Pop Culture Series: History of Protests/Marches in America

by Abbey Johnson and Lauren Fralinger, Learning & Research Services

The Women’s March on Washington was held on January 21, 2017 in the nation’s capital. Image credit: Liz Lemon, Flickr.

History was made on January 21, 2017, when the Women’s March on Washington became the largest protest in history as nearly three million Americans marched nationwide. Echoed and strengthened by sister marches around the world, the gatherers demonstrated on behalf of diverse and intersectional topics, encompassing women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, immigration, and the environment.

For those of us born in the 1980s and 1990s, mass protests like these may seem unfamiliar, however they are not a new phenomenon. The Women’s March joins other current and ongoing protests, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline, as an effort to give a voice to dissenters and make changes to laws and legislation that protesters view as harmful or dangerous. These movements continue a tradition of organized political protests threaded throughout the history of America.

Dr. Anna Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt, founders of the League of Women Voters, lead an estimated 20,000 supporters in a women’s suffrage march on New York’s Fifth Avenue in 1915. Image credit: Associated Press.

Historically, organized (and sometimes not-so-organized) protests have been a successful method for American citizens to express their discontent with the state of our government and overall political situation. The history of the United States as an independent country is rooted in protest. Even before the American Revolution began, the importance of protest was recognized by early American colonists. In protest over “taxation without representation,” colonial Americans disguised themselves and dumped crates of tea into Boston Harbor in an effort to make their displeasure known to the British Parliament. Today we know this event as the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party and similar protests eventually led to the Revolutionary War and ultimately the independence of the United States, further demonstrating the power of protest to inspire significant change.

Another early example of using protest to influence the government is the woman suffrage movement that began in the mid-1800s. After decades of organizing marches and protests, women were finally able to win the right to vote. Not only does the woman suffrage movement act as another example of the capacity of protests to make a difference in legislation with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, it also demonstrates that the roots of the Women’s March go back over a century. Although the movement has come a long way since the 1800s, some groups are still striving to achieve equality.

More recent examples would include the many protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Civil Rights Movement, women’s liberation movement, and anti-war protests related to the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. Not only did the actions taken by those involved in these protests allow people to let the government know they were dissatisfied, it also led to legislative changes reflecting the interests of the protesting groups, such as the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Women marching during a Women’s Liberation demonstration in Washington, D.C. in 1970. Image credit: Warren K. Leffler, Library of Congress.

In our current political climate, Americans are facing what is for some an unprecedented level of dissatisfaction with the choices made by our government. Many have decided to come together and express that discontent in hopes of addressing what they feel needs to be changed. This could be seen as a resurgence of the protests of the 1960s, or a continuation of the unfinished work of those past movements. Either way, Americans are coming together to protest now just as they have in the past.

To learn more about recent protest movements as well as the historical roots of political protests in the United States, please check out the following library resources.



They Can’t Kill Us All

Towards the “Other America”

Selma’s Bloody Sunday

Riot, Unrest, and Protest on the Global Stage

Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders



Six Generations of Suffragettes: The Women’s Rights Movement

King: A Filmed Record

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

A Time for Justice

The Black Power Mixtape


Pop Culture Series: Nintendo Switch

By James Wargacki, Learning & Research Services

Nintendo entered the current video game console generation with a bang when it released the Switch on March 3. This new home/portable console “hybrid” is the culmination of over 100 years of experience in the entertainment industry for Nintendo.

Founded in 1889, the Marufuku Company made a name for itself in its native Japan as a manufacturer of cards for the game Hanafuda. The Marufuku Company was able to survive the economic turmoil in Japan after World War I and World War II due to the relatively low cost of manufacturing and distributing card games. In 1951 the Marufuku Company changed its name to the Nintendo Card Company and began its path to gaming innovation. A shortage of paper in 1953 led Nintendo to develop plastic playing cards, and in 1959 the company released various sets of cards with licensed characters from the Walt Disney Company.

