Call for Papers


Submissions are now closed.

Special information:
SWPACA offers monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due December 1.  For more information, visit

Registration and travel information for the conference is available at

SWPACA also offers travel assistance to graduate and undergraduate students in the form of fellowships. For more information see

In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at

SWPACA Subject Area List:

Film, Television, Music, and Visual Media | Historic and Contemporary Cultures | Identities and Cultures | Language and Literature | Science Fiction and Fantasy | Teaching and the Profession | Eclectica


Film, Television, Music, and Visual Media

Adaptation: Literature, Film, and Culture
Chuck Hamilton, PhD, Northeast Texas Community College, English,

Open Description

The Adaptation: Literature, Film, and Culture area invites you to submit argumentative presentations ranging from critical essays to analyses selected from classic to contemporary film adaptations, and employing recognized research methodologies.

Alfred Hitchcock

Michael Howarth, PhD, Missouri Southern State University, English,

Open Description

Panels now forming for presentations on the films and career of Alfred Hitchcock. Listed below are some suggestions for possible presentations.

  • Hitchcock and Music
  • Hitchcock and Television
  • Hitchcock and Pedagogy
  • Hitchcock and Film Theory
  • Hitchcock and Film Genres
  • Hitchcock and Voyeurism
  • Hitchcock and the Silent Era
  • Hitchcock and Gender
  • Hitchcock and Black Humor

Scholars, teachers, professionals, grad students, and others interested in Alfred Hitchcock are encouraged to participate. The above list of topics suggests a few possible ways to consider Alfred Hitchcock’s work, but it is not final. Any other approaches to discussing the “master of suspense” are certainly welcome.

The American West: Film and Literature
Larry Van Meter, PhD, Blinn College, English,

Open Description

The Area Chair of the American West: Film and Literature area of the Southwest PCA/ACA conference is seeking paper proposals on any aspect of the American West in Literature or Film – including, but not limited to:

  • Popular Westerns or novels of the West
  • Film Westerns or films set in the West at any time
  • Gender/Masculinity Issues in “The Westerner”
  • Race in the West
  • John Wayne
  • The Hispanic West
  • Foreign Visions of the American West

Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul
Nick Gerlich, PhD, West Texas A&M University, Marketing,

Open Description

We are now accepting paper proposals for the conference’s panels on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

Over the course of five seasons and 62 episodes, Breaking Bad was been a hugely successful show on AMC. It concluded its run on September 29th 2013 with a finale episode viewed by over 10 million people. It spawned numerous social media fan groups, engaged viewers by using the popular StorySync platform as a second screen option for those watching it on live television. It also resulted in the critically acclaimed prequel Better Call Saul, which began airing in 2015.

Proposal topics may include, but are not limited to, the following aspects of BrBa and/or BCS:

  • Fandom
  • Commerce
  • Legal issues, copyright, etc.
  • Tax Incentives (state and local)
  • Economic Development, job creation, etc.
  • Social Media engagement
  • Content Analysis
  • Media Theory
  • Literary Criticism
  • BrBa/BCS and Gender: The Roles of Males and Females in the Show
  • BrBa/BCS and Philosophy
  • BrBa/BCS and Binge Viewing
  • Character development in BCS as it pertains to BrBa

This is only a partial list of topics related to Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. We will also gladly consider proposals that touch upon other topics and/or issues related to the show.

Computer Culture
Adam Crowley, PhD, Husson University, English,

Open Description

Proposals for papers are now being accepted for the area of Computer Culture.

COMPUTER is broadly defined as any computational device, whether smartphone or abacus, and any form of information technology, including the origins of concepts of interactive text that may predate computational devices as traditionally conceived.

CULTURE is rooted in the concept of cultural meaning. We ask not just operational questions such as, “How do people communicate using computers?” but questions of meaning such as, “What does it mean when people communicate using computers instead of using pre-computer approaches to communication?” Along these lines, we are interested in communication as well as creative practices/applications and how computer technologies shape them.

“Computer Culture” can be understood in a variety of ways:

  1. the culture of the computer, that is, as computers interact with each other, what culture do they have of their own?
  2. the culture around the computer, that is, (sub)cultures associated with the production, maintenance, use, and destruction of computers
  3. the culture through the computer, that is, explicit treatment of how computer mediation influences cultural phenomena that exist or have existed in forms that did not involve computer mediation, and what these influences mean
  4. the culture by the computer, that is, the ways in which new (sub)cultures or (sub)cultural phenomena have arisen because of computers and understandings of these given awareness of the nature and/or workings of computers

Example questions associated with Computer Culture would include, but not be limited to:

  1. What implications are there because of the powerfulness of (computer/information) technology; and are these implications beneficial, detrimental, inevitable, or avoidable?
  2.  What are the cultural origins of computers, computer/information technologies, and practices associated with them? What is the descriptive and prescriptive outlook for the conditions of those cultural forces associated with those cultural origins?
  3.  How do cultural forces (such as changes from one generation to the next, trends in education or society, or other cultural phenomena) impact (and how are they impacted by) computer/information technologies/market-forces, and what do these impacts (in either direction or both) mean?

Paper topics might include (but are not limited to) those that address:

  1. issues of (re)presentation through computers (website analysis and design);
  2. methods of discourse involving computers (blogging, Twitter, social networks, YouTube, viral video, live feeds);
  3. theories focused on the relationship between computers and culture, uses of computers in particular contexts and the impacts thereof (such as computers and pedagogy, online dating, virtual currencies, commerce, marketing, entertainment, etc.);
  4. the relationship between computers and social forces (such as journalism, community engagement, social change, politics, social media alternatives, etc.);
  5. security/privacy/fraud/surveillance and computers (such as security breaches, spam, scams, hoaxes, terrorism, etc.);
  6. creative practice, web art, generative and digital art, virtual performance;
  7. the self, the “second self,” identity formation/negotiation, anonymity;
  8. “cyberkids,” internet youth cultures;
  9. data visualization and digital geographies;
  10. hashtag thinking, data organization and archives, search predictions/autocomplete functions;
  11. cultural markers (such as social media trends, memes, internet fame);
  12. digital divides (such as internet inclusion/exclusion, user diversity, interface/software architectures, etc.);
  13. the general mediascape (such as issues of governance, mediation, ownership, the ‘public sphere’, crowdsourcing, etc.)

While we will consider any relevant paper, we have a preference for those that involve transferable methodological approaches. This is an interdisciplinary conference, and other conference attendees would benefit from being able to adapt your research methods to their future research.

Scholars, teachers, professionals, artists, and others interested in computer culture are encouraged to participate. Graduate students are also particularly welcome.


  • computer culture
  • data visualization
  • digital art
  • digital cultures
  • digital geographies
  • internet cultures
  • memes
  • privacy
  • remediation
  • social networks
  • surveillance
  • Twitter
  • virtual identities
  • YouTube

Consumerism and Culture
Melissa Tackett-Gibson, PhD, Sam Houston State University, Sociology,

Open Description

Proposals for individual papers and panels are now being accepted for the Consumerism and Culture area of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association 2018 Conference. Proposals of 200-250 words are accepted through the conference website: . The inclusion of a brief bio in the body of the proposal form is encouraged, but not required.

Presentations from historical, cultural studies, mass communication and critical perspectives are welcome. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • examinations of consumption patterns and meanings
  • Studies of the consumption of political, racial and activist speech in print and electronic media
  • examinations of consumer goods: product development, inventors, marketing, design
  • studies in advertising: graphic design, word & image, use of logos/slogans/jingles, persuasive devices, product placement, cross-advertising
  • the use of endorsements and various media in mass communication and advertising
  • sites of consumption, consuming activities, consumption on display
  • consumer behavior: motivations behind consumption; consumption and identity; consumer “taste”; and ethics of consumption
  • studies of the effects of consumer culture: physical waste, ecological distress, economic issues, sustainability, etc.
  • cross-cultural trends: consumerism, advertising, and consumer identity
  • the socio-cultural impact of product and service consumption
  • social structures, power and consumption

Film and History

Brad Duren, PhD, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Behavioral & Social Sciences,

Open Description

Proposals for individual presentations and roundtable discussions are now being sought for review in the area of Film and History. Our area is concerned with the impact of motion pictures on our society and how films represent and interpret history. It is an exciting, vibrant area at the SWPACA conference, and we look forward to another outstanding round of presentations.  Presentations can, for example, feature analyses of individual films and/or TV programs from historical perspectives, surveys of documents related to the production of films, or analyses of history and culture as explored through film. Genres could include historical films attempting to define history, propaganda films, documentaries, docudramas, newsreels and broadcast media, war films, music videos and concert films, reality shows, avant-garde, cinema vérité, actualités, and direct cinema. Proposals could consider some aspect of the intersections among film, history, society, and culture, exploring films as social and historical artifacts of the culture from which they arise as well as the role played by film in constructing, shaping, and re-imagining history. Papers may take a single film focus, make comparative considerations, or explore critical films focused on a given era, individual, or historical event.

