Job Descriptions

The duties of elected officers are outlined in the bylaws. Duties not specifically mentioned in the bylaws can be found below.


The Program Chair is the point person for organizing NEPCA’s annual conference. Among the chair’s duties are:

1. Issuing periodic general calls for papers though outlets such as H-Net, listservs, and other media sources devoted to the study of popular/American culture. The chair should also make flyers to distribute at appropriate conferences he or she attends in advance of NEPCA.

2. Accumulating all paper proposal submissions. (Some will come directly to the chair and some via the appropriate area chairs.)

3. Working closely with area chairs, the president, the executive council, and the executive secretary to solicit proposals.

4. Collating all proposals and fashioning them into tentative panels, which will be refined at a summer planning meeting for the fall conference.

5. Working with area chairs to issue needed follow-up calls for papers to round out incomplete panels.

6. Working with the host institution to secure meeting space for the conference. The program chair is the liaison between NEPCA and the host institution. The chair coordinates all logistical details for the conference, including those delegated to the Local Arrangements Chair. There are usually 6-8 simultaneous panels, and chair (and designee) needs to secure appropriate space for these, plus a space for the luncheon, and an end-of-conference meeting space for the executive council meeting.)

7. Helping NEPCA defray costs of the conference. In most cases, the chair lobbies to have meeting space donated. The more services that are donated or discounted, the better as NEPCA must earn all its operating costs from the conference and membership fees. (See document—Conference Costs).

8. Assembling the final program and arranging to have it printed and available at the registration table for all conference attendees.

9. Recruiting volunteers and/or students to assist with conference registration. The chair works with the executive secretary on these matters. The chair should also make certain that the Local Arrangements Chair has signposted clearly all buildings and parking areas used during the conference.

10. Coordinating with campus security and tech specialists in advance of the conference, and securing things such as approved parking for attendees and login codes needed to use classroom technology. It is generally a good idea to secure a tech specialist for the conference, or some other individual with the expertise to resolve any technological problems.

11. Arriving early before the start of each conference day to make certain rooms have been unlocked, that catering has arrived on time, that volunteers are in place, and that classroom technology is online. There should also be several tables set up for book displays and other materials. At least two (preferably three long tables) are needed for registration.

12. Acting as receiver for any books sent by publishers who want their wares displayed at the conference, but who will not attend in person. (Said publishers will have been told that NEPCA does not return these items and that will be considered donations.) The chair will also provide logistical support for vendors that are attending in the way of display tables. (They are responsible for their set up and removal.) Chairs often find it useful to invite local publishers or vendors to display at the conference.

13. Working with the executive secretary to make certain that all vendors and contracted workers are paid in a timely fashion. The chair should keep careful account of all incidental expenses (pens, badges, signs, etc.) so that these can be reimbursed.

14. Reporting all conference no-shows to the executive secretary.

15. By custom, the program chair becomes the new president of NEPCA upon the rise of the conference. The chair can decline, though the NEPCA presidency is generally viewed as an honorific award for the labor of having served as program chair.


 The Local Arrangements Chair is NEPCA’s concierge for the annual conference. This person works closely with the Program Chair. Among the duties:

1. Working with local hotels to alert them of when NEPCA will be in the area. The chair often arranges with one or two hotels to set aside a block of rooms for the conference weekend. NEPCA does not sign contracts or make guarantees with said hotels, but there has seldom been a case in which all set-aside rooms were not filled. To reassure hotels, the chair can arrange for a book-by date–which NEPCA will advertise–and release hotels from the promise to reserve any rooms not booked by that date. If possible, secure a conference rate for the hotels designated as “recommended.”

2. Compiling a range of hotels from inexpensive to moderate in price. The chair should pass onto the executive secretary all contact information (addresses, phone numbers, and website information) for area hotels ASAP–if possible 2-3 months before the conference.

3. Generating a list of restaurant recommendations for conference attendees. Please provide a range of options and prices. The list should concentrate on those establishments that are close to the host institution and/or to the hotels at which most attendees will be staying. This list–with addresses, phone numbers, and a several word description of fare (American, pizza, Italian family-style, etc.)–should be sent to the executive secretary at least one month before the conference. Use this designation to give an idea of how much a meal costs: $ (Cheap, in & out for $10); $$ ($10-20); $$$ ($20-30); $$$$ (fine dining, expensive)

4. Researching the best ways to arrive to conference and providing this information to the executive secretary 2-3 months before the conference. Most attendees will drive, so please provide driving directions from all cardinal points.

–If the area is serviced by airlines, please provide the names of local air carriers and give explicit instructions on how one gets from the airport to the site. Please provide bus line numbers, contact information for cab companies (and an estimate of how much it will cost) and/or shuttle firms.

–If the area is serviced by rail and/or bus service, please provide the same information as requested above for airlines.)

–IMPORTANT: Hotels often offer shuttles to airports and rail lines. It is crucial to advise when these servicesoperate as individuals may be arriving or leaving an unorthodox times.

5. Compiling a list of area attractions (with websites, addresses) such as museums, historic districts, and special events. Visitors often stay an extra day or two to explore the conference city and area. The chair should send a list of attractions to the executive secretary 2-3 months before the conference. If there is an arts and entertainment publication that attendees can access, please provide this information.

6. Making certain that the campus and its entrances are liberally signposted on the days of the conference. Signs directing attendees to parking, registration, and conference sites should be placed in easy-to-see spots. The more (and bigger) signs, the better. Poor signage is among the very few things about which conference attendees complain.

