Curious about George: This project critically considers the global circulation of Curious George as a cultural icon of American exceptionalism to model the importance of linking postcolonialism, identity, cultural icons, and American citizenship. Specially, this talk reflects on the relationships between the dominant discourses in which Curious George most predominantly circulates: 1) colonial children’s literature that figures the pathetic white father figure as hero (1941-present); 2) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education that privileges curiosity over the history of scientific determinism (2006-present); and 3) Holocaust nostalgia in which the American savory is honored (2005-present). While seemingly unrelated, what George’s discourses share is a rich training ground for children to learn U.S. citizenship—one that dismisses its slavery-based colonial roots, promotes STEM education as the backbone of the U.S. economy and global competitiveness, and privileges its remembrance of the Holocaust as a motivator of American global power.
Keynote Speaker: Rae Lynn Schwartz-DuPre
Rae Lynn Schwartz-DuPre (Ph.D University of Iowa 2006) is a Professor of Communication Studies at Western Washington University with a specialization in feminist postcolonial theory, rhetorical studies, and visual communication. Her scholarship is committed to understanding the ways in which (re)presentations rhetorically constitute knowledge within various modes of occupation, citizenship, and resistance. Her collection Communicating Colonialism: Readings on Postcolonial Theory(s) and Communication, (Peter Lang, 2013) makes a compelling case for the continued relevance of postcolonial studies in an age of transnationalism and globalization. Her current book Curious about George: Curious George, Cultural Icons, Colonialism, & American Exceptionalism takes up Curious George as an example of contemporary colonialism. By modeling the importance of linking race, gender, colonialism, icons, and citizenship she figures him as cultural icon of American exceptionalism. Additional scholarship has appeared in journals such as Textual Practice, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Feminist Media Studies, Communication, and Communication, Culture & Critique. Click to see Dr. Schwartz-DuPre's full CV.