Listed below are suggestions for possible presentations or panels, but topics not included here are also welcome.

  • Historical representations of race, ethnicity, and gender in fiction or non-fiction film
  • Biographies of key artistic, political, military, activist, or cinematic figures
  • Representations of borders, national characters and ideologies
  • Documentaries: How true is ‘The Truth?’
  • Film and social commentary
  • Politics and government in film
  • Film and the political economy
  • Histories of film production, the film industry, or the science and technology of film
  • Cult, alternative, and independent films and icons through history
  • The histories of particular film schools
  • Pedagogies of teaching film & history

Film Studies
Allen Redmon, PhD, Texas A&M University – Central Texas, English,

Open Description

The Film Studies area invites you to submit presentations on any topic germane to film studies – including, but not limited to, film as art, film as culture, and film as industry. Critical essays that employ recognized research methodologies are particularly desired. Paper presentations should present an arguable thesis or develop a compelling question. The most ideal papers will generate an ongoing conversation.

Film Theory and Aesthetics
Amy Fatzinger, PhD, University of Arizona, American Indian Studies,

Open Description

Proposals are now being sought for review in the Film Theory and Aesthetics area.  Listed below are possible topics; other topics in the area are also welcome.

  • Precinema, Early, and Silent cinema aesthetics
  • Definitions of periodicity: aesthetic, chronologic, theoretical
  • Nontheatrical, industrial, and educational film
  • Montage and Editing: Practice as Theory
  • History of Cinematography: Visual Effects from Silent to CGI
  • Spectatorship and Scopophilia
  • Auteur Theory
  • Genre Film & Genre Theory
  • Third Cinema, Fourth Cinema, and Indigenous Filmmaking
  • Theory & Aesthetics of Representation (Race, Gender, Culture)
  • Cinema Pedagogy: Teaching Content with Film
  • Adaptation: Intersections of Film Theory and cultural or literary theory

Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice
Judd Ruggill, PhD, University of Arizona,

Open Description

The Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice Area invites papers, panels, and other proposals on games (digital and otherwise) and their study and development. Proposals are welcome from any and all scholars (including graduate students, independent scholars, and tenured, tenure-track, and emeritus faculty) and practitioners (developers, artists, archivists, and so forth). Unusual formats, technologies, and the like are encouraged.

Possible topics include (but are in no way limited to):

  • Advertising (both in-game and out)
  • Alternative reality games
  • Archiving and artifactual preservation
  • Competitive/clan gaming
  • Design and development
  • Economic and industrial histories and studies
  • Educational games and their pedagogies
  • Foreign language games and culture
  • Game art/game-based art (including game sound)
  • Game engines and entertainment
  • Game streaming
  • Gender and sexual identity
  • Haptics and interface studies
  • Hardware/platforms
  • Histories of games
  • Localization
  • MOGs, MMOGs, and other forms of online/networked gaming
  • Performance
  • Pornographic games
  • Religion and games
  • Representations of race and gender
  • Representations of space and place
  • The rhetoric of games and game systems
  • Serious games
  • Strategy games
  • Table-top games and gaming
  • Technological, aesthetic, economic, and ideological convergence
  • Theories of play
  • Transmedia and games
  • Wireless and mobile gaming

Grateful Dead
Nicholas Meriwether, Center for Countercultural Studies,

Open Description

The Grateful Dead area welcomes papers and presentations on all aspects of the Grateful Dead phenomenon and its contexts, including music, lyrics, fan culture, the 1960s, the counterculture, art, and more. The Dead area is interdisciplinary and welcomes contributions from all fields and theoretical perspectives. To date, more than 26 disciplines and fields have participated in the Dead area, including musicology, literary criticism, history, anthropology, sociology, archival science, business theory, communications, museum studies, and more.

Horror (Literary and Cinematic)
Steffen Hantke, PhD, Sogang University, English,

Open Description

The area chair for Horror invites all interested scholars to submit paper proposals on any aspect of horror in literature, film, television, digital and online media, as well as in general culture. Given the strong showing of work on horror cinema in recent years, we hope to continue this tradition, but also to diversify into new and unconventional areas, especially with the addition in the last four years of roundtable sessions on a variety of popular topics.

If you are interested in participating in a roundtable event regarding horror, please contact the area chair with questions and suggestions for topics and presenters.

Music: Traditional, Political, Popular

Cody Smith, PhD, North Lake College, History,

Open Description

The Music: Traditional, Political, Popular Area invites submissions from individuals or organized panels (3 or 4 persons) focusing on any topic relating to all aspects of the historical and popular cultural study of music.  Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • individual artists or albums
  • genres of music
  • historical/geographic/cultural influences on music
  • music performances
  • publicity and promotion of music: critics, websites, magazines, street teams
  • music and art
  • technology and music
  • music and memory (nostalgia/preservation/museums/collectibles)
  • music on radio, on television, on stage, and in academia

Abstracts on any musical topic will be considered. (Please note: specific SWPACA areas exist for the Grateful Dead and Rap/Hip-Hop scholarship. Proposals on these topics should be directed accordingly.)

Scholars, teachers, professionals, and others interested in music-related topics are encouraged to participate.  Graduate students are also particularly welcome.

Mystery Science Theater and the Culture of Riffing
Robert G. Weiner, Texas Tech University Library,

Open Description

The Area chair seeks papers/presentations on Mystery Science Theater and the culture of riffing and Mash-up. In the fall of 1988 on a small public access channel, KTMA, in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area of Minnesota, a bizarre show appeared. It featured two hand-made, robot-appearing puppets and a man watching a movie and making comments to the screen. Little did its creator, Joel Hodgson, know that he had created a worldwide popular culture phenomenon known as Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST). The show lasted 10 seasons and spawned a theatrical feature film.

Now riffing movies, television, cartoons, and the rise of the mash-up have become very popular modes of expression. In 2015, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was given new life due to the largest Kickstarter drive for a film related project. 2017 saw Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return as a hit series on Netflix.

Possible Topics

  • The use of “name” actors in the reboot like Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, Jonah Ray
  • Streaming services as a way to open up Mystery Science Theater and Rifftrax to newer audiences.
  • The higher production values on the reboot. Does this hinder or help the show?
  • The Live 2017 shows
  • Audience Reception
  • Does the higher production value hurt the feel of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return?
  • Other kinds of riffing platforms such as Twitch (for videogames)
  • How did riffing become such an integral part of our culture through MST3K?
  • Pre-MST3K “riffing” like Mad Movies and the LA Connection.
  • Zombies and riffing (a good topic in light of the popularity of zombie studies)
  • iRiffs and the rise of personalized riffing by “amateurs”
  • Other fan riffing groups and individuals like Master Pancake Theater, Incognito Cinema Warriors, Josh Way, Laughterpiece Theater, etc.
  • Speaking of Animals
  • Fractured Flickers
  • Freaks and Geeks MST3K connection
  • Fan Culture and MST: The Misties (who are they and why)?
  • The original Sci Fi MST Game
  • Gender roles, women and MST
  • Frank Zappa and MST
  • Superhero movies (why are they so ripe for riffing)
  • Monty Python and MST
  • Comics and MST3K
  • Shakespeare and riffing
  • The remix of the movie trailer
  • The rise of “forgotten movies” that were used on MST
  • The rise of B-movie popularity as a result of being on MST
  • Christmas movies and MST
  • The pre-MST comedy careers of the cast members
  • The KTMA years compared to the Comedy Central Years compared to the Sci Fi Channel years compared to the Netflix version.
  • Movies that deserve the MST treatment but never received it
  • Mental Hygiene films and MST
  • The legal battle between Best Brains and Mr. Sinus Theatre (the roots and causes of this)
  • What were/are the cultural implications of the original invention exchanges in those early episodes of show?
  • What are the differences in the styles of Mike Nelson and Joel Hodgson as hosts for the show?
  • The theatrical feature film attempt, MST 3000 The Movie (trials and tribulations of getting director Jim Mallon’s big budget version of MST to the screen)
  • Jim Mallon’s genius as producer/director/character
  • Modern companies such as Laugh Tracks and MST’s influence on them
  • The differences of Tom Servo and Crow (difference in style and tone)
  • Actor Joe Don Baker and MST — a perfect marriage
  • Spy movies and MST
  • Monsters and MST
  • Attempts at creating continuity within the “host segments” — what worked and what didn’t (the difference in continuity between Comedy Central episodes and Sc Fi channel shows)
  • Cast characters (e.g., Mad Scientists, Evil Mothers, and weird aliens)
  • The hardcore statistical analysis found on websites by dedicated fans (e.g., riffs per show and other weird statistical data — reasons for these weird statistical things)
  • MST and the Web — how did the Internet help create such a rabid following?
  • Popular music and MST
  • Mary Jo Pehl, Bridgett Nelson, and the influence of women writers on MST
  • MST fan culture and university culture
  • TV’s Frank and MST and Frank Coniff’s role in America’s Funniest Home Videos
  • A look at the influence of music on MST (one could hear a reference to an obscure British band like Hawkwind on the same show as one that might mention a household artist like Brittney Spears or Johnny Cash, for example)
  • Bill Corbett as a playwright and performer
  • MST and Tape Trading Culture (Keep circulating the tapes some of the MST episodes admonished the fans)
  • Crow, Tom Servo and the bots in Popular Culture: Non-MST appearances (which continue to this day)
  • MST and the First Amendment to the Constitution: Why did the show always thank the authors of the First Amendment? How did the show use it? Did it push boundaries constitutionally?
  • KTMA and MST: Just how could a show like this get on cable access television in the first place? How did it become a movement? Were there glimpses of the greater things to come in those earlier episodes or not?
  • Torgo and Ortega: Cult Figures and MST — why so popular with fans?
  • The worse a movie is, the funnier and better an episode of MST: Why is that?
  • Paul Chaplin, unsung writer on MST
  • The MST writers were, and continue to be, masters of Popular Culture in all its forms (film, music, politics, etc.)
  • Movie references and MST — cultural and historical implications
  • MST terms and the vernacular (e.g., “Movie Sign”, “Poopie”, “Huzzah”) and their adaptation into everyday language)
  • What was Josh Weinstein’s role in those early MST episodes and his post MST career as producer?

