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History Club Travels to SWPACA

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 03/06/2018 History Club members and faculty advisors recently traveled to Albuquerque, N.M. for the 39th Annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference. —Courtesy PhotoHistory Club members and faculty advisors recently traveled to Albuquerque, N.M. for the 39th Annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference. —Courtesy Photo

Goodwell, Okla. — Members of the Oklahoma Panhandle State University History Club and faculty advisors recently traveled to the 39th Annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. February 7-10.

Panhandle State students had the opportunity to attend a number of sessions including workshops, panels, and sessions featuring everything from film to history to literary studies and even gaming culture. Professional development sessions were available to all participants throughout the week and included panels on publishing, the job search, and pedagogy, among others. The keynote speaker for the conference was Dr. Julia Lee, whose book Our Gang: A Racial History of the Little Rascals is the 2017 Rollins Book Award recipient. Dr. Lee discussed The Little Rascals’ influence on American popular culture and the story behind how she came to write and research the cultural history of the comedy series.

Senior Kara Hill said, “I not only enjoyed listening to the different speakers discuss their topics, I also learned a lot about the breakdown of the various subjects. I enjoyed all of the presentations, especially the Films of Alfred Hitchcock panel, and it was great meeting each of the presenters.”

Sophomore Hannah Johnson added, “SWPACA was such a wonderful experience for me. We really do help represent OPSU at a national level! We also get to spend quality time with our departmental professors and fellow students, and get to meet and network with graduates and professional scholars who share our interests.”

Professor of History Dr. Maille chaired and presented in one panel. Professor of History Dr. Duren chaired four panels as he is Area Chair for Film and History. Duren is one of the conference’s longest serving area chairs and participants, as this was his 21st SWPACA conference.

“The SWPACA is a great conference for students,” Duren said, “ as its breadth of topics demonstrates a unique, interdisciplinary approach to learning. Our students gain a lot from the sessions, and I am proud to say, they represent OPSU well, interacting both with graduate students and professional scholars. They definitely make great impressions and we receive a lot of compliments on our students and their knowledge!”

The mission of the SWPACA is to promote an innovative and nontraditional academic movement in the humanities and social sciences celebrating America’s cultural heritages, and to increase awareness and improve public perceptions of America’s cultural traditions and diverse populations. The SWPACA provides a professional network for scholars, writers, and others interested in popular/American culture via our annual academic conference and through our open-source, peer-reviewed academic journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy.

Additionally, the SWPACA has a long-standing commitment to supporting the development of new and young academic professionals in the fields of popular and/or American cultural studies through conference travel grants, paper awards, and professional development opportunities. 

Students attending the conference were Kara Hill, Shawn Smith, David Peebles, Hannah Johnson, and BJ Munsch. Faculty members Dr. Brad Duren and Dr. Patrick Maille served as the group’s advisors.

Panhandle State’s History Club is open to all students regardless of major. The club seeks to promote interest in the importance and study of history and culture as important building blocks to better understanding our world, our communities, and ourselves.

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