Historic and Contemporary Cultures
American Studies and American History
Deborah Marinski, PhD, Ohio University – Southern Campus, firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- Class studies
- Regional and local history
- Public history and collective memory
- Leisure activities
- 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, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.facebook.com/classical.representations
Papers on any aspect of Greek, Roman, or Mediterranean antiquity in contemporary or popular culture are now being considered for the 42nd 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?
Crafting, Crafters, and Craft Culture
Janet Brennan Croft, PhD, University of Northern Iowa, email@example.com
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, race, 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. For 2021, we are particularly interested in the response of the craft community to both the pandemic and to protests for racial justice: mask making collectives, public art around either or both issues, archiving the art of the movement, and so on.
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
Melissa Tackett-Gibson, PhD, University of Colorado Denver, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, Occultism, and Magic
George Sieg, PhD, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, GeorgeJSieg@gmail.com
Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic invites proposals relating to magical worldviews, practices, and representations, as well as consciousness transformation, hidden meanings, the power of transmutation, and related phenomena. Characteristic beliefs and practices include: arcane symbolism, imagery, and aesthetics; unseen forces and spiritual intermediaries; synchronous patterns, non-ordinary causation, and anomalous processes. Examples of concepts and systems include Theosophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Sufism, Satanism, Tantra, witchcraft, sorcery, demonology, astrology, alchemy, shamanism, yoga, parapsychology, and psychic and paranormal phenomena, along with beliefs and practices relating to altered states of consciousness, overlapping with the study of mysticism as well as New Age spirituality, channeling, positive thinking, manifest intention, guardian angels, and Ascended Masters. 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 welcomed. Please contact the area chair with questions/suggestions. Special themes for 2021 may include: esoteric and occult conspiracism, including belief as well as representation; esotericism, occultism, and magic in the counter-culture including revolutionary, radical, and/or extremist movements; the Immediatism of Hakim Bey and related contributions to chaos magic; political rhetoric and endeavor (e.g.: the cursing of political figures; the secular Satanism of Lucien Greaves and the Satanic Temple; esoteric Traditionalist and identitarian occult memes in the alt-right, etc.); esoteric, occult, and magical heritage of minority groups and its role in the construction of identity.
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, Evola, Gurdjieff, Crowley, Anton LaVey, Gerald Gardner, Peter Carroll, Edgar Cayce). Influences and themes in magical realism, speculative fiction, gothic fiction, weird fiction, historical fiction. Fiction influential on practitioners, such as Zanoni, Goethe’s Faust, The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Historical representations of magicians, witches, and wizards, including stylized and mythic figures (Merlin, Morgan La Fey, Circe, Medea, Kostchie the Deathless, etc.), in genre fiction (contemporary Arthurian adaptations) or modernizations (Neil Gaiman). New Age and/or popular manifestation guides, such as The Secret. Conspiracist and/or extra-terrestrial cosmologies related to esoteric concepts (David Icke, the Seth transmissions to Jane Roberts, the Michael channelings, etc.).
Visual Art: Examples, Wassily Kandinsky, Austin Spare, Rosaleen Norton, Michael Bertiaux.
Film: Content as in The VVitch, Hereditary, Midsommar, The Skeleton Key, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Ninth Gate, The Conjuring series, The Wicker Man; Gnostic allegories such as The Matrix, Dark City, The Truman Show; explorations of consciousness such as eXistenZ, Altered States, 2001 Space Odyssey; representations of occult aesthetic, such as Eyes Wide Shut, or traumatic initiation, such as the Saw series; stylized depictions of magicians, wizards, and witches (Dr. Strange, Shazam, Maleficent, Oz, Warlock, Thulsa Doom of Conan, Jafar of Aladdin) ; esoteric/occult films such those by Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky; pseudo- and crypto-history in fiction (Tomb Raider, National Treasure); New Age documentaries, such as The Secret; conspiracist receptions of esoteric and occult history, such as Zeitgeist.
