MAPACA, 2017



MAPACA, Nov 8 – 11, 2017, Philadelphia

There are several regional popular culture associations, in addition to the American Popular Culture Association.  The Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Association (MAPACA) is one of them.  These conferences are a laboratory for new ideas, and because they are multiple sessions going on at once, you can pick the topics of most interest.  The sessions I attended (see below) were interesting.  Among the things I learned:

Mexico held a Day of the Dead parade after one was portrayed in a 007 movie

African City is an internet video series, about five young woman who grew up in the US and went home to Ghana.  It has been described as an African version of “Sex and the City,” and there are similarities but it is also a well-made program.  The episodes are 15 minutes each.

LaBeouf, Ronkko & Turner are doing some innovative work in public art

Female crafters are Etsy are frequently presented as doing home based crafts as a part-time business / hobby

Sessions I attended:

Film / Literature and tourism

Day of the Dead and 007 in Mexico City / Julia Sloan
Fried Green Tomatoes and the Needs of Female Film-Induced Tourists (Maura Grady and Robert D. Robertson
Braveheart, Outlander, and Harry Potter:  Popular Culture Tourism Drivers and the Marketing of Scotland’s Cultural Heritage ( Karalee Dawn MacKay).

Social Media, Labor and Consumption

Crafted identity, Creative Labor:  Affect and representation in an Etsy economy / Kayla Keener
Dainty v Dominant:  Advertising consumption and gender portrayal through Facebook / Trevor Russell Arnold
Social Interaction vs Institutional Interaction:  Platform Performances and Gender Labor / Angela M Cirucci

Politics and Social Media

Twitter and the Political Celebrity:  Cory Booker / Paul Ziek
Promoting Libyan Nationalism Concepts via Facebook:  A Crucial Discourse Analysis / Safa M Elnaili
Twitter Habits of Britain’s Feline Civil Servants / Julie Still

Art Narrative and Social Media

Mapping the Digital Counterflow:  Exploring the Production Distribution and Reception of an African City / Krys Osei
Memes IRL:  How the Performance Art of LaBeouf, Ronkko & Turner Unleashed an Internet Subculture into the Real World / Katie Elson Anderson
Rethinking the Lizzie Bennet Diaries:  the Literary Approach to New Media Storytelling / Catharine Godlewsky
The Ukulele, YouTube and the Experience of Art / Nova Seals

Tropes that Transfer:  The Cultural Impact of SF / Fantasy

Slashing Spock:  Passing, Pon Farr, and “This Simple Feeling” / Danielle Suzanne Girard
Transferring the Visual Style of Jessica Jones from the Graphic Novel to the Netflix series / Eva Maria Thury
Cowboys in Space / Nola Thacker

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PA Library Association, 2017


State library associations are great small conferences, and there is usually a day focused on academic libraries or an academic library track.  The Pennsylvania Library Association in Pittsburgh this past October was no exception.  In addition to standard conference talks there are always several poster sessions, which a colleague calls a “science fair for adults.”  For new librarians, poster sessions are a great way to get some experience with public speaking and presentation skills.  For mid-career librarians who may no longer feel the pressure to pursue the speaking opportunities that tenure requires, a poster session is a way to present research in its initial phase, or simply the findings of a small evidence-based project at work.

At this conference I co-presented a poster session, “Buffy Batgirl, and ComicCons:  Organizing a Conference or a Convention.”  One side of the poster focused on scholarly conferences, not a professional development activity but a multi-day subject oriented conference.  We talked about getting funding, developing a call for papers, selecting the papers to accept, organizing them into panels.  The other side focused on hosting one day public events, like comic cons.  The middle part focused on topics relevant to both kinds of events, like logistics, publicity, and preparing a report afterwards for stakeholders.

In addition, I attended the following talks:

“The Information Pyramid:  Bridging the Formal Knowledge Gap,” by Maria R. Barefoot

“Increasing Research Competence (and Confidence!) Through Embedded Consultations,” by Lauren Reiter and Carmen Cole

Poster sessions – There were several interesting posters at the two sessions I went to; special shout out to Christopher Raab who gave me several pointers on setting up a poster, which was a big help when I was setting up.

Using PA Forward in an Academic Library:  Giving Each Literacy Its 15 Minutes of Fame,” by Barbara Eshach and Christopher Raab


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Reading Notes: The Ancestor Syndrome

Reading Notes:  The Ancestor Syndrome:  Transgenerational psychotherapy and the hidden links in the family tree, by Anne Ancelin Schutzenberger (translated by Anne Trager).  Routledge, 1998.

