Christina Dokou

Christina Dokou

Assistant Professor, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
American Studies Association: Images of America: Reality and Stereotypes
Session SSASA14: 23 Sep - 27 Sep, 2016

As a professor teaching a variety of American literature and culture courses at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, I am highly interested in any resource that will enrich my understanding of the current state of American culture (including its arts and letters) so that I might become a more effective and engaging teacher. Given that America has been the prime site for the unfolding of “the culture of images”—a phenomenon that has dominated western (and global) cultural discourses since modernity—engaging critically and deconstructively with the politics of the gaze and images of/about America while also observing the rules of fair contextualization has been an integral part of my teaching since the very beginning, especially since those images are indeed, a key ingredient in the “soft power” seduction recipe the United States projects globally, with results that reach very far into the “hard” praxis of international politics. Inspired by Horkheimer and Adorno’s work on the culture industry (especially their discourses on cinema), Susan Bordo and Jack Halberstam’s critique of the popular image from a gender perspective, as well as Roland Barthes’ semiotic analysis of images in Mythologies, I cannot but recognize in the image the potent catalyst for transcultural ideological transferences, the Trojan horse for interpellation, and a medium of expressive power capable of poetic sublimity.

Furthermore, my own professional interest in, among others, pop Americana media that mix image and text (namely, comics and graphic novels), means that being able to learn about image politics from renowned experts in the field and to engage in fruitful conversations with equally interested peers will not only galvanize my thinking towards further scholarly work and publications, but perhaps will also offer me the opportunity to share my own thoughts and conclusions—having delivered papers and published articles on the image politics of sequential art, literature and film— with those who are capable of taking advantage of them the most.

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