Call for Papers

The Call for Papers Period is Closed.

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
Amy Fatzinger, PhD, University of Arizona,

Open Description

The Adaptation: Literature, Film, and Culture area invites you to submit proposals for presentations that critically engage with the subject of adaptation. While the term “adaptation” most commonly refers to a film based upon or inspired by a novel (or the process of developing such a film), proposals for adaptations involving other media as source texts or final products are also welcome (for example, adaptations that involve art, theater, music, dance, television shows, video games, photographs, or comic books).  Topics for paper proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • adaptations of classic works.
  • contemporary adaptations.
  • theories of adaptation.
  • source texts with multiple adaptations.
  • representations of culture in adaptations.
  • cross-cultural adaptations.
  • the process of adaptation.
  • ethics of adaptation.
  • adaptation and audience engagement.
  • adaptation and aesthetics.
  • adaptations across generations.
  • adaptations and the film industry.

Alfred Hitchcock

Michael Howarth, PhD, Missouri Southern State University,

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
  • Hitchcock and Psychoanalysis
  • Hitchcock and Adaptation

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,

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

Animation Studies
Francisco Ortega, PhD, Texas Tech University,

Open Description

In addition to cartoons, animation involves experimental techniques that have secured for this medium a place among the most advanced artistic manifestations of the 20th and 21st centuries. Because, historically, animation has had a peripheral status, its examination blurs traditional disciplinary boundaries (cinema/animation; fine arts/moving arts) and problematizes well-established assumptions and categorizations (high/low arts, real/virtual, art/industry). Moreover, animation increasingly permeates today’s digitized visual culture.

This session will invite scholars to discuss the diversity of animation practice and theory. Possible topics for papers could include but not restricted to:

  • Popular, commercial and experimental animation
  • Optical toys, mechanical contraptions,
  • Animated adaptations,
  • Documentary animation, non-fictional animation,
  • Voice and sound in animation,
  • Animation and therapy,
  • Advertising,
  • Animated television series, online animation,
  • Animation for education, animation and science,
  • Animation in video games,
  • Animation history,
  • Animation and architecture,
  • Animation theory,
  • CGI and animated special effects,
  • Anime, and/or
  • Animation and globalization.

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

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,

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, University of Colorado Denver,

Open Description

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,

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
Eric Lackey, MA, MFA, Colorado Mesa University,

Open Description

The Film Studies area invites presentations on any topic germane to film studies including, but not limited to, film as art, film as culture, and film as industry. This year the Film Studies area will also invite papers on Film Theory and Aesthetics. The most desirable essays will utilize recognized research methodologies that support an arguable thesis or develop a compelling question. We are particularly interested in papers that generate conversation.

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)
  • Archiving and artifactual preservation
  • ARGs
  • Design and development
  • Economic and industrial histories and studies
  • Educational games and their pedagogies
  • E-Sports and competitive gaming
  • Fan studies
  • Foreign language games and culture
  • Game art/game-based art (including game sound)
  • Game development and education
  • Game engines and entertainment
  • Game streaming
  • Games and health
  • Gender and sexual identity
  • Haptics and interface studies
  • Hardware/platforms
  • Histories of games
  • International/non-US game studies
  • 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
  • Table-top games and gaming
  • Technological, aesthetic, economic, and ideological convergence
  • Theories of play
  • Transmedia and games

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,

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,

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
Brad Duren, PhD, Oklahoma Panhandle State University,

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, University of North Texas-Dallas,

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
  • Hip Hop and LGBTQUI Issues
  • Hip Hop Aesthetics
  • Hip Hop History
  • International Hip Hop
  • Intersections of Hip Hop and Religion/Theology
  • Hip Hop and Technology
  • Indigenous Cultures and Hip Hop
  • Colorism in Hip Hop Expressions
  • Hip Hop and Issues in the Music Industry
  • LatinX Hip Hop
  • Women and Hip Hop
  • Hip Hop and politics

