What follows is a rough overview and summary of the annual meetings since the late 80s. In many ways, the Southwest/Texas PCA/ACA has grown to become the successful group it is today from a grassroots movement of scholars pioneering new forums for the interdisciplinary study of popular and American culture. The purpose of the text is to provide a sense of the dedicated people that have led the organization over the years and a sense of some of the issues that have captured participants’ attention. Peter Rollins and Michael K. Schoenecke drafted much of the original text that has recently been expanded and edited by a team of members including Philip Heldrich, Ken Dvorak and Lacy Landrum.
Locations of Historical Records
From 1987 to the present, the associations gathered papers into a very large document called the Proceedings of the meetings. We advertised the collection to the membership and left a master copy at the Cowboy Copy Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma (home of OSU); a copy was also placed in the collection of the Edmon Low Library at OSU for record purposes. As a capstone of this process, Peter Rollins, Darin Cozzens, and Reed Harp assembled a collection of papers from the Proceedings pool into a special issue of the Journal of American Culture 14 (1991).
Presidents Jeanne Ellinger (Southwest Oklahoma State, Southwest PCA) and Kenneth Davis (Texas Tech, Texas PCA) convened the 1988 meeting of the regionals in the Student Union of Oklahoma State University, a favored location for our meetings over the years – even after separation of the regional sessions from the OSU Filmathon. (The Filmathon had supported the regional meetings fiscally to get them going.)
Innovative topics for the meeting included Textile Arts; Quilts & Weaving; Traditional Games; Religion in the Bible Belt; Texas Fiddlers; Social Images & Definitions of the West; Graffiti, Rituals, & Superstitions; Heroes; and Melodrama. Participants also enjoyed the Western Image Film Festival, which included a gamut of films from Shane (1953) to The Trip to Bountiful, at that time a new film.
As a ”favor“ to Michael K. Schoenecke (Texas Tech), the sturdy local arrangements and program chair for this meeting, Peter Rollins wrote a satirical ad for the local hotel to emphasize the benefits of the meeting. The ad was entitled ”The Paragon of Virtue Inn“ and was dismissed immediately by both Schoenecke and the local hotel manager as being to outré for the clientele. (The document worth investigating is in the organization’s archive at Oklahoma State.) The attempt at humor should perhaps be forgiven since the name of the meeting’s location was The Paragon Hotel. Presidents Jeanne Ellinger (Southwest PCA) and Kenneth Davis (Texas PCA) were both paragons of virtue; thus the hotel name was perhaps more appropriate than the facetious poem allowed.
It was at this meeting that a ”tradition“ of the SWPCA meetings began. Michael K. Schoenecke, the host for the conference, put boldly on the cover of the program the following statement:
All errors in the program should be noted – assiduously – and in writing to Peter C. Rollins.
Ever since, the conference program has contained such a statement up front, with Schoenecke and Rollins alternating responsibilities as receivers of complaints about the other’s work.
Special areas for this meeting beyond the obvious included Sports; Modern Day Fictionalizing of Cultural Myth and Reality; Photography; Family History & Research; Women & the Southwest; and High Tech & Low Tech in Texas. Conference participants toured two wineries in Lubbock, both of which make excellent, red wines from grapes grown south of town among thousands of acres of cotton fields.
Lawrence Clayton (d. 2001) acted as the host for this excellent meeting near one of the
B-1 bomber bases of the U.S. Air Force (Dyess Air Force Base) and the home of Hardin-Simmons University. Clayton, a man fond of a good Stetson and bollo tie, was a special person to this organization because he set an excellent example for us in the area of graduate student support. He worked with the students, developed their presentation skills, and chaired their sessions, assuring that the AV was in place and that the setting was perfect for his hard-working novices. We will all miss Lawrence Clayton. Peter Rollins notes that Clayton ”was an academic counterpart of John Wayne - we will live in the shadow of his memory, and will try to live by his example as a teacher.“
It was at this meeting that the Creative Writing Section really took off. It has been a major contributor to our meetings ever since due to the excellent leadership of Jerry Bradley, (currently the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Lamar) next door to the Spindletop oil field that made Texas legendary. Reed Harp (Oklahoma State) did much to form and schedule poetry for this and subsequent meetings. Other novel areas included War Veterans & Events; Publishing Workshop; Texas-Mexican Religious Folk Art; and Advertising. A flyer for this meeting advertising the area titled ”America’s War Eras“ features a photograph of Peter Rollins among others participating in an amphibious landing at DaNang Harbor in 1965. Other OSU participants taking leadership roles at this meeting were Reed Harp, Darin Cozzens (both of whom helped with the Proceedings), and Kurt Hochenauer. The Kiva Inn was an excellent site for the meeting, and the Seafood Buffet was terrific – given the distance between Abilene and the ocean waters. As was true for so many of our meetings, old friends and good neighbors joined in true, regional fellowship.
