2013 ASAT Program

Program 2013 American Studies Conference 

November 14-16, 2013


Conference Highlights

Registration: Thursday, Nov. 14, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Hankamer School of Business Lobby

The Day JFK Died Film

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on...
Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kayser Auditorium, Room 150, Hankamer School of Business, 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14

Join us for a viewing of “The Day Kennedy Died.” Nov. 22, 2013, marks 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Smithsonian Channel pays tribute to that milestone with an immersive new two-hour documentary. Narrated by Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, this stirring minute-by-minute story of the death of a president draws from rarely seen film, photographs and eyewitness accounts to relive the tragic events of that infamous day in Dallas. The new documentary from acclaimed director Leslie Woodhead plunges viewers into the day leading up to President Kennedy’s appearance in Dallas, the shocking moment itself and the aftermath of the assassination. From the president and first lady’s morning in Fort Worth to their afternoon arrival in Dallas on Air Force One, viewers will learn about the hostile environment the President was entering and the concerns expressed for his safety. Charles Poe, who was editor of The Baylor Lariat in 1987, is now vice president of production for the Smithsonian Network.

For more information, visit this link: http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/sc/web/show/3387792/the-day-kennedy-died

Creative writing–readings from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 14, in the Kayser Auditorium,

150 Hankamer School of Business.



Elizabeth Bates sees the world differently every day through the eyes of her son who will be 2-years-old on Valentine’s Day. She appreciates this fresh perspective and the joy her son and husband bring her. In her spare time, her family of three travels across Texas to see loved ones. They delight in eating where the locals eat wherever they go. When she has down time, Elizabeth preserves precious memories using crafts and scrapbooks. Her creative work will be published in an anthology of Texas women poets, “Her Texas: Story, Image & Song” (Wings Press, 2014).




20131115_193338Cassy Burleson has worked since 1965 as a writer/editor/photographer. She has published in Langdon Review (2009-2010) and Beall Poetry Festivals and previously published poetry (and interviews with Anne Sexton and Judson Crews) in Whetstone, Green Fuse and Stone Drum. She is the 2013 American Studies Association of Texas vice president and Baylor Crew sponsor. She is one of four co-editors of “Her Texas: Story, Image & Song” (Wings Press 2014).






Kathleen Hudson, English Department at Schreiner University, is the director/founder of the Texas Heritage Music Foundation located on the Schreiner campus. A 2010 Piper Professor recipient, she has two books published on Texas music with University of Texas Press: “Telling Stories, Writing Songs:  An Album of Texas Songwriters” (2001) andWomen in Texas Music:  Stories and Songs (2007). She is committed to the possibility that stories and songs make a difference in the world.




IMG_1422Donna M. Johnson wrote a memoir critically acclaimed by the New York Times, O Magazine, People, Texas Monthly, The Minneapolis Star and many other publications and blogs. “Holy Ghost Girl” was awarded the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and a “Books for a Better Life” award in Manhattan. She’s written about religion, family and culture for The Rumpus, Shambhala Sun, Huffington Post, Psychology Today, the Dallas Morning News, the Austin American Statesman and other publications. Her work also appears in several anthologies and journals, among them “Her Texas: Story, Image & Song” (Wings Press 2014). She escaped the elect at 17 and has spent most of her life outrunning the apocalypse. So far so good, she says. Donna lives in Austin with her husband, the poet and short story writer Kirk Wilson.


20131114_203333Jenuine Poetess (Jennifer Alumbaugh) came to Waco in 2012 from  Los Angeles, where she began practicing as a written and spoken-word artist.  It was also where, in 2010, she founded the first chapter of In the Words of Womyn writing circle.  Since moving to Texas, she’s founded the weekly Word Gallery Open Mic—a community exhibit of words: spoken, written, and sung and the second chapter of ITWOW—Heart of Texas—a weekly writing circle for womyn who practice, discuss, and explore the written and spoken-word arts.  Jenuine has enthusiastically teamed up with Waco Arts Initiative to lead a poetry workshop for young writers of the South Terrace neighborhood and was recently named chair of the Waco Cultural Arts Annual WordFest, where she’s brainstorming 2014’s festival.  Jenuine’s writings have been published in “LOUDmouth ‘Zine, Mujeres de Maiz,” “AIPF’s 21st Annual Di-verse-city Adult Anthology” and “Rushing Waters Rising Dreams: How Art Transforms Community” (Tia Chucha Press, 2012). She’s passionate about fostering spaces where individuals of all ages, styles, levels, genres and languages are empowered to “give sound to our story and volume to our voice.”


