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Short Summary of NEPCA Areas

These are listed alphabetically. Scroll down for the area(s) you are seeking. You can also get an idea of the types of papers NEPCA presents by perusing online copies of NEPCA News

American Literature: invites presentations on any genre and period of American literature. Studies of race, ethnicity, and gender are encouraged, as are presentations on the intersections of American literature and areas of popular culture, including film, music, performing,and visual arts. All critical approaches are welcome.

Possible topics in American literature might include:

  • Countercultural narratives including Beat literature, Gonzo journalism, and hipster fiction
  • Folklore ranging from tall tales to urban legends
  • Food and foodways including representations of regional cuisines
  • Graphic novels and comics
  • Motor culture and road novels
  • Mystery, detective and crime fiction
  • Prison literature
  • Science fiction, horror, and fantasy
  • War literature

The Celebrity  area of the Northeast Popular Culture Association encourages submissions from scholars and independent researchers interested in interrogating the ideas and the ideals of celebrity. We welcome submissions from all theoretical and philosophical perspectives. We are open to submissions in any area of celebrity studies including but not limited to:

  • Creation and authenticity of celebrity
  • Celebrity and gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity and age
  • Celebrity marketing, advertising, and public relations
  • Social media use and celebrity status
  • Fandom of celebrities
  • Political celebrity
  • Celebrity and illness
  • Sport celebrity
  • Issues of fame and what it means to be famous in our culture
  • Celebrity comparisons between cultures
  • Trust and value of celebrity
  • An individual celebrity

Celtic Studies: explores the popular culture connections (including film, literature, movies, comics, and song) of the six Celtic language and culture areas: Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Manx, Cornish, and Breton. Presentations include such topics as:

  • Frederick Douglass and Ireland
  • Richard Burton and Wales
  • The Adaptations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Scottish Influence
  • “Civilizing the Stage Irishman: Remaking Downton Abbey’s Fenian Chauffeur”
  • Clancy Brothers to Drop Kick Murphys: Irish Music as American Soundtrack
  • Rush Rhees and Welsh Philosophy

Any paper addressing Celtic issues and popular culture will be considered for presentation.

Comics and Graphic Novels: This area considers comics and graphic novels. Among the topics welcomed are those probing:

  • The history and cultural impact of comics and graphic novels
  • Representations of comics and graphic novels in popular culture and media
  • How personal and social identities are manifest in comics and graphic novels
  • Body image in comics and graphic novels
  • Comics and graphic novels as an arena of social, political, and cultural struggle
  • The economic impact of comics and graphic novels

Dance and Popular Culture: embraces scholarly work on movement ranging from self-expression, to public participation, and performance. The informal aspect includes inquiry into emerging dance forms, the influences of social media, and embodiment of movement. Public participation includes dancer lifestyle, fitness dance trends, dance clothing, and club culture. Inquiry into dance performance includes analysis of choreography, ethnic influence on dance, trends, dance companies, dance on television and on film.

Digital Media and Gaming Culture: explores all aspects of popular culture in the digital age:

  • social media
  • blogging / v-logging
  • gaming
  • information retrieval and archiving
  • virtual reality
  • online and open source publishing
  • online television
  • tabletop and board games
  • pinball machines and their ilk

We encourage papers that deploy or imbricate multi-disciplinary theory in order to analyze individual games of all genres, social media threads and trends, and digital systems of societal control.

Representative recent papers have developed neo-Marxist, psychoanalytic, feminist, Queer, African-American, non-western, and post-structuralist approaches to well-known video games, as well as historicist appreciations of the evolution of the digital world. Proposals that deal with or touch upon almost anything connected with computer-driven culture are welcome.

The Fantastic (Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction) area formed in 2008. It seeks proposals from scholars of all levels for papers that explore any aspect of the intermedia traditions of the fantastic (including, but not limited to, elements of fairy tale, fantasy, gothic, horror, legend, mythology, and science fiction) and how creative artists have altered our preconceptions of these sub-traditions by producing innovative works in diverse countries and time periods and for audiences at all levels.