(in conjunction with the national meeting)
The regional meeting was held this year in conjunction with the national gathering in San Antonio, Texas. Texas President Robert Wylie (Amarillo College) and Southwest President Harold Hatt (Graduate Seminary, Phillips U of Enid) were assisted in putting out the call for papers by the Newsletter Editor, Mary Gill (West Texas State).
One hour of academic credit at the 4000 level (both graduate and undergraduate) was offered to those who signed up through Oklahoma State and paid for the credit hours. A few books and a log were required components of the credit option; the graduate students were expected to do more writing for the assignment and to demonstrate a higher level of sophistication. Some twenty (20) completed the credit option. We have attempted to offer a credit for meetings ever since.
Areas of study included standard items in literature and film, but some special topics stand out: The Alamo; Cowboys: History & Myth; Language & Dialect; Oilpatch Culture; and Texas Regions.
Under the superb leadership of Diana Cox (Amarillo College), the regional meeting gathered in February at the Ramada Inn with, then to date, the most elaborate and aesthetically produced Conference Program in the associations’ history. A reception at the Quarterhorse Museum in Amarillo added to the flavor of the meeting and its proud cowboy heritage. The car tour of Palo Duro Canyon gave participants an idea of the West Texas beauty that once captured the imagination of Georgia O’Keefe. The Amarillo meeting, mostly due to the wonderful planning of Diana Cox, now Professor Emeritus, had a special Texas flavor which we have never matched. As Peter Rollins has complimented, ”Her ability to lead with a gentle voice will be remembered by all; there can be much charm and strength in a Texas accent.“
This meeting was hosted by Joe Graham (Department of Sociology at Texas A&M-Kingsville) and was the most southerly of our meetings over the years. On the interstate which ran a due-Southerly course toward Mexico, we could see loads of cars being transported as agricultural products headed North toward a U.S. just coming out of the winter. Little did we realize that, later, NAFTA would turn this trickle of commerce into a flood. This campus location allowed the students of folk culture studying under Joe Graham to shine; everyone was impressed by the unique fieldwork and insightful reflections being made by many back-to-school, adult students in Graham's classes. According to Peter Rollins, ”Joe was a much-loved mentor to these wonderful students.“
Our meeting in Waco was enhanced by Baylor University’s proximity to some cultural repositories. On campus was the ”high culture“ display of the Browning Collection, artifacts and manuscripts pertaining to the life and letters of the British poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. This collection provided a spectacular experience which nearly matched the raucous concert of Sammy Kershaw on Saturday evening in the Waco Convention Center. Many at the meeting took time to visit the Dr. Pepper Museum where we learned the secret formula of this potent elixir, created in the 1920s to compete with Coca-Cola – and fairly successful in that goal in Mid-America. (The secret ingredient is prune juice.)
As was often the case in these years, Michael T. Marsden took time to visit the region and to deliver a message about the place of Popular Culture Studies in the Humanities. His sage observations were appreciated by all as were his efforts to join us in our activities. Marsden did us all a favor by bringing greetings from the national to our frontier door.
The local arrangements chief, Greg Garrett, did a fine job of putting the Waco meeting together. Garrett (graduate of Oklahoma State) has thrived at Baylor and produced award-winning essays on motion pictures and novels as well. He is a real credit to our region and has helped many students to participate in our meetings.
With Hugh Foley as general chair and Peter Rollins as host, this meeting in the Student Union of Oklahoma State ran smoothly and demonstrated that book displays could enhance our regional meetings.