Over the years, Nintendo continued to expand further into the entertainment industry with board games in the 1960s, the electronic Beam Gun series in the 1970s, and arcade games such as Donkey Kong in the early 1980s. Also in the 1980s, Nintendo developed its first handheld console under the Game and Watch product line.

In 1983 Nintendo released its first home console, the Famicom, in Japan. Two years later the Famicom was released in the United States as the Nintendo Entertainment System which began the company’s legacy as a home entertainment powerhouse around the world. In 1989 Nintendo expanded their reach to the handheld console market with the release of the Game Boy. As the years passed, numerous competitors such as Sega and Sony came to market with their own entertainment consoles such as the Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Sony PlayStation to challenge Nintendo’s dominance. Although Nintendo has not always been the market leader in the home entertainment industry, their well-received hardware like the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Color paired with strong first-party software titles from the Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid series have contributed to their continued success throughout the years.

The peak of the company’s popularity began in 2004 with the release of the Nintendo DS. The DS included many innovative features such as an integrated touch screen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and backwards compatibility with older Game Boy titles. Two years later Nintendo released the Wii to great critical and commercial acclaim. While the Wii had less processing power than its competitors, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the innovative motion controls and strength of first-party titles such as Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess appealed to casual gamers and longtime Nintendo fans alike. The Wii and DS would go on to sell 101 million and 154 million units respectively.

Nintendo’s follow up consoles, the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, ended up at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of financial success and critical reception. The Wii U’s major selling point was its proprietary gamepad. With various buttons, triggers, and control sticks surrounding an integrated touch screen, the Wii U Gamepad opened up new gameplay possibilities in the form of asymmetric multiplayer experiences and the ability to play some games directly on the gamepad. Poor battery life and a lack of compelling software caused the Wii U to greatly underperform compared to its predecessor. The 3DS continued Nintendo’s history of innovation with the inclusion of a glasses-free stereoscopic 3D screen. The new technology was impressive and critically well-received but resulted in a high initial cost for the console, low battery life, and sometimes led to eye-strain and dizziness for its users. While hardware updates and price drops contributed to the 3DS selling over 65 million units, the Wii U was discontinued in early 2017 after selling only 13.5 million units.

The Switch builds on Nintendo’s history of innovation in hopes of replicating the success of their most iconic home and handheld consoles. The central feature of the Nintendo Switch is the hybrid design which allows gamers to connect the console to their television using a docking station and also allows them to undock a seven inch tablet for gaming on the go. The included pair of Joy-Con controllers can be used individually or in tandem to allow gamers plenty of flexibility in how, when, and where they would like to play. Multiple Switch consoles can connect using local Wi-Fi or Nintendo’s online services for multiplayer gaming, and the Nintendo Switch also works with the company’s popular Amiibo line of interactive figures. Gamers are able to experience new entries in established franchises such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, and Just Dance 2017, along with new titles like 1-2-Switch.

Celebrate the release of the Nintendo Switch by checking out some of these games, books, and other items from and about Nintendo and the video game industry.



Smash Bros. Melee

Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Mario Galaxy



Portable Play in Everyday Life: The Nintendo DS

Playing to Wiin: Nintendo and the Video Game Industry’s Greatest Comeback

Replay: The History of Video Games

The Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Philosophy Through Video Games

God in the Machine: Video Games as a Spiritual Pursuit

Trigger Happy: Video Games and the Entertainment Revolution

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter



Super Mario Galaxy Official Soundtrack

Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask Official Soundtrack



Super Mario Series for Piano

Legend of Zelda Series for Piano

Pop Culture Series: Mardi Gras and Carnival

By Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

Floats, parades, dancing, masks and elaborate costumes, beads, alcohol, and Dixieland jazz: these sights and sounds are all synonymous with Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday.” Celebrated just recently on February 28 of this year, Fat Tuesday is traditionally known for its colorful blend of religious and pagan festivals.