Originally published in French in 1993, translated into English in 1998, this book is by an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Nice and co-founder of the International Association of Group Psychotherapy.  It is a very interesting look at how one’s ancestry affects daily life, health, and even death.  Her discussion of anniversary events goes beyond the usual discussions of the elderly dying around or just after birthday, anniversaries, etc., to include repeating health events across generations.  This might be events happening at the same age or on the same dates.  Some examples include people having accidents when they were the same age a parent, grandparent, or other ancestor, had similar accidents.  Schutzenberger takes it a bit farther than I am comfortable with by providing stories of people developing cancers at the same age that a parent died or had an accident.

Previously published studies (such as Josephine Hilgard, cited in this book) do document repeating events across generations, with a focus on health events.  Schutzenberger goes beyond events in individuals’ mundane lives to look into events endured during military service, and the European origin is very visible in the discussions of the First and Second World Wars.  (Yes, Americans fought in both wars but they were not fought, with notable exceptions like Pearl Harbor, on home soil.)  Intergenerational geographic ties are also presented.  The author refers to these connections as invisible loyalties, which can be understood and minimized through psychotherapy, and the author’s preference is for group psychotherapy.

She recommends using genosociograms (a more involved form of the genogram) to explore intergenerational events, identifying social patterns, repeating dates, or ages of events.  It is fascinating to think about the ties we are not fully aware of possibly having such an effect on our lives.

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Economic and Business History Society, 2017


Economic and Business History Society, May 25-27, 2017, Oklahoma City, OK

For an international organization and conference EBHS is surprisingly friendly and supportive.  Each speaker talks for about 20 minutes and then there is a discussion, sometimes after each speaker, sometimes after a panel.  The comments are positive, or at least constructive, with ideas for further research or questions about the speaker’s next steps.

The speakers are from a number of countries and the topics cover a range of time periods, places, and subjects.  This year I listened to talks on female probate court appraisers in 18th century Virginia, the Iron Act of 1750, Philadelphia’s Trade with Lisbon before Independence, Prosperity of Two Birth Signs in the Asian Zodiac, Tax Incentives in National Archives, Cliometrics, Industrial Symbiosis in the Cottonseed Industry During the 19th Century, Regensburg’s Hospital Granary (17th – 19th Centuries), and the Role of Television Penetration in the Number of Movie Theaters, and a panel on challenges in management.

One of the teaching roundtables focused on informed students.  One speaker talked about the improved quality of papers his students wrote when they were required to turn in an annotated bibliography.  Both speakers mentioned the importance of referring students to librarians.

In the session on Cliometrics, the speaker mentioned Fogel’s view that if people are still talking about you in 50 years you are significant, and the use of citation analysis in this research.  If works by an author or scholar are being cited 50 years after publication or over a long period of time they meet the standard of significance.

My presentation, “Bicycle Route Coupons:  An Early Example of Travel Discounts,” focused on one aspect of a continuing project to digitize bicycle route narratives published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in the late 1890’s.  Many of the route narratives were accompanied by coupons that guaranteed a discount to riders who took the coupon into select hotels mentioned in the route.  I discussed the introduction of coupons in the travel industry and the use of coupons generally in the late 1800’s, and how the route coupons fit into that timeline.

This was the second time I attended and presented at EBHS.  Both times it was a uniformly and consistently positive experience.  The papers are interesting and the people are wonderful.

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Nancy Drew and the Ivory Tower


Still, Julie.  “Nancy Drew and the Ivory Tower:  Early Academic Study of the Girl Detective,” Clues:  A Journal of Detection 35 #1 (2017): 75-84.

This had been the oldest idea in my possibilities folder; I started thinking about it around 1990.  I read Nancy Drew as a girl and as a relatively new librarian became interested in academic study of the books.  Right about this time the first Nancy Drew conference was being held which lead to proceedings volume and journal articles.  I started searching through databases and print indexes to see what earlier work had been done. Since it is easier to locate scholarly articles than book chapters I focused on academic journals.  Every few years I would update the research, as new databases were developed and backfiles were added, and think about it again.  I limited my research to articles as it is difficult to do a comprehensive search of book chapters. In 2014, I gave a paper on the subject at the Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Association and that spurred me to finally write it up as a formal article.  Clues:  A Journal of Detection, a peer-reviewed journal focusing on mystery and detective fiction, responded positively to a query letter.  After two sets of revisions the article was accepted.

Something that struck me in reading about Nancy Drew is the number of women who said they were introduced to the books by older female relatives, mothers, aunts, older cousins, etc.  Outside of the domestic sphere there aren’t many intergenerational shared experiences for women.  Nancy is one of them; she provides a common cultural language.  While in this study I was looking primarily for scholarly discussions of the Nancy Drew books I was surprised at the number of articles that simply mentioned Nancy, often describing someone as being like Nancy, especially women mentioning the character as an inspiration or role model.  Researchers have also found the universality of Nancy useful, not only do the large number of books provide a good body of work for study, but very little description of the plotlines and characters are needed. Even those who have not read the books or seen the movie or tv show know who Nancy is.

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