The meeting was once again a decided success with Jack Bender, the artist for the comic strip Alley OOP! giving an overview of the history of comic strips and the evolution of his newspaper comic strip.
The Student Union provided excellent facilities for receptions and supplied an audiovisual staff which was always helpful. The meeting went like clockwork, and the parties were wonderful opportunities to chat, tell stories, and listen to guitar music and song.
Hugh Foley (later, in 2001, to become an Assistant Professor at Rogers State in Claremore, OK) again provided the organization for this meeting while Peter Rollins supervised and took most of the credit.
The luncheon speaker was Brother Paul Somerville, the Dean in Exile of Morningside College in Iowa. Somerville is a gifted observer of the contemporary scene, and his interactive style was appreciated by the members – especially his satirical treatment of political correctness, campus sensitivity crusades, etc. (His daily commentary can be found online, today.)
Ray and Pat Browne were in attendance and added their insights to sessions and receptions. We always appreciate their concern with regional meetings and prize the lines of communication and support they have provided over the years.
(in conjunction with the national meeting)
We met jointly for the second time in our organization's history with the National PCA/ACA groups at the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel in late March. The joint meeting was the largest to date featuring such areas as Native American Studies; Media Bias & Distortion; Slapstick Comedy; Madness in Literature, Southwestern Literature; and more.
Mrs. Browne scheduled us for wonderful rooms at the hotel, and a special luncheon was held for President Mario Herrera in the main dining room. The PCA/ACA also had a special event to honor Marshall Fishwick, one of the founders of the PCA and the recipient of the ACA's Ray and Pat Browne Award. These joint meetings allowed scholars from other regions to sample the subject areas and work of the Southwest/Texas PCA/ACA, and we are thankful for the opportunity.
The Holiday Inn at Lubbock was the location of the annual meeting with hosting shared by Jill Talbot and Lynnea Chapman King and with Michael K. Schoenecke as supervisor. The Texas Tech Press mounted an impressive display of books, banners, and flyers; the journal Film & History was also represented. (See website: www.filmandhistory.org)
Again, the speaker was Brother Paul Somerville whose wit and wisdom are part of the Will Rogers satiric tradition, although Somerville carries considerably more weight in this area than his Oklahoma predecessor.
The Center for the Study of the Vietnam Conflict provided participants with a tour of its (then) new facility – a three-story building next to the university library. Oral history collections, paper collections, relevant books, and films were all shown to those on the tour—including films such as Television’s Vietnam: The Real Story (1984) and Television’s Vietnam: The Impact of Media (1985), generously donated by Peter Rollins. The Center now occupies a larger building on the Texas Tech campus and conducts numerous scholarly conferences during the year. The Vietnam veterans and scholars among us were very impressed by the opportunities provided by the resource center. There is more work to be done there, and the staff is extremely helpful to visitors. (The famous Douglas Pike and his collection of original materials are now at the Center – the documents for study, and Pike for wise counsel and guidance of scholars.)
This was our first of three years at the same conference site. Program Chair for the meeting was Michael K. Schoenecke, and Lynnea Chapman-King served as the conference host. The Sheraton Oldtown Hotel provided a wonderful ”tent“ for the meeting, and the luncheon proved to be a big success because it was included in the registration fee; people therefore felt obliged to attend. We used a Best Western across the street for spill over, but the managers there set up a shuttle bus for participants to get back and forth between the hotels; people staying at the Best Western also received free shuttle service to the airport.
The speaker at this year’s luncheon was detective fiction writer Steve Brewer who writes the ”Bubba Mabry, P.I.“ mystery series. Rudolfo Anaya, hailed as the Godfather of Chicano literature in English, read from Shaman Winter and spent hours talking with interested conference participants. Better than 400 participants from around the world enjoyed the scenic charm and warm temperatures of Albuquerque and its Oldtown Section.
Again, the Sheraton Oldtown was our meeting place, and the numbers jumped radically into the 700 range for participation. Ron Briley, Assistant Principal of a local school, was an enormous help with audiovisual needs and student volunteers. Returning from ”conference“ retirement, Peter Rollins was the Program Chair while Michael K. Schoenecke did all the work, a fine arrangement.
