2021 Featured Speakers

Jane Caputi

An illustrated talk and discussion with Jane Caputi on Call Your “Mutha’”: A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocene (Oxford, 2020).

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - 11:00am to 12:20pm (Boston Common)

This presentation spins off from Caputi’s book (Oxford University Press, Fall 2020) Call Your “Mutha’” – A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene (Age of the Human or of Man) is said to be an era where “humans” now “overwhelm the great forces of nature” (Steffan et. al), which is conceptualized simultaneously both as “dead matter” and also as Mother Earth.  The “man” in the Anthropocene reveals Sylvia Wynter’s understanding of Man as a masculine ethno-class, long “over-represented” as “the human.” It is Man, responsible for the ecocide of the era and the gendered, classed, racialized and sexualized violences that generate the Anthropocene, which is the Age of the Motherfucker.

Hip Hop artist André 3000 raps: “And when I say motherfucker I do mean motherfucker / Because Mother Earth is dying and we continue to fuck her to death.” According to Black American folk traditions, motherfucker originated in slavery when children born of mothers raped by white masters named him the motherfucker, the “worst thing”. The paradigmatic plantation rape, commoditization and exploitation of Black women’s sexuality and reproductive powers provides a paradigm for ecocide – invading and exploiting for reasons of pleasure, power and profit, turning a source into a resource, extracting from and ultimate wasting of that source.

The key word motherfucker evolved to also mean a “formidable and inexorable force.” To understand the aliveness, intelligence and agency of nature, recognize Mother Earth as the Mutha’ – the force-source capable of overwhelming Man in the Anthropocene, and not the other way around.



Jane Caputi is Professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University. She has a PhD in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University, where she studied with Ray Browne and Mike Marsden. In 2016, the Popular Culture Association named her the Eminent Scholar of the Year and in 2020 the Association for the Study of Women in Mythology gave her the Saga Award for contributions to women’s history and culture. She has written four books: The Age of Sex Crime, 1987 (winner of the Emily Toth Award), Gossips, Gorgons and Crones: The Fates of the Earth, 1993; Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture, 2004; and Call Your “Mutha’” A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocene, 2020. She has also made two educational documentaries – The Pornography of Everyday Life (2006) and Feed the Green: Feminist Voices for the Earth (2016) – and published many articles in the field of Popular and American Culture Studies.  

Richard Greene


Thursday, June 3, 2021 - 8:45pm to 10:00pm (Yo-Yo Ma)

Richard Greene is a serious collector of pop culture artifacts including matchcovers and match-related items. His collection includes over 250,000 matchcovers and matchbooks, organized in over 120 categories. He has been interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning about the design aspects and relevance of matchcovers as a reflection of popular culture in America.

His unique presentation takes you on a guided tour through the history of “pop tiki culture” as captured in one of the most ephemeral of artifacts, the matchbook! Matches present an extensive range of possible topics for academic study that includes art, design, industrial development, transportation, economics, history, entertainment, and even the cultural misappropriation and ethnic stereotyping endemic to their point in time. This single category (pop tiki culture) is a fun way to enter into a serious look at these fascinating artifacts as being worthy of acquisition and preservation.



Richard Greene is a graphic designer and marketing executive with a degree in Visual Communications. With over 35 years in the graphic arts, he brings a practiced eye and unique appreciation to the field of popular culture. As an avid collector of many different pop culture collectibles since childhood, he delights in exploring the correlations and interconnectivity of many diverse mediums. In the process, he has amassed significant collections of illustrated books, magazines of all types and genres (including paperbacks, comics, comix, and pulps), tiki-culture artifacts, and many forms of advertising ephemera and memorabilia. To share his experience and joy of discovery, he has produced over 30 exhibitions of pop culture artifacts for South Jersey Libraries. Mr. Greene is currently Creative Director for Brooklyn-based Gryphon Books, publisher of Paperback Parade: The Magazine for Paperback Readers and Collectors, and maintains a private practice as a designer of publications and identity graphics. As a collector of American illustration art, Greene deals in the buying and selling of original art of many leading American cover artists and cartoonists. He is also an Associate Member of the National Cartoonist Society, and publicity officer for the Rathkamp Matchcover Society, the oldest and largest club for collectors of matchcovers and match-related artifacts. 


