The Southwest Popular/American Culture Association held its 37th Annual Conference last February 10-13, 2016 in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center. The SWPACA aims to promote non-traditional and innovative academic movements in social sciences and the humanities in a way that celebrates America’s cultural heritage, increases awareness of and improving the public perception of these cultural traditions and diverse populations.
The organization works towards this mission with a professional network of writers, scholars, and anyone who may be interested in popular or American culture through the annual academic conferences and “Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular culture and Pedagogy,” SWPACA’s open-source, peer-reviewed academic journal.
The South West Popular American Culture Association is committed to providing support for up-and-coming academics in the fields related to American culture studies through professional development opportunities, travel grants, and paper awards among others.
The American Studies Association of Texas participated this year with a delegation composed of Baylor University students from various disciplines. Presentations and conferences were considered enlightening and educational to say the least. Some conferences of note include “From Concept to Book with Cynthia Miller and Stephen Ryan,” “The Works of Joss Whedon—Screening of “Once More with Feeling,” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Singalong,” “Grateful Dead 3: Roundtable: The Grateful Dead, Third Wave Feminism, and Changing Cultural Hegemony,” and “Fires Tall and Bright”: Philosophical Perspectives on the Grateful Dead,” among the many others on the itinerary.
Baylor University’s American Studies Department was represented by Drs. Cassey Burleson and Mia Moody-Ramirez at the conference and presented their respective works. Burleson presented “Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree: Tracing the Trail to ‘Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song” while Moody-Ramirez presented “Discourse Analysis of the Top Rachel Dolezal Internet Memes.” They describe their experience to be educational and insightful. Moody-Ramirez herself said that “Attending the conference was a great experience for me, I hope to return each year”.
The conference also awarded the many submissions to their various categories. Here is a list of winners of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Graduate Awards 2016
- Samantha Vertosick’s “Beyond the Veil”: The Narrative Functions of Death in the Harry Potter Series” for the Science Fiction and Fantasy category, awarded by Erin Giannini
- Jennifer Fierke’s “Jennifer Phang’s Advantageous: Equipment for the Disembodied” for Identities & Cultures category awarded by Margaret Vaughan and Jack Hutchins
- Julia Moeseneder’s ““Urbanity in the Post-Apocalypse”: The Production of Space in AMC’s The Walking Dead” for the Film, Television, Music, & Visual Media category, awarded by Debbie Olson and Chuck Hamilton
- John Lewis’ “Biblical Allusions and Individual Theologies in McCarthy’s The Road” for the Languages & Literatures category, awarded by David Oberhelman and Helen McCourt
- Stephanie Redekop‘s ““the madman is holy”: Madness and Spirituality in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”“ for the Historic & Contemporary Cultures category, awarded by Stacy Rusnak, Janet Croft, and Jennifer Jenkins
The three-day conference met with much success and expanded the professional networks of the various attendees as well as provided each person with insights and inspiration in the many disciplines accommodated by the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference.