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September 16, 2014
6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
LCVA 117
Convo credit: Academic Lecture 

X-Men: First Class – King, Malcolm X, and the Philosophy Behind the Mutant Phenomenon

In 1963, the same year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. composed his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the first issue of the comic book X-men was released. Since then the trials and tribulations of the oppressed, marginalized, and hunted mutants have spawned countless new comic series, television programs, and seven major cinematic productions. As a means of addressing highly polarizing and profoundly controversial topics of racism, segregation, and the means to combat injustice, the early authors of the comic represented the changing climate of American culture and challenged their readers to rethink how we view the rampant inequality our nation faced (and still faces to this day). After viewing the film X-Men: First Class in its entirety, Clancy Smith (Dept. of Philosophy) will present a paper highlighting the nascent themes of minoritarianism, racism, segregation, and the tension between Dr. King’s method of addressing socio-political injustice and the more radical approach of Malcolm X through the lens of the X-Men narrative.

October 7, 2014
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
LCVA 117
Convo Credit: Academic Lecture

Stranger than Fiction: Existentialism, Self-Narration, and Will Ferrell   

As our “Philosophy and Popular Culture Film Series” continues with its second installment, we turn to one of the most iconic figures of popular culture over the past decade - the man, the myth, the legend: Will Ferrell.  In one of his most critically acclaimed films, Stranger than Fiction (2006), we are presented with not only more of Ferrell’s infamous comedic turns, but a truly surprising narrative which is at once a celebration of the literary form and a profound, existential reflection on society and the struggle to live the authentic, self-made life. After viewing the film in its entirety, Clancy Smith (Dept. of Philosophy) will present a paper and open a discussion on the prevalent philosophical themes in the film: free will vs. determinism, the existential struggle for authenticity in the modern world, and the deeper parallels between life and literature.

November 4, 2014
6:00- 9:00 p.m.
LCVA 117
Convo Credit: Academic Lecture

Firefly: Critical Theory on the Raggedy Edge 
The “Philosophy and Popular Culture Film Series" concludes with Serenity, the feature film based on the television series Firefly which remains one of the most popular and critically acclaimed television programs of the past two decades. Creator and director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) presents an action-packed film of surprisingly profound socio-political critique as Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his ragtag crew of outlaws faces off against the ultimate authoritarian force in the universe. After viewing the film in its entirety, Clancy Smith (Dept. of Philosophy) will present a paper on some of the philosophical ideas present throughout the narrative, tying the story into the central texts of the Frankfurt School of Social Research on themes including “one-dimensionality,” authoritarianism, and the deployment of technology as a means of indoctrination and belief manipulation. The presentation will conclude with an open Q&A that all attendees are welcome to join.