Mardi Gras has been observed for thousands of years in various forms throughout Europe. Recognition in North America began in 1699 with the Le Moyne brothers, Pierre and Jean-Baptiste, while on an expedition to reinforce French claims to the Louisiane territory. The first organized Mardi Gras was held in Mobile, Alabama in 1703, but it took until the 1830s for the city of New Orleans to officially endorse the festival. In the early 1740s, then Governor of Louisiana Marquis de Vaudreuilthen introduced the elegant society balls that became the model for contemporary celebrations. By the late 1830s, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festival included the flambeaux, a gaslight torch bearer who lead all of the parade krewes. Since its earliest days, Mardi Gras has evolved and grown into the grand cultural event that we’ve come to expect each year.

When used as a backdrop for movies and television, Mardi Gras is often interpreted and portrayed in socially relevant ways. The “All on a Mardi Gras Day” episode of the HBO show Treme (2010) captures the intense and conflicting emotions during the first celebration following Hurricane Katrina. Movies like The Princess and the Frog (2009) and Interview with the Vampire (1994) use the festival and city of New Orleans as a lush, supernatural setting. In the counterculture road film Easy Rider (1969), Mardi Gras is the target destination for the two outlaw protagonists. Even famous “Who’s On First” comedians Abbott and Costello dropped in on Mardi Gras for their 1953 film Abbott and Costello Go to Mars. However, instead of landing on the red planet, the duo accidentally end up at the lively street party in New Orleans.

Carnival, which is sometimes confused with Mardi Gras, is actually the name for the season that runs between Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and Lent in the Christian calendar. The Mardi Gras festival marks the end of the Carnival season. Not to be outdone by New Orleans, many Caribbean and South American nations have their own Carnival celebrations. Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, and Cuba have notable Carnivals. The most famous Carnival festival takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Rio celebration attracts millions of people every year and accounts for approximately 70 percent of the country’s tourist visits. Even the birds of the 2011 computer-animated movie Rio end up at Carnival in Brazil.

Although Carnival season just passed, you can revisit the revelry of Mardi Gras anytime by grabbing yourself a slice of king cake and digging into these book, DVD, and music selections.



Masking and Madness: Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras Indians

Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture

Blues for New Orleans – Mardi Gras and America’s Creole Soul

Trinidad and Tobago, our ’83 Carnival and Calypsoes

En Mas’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean



Skyros Carnival: 2004

The Princess and the Frog

Cuba on Fire: Mythologies and Origins of Carnival




Mardi Gras [sound recording]

New Orleans Jazz and Second Line Drumming

Carnival! [sound recording]

Pop Culture Series: 75 Years of Wonder Woman


By Lauren Fralinger, Lauren and Research Services

They’re often called the “trinity” in comic book circles: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Over the past 75 years, we have seen Superman and Batman on screen in many incarnations, each portrayal adding a bit more history to the character. 2016 has brought us only our second live portrayal of Wonder Woman, and though audiences haven’t seen her as frequently, that is about to change. Celebrating her 75th anniversary in 2016, Wonder Woman is a feminist pop culture icon whose legacy has endured nearly a century.


Wonder Woman appears on the first issue of Sensation Comics (1942). Art by H. G. Peter.

Debuting in 1941 in All Star Comics #8, Wonder Woman was one of the earliest female superheroes to make it into print. Developed by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman was created to be a different kind of superhero. Still in their early days, superhero comics were dominated by powerful, almost exclusively male heroes who used physical strength or technology to win their battles. In contrast, Marston wanted to create a superhero who won not through the strength of their fists, but also through love. It was Marston’s wife Elizabeth who suggested that this new superhero be a woman.

Wonder Woman’s origins are steeped in Greek mythology. Born as Diana, Princess of the Amazons, she was sculpted from clay by her mother, Queen Hippolyta and imbued with powers from several Olympian goddesses. Withdrawn from the world and protected by the gods, the Amazons lived in isolation on a hidden island until it was accidentally discovered by an American intelligence officer whose plane crashed there during World War II. Selected to bring the man back to “Man’s World” and to join the fight against the Nazis, Diana was gifted a pair of magical, bulletproof bracelets and a lasso of truth, which forces honesty from anyone it captures. Wonder Woman quickly joined the war alongside other early superheroes and served on the Justice Society of America, one of the first superhero teams.