The Creative Writing Sessions were extremely varied and numerous, due to the special efforts of Jerry Bradley. Philip Heldrich began his term as president of the Southwest ACA and presented the Peter C. Rollins Award for the best graduate student paper on a popular culture topics. Topics of novelty included Cultural Geography; Route 66; Law & Culture; Manifest Destiny; Southwest Ranching; Professionalism; and Atomic Culture & the Nuclear Age.
The meeting returned to the Sheraton Oldtown and, during this year, rose to nearly 900 registrants. Local teachers participated with student groups and were admitted at no charge. We also partnered with Ron Briley’s institution, again, with benefits to our organization and the students of Sandia Preparatory School.
Paul Rich and his Universidad de Las Americas (UDLA) contingent participated and contributed a spectacular reception which served over 600 people with a magnificent spread of hors d’oeuvre in the Tex-Mex style. Tex-Mex music was provided by a wonderful group, and the sound level of this reception was so high it was hard to hear the person next to you; paradoxically, this sound level was a sign that people were having a terrific time. Ray Browne, Paul Rich, and Peter Rollins attempted to welcome people and to generate interest in Congress V at UDLA during the fall. (See website: www.udlap.mx/congress)
The luncheon at this meeting was attended by 800 people and was addressed by Alberta Lee, daughter of the nuclear scientist – and accused spy – Wen Ho Lee. Lee spoke from her heart about the agony which she and her family had suffered over the last few years and had pointed remarks about the press and its lack of accurate and professional reporting of her father’s dilemma. Lee’s presentation, which even generated debate among conference participants, was covered by two local television stations, Reuters and the Associated Press. Stories appeared on local television and in the papers of both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The news stories about Alberta Lee’s talk drew further attention to our presence in the City of Albuquerque. It was a real honor to meet this charming, sincere, and committed woman.
Peter Rollins distinguished himself by contracting pneumonia and being restricted to his room. The meeting was a big success without his presence – a good sign, he thought, for the future. Susan Rollins, Michael K. Schoenecke, Brad Duren, Philip Heldrich, among others filled the gap. Pat Browne, who was an honored guest, took over at the registration table as did Ray Browne. These front line efforts by our traditional leaders were much appreciated!
The organization met again in New Mexico, a central and enjoyed location for many participants, but this time at the Albuquerque Hilton. In the wake of Peter Rollins's heart attack, Michael K. Schoenecke filled in as the substitute Program Chair and Host, as well as contributed his work as complaint chair. Schoenecke's efforts should be applauded for years to come; it's no wonder the National tapped him for its leadership.
Brad Duren aided with audiovisual and Philip Heldrich, Leslie Fife, and Amanda Cobb (with her students) took care of the registration table (and fielded complaints for Schoenecke). Susan Rollins worked behind the scenes to be sure everything went well. She fielded daily phone calls, sometimes numerous calls per hour, from her home command center outside Cleveland, Oklahoma.
Tony Hillerman was our luncheon speaker, who entertained a full ballroom. He spoke largely about the development of his famous literary detective, the Navajo policeman, Jim Chee, and the number books set on the Navajo lands of northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. Hillerman also discussed his admiration and respect for the Navajo culture.
We met again in a city that seems to have become our home base (and not only because of the wonderful chile). For a second time, the Albuquerque Hilton, served as the conference hotel (the Hilton's staff was especially well organized and helpful, and our organization wishes to thank Patti Salaz for her assistance in coordinating all events with the hotel). Throughout the conference, the nation was under a travel warning due to the high warning levels of the Home Security Advisory Threat scale. While some participants wondered where to obtain duck tape and plastic sheeting, others enjoyed a diversity of offerings.
The Creative Writing Area under the direction of Jerry Bradley and the Motorcycle Culture and Myth Area under the direction of Gary Kieffner were two of the largest areas this year. Friday featured a special presentation – Wushu Theatre: Master Bow Sim Mark and the Use of Traditional Wushu Techniques in Theatre with an introductory paper by Mike Conway, writer, researcher, and member of the Bow Sim Mark Tai Chi Arts Association. Cher Holt-Fortin, Area Chair for Martial Arts, played a key role in arranging for the event.