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,

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,

Open Description

The Theater and Performance Area Chair invites interested scholars to submit papers on any aspect of theater and/or performance, past or present. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • show content, implications, formats
  • theater effects or cultural impact
  • theater and society, politics
  • theater, gender, and race
  • theatrical artifacts and rituals
  • dramatic theory and criticism
  • local or global impact of theater and/or performance
  • new technologies and social media as performance
  • theater and/or performance for social change
  • current or developing trends in theater
  • theater education
  • the theater business, commodification of culture

Visual Arts
Annette Lynch, PhD, University of Northern Iowa,

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,

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
Robert Johnson, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,

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, studies on Hipsters in the past and in their current incarnations, Beats in film and television, Beat influence on public performance spaces, the Beat Movement freedom of expression, and the influence of the Beats on stand-up comedy.

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

Open Description

Papers on any aspect of Greek, Roman, or Mediterranean antiquity in contemporary or popular culture are now being considered for the 41st annual SWPACA Conference.

Classical Representations welcomes submissions on a broader range of topics including:

  • Cinema directly or indirectly reflecting aspects of the ancient world in cinema: recent films involving Classical themes which you might consider include Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Legend of Hercules, Pompeii, 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.
  • Classical Motifs/Allusions/Parallels in Popular Music
  • Dance, Ballet, Theater, the Visual Arts
  • Children’s Literature
  • Graphic Novels and Cartoons
  • Literary Theory/Postcolonial Theory/Reception Studies:
    • Literary or theoretical analysis of literature employing classical references or motifs, like Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, or Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad.
  • 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 or literature in the classroom?

For 2020, one panel of Classical Representations will be co-hosted by AIMS (Antiquity in Media Studies, “a new organization dedicated to promoting and supporting scholarship on the ancient world in modern media.”) To submit to this panel, please type “Submission to AIMS Panel” at the top of your abstract. If not included in the AIMS panel, your paper will still be considered for inclusion in the regular panels.

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

Open Description

The Crafting, Crafters, and Craft Culture area was launched at 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 (what are copyright issues for crafts as opposed to 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: what they craft, 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,

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.

Esotericism and Occultism
George Sieg, PhD, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute,

Open Description

Esotericism & Occultism invites proposals relating to magical worldviews and practices, consciousness transformation, and hidden meanings. Beliefs and practices involving unseen forces, spiritual intermediaries, synchronous patterns, and arcane symbolism are characteristic of this field. Examples of concepts and systems are Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Sufism, Satanism, Tantra, practical and traditional witchcraft, demonology, astrology, alchemy, shamanism, magical power and technique, mysticism, psychic ability, and paranormal phenomena.  Esoteric, occult, and magical ideas, beliefs, and practices appear in every culture and civilization; contemporary media and popular culture have embraced them enthusiastically, yet at times have reacted against them.  The impact of esotericism, occultism, and magic on genre formation/content and popular cultural perceptions has been profound.

Individual papers, organized panels, and roundtable discussions are welcomed.  Please contact the area chair with questions/suggestions.  So far, for 2020, participants have proposed panels and/or roundtables dedicated to: esotericism in adaptations of Philip K. Dick; esotericism and occultism in music, media, and the arts; magic in political protest and resistance; power and authority in esoteric religions and organizations; women in esotericism, magical practice, and occultism; racism and racialism in esotericism, occultism, and magical practice; African-American expressions of esotericism, magic, and occultism, and/or African-American practitioners; Native American traditions and motifs; imagination and the imaginary; the role of magical practice in the modern and contemporary worlds; conceptions of magic in fantasy fiction (particularly Game of Thrones); esotericism, occultism, and magic in the superhero/superpowers genre.