Proposals on these and other relevant presentation topics will be considered.

Rap and Hip-Hop Culture
Robert Tinajero, PhD, Paul Quinn College, English,

Open Description

Proposals are now being accepted for the Rap and Hip Hop Culture area. We had excellent representation in this area last year and are looking to expand in both quantity and complexity for this year’s conference. We are particularly interested in proposals that address the following but will consider any proposal that deals with rap music and hip hop culture:

  • Intersections of Hip Hop and Pedagogy
  • Rap Music, Hip Hop Culture, and Space/Place
  • Theoretical approaches to Hip Hop (i.e., Language Theory/Postmodernism/Social Theory)
  • Rap, Hip Hop, and Academic Disciplinarity
  • Rhetorical Approaches to Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture
  • Rap, Hip Hop, and Film/Documentary
  • Hip Hop Subjectivities/Agency
  • Anthropological/Sociological approaches to Hip Hop Culture
  • Economics and Hip Hop Culture
  • Discussions of international Hip Hop
  • Intersections of Hip Hop and Religion/Theology
  • Hip Hop and Technology
  • Latino Hip Hop
  • Women and Hip Hop
  • Hip Hop in the age of Trump

As always, papers and panels that consider the myriad ways that rap music and hip hop culture impact and feed upon popular and American culture are encouraged. This area should be construed broadly, and we seek papers that aren’t afraid to take risks. Proposals from graduate students are particularly welcome.

Melanie Cattrell, PhD, Blinn College, English,

Open Description

The Television Area Chair invites interested scholars to submit papers on any aspect of television, past or present. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • television as a media format;
  • the possible future of television (including shows created for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, etc.);
  • television and society;
  • television and identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age, etc.);
  • television artifacts and rituals;
  • theory and criticism of television and/or the television business.

Theatre and Performance Studies
Monica Ganas, PhD, Azusa Pacific University, Theater,

Open Description

The Theater and Performance Area Chair invites interested scholars to submit papers on any aspect of theater or performance (history, current and past shows, growing trends, theater content, implications, formats, the possible future of the art form(s), theater effects or cultural impact, theater and society, theater and gender, theatrical artifacts and rituals, dramatic theory and criticism, the theater business, etc.).

Visual Arts
Nancy Kay, PhD, Independent Scholar,

Open Description

The Area Chair seeks submissions related to Visual Arts.  Topics can be drawn from, but are not limited to:

  • Art and culture/society
  • Southwestern and Western art
  • graphic arts
  • graffiti
  • mixed-media
  • traditional media
  • art education
  • art history
  • public art

We are aiming for variety and cross-disciplinary dialogue rather than discussions that are too narrowly focused.


Historic and Contemporary Cultures

American Studies and American History
Deborah Marinski, PhD, Ohio University – Southern Campus, History,

Open Description

The American Studies and American History subject area allows for a broad range of topics that address historical influences on American culture and/or cultural identity. Papers from a historical, interdisciplinary, and/or transnational perspective are encouraged. Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Labor
  • Class studies
  • Medicine
  • Regional and local history
  • Materialism
  • Urbanism
  • Public history and collective memory
  • Leisure activities
  • Entertainment
  • Ethnicity
  • Economics and American culture
  • Nationalism, citizenship, community
  • Specific eras/periods
  • American Studies as a field
  • Cultural history as a field

Beats, Counterculture, and Hipsters
Christopher Carmona, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Creative Writing,

Open Description

The Area Chair seeks paper and panel submissions to the “Beats, Counterculture, and Hipsters” area. Topics of interest might include Literature of the Beat Generation, Beat Culture and the Cold War, The Beats in Popular Culture, Women in the Beat Generation, African American Beats, Beat Appropriation of African American Culture, Moral Crisis of the Cold War and the Beat Generation, 1960s Counterculture (Hippies), Countercultural conflicts over race and gender, the Beat Movement and its influence on Popular Culture, Conservative Counterculture(s) of the postwar period, Literary Narratives of Counterculture and Utopianism, and studies on Hipsters in the past and in their current incarnations.

Classical Representations in Popular Culture
Benjamin Haller, PhD, Virginia Wesleyan College, Classics,,

Open Description

We are accepting papers for sessions on Classical Representations in Popular Culture.

Papers on any aspect of Greek and Roman antiquity in contemporary culture are eligible for consideration.

  • This year, Classical Representations in Popular Culture will devote a panel to the special topic of Greek and Roman Drama in Popular Culture:  potential topics include movie adaptations, modern performance/adaptation, Aristotelian composition or formal conventions of ancient theater in modern theatrical genres, reception/translation (in e.g., Shakespeare, Goethe, Racine, Moliere, Calderón de la Barca, Shelley, etc.)

Other potential topics include:

  • Cinema directly or indirectly reflecting aspects of the ancient world in cinema: recent films involving Classical themes which you might consider include The Legend of Hercules, Pompeii, La Grande Belezza, Inside Llewyn Davis, the new Ben Hur, as well as television series which engage with classical themes like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Battlestar Galactica.
  • Reception:
    • Literary or theoretical analysis of literature employing classical references or motifs, like Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, or Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad.
    • Classical themes in productions of theater, opera, ballet, music, and the visual arts.
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: Analysis of representations of classical history, literature, or philosophy in science fiction movies or books, as Edward Gibbons to Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy or the impact of Thucydides in Cold War cinema. Or, conversely, the influence of Science Fiction on representations of the ancient world in later cinema (e.g., how did George Lucas’ empire of the Star Wars franchise influence later representations of the Roman Empire?)
  • Pedagogy:  applications of classics in popular culture:  how can we use contemporary films, literature in the classroom?
  • Children’s Literature:  Greek and Roman mythology in children’s film, television, or literature.

Crafting, Crafters, and Craft Culture.
Janet Brennan Croft, Rutgers University Library,

Open Description

The Crafting, Crafters, and Craft Culture area is being launched for the 2018 conference to provide a home for considerations of the cultural labeling of craft in popular culture. Papers in this area might consider basic questions of art vs. craft as they intersect with gender or profitability; cultural histories of specific crafts; special collections in libraries, archives, or museums related to crafts; depictions of craft and crafters in media; craft media stars and their effect on culture; historical surveys of craft supply stores and shopping.

