Kristi Rowan Humphreys (Ph.D.)
Assistant Professor of Critical Studies and Artistic Practice
Dr. Kristi Rowan Humphreys is committed to interdisciplinary approaches to the arts, education, and research, and to inspiring students to go beyond the standard investigation of a work by considering the possibilities involved in examining it through the lens of another discipline. Having completed an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Humanities, Aesthetic Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas, she specializes in gender media and popular culture studies, film musicals and musical theater, and the visual culture of novelist William Faulkner. Her recent publications explore popular culture representations of housework and domesticity (Scarecrow Press), motherhood and fatherhood (Palgrave Macmillan Press), and magic and religion (Praeger/ABC-Clio Press). She also is a working stage and commercial actress, having performed in over forty professional productions, and a proud wife and mom. Dr. Humphreys hails from a ranch in the one-stoplight town of Lorena, Texas, where she was lovingly reared by a CPA and a nurse on Hamburger Helper, Angela Lansbury, hay-bale forts, church, and James Bond movies (but only when Dad said it was okay).
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Housework and Gender in American Television: Coming Clean, Lanham MA: Rowman and Littlefield/Lexington, 2015.
Housework and Gender in American Television: Coming Clean examines various representations of housework and their relationships with gender in sixty of the most popular television shows of the 1950s through the 1980s, searching for trends, similarities, inconsistencies, and meaning. Much of the critical scholarship addressing mid-century televised housework claims that domestic activities marginalize female characters, removing them from scenes involving important familial discussions and placing them in devalued positions. This book challenges the notion that housework functions primarily as a mechanism through which female characters are marginalized, devalued, invisible, or passive, instead proposing a reading of housework in television that brings to the fore the preservative, sacrificial, and active qualities so crucial and foundational to housework activity in both representation and reality. These qualities, in turn, attach a strength to female characters (and, when applicable, male characters) that is often ignored in standard feminist analyses of television. This study reveals roughly twenty trends established in four decades of televised housework, from the housewives of the 1950s to the witches and genies of the 1960s, to the elimination of male domestic labor in the 1970s, and ultimately to the prevalence of male housekeepers in the 1980s.
“Ads and Dads: TV Commercials and Contemporary Attitudes Toward Fatherhood” in Pops in Pop Culture edited by Elizabeth Podnieks. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
This chapter analyzes sixteen commercials from the year 2013 that represent a clear change in the way twenty-first-century American culture regards fatherhood. Not only are commercials presenting real emotional connections between fathers and children, some are even adopting the tone of popular dad-bloggers who claim a type of parenting expertise. This reflects another change: perhaps twenty-first century American culture regards the domestic space as a shared realm rather than a female one. That said, these commercials accomplish this through a balancing act involving hyper-masculinized depictions of dads working within an historically feminine realm. Drawing on established tropes of masculinity, many of these commercials emphasize the strength and power of dad, as if to reinforce the masculinity of the emotionally-invested modern dad—that a man who is comfortable in his domestic sphere is still a “real man.” Still, by reasserting the masculinity of these emotionally-invested fathers, the commercials are consequently challenging definitions of both masculinity and fatherhood in visual culture. Furthermore, in changing the way we signify fatherhood, we alter previously held notions of what it means to be a dad, to protect one’s family, and to lead a satisfying life. This shift indicates that society is indeed ready for a new narrative about dads.
"Supernatural Housework: Magic and Domesticity in 1960s Television" in Home Sweat Home, edited by Mimi Choi and Elizabeth Patton, 105-121. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2014.
This chapter analyzes the evolution of “supernatural housework” in television shows of the 1960s—Bewitched (1964-1972), I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), and The Addams Family (1964-1966)—as embodiment of social response to the ideal concepts of housework and household management put forward by the 1950s. Furthermore, whereas popular interpretations of the supernatural qualities of 1960s television tend to view them as representations of the emerging female sexual and political energy of the decade, this study contends that through “supernatural housework,” the sixties television housewives actually further the dominant gender discourse of the fifties—one laid bare in 1963 by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique—which suggested that fulfillment for women had only one definition: housewifery.
"Satan’s Most Popular Pawn?: Harry Potter and Modern Evangelical Cosmology.” Coauthored by Wm. H. Taylor and found in A History of Evil in Popular Culture: What Hannibal Lecter, Stephen King, and Vampires Reveal about America, edited by Sharon Packer and Jody Pennington, 339-350. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC Clio, 2014.
Within the ranks of American Christianity, there are many who have decried Harry Potter, and his author J.K. Rowling, as the tools of Satan and the harbingers of a satanic kingdom on earth. The language employed by these contemporary evangelical Christian sentinels resembles that from 17th-century Puritan New England, particularly the rhetoric concerning witchcraft. Borrowing the techniques of religious, social, and literary historians of the period, an examination of these condemnations of the Harry Potter series reveals more than an impassioned, and perhaps paranoid, reaction by evangelical Christian leaders. It is the contention of this chapter that these censures also illustrate the cries of a movement within evangelical Christianity that is seeking to reestablish a providential cosmos amongst Christians and their proper place therein.