Phillip Shafer

Philip M. Shafer

Associate Professor  
Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy


Ph.D., Children's/Young Adult Literature and Linguistics, Middle Tennessee State University (2016)
M.A., English, Tennessee State University (2006)
B.S., Liberal Studies (Concentrations: Music Composition and Psychology, minors in English and Sociology), Middle Tennessee State University (2004)
MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) Certification in Sequencing and Digital Audio Recording (Concentrations: Film Score Composition, Popular Music Arrangement, Music Theory, Music Business), Columbia State Community College (2001)

 HUM 307 (Walter S. Davis) 
PHONE: 615.963.5714
EMAIL: ~or~ 
TWITTER: @ProfShafer 
BLOG: (or just google: Prof Shafer English) 

I was born and raised in Williamson County, an area 20 minutes southwest of Nashville. My five siblings and I were 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, Disney films, anime).

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 linguistic and ideological constructions of childhood and adulthood in films from Disney (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan) and Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo). I am captivated by the many different ways that picture books engender meaning through various levels of interplay between imagistic and textual communication systems. I am also interested in critical theory in general, and structuralism, formalism, film theory, and narrative theory specifically. Now that I have completed my dissertation, I am working on reshaping it into a book about how film adaption works for McFarland (they have been waiting patiently for the book from me for a while). I am also writing 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.). Academic publisher McFarland has shown interest in both books.

My wife, Tracie, and my two young daughters, Annabeth and Ella live in west Nashville.

Selected Academic and/or Popular Press Publications
(accepted for an edited collection that is under consideration at Palgrave MacMillan) “The Nature of Hogwarts: Gothic Architecture as Social Commentary in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series” in The Medievalism of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels edited by Carol Dover. This essay explores how various architectural sites in the Harry Potter novels and films function to socialize both the characters within the storyworld as well as the Young Adult readership. This includes an analysis of the ways that major buildings within the Potter series—The Great Hall, Room of Requirement, House Common Rooms, Ministry of Magic, Burrow—do more than serve as settings for the narrative action to take place, but also reinforce and replicate the dominant cultural ideologies of the magical world.

 (accepted for an edited collection that will be forthcoming in the first quarter of 2019 from McFarland) “May the Fourth Wave Be with You: Character Agency and Choice in The Last Jedi” in Fourth Wave Feminism in Science Fiction Film (working title) edited by Valerie Frankel. This essay explores how the relationship between character agency and choices in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi film can be read through the critical lens of fourth wave feminism. This includes an analysis of the most significant ways that Johnson’s film redefines gender roles within the Star Wars universe for female characters—such as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Leia Organa Solo (Carrie Fisher), Rose Ticon (Kelly Marie Tran)—and male characters—such as Finn (John Boyega), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)—through an evaluation of the new kinds of agency that Johnson’s film grants these characters as well as the specific ways that these characters use their agency.

Selected Conference Presentations

"The World is Built on a Wall that Separates Kind": A Feminist Reading of Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049, Tennessee Philological Association 113th Conference: Women, Middle Tennessee State University (2021)

"Will the 'Real' Peter Parker Please Stand up?: The Many Cinematic Representations of Spider-man," Tennessee Philological Association 112th Conference: Literature and Film, Freed-Hardeman University (2020)

“’When in doubt, go to the library’: The Many Uses of Books in Harry Potter,” Tennessee Philological Association 111th Conference: Creative Nonfiction, University of Tennessee–Martin (2019)

“Rebuilding the Magical World of Harry Potter One Brick at a Time: LEGO Games as Literary and Filmic Adaptation,” Tennessee Philological Association 110th Conference: War or Peace, Tennessee Technological University (2018)

 “The Future’s So Dark, I Gotta Wear Body Armor: Representations of Dystopian Young Adult Novels in Film,” Children’s Literature Association 44th Annual Conference: Imagined Futures, University of South Florida (Summer 2017).

 “(Re)Structuralism (Re)Visited: Toward a New Film Adaptation Theory (or, Why the Book is NOT Always Better),” Tennessee Philological Association 109th Conference: A River Runs through It, East Tennessee State University (Spring 2017).

“Drawing Boundaries: Constructions of Children and Adults in Selected Pixar Animated Films,” Children’s Literature Association 43th Annual Conference: Animation, Ohio State University (Summer 2016).

 "The Making of Meaning: Using Critical: Stylistics in the Composition Classroom," Tennessee Philological Association Conference, Austin Peay State University (Spring 2016).

 "How Language Destroyed Annabella's Body and Damned Giovanni's Soul: Selected Stylistic Tendencies in John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore." The New Voices Graduate Conference. Georgia State University (spring 2015).

 "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
“Using Modern Linguistics to Make Sense of Grammar: Basics of Morphology,” Guest Lectures and Workshops in Ms. Devon Drake’s 7th Grade Honors ELA, Bellevue Middle School (2018)

“Using a Contemporary Literary-Texts-to-Film-Adaptation-Practices Topology to Analyze Game of Thrones TV Episodes,” Guest Lecture in Dr. David Lavery’s/Dr. Becky King’s ENGL 6650/7650: Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: Game of Thrones, Middle Tennessee State University (2016)

“Using Fundamentals of Film Theory and Visual Literacy to Analyze Meaning in Disney’s Tangled,” Guest Lecture in Dr. Jennifer Marchant’s ENGL 7305: Special Topics in Children’s and Adolescent Literature: Constructions of Gender in Children’s Literature, Middle Tennessee State University (2015)

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

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

Classes Taught at TSU
ENGL 1010 Freshmen Composition I
ENGL 1020 Freshmen Composition II
ENGL 2320 World Literature II
ENGL 2322 Honors World Literature II
ENGL 3710 Methods of Teaching High School English
ENGL 3730 Children's Literature
ENGL 3720 Adolescent Literature
ENGL 4130 Advanced English Grammar
ENGL 4724 Student Teacher Practicum (Secondary, Residency II)
HONR 3002 Honors Junior Colloquium
HONR 4002 Honors Senior Colloquium

Languages. Literature, and Philosophy Dept. Service
* Generalist Hiring Committee (2017-2018)
* English Teacher Certification Program Supervisor (2015-current)
* Technology Committee (2015-2017)
* Film and Popular Culture Committee (2015-2017)
* Sophomore Literature Committee (2014-current)
* Advisement Committee (2013–current)
* Textbook Committee (2013–2014)
* Assessment Committee (2010–2012)
* Freshman Composition Committee (2006–current)

 Education Dept. Service at Tennessee State University
* Assessment Committee (2017-current)
* English Teacher Certification Program Coordinator (2015-current)

 College of Liberal Arts Service at Tennessee State University
* Faculty Senate Technology Committee (2017-2018)
* Faculty Senate Faculty Benefit and Welfare Committee (2015-2016)



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Languages, Literature, and Philosophy