June Zaner spent most of her adult life as a commercial artist with her life-mate Richard Zaner in university settings, June Zaner returned to Texas and to the Gulf Coast, where she had first begun writing as one of seven students in Mrs. Alpha Kemp Baker’s first creative writing class at Houston’s Milby High. The transition from art back to writing has been seamless, and she has published essays, political observations, and poetry for newspapers and literary journals. Her drawings and poetry will be included in an anthology of Texas women artists, “Her Texas: Story, Image, & Song” (Wings Press 2014). And June’s story continues … the next story, poem or song is always just around the next corner.





Richard M. Zaner was among the first philosophers to become involved in clinical and research medicine. He retired as Stahlman Professor Emeritus of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Vanderbilt University (2002). Graduating summa cum laude from The University of Houston (1957), he received  M.A. and Ph.D. degrees (1959; 1961, “with distinction”) from The New School, New York City. He taught at numerous universities, ending his career at Vanderbilt, where he established the first clinical ethics consultation service and had to undergo embarrassing discussions with insurance agents, who guessed he might need defense against moral or perhaps intellectual malpractice. Never happened … Along the way, he’s published nine books, edited 12, and published more than 125 articles in professionally reviewed books and journals.

Conference Schedule for Friday, Nov. 15

Session One – 9 to 10 a.m., Cashion 410

Moderator: Mia Moody-Ramirez

“Faulkner’s Bear: Squirrels, Timber and the Ecological Self”

Ken Hada, East Central University Department of English & Languages

Faulkner’s oft-anthologized story “The Bear” provides a valuable case study for an eco-critical reading. Often the story has been read through a mythological lens. Sometimes, historical and/or cultural frameworks also are considered. All of these readings offer interesting considerations. A mythic reading can be especially powerful, since it taps into the sense of human existence as participant in a fallen, tragic worldview. But this paper, argues that an eco-critical reading should be considered because eco-criticism allows readers to not only understand the history, culture and myth involved in Faulkner’s fictional world, it goes beyond these views to connect readers to contemporary social problems, namely issues with human irresponsibility toward the environment.

“Poe and the Blackwood’s Tale”

Brooke H. Smith, San Antonio I.S.D.

Edgar Allan Poe’s works are extremely popular and often anthologized. Poe is lauded as a “master of terror” and viewed as a mysterious, dark figure in history. But most scholars agree his reputation in popular culture is misinformed and that Poe himself was not entirely serious about his prose works. Some critics even accuse Poe of plagiarism and label him “parochial and immature” (Weiner 45), and many scholars have criticized him for using too many sources for his work; however, one must not discount the value of Poe’s short fiction on the basis of his liberal use of source material. This essay explores three works that inspired one of Poe’s most famous stories and evaluates the key differences that contribute to Poe’s enduring success over his contemporaries. The first section of this essay discusses the literary trends in the mid-nineteenth century including the popularity of periodicals and sensationalism. This paper also focuses on works published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and the critical standard that the editors and contributing authors followed.


Session Two: 10:15 a.m. to noon, Cashion 410

Moderator: Danielle Brown, Ph.D. candidate, University of Texas at Austin

“The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in True Grit: The Lovelorn Character of Mattie Ross”

Lloyd M. Daigrepont, English and Modern Languages, Lamar University

In “True Grit Charles Portis develops the story of Mattie Ross’s vengeance with disarming irony and humor. Readers must find the central character “cute” or at least amusing. An adolescent girl with the gumption to ride into a world of outlaws, hanging judges and obscene and drunken ex-marauders draws our admiration. Sporting the oversized hat and coat of her murdered father and wielding his long Colt dragoon’s cap-and-ball revolver, Mattie is charmingly “bad” in the modern subcultural meaning of the term. She shows “sand,” as the beleaguered stock merchant Stonehill observes; according to John M. Ditsky, it is the outspoken, tenacious Mattie who will accept nothing less than the death of Tom Chaney. But Portis’s depiction of Mattie is far more complicated, as will be revealed in this presentation.


“Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War:  Military Science Fiction, Texas Style”

Charles L. Etheridge, Jr., Department of English

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

The works of Rio Grande Valley native Elizabeth Moon always have been informed by her native state, from her interest in horses to the strong infusion of Latino culture, to her interest in landscape.  Her background has infused her work in another significant way:  she is one of the handful of women writers in the genre of military science fiction (SF).   Her most successful, unified, and complex work of military SF is the five-volume “Vatta’s War cycle.  This series traces the development of Kylara “Ky” Vatta from a disgraced, military academy dropout lucky to get a job ferrying old spaceships to the scrapyards, to the creation and leadership of a force which is able to hold off the threat of a piratical force trying to isolate planetary governments from one another for the purpose of plunder and domination. Military Science Fiction has exploded in popularity in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, and it’s not hard to see why.  The loss of a sense of security following the Al Qaida sponsored attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. has had a profound and prominent effect on the US consciousness (and on the fiction-buying public).


 “Her Texas: Story, Image & Song”

Donna Walker-Nixon, Ph.D., English Department, Baylor University

Cassy Burleson, Ph.D., Baylor University, Department of Journalism, PR & New Media

Join editors to get a preview of  “Her Texas: Story, Image & Song” (set for 2014 publication at Wings Press). Our book of 50 women artists includes the back stories from songsters Ruthie Foster, Tish Hinojosa, Amanda Pearcy, Christine Albert, and Emy Taylor; Texas poet laureates Jan Seale, Karla Morton and Rosemary Catacalos and poets Anne McCrady, Sarah Cortez (“How to Undress a Cop”), Charlotte Renk and others; artist Helen Kwiatkowski; photographers Deana Newcomb, Tammy Cromer-Campbell and Ysabel de la Rosa; music historian Kathleen Hudson; photographers Deana Newcomb and Tammy Cromer Campbell; and authors Donna Johnson (“Holy Ghost Girl”), Christine Warren (“Paddlefish”), Suzy Spencer (“Secret Sex Lives”), Susan Kelly Flatau, Guida Jackson (founder of Panther Press), Diane Fanning (“Red Boots and Attitude”), and Mary Rogers (“Dancing Naked”). [The inspiration for our title, “Her Texas,” came from Lou Rodenberger’s autobiography, which she was writing when she passed away.]

Session three: 1:15 to 3:15 p.m., Cashion 409

Moderator: Marlene Neill, Ph.D., Baylor Department of Journalism, PR & New media

“The Positive Effects of Reality Television on Participants”

Tonya B. Lewis, Baylor University graduate student, Master of Arts in Journalism, PR & New Media

Since the first reality show, “An American Family,” was introduced in 1973, numerous shows have followed suit. The mid 1990s saw a resurgence of reality television programming with the popularity of MTV’s “Real World” franchise. Since this time, the popularity of the genre has increased exponentially. Competition shows, weight loss, makeover, talent, and home improvement shows currently dominate network programming. This explosion of reality television has led to numerous benefits for its participants. In analyzing the various types of reality television shows, a clear pattern emerges. Through reality TV, participants are able to revive careers, create wealth, repair their public image, increase their fan base and scope, and obtain celebrity status.

“Guilty by Association: An Analysis of Shaunie O’Neal’s Online/On-Air Image Restoration Tactics”

Mia Moody, Ph.D., and Isla Hamilton-Short, Baylor University Department of Journalism, PR & New Media
Shaunie O’Neal became a public figure through her marriage to Shaquille O’Neal, their subsequent divorce, and the creation of her VH-1 show titled “Basketball Wives.” The growing usage of the Internet as a source of information has spurred a growing interest in the medium as a tool for image repair. Broadening the application of Benoit’s image repair theory, this case study looks at the image repair tactics of O’Neal following four seasons on the television show “Basketball Wives.” Specifically, it conceptualizes stereotypical behaviors of the cast, which served to help tarnish O’Neal’s previously clean-cut image. Then it looks at how the reality TV star presented herself through her reality television show, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Findings suggested that cast members exhibited traditional stereotypes, such as the “angry black women,” “Jezebel” and “tragic mulatto;” which O’Neal counteracted with some more acceptable archetypes such as “good mother” and “victim.” Responses to her social media indicate the reality televisions star’s attempt to improve her image often were ineffective.

 “A Review of Texas Cyclist Lance Armstrong’s

Image Restoration Tactics”

By Kyle Beam, Baylor University Master of Arts in Journalism, PR & New Media.