Film and History: welcomes presentations on a wide range of film topics contributing to popular culture. Suggestions for topics include the following areas of analysis:

  • Films that portray history with great accuracy or which provide fresh or controversial perspectives regarding events (e.g. Spotlight, JFK)
  • Films exploring the nature of complex characters or incorporating social, political, and ultural themes (e.g., heroism, friendship, injustice, racism, betrayal, ambition)
  • Film adaptations of other media, such as novels, short stories, and the theatre, or from real life situations
  • Film genres, such as romantic comedy, the gangster film, the western, the war film, or science fiction
  • History of the cinema
  •  Economic and cultural impacts of film on society
  • Academy Awards’ nominations, policies, and practices

Folklore and Folktales: explores the area of folkloric practices, including art, literature, knowledge and practices, as well as the fields that fall under and emerged out of folktales, including myths, legends, fairy tales and fables. Papers may be drawn from past instances as well as present practices – both foreign and domestic. Research may also look at modern reconfigurations of folklore and folktales, such as pilgrimage practices at Graceland, modern fairy tale retellings, new urban legends, etc.

Food, Foodways and Culture: This area explores intersections among food, eating, and popular culture. Possible topics of interest include the following:

  • The history of food and dining
  • Depictions of food and dining in popular culture
  • Connections among food, eating and identity
  • The history and culture of restaurants
  • Food festivals and cooking competitions
  • Cookbooks as popular culture
  • The Food Network and celebrity chefs

Gender, Identity, Sex and Sexuality: investigates issues central to the discussion and understanding of gender, identity, sex, and sexuality.  Some particular topics may include:

  • Queer Theory
  • LGBTQ legislation
  • Coding
  • Terminology and nomenclature
  • Performativity
  • Coming Out
  • Health and health policy
  • Intersectionality/hybridity

Subject matter may derived from any number of diverse fields of academic inquiry, including but not limited to visual art, literature, performing arts, political science, social science, public policy and critical race studies.

Global Culture Studies: invites presentations on any aspect of global (international and/or ethnic) culture. Some areas of interest include:

  •  Arts initiatives-including public art exhibits, guerrilla gardening, tagging etc
  • Immigrant neighborhoods
  • Music, including world music
  • Literature
  • Any other aspects of culture in its broadest meaning(s)

Health, Disease and Popular Culture: addresses a number of topic areas and approaches in historical and contemporary perspective including:

  • Social determinants of health discourse including race, ethnicity, class, place, built environment
  • Cultural contexts of narratives of illness from patient and health practitioner perspectives in novels, short stories, memoirs, graphic comics, etc.
  • Cultural discourses of infectious disease outbreaks, epidemic, pandemic, emerging infectious disease, chronic illnesses
  • Promotion of individual health in culture:  diet, exercise, public hygiene, lifestyle
  • Food Security and Insecurity as portrayed in media
  • Health Policy and portrayals of health and disease in visual and print culture

Humor: seeks papers considering humor in popular culture, past and present. Recent papers have considered Canada’s CODCO and Kids in the Hall, social messages in Richard Pryor’s stand-up comedy, and political incorrectness in Seth MacFarlane’s adult television cartoons.  A more general list offers additional topics:

  • Authors, texts, and motifs from literary humor
  • Contemporary media as news source
  • Politics and the political process
  • Comedic film genres
  • Humor in advertisements
  • Comedians, past and present
  • Gender issues in humor

The Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Collections area welcomes paper submissions from librarians, archivists, curators, graduate students, faculty, collectors, writers, patrons, and researchers of popular culture and information settings of all types.