Some potential topics:

  • Gender and craft (is it craft if a woman makes it? what makes a craft feminine or masculine?)
  • Copyright and knockoffs (why is copyright different for recipes and clothing patterns than other intellectual products? what effect do cheap foreign copies have on the market for and perception of craft?)
  • Craft research resources (hand-on museums, text and realia collections)
  • Crafting and anthropology (how is the history of craft treated as part of human development?)
  • Craftivism (pussy hats, yarnbombing, subversive X-stitch motifs, etc.)
  • Craft as business (professional vs amateur crafting, selling products vs instructions)
  • Martha Stewart and other craft stars and their effect on culture
  • The effect of the Internet on craft culture
  • Representation of crafters in media and literature: Alison Hendrix (Orphan Black), Paris Gellar (Gilmore Girls), why they craft, comparison to how artists are depicted
  • Cultural sensitivity: appropriation, appreciation, adaptation, assimilation

Crime and Culture
Darrell Hamlin, PhD, Fort Hays State University, Criminal Justice,

Open Description

SWPACA will be sponsoring sessions in Crime and Culture at the conference. Popular conceptions of law, justice, policing, criminal enterprise, the corrections system, and forensic investigations are broad topic areas that could be explored in the context of a variety of cultural landscapes. Traditional popular media, such as film, television, print or on-line text, graphic novels, comics and gaming platforms will fit well into this area, through both fiction and non-fiction genres. Interpretations related to cultural history, sociology, anthropology, art, and design are also appropriate and welcome in this area.

Food and Culture
Laura Anh Williams, PhD, New Mexico State University, Women’s Studies,

Open Description

Individual paper and panel proposals that explore topics connected to food, eating, and cooking in literature, film, and other popular and American culture are now being considered.  Scholars, graduate students, teachers, foodies, and others interested in the intersection of culinary production/consumption and culture are encouraged to submit proposals.

Topics may address, but are not limited to:

  • Gender/sexuality and food
  • Race/ethnicity and food
  • Food in literature
  • Food in film
  • Food and globalization/colonization/assimilation/resistance
  • Food practices and ecology
  • Food deserts/ race, class, and food

The Geek and Popular Culture
Kathryn Lane, PhD, Northwest Oklahoma State University, English,

Open Description

The Geek and Popular Culture: A Love/Hate Relationship

It’s every child’s schoolyard nightmare—to be called a “nerd.” From an early age, we know that being labeled a “nerd” or a “geek” isn’t a good thing. It implies too much knowledge and too few social skills. Yet, as much as we don’t want to be labeled a “geek,” we value their knowledge and expertise, as Best Buy’s labeling their technical support “The Geek Squad” exemplifies. Furthermore, the popularity of the reigning “nerd” powerhouse The Big Bang Theory (now available nightly via syndication) or any number of other series—NBC’s Chuck and the ubiquitous “Nerd Herd,” BBC’s Doctor Who, Fox’s 24 and Touch, or the Sci-Fi Channel’s Eureka—proves that America may want to watch “geeks” and use them but we “wouldn’t wanna be them.”

America’s love/hate relationship with geeks, or nerds, is not new. The power of the nerd character was solidified in the early 90s with the introduction of the character Steve Urkel onto the series Family Matters. Urkel, with his heavy-rimmed glasses, suspenders, and pocket protector saved the series from cancellation with his first appearance. The new millennium has seen “reality” television that focused on geeks and transformation in Beauty and the Geek, reality television that allows us all to embrace our own “nerd” in the case of MythBusters, as well as crime dramas that cannot function without the “squints”—Numb3rs, Bones, Scorpion, etc. It appears that nerds are here to stay which begs the question: is it that American culture is becoming more accepting of difference or have we made “geeking out” okay and thereby created a new level of “geekdom”?

This area seeks to examine the relationship between popular culture and the ever-changing geek or nerd – particularly looking at the way the nerd has changed over time and what these changes can mean for the future of “nerds” of every type. Topics could include: defining the “geek,” the geek versus the nerd, female geeks or nerds, depictions of geeks, depictions of nerds, tropes surrounding nerds/geeks, Hollywood’s pseudo-nerd creations, the “babe” in nerd/geek television series or films, differences between the two terms and their depictions in television or film, the power of the nerd, the social acceptance of the term “geek,” and much more.

Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Digital Humanities in Popular Culture
David D. Oberhelman, PhD, Oklahoma State University Library

Open Description

The Libraries, Archives, Museums and Popular Culture area solicits paper proposals from librarians, archivists, curators, graduate students, faculty, collectors, writers, independent scholars, and other aficionados (yes! including people who use libraries, archives, and museums!) of popular culture and information settings of all types. We also encourage proposals for slide shows, video presentations, panels, and roundtables organized around common themes. Proposals on digital humanities and other forms of digital scholarship and data-driven projects are also welcome.

Some suggested topics include:

    • Histories and profiles of museums, archives, libraries, special collections, and other popular culture resources; a chance to show off what you’ve got to scholars who might want to use it
    • Intellectual freedom or cultural sensitivity issues related to popular culture resources
    • Book clubs and reading groups, city- or campus-wide reading programs, special exhibits, outreach programs
    • Collection and organization of popular culture resources; marketing and ethical issues
    • Wikipedia, YouTube, Google books, social networking, EBay, gaming, and their impact on libraries, archives, museums, and popular culture collections
    • The role of public libraries, archives, and museums in economic hard times and natural disasters
    • Oral history projects
    • Digital humanities and other digital/data-based projects on popular culture, the Southwest, and other relevant subjects, both those based in libraries, archives, or museums and those in academia or other organizations.


We encourage proposals for panels and roundtables organized around common themes.

Material Culture and the Built Environment
Lisa Schrenk, PhD, University of Arizona, Architectural History,

Open Description

The Material Culture and the Built Environment area explores various ways that we shape and are shaped by man-made environments and objects. Presentations in this area may address any type of architecture or material good. This includes, but is not limited to, the impact of environmental conditions or cultural developments (including social, ideological, political, or technological) on the design of spaces (buildings or landscapes) or products. Topics from any time period or culture are welcomed. Those relating to the U.S. Southwest (architecture in particular) are especially desired, as there is an opportunity for papers in this subcategory to be published in a future issue of the Journal of the Southwest.

Proposals are welcomed for individual papers, full panels, or roundtable discussions from faculty, graduate students, independent scholars and other experts in an area of the built environment or material culture. This is a great conference for young scholars and those working on topics relating to popular and/or American culture.

Mothers, Motherhood, and Mothering in Popular Culture
Kathleen Lacey, SWPACA Leadership Institute Fellow, University of Nebraska – Lincoln,

Open Description

Proposals are now being accepted for the Mothers, Motherhood, and Mothering in Popular Culture area! We are looking for papers/presentations/performances that address mothers, motherhood, and/or mothering as seen within popular culture, such as through:

  • representations (via TV, film, magazines, online media, literature, etc.) of mothers, motherhood, and/or mothering – including pregnancy, comparison to fathers, etc.
  • experiences of mothers, motherhood, and/or mothering and variances by race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, class, age, ability, etc.
  • theories related to mothers, motherhood, and/or mothering,
  • studies about/with mothers, and
  • pedagogical applications of research/writing relating to mothers, motherhood, and/or mothering.

Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, as motherhood studies is a rich and fertile (hah!) ground for research and discovery.

Papers/presentations/performances incorporating intersectionalities of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age, ability, citizenship, nationality, and/or class are particularly encouraged. Papers from graduate students are welcomed!

Motor Culture and the Road
Stacy Rusnak, PhD, Georgia Gwinnett College, Film,

Open Description

Motor Culture and the Road welcomes papers that engage with a variety of topics that cover motor culture and/or representations of “the road.”  There are wide sweeping possibilities for this focus of study, and therefore multiple disciplines can be represented through this area.   Motor Culture and the Road can simply be about automobiles, travel and/or mobility; but it also is much more expansive to include topics about community building, roadside myths, and/or nostalgia about the past.  However one chooses to interpret the terms motor and road, there is little doubt that both have been influential in shaping popular culture.  Writers, musicians, photographers and screenwriters have long used the image of the car and the open road as sources of inspiration.
This call for papers seeks intriguing and unique approaches to the topic of Motor Culture and the Road.  Studies of the past, present or future of motor culture and the road are all of interest for this conference.   Please join us for the 38th annual conference just steps away from Route 66 for an engaging, interdisciplinary investigation of the increasingly popular and diverse representations of mobility and our culture(s).  Our goal is to leave the conference with a broader understanding of the potentialities of motor culture and the road, the emerging pedagogy in this area, new methodologies for studying motor culture and the road, and our roles as citizens in this culture.