This presentation will focus on Lance Armstrong and his use of the media to get his message across about accusations of his use of steroids.  Using Benoit’s image repair theory, it looks at the methods Armstrong has employed to repair his image in the wake of viewer vilification, whether his tactics have been effective, and the implications of how social media have impacted that effectiveness.  What separates this research from other image repair studies is Armstrong’s comments were made exclusively on Twitter—not in statements or reports to the media.

Session Four: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Kayser Auditorium

Moderator: Greg Giddings, Ph.D., Midwestern State University

“The Man Behind the Movement: Frederick Douglass”

Malory Green, Baylor University graduate student, Master of International Journalism

There are few things more powerful for inciting a movement or rebellion than a personal experience in the life of a passionate person. Being an exemplary orator and writer does not hurt the cause, either. Frederick Douglass’s life proved this time and time again. This man, an orator, abolitionist, publisher, activist, and escaped slave, became the mouthpiece for the movement for African American equality long before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ever graced headlines. His courage and grit is first evident in the fact that he escaped from slavery and remains clear through his slave narratives and great speeches that stirred the hearts of people from all walks of life. Much like Dr. King would articulate in later years, Douglass had a dream, too. This dream was that the oppressed would find the beauty of true and complete freedom and that everyone’s voices would be heard, no matter what color their skin might have been.

 “Fifteen Years and Still Counting: Jasper Dragging Longitudinal Study”

By Cassy Burleson, Ph.D., Mia Moody, Ph.D., Baylor University Department of Journalism, PR and New Media

Danielle Brown, University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D. candidate.

Although the Fourth Estate has moved on to cover other stories in other towns, Jasper’s on-going soul-searching continues, removed from the glare of a media spotlight. Two events have once again put Jasper in the media spotlight. The first was the execution of one murderer, Lawrence Russell Brewer, Sept. 21, 2011. Brewer was one of three men who were tried and found guilty of the racially motivated murder.  Secondly, a recent city council activity resulted in 19 reverse discrimination suits stemming from the appointment and subsequent firing of black Police Chief Rodney Pearson. This longitudinal study continues our quest to document the changing socio-political, racial and economic dynamics of the city following the James Byrd Jr. murder. Our goal is to preserve the truth as seen from many points of view by digging deeper into improving race relations and the implications of Jasper’s story for future generations.

“Mediating Society’s Rape Culture in a New Media Environment: A Frame Analysis of the Steubenville High School Rape Case”

Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., Sara Stone, Ph.D.

Malory Green, Tonya B. Lewis & Ben Murray

Baylor University Department of Journalism, PR and New Media

In October 2013, two Steubenville High School students were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile jail. This sentencing brought closure to a high-profile case that unfolded after social media unveiled the sexual assault of an underage and unconscious girl. When the story broke, the sexual assault was portrayed as a rape case with two assailants and one victim.  However, the plot thickened as the question arose of whether the onlookers and media outlets were just as guilty of not protecting her identity and social well-being. Our paper fills an important gap in the literature with an exploration of privacy protections, user-generated content, and traditional and new media framing of rape. We offer best practices for providing balanced and ethical coverage of an underage rape case within the confines of new media technology.


Conference Guest Speaker – 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15

Kayser Auditorium, Room 150, Hankamer School of Business


Friday night’s guest speaker will be Donna M. Johnson author of Holy Ghost Girl, a critically acclaimed memoir called “enthralling” by the New York Times,  “compulsively readable” by Texas Monthly, and “deeply moving” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  The book was hailed by the Oprah Magazine and made the “Oprah.com Memoirs We Love” list twice. An Indie pick in hardback and paperback, Holy Ghost Girl won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and took top honors in the Spirituality category at the New York Books for a Better Life Awards. Johnson’s work had been collected in several anthologies. She has written about religion, family and culture for the Huffington Post, The Rumpus.net, the Psychology Today blog, the Dallas Morning News and other publications. She lives in Austin with her husband, poet and author Kirk Wilson.



Saturday, Nov. 16


Session One: 9 to 10 a.m., Cashion 409

Moderator: Todd Giles

“The Rise of The Specter: The Beginnings of The Supernatural Ghost for Children.”