Our luncheon speaker was Rudolfo Analya, who spoke in part of his trip to Washington where he received the National Medal of Arts. He also addressed the necessity of keeping our spirits uplifted through comedy and humor, even in trying times. Many participants in the full ballroom expressed how much Analya's speech inspired them. Afterwards, he graciously signed books for a long line of admirers.
Leslie Fife served as Conference Scheduler, and Susan Rollins, mentor to the new leadership of Philip Heldrich and Ken Dvorak, served as Conference Host Supervisor. It is also important to note that while the weather was rainy this time in Albuquerque, most of the locals and other Southwesterners gave thanks for the much needed precipitation.
And of special note: Peter C. Rollins and Michael K. Schoenecke officially passed on the core responsibilities to Philip Heldrich (Emporia State) and Ken Dvorak (San Jacinto, TX, Community College District). Rollins, in the wake of a heart attack, had by this time converted to a ”Mr. Moderation“ approach to professional meetings while Schoenecke had been promoted to the job of Secretary/Treasurer of the National PCA/ACA. For quite different reasons, it was most appropriate for both to step back from organizational responsibilities.
At the annual luncheon, Rollins came to the podium and reminded members that, in England, flashlights are called ”torches.“ He then illuminated a white, disposable flashlight, and flashed it about the room. With great mock dignity, Rollins and Schoenecke ”passed the torch“ of responsibility to a younger generation. This ceremony was conducted with a mixture of humor and pathos and was well-received by the luncheon audience.
Philip Heldrich, an Oklahoma State alumnus, is a twice award-winning author in poetry and nonfiction. He is an Associate Professor of English at Emporia State University. Ken Dvorak is a computer whiz in the Houston Community College system and an expert in distance learning; he is also Vice President of the American Culture Association. The combined Southwest/Texas PCA/ACA organization is, as Peter Rollins declared, ”in good hands for the future.“
Executive Director, Phil Heldrich and Secretary/Treasurer, Ken Dvorak began their leadership of the SW/TX PCA/ACA by taking the SW/TX group (by tradition) to meet jointly with the national organization in San Antonio, Texas for their annual meeting, April 7-10, 2004. This Texas-sized event was highlighted by several memorable events. First, Sally Sanchez from Houston, Texas, agreed to become our Program Coordinator replacing Leslie Fife whose tireless efforts working for the SW/TX organization were now devoted to the national. Second, the SW/TX unveiled its electronic online registration system that serves as a gateway for our participants to easily register for the conference in a safe and secure environment. These two events have placed the SW/TX organization on a sound electronic footing streamlining our office procedures allowing us more time to plan the annual SW/TX conference.
During the conference, Phil and Ken honored SW/TX founder, Dr. Peter C. Rollins, with a lifetime achievement award that recognized Peter's leadership establishing and sustaining the SW/TX organization for over thirty years. An exquisite crystal diamond tower was presented to Peter with the caption, ”Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others thinks is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.“ Susan Rollins was also thanked for her tireless efforts supporting Peter and for being the ”behind the scenes“ person who, along with Leslie Fife, labored long hours on behalf of the SW/TX PCA/ACA. In honor of the Rollins, Phil and Ken announced the establishment of the ”Susan and Peter C. Rollins SW/TX Endowment Fund,“ which will solidify the organization's financial future.
During the SW/TX area chair/business meeting, Ken announced the successful negotiation of a three-year contract with the Albuquerque, Hyatt Regency Hotel, moving the SW/TX annual meeting downtown closer to its roots along historic Route 66. Adding to the excitement, Ken announced a new graduate student award, the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau Award for Southwestern Culture. The renewable gift of $500 is to be given annually to a graduate student whose presentation focuses on Southwestern culture. This news was met with rousing cheers from the area chairs who eagerly anticipated returning to Albuquerque with Phil and Ken one year after being handed the ”torch“ by Peter Rollins and Michael K. Schoenecke.
