Graduate Student Awards

Submission deadline: December 1, 2015

To encourage graduate student participation at the conference and to feature excellent works by young scholars, the Southwest PCA/ACA is pleased to award monetary prizes for the best graduate student papers regarding a variety of topics.  Many of our awards are named in honor of longtime Southwest PCA/ACA executive staff members or area chairs; please see our website’s People page for more information on these honorees.  Descriptions of the awards are below, along with contact information for their judges.


  • Graduate students may apply for only ONE award per year.  Those who apply for more than one award may be disqualified.
  • Graduate students can apply for both an award and a Heldrich-Dvorak Travel Fellowship
  • Unless otherwise stated, previous award winners are eligible and are encouraged to submit new works for award consideration.
  • Those applying for awards must register and pay to attend the conference and must present their papers in person at the conference in order to receive awards, if chosen.
  • All who apply for our awards should plan to attend the conference’s Graduate Student Awards Ceremony (typically held Friday evening), where the awards will be presented.  Winners will not be pre-notified.  We take great pride in presenting these awards and expect all applicants to be present at the ceremony.
  • Unless otherwise stated, each award winner will receive $300.


  • By December 1, 2015, email your paper and the required information to the appropriate judge(s).
  • Your paper must be:
    • 12 to 25 pages
    • A standard citation style (MLA, Chicago, or APA)
    • Attached to the email as a Word document or PDF
  • Your email must include:
    • 200 to 500 word abstract
    • Name of the conference’s subject area to which this paper was accepted for 2016
    • Your graduate program (department and level)
    • Your college/university
    • Your email address and phone number

List of Awards 

(Jump to travel awards/fellowships)

Charles Redd Center Award for Western Studies

The Charles Redd Center Award for Western Studies is presented to the graduate student with the best paper dealing with a Western studies issue from a variety of academic disciplines including history, geography, sociology, anthropology, politics, economics, literature, art, folklore, and popular culture. Particularly welcome are papers centering themselves on the Intermountain West (defined as the states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico).  With appreciation from the Southwest PCA/ACA, this award is sponsored by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, which gives a plaque in addition to the prize money. Visit the Center online at

Judge: Dennis Cutchins, PhD,

Computer Culture and Game Studies Award

The SW/TX Computer Culture and Game Studies Award is presented to the graduate student with the best paper accepted into either the Computer Culture Area or the Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice area. The award includes a prize of $300, and is sponsored by the Southwest PCA/ACA, Joseph Chaney, and Judd Ruggill.

Natasha Chuk, PhD,
Jennifer deWinter, PhD,

Diana Cox Award for Images of Women

The Diana Cox Award is presented to the graduate student with the best paper on images of women in popular culture.

Judge: Monica Ganas, PhD,

Euro Pop Award for European Cultural Issue

The Euro Pop Award is presented to the graduate student with the best presentation about European popular culture.

Judge: Jack J. Hutchens,

Jerry Bradley Award for Creative Writing

The Jerry Bradley Award is presented to a graduate student who writes the best creative writing work for a Southwest PCA/ACA conference.  Students should submit either one short story or two poems that they will read at the conference.

Judge: Nathan Brown, PhD,

Kenneth Davis Award for Folklore Studies

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate essay in the field of folklore studies.

Judge: Phyllis Bridges, PhD,

Lawrence Clayton Award for Texas Culture

The Lawrence Clayton Award is presented to the graduate student with the best paper on a topic related to the culture(s) of Texas.

Judge: Kenneth W. Davis, PhD,

Michael K. Schoenecke Award for American Culture

The Michael K. Schoenecke Award is presented to the graduate student with the best paper related to American culture.

Judge: Diana Cox, PhD,

Peter C. Rollins Award for Popular Culture Issue

The Peter C. Rollins Award is presented to the graduate student with the best presentation dealing with a popular culture issue.