Sean Ferrier-Watson, Professor of English, Collin College

While the ghost story has existed in both oral and literary traditions for millennia, the ghost story specifically designed and published for children has roughly a two-century run, with almost half that period in questionable status. Children’s authors and publishers were reluctant to write and publish supernatural ghost stories for children in the 18th and 19th centuries because they—publishers and authors alike—believed such fantastic and terrifying tales would corrupt the child and encourage a belief in superstition. Rather than telling genuine ghost stories, most children’s periodicals offered mock ghosts, which were always revealed as frauds and supported a rationalist thread, the 20th century ushered in a new beginning for the ghost story for children.  The fears that ghost stories and supernatural tales corrupted and damaged young minds receded. Children’s literature began to gravitate more and more toward entertaining, rather than instructing the child. As such, the ghost story for children evolved to align itself with the more progressive trends of the 20th century and the changing landscape of the publishing industry.


“Social Entrepreneurship Business Models”

Meredith Millard, Baylor University, Master of International Journalism

Megan Grindstaff, Department of Journalism, PR & New Media

Social Entrepreneurship ventures have permeated American popular culture.  These enterprises pursue social benefits or justices through the practical application of business methods.  These altruistic businesses have struck a chord with Generations X & Y.  The number of businesses using social entrepreneurship models has increased in number and popularity in the wake of the global financial crises that cut funding to traditional non-profit organizations.  The two most popular business models are the “one for one” modeled by the successful TOMS shoes and the “local sustainability” exhibited by fellow footwear vendor, Sseko Designs.  This presentation compares the merits and drawbacks of both models, along with other less well-known companies and models.  The Social Entrepreneurship movement will be contextualized and the speakers will discuss the future implications on broader business practices as well as American and Global cultures.


Session Two: 10:15 to 11 a.m. – Cashion, Room 409

Moderator: Greg Giddings, Midwestern State University


 “Accepting the Chaotic: A Search for Identity in Don DeLillo’s White Noise

Ginger Bartush, Student at Midwestern State University

Don DeLillo portrays Jack Gladney, the narrator of his 1985 novel “White Noise,” as a victim of postmodern American culture. Jack’s search for identity navigates through the technological and materialist distractions of society until it leads him to a simple realization: he must accept that these externalities define his identity. Traits of the consumerism theme are found in the structure of the novel as DeLillo plays with the influence of media in relation to not just the content of the text, but its format as well. The three separate parts, “Waves and Radiation,” “The Airborne Toxic Event,” and “Dylarama,” act like episodes of standard television programs, creating a ‘Gladney’ series.

“’The Young Person’s Guide’ to Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson’s Theme and Variations on a Theme and Variations of Benjamin Britten”

Cody Parish, Student at Midwestern State University

Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) is narratively framed around British composer Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” in which listeners are introduced to the four families of instruments—woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion—playing variations on an earlier theme by Henry Purcell. “Moonrise’s” theme, or recurring “melody,” like the four “families” of instruments “The Young Person’s Guide” breaks down and then reassembles, is seen in the four surrogate families the protagonist tries to establish throughout the film. What links these four families together is a series of “variations” in the form of an escape motif from one family to the next as each is subsequently introduced, played out, and brought together at the end, as is the case with Britten, in a full-ensemble fugue.

“Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo: A Creation of a Time Pendulum”

Sarah Muschoil, Student at Midwestern State University

African American novelist Ishmael Reed uses pictures, poems, footnotes, historical evidence, and autobiography to explore our perpetual search for meaning in his 1972 neo-hoodoo detective novel “Mumbo Jumbo.” Through the creation of a time pendulum, Reed criticizes our fatal practice of repeating history, suggesting we lack the ability to learn from our mistakes. Opening in 1920s New Orleans and New York, the novel’s protagonist, PaPa LaBas, lays out the story of the historical journeys of black people marked by Anglo oppression, a war that has been fought for centuries. Half way through the novel, Reed jumps back to Pre-dynastic Egypt, telling the story of Throth and the brutal murder of King Osiris.

11:15 a.m. ASAT General Meeting & Passing of the Gavel to

Cassy Burleson, Ph.D., and Mia Moody-Ramirez, incoming ASAT Presidents



The founder of Critical Studies Blog, Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University. She specializes in new media portrayals of women and people of color. Her recent papers focus on the effects of the James Byrd Jr. dragging death on Jasper, Facebook hate groups, stereotypes of President Barack and Michelle Obama, male and female rappers’ differing views on the “independent woman,” and coverage of missing women.

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