We encourage panel proposals, as well as, individual submissions.  Some topics might include:

  • Histories and profiles of museums, archives, libraries, and other popular culture resources.
  • Intellectual freedom or cultural sensitivity issues related to popular culture resources.
  • Book clubs and reading groups, city- or campus-wide reading programs.
  • Collection building and popular culture resources.
  • Organization and description of popular culture resources.
  • New media formats and popular culture in libraries, archives, or museums.
  • New media, digital literacies, databases, content management systems, access and discovery systems, websites (such as wikis, YouTube, Google, Amazon, eBay, etc.) and their impact on libraries and popular culture collections.
  • Public libraries and librarians supporting programming and outreach around popular culture resources (graphic novels, streaming video, etc.)

Music and Popular Culture / American Culture: invites presentations on any aspect of music and popular culture / American culture. Areas of interest may include:

  • Music as both an art form and a system of representation and communication
  • Music within the context of history, politics, economics, religion, philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc.
  • The role of genre in American music
  • How musical production and performance can function as a form of social/cultural expression and identity
  • How some of the most popular musical genres reflect American social and cultural ideologies
  • How technology (including various modes of industry, transportation, communication, and entertainment) has affected the evolution of American music.

Musical Theatre and Film: This area investigates topic central to the understanding of all aspects of musical theatre and their reflections and resonances in popular culture.  Some topics may include:

  • Politics
  • Performance history
  • Canons
  • Divas and Icons
  • Music
  • Choreography
  • Lyrics
  • Writers, composers, directors and designers
  • Formal traditions
  • Critical response

 Northeast Studies/Travel and Tourism: invites presentations on any aspect of New York or New England culture, including: film, literature, politics, music, entertainment, and casinos. Possible topics of interest include:

  • Entertainers/ entertainment such as Matt Damon, Amy Poehler, James Woods, off-Broadway, Coney Island
  • Television crime families
  • Election year politics and the region’s role such as Dixville Notch, the Kennedys, , Bernie Sanders, Ed Muskie, Nelson Rockefeller, or iconic figures such as Raymond Patriarca, Whitey Bulger, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, George Steinbrenner
  • Place-based literature from authors like Philip Roth, Steven King, Carolyn Chute, Archer Mayor
  • The musical roots of Aerosmith, Simon & Garfunkel, Dropkick Murphys, 50 Cent.
  • This area also looks at larger questions of travel and tourism, including:
    • The creation of regional identities and the invention of place, heritage, and attractions
    • Tourism as marketing
    • Travel narratives and popular culture
    • The development of destination and niche tourism, including eco, medical and educational tourism
    • How tourism and travel mesh (or fail to) with internationalism
    • The economics of tourism and travel
    • Travel/tourism films ranging from documentaries to National Lampoon franchise films

Philosophy and Popular Culture: “Philosophy? I always preferred common sense.” This infuriating phrase has met the exasperated ears of many individuals invested in philosophy, whether people trained in the discipline, teaching in it, or simply appreciative of its value for society. Building bridges between philosophy and apparent “common sense,” however, depends upon those who have regard for philosophical discourse and inquiry. We are interested in papers that look at:

  • Philosophy as related to television shows, sitcoms, reality TV shows, sports, wrestling, etc
  • Problems of philosophy as they emerge on the big screen and film (live action or animated)
  • Videogames, board games, live participation in games such as LARPing, Dungeons and Dragons, or Cosplay
  • Fantasy, science fiction, and fiction novels and graphic novels, especially those with broad-base appeal and influence in their genre/niche
  • Other major arenas of popular culture which implicate philosophical discourse and have definable reach for analysis
  • Popular culture which conspicuously appeals to a major philosophical figure such as Aquinas, Plato, Descartes, Locke, Hobbes, Hume, etc (such as the show Lost)
  • Any major branch or sub-branch of philosophy as applied to popular culture, including:
  1. Epistemology
  2. Aesthetics
  3. Ethics
  4. Politics
  5. Metaphysics
  6. Philosophy of religion

Both analytical and continental styles and figures within philosophy are welcome, although clarity of analysis and subject matter are always appreciated.