The 26th annual SW/TX meeting was the first to be held in downtown Albuquerque, February 9-12, 2005, and it was an exceptional gathering. The beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel served as host, and Phil and Ken greeted over 900 participants. Our Program Coordinator, Sally Sanchez, handled her duties, expertly managing the Reservation Desk with the able assistance of Tilly Garcia-Slaten, Lacy Landrum (SW/TX webmaster), and ”volunteers“ recruited by Phil and Ken from the ranks of our area chairs and graduate students. A somber note however reflected the concern of many participants when Phil and Ken announced the absence of Susan and Peter Rollins and Karen Dvorak due to illness.
Conference highlights included film screenings of Strange Fruit and a plenary session discussing the film Guess Whose Coming to Dinner. The keynote speaker, Krista Elrick, captivated the audience with her presentation titled ”Enchanting Light: Historic and Contemporary Photography in New Mexico.“ The Chronicle of Higher Ed's ”Ms. Mentor“ (Emily Toth) paid a visit, regaling her fans with stories from ”When Academics Get Angry: Nasty Letters to Ms. Mentor.“ The conference also featured a journal editors' roundtable hosted by Gary Hoppenstead, Editor, The Journal of Popular Culture, Wheeler Winston Dixon, Editor, The Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Gerald Duchovnay, Founding Editor, Post Script, Deborah Carmichael and James R. Knecht, Associate Editors, Film & History, and Richard Vela, Contributing Editor, Literature/Film Quarterly. Nine graduate students were recognized and given awards for their presentations, including two new awards, The Charles Redd Center Award for Western Studies, and the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau Award for Southwestern Culture.
During the area chair business meeting, Phil and Ken discussed the need to strengthen our graduate student award program by finding ways to raise money for this important initiative. The area chairs overwhelmingly praised Phil and Ken for their decision to move the annual meeting downtown and gave equal kudus to the Hyatt Regency staff and management for providing such a wonderful venue for the meeting.
For the 27th consecutive year, February 8-11, 2006, the SW/TX PCA/ACA meeting was at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Phil and Ken welcomed 1200 participants, many of whom praised the SW/TX staff for organizing such an outstanding event. Due to illness, Sally Sanchez, SW/TX Program Coordinator, was unable to attend, and her absence was duly noted by all. The opening morning saw conference registration lines extending from the Hyatt's second floor down the stairwell onto the first floor. Ken, Phil, Tilly, Karen, and our two volunteers were quickly overwhelmed. ”Retired“ Colonel Karen Dvorak quickly determined what the problem was and ordered Phil and Ken out from behind the conference registration desk. Once the Colonel's orders were obeyed, everything flowed smoothly.
All conferences have a certain amount of ”buzz,“ and this year's meeting was no exception. From the expanded list of academic book vendors, various group receptions, excellent panels, and invited guests, the conference was well attended. The 2006 keynote speaker was Dr. Winston Wheeler Dixon, the James P. Ryan Endowed Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska. He also serves, with Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, as Editor-in Chief of Quarterly Review of Film and Video. Dr. Dixon's most recent work Lost in the Fifties: Recovering Phantom Hollywood is the recipient of the 2005 Peter C. Rollins Annual Book Award of the SW/TX PCA/ACA and was the subject of his presentation. During the keynote ceremony, nine graduate students were honored with various awards for their conference presentations.
Additional highlights from the conference included a journal roundtable sessions titled ”Breaking into Print, or what do Editors Really Want or Need?“ The session was chaired by Jim Welsh, Founding Editor, Literature/Film Quarterly. Panelists included Co-Editors Gwendolyn Audrey Foster and Wheeler Winston Dixon, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Gary Hoppenstand, Editor, The Journal of Popular Culture, Gerald Duchovnay, Founding Editor, Post Script, Kathy Merlock-Jackson, Editor, The Journal of American Culture, Deborah Carmichael and James Knecht, Associate Editors, Film & History, Peter C. Rollins, Editor-in-Chief, Film & History, and Richard Vela, Contributing Editor, Literature/Film Quarterly. The Oscar-winning film Crash was discussed in a special Africana Studies session featuring scholars, Sherri Burr, U. of New Mexico, Gerald Butters, Aurora U., Novotny Lawrence, Southern Illinois U.-Carbondale, Jaya Ramesh, U. of Washington, Noliwe M. Rooks, Princeton U., Demetria Shabazz, Oklahoma State U., and Jonathan S. Tomhave, U. of Washington.
