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Academics
November 23, 2009

From Classics to Comics: SFC Professors Share Their Expertise

Prof. Ian Maloney Featured at Sorbonne Conference on Whitman & Melville
Prof. Nickie Phillips Featured in Indiana on Superheroes & Crime

St. Francis College professors Ian Maloney (English) and Nickie Phillips (Sociology & Criminal Justice) have been sharing their expertise with both international and national audiences as featured speakers at two separate academic conferences this fall.

Dr. Maloney delivered a keynote lecture at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France for the colloquium, “Monuments/Monumenta." His talk entitled, "Union and Dismemberment: Whitman and Melville and the Crafting of American Character" analyzed the two writers’ use of sculptural imagery in relation to 19th century American culture. The lecture contextualized the work of Melville and Whitman within the contested tradition of 19th century American monuments. Maloney’s talk then drew contemporary links between Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc. Walt Whitman’s poetry was analyzed in relation to two contemporary land artists: Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long.

Dr. Maloney was the only scholar from the United States invited to speak at the conference. He joined scholars from the Sorbonne, University of Paris, Oxford University, Trinity College-Dublin, and Royal Holloway College, London, for the interdisciplinary conference which examined the idea of monument and its representations in Anglo-Saxon literature and arts. Speakers were drawn from literature, art history, American Studies and cultural studies departments from across France and Great Britain. The lecture took place at the Institut du Monde Anglophone in Paris’s Latin Quarter.

“It was an honor and privilege to represent St. Francis College and speak at this prestigious university,” said Dr. Maloney. “I look forward to continued collaborations with my European colleagues.”

Graduate students at the Sorbonne have used Maloney’s book Melville’s Monumental Imagination in their seminar papers. Dr. Maloney was invited by the American Studies program at the Sorbonne.

Back in the United States, Sociology and Criminal Justice Professor Nickie Phillips was a featured speaker at the First Annual International Crime, Media & Popular Culture Studies Conference: A Cross-Disciplinary Exploration, held at Indiana State University.

Along with her colleague Staci Strobl (John Jay College), Dr. Phillips presented, “Utopian Imaginings: The Comic Superhero's Quest to Eradicate Crime,” a look at apocalyptic crime-related plots in comic books. Phillips talked about how comic books both reflect and shape an American ideological identity and contain messages about apocalyticism, utopia, community and nationalism through criminal justice-related themes.

“I’m interested in the implied moral messages contained in these narratives,” said Dr. Phillips. “My research looks at how these themes connect with conservative, retributive calls for justice in contemporary society.”

Other presenters at the conference focused on different ways that crime is portrayed in both news and fictional media and how that in turn impacts modern culture and society.

Professor Phillips has lectured on superheroes at other conferences and her comments on the subject have appeared in publications like the Wall Street Journal.

Attached Photos: Professor Ian Maloney in Paris, Professor Nickie Phillips in Indiana

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.
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