 Politics, Civic Life and Culture: explores the role of political actors, institutions, ideology, rhetoric, and satire in popular culture. Papers may be drawn from all policy domains – both foreign and domestic. Recent conferences featured panels on:

  • The presidency in popular culture
  • Storytelling in the public square
  • News coverage of political figures and campaigns
  • Narrative approaches to public policy
  • Political icons
  •  American identity. 

Religion in Popular Culture/ Religious Studies and Popular Culture: casts a wide net to encompass the place, role, expression, and interface of religion in popular culture across geographical and chronological boundaries.  Papers may be drawn from a range of disciplines and methodologies and papers that express new conceptualizations of ‘religion’ are also welcome. Examples of themes in recent papers include:

  • Religion, gender and ritual
  • Religious themes in adolescent literature
  • Religious institutions and modern American history
  • Religious symbology and tattoos.

The Science and Technology area of the Northeast Popular Culture Association encourages paper submissions that explore the relation of science and technology to popular culture and to American culture. Science and technology are broadly defined. Some topics may include:

-science and technology in print and visual culture
-cultural influences on science and technology
-popularization of science and technology
-science education and the celebrity scientist
-science and technology in the museum
-science and the internet
-science, technology, and the future

Sports: This area probes American and international intersections between sports, society, and culture. Among the topics welcomed are those probing:

  • The history and cultural impact of sports
  • Representations of sports in popular culture and media
  • How personal and social identities are manifest in sports
  • Sports and body image
  • Sports as an arena of social, political, and cultural struggle
  • The economic impact of sports

Creative projects, fiction, and memoir are considered only insofar as they are part of broader analytical frameworks.

Teaching Popular Culture: This area focuses how to teach popular culture, which may include sharing unique approaches to:

  • Teaching courses focused specifically on “popular culture”
  • Teaching courses on an area within popular culture (e.g. courses that focus on the content and cultural aspects–not necessarily the “how-to” aspects of comics, video games, horror, Harry Potter, baseball, The Beatles, etc).
  • Teaching mainstream courses using popular culture (e.g. baseball statistics for explaining, statistics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for explaining political theory, Star Trek for exploring biology).

This particular area is focused more on sharing successful and interesting teaching practices for other scholars and educators to learn or borrow from.

Television: encompasses presentations from a broad array of perspectives, especially given that what constitutes “television” in the 21st century is in flux. Possible topics or approaches include but are not remotely limited to:

  • Broadcast history
  • Consumption modes
  • Content Formats
  • Reality TV
  • Future of TV
  • Cultural and societal impact
  • Gender, race and ethnicity
  • Artifacts and rituals
  • Advertising
  • Theories and criticism
  • The business of TV

Urban Culture: invites presentations on any aspect of urban popular culture and various modalities of inhabiting the city. History-based papers will be considered as long as they are directly tied to an urban culture initiative. Some areas of interest include:

  • Urban activism, including reflections on the occupy movement
  • Urban renewal issues including eminent domain
  • Gentrification and its effects on inner city populations and the art community
  • Urban arts initiatives-including public art exhibits, guerrilla gardening, tagging etc
  • Immigrant neighborhoods
  • Walkable cities and automobile cultures
  • Urban green space as public space

 

War, Peace, and Culture: invites paper proposals that explore the cultural dimensions of military affairs.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lives or ordinary soldiers and sailors
  • Monuments, memorials, and commemorative activities of war and military affairs
  • Portrayals of war and military affairs in film, literature, and other media
  • Protest movements for or against war and military activities
  • Veterans organizations and other such cultural activities among former military personnel

Proposals from any academic discipline are welcome.

 

World Literature:  welcomes papers that explore both individual works of world literature as well as contemporary issues in the field of World Literature.  Questions under consideration could include how to understand what world literature is, how best to teach works of world literature, and explorations of current trends in postcolonial, world and comparative literatures.  Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Intersections of popular culture and World Literature
  • Retelling of works of world literature in popular culture media
  • Publication, reception and audience of World Literature
  • World Literature and the American classroom
  • Violence in World Literature
  • Trends in World Literature
  • The Future of World Literature
  • Translation
  • World Literature and Genre
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