English faculty presents at Pop Culture Conference

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English faculty presents at Pop Culture Conference

All four faculty members of the English department visited Albuquerque, N.M. in early February to attend and present at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference. 

The faculty members who presented and the title of their presentations are Dr. Kathryn Lane, Department of English, Foreign Language and Humanities chair and assistant professor of English,“The Geek and Popular Culture: A Love/Hate relationship;"  Dr. Richmond Adams, assistant professor of English, "True Grit adn the Wool Hat Boys: Mattie Ross and the Culture of Southern Post Bellum Politics;" Kathleen Earnest, instructor of English, "Disturbed Nerds Issue Disturbing Warnings;" and Tiffany Scarola, instructor of English, "Unusual Approaches to Composition Pedagogy Through Blind Assessment, Unusual Examples and 'The Daily Show'."  

“We like this conference because it is an international conference that’s an easy travel distance and focuses on various aspects of a dynamic area,” Lane said.  “Because a large focus of the conference is pedagogy and pop culture, that’s especially appealing to our faculty. Many of us integrate pop culture references, elements, and assignments into our classes so this conference allows us to gather new ideas and see what other faculty are using.”

The department has offered three specific sections of composition with a pop culture focus and consider it to be the niche of the English department. The courses have high enrollment, low withdrawal rates, and student engagement is high according to Lane. Because the subject matter is so current and dynamic (ranging from social media to television shows and so on), students have something to say.

“Studying popular culture means that you recognize that pop culture is a cultural artifact; it’s telling us something about where our culture has been, where we’re headed, and what we’re being sold. In my pop culture courses, I encourage students to be ‘cognizant consumers’ which will equate to more engaged citizens, employees, parents, and more,” Lane said.

The department’s abstract for their presentation included many popular TV shows that depict nerds, proving America likes to watch nerds, but not be them.  Some of the shows highlighted in the speech were The Big Bang Theory, Beauty and the Geek, and Family Matters.

For more information on the English department or the SWPCA/ACA conference contact Lane at kelane@nwosu.edu  or (580) 327-8470.