Proposal topics for Motor Culture and the Road might include, but are not limited to:

  • Nostalgia (1950s, 1980s, etc.)
  • Car Culture and the Pin-up Model
  • Cruising (History, traditions, rituals)
  • Cars and Music (“Little Deuce Coupe” – The Beach Boys, “Drive My Car” – The Beatles, “Little Red Corvette” – Prince…)
  • TV and Car Shows (Discovery Channel’s Loud and Fast and Jesse James: Outlaw Garage …)
  • Economic and/or Industrial Future of Car Manufacturing
  • “Auto-pilot” vs. Self-Driving – Driving Experiences in the Future
  • Famous Film Cars or road movies
  • Fashion – Motorcycle / Car Inspired Apparel
  • Strong Female Characters ( For example, Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road)
  • Famous vehicles such as the semi-truck from Maximum Overdrive (1986), “Christine” from Stephen King’s film, or Dragula from the TV Series The Munsters
  • documentaries and/or travelogues
  • videogames, graphic novels, fiction, radio, art
  • car or motorcycle commercials
  • car or motorcycle history (models and styles, classic and modern, the industry)
  • lowriders, hot rods, custom cars/choppers and racial/ethnic, class, or gender identity
  • car / biker shows: Sturgis, South Dakota (local) or Yokohama Mooneyes, Japan (global)
  • histories of roads, routes, highways, traffic
  • GPS, Google Maps, automobility
  • Route 66 and roadside architecture
  • Nation and/ or citizenship, region, locality
  • advertising, symbols, propaganda
  • borders, real and imagined
  • The road and post-apocalyptic landscapes / “The road to nowhere”
  • Environmental impacts and ecological issues
  • Popular automobile robots like the Transformers or the Jaegers (Pacific Rim)
  • Representations of the motorized robot in anime or manga

Philosophy and Popular Culture
Katherine Sugg, PhD, Central Connecticut State University, English,

Open Description

In the last decade there has been a dedicated exploration of popular culture as it relates to aspects of philosophy, and how philosophy relates to popular culture, and as such we welcome proposals that investigate and examine the intersections between philosophy and popular culture. Any and all aspects of philosophy and popular culture will be considered.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Philosophical issues explored in popular culture
  • Views of philosophy in popular culture
  • Philosophical frameworks engaged in popular culture
  • Representations of philosophy and/in popular culture
  • Elements of popular culture analysis
  • Philosophy and film
  • Philosophy and television
  • Philosophy and the fine arts
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Philosophy and graphic novels/comic books
  • Issues of identity and popular culture
  • Conceptual entities of identity and popular culture
  • Issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and popular culture
  • Epistemology and Popular Culture
  • Phenomenology and Popular Culture

Adam Crowley, PhD, Husson University, English,

Open Description

The Politics area is particularly concerned with portrayals of politics, politicians, and the political process in American and international popular culture. Other possible areas of discussion can include rhetoric of politicians, politics in the news media, political satire, politics and culture, and popular trends in politics. There is no need for the political topic addressed in your proposal to be current; indeed, proposals about political history, or representations of historical political events in popular culture, are encouraged. Works based on documentaries and non-fiction works, as well as fictional works, may be included. Scholars interested in proposing to this area are encouraged to submit abstracts for papers which broadly address these themes.

Warren Kay, PhD, Merrimack College, Religious & Theological Studies,

Open Description

Organizers seek submissions to the RELIGION area. Proposals are invited on any of a broad range of topics and perspectives on RELIGION, including (but not limited to) the following:

Art, Literature, Media, Visual Culture, Consumerism, Politics, Religion & Sports, Science & Religion

All forms of religion are open for discussion.

Science, Technology, and Culture
Aaron Adair, PhD, Independent Scholar,

Open Description

The Area Chair seeks submissions to the Science, Technology, and Culture area. Proposals are invited on any of a broad range of topics and perspectives on science and technology, including (but not limited to) the following:

Politics, Education, Media, Literature, Marketing, Art, Visual Culture, Consumerism

All forms of science and technology are open for discussion.

Sociology of Popular Culture
Bruce Day, PhD, Central Connecticut State University, Sociology,

Open Description

The Sociology of Popular Culture area seeks a broad range of topics that use Social Theory and research methodology to discuss the influence of popular culture on; 1) Identities, 2) groups, 3) social structures, and 4) social institutions. Papers that explore the contributions of sociology to the study of popular culture are also encouraged. Subjects may include, but are not restricted to:

  • Social theory and the fine arts
  • Media representation and inequality
  • Sociology of the Media (film, TV, music, print, internet)
  • Social media
  • Issues of race, gender and social class in popular culture
  • Popular culture as a pedagogical tool to teach sociological concepts
  • Consumption and production
  • Cultural rituals
  • Audiences studies
  • The Culture Industry
  • Meaning and content/Symbolic Interactionism
  • Globalization of popular culture

Shakespeare in Popular Culture
Jessica Maerz, PhD, University of Arizona, Theatre Studies,

Open Description

The Shakespeare in Popular Culture area welcomes proposals that treat the convergence of Shakespeare, pop culture, and mediatization more broadly.

Potential topics might include: global Shakespeares; inter- and cross-cultural Shakespeares (& his contemporaries); Shakespearean auteurs; digital Shakespeares; screen Shakespeares; Shakespeare and the digital humanities; and postmodern Shakespeares.

Stardom and Fandom
Lynn Zubernis, PhD, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Counselor Education,

Open Description

The Area Chair for Stardom and Fandom invites paper or panel proposals on any aspect of stardom or fandom. The list of ideas below is limited, so if you have an idea that is not listed, please suggest the new topic. We are an interdisciplinary area and encourage submissions from multiple perspectives and disciplines.

Topics might include:

  • Studies of individual celebrities and their fans
  • Studies focused on specific fandoms
  • The reciprocal relationship between stars and fans
  • Impact of celebrity and fame on identity construction, reconstruction and sense of self
  • Reality television and the changing definition of ‘stardom’
  • The impact of social media on celebrity/fan interaction
  • Celebrity/fame addiction as cultural change
  • The intersection of stars and fans in virtual and physical spaces (Twitter, Tumblr, conventions)
  • Celebrity and the construction of persona
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching stardom and fandom
  • Anti-fans and ‘haters’
  • Fan shame, wank, and fandom policing
  • Gendered constructions of stars and fans
  • Historical studies of fandom and fan/celebrity interaction

War and Culture
Steffen Hantke, PhD, Sogang University, English,

Open Description

The chair for the “War and Culture” area invites all interested scholars to submit papers on any aspect of the intersection of war and culture in literature, film, television, comics, and digital media; on cultural aspects of representation, mobilization, and memory in journalism, architecture, music, and painting; on American life and culture during wartime, etc. Especially encouraged are submissions on the culture of war protest, conscientious objectors, deserters, and anti-war activism.

If you are interested in organizing and/or in participating in a roundtable event regarding War and Culture, please contact the area chair with questions and suggestions for topics and presenters.


Identities and Cultures

African American / Black Studies
Debbie Olson, PhD, Missouri Valley College, English,

Open Description

The African American / Black Studies area of the conference welcomes proposals regarding any aspect of African American life, culture, performance, literature, demographics, history, law, politics, economics, education, health care, art, religion, social sciences, business, representations in popular culture, music, the diaspora, Africa, or any other issue relevant to African American / Black Studies and culture.

Asian Popular Culture / The Asian American Experience
Elaine Cho, PhD, Eastfield College, English,

Open Description

Asian Popular Culture / The Asian American Experience is a subject area that covers a wide variety of topics. Proposals for individual papers and panels on Asian popular culture or Asian American life and culture are welcome. The list of topics is suggested, but not limited to:

  • Film
  • Literature
  • Fashion
  • Family
  • Food
  • Music
  • Asian American Experience/Identity
  • Transcultural Representations in Asian Pop Culture
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Travel

Chicano/a Literature, Film, and Culture
Lupe Linares, PhD, College of St. Scholastica, English,

Open Description

Panels and individual papers on all aspects of Chicana, Chicano, and Chicanx culture are encouraged for our upcoming conference. The Chicana/o/x Literature, Film, and Culture area tends to be both multicultural and interdisciplinary, and panels and individual papers may explore any issues relevant to Chicana/o/x cultural studies.

Presentations might examine themes relevant to Chicana/o/x culture and politics, including but not limited to:


Proposals that address any aspect of Chicana/o/x culture are welcome.