Television: Theme and/or content examples The Witcher, The Magicians, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, The Man in the High Castle, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Twin Peaks, Westworld, Penny Dreadful, DaVinci’s Demons, American Horror Story, American Gods, Lucifer, True Detective (season one), DaVinci’s Demons. Strange Angel, fictionalized biography of occultist/magician Jack Parsons. Significant protagonists and anti-heroes; fourth-wall-breaking or uncanny figures, presented with esoteric, occult, or quasi-ritualistic aesthetics (Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Frank Underwood of House of Cards).
Comics / Graphic Novels: Contain esoteric, occult, and magical motifs and tropes. Some are actively esoteric; Grant Morrison claims The Invisibles and Promethea as personal magical workings; the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman embrace esoteric, occult, magical themes and characters.
Music: Specific artists (e.g.,Genesis P-Orridge, David Bowie, Coil, Marilyn Manson, Ghost, Watain, Dissection, Behemoth, Wardruna, Tori Amos, Loreena McKennitt, Gustav Holst), genres (black metal, viking/Nordic ambient, apocalyptic folk, witch house).
Video Games: Theme and content, e.g., The Witcher, Silent Hill, Deus Ex, Dark Souls, Xenogears, Devil May Cry; pseudo-history Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider; historical worldviews, Civilization VI (secret societies), Crusader Kings II (cults, witchcraft, demonolatry).
Tabletop Roleplaying Games: White Wolf’s Mage (World of Darkness generally), Atlas Games Unknown Armies, Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun. RPGs have influenced the conception of magic in popular culture across media, and present extensive representation of magical figures.
Other possible topics:
Influence of esoteric/occult/magical/New Age beliefs, practices, 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/occultism/magic: fads, trends, moral panics, witch-hunts, witch-crazes, conspiracy theories (e.g., occult-conspiracism in QAnon; Illuminati paranoia, bloodline of the Holy Grail beliefs, Satanic Ritual Abuse scandals).
Reactions and polemics against esoteric/occult/magical beliefs and practices.
Food and Culture
Ami Comeford, PhD, Dixie State University, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
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.
Lawyers and the Legal Profession in Popular Culture
K. Dale Guffey, JD, Limestone University, firstname.lastname@example.org
The area of Lawyers and the Legal System in Popular Culture is now accepting proposals for presentations for the upcoming Southwest Popular/American Culture Association conference.
The United States prides itself on being a country based on the rule of law, and often the courtroom is seen as the “great leveler” of socio-economic classes in America. Thus, Lady Justice is often depicted as being blindfolded while carrying both scales and a sword. In popular culture, lawyers run the spectrum, shown sometimes as high priests who adhere to the most rigid standards of truth seeking and ethical behavior (Atticus Finch, Jack McCoy) and sometimes shown as all-too-willing to be on the wrong side of the law (Tom Hagen, Saul Goodman).
Suggested topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Actual people in the legal profession who have been fictionalized, such as Daniel Webster, Clarence Darrow (as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind), or Erin Brockovich
- Defending unpopular clients, such as the war criminals in Judgment at Nuremberg
- Fictional women in the legal profession, such as Amanda Bonner in Adam’s Rib, the title character in Ally McBeal, Patty Hewes in Damages, or Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder
- Films centering on the law, such as 12 Angry Men, Devil’s Advocate, or Philadelphia
- Legal ethics as depicted – rightly or wrongly – in popular culture
- Particular fictional lawyers, such as Shakespeare’s Portia or Perry Mason
- The law as depicted in animated shows through characters such as Lionel Hutz (The SImpsons) or Harvey Birdman
- The legal profession as a force of evil, such as Wolfram & Hart on Angel
- The stereotype of the “simple country lawyer” such as Ben Matlock or Hyper-Chicken (Futurama). This topic could also easily include real-life figures such as Cicero, Abraham Lincoln, Sam Ervin, or Gerry Spence
- The tension between reality television with paid participants and wildly popular courtroom shows involving small claims litigants
- Using popular culture examples of the law and lawyers in the classroom to teach particular concepts
Mothers, Motherhood, and Mothering in Popular Culture
Renae Mitchell, PhD, University of New Mexico Los Alamos, email@example.com
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, Shelton State Community College, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
- 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, email@example.com
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
- 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.