Sample Ideas for topics categorized by media:

Literature:  Fiction by practitioners, such as Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, C. S. Friedman.  Books by practitioners (for example, Gurdjieff, Evola, Crowley, Gerald Gardner, Anton LaVey, Peter Carroll).  Esoteric/occult/magical influences and themes in magical realism, speculative fiction, gothic fiction, weird fiction, and historical fiction.  Fiction influential on practitioners, such as Zanoni, Goethe’s Faust, The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

Visual Art:  Examples, Wassily Kandinsky, Austin Spare, Rosaleen Norton, Michael Bertiaux.

Film:  Content as in The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Ninth Gate, The Witch, The Conjuring series; allegories such as The Matrix, Dark City, The Truman Show; and esoteric/occult films such those by Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Television:  Theme and content, examples Game of Thrones, The Man in the High Castle, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Twin Peaks, DaVinci’s Demons, American Horror Story, True Detective (season one), Lucifer, Westworld.   Strange Angel fictionalizes the biography of occultist/magician Jack Parsons.

Comics / Graphic Novels:  Many contain esoteric, occult, and magical motifs and tropes.  Some are themselves esoteric; Grant Morrison claims his The Invisibles and Promethea as personal magical workings.

Music:  Specific artists (e.g., David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Ghost, Watain, Dissection), genres (black metal, apocalyptic folk, witch house).

Video Games:  Theme and content, examples The Witcher, Xenogears, Devil May Cry, Silent Hill, Deus Ex; pseudo-history example, Assassin’s Creed.

Tabletop Roleplaying Games:  Frequently influenced by esotericism, occultism, and magic, especially White Wolf’s Mage, Atlas Games’s Unknown Armies, and Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun.

Other possible topics:

Influence of esoteric/occult/magical beliefs, practices, and symbols on popular culture and aesthetics (e.g., memes, clothing, tattoos, jewelry).

Influence of popular culture on esoteric/occult/magical beliefs, practices, and practitioners (e.g., Lovecraft mythos as actual magical practice, fictional gods of chaos in Chaos Magic, and real vampire communities using concepts from Vampire:The Masquerade).

Popular beliefs about esotericism and occultism, such as fads, trends, moral panics, witch-hunts, witch-crazes, and conspiracy theories (e.g., Illuminati paranoia, bloodline of the Holy Grail beliefs, and Satanic Ritual Abuse scandals).

Reactions against esoteric/occult/magical beliefs and practices.

Food and Culture
Ami Comeford, PhD, Dixie State University,

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:

  • Class/economics and food
  • Gender/sexuality and food
  • Race/ethnicity and food
  • Food in literature
  • Food in film
  • Food and globalization/colonization/assimilation/resistance
  • Food practices and ecology

Fashion, Style, Appearance, and Identity
Annette Lynch, PhD, University of Northern Iowa,

Open Description

Fashion, Style, Identity & Popular Culture as a content area is specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship as it interfaces with popular culture. This area of the conference offers an interdisciplinary environment for scholars from a range of disciplines including communication studies, fashion, textiles, photography, performance art, art history, sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, environment studies, and business to present innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Research and creative scholarship related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sustainability, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity are encouraged. In particular scholars are encouraged to consider the role of fashion in both challenging as well as reinforcing cultural norms and in so doing its role in identity transformation and cultural change.

Cultural Heritage Institutions in Popular Culture
Suzanne M. Stauffer, PhD, Louisiana State University,

Open Description

The Cultural Heritage Institutions in Popular Culture (formerly Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Digital Humanities in Popular Culture) area solicits 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 cultural heritage settings of all types. We also encourage proposals for slide shows, video presentations, panels, and roundtables organized around common themes.

Some suggested topics include:

    • Histories and profiles of popular culture resources and collections in cultural heritage institutions; 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 of popular culture resources, outreach programs, etc. of cultural heritage institutions
    • Collection and organization of popular culture resources; marketing and ethical issues
    • Web 2.0, gaming, semantic web, etc. and their impact on libraries, archives, museums, and digital humanities collections
    • The role of public libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions 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 cultural heritage institutions and those in academia or other organizations.

