Dr. Drew Morton, assistant professor of mass communication at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, recently served as a guest speaker at two academic events for media scholars.
Dr. Morton presented “Media Studies in Transition: Comics Studies and Videographic Criticism” on March 27 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Media Scholars Colloquium Series.
His presentation included a screening of a video based on his recent book, Panel to the Screen: Style, American Film, and Comic Books during the Blockbuster Era, and a discussion of videographic criticism and how it overlaps with alternate modes of film practice from essay films to documentary filmmaking.
“It was a bit of a surreal experience. I went to UW-Milwaukee as an undergraduate, and my former professors asked me back to give a talk about my book and current research following our annual conference in Chicago. So I had an audience that was 50 percent friends and family and 50 percent the people who taught me a lot of what I know now,” Dr. Morton said.
“I never had a formal dissertation defense at UCLA where you present your work to that audience, so this was probably as close as I will ever get to that. Rhetorically, it was a bit of a tight rope – I wanted to try to teach some very smart folks something, but I also didn’t want my friends and family to feel completely lost.”
On March 31, Dr. Morton traveled to Texas Christian University to participate in a panel discussion on media and education.
“The population of media studies academics in the Four States area has grown exponentially since I got here in 2012, many of them friends and fellow transplants. Part of that is because of the unique skill set we bring to journalism and communication departments and because of the ebb and flow of local productions, largely fueled by tax credits at the state levels,” Dr. Morton said.
“We get a lot of students from the Four States area who have an interest in a career in the media industry, but it is a bit at a remove and my friend and colleague R. Colin Tait at TCU has been a driving force in trying to demystify that relationship a bit by starting a small conference for his students on the subject, which he and we hope to expand over the next couple years.
“I was asked to speak on a panel about should you or should you not go to graduate school alongside two academic firecrackers – one from the senior level, Dr. Thomas Schatz from the University of Texas at Austin, one of my professional heroes and the author of the fantastic book on Classical Hollywood The Genius of the System, and another Young Turk like myself, Dr. Jacqueline Vickery from the University of North Texas. It was a fantastic experience for me and – I hope – the students, and I look forward to talking to Colin about how we can try to turn this conference into a larger, more permanent, fixture in the Four States area.”
Dr. Del Doughty, dean of the College of Education and Liberal Arts at A&M-Texarkana, said, “We’re fortunate to have scholars of Dr. Morton’s acumen here at A&M-Texarkana. He is quickly becoming a leading voice in his field, which happens to occupy a prominent spot in the cultural landscape at the moment. Because he is so in-touch with the media industry, he is able to enrich the lives of people in this region in a way that wouldn’t be otherwise possible.”
Dr. Morton is a co-founder and co-editor of [in]Transition, the first openly peer reviewed academic journal of videographic film and moving image studies. The journal, which is a co-production of NYU Press’s MediaCommons and the Society of Cinema and Media Studies’ (SCMS) Cinema Journal, recently won an Award of Distinction in the 2015 SCMS Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Competition.
He will present a Program for Learning and Community Engagement SuperLecture titiled “#OscarsSoWhite: Racial Diversity and White Washing in Hollywood” on Tuesday, April 11, at 11 a.m. in University Center 210 on the A&M-Texarkana campus at 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas. The lecture is free and open to the public.