Disability Studies
Lexey Bartlett, PhD, Fort Hays State University, English,

Open Description

Submissions are welcomed that apply disability studies in any area of cultural, historical, or literary research, or that apply disability studies in conjunction with another theoretical approach, such as queer studies, feminist or gender studies, issues of diversity, and so on. Work addressing all media and cultural contexts (literature, TV, film, games, social media/web media, laws, social and cultural practices, politics, and so on) from a disability studies or combined approach is welcome.

Some possibilities include:

  • Historical or cultural studies research into attitudes toward disability
  • Legal, social, or cultural research into treatments of disability
  • Research on the representation of disability in textual or graphic literature, drama, television, film, ephemera, games, or other cultural objects
  • Work on technology and disability

Native American/Indigenous Studies
Margaret Vaughan, PhD, Metropolitan State University, Ethnic Studies,

Open Description

Come present with us! Proposals are now being accepted for the Native/Indigenous Studies area. Listed below are some suggestions for possible presentations, but topics not included here are welcomed and encouraged. Paper topics can include transnational and international Indigenous issues.

Topics in the area at past conferences have included:

  • Cyberculture and social media
  • Native representations in popular culture (television, comic books, graphic novels, video/computer games, etc.)
  • Indigenous methodologies and interpretative frameworks
  • Queer theory and Native Studies
  • Teaching Native American Studies
  • Native art and artists
  • Popular culture and language preservation
  • Native American and Indigenous Literature
  • Indigenous resistance, regional or global (treaty rights, incarceration issues, sports mascots, etc.)
  • Native peoples’ relationships with various Communities of Color
  • Landscapes and Indigenous ecologies
  • Travel, tourism, and Indigenous nations
  • Native sovereignty and media

Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Pat Tyrer, PhD, West Texas A&M University, English and Modern Languages,

Open Description

The area chair for Women, Gender, and Sexuality invites all interested scholars to submit proposals on any aspect of women, gender, and sexuality in literature, film, television, digital, and online as well as general culture. Given the strong showing of work on gender issues in cinema in recent years, we hope to continue this tradition, but also to diversify into new and unconventional areas, especially with the addition of roundtable sessions on a variety of popular topics.\


Language and Literature

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir, and Personal Narrative
Melinda McBee, PhD, Collin College, English,

Open Description

Paper proposals on any aspect of biography, autobiography, memoir, and personal narrative are welcome. Literary papers as well as creative works will be accepted.

Captivity Narratives
B. Mark Allen, PhD, South Texas College, History and Philosophy,

Open Description

Panels are now forming for presentations regarding all aspects (historical, literary, cultural, etc.) of Captivity Narratives. All topics and approaches to the genre are welcomed. Graduate students/future teachers are particularly welcome to participate – or to simply register to attend the conference and its captivity narrative panels.

Children’s / Young Adult Literature and Culture
Diana Dominguez, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Literatures and Cultural Studies,
Assistant Area Chair: Renae L. Mitchell, SWPACA Leadership Institute Fellow, University of New Mexico,

Open Description

Panels are now being formed in the Children’s / Young Adult Literature and Culture area. Scholars, researchers, professionals, teachers, graduate students and others interested in this area are encouraged to submit an abstract.

This area covers a wide variety of possible mediums: traditional book/literature culture, but also comics, graphic novels, film, television, music, video games, toys, internet environment, fan fiction, advertising, and marketing tie-ins to books and films, just to name a few.  Proposals on fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or cross-genre topics are welcome.  Interdisciplinary approaches are especially welcome, as are presentations that go beyond the traditional scholarly paper format.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Diversity in Children’s and YA literature (gender, race/ethnicity, disability, body image, sexual identity)
  • Use of innovative or “novel” formats for both children’s and YA literature
  • The next “big” thing in children’s and YA literature
  • Film adaptation issues
  • Historical approaches to children’s and YA literature and culture
  • New readings of children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Re-imaginings of myth, fairy tale, and other traditional stories
  • Explorations of specific authors in the children’s and YA areas
  • Fan fiction and fan followings of books, films, and authors
  • Beyond books and films
  • Awards for children’s and YA literature (issues and controversies)

Proposals on other topics related to Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture will be read with interest.

Cormac McCarthy
Katherine Sugg, PhD, Central Connecticut State University, English,

Open Description

The Area Chair of the Cormac McCarthy Area of the Southwest PCA/ACA conference is seeking paper proposals on any aspect of the work of Cormac McCarthy, including novels, plays, and television and film scripts and adaptations.  We invite presentations about all facets of McCarthy’s work in forms ranging from critical essays to analyses employing recognized research methodologies. The chair also welcomes pre-formed panels, but will need submissions to be uploaded individually as required by the SWPACA. Paper presentations should be 15 minutes and should present an arguable thesis or develop a compelling question.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • McCarthy and the West
  • McCarthy and apocalypse
  • Narration and historical imaginaries in McCarthy’s work
  • Narrative theory approaches to McCarthy’s writing
  • Gender and sexuality studies approaches to McCarthy’s work
  • McCarthy and Hollywood
  • Issues in film adaptation
  • Neoliberal discourse and/in McCarthy
  • Southern gothic and its meaning now
  • Horror and McCarthy

Creative Writing (Poetry, Fiction)
Jerry Bradley, PhD, Lamar University, English,

Open Description

The Creative Writing sessions at SWPACA seek original writing on any theme and in any genre (poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, drama). Presentations and panels on creative writing pedagogy will also be considered.

Submit your abstract or creative writing piece to the conference’s submission database.

Eco-Criticism and the Environment
Jeremy Elliott, PhD, Abilene Christian University, Language and Literature,

Open Description

The Ecocriticism and the Environment area welcomes abstracts on film, literature, advertising, video games, social media, architecture, music, religion, and really any other method of human expression.

Potential topics include:

  • how can ecocriticism speak to digital realities/emergent realities in video games and other immersive experiences?
  • to what degree does our built environment inform our conception of physical nature?
  • how do stories that we tell about our natural environments explain something about our understanding of the natural world?
  • how can the stories we tell help create a more productive environmental future?

These ideas are representative, and certainly not an exhaustive list.

European Popular Culture and Literature
Tyler Blake, PhD, MidAmerica Nazarene University, English,

Open Description

Papers are now being accepted on topics related to any aspect of European popular culture and literature. Scholars, graduate students, instructors, and others interested in European popular culture and literature are invited to participate. European novels, poetry, plays, film, television, fashion, food, religion, music, folkways & mores are possible topics.

Folklore Studies
Helen McCourt, PhD, Collin College, English,

Open Description

The Folklore Studies panel seeks (presents/requests) presentations on any area of folklore studies including folklore and literature, social customs, food lore, myths and legends, and so on. The study does not need to be restricted to folklore as it appears strictly in literature, but can take a wide ranging view on all aspects of folklore as it presents itself historically, socially, and literarily.

Graphic Novels, Comics, and Popular Culture
Robert G. Weiner, Texas Tech University Library,

Open Description

The area chair seeks presentation proposals on Graphic Novels, Comics, and Popular Culture.

Any aspect of Comics and Graphic Novels in Popular Culture will be considered, but particular attention will be paid to those presentations that discuss distinctive American aspects of comics and graphic novels in the context of history and the content. Why is the superhero as we know it today a uniquely American creation? Why is the birth of the comics industry tied to the Jewish American experience? Does the Americanism of comics and graphic novels have anything to say to the world today or have other styles such as manga, Bande dessinée, or fumetto have more of an impact today?

Possible panel/discussion topics:

  • Comics podcasts. With so much comics-related news on websites, another form that has taken off in recent years includes the podcast/radio show. How well do these podcasts relate comic/graphic novels news? We have podcasts on the Golden Age of comics, superhero comics, and most recently The Comics Alternative, which goes beyond superheroes to discuss the independents. What impact do podcasts like this have?
  • The concept of the super-villain!  There is much scholarly literature on the superhero but not nearly as much on the super-villain. Yet a superhero is usually only as good or interesting as their super-villain counterpart. Stan Lee said that coming up with interesting super-villains is often difficult. Why? How have super-villains in comics changed over the years? What makes a super-villain like the Joker or Magneto so compelling? We would welcome full panels on super-villains.
  • What is the future of the superhero-based movie? Will the superhero movie continue to be popular? Are people tired of the superhero movie?  Has the superhero film run its course?
  • With the success of Sony and Marvel Studios Spider-Man: Homecoming do you think more collaboration is forthcoming say between Fox and Marvel or Universal and Marvel?
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching graphic novel content. This has become an increasingly important part of comic studies, and the area chair seeks those scholars who would like to present on this topic.