The annual area chair/business meeting hosted by Phil and Ken (aka, Martin and Lewis) discussed the current state of the SW/TX organization. Phil praised the hard work of our area chairs and noted the increased number of presenters in 2006 versus 2005. He also noted the six new areas for 2006 and the success their area chairs had in bringing many new individuals to our meeting. Ken reported that the financial health of the organization is strong, and he proposed two items for the area chairs to consider. First, all advertising revenues from book vendors and publishers would go directly to the SW/TX Graduate Student Awards Program, and secondly, all area chair registration dues would benefit the Susan and Peter C. Rollins Endowment Fund. The Endowment Fund began with a balance of $20,000 in 2005, and Ken projected that an additional $5,000 would be placed in the Endowment for 2006. The area chairs voted overwhelmingly to support these measures. The area chairs also recommended that Albuquerque become the ”adopted“ home of the SW/TX organization—a vote that met with resounding approval. The meeting adjourned with great harmony and good cheer.
The land of enchantment continued to work its charm with the SW/TX PCA/ACA when the organization met for the 28th consecutive year as wintry conditions throughout the country delayed arrivals for many of our presenters and guests. From a gloomy, snowy start on Wednesday morning, those in the Hyatt Regency were cheering by late afternoon as the sun gloriously appeared over the city of Albuquerque melting the snow and lifting everyone’s spirits. By Thursday noon a steady stream of tried, travel-weary presenters descended on the conference hotel, swelling our numbers to over 900 at the conclusion of the conference.
Highlights for 2007 included the following:
The first ever ”Fire and Ice“ opening night reception hosted by the Hyatt Regency Hotel, featuring a one-hour ”meet and greet“ that lasted for over two hours.
During the Area Chair meeting hosted by Phil & Ken, a wide range of topics were discussed including moving the conference to another locale, improving our graduate student awards, travel funds for graduate students, and registration rates. By a voice vote, the area chairs re-committed to the city of Albuquerque as the adopted home of the SW/TX PCA/ACA, discussed how our annual conference is one of the best run in the country, and encouraged Phil and Ken to re-examine registration rates, keeping in mind the cost for planning and executing the annual conference so as not to jeopardize the organization's finances. The meeting adjourned with much talk and excitement for celebrating the organization's 30th annual meeting in 2009.
The 29th annual meeting of the Southwest Texas Popular/American Culture Association took place February 13 – 16, 2008 in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico hosted by the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Convention Center. The Hyatt Regency rolled out the red carpet for our presenters and guests providing excellent accommodations with an attentive staff and professional AV support. This year the SW/TX partnered with the Hyatt in our first ”Go Green“ initiative featuring recycling bins, hallway beverage containers instead of the standard pitchers of water in each presentation room, and reducing the number of paper products found on the beverage and snack stations.
The Land of Enchantment continues to draw individuals from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Pacific Rim, and Canada. This year the organization set a record for opening day registrations (600) and for total attendance (1200). The annual ”Fire and Ice“ opening night social/mixer set the tone for the conference and for four days people were reported to be engaged in deep conversations, attending standing room only presentations and generally having a good time!. Our keynote speaker, singer/writer/poet/performance artist, Joy Harjo, and Grammy award guitarist, Larry Mitchell, captivated an audience of 500 for over ninety minutes. Throughout Harjo’s performance not one person left the reception hall, no cell phone rang, and no one spoke at their tables at the conclusion of Harjo’s performance there was a standing ovation lasting over ten minutes. On the way back to the registration desk I was approached by one beaming attendee who asked me ”Ken, how are you going to top that performance for your 30th anniversary celebration?“
With that in mind I invite everyone to check out the activities planned for our gala 30th birthday celebration. We look forward to celebrating the successes of the past thirty years and for celebrating the future of the Southwest Texas PCA/ACA led by our Executive Director, Dr. Phil Heldrich, and Dr. Ken Dvorak, Secretary/Treasurer.
