Pop culture program presents diverse topics

Noah Moore

“Thoughts on Pop,” a biannual series of presentations on all aspects of popular culture, will be presented tonight sponsored by the Popular Culture Studies program of the WKU Department of Communication in Downing Student Union 3020 from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

The Pop Culture degree program is directed by Tony Harkins and was created in 2010 as a way to “to provide a space for faculty and students to share their research into popular culture studies and to help students and the WKU community think about the many ways it shapes society and is shaped by society.”

“Previous series topics have ranged from Beyonce’s feminism, to messages of freedom in “V is for Vendetta,” to the construction of the idea of “Flyover Country” to the Tour de France,” Harkins said. 

This will be the 15th biannual presentation of the series, dealing with two presentations, the first of which is “ Burka Avenger and Other Heroes: Muslim Bodies, Veiling, and Islamic Feminism” presented by Sophia Rose Arjana.

“My presentation will be showing how graphic narratives contrast to more negative depictions of Muslims in popular culture,” Arjana said. “We will also be viewing part of an episode of the Pakistani animated series Burka Avenger, which features a Muslim schoolteacher Jiya who is also a superhero.”

Arjana is an assistant professor of philosophy and religion and has a repertoire of experience in the field. She received two master’s degrees from Columbia University and Candler School of Theology at Emory University, along with receiving her Ph.D from the University of Denver. Not to mention, she has published a novel dealing with the presentation topic, titles “Superheroes: Islam Feminism and Popular Culture.”

The second presentation will be “Millionaire to Crorepati- the Globalization of Pop Quiz Shows” presented by Enakshi Roy.

“I am going to talk about the globalization of pop-culture by taking a deeper look at the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” Roy said. “This talk is based on my Master’s thesis work that I undertook as student at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University.”

Roy has obtained a Ph.D in Journalism and Mass Communication from Ohio University and has been published in numerous news journals including The Journal of Health Communications, International Perspectives” and “The Journal of Magazine and New Media Research.”

Both Arjana and Roy are new professors to WKU this year and come with vast knowledge about a diverse set of topics.

“I am excited that both presenters are brand new faculty at WKU who can keep expanding our understanding of popular culture in new ways, particularly because both their topics, and their teaching and research in general, are largely focused beyond the United States and Western culture,” Harkins said.

This series will be the final presentation of the 2017 calendar year, preceded by such series as “Who Tells Your Story: Hamilton as History” and “A Strike for Justice: Educational Reform at Hampton Institute,” which were presented on April 26, 2017. Thoughts on Pop has since become an integral part of the Pop Culture program in efforts to make it a more prevalent part of campus.

“I think a forum such as ‘Thoughts on Pop’ is an excellent opportunity for the WKU faculty such to showcase their research. I hope some students will be interested in my work and will work with me on pop-culture projects that interest them,” Roy said.

Reporter Noah Moore can be reached at (270)745-2655 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @noah_moore18.