Gary Hoppenstand

Pulp(ing) Popular Storytelling: The Role of Pulp Fiction Magazines in the Development of American Popular Fiction

Saturday, June 5, 2021 - 2:00pm to 3:20pm (Leonard Nimoy)

The American pulp fiction magazine defined the structure of popular genre print narratives during the first of the Twentieth Century. Popular genre categories such as detective fiction, science fiction, romance fiction, horror fiction, and others were delineated and defined by the Fiction Factory system of pulp magazine production. The pulps not only created popular fiction categories as we know them today, they also created many of the stereotypes, hero types, and plot structures as well.



Gary Hoppenstand is a Professor in the Department of English at Michigan State University. He also served as the Secretary for Academic Governance at MSU. Hoppenstand’s major research areas are genre and narrative studies in popular fiction, graphic novels, film. and television. He has published twenty-four books, including nine scholarly reprint editions of classics novels for Signet Classics and Penguin Classics, and over sixty scholarly articles on topics ranging from popular culture studies, to literary studies, to media studies. His last book, Perilous Escapades: Dimensions of Popular Adventure Fiction, published in 2018, features an anthology of his essays on classic adventure literature. Hoppenstand’s early work, as editor of the periodical, Midnight Sun, was nominated twice for the prestigious “World Fantasy Award,” and his Popular Fiction: An Anthology (Longman) won the Popular Culture Association’s John G. Cawelti Award for the Best Textbook/Primer category in 1997. As the series editor of the six-volume World Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, he was the recipient of the Ray and Pat Browne Award for  for the Reference/Primary Source Work category (2007).

He is a former Area Chair, Vice-President, and President of the national Popular Culture Association, and he served for eleven years as the editor of The Journal of Popular Culture, the most widely read and cited peer-reviewed scholarly journal in its field in the world. He has won several top scholarly honors from the national Popular Culture Association—including “The Governing Board Award” in 2008 (“for his contributions to popular culture studies and the Popular Culture Association”). At Michigan State University, he has won the College of Arts & Letters 2008 “Paul Varg Alumni Award for Faculty” (“in recognition of outstanding teaching and scholarly achievement”), and Michigan State University’s 2008 “Distinguished Faculty Award” (“in recognition of outstanding contributions to the intellectual development of the University”). He is considered a top national and international academic expert in the theoretical study of popular literature and entertainment media culture.

Professor Hoppenstand is the 2022 recipient of the Popular Culture Association’s Bartholome Eminent Scholar Award.


Jack Levin


Friday, June 4, 2021 - 3:30pm to 4:50pm (Walter Gropius)

Jack Levin, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus and Co-director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University.  He has authored or co-authored more than thirty books including The Allure of Premeditated Murder, Extreme Killing, Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers, Mass Murder: America’s Growing Menace, and Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed as well as more than 250 articles and columns in professional journals, books, and major newspapers, such as The New York Times, London Sunday Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and USA Today.

Levin was honored by the Massachusetts Council for Advancement and Support of Education as its “Professor of the Year” and by the American Sociological Association for his contributions to the public understanding of sociology.  He has also received awards from the Eastern Sociological Society, Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology, New England Sociological Association, and Society for the Study of Social Problems. 


Denis Mueller

A Screening and Discussion of the FBI’s War on Black America

Saturday, June 5, 2021 - 3:30pm to 4:50pm (David Ortiz “Big Papi”)

Denis Mueller has been making films for 30 years. Howard Zinn: You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, Link TV,  and Free Speech Television. It was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination in 2005. He has recently updated his work, Soldiers of Peace, and it has been accepted into festivals and is currently being distributed.

Denis’ various films have been released on DVD and have also seen theatrical distribution. Beginning with the award winning, FBI’s War on Black America, which was co-produced and co-directed with Deb Ellis, he has charted the abuses by the FBI and other government agencies for over 20 years and has built an audience surrounding the subject throughout the years. Denis recently completed Peace Has No Borders with long time collaborator Deb Ellis. He also was the co-director of the film Nelson Algren: The End is Nothing, the Road is All which recently was broadcast of Vermont Public Television.

Denis received a Ph.D in American Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2007.


Lillian Pyles

introducing Lillian Pyles, CSA Casting Director

Friday, June 4, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:20pm (Melnea Cass)

While living in New York City, Ms. Pyles began her film and television career as an Assistant Production Coordinator and Production Secretary on numerous television and feature film projects, working with an impressive range of well-known directors–Gordon Parks, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Mazursky, Sidney Lumet, Michael Schultz, and Forest Whitaker.

Moving through the ranks, and learning the business from the ground up, she became a Production Coordinator on many popular films such as  Do The Right Thing with Spike Lee and New Jack City with Mario Van Peebles.