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

Mothers, Motherhood, and Mothering in Popular Culture
Jennifer Martin, Michael K. Schoenecke Leadership Institute Fellow, University of South Carolina,

Open Description

In her introduction to 21st Century Motherhood: Experience, Identity, Policy, Agency, Andrea O’Reilly identifies three categories of inquiry for scholars engaged in motherhood studies: “motherhood as institution, motherhood as experience, and motherhood as identity or subjectivity” (2). The panel area chairpersons seek papers that study one or more of O’Reilly’s motherhood categories by exploring how popular culture representations of mothers complicate notions of societal ideals of motherhood, mothering performance, or mothering identity. We invite papers that consider motherhood depictions in popular media such as television, movies, magazines, advertising, art, government policy, child-rearing manuals, photography, online media, and literature. We particularly encourage papers that also take up issues of intersectionality and mothering including gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age, ability, citizenship, nationality, and social class.

Neo-Victorianism and Steampunk
Matthew Kelley, PhD, University of Alabama,

Open Description

As popular genres, Steampunk and Neo-Victorian fiction reflect a complex set of changes in contemporary society. At the same time, they link with classic traditions in science fiction and Victorian history. Submissions are welcome that address Steampunk and Neo-Victorian fiction from a variety of potential perspectives.

Some possibilities:

  • Research addressing or applying theoretical or structural topics to the genre.
  • Work focusing on any aspects of Steampunk such as technology, fashion, history, popularity, or anything else you deem worthy of close examination.
  • Work applying theoretical perspectives to representations  of characters in any particular Steampunk or Neo-Victorian book, or novel series. This might include a wide range of racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities.
  • Work on international writers of Steampunk and/or Neo-Victorian literature
  • Analysis of television and film adaptations of the genre.
  • Analysis of the relevance of Steampunk to Disability studies

Philosophy and Popular Culture
Sammuel R. Byer, PhD, Fort Hays State University,

Open Description

In the last decade, there has been a dedicated exploration of popular culture as it relates to aspects of philosophy, and a dedicated exploration of how philosophy relates to popular culture.  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.  This includes traditional Western conceptions of philosophy, as well as non-Western philosophy (e.g. Indian Philosophy, Chinese Philosophy, et cetera).

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • General areas of philosophy explored or engaged in popular culture (Metaphysics, Ethics, Epistemology, Logic)
  • Specific philosophical issues explored or engaged in popular culture, including but not limited to
    • Personal Identity
    • The Afterlife
    • Family Bonds and Filial Obligations
    • Free Will and Moral Responsibility
    • Applying Ethical Theory
    • Happiness
    • Consciousness and the Philosophy of Mind
    • General Metaphysical Schemas
    • Knowledge and Skepticism
    • The Existence of God
    • Natural Kinds and Social Construction
    • Love, Sex, and Friendship
    • The Meaning of Life
  • Views of philosophy in popular culture
  • Philosophical frameworks or outlooks engaged in popular culture
  • Representations of philosophy and/in popular culture
  • Philosophy and film
  • Philosophy and television
  • Philosophy and the fine arts
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Philosophy and graphic novels/comic books
  • Issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and popular culture

Darrell Hamlin, PhD, Fort Hays State University,

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.

Cori Knight, PhD, University of California, Riverside,

Open Description

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,

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,

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,

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,

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.