Rhonda Taylor, PhD,
Chuck Hamilton, PhD,

Phil Heldrich Award for Popular Culture Pedagogy

In honor of the organization’s late Executive Director, a writer/professor with a passion for teaching, the Phil Heldrich Award for Popular Culture Pedagogy is given to an outstanding graduate student paper that addresses the teaching of popular culture in a classroom setting. The essay can address an issue in the application of a new, engaging, popular culture teaching strategy in a specific area of popular or American culture. Papers can address the application of popular culture at any levels – primary, secondary, or college classrooms – and any disciplines.

Erik Walker,
Kurt Depner,

Phyllis Bridges Award for Biography

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate essay in the field of biography studies.

Judge: Melinda McBee, PhD,

Post Script Graduate Student Award in Film Studies

Post Script: Essays in Film and the Humanities, an international film journal based at Texas A&M University – Commerce, and co-sponsored by Georgia Institute of Technology, is, in collaboration with the Southwest PCA/ACA, awarding a prize for the best graduate paper on film studies.  The recipient of this award is invited to submit to the General Editor of Post Script (within ninety days of the end of the conference) a version of the essay suitable for consideration for publication in a future issue of the journal.  In the event of a tie, there will be a maximum of two awards in any given year – provided funding is available.  The award may not go to the same individual more than once.  In the event there is no award granted, the money will remain in the account.

Lynnea Chapman King, PhD,
Tobias Hochscherf, PhD,

Richard Tuerk “Out of This World” Paper Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Richard Tuerk Science Fiction and Fantasy Award recognizes an outstanding graduate student essay related to science fiction and fantasy.

Judge: Brian Cowlishaw, PhD,

Susan Rollins Award for Museum Studies and Public History

Unlike other Southwest PCA/ACA awards, this institutional award is open to ALL conference participants – including graduate students, faculty, museum curators, and other public history professionals.  In memory of Susan Rollins, this award is given to the conference presentation which best reflects Susan’s enthusiasm for and devotion to bringing American history to life for audiences outside the classroom.  While public school presentations are not excluded, the award’s primary emphasis is on studies of the ways in which museums, historical societies, and other non-academic institutions/groups make history a memorable experience.  Among other topics, papers might explore exhibits, historical sites, living-history museums, reenactments, memorials/monuments, or historical festivals.  Papers analyzing the representation of history or historical figures in popular culture (including films, television programs, songs, etc.) are also welcome.

Janet Brennan Croft,
David Oberhelman,

Travel Awards/Fellowships

Heldrich-Dvorak Travel Fellowships

History of the Award: In 2004, our late Executive Director, Phil Heldrich, and Ken Dvorak recognized the need to support graduate students whose numbers began to be noticeable at our annual conference. The intent of the fellowship was to help cover travel expenses by showing our commitment to them after they had made the commitment to present their scholarly research (many for the first time) at our conference.

This year marks our 36th anniversary and I am pleased to announce that the Heldrich – Dvorak Travel Fellowships will continue to support our graduate students. However, we have made changes for this year that we hope will strengthen the fellowship and provide growth for the future.

For 2015 the Southwest Popular / American Culture Association proudly announces:

  • The awarding of six (6) graduate student travel awards in the amount of $400.


  • The awarding of three (3) undergraduate travel awards in the amount of $200.

Submission Rules:

To submit for either the graduate or undergraduate travel award individuals must fill out the information guideline; have it reviewed by their graduate/undergraduate chair or advisor (signoff can be sent via email); and submit the completed guideline for consideration via email attachment by midnight December  1, 2015.

Review of all award requests will be complete by January 15, 2016; recipients will be notified by January 31, 2016.

All notified recipients must be present during the Peter C. Rollins Book Award and Graduate Student Award Ceremony, Friday, February 13, 2016, to receive their awards.

Download Submission Guidelines: Download (.docx file)

Refer all questions/concerns to Ken Dvorak, Chairperson, Heldrich – Dvorak Travel Award Program.

Ken Dvorak, PhD
Treasurer – SWPACA
C: 281-455-3289|