Lynda Carter (left) first portrayed Wonder Woman on screen in the 1970s. Gal Godot (right) will take on the role in the 2017 series.

Over the course of 75 years, Wonder Woman has gone through dozens of incarnations in the comics as writers and stories have come and gone. Acknowledged early on as one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Comics stable, Wonder Woman went through a strange period in the late sixties and early seventies where her powers were taken from her entirely. Dismayed that one of the most recognizable and powerful women in pop culture was no longer able to compete on the same field as her super powered male counterparts, Gloria Steinem placed Wonder Woman on the cover of the inaugural issue of her new magazine, Ms., and criticized the decision to strip away everything that made Diana so empowered. A year later, Wonder Woman had her bracelets, lasso and superpowers returned, and was back in full fighting form.

Diana’s first on-screen portrayal was made by Lynda Carter in the 1970s Wonder Woman television series. Airing from 1975 to 1979 during the peak of the second-wave feminist movement, Wonder Woman presented a powerful, intelligent, and deeply human woman capable of extraordinary abilities to American audiences. Decades after the end of the 1970s series, Wonder Woman made appearances in various animated series such as Justice League and Justice League Unlimited in the early 2000s, but was not portrayed live again until 2016’s Batman vs. Superman. Though Batman and Superman both made the jump to the movies decades earlier, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the Amazon princess was the first time Wonder Woman had made it into theaters. Batman vs. Superman may have been her first silver screen appearance, but it won’t be her last; Gadot will reprise her role as Diana for 2017’s Wonder Woman.

Interested in more Wonder Woman? The Richter Library has you covered. Check out more books and comics about the adventures of the Amazon Princess here:


Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 Years (2016)

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine (2014)

Wonder Woman (2012)

Wonder Woman ‘77 (2016)

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman (2015)

Wonder Woman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told (2006)

Wonder Woman: Earth One (2016)



Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season (2004)

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines (2012)


Pop Culture Series: TV Elections


By Ellen Davies, UGrow Fellow, and Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

With the 2016 Presidential election less than a month away, it will soon be time for another State of the Union address in January 2017. As portrayed in the show Designated Survivor you may know that one member of the President’s cabinet is selected to spend the address in an undisclosed location to guard against a catastrophic loss of the Executive and Legislative bodies of government. In the show Tom Kirkman, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is that member of the Cabinet chosen to spend the State of the Union in an undisclosed bunker. After an explosion kills the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and many other cabinet Secretaries, Kirkman becomes President.


George McGovern on election night in Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, D.C., 1972. Photograph by Michael Carlebach. University of Miami Special Collections.

The United States Constitution specifies that the Vice President succeeds the President, but makes no mention of further succession. Two amendments clarify the role of Vice Presidential succession, while the rest of the line is governed by laws passed by Congress. Cabinet-level succession is determined by the founding date of each department. For example, the State Department founded as the Department of Foreign Affairs was the first federal agency created under the Constitution. It was approved by Congressional legislation on July 21, 1789, making its Secretary the first of the Cabinet positions. The Department of Transportation, number 14 in line, was founded in 1967.

Of course, before a line of succession can exist, a President must be elected. Elections and campaigning have been fertile ground for Hollywood to explore. Satire, political thrillers, and outright comedy go hand in hand with movies about elections and often overlap with each other.

One of the most popular comedic explorations of political campaigns, and the moments of joy and frustration they can bring, is portrayed in Parks and Recreation. The series stars comedian Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in small-town Pawnee, Indiana, and is known for her unwavering positivity, admiration (and borderline obsession) for powerful female politicians like Hillary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, and undying belief in local government’s potential to have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. When she decides to run for city council, however, she quickly learns she must overcome the influence of gender bias as well as overall skepticism of government in order to effect any change in the small town. One idea that receives major pushback for instance is on combatting childhood obesity, a major health issue in Pawnee, where the existing city council has just decided to sell the space allocated for a new park to a fast food chain called “Paunch Burger.”

