Associate Professor of English Anna Creadick is the guest editor of the most recent issue of Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy.
A peer-reviewed journal published semi-annually by New Jersey City University, Transformations is an interdisciplinary forum for pedagogical scholarship exploring intersections of identities, power, and social justice. The journal features a range of approaches — from theoretical articles to creative and experimental accounts of pedagogical innovations — by teachers and scholars across all areas of education.
With a focus on the teaching of popular culture, this double-issue includes cross-disciplinary scholarship applicable to cultural studies, media studies, literature, history, science fiction, women’s and gender studies, print culture, world politics, African American studies, periodical studies, and composition.
As guest editor, Creadick not only helped select submissions and provided editorial feedback, but also solicited peer reviewers, wrote an introduction to the volume, co-authored the photo-essay on graffiti, and conducted the “Teachers Talk” interview with a group of U.K. and Canadian instructors, discussing their transnational course in global pop culture.
Elsewhere in the issue, readers can find Christina Owen’s students tackling the complexities of U.S. popular culture refracted through music videos made by prisoners in the Philippines. In another, Mary Rachel Gould’s students approach popular culture material as documentarians, while Jeff Allred’s students perform and annotate and otherwise “hack” classic novels. Photo-essays explore Mexican graffiti and 19th century American ephemera, while Crystal Leigh Endsley, Kim Gallon, and Rebecca J. Kinney each find popular culture an important place from which to address race.
Creadick, who often incorporates pop culture media into her own courses, notes the importance of engaging with such media “actively and critically, rather than passively.”
“I teach a course called ‘Cultural Theory and Popular Culture’ in which students read challenging critical theory, then apply these theories to the pop culture that surrounds them,” she says. “For example, they read some Baudrillard and Eco on postmodern notions of hyperreality or simulacra, and then apply these ideas to contemporary examples of simulations or simulated worlds, to think about why these pop simulations might be better than the real thing. So in the end, students are thinking deeply about texts and objects that we usually navigate without much thought at all: things like Photoshop, The Daily Show, Medieval Times restaurants, ‘reality’ television. And I can evaluate how well they have understood the theory by seeing how thoroughly they can unpack the pop culture.”
While Creadick teaches primarily in the English department, “much of my scholarship is closer to cultural history,” she says, “so I frequently use pop culture forms in my research: film, television, mass-circulation magazines, pulp fiction. I find pop culture certainly engages and includes students more, largely because they feel a bit more fearless diving into it. They bring a sense of authority and expertise to pop texts, which is great. I bring them the theory, they bring their pop culture literacy, and we sort of meet in the middle.”
Creadick, who joined the faculty in 2001, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, an M.A. from Boston College and a B.A. from Appalachian State University. She is the author of the book “Perfectly Average: The Pursuit of Normality in Postwar America” and numerous articles that have appeared in Appalachian Journal; Teaching, Learning, and Intersecting Identities in Higher Education; MOSAIC: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature; and Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, among other venues.