Witchcraft, Wizardry, & New Age
Renae Mitchell, PhD, University of New Mexico Los Alamos,

Open Description

The area chair for Witches, Wizardry, and the New Age seeks papers and presentations on any aspect of historical and resurgent witchcraft and the New Age in popular culture.  From films such as The Craft (1996) to the television series Charmed (1998-2006, and its 2018 “reboot”), there is a surge of interest in practitioners of magic in film, television, and writing.  In literature, the Harry Potter series remains popular, and Alice Hoffman successful novel, The Rules of Magic (2017), centers on witches. Deborah Harkness, a scholar of history, wrote the All Souls Trilogy (2011-14) that led to a television series, A Discovery of Witches (2018).  Madeleine Miller’s Circe (2018) reimagines a witch from ancient Greek mythology. The novel Wicked (2007), by Gregory Maguire, has been reconceived as a Broadway production, and remains one of the most popular theatrical dramas in recent years.  The magical film A Wrinkle in Time (2018) was highly acclaimed, and films such as The Witch (2015), Into the Woods (2014), The Conjuring (2013), Suspiria (2018), Maleficent (2014), and several others reveal that the trope of witches, wizards, and witchcraft, as well as a focus on occult themes, consistently maintain a grip on popular culture today.

Beyond popular fiction, the historical work centered on witches is extensive, and potential topics can range from the ancient Greek mythologies centered on practitioners of pharmaka, to the early modern witch trials, and to the rise of spiritual feminism and goddess worship in the 1970s.  Such magic-centered and “new age” belief systems as Wicca, neo-Paganism, and numerous occultist movements inform pop-culture genres, popular nonfiction, and academic scholarship.  Do these studies, practices, and cultures reflect a distinctively American facet with regard to witches, wizards, and New Age traditions in film, literature, and popular culture?

A few topics to consider:

  • Religious studies and the history of witchcraft;
  • Feminism and Spiritual Feminism;
  • Vodou and Obeah in Africa and the Diaspora;
  • Neopaganism in practice and scholarship;
  • Witchcraft scholars and practitioners of color;
  • Wicca, Sabats, and modern Pagan practices;
  • Sorcery in historical writings and pop culture;
  • Buffystudies;
  • Ecological studies (eco-feminism, eco-science fiction, etc.);
  • Divination through the appearance of runes, tarot, etc. in film and literature.
  • What does the surge in the witch and wizard portrayals in popular culture tell us about our society?


Identities and Cultures

African American / Black Studies
Travis Boyce, PhD, University of Northern Colorado,

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, healthcare, 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,

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,

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,

Assistant Area Chair: Stephanie Lim, University of California Irvine, 2019 Michael Schoenecke Institute Fellow,

Open Description

Submissions are welcomed that apply disability studies, including specific areas such as Deaf Studies, in any area of cultural, historical, literary, or pedagogical 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
  • Pedagogical approaches drawing on disability studies concepts or studies of disability in relation to pedagogy

Middle Eastern and North African Studies in the United States
Rima Abunasser, PhD, Texas Christian University,

Open Description

The area chair for Middle Eastern and North African Studies in the United States is now accepting submissions for the 2020 conference. We welcome and encourage proposals regarding any aspect of Middle Eastern and North African life in the U.S. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • MENA representations in popular culture (television, film, comic books, video games, etc.)
  • Language and translation studies
  • Queer theory and the MENA community
  • Women and gender studies
  • MENA art and artists
  • MENA literary studies
  • Transnationalism, diaspora, and the MENA community
  • MENA coalition building and relationships with various Communities of Color
  • Racial formation and the MENA community
  • MENA immigration studies
  • Religion and religious representations

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

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,

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,

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 Studies
B. Mark Allen, PhD, South Texas College,

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 / YA Culture
Diana Dominguez, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,

Open Description

Panels are now being formed in the Children’s / Young Adult 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:

  • The art and industry of the Picture Book – both historical and current trends (I’d love to see more presentations on picture books, including wordless picture books)
  • Diversity in children’s and YA literature (gender, race/ethnicity, disability, body image, sexual identity, language)
  • 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 and the history of children’s and YA literature and culture
  • New approaches to reading 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
  • The pedagogy of children’s/YA culture (K-12 and college)

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

NEW for 2020 conference: As this area enters its third decade, the area chair would like to expand its scope just a bit by adding two (2) creative writing panels (one for younger readers; one for YA). The Creative Writing area of this conference generally does not feature writing for children or adolescents, but over the years this area has featured presenters who do both scholarly and creative work in the Children’s/YA field, and it is high time we hear from the creative side. So, we’ll give this a first shot and see where it goes; the area chair will be accepting only four (4) works per panel for this first time. Depending on the interest and submissions, we can increase the number of panels in the future.