Other popular TV shows like House of Cards, Scandal, and Veep work to pull back the curtain on political campaigns and presidential elections, giving an inside look at Washington through the use of story lines tied to current events and allusions to American politics and politicians that blur the line between satire and reality. These shows mix all the things that aren’t supposed to be discussed in polite conversation: money, sex, and politics, and allow us to binge on them in the privacy of our own living rooms.

Family standing outside of the White House, 1970s. Photograph by Michael Carlebach. University of Miami Special Collections.

In the first season of Netflix’s wildly popular series House of Cards, Frank and Claire Underwood’s marriage reeks of the early Clinton years. Southerner Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is a Democratic Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives who has aspirations of becoming President. Together he and his wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, are an unstoppable political duo ready to take on Washington and gain political power at all costs. Claire is the definition of a true “ride-or-die” and the pair have more of a business-like partnership than a romantic relationship, both more than willing to accept the other’s morally questionable actions and keep quiet about extra-marital affairs for the greater good of their own political careers. As the series evolves it ultimately becomes clear that while Frank is the public front man, Claire, like many first ladies and wives of politicians, is the tail that wags the dog.

Meanwhile it may be worth noting that Robin Wright, who plays Claire, recently made headlines for revealing that she earned less money than co-star Kevin Spacey in the first two seasons of the series and was only able to negotiate equal pay with Netflix after threatening to go public with the wage gap.

UM Libraries houses several books, movies, and television series related to political elections:

Election-Themed Resources


Being There


The Contender

Television Series

John Adams

The West Wing


The Manchurian Candidate

Too Close to Call

1920: The Year of Six Presidents

How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians

Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968

Star Trek: 50 Years of Exploration


by Vanessa Rodriguez, E-Learning & Emerging Technologies Librarian

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the first episode of which aired September 8, 1966. Made by Desilu Productions (owned by Lucille Ball), Star Trek ran for only three seasons before being canceled. But what began as a small low-budget television show grew into a pop culture icon still relevant today.


Promotional photo of the cast of Star Trek during the third season (1968–1969).

The technology appearing on Star Trek inspired scientists and inventors who wanted to create the things they saw on the show. Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to go into space, was inspired by seeing Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, played by Nichelle Nichols. Nichols herself was encouraged to remain on the show by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who stressed the importance of her role to the black community.

Star Trek began as the vision of creator Gene Roddenberry, a former University of Miami student, though he did not complete his degree here. Instead he enlisted in the Air Force and after discharge served as a pilot for Pan Am airways. You can read articles from the Pan Am aircraft crash that he was on as a back-up pilot in our Special Collections Pan Am collection in the library. There is also a collection of Star Trek memorabilia located in the UM Alumni Center library that was donated by Roddenberry’s son.

Gene Roddenberry (left), a former University of Miami student, created Star Trek in partnership with Desilu Productions, owned by Lucille Ball (right).

Majel Barrett, Gene Rodenberry’s wife, also attended the University of Miami though the two did not meet here. Barrett is best known for her roles in Star Trek as Number 1 in the original pilot, Nurse Chapel in the original series, Lwaxana Troi in the Next Generation series, and best of all perhaps, as the voice of the starship Enterprise computer in all the television series to date and most of the movies.

The franchise remains strong today with a new movie, Star Trek Beyond, having just come out this past summer and a new television series, Star Trek Discovery, set to debut next year. You can find the original series, some of the movies, and read more about Star Trek in general at UM Libraries. Here are a few of our selections:

Star Trek (BFI TV Classics)
Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant
The Politics of Star Trek: Justice, War, and the Future

I am Spock
Gene Roddenberry: The Last Conversation

DVD Collection
Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One
Star Trek: The Original Crew Movie Collection
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Special

The Motion Picture: Music from the Original Soundtrack
William Shatner Live

Graphic Novels Spotlight: Kelly Sue DeConnick

by Bill Jacobs & Sean P. Ahearn, Learning & Research Services

Image Credit: HeroesCon 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 22, 2014, Wikipedia


Kelly Sue DeConnick is a comic book author and one of the most outspoken advocates for women’s rights and equality in the superhero graphic novel community.

