Pop culture faculty start new national association conference

Joan Nicks, left, and John Burtniak take questions during the keynote presentation at the inaugural Popular Culture Association of Canada conference. Prof. Barry Grant, right, was chair.Three researchers at Brock have helped form a new nationwide association dedicated to the study of popular culture.Nick Baxter-Moore, Scott Henderson and Greg Gillespie — professors in Brock’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film – are at the centre of the new the Popular Culture Association of Canada (PCA-Canada), an organization of researchers who focus on Canadian and international pop culture. It is the first organization of its kind in Canada.Nick Baxter-MooreIt makes sense that such a group would start at Brock, said Baxter-Moore, who serves as PCA-Canada’s first president. The University is a leader in the academic study of popular culture, and 10 years ago established the country’s first graduate program in the field.“Our program is definitely one of the things that makes Brock unique,” he said.The association has an eight-member executive board that includes representatives from Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. It has also founded a new journal, the Canadian Journal of Popular Culture. The triannual publication will release its first volume later this year, and there is a call for papers for the first issue. Gillespie and Baxter-Moore are co-editors.The PCA-Canada held its inaugural conference in Niagara Falls on May 12 to 14. About 140 attendees from as far as Australia took in a number of sessions, including a keynote talk by Joan Nicks, an adjunct professor of Brock’s Communication, Popular Culture and Film, and John Burtniak, retired head of Special Collections and Archives.The pair presented “Motel Culture and Tourist City — Niagara Falls, Ontario: An Illustrated Address.” Using a slide show and film clips, they described the history of the city’s tourist accommodations from the motels of old to the modern high-rise hotels along the river’s edge.Other topics included:The Nexus of Authenticity: Lady Gaga’s Self-branding and the Success of her Psychopathy (Tom Mayberry, McMaster University)Dinnertime and the Magic of Food: An Exploratory Study of Dinner Party Rituals (Jacqueline Botterill, Brock)“I Am Not Jasmine; I Am Aladdin”: Nicki Minaj’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Feminism (Chris Richardson, University of Western Ontario)Can the Internet be as Effective for Governing as it has been for Campaigning? (Richard A. Lee, Rutgers)The success of the conference, Baxter-Moore said, “gave us a solid foundation for the association.”The PCA-Canada has about 140 members from across the country so far. Other associations are being founded around the world, Baxter-Moore said. This one is distinctly Canadian.“We want to establish a venue where Canadian scholars can gather to discuss their research.”Those interested in joining PCA-Canada should visit canpop.ca/membership or contact Scott Henderson, executive director, at [email protected]