Other topics:

  • Sequential art and storytelling
  • Manga, anime and the movies
  • Comic conventions/fan culture
  • Particular artists or writers (Bendis, Steranko, Kirby, Everett, Niles, etc.)
  • The rise of the graphic novel
  • What is a graphic novel?
  • History of newspaper comics
  • Gay characters in comics
  • Film and superheroes
  • Adapting graphic novels for the screen
  • Racism and the X-Men
  • Spider-Man as the Everyman
  • Cartoon Network: Good or bad for comics?
  • Comics and philosophy
  • Graphic novels as outlets for social justice (e.g., World War III)
  • Comics as political satire (e.g., Tom Tomorrow, Addicted To War)
  • Horror comics
  • “The Resurrection of Captain America” – Why NO comic character ever stays dead.
  • DC, Marvel, and comic corporations
  • Comics studies and film studies: How do the two intersect?
  • The definition of the superhero
  • Indies and their role
  • Comics and graphic novels around the world (e.g., Tintin, Asterix)
  • The scholarly study of graphic novels/comics in the academy
  • Libraries and graphic novels

Lisa Wagner, PhD, University of Louisville, Classical and Modern Languages,

Open Description

Submissions for panels and individual papers on all aspects of Linguistics are welcome. Submissions on the following topics in Applied Linguistics are especially encouraged:

  • Linguistic Landscapes
  • Bilingualism
  • Language in the Media
  • L2 Teaching and Learning
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Language and Gender

Literature (General)
Samantha Lay, PhD, University of West Alabama, English,

Open Description

The Area Chair is now accepting proposals to the “Literature (General)” category. This area will provide a forum for scholarly presentations on literary subjects outside of our more specific literature areas. Before submitting to the General area, please peruse the specific area list on this page.

Areas of interest might include:

  • Literary theory
  • Literary history
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to literary analysis
  • Aesthetics
  • Experimental writing (other than poetry – see specific area lists)
  • Genre criticism
  • Historical or cultural criticism
  • Regional literatures
  • Popular forms of literary expression beyond our noted areas

Mystery / Detective Fiction
Lexey Bartlett, PhD, Fort Hays State University, English,

Open Description

As popular genres, mystery and detective fiction reflect a wide range of changes in society in contemporary works, but they also have a venerable classic tradition. Submissions are welcomed that address mystery and detective fiction from both ends of this spectrum and every point in between.

Some possibilities:

  • Research addressing or applying theoretical or structural topics in the genre
  • Work focusing on any subgenre or aspect of mystery and detective fiction, from the hard-boiled to the cozy and from the latest trends to the classics
  • Work applying other theoretical approaches to representations of detectives and other characters from a wide range of racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities
  • Papers addressing particular regional aspects of mystery or detective fiction
  • Work on international writers in the genre
  • Analyses of television or film adaptations of the genre

Myth and Fairy Tales
Sheila Dooley, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Writing and Language Studies,

Open Description

All scholars working in the areas of myth and/or fairy tales are invited to submit paper or panel proposals for the upcoming SWPACA Conference. Panels are now forming on topics related to all aspects of myths and fairy tales and their connections to popular culture. To participate in this area, you do not need to present on both myths and fairy tales; one or the other is perfectly fine. Presentations considering both genres are of course welcome and can stimulate interesting discussions. Proposals for forming your own Myth or Fairy Tale-focused panel – especially panels focused on one particular myth/tale – are encouraged.

Paper topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Where Fairy Tales and Myth Overlap
  • Non-Western Myths and Fairy Tales
  • Revised Fairy Tales
  • Fairy Tales in/as “Children’s Literature”
  • Disney
  • Urban Fairy Tales
  • Ethnic Myths and Fairy Tales
  • Gendered Readings of Myths and Fairy Tales
  • Postcolonial Myths and Fairy Tales
  • Myths and Fairy Tales in Advertising Culture
  • Reading Myths and Fairy Tales in the Popular Culture of Past Centuries
  • Performing Myths and Fairy Tales: Drama and/or Ritual
  • Genres of Myths and/or Fairy Tales: Film, Television, Poetry, Novels, Music, Comic Books, Picture Books, Short Stories, or Graphic Novels

Poetry and Poetics (Critical)
Scarlett Higgins, PhD, University of New Mexico, English,

Open Description

We are now forming panels for presentations of American poetry and poetics criticism at our 2018 conference. There are no limits in regard to historical period, topic, or theme, and we welcome panel proposals, especially those that include panelists from multiple institutions.

Poet-critics who may wish to participate in the readings panels should contact Jerry Bradley, Area Chair of Creative Writing [Poetry, Fiction], via the SWPACA website.

Rhetoric and Technical Communication
Robert Galin, University of New Mexico – Gallup, English and Communications,

Open Description

We invite proposals for individual or panel presentations that relate to the teaching, practice, and/or analysis of how rhetoric and technical communications/technical writing influence or are influenced by culture.

We look forward to a variety of ideas and emphases, though papers of similar orientations will be grouped together in sessions whenever possible. Papers may focus on ways in which popular and American culture inform the pedagogical, theoretical, and practical work of rhetoric and technical communication.

Sample emphases (these are not limitations, just ideas): Rhetoric and Civic Humanism, Poetics and Rhetoric in Everyday Life, Technical Writing for Non-Techies, Rhetorical Analysis in Political Campaigns, Rhetorical Analyses across Cultures and Disciplines, Technical Writing and Real Life.


Science Fiction and Fantasy

Apocalypse, Dystopia, and Disaster in Culture
Shane Trayers, PhD, Middle Georgia State College – Macon Campus, English,

Open Description

The Apocalypse, Dystopia, and Disaster in Culture Area is calling for papers about anything apocalyptic, dystopic, or disaster-related.  This can be in movies, television, literature, graphic novels, or any other cultural examples of disaster, dystopia, or the end of the world.

This year did not disappoint in these topics, including Stranger Things, Handmaid’s Tale, The Expanse, Dark Tower, Guardians of the Galaxy, Into the Badlands, Westworld and many, many more. This area is interested in all types of theories, both real world and fictional.

Please note that this area is specifically for those papers related to the apocalypse, dystopia, and/or disaster.  For example, there is now a separate Zombie Culture area at the conference, so if the proposal is about the “zombie apocalypse” it goes here, but if it is just about zombies, then it goes to that area. See the Zombie Culture CFP at

Ideas for topics on Apocalypse, Dystopia, and Disaster (not a comprehensive list):

  • Film and TV: Westworld, The Expanse, Handmaid’s Tale, Dark Tower, Stranger Things, Star Trek Discovery, Into the Badlands, OA, The Man in the High Tower, Resident Evil, GhostbustersThe 5th Wave, ZooRiddick, Twelve MonkeysThe Scorch TrialsJurassic WorldMad Max, Killjoys, Dark Matter, Between, Chappie, The Leftovers, Sharknado, The Last Ship, Edge of Tomorrow, The Giver, Godzilla, Resurrection, Snowpiercer, The 100, Mad Max, Divergent, Defiance, Elysium, Oblivion, Sharknado, This is the End, After Earth, Adventure Time, Melancholia, Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Terminator, 2012, The Core, Daybreakers, Zombieland, Night of the Comet, Armageddon, The War of the Worlds, Last Night, 12 Monkeys, The Road, Dark Angel, Jericho, Children of Men, The Matrix, Crimson Tide, Invasion, V, Contagion, Dante’s Peak, The Island, The Day the Earth Stood Still and many more.
  • Literature: Life as We Knew ItWhen She WokeReady Player OneFind MeThe 5th Wave , Feed Uglies, J, Station ElevenBrave New World, The Bees, Rot and Ruin, Matched, Infinite Jest, Oryx and Crake, Breathe, World War Z, Pesthouse, The Road, Children of Men, Alas Babylon, The Stand
  • Graphic novels and video games: Y: The Last Man, Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead
  • Real examples: “Prepper” communities and publications, natural disasters, Paris and Orlando shootings, Atomic culture.

Or any other works/topics related to apocalypse, dystopia, or disaster!

Dr. Who, Torchwood, and Whoverse Studies

Melissa Tackett-Gibson, PhD, Sam Houston State University, Sociology,

Open Description

Proposals for individual papers and panels are now being accepted for the Dr. Who, Torchwood and Whoverse Studies area of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association 2018 Conference. Proposals of 200-250 words are accepted through the conference website: The inclusion of a brief bio in the body of the proposal form is encouraged, but not required.

