RSU Faculty, Alumni Author Text on Integrating Popular Culture in Classroom

Although making the leap from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Shakespeare might seem far-fetched at first glance, a recently published book edited and written by Rogers State University faculty and alumni makes the case that pop culture can serve as an entry point to studies of classic texts.

“Fantasy Media in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching with Film, Television, Literature, Graphic Novels and Video Games” provides suggestions on how popular culture can be used to expand and enrich an established curriculum. The book, published earlier this year by McFarland and Co. Publishers, was edited by RSU faculty members Emily Dial-Driver, Sally Emmons and James Ford. Six other RSU faculty members and an RSU alumnus wrote essays for the book.

The book’s essays combine analyses of popular culture along with explanations of how best to use them in the classroom. The essays call upon popular works including television shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer;” films like “The Matrix,” “The Dark Knight” and the “Twilight” series; graphic novels including “Watchmen;” and video games.

As Ford wrote in the introduction to the most recent book, “We wanted to show not only why teachers should consider using outstanding works of fantasy and science fiction, but especially how to use such works – the pedagogy of pop culture.”

The same team, along with fellow faculty member Carolyn Taylor, edited the 2008 book, “The Truth of Buffy: Essays on Fiction Illuminating Reality.” Both texts utilize popular culture to provide an entry point to understanding the structures and theories that underpin the study of literature and humanities.

The book’s editors have been longtime faculty members with the university. Dial-Driver serves as professor of English and humanities, as well as fiction editor of RSU’s “Cooweescoowee: A Journal of Arts and Letters.” Emmons is professor of English and humanities, and also managing editor of “Cooweescoowee.” Ford teaches humanities, philosophy and religion at RSU and serves as director of the university’s honors program. All three have been widely published in both academic and popular press.

The essays in the book written by RSU faculty and alumni include:

  • “Pop Pedagogy” by Jesse Stallings, an RSU alumnus who has served as an English teacher at Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences since 2007.
  • “Added Interest, Added Value” by Laura Gray, associate professor of English and liaison for the Writing Program.
  • “Bruce, Bill and Barack” by Carolyn Taylor, a former member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives who serves as professor of political science and RSU strategic initiatives coordinator.
  • “Flights of Fancy” by James Ford.
  • “Fusion Curriculum” by Emily Dial-Driver.
  • “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” by Sally Emmons.
  • “Critical Thinking and Post-Apocalyptic Literature” by Mary Mackie, who serves as associate professor of creative writing and literature, as well as advisor for the student newspaper and poetry editor for “Cooweescoowee.”
  • “Corruptible Power” co-authored by Frances Morris, assistant professor of English and humanities, and Dial-Driver.
  • “Fantasy Classics: Hobbits and Harry in Interdisciplinary Courses” by James Ford.
  • “Hansel, Gretel and Coraline” by J. Renee Cox, instructor of English and humanities, as well as seamstress and costumer for the RSU Theatre program’s major productions.
  • “The Fantastic Classroom: Teaching Buffy the Vampire Slayer” by Dial-Driver.
  • “Brave New Classroom: Using Science Fiction to Teach Political Theory” by Kenneth Hicks, department head and professor of history and political science.
  • “Incarnations of Immortal Creations” by Dial-Driver.

Ford also wrote the introduction and the conclusion to the book.

The book is available for sale through the RSU Bookstore, major booksellers and online retailers.