver:

Digital interfaces — such as and Scalar — help more fully realize the theories of Barthes, Derrida and Kristeva — by challenging the dominance of a static, printed text and placing the reader back at the center of the textual experience.

Likewise, digital annotation interfaces serve to unseat the authority of author (and the systems of authorship that dictate what text should and does mean) via material shifts in text technologies, specifically in the ways that social annotation interfaces employ intertextuality and multivocality.

In this project, I aim to explore the concept of disrupting the traditional relationships between text, authorship and readership by examining how digital social annotation interfaces position intertextuality and multivocality as an active, social meaning-making process of reading. Beyond the theory, the goal is to examine these concepts via students’ and scholars’ practices of digital annotation.

The Canon Takes No Notice of the Negro: Recovering Black British Literature in the Victorian Literature Course
Angela Jacobs, Old Dominion University

A survey of major issues at the heart of the Victorian Era will show that this era was one of rapid economic and social changes and major technological shifts. Unfortunately, as noted by Audry Fisch, the multicultural aspect, such as the issues of Colonialism and Slavery, within the Victorian literary canon is often neglected in major anthologies, much to the detriment of students. As both Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina and Edward Scobie write, the Victorians, were once noted for their thirst for all things Africa and her peoples: their labors and materials in particular. By eliminating the role of Africa and African peoples in Victorian literature, students are robbed of the richness of this era and the extent of the British Empire’s colonial and imperial legacy. Such a rectification is necessary, especially in undergraduate Victorian literature courses, where students’ knowledge of the field is governed almost exclusively by what is explicitly taught.

By the Numbers: Using Numeration as Narrative Strategy in Displacement Rhetorics
Monica Reyes, Old Dominion University

Stories of displacement have long been a regular part of global and cultural conversations due to the vast surges of migration due to war, climate change or extreme socio-economic injustices. In 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) reports that there are well over 65 million displaced people globally. In our digitally-connected worlds, it is common to see and read glimpses of the devastation, loneliness and chaos that displacement creates (or for many, only further exacerbates) through a variety of outlets such as fiction, news stories or humanitarian agencies’ calls-to-action. In pragmatic terms though, when arriving to their destination country, displaced people, such as asylum seekers or migrants, consider their own narratives the most powerful resource that they have; so much of their future rests on how “credible” their fear-based stories are, after all (as with the required U.S. “Credible Fear Interview” for asylum-seekers). Without evidence, such as documentation, photographs, etc., a person seeking refugee or asylum status, for example, may quickly come to understand that their journey experience and how they share that experience with those in power is their only hope in literally moving forward. My work in progress includes case studies of 2 interviews I conducted with asylum seekers who were denied asylum status, but “withholding of removal.” These narrative case studies provide evidence that displacement narratives often employ numeration as a means of rhetorical agency in complex rhetorical ecologies.

11:00-11:30am – PANEL 2: Narrative Media

The Uncanny Patient: Reconciling the Psychological Trauma of Abject Horror in Medicine
Johan Clarke, Georgetown University

The diseases that disgust most people, like a teratoma growing cavities full of teeth and hair inside an ovary, fascinate most physicians, and many describe their patient’s condition with both horror and glee. The literary critic Julia Kristeva’s theories on abjection and the uncanny discuss how the breakdown between what is us and what we consider the things we cast off, like corpses and feces, instill a fear of our mortality. These theories provide a framework to understand physicians’ relationships to their patients – mediated by fascination, horror, the desire to intervene, and the contradictory desire to detach. This paper uses Kristeva’s Powers of Horror essay to deconstruct works of fiction, narrative nonfiction, film, and the author’s personal experiences in medicine to navigate how both the physician and the patient use their uncanny relationship to the body to feel closer to and more comfortable with death.

“For the record, if anyone out there still cares, I’m not actually gay”: Technology, Masculine Performance, and Fan Production in BBC’s Sherlock
Dana Gavin, Old Dominion University

This paper argues that the fan labor that surrounds BBC’s Sherlock is responsible for the show’s continued success, and that the pattern of bait-and-mock from the show runners, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, has bound fans into production that elevates Sherlock far beyond its tenuous virtues should merit. Gatiss and Moffat, who identify as Sherlockian fans, seem to appreciate that their fan base is exactly that: fanatical. Thus, they create a Sherlock who is very tenuously related to the Doyle character, one who seems gender-queer, or who is the blankest of slates upon whom the viewer-consumer can write their own narrative. When fans begin to perceive that they are being baited, they react negatively, but rather that being a detractor to the show’s success, this is exactly the negative reaction Gatiss and Moffat depend upon for their own well-funded, corporately-supported fan product’s financial achievement, which funds their newer projects.

Poetic Characters: Video Games and their Chronotopic Markings
Mike Piero, Old Dominion University

Chronotopes and their archetypes offer scholars a helpful way to consider games as algorithmically-mediated texts within their socio-political contexts and historical rhythms. Analyzing time-space markings in video games allows one to see the “poetic characters” of language that humans as wild, imaginative animals create, often through play. Behind the rational logic of video game programming, narratives, and mechanics lies a semiosis that is, in the first instance, primarily visual, gestural, material, and metaphorical. This brief theoretical sketch that aligns with Giambattista Vico’s “new science” posits an imbrication of foundationalist and anti-foundationalist epistemological and ontological positions necessary to understanding how the gamer — as an animal poeticum — experiences time and space in games through play. This theory brings video game time-space configurations into crude contact with their mythic and poetic roots as experienced through the body, including a bodily-rooted imagination.

