Conference Reports

Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference, San Diego, 12th-15th April 2017

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The PCA/ACA Joint National Conference gathers over 2000 delegates from all over the world to discuss popular and American culture. Believing that the scope of American Studies had been limited in its focus on canonical authors, these associations were established with the aim to assert the importance of material culture, film, music, and graphic novels. The ethos underpinning the PCA/ACA joint conference, then, is to encourage daring new research which draws heavily upon sources traditionally neglected by academia. Thanks to the generous grant awarded by the Faculty of Arts, I was able to travel to San Diego to present at this prestigious (and enormous!) conference. Having contacted two PhD students at different institutions in the UK, we co-ordinated a panel called ‘The Battle for Autonomy: Identity Politics in Mental Health Narratives’ which fitted into the Medical Humanities strand of the conference; this was one of more than 100 strands in the conference. We each spoke for 20 minutes followed by questions. The scale of this conference cannot be understated: panels ran for over 12 hours a day and there were often 30 panels taking place simultaneously in different rooms, each panel was an hour and a half long, typically with 3 or 4 speakers, and there were only 15 minute breaks in-between each panel. This was so different to any conference I had ever been to before. The scope and breadth of the conference meant that I attended papers on subjects ranging from visualising health and the “meme-ification” of scientific knowledge, to mental health and gender, to rape culture and Donald Trump, to queer signifiers in Disney films, to cyborgs and disability. It was an extremely exciting, stimulating, and daunting environment to be in, and I have taken so much away from the experience – both intellectually and personally.

I am so grateful for the receiving funding from the Faculty of Arts Researcher Mobility Grant that enabled me to attend this incredible conference.

Katrina Longhurst, School of English 

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  1. Sixteenth Century Society Conference, Bruges, 18th-20th August 2016
  2. XVII EURALEX International Congress, 6th - 10th September 2016
  3. Eighth Rethymnon International Conference on the Ancient Novel, Rethymnon, 14th - 15th October 2016
  4. Native American Literature Symposium Minnesota, United States, 2nd - 4th March 2017
  5. Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference, San Diego, 12th-15th April 2017
  6. The European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSAeu), Basel, 21st-24th June 2017
  7. The American Comparative Literature Association 2017 Annual Meeting, Utrecht, 6th-9th July 2017