Our anniversary theme Reeling in the Years: 30 Years of Film, TV and Popular Culture (1979 - 2009) served as the backdrop for our annual conference held February 25 - 28, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center. Amid concerns that the national economy and lack of institutional support would play a decisive role in attendance, Phil and Ken, nevertheless were excited to welcome over 900 presenters for this gala event. Our four-day event was highlighted by several changes including our first "English High Tea" (as certified by our English colleagues) that featured as guest speaker former New Mexico governor David Cargo. Celebrating the scholarly contributions of our graduate students a special ceremony hosted by Dr. Katie Mills, the 2008 Peter C. Rollins Book Award winner, discussed at length her research in writing The Road Story and the Rebel: Moving Through Film, Fiction, and Television (Southern Illinois UP, 2006).
The conference featured an excellent mix of panels including special screenings of Rock n' Roll High School (1979); Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North (2008) hosted by James DeWolf Perry; the film Cannibal Holocaust (1979) and Roundtable; and our famous late night sing a-longs, that we understand have become "required" listening, by all Hyatt hotel staff! The 30th anniversary conference ended on a solid note with many individuals providing us valuable feedback with our first pre/post conference survey.
Among the recommendations being implemented this year include our first Rail Runner train journey to Santa Fe, New Mexico (details will be forthcoming) for a one day cultural tour that we hope will provide new cultural exchanges for our presenters/guests. Other changes include a more robust presence on the internet including our very own social networking sites, listing of Area Chair CFP's; and an improved (and easier) online registration process.
Join us, February 10 - 13, 2010 for the 31st edition of the SWTX PCA/ACA annual conference the largest regional conference in the United States.
Be There! We Will! - Phil, Lynnea, Sally, Michele, and Ken
The 32nd annual meeting of the Southwest Texas Popular/American Culture Association took place in the high desert city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 10 - 13, 2010. The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center and our presenters filled the hotel and surrounding venues. This year we had representation from over 20 foreign countries including individuals from Kuwait, Israel, Portugal, India, China, and the United Stats who experienced for the first time the charm and beauty of New Mexico.
The conference was dedicated to Dr. Ray Browne (1922-2009) the founder of the National PCA/ACA, its regional organizations, the inspiration behind the Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of American Culture, a prolific author and advocate for Popular/American Culture scholars, Ray's influence was felt worldwide. His loss was deeply felt as Pat (his wife) and Ray were an integral part for creating the SWTX PCA/ACA and watching it grow from a small regional meeting to a fledging conference that attracts upwards of 1500 people annually.
Highlights for this meeting included jam packed presentation rooms from the opening night's Fire & Ice social event to the concluding panels on Saturday afternoon. Many of us enjoyed the numerous films debuting at the conference including Brilliant but Canceled Television programs: Pushing Daisies, Firefly, and Dollhouse - hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Area Chairs; panel celebration(s) and criticism of Twilight. Our graduate student award recognition ceremony was hosted by keynote speaker Adilifu Nama the 2009 Peter C. Rollins Book Award recipient who spoke before a packed ballroom audience regarding the importance of public intellectuals in American life. The conference concluded with our first "excursion" to Santa Fe hosted by Executive Director, Phil Heldrich, expertly guiding over 65 individuals through the maze of New Mexico Rail Runner train travel to Santa Fe spiriting them around the city in a highly animated walking tour of Old Town and its surrounding historic/cultural attractions.
Unfortunately, my friend and colleague Phil, passed away due to complications with cancer on November 11, 2010. He leaves behind a rich and honored legacy with the SWTX PCA/ACA, having seen the organization grow in numbers, influence, and recognition as THE Popular/American Culture conference to attend. We will recognize Phil during the joint PCA/ACA - SWTX - PCA/ACA conference in San Antonio, April 20 - 23, 2011. However, our home and part of Phil's heart has always been in Albuquerque. In 2012, given time to grieve his passing, we will honor his legacy in a fitting tribute to his accomplishments as a scholar, mentor, and friend to all who encountered his ready smile, quick wit, and his penchant for burritos.
Ken Dvorak, Co-Interim, SWTX PCA/ACA Executive Director
Lynnea Chapman King, Co-Interim, SWTX PCA/ACA Executive Director
Sally Sanchez, Director, SWTX Conference Planning
Michele Brittany, SWTX Web Master