11:45am–12:30pm – ROUNDTABLE 1

Finding Our Humanity in an Age of Forced Migration
Erika Frydenlund, Etta C. Jones, Bnar Mustafa, Luz Diaz & Monica Reyes, Old Dominion University

The discussants each bring a unique perspective to the media representations of refugees and forced migration that most people only consume at a distance. Along each stage of the forced migration journey, refugees encounter the complexities of host communities struggling for their own existence and global identities. Forced migrants are then counted, categorized, and maintained by international organizations that require refugees to shape and mold their identities to fit the rhetoric and interests of global organizations. For the few selected to pursue a life in a developed country, the struggle to establish a new cross-cultural identity and understand the resources and responsibilities now available results in further construction of identities uprooted from crisis and situated in the ‘normalcy’ of the developed world. The scholars on this roundtable will share their research on the various stages of displacement. We will explore themes of belonging, adaptable cultural narratives, and cultural integration. Sharing the research of scholars specializing in different facets of the migration journey will allow us to uncover how this era of forced migration not only shapes global and local politics and economies, it calls on us to question fundamentally who we are as human beings. What lengths should we all go to in order to accommodate refugees in ways that allow them to thrive and move in from the margins of our global society?

2:30-3:00pm – PANEL 3: Media and (Re)presentation

Scandal in the White House: Olivia Pope’s Role as an Outsider-Within
Lily Kunda, Old Dominion University

As the end of hit-show Scandal approaches, it’s only right to acknowledge the show’s impact on black feminist thought. My research analyzes character, Olivia Pope’s, role as an outsider-within on the show and how this representation is transformative in the understanding of black women’s social position in white dominated professional settings. The framework of the “outsider-within” describes the social position of black women who occupy the spaces of white people as employees but don’t have full membership in these spaces due to their lack of male-ness and white-ness. Olivia encompasses the outsider-within by being in The White House as an employee, a space that is historically reserved white males, but she also challenges her position by observing the culture of the dominant group and outsmarting her white counterparts. This research draws attention to the experience of black women and how that experience is negotiated through a television show.

Internet Memes and the Resurgence in White Nationalism and White Supremacy in America
Jeannine Owens, Old Dominion University

Social discourse reflects culture at any given time and the dominant mode of communication is the Internet’s social media platforms. It creates a safe place for expression, empowering people to voice their opinions. Within this sphere, the Internet meme has become a uniquely powerful tool because of many factors, offering personal entry points for engagement and activism.

This paper examines those factors and analyzes direct links between cultural moments and how Internet memes offered personal entry points for engagement and activism. It presents clear evidence that Internet memes associated within the Black Lives Matter, Alt Right, and White Nationalist movements act as powerful change agents, engaging activism on many levels, resulting in social and political change.

Time Lords and Gender: Emotional Labor on Doctor Who
Jennifer Hartshorn, Old Dominion University

Over the course of Doctor Who’s 55 year history, the Doctor has been accompanied by traveling companions — usually female. Since the show’s relaunch in 2005, what was always subtext has been more overtly stated: the Doctor’s companions are what makes him a good person. When he travels without companions he becomes less human, more alien and uncaring. The Doctor’s companions carry the burden of the show’s emotional labor, humanizing the Time Lord.

However, on Christmas 2017, the Doctor regenerated for the 13th time — but this time, the Doctor was a woman. Fans have known since the early days of the show that the Doctor can change his appearance instead of dying, becoming a new person but with the same mind and memories as before. This is the first time, however, that the Time Lord has taken on a female form. How will this change in gender shift the balance of emotional labor?

3:15-3:45pm – PANEL 4: Gender & Politics

“I’m Looking for a Mind at Work”: Reclaiming Angelica Schuyler Church
Nicole Hancock, Old Dominion University

I would like to propose reclaiming Angelica Schuyler Church’s historical and popular culture legacy using Cheryl Glenn’s methodology. Church’s flirtations with Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson have been emphasized in scholarship and the musical Hamilton to the detriment of her entire character. A more holistic and regendered interpretation of her legacy may be in order.

#MeToo Atonement: The Rhetoric of Hollywood Apologists
D’An Knowles Ball, Old Dominion University

In late 2017, the #MeToo viral social media movement that began as testimonials of first-hand abuse experiences expanded out to reach the world of show business. Actors, writers, employees, and many others came forward with statements of sexual abuse and named their abusers. The rapidity and magnitude of public redress and apology occurring in context to this movement leads us to ask how such publicly issued testaments and subsequent apologies demonstrate discourse progressions in overcoming sexual abuse. In this work, I will investigate three public apologies using a framework informed by gender studies, discourse analysis, and popular culture theory. I argue that the rhetorical moves made in the apologies issued by three celebrities, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, and Dan Harmon, serve to reinforce social constructions of masculine identities and hegemonic patriarchal structures at the foundation of this public debate rather than provide meaningful private resolution for their assault victims.

VIP in the 6ix
Diana Edelhauser, York University & Ryerson University, Toronto

For young women in the Toronto nightlife industry (i.e. bottle service girls working in downtown-core night clubs), the labour they perform in nightclubs is comparable to the performances of sexualized femininity put forth by the historic Playboy Bunnies, which has continued to raise questions regarding moral implications and boundaries of female nightclub work. The purpose of this paper will be to explore the prominence of sex work (particularly escorting) in Toronto and its overlap with the city’s night life economy, in order to enlighten readers regarding how commonplace it is for young women in their twenties to be involved in sex work. The main question at the heart of my research is, should we now equate female night club employees (specifically, bottle girls) to sex workers? Are these women subjected to objectification and commodification of their sexualized bodies or rather, is this an industry of female empowerment?