Please note: works must fit into the traditional 15-minute presentation time-frame (about 6-7 traditional double-spaced pages). For these panels, please submit a synopsis (up to 500 words) of works that can be read in the 15-minute time slot. Submissions of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry are welcome, and can be for picture books, graphic literature/comics, middle grade stories/chapter books, or older YA material. Please make sure to identify what category (Children’s or YA) your submission is more suited to so for appropriate panel assignment.

Cormac McCarthy
Todd Womble, PhD, Abilene Christian University,

Open Description

The Area Chair of the Cormac McCarthy Area of the SWPACA 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)
Christopher Carmona, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,

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.

Eco-Criticism and the Environment
Keri Stevenson, PhD, University of New Mexico,

Open Description

The Ecocriticism and the Environment area welcomes abstracts on film, literature, advertising, video games, social media, architecture, music, religion, and any other method of human expression dealing with interactions between popular culture and the physical environment. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, abstracts connected to animals, landscapes, plants, natural disasters, climate and climate change, ecosystems, hydrology, evolution, etc.

Past presentations have covered:

-the representation of animals in media such as cute animal videos and wildlife documentaries.

-“cli-fi” and nature in other types of science fiction and fantasy literature.

-how climate change is conceptualized through music, political cartoons, cards, and other forms of popular culture.

-the public response to environmental holidays, nuclear testing, and natural disaster in oral history and the arts.

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

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

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,

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?
  • 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,

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:

  • Language Pedagogy
  • 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,

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,

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,

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,

Open Description

We are now forming panels for presentations of American poetry and poetics criticism at our 2020 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 Christopher Carmona, Area Chair of Creative Writing [Poetry, Fiction], via the SWPACA website.

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

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,

Open Description

The Apocalypse, Dystopia, and Disaster in Culture Area is calling for papers about anything apocalyptic, dystopian, 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 Good Omens, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, Bird Box, I Think We’re Alone Now, Jurassic Park, 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: Good Omens, The Society, The Rim of the World, Mortal Engines, Westworld, The Expanse, The Handmaid’s Tale, I Think We’re Alone Now, Ready Player One, Stranger Things, A Quiet Place, Bird Box, Salvation, Star Trek Discovery, Into the Badlands, OA, The Man in the High Castle, Resident Evil, Ghostbusters, Twelve Monkeys, The Scorch Trials, Jurassic World, Mad Max, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Killjoys, Dark Matter, Between, Edge of Tomorrow, The Giver, Godzilla, The 100, Divergent, Sharknado, This is the End, After Earth, Adventure Time, Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Terminator, 2012, The Core, Daybreakers, Zombieland, Night of the Comet, The War of the Worlds, Last Night, 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 and others.

Graphic Novels and video games: Y: The Last Man, Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead

Real examples: “Prepper” communities and publications, political rhetoric, natural disasters, Paris or Orlando shootings, or Atomic culture.

Apocalyptic rhetoric in politics and other areas

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

Dr. Who, Torchwood, and Whoverse Studies

Melissa Tackett-Gibson, PhD, University of Colorado Denver,

Open Description

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,

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
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
  • Examining the series legacy in its final season

Whedonverses: Creators & Texts
Erin Giannini, PhD, Independent Scholar,

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
  • The 20th anniversary of Angel‘s debut; the series’ legacy

Zombie Culture

Brandon Kempner, PhD, New Mexico Highlands University,

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,

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
Note: All individual presentations by undergrads must be submitted to this area in the submission database. Upon review, they will be transferred to the proper area above.

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.

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. After review by conference staff, they will be transferred to the proper area chair listed above.



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

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.