seal  Purdue News

October 15, 2003

The Purdue University experts listed below can talk about pop culture topics such as "The Matrix" and the new Joan of Arc television series.

Expert talks about 'Matrix' film series

There is more to the "Matrix" film trilogy than its revolutionary special effects, says a Purdue University expert in English literature and critical theory.

"Viewers may not realize it, but 'Matrix' fans are getting a great lesson in postmodern theories," says Dino Felluga, a professor of English who incorporates the movies into his science fiction and fantasy class, which uses philosophy and critical theory to understand pop culture from the last two decades. "At the beginning of the first 'Matrix' movie, we see that Neo, the main character, keeps his hacker programs in a hollowed-out copy of French social theorist Jean Baudrillard's 'Simulacra and Simulation,' one of the seminal texts of postmodernism. The directors also insisted that all the main lead actors read Baudrillard before they even began shooting the film."

Felluga can talk about the intellectual merits, including theory and philosophy, of the three "Matrix" films – "The Matrix," "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." The final installment of this trilogy will be released in November.

CONTACT: Felluga, (765) 494-3770,


Joan of Arc expert explains pop culture attraction to martyr

At a time when pop princesses dominate the market for teenage girls, what makes a 15th century French 19-year-old so appealing in Hollywood?

Ann Astell, professor of English at Purdue University and an expert on Joan of Arc, can talk about what makes Joan of Arc such a popular character in contemporary film and literature. Most recently, CBS debuted a new series, "Joan of Arcadia," about a 21st century version of Joan of Arc, the French peasant who heard voices from God, led her countrymen to battle and was burned at the stake.

"It's clear she is a timeless pop culture icon, and there are many reasons why," Astell says. "She is a malleable figure, so people on the right or left can relate to her. When it comes to women, I think every woman feels she can identify with her.

"There also is a never-ending human hunger for a higher security – something that is bigger and stronger than all of us. Joan of Arc is vulnerable, despite her great military and political achievements. Yet she triumphed over death, and that final victory has left people with a feeling in their hearts and minds that we find very reassuring."

Astell's book, "Joan of Arc and Sacrificial Authorship," was released in April 2003. Her next Joan of Arc book, "Joan of Arc and Spirituality," will be released at the end of this year.

CONTACT: Astell, (765) 496-3720,