DeConnick has an exemplary career having written for several major publishers including Image Comics, Boom, Oni, Humaniods, Dark Horse, IDW, DC, Vertigo, and Marvel.

 In 2012 one of the most important DeConnick updates was given to the Captain Marvel title.
Carol Danvers, our hero, dropped her old title “Ms.”, and gained a new suit (cover below). No longer are any unnecessary body parts exposed; this would be the real attitude of an Air Force captain. Along with the title hero having a realist attitude about her appearance, the themes found throughout are full of powerful feminist motifs. After an accidental mishap with time travel leaves her stranded on a Japanese occupied island during WWII, Captain Marvel finds herself being rescued by an all-woman Pilot Squadron.

In the same story, DeConnick asks her readers to contemplate women’s rights by deliberately highlighting antiquated attitudes. These sentiments, unfortunately, still plague women’s rights today.

DeConnick has no fear, and has even taken on sexuality. In a quick innocuous scene a female alien ally is pulled away from the action to quickly kiss her love (image below). This panel is an example of the blunt, unapologetic attitude that has made DeConnick stand out in the graphic novel world. Moreover, it exemplifies her open and accepting attitude about sexuality. Her devoted fan base, who have named themselves the “Carol Corps,” embrace these scenes for their narrative and aesthetic as well as ideological appeal, many finding empowerment in DeConnick’s work more than any other superhero series. She has opened comics to the female demographic, enticing and drawing in new readers who otherwise may not relate to graphic novels.

The arrival of the new, liberated Captain Marvel was embraced by some, rejected by others. This only meant DeConnick had to speak more brassily. She took her political voice to the next level in 2015 with Bitch Planet, set in an off world prison for what are supposed to be the most dangerous female criminals.

Bitch Planet is a sci-fi story that is both a literal comment on the exploitation of women in prison and a figurative criticism on women in society. As the title implies, this is not for children. While it is set in a fantastic futuristic environment, the story is dark and disheartening.

Aside from her large fan-base, DeConnick’s hard work has not gone unrecognized by the establishment; she was nominated for an Eisner award (considered the Oscars of the comic world) for Pretty Deadly, a mythological western. As graphic novels progress, so will the voices within them. DeConnick is a great example of the impact these stories have on our society and how important it is for readers to be able to identify with the characters.

Tell us what you think on Twitter or Facebook. And to learn more about any of the titles listed here or more about Kelly Sue DeConnick check out the link to our sources:

  • https://imagecomics.com/creators/view/kelly-sue-deconnick
  • http://kellysue.tumblr.com/
  • http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/07/kelly-sue-deconnick-profile

About the Collection

UML’s Graphic Novels collection of more than 1,000 volumes includes newspaper comic strips, Japanese manga, European bande dessinee, and alternative American comics, in addition to superhero stories. Along with high-flying, wall-crawling, planet-saving scenarios, there are detectives tracking down lost library books, demon-fighting ronan, and wine tasting competitions. Many of the unusual storylines are woven into commentary on deeper issues, such as racial history, mass media, and philosophy. Some graphic novels avoid the fantastic entirely, and instead tell mystery stories, autobiography, and graphic essays.

Pop Culture Series: National Library Week


By Lauren Fralinger, Learning & Research Services

When was the last time you were in the library here at UM? This morning? This afternoon, for a class? Or were you planning to spend a couple hours there tonight, catching up on homework? Perhaps you’re even sitting in one of the University’s libraries now, reading this article from your laptop.

Whatever your major, you’ve likely spent countless hours over the course of your college career in one of the University of Miami’s libraries, checking out books, doing homework and research, or just studying for your classes. From the books they provide to the staff that run them, libraries are a critical part of the academic journey.

This month, from April 10-16, is National Library Week, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate libraries, their staff, and all they do to help their communities learn and grow.