7. Placing signs (by session number) on the doors of classroom spaces used during the conference. These should be changed before each new session. (They need not be elaborate. For example, if classroom 104 hosts a sports panel at 8:30 and a film panel at 10:30, simply post a sign on the door at around 8 that says 8:30—Panel 3, Sports. Remove it at around 10:00 and put up one that says 10:30–Panel 14, Film. The panel numbers and names should correspond to what appears on the final conference schedule.)

8. Working closely with the program chair during the conference to help assure that visitors are easily acclimated to the campus and the area. The local arrangements chair often acts as the assistant to the program chair.

             9. Working closely with relevant college offices such as security and the college PR office. The latter is encouraged to assemble a folder of information about the college and the area that can be handed out to registrants.


1.  Solicit proposals in your area for the upcoming NEPCA conference.  These proposals should be sent to both you and the conference Program Chair.  Get details on the upcoming conference.

2.  Advertise regularly for proposals.  A good place to do this is on H-Net.  We strongly recommend you post monthly Calls for Papers on H-Net.  You can send notes to H-Commons. It currently uses a system called H-Announce for Calls forPapers, but the H-Net site is periodically updated, so be sure to double check on its current polices.   We also encourage you to send out flyers to outlets you may know of.

[A sample CFP is outlined below.  Feel free to alter it to your taste.]

3.  As you receive proposals, evaluate them for worthiness and recommend to the Program Chair whether or not the proposal is worthy of inclusion in the fall program. Please note: The program committee makes the final call on accepting or rejecting proposals. We almost always accept the area chair recommendation, but sometimes have to reject papers that don’t fit into a conference panel slot.  Please advise applicants that they will hear from the Program Chair by early July.

4.  If you have enough good proposals to fashion an entire panel (generally, this would be three 20-minute presentations), recommend that panel to the Program Chair. Complete panels are almost always accepted in their entirety, though we request that not all panelists come from the same institution.

5.  Attend the fall NEPCA conference and chair a panel devoted to your area.  If you are unable to attend, please recommend another scholar who would be willing to take your place. (Caveat: That person must be a NEPCA member or be willing to become one.)

  Sample Call for Papers:


            The Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) is seeking paper proposals on the topic of [subject area] for its fall conference to be held at [location] on [date].

Please send  electronic versions of your proposal to: [Use the URL for the current year’s Google form] See complete details.

NEPCA presentations are generally 20 minutes in length and may be delivered either formally or informally.  NEPCA prides itself on holding conferences which emphasize sharing ideas in a non-competitive and supportive environment involving graduate students, junior faculty, and senior scholars.


 The biggest duties of book committee members are to:

  • Evaluate all books submitted for the Rollins Prize according to a schedule set by the chair,
  • Participate (via email) in deliberations over the prize winner
  • Write at least one review (600-900) words of one of the books you evaluate before August 1 for publication in the fall issue of NEPCA News.
  • Rigidly adhere to deadlines.      

Here are several additional guidelines:

1. Before you read, make certain the book is eligible for the Rollins Prize. The author must either live or teach in New England or New York or have done so in the past two years. If you are uncertain, ask the committee chair to check.

2. You need not evaluate any of the following types of books as they are ineligible for consideration: fiction, poetry, annotated works, edited collections, reference works, or text books. The books must also deal, in a substantial way, with popular and/or American culture (broadly defined).

3. Unless a publisher has special permission to nominate more than one book they must choose just one for prize eligibility. If you notice more than one from any single publisher please alert the committee chair.

The committee chair should contact the publisher immediately and ask which one book they wish to have the committee consider. The chair may use his/her discretion to allow a second book, but should do so only if both books are, in the chair’s opinion, equally worthy of consideration.

4. We suggest that you read each eligible book as it comes to you, especially given that some publishers send books as the deadline looms.

5. The committee must make its final decision prior to July 15. Your chair may set other criteria but generally NEPCA asks evaluators to rate the following three criteria:

a. Scholarship: Is the work solidly researched? Is the author aware of other works on this topic? Does the author use credible and/or germane sources? Does the work add anything new or important to the fields of popular and/or American culture? Is the work original, or merely parroting what others have said?

b. Style: Is the book written in an accessible fashion? Is the text understandable? Is the book an engaging read? (NEPCA tends not to reward authors who use turgid prose or those who write only for like-minded specialists.)

c. Appeal to NEPCA Membership: Would this book appeal to NEPCA’s broad-based membership? Could it be used in the classroom? Does it reveal things our members need to know? Is this an important book?

6. The chair will compile the ratings of all committee members and the point total determines the winner. In the event of a tie the chair will ask each committee member to rank the tied books. If there is still a tie the chair will cast the deciding vote.

7. Members may collectively decide upon an Honorable Mention book and it will be cited in the newsletter. (It will not, however, result in any cash award.)

8. The chair should write or assign a review of the winning book (400-750 words) and get this to the newsletter editor before August 1.

9. Each member will write a review (400-700 words) of one of the books and submit it to the newsletter editor before August 1. The chair will coordinate the assignment of reviews, but members should alert the chair immediately if there is one they want to write. The chair has guidelines for reviews and will forward them to committee members.

Reviews should be submitted to newsletter editor Rob Weir: (Early reviews are gratefully accepted and will be posted on the Website as well as published in the newsletter.)


The book committee’s role is to serve as peer reviewers for any review under consideration for publication in any NEPCA forum.

The committee advises the executive secretary, who also serves as editor of NEPCA publications. Reviews should be analyzed for:

  • Accuracy
  • Style and grammar
  • Interest to NEPCA members

Committee members also suggest edits, raise author queries, and alert the editor of any concerns they have about the review.

Reviews will be edited and forwarded to authors to address queries and/or approve of edits.

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