Presentations from cultural studies, film, sociology, mass communication and critical perspectives are welcome. All must relate to television shows in the Dr. Who universe, published fiction (including fan fiction), and other forms of Who-related narratives and discourse. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Gender and sexuality
  • Powered relationships, (in)justice and discrimination
  • Human nature, mortality, eschatology and spirituality
  • Violence and aggression
  • Fandom and fan culture (including online discussions, fan fiction, and fan websites)
  • Material culture, merchandising and consumption
  • Narrative structure
  • Narrative shifts over time
  • Casting, direction and production techniques

Harry Potter Studies
Christopher Bell, PhD, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, Communication,

Open Description

SWPACA invites scholars to submit papers to the vibrant and diverse Harry Potter Studies area. The Harry Potter Studies area is an interdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary field that focuses on both the novel and filmic versions of J.K. Rowling’s work. Papers may address the work as a whole, specific characters, themes, relationships, social and/or cultural implications, individual texts within the series, etc.

Paper and/or panel proposals are welcomed. Any and all types of scholars, including independent scholars, graduate students, non-tenured, tenure-track, tenured and emeritus faculty are encouraged to submit. The Harry Potter Studies area aims to emphasize a diversity of scholarship opportunities and is open to innovation in approach to research about the Potterverse. Networking among Potter scholars with an eye toward post-conference collaboration and publication is a key goal of the Harry Potter Studies Area.

Papers from the Harry Potter Studies area presented at conferences since 2012 have been gathered into four (4) published, edited volumes released in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. We are an area committed to publication!

Science Fiction and Fantasy – General
Susan Fanetti, PhD, California State University – Sacramento, English,
Follow the Science Fiction and Fantasy area on Facebook at and on Twitter @swtxsffchairs

Open Description

The Science Fiction and Fantasy (General) Area Chair invites paper or panel proposals on any aspect of science fiction in literature, film, or other media. Any and all topics will be considered. Past presentations have covered a variety of topics – including British SFF TV, fan studies, race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, pedagogy, adaptation, and a variety of texts. We are interested in thematically or textually linked panels of three or four papers as well as individual submissions.

Please look through the list of other conference areas on the SWPACA website, since subjects such as apocalyptic studies, computer games, the works of Joss Whedon, and the television show Supernatural all have separate areas. You should direct your proposal accordingly.

Supernatural (TV series)
Erin Giannini, PhD, Independent Scholar,

Open Description

The Area Chair invites proposals related to the CW television series Supernatural.

Any and all topics will be considered, although we especially encourage proposals on:

  • Narrative structure
  • Genre conventions
  • Fandom/Fan culture
  • Representations of socioeconomic class, gender & sexuality, and race & ethnicity
  • Representations of myth, religion, and (urban) legend
  • Uses of violence
  • Music in the show
  • The series’ response to/engagement with metatextuality and/or fandom

The Works of Joss Whedon
Susan Fanetti, PhD, California State University – Sacramento, English,

Open Description

The Area Chair invites paper or panel proposals on any topic related to the works of Joss Whedon. Any and all topics will be considered.  Insights into Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly are always welcome, but Whedon’s body of work continues to expand, and we encourage proposals on:

  • Whedon’s work in the Marvel ‘verse, including Astonishing X-Men, The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • The Whedonverse comics, from Fray on
  • Much Ado about Nothing
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • Dollhouse

Zombie Culture

Brandon Kempner, PhD, New Mexico Highlands University, English,

Open Description

The area chair for Zombie Culture seeks papers and presentations on any aspect of the zombie in popular culture and history. It seems as though the world has gone “zombie crazy.” There are zombie walks, games on college campuses like “Humans Vs. Zombies,” zombie children’s books, zombie poetry, fiction, video games, zombie ammunition and guns, and zombie running contests. Almost anything can be “zombified” and society and fans all over the world are literally “eating it up.” The zombie has come to represent the chaotic world we live in, and courses continue to pop up on college and university campuses all over the world. This is due in large part to the success of films like Night of the Living Dead, Zombi 2, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies, World War Z and television programs like The Walking Dead, iZombie, Z Nation, and Fear the Walking Dead.

What is distinctively American (if anything) about zombies in film, literature, and popular culture in general? How does the zombie influence American culture in a way that resonates in our transmedia world?

Some topics to consider:

  • Directors: George Romero, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, Todd Sheets, Danny Boyle, Sam Rami, Peter Jackson, Amando de Ossorio…
  • Specific zombie films: White Zombie, King of the Zombies, Dawn of the Dead, Tombs of the Blind Dead, Dead Alive, Evil Dead, World War Z, Train to Busan
  • Specific books/zombie literature: The Zombie Survival Guide, Zone One, The Girl with all the Gifts, the Newsflesh trilogy, The Reapers are the Angels, Cell
  • Zombie writers’ fiction and non-fiction: Stephen Graham Jones, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Kirkman, Steve Niles, Max Brooks, Matt Mogk, Jovanka Vuckovic, Stephen King…
  • Zombie television: The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Z Nation, iZombie, The Santa Clarita Diet
  • Zombie video games: Resident Evil, Call of Duty: Zombies, The Last of Us, Day Z, Dead Rising
  • Zombie comics (any aspect: history, cultural impact, storytelling, Marvel zombies…)
  • Zombies since 9/11
  • Zombie children’s books
  • Zombie runs and zombie cosplay
  • Fast vs. slow zombies
  • Zombie gore
  • Teaching the zombie (zombie pedagogy)
  • Can a real zombie outbreak happen?
  • The voodoo zombie and the historical roots of the zombie
  • The Euro-zombie, Nazi–zombies, Viking zombies
  • What exactly is a zombie?
  • Humans vs. zombies
  • Zombies across the world (Ro-langs…)
  • Zombies’ roots in cinema
  • Are mummies/Frankenstein’s monster zombies?
  • What does the rise in the zombie’s popularity tell us about society?

These are just a few of the topics that could be discussed.


Teaching and the Profession

Pedagogy and Popular Culture
Kurt Depner, New Mexico State University – Dona Ana, English,
Assistant Area Chair: David Sutton, SWPACA Leadership Institute Fellow, Independent Scholar,
Facebook Group: SWPACA Pedagogy & Popular Culture
Twitter: Pedagogy&PopCulture ‏@SWPCAPedagogy

Open Description

The Pedagogy and Popular Culture area requests proposals for paper presentations and panels on any topic involving successful or innovative approaches for teaching literature, media studies, film, cultural studies, history, television, rhetoric and composition, technical writing, technology, etc. We also welcome proposals that identify and discuss the existence or implication of specific pedagogical problems or issues, whether or not these advance any new methodologies.  Proposals regarding using popular culture in the classroom are particularly encouraged.

Teachers from any type of school or curriculum are encouraged to submit proposals. Graduate students with teaching experience are particularly welcome.

While we encourage and welcome all topics involving pedagogy and/or curriculum development, some suggestions for possible papers or panels are listed below:

  • Combining unusual disciplines in Writing Across the Curriculum courses
  • Utilizing new media technologies or Web 2.0 tools
  • Multimodal learning
  • Discussing the benefits and challenges of online teaching; best practice presentations are gleefully welcome!
  • Integrating popular television, films, novels, graphic novels, or music for meaningful classroom lesson planning
  • Teaching games and game theory
  • Utilizing social networking tools in the classroom
  • Using Wikis or Blogs in the classroom
  • Teaching with podcasts and videocasts
  • Editing family letters and/or journals in student projects
  • Promoting active learning by co-opting structures typically associated with webpages
  • Integrating service learning with traditional curricula
  • Constructing student projects as museum exhibits
  • Challenging standard pedagogical assumptions

Undergraduate Presentations
Jarrod Bolin, Jack E. Singley Academy, English,
Note: All individual presentations by undergrads must be submitted to this area in the submission database

Open Description

We encourage and invite undergraduates to prepare a brief paper (15 minutes) on any topic that is covered by existing areas within the conference. This well-established conference has an area for all types of scholars, from horror aficionados to library archives fanatics, and the Undergraduate Area is designed specifically for undergraduates who want to pursue these diverse and varied fields.

Submit a 250-word abstract to present a paper. Or, submit a panel proposal with a separate abstract/user account for each presenter/paper. Proposals will be accepted online only and must be submitted under the “Undergraduate” section of the conference database.



Eclectica: For Topics with No Other Home
Jeff Clayton, PhD, Lee College, English,

Open Description

Proposals are now being accepted for one of SWPACA’s newest areas, Eclectica. We are interested in papers, panels, and roundtables that do not fit into traditional areas, with an emphasis on the interdisciplinary and experimental. Proposals on topics not covered by another area are encouraged as well, but please review the complete list of areas first to confirm that the proposal does not fit into one of them.