Call for Papers
The Geek and Popular Culture
Southwest Popular / American Culture Association (SWPACA)
38th Annual Conference, February 15-18, 2017
Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Proposal submission EXTENDED to November 15, 2016
Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 38th annual SWPACA conference. One of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary academic conferences, SWPACA offers nearly 70 subject areas, each typically featuring multiple panels. For a full list of subject areas, area descriptions, and Area Chairs, please visit http://southwestpca.org/conference/call-for-papers/
The Geek and Popular Culture: A Love/Hate Relationship
It’s every child’s schoolyard nightmare—to be called a “nerd.” From an early age, we know that being labeled a “nerd” or a “geek” isn’t a good thing. It implies too much knowledge and too few social skills. Yet, as much as we don’t want to be labeled a “geek,” we value their knowledge and expertise, as Best Buy’s labeling their technical support “The Geek Squad” exemplifies. Furthermore, the popularity of the reigning “nerd” powerhouse The Big Bang Theory (now available nightly via syndication) or any number of other series—NBC’s Chuck and the ubiquitous “Nerd Herd,” BBC’s Doctor Who, Fox’s 24 and Touch, or the Sci-Fi Channel’s Eureka—proves that America may want to watch “geeks” and use them but we “wouldn’t wanna be them.”
America’s love/hate relationship with geeks, or nerds, is not new. The power of the nerd character was solidified in the early 90s with the introduction of the character Steve Urkel onto the series Family Matters. Urkel, with his heavy-rimmed glasses, suspenders, and pocket protector saved the series from cancellation with his first appearance. The new millennium has seen “reality” television that focused on geeks and transformation in Beauty and the Geek, reality television that allows us all to embrace our own “nerd” in the case of MythBusters, as well as crime dramas that cannot function without the “squints”—Numb3rs, Bones, Scorpion, etc. It appears that nerds are here to stay which begs the question: is it that American culture is becoming more accepting of difference or have we made “geeking out” okay and thereby created a new level of “geekdom”?
This area seeks to examine the relationship between popular culture and the ever-changing geek or nerd – particularly looking at the way the nerd has changed over time and what these changes can mean for the future of “nerds” of every type. Topics could include: defining the “geek,” the geek versus the nerd, female geeks or nerds, depictions of geeks, depictions of nerds, tropes surrounding nerds/geeks, Hollywood’s pseudo-nerd creations, the “babe” in nerd/geek television series or films, differences between the two terms and their depictions in television or film, the power of the nerd, the social acceptance of the term “geek,” and much more.
All proposals must be submitted through the conference’s database at http://conference2017.southwestpca.org/
For details on using the submission database and on the application process in general, please see the Proposal Submission FAQs and Tips page at
Individual proposals for 15 minute papers must include an abstract of approximately 200-500 words. Including a brief bio in the body of the proposal form is encouraged, but not required.
For information on how to submit a proposal for a roundtable or a multi-paper panel, please view the above FAQs and Tips page.
The deadline for submissions has been extended to November 15, 2016.
SWPACA offers monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due December 1. For more information, visit http://southwestpca.org/conference/graduate-student-awards/
Registration and travel information for the conference is available at http://southwestpca.org/conference/registration/
In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at http://journaldialogue.org
If you have any questions about the Geek and Popular Culture area, please contact its Area Chair, Dr. Kathryn Lane, Northwestern Oklahoma State University at KELane@nwosu.edu.
We look forward to receiving your submissions.
Dr. Kathryn Lane