Michael Johnson, Ph.D.


  • LGBTQ Studies
  • Cultivation Theory
  • American Studies
  • Political Economy
  • Telenarratives
Dr. Michael Johnson Jr., is an American cultural theorist who studies how hegemonic forces influence the depiction, adoption, consolidation and dissemination of race, gender and queer sexual identities across contemporary mass mediated commodities like television and film. His bachelor’s degree is in Liberal Arts from the University of New Orleans, and he has a Master’s of Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in Social and Political Thought from the University of South Florida. His second Master’s is in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and his Ph.D. is in American Studies from WSU. Dr. Johnson is both a first generation college graduate and first generation post-graduate, and was awarded the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Fellowship in 2008. Prior to his arrival at UWP, he taught as a full time faculty member for 3 years in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University. After that, he taught by invitation at both the University of Passau, in Bavaria Germany as well as the prestigious Deep Springs College in Bishop, California. Dr. Johnson typically has taught a wide array of introductory and upper division, undergraduate courses in Communication, Comparative Ethnic Studies, American Studies, LGBTQ & Women and Gender Studies.

Teaching Interests

The most important things to me as a teacher are to always be prepared; only teach what I’m in love with; inspire students to pursue their passions; practice intellectual humility and mutual respect; and challenge my students to the best of my ability. I want my students to develop an intellectual curiosity about both the subjects studied in our class, and the world around them. I believe it’s my responsibility to encourage students to find their voice, to self – reflexively examine their beliefs in intellectually productive ways, and to leave the classroom with a better understanding of the complexity of the world in which they live. I generally do not lecture to students; I prefer students to actively participate more than I may speak in class. Thus, I try to unsettle years of uncontested, indoctrinated knowledge, by relying upon a modified Socratic method as a dialectical mode of inquiry. But I also to force my students to reevaluate their own perceptions and sense of what constitutes authoritative truths. In classes where students leave confused or discomforted, they are also constantly thinking about the course. Classroom participation is typically a highly-weighted component and serves as a proving ground for student-centered debate. I try to provide students with a challenging environment that offers support and encouragement as their knowledge and competence grows.

Research Interests

His first book, “There’s No Place Like HBO? Race, Sexuality and Luxury American Entertainment”, is currently under peer review with The University of Texas Austin Press in its Film, Media, and Popular Culture series and his second book, tentatively entitled “Trans Lives on the Small Screen: The Racial Politics and Political Economics of (in)Visibility” is currently under review with Wayne State University Press. His research can be found in publications like The Journal of Men’s Studies; Studies in Contemporary Culture; The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons; The Journal of New Media & Culture; Studies in Humanities, and Radical Teacher, to name a few. His published book chapters can be found in edited collections by ABC-Clio, Praeger, Palgrave Macmillan, Information Age Press, McFarland and Cambridge Scholars Press, among others.

Consulting Interests

Selected Publications

2018: Teaching While Ugly: A Story of Racial Pulchritude, Privilege, and Pedagogy, Palgrave Macmillan

: Desert Pedagogy, Privilege and Power at Deep Springs College, Radical Teacher

: Queer Incrementalism and Same Sex Desire on ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, Television & New Media

College Service

: Committee Member - Liberal Studies Steering Committee
: Committee Member - Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Steering Committee

University Service

: Committee Member - Adult Student Learner Planning Committee
: Committee Member - Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reading Group

Professional Service

: Prepare/Grade Certification Exams - Hispanic Scholarship Fund
: Editorial Review Board Member - Queer Media Studies and Popular Culture
: Officer, Vice President - Popular Culture Association
: Editorial Review Board Member - Journal of Popular Culture
: Officer, Other Officer - Gamma Iota Omicron

Public Service

: Member - Kanwa Tho Lodge #636
: Member - Three Harbors Council, Boy Scouts of America
2023: Board Member - Civil Service Commission
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