English Professor Gian Pagnucci is a very well-rounded guy.
His scholarly interests include narrative theory and research, technical writing, and technology and literacy, and he's well published on this topic.
BUT he's also written and published a number of creative non-fiction pieces about his Italian-American upbringing and a chilldren's book of folk tales, Don't Count Your Chickens! Stories for Kids to Tell!
He has also been recognized for his outstanding record of teaching, research, and scholarly activity and service with the 2009-2010 University Professor Award. The University Professor designation is something that award recipients hold for a lifetime. So, I'm not surprised to see interesting and diverse research and presentations from Dr. Pagnucci.
Recently, he presented "The Death of America in Comic Books: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Identity Crisis Narrative in Superman and Captain America Comic Books" at the 22nd annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association.
Dr. Pagnucci was joined on the panel by Alex Romagnoli, a doctoral student in IUP's Composition and TESOL program.
He describes this conference as an opportunity for scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore how trends and events in popular culture shape the world in which we live.
In his presentation, he compares Superman and Captain America, and notes that these fictional characters have true cultural significance beyond comic book pages. He also asks how these events reflect the current notion of American identity and several other interesting questions, including "Are these superheroes merely fictional or do their evolving identities represent a moment of crisis for the nation?" He also concludes that what happens in the pages of comic books needs to be given significance in the academic world.
His work makes me think about another extremely innovative student research project and internship. Melissa Rogers, a graduate of IUP's Robert E. Cook Honors College and an IUP McNair Scholar, did an internship with Marvel Comics in New York City. She also explored autobiographical comic books by women and how they challenge the portrayal of women in mainstream comics and traditional literature.
This certainly makes me think very differently about comics as literature!