Founded in 1958 with the goal of encouraging people to unplug the radio, turn off the television, and pick up a book, National Library Week hoped to motivate people to make use of the library and all of its resources. In the 1950s, the library’s resources primarily meant books, magazines, and spaces for programs. Though books, magazines, and events are still critical to the services that libraries provide, technology has vitally changed the way we interact with and utilize libraries.

The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Libraries Transform.” In the more than fifty years since its inception, libraries have undergone massive changes to adapt to new technologies and new needs. Gone are the days when libraries were mere repositories for books; in today’s world, libraries not only host information in books and journals, they are becoming interactive learning spaces that support a wide variety of needs.

Transformation is underway in the libraries here at UM as well. Over the past year librarians and staff at UM Libraries, together with their campus partners, have been planning for the future Learning Commons on the first floor of Richter Library. The Learning Commons will make key educational services centrally and conveniently available to the entire UM community. Students are encouraged to try out the different spaces, services, and technologies in the Visioning Studio for the Future Learning Commons. There are a number of resources now available:

  • The Writing Center and Academic Resource Center are offering services in the library’s new Consultation Hub, providing students with help on every phase of their research, from finding articles to polishing off their papers.
  • If it all becomes a bit too much, and someone needs a break from all the studying, the library is currently building a Brain Spa for students to visit and relax, filling it with puzzles, games, and chalkboard cubes for doodling.
  • More of these kinds of changes are on the way for Fall 2016, as the Math Lab, Academic Technologies and IT plan to move in and provide even more centralized support for students in Richter.

In addition to everything that Richter provides, there are five other libraries at the University of Miami with doors open to any student who wishes to use them. The Judi Prokop Newman Information Resource Center, University of Miami Law Library, Paul Buisson Architecture Library, Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library, and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Library are all equipped to support students with world-class resources and specialized assistance for business, law, architecture, music, and marine science students.

The next time you visit one of the University of Miami’s libraries, be sure to talk to librarians and staff. Remember – we’re here to help! We hope to make the library your home away from home.

Want to know more about what’s up at the UM Libraries? Check out the links below!

Pop Culture Series: Batman vs. Superman


by James Wargacki, Education and Outreach

With the release of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice later this month, two pop culture icons from the golden age of comic books will finally meet face-to-face on the silver screen. While both Batman and Superman have been longtime friends and allies, their differing ideologies have brought them into conflict on more than one occasion.

The most iconic battle between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel occurred in the pages of Frank Miller’s classic story The Dark Knight Returns. Published in 1986, the story follows an older and battle-worn Batman coming out of retirement to save Gotham from the uncontrolled lawlessness and corruption that has plagued the city, a fight that quickly puts him at odds with the Gotham City Police Department. The vigilante superhero is quickly pursued for arrest, which escalates with the President of the United States sending in Superman to apprehend the Dark Knight, and ends in a battle that levels an entire city block.


Batman and Superman battle it out in Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Not to be outdone by the epic battle in The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller once again pitted Batman against Superman in his 2001 series The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Set three years after the events of The Dark Knight Returns, Batman once again resurfaces from a self-imposed exile to round up old friends to battle the totalitarian regime of Brainiac and President Lex Luthor. Frustrated with Batman’s heavy-handed approach, Superman attacks Batman and his army in the Batcave. With the aid of friends including The Flash, Green Arrow, The Atom, Catgirl, and a pair of kryptonite infused gauntlets, Batman subdues Superman in a battle that nearly destroys the Batcave.

In 2003, Scottish writer Mark Millar set Batman and Superman on a collision course in his limited series Superman: Red Son, which is set in the Soviet Union. Superman is aiding the Soviet government in a “…a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact” when he is first noticed by the young orphan who becomes Batman. When Superman eventually takes control of the Communist party, using his powers to create a utopia in his beloved homeland–while using tactics such as electronic lobotomies towards anyone who opposes him—Batman wages a guerilla war against the Superman regime.

