Phillip M. Shafer

Phillip Shafer

Assistant Professor
Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy

Ph.D. (ABD), Children’s/Young Adult Literature and Linguistics, Middle Tennessee State University (expected in 2014)
MA, English, Tennessee State University (2006)
B.S.,Liberal Studies, Middle Tennessee State University (2004)
Concentrations: Music Composition and Psychology, minor in Sociology

MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) Certification in Sequencing and Digital Audio Recording, Columbia State Community College (2001)
Concentrations: Film Score Composition, Popular Music Arrangement, Music Theory, Music Business

307 Humanities

I was born and raised in Williamson County, an area southwest of Nashville. As the eldest of six children (three boys followed by three girls), my siblings and I were nearly always involved in the imaginative reenactment of some critical scene from George Lucas’ Star Wars films (the original trilogy, not the atrocious prequels), the latest episodes of Transformers (the original cartoons, not the atrocious Michael Bay films), or whatever other children’s text happened to be holding our interest at the time. So, I grew up into an adult who studies and writes about children’s texts (like the Harry Potter novels, Pixar films, and so on).

As an assistant professor of English here at TSU, so far I have taught courses in children’s literature and freshmen composition, but I will be teaching a World Literature II in the fall of 2014. In fact, there has been some talk of developing a sophomore-level film course over the next year or two. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Tracie, and we have two young daughters, Annabeth and Ella. I am near the end of my doctoral program at MTSU (I plan on defending my dissertation in the fall of 2014).

My research interests are quite varied: I have studied the Harry Potter novels and films a great deal (my dissertation continues this interest). I am fascinated by the constructions of gender and adulthood in the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo). I am interested in how the social position of childhood is constructed in texts, both linguistically and ideologically. I am captivated by the myriad of ways that picture books engender meaning through various levels of interplay between imagistic and textual systems. I am engrossed in the discursive aspect of texts; in other words, I am more interested (most of the time) in how a given text renders its meaning as opposed to what it is communicating. I am also interested in critical theory in general, and postmodernism, structuralism, formalism, film theory, and narrative theory specifically. Once I am done with my dissertation, I would love to write a book that offers a close reading of the constructions of dominant cultural ideology in the Pixar films (Finding Nemo, Wall – E, The Incredibles, etc.).

Selected Academic and/or Popular Press Publications
“The Nature of Hogwarts: Gothic Architecture as Social Commentary in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series” in The Medievalism of J.K. Rowling (expected in 2014-2015)

Selected Conference Presentations
“A Study of the Harry Potter Films through Narratology and Adaptation Theory,” First Annual English Graduate Student Organization Graduate (EGSO) Research Symposium, Middle Tennessee State University (spring 2014)

“To Succeed in Graduate Exams, You Need Two Things: Ignorance and Confidence,” Graduate Exam Writing Workshop, Middle Tennessee State University (Fall 2013)

“Playing with Dangerous Magic: Shifting Notions of Character Identity and Narrative Effect in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Children's Literature Association 40th Annual Conference: Play and Risk in Children's and Young Adult Literature, University of Southern Mississippi (summer 2013)

“Domestic Magic: Images of Girls Fulfilling Grownup Roles in Selected Films of Hayao Miyazaki,” From Catwoman to Katniss: Heroines and Villainesses in Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference, Middle Tennessee State University (spring 2012)

“No, I do not like it, not one little bit!: The Recurring Stylistic Structures in Selected Children’s Picture Books,” Scholars’ Day Conference, Middle Tennessee State University (spring 2011)

“Almost the Same, but Not Quite: Depicting the Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse through the Inversion of the ‘Other’ in Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place,” English Studies Symposium: English 2.0: Discoveries and Recoveries, Tennessee Tech University (spring 2010)

Selected University Presentation/Talks
“Analysis of Adaptation of Harry Potter Films 1-3,” Guest Lecture in Dr. Wendy Hennequin’s ENG 4010 (Special Topics: Seminar in Harry Potter), Tennessee State University (spring 2013)

Classes Taught at TSU
ENG 1010 (Freshmen Composition I)
ENG 1010 (Freshmen Composition I)
ENG 2320 (World Literature II)
ENG 3730 (Children’s Literature)

Selected University Committees, Campus Groups
Textbook Committee (fall 2013 – spring 2014)
Advisement Committee (fall 2013 – spring 2014)
Assessment Committee (fall 2011 – spring 2012)
Freshmen Composition Committee (fall 2007 – current)



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Languages, Literature, and Philosophy