Doctoral Student in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Receives Humanities Award

Samual McMillen
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Samual McMillen

Samual McMillen, doctoral candidate in the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Program at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, has received a 2020 James J. Hudson Doctoral Award in the Humanities from the Graduate School and International Education.

The Hudson doctoral award was set up in 1986 in honor of James J. Hudson, a professor of history who also served as dean of the University of Arkansas Graduate School.

Hudson awards are given to doctoral students in comparative literature and cultural studies, English, history, and philosophy. The students must be nominated by their departments and have only their dissertations yet to write and defend to complete their degree programs.

McMillen's dissertation, "Netflix's Luke Cage: Transmedia Storytelling and the Construction of Masculinity and Race," analyzes representations of race and masculinity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's depictions of Luke Cage.

Looking at how the character changes over time and genre, from the comic books to multiple streaming series, McMillen argues, provides insight into American culture's issues regarding race and gender.

By examining these changes in the depictions of Luke Cage from his comic book origins in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire and across the three streaming series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and The Defenders, McMillen claims we can understand more about contemporary cultural anxieties regarding race and gender.

Robin Roberts, professor of English and gender studies, explained that "Samual's groundbreaking research helps viewers understand what popular culture texts reveal about race and masculinity. By studying televisual texts, he identifies tensions and patterns in contemporary culture."

Professor Luis Restrepo, who directs the Program in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, said, "Samual's cultural studies research project is an excellent example of the exciting critical work on contemporary popular culture that our interdisciplinary program makes possible."


Leigh Sparks, assistant director of the graduate program in English
Department of English


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