Lillian also coordinated an AIDS Benefit for New York’s recognized Hale House. She supervised guest relations for Radio City Music Hall and was account executive for Elizabeth Taylor, for whom she handled publicity for the launch of Taylor’s Passion For Men Cologne. Ms. Pyles also provided the research for Maurice Hines’ Broadway musical, Uptown It’s Hot.

After spending 30 years in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, and worked in the industry five years.  She then returned to Cleveland, where her industry experience and knowledge made her one of the most familiar and respected names in the ‘Cleveland’ Casting Industry.

Lillian has a long career of casting contributions to the local Cleveland film and television industry: Cleveland Casting Director for Against the Ropes (dir: Charles Dutton), Antwone Fisher (dir: Denzel Washington), Spider Man III (dir: Sam Raimi), The Soloist (dir: Joe Wright)Life’s Poison (dir: Malcolm Lee), Take Shelter (dir: Jeff Nichols), Freerunner (dir: Lawrence Silverstein), Fun Size (dir: Josh Schwartz) The Kings of Summer (dir: Jason Roberts), Speechless (dir: Karyn Kusama), Underdogs (dir: Doug Dearth), Love Finds You [series] ( Sugarcreek / Charm & Valentine), With this Ring (dir: Nzingha Stewart), Wake (dir: John Pogue), The Charnel House, (dir: Craig Moss), and The Land (dir: Steven Caple Jr),  just to name a few.

Also included in her professional career are many shorts, independents, industrials and commercials.

Ms. Pyles received the prestigious ROBERT G. McGRUDER DIVERSITY IN MEDIA Distinguished Leadership Award from Kent State University. She was also voted a member of CSA (Casting Society of America), the premier organization for casting directors in film, television, theatre, and new media.  Casting Directors affiliated with the Casting Society of America are committed to the highest level of professionalism and ethical responsibility to this industry.


Kathy Shepherd Stolley

Puppy Love: Animals in Family Rituals, Weddings, and More

Saturday, June 5, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:20pm (Melnea Cass)

The majority of pet owners in the US consider their companion animals to be part of the family.  This humanization of pets leads to animals increasingly being included in our family rituals, ranging from birthday parties to vacation travels to holiday greeting cards.  This session explores animals in families and family rituals generally, then focuses on the growing trend of including animals in human wedding ceremonies.  Concluding segues consider some fun examples of animal weddings and other ceremonial roles and events featuring non-human animals.



Kathy Shepherd Stolley is Professor of Sociology at Virginia Wesleyan University, where her emphasis is applied sociology. She received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  Kathy developed and teaches courses on “Animals and Society” and “Animals and Criminal Justice.”  Her scholarship has appeared in various professional journals and she has authored or co-edited six books including Animals and Ourselves: Essays on Connections and Blurred Boundaries (co-edited with Kathy Merlock Jackson and Lisa Lyon Payne; McFarland, 2020). In addition to being a past recipient of VWU’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Kathy formerly served as the school’s first Associate Dean for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning. She is a past Vice-President of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS) and has been recognized by the AACS with the Robert Ezra Park Award for Sociological Practice for demonstrating how sociological practice can advance and improve society.

Jessica Gisclair | Virginia McDermott | Lee Bush | Kelli Burns | Naeemah Clark


Saturday, June 5, 2021 - 11:00am to 12:20pm (Copley Square)

As noted by the American Council on Education, women are positioned to be influencers of long-term change and institutional stability during challenging times in higher education. Women bring impact and invariability as critical skills when making decisions. Join four women academic leaders for a discussion about unique stretch opportunities they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how you can use their expertise to navigate your career during challenging times. You can take stock of what is important and be authentic about your future role in higher education. This panel will feature wise advice from women leaders in various roles at private and public universities. Learn best practices from the response at two universities to the COVID-19 pandemic that will build your resiliency to the next crisis. Explore how to effectively strengthen your social media brand so you can withstand any prevalent disruption. Bridge the gap between course development and delivery of online content to effectively use techniques for high-impact results with synchronous and asynchronous learning. This panel is important to you if you have an interest in navigating your own career and being an effective leader. The purpose of the discussion panel is to consider how your responsibility as a woman in higher education can be a source of strength and a resource of practical skills during challenging times.

Professor Jessica Gisclair, Associate Professor of Strategic Communications, Elon University

Dr. Virginia McDermott , Dean and Professor of Strategic Communication, High Point University

Professor Lee Bush, Associate Professor of Strategic Communications, Elon University

Dr. Kelli Burns, Associate Professor of Advertising and Mass Communications, University of South Florida

Dr. Naeemah Clark, Professor of Cinema and Television Arts and Assessment Coordinator, Elon University