Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!
This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.
** See Dr. Welch’s original talk, Doctor Who and Culture, in this video
Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel
“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th. It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Whoand therefore writers make culture.”
A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch
View the entire presentation
“What was great about the show from my standpoint — from a writing standpoint — is that they had a problem in the first few years. William Hartnell was an older man and he started to get sick and he didn’t want to work anymore. And this is is where writers save the day, because one of the writers back then realized if Wiliam Hartnell resigned, everybody lost their job. 200 people who work on set, who do the writing, who do all the work is gone. So this writer said to himself, “Hey, wait a minute. Our lead character is not human. He’s not a human. He doesn’t have to die. What if our aliens regenerate in a completely different body any time they get sick. Brilliant! He can retire. We can wave goodbye and we can invite new actors to play the character and every time a new actor is hired he can be unique and different and bring a whole different personality to the story.”
Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.
“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th. It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”
Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel
Beau Yarbrough posts this Storify article about Rosanne’s presentation at Cal Poly Pomona today. You can click through a slide show of pictures, quotes and other links below.
While I have much grading to do as always, I was drawn to spend the weekend reading Gidget (by Frederick Kohner) thanks to my friend Ken Lazebnik’s book Hollywood Digs which includes an interview with the real life Franzie Kohner who IS Gidget. In fact, she kindly appeared with Ken at a book reading he did in Malibu recently.
Before actually reading the book I didn’t know gidget stood for “girl midget” since she was so small on her surfboard (and now wonder how many women were named Gidget without now that); I didn’t know her father was a refugee from Nazi Germany who came to LA to be a screenwriter; and I didn’t know the book was going to be so good (both Gidget AND Hollywood Digs! – which I knew would be good because Ken is such a wonderfully evocative writer). I suggest them both.
Turns out when it was released Gidget was compared favorably to Catcher in the Rye by book critics… and probably lost its edge in readers’ minds thanks to the bubblegum reputation the films gave the story – compounded by the fact that it was a girl’s coming of age story and not a boy’s. I learned long ago in teaching American Literature, to an all girl high school of all things, that educators believe girls will read about boy protagonists (in an effort to understand them enough to hook them) but boys will not be as enthusiastic about reading the story of a girl protagonist). So schools adjusted and chose mostly books with male protagonists for high school students of both sexes to study, which means boys lost the chance to learn the lessons first generation immigrants surviving economic hardship from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, among other losses.
Of course, the advent of such things as The Hunger Games trilogy seems to belie that idea — but you’ll notice publishers felt that in order to engage boy readers Katniss needed to wield a weapon, not merely master a craft like surfing. Another reason to return to reading Gidget.
And all of this mulling reminds me of a TED Talk on How Movies Teach Manhood that I showed students the other day by Colin Stokes, director of communications for the non-profit Citizen Schools. He compares the heroine of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy Gale from Kansas, to Luke Skywalker of everyone’s much beloved Star Wars and finds that Dorothy triumphs by mastering the leadership skills of working with others and bringing them together toward a common goal that benefits all while Luke triumphs as an individual by mastering a violent skill that requires killing the enemy to win.
My comparison between Gidget and Catcher seems similar in that Gidget experiments in the world of romance and sex without needing to make the acquaintance of a hooker – yet high schools read Holden’s story as literature and are never exposed to Gidget’s story at all.
In designing a new website the department is taking photos of our classes and they caught me doing our annual outdoor full class reading of Gilgamesh. Cal Poly Pomona is quite a pretty campus!
Click the photo below to see the entire album and full resolution photos.