The most recent and still ongoing battle between Batman and Superman takes place in the pages of the Injustice: Gods Among Us which acts as a prequel to the video game of the same name. The series opens with Joker targeting Superman instead of Batman. After Superman is subjected to Joker’s madness firsthand, he decides that Batman’s methods are not effective for preventing crime. With the aid of former members of the Justice League, Superman begins to take over the earth and punish criminals without prejudice. Batman gathers his own team of heroes to challenge Superman’s newly formed dictatorship.

With plenty of source material to choose from, Batman vs. Superman has all the components necessary to be as intense of a battle as Superman and Batman have ever had.  If you would like to know more about Batman and Superman, be sure to check out some of the following materials from the Richter Library.



Pop Culture Series: The Super Bowl

by Andrew Wodrich, Library Research Scholar

It was an exciting, confusing, and, unless you are the Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos, probably disappointing season in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins saw their coach fired in week 5 after starting 1-3, while star players across the country, from Arian Foster to Tony Romo to Jamaal Charles, among many others, went down early in the season due to injuries. But even while the Dolphins and most NFL fans are ready to move on to next season, the final game of this season, the Super Bowl, will be hard to ignore.


Football Referees at Orange Bowl, 1976. From the Michael L. Carlebach Photography Collection

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, football and non-football fans alike will be tuning in from across the country to the game as well as pre-game specials. In fact, footage from the first Super Bowl game, something long thought lost, was recently found and aired by the organization as part of the lead-up to Super Bowl 50 (decidedly more impressive than Super Bowl L). The milestone reminds viewers of the Super Bowl’s cultural significance, not just as a championship of the season, but as a historical tradition.

In Miami, Super Bowl history also involves the history of one of its once most beloved landmarks, the Orange Bowl: the site of Super Bowls II (1968), III (1969), and V (1971). (Of course Super Bowl VII (1973) is of special significance here as well, as the year in which the Dolphins became the only team to go undefeated all the way–a record still held by the team.)

Now several years since the Orange Bowl was demolished and rebuilt as the Marlins Stadium, the stadium is well-remembered thanks not only to the Super Bowls it hosted early in the event’s history but also for the Miami Orange Bowl Festival, an annual event surrounding the bowl game. It was conceived in 1935 as a way to boost the economy of the region in the wake of the Depression and preceding land bust. The endeavor would have likely failed without the passion and dedication of one man, Earnie Seiler.


University of Miami football inflatable helmet in Orange Bowl, 1992. From the Michael L. Carlebach Photography Collection.

Seiler’s vision and drive led to the development of the traditional New Year’s Day football game, the extravagant halftime shows, and the King Orange Jamboree Parade–likened in scale and spirit to today’s Super Bowl festivities. As the Orange Bowl Festival grew, it accomplished its goals of increasing tourism to Miami and general awareness of the city outside of South Florida. By its 40th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Festival was generating over $45 million in direct revenue for South Florida and attracting the attention of some 75 million television viewers across the country.

The festival, known today as the Capital One Orange Bowl Festival, remains a popular attraction for South Floridians and visitors to ring in the New Year, while the annual Orange Bowl football game, as part of the rotating College Football Playoff, generates over $200 million annually for South Florida.

Original records related to Orange Bowl history are housed at the University of Miami. Explore these and related materials at UM Libraries:

Football and Orange Bowl Related Resources

Books and Collections

How Postmodernism Explains Football and Football Explains Postmodernism : The Billy Clyde Conundrum

Is There Life After Football?: Surviving the NFL

How to Watch Football: Saving America’s Game From Itself

The Little Red Book of Football Wisdom

Pro football Championships Before the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl of Advertising: Are The Advertisers Still Winning the Game?

The Orange Bowl Story : Its Beginning

The Orange Bowl Cookbook

50th Annual Orange Bowl Festival

Fifty Years on the Fifty: The Orange Bowl Story

University of Miami Archives Orange Bowl Collection

Videos and Recordings

30 for 30. No. 7, The U

The Blind Side

Friday Night Lights. The Complete Series

The Dynamic Young Dolphins