Northeast Popular/American Culture Association Conference

"The culture industry delivers to us from Madison Avenue and Hollywood"

"Literature, TV, film, advertising, music, dance - any way that mass culture is formed or defined is covered in the program," said Professor Robert Niemi, professor and chair of the Saint Michael's College English Department, and local host of the Northeast Popular/American Culture Association annual conference to be held at Saint Michael's College October 25 and 26. 

"Sports, the internet, environmental power in the urban arena - it's an utterly eclectic field," Niemi said.  An array of topics from comics and Lady Gaga to basketball and Reality TV will be addressed by 166 scholars in 43 different panels spread over two days, with seven or eight concurrent sessions running at once in academic buildings on the Saint Michael's College campus. Presenters come mostly from colleges and universities in the Northeast with some also from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, California, Canada, and several European countries.  

"This is the biggest conference in the organization's forty-year history," Professor Niemi said. The public is welcome to attend the panel sessions. 

Panel on School Shootings, Friday, Oct. 25, 2 p.m.-3:30, Saint Edmund's Hall #101

One of the most timely topics this year is a panel about  a course at Franklin Pierce University titled "Intentional Venom: Making Meaning of School Shootings." This panel will include the instructor and students discussing its content and pedagogy, including an interactive learning exercise. 

Professor Niemi said "popular culture," given a Marxist definition, comes out of a culture industry, "manufactured by centers of capital and delivered to us from Madison Avenue and Hollywood."

A full schedule of NEPCA events is available online.

Some of the topics (out of the 166) include

  • Comics and the Graphic Novels: What's Behind the Superhero?
  • Becoming This Way: Lady Gaga at the Borderline between the Commercial and the Spiritual
  • Who's Afraid of Ai Wei Wei? Creating ART(i)FACTS in the Twittersphere
  • The Mostest Horse: Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and the Anatomy of Racing
  • Electrifyingly Cool and Sexy: The Cultural Politics of Speed in Ron Howard's Rush
  • De-Domesticating the Girl Through Barbie Play
  • Gender Identity Construction, Subversion, and Drag in Disney Princess Films
  • The Pyramid Effect: Power, Femininity, and Conflict on Dance Moms
  • The Real Housewives of Bravo TV: Teaching, Critiquing, and creating Women's Work
  • Representing the Professional woman in Popular Culture: From 19th Century Portrayals of Female Lawyers to The Good Wife
  • Insider Baseball and Fantasy Politics: Joan Didion, New Media, and Political Narrative as Spectator Sport
  • Bruises as Badges: the Embodiment of Punk Values in the Liminal Space of the Mosh Pit
  • "I'mma Let You Finish But…": Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Beyonce Knowles and the Reverberations of Racial Gendering at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards
  • Why does Your Purse Match my Windows 8: Color Trends and Interface Design
  • Pivot, Pivot, Run, and Jump: The Choreography of Basketball as Art and Sport  

Saint Michael's professors making presentations at the conference include Katherine Kirby (philosophy), Maura D'Amore (English), Joan Wry (English), Jonathan D'Amore (English), Christina Root (English), Robert Niemi (English), Douglas Slaybaugh (History), and Kerry Shea (English). The title, time and place of each of their presentations can be found on the conference schedule.

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