Reality TV (Nov. 16, 2012; Feb. 13-16, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association
contact email: 

The Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association will hold its 34th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, NM on February 13-16, 2013. This year's overall theme is "Celebrating Popular/American Culture(s) in a Global Context." Proposals are now being accepted for panels on Reality TV.

Over the past decade, the global proliferation of reality TV programming has exploded. It is hard to flip through television stations at any given hour of the day without coming across some sort of reality programming that is reflecting another niche in the ever-evolving cultural landscape of the modern world. At the moment, reality TV is a field of study that has enormous potential because it touches such a wide range of subjects—from media studies to business, regional studies to education, social sciences to the humanities.

The SW/TX PCA/ACA Area of Reality TV welcomes presentations from established scholars as well as students at this year's conference that will explore the place of reality TV in modern culture from many angles, including but not limited to the following:

• Motivations for shows' participants: fantasy fulfillment, lifestyle change, fame?
• Changes in programing with the onset of the recession
• The hyper-reality of celeb-reality
• Conventions of narrative: character development, story arch, conflict, the development of genres with predictable features, spinoffs, sequels
• Reality TV's relationship with the internet and other interactive media
• Psychological and physical spaces in reality TV
• Professional activity shows and vocational training through reality TV (Edutainment)
• Pedagogy – using reality television in the classroom
• The altered appearance: body, clothing, housing
• Controversy over how regions are portrayed in region-focused shows
• Reality TV as a site of identity (re)construction and/or gender performance
• Using reality TV as a season-long advertisement (American Pickers, American Idol, The Ultimate Fighter, Miami Ink, etc.)
• Whether reality TV brings attention to special issues (Intervention and Horders) or exploits people (Toddlers and Tiaras)
• Comparison of global formats for reality shows with similar themes
• How reality TV shapes consumer attitudes
• The influence of reality TV on other cultural productions (drama, fiction, cinema, etc.)
• Participation of children
• Reality TV's role in redefining dating and relationships
• Group dynamics in competition shows
• Reality shows that counter the "reality" of other shows (Blind Date countering Friends, Teen Mom countering Gilmore Girls, etc.)

This list of ideas is limited, so if you have an idea that is not listed, please suggest the new topic. If you have an idea, but you are not sure whether your topic fits, just ask. Again, this field has room for a broad range of perspectives.

Each individual paper presentation should be designed to last approximately fifteen minutes (there will be four presentations per session with time for Q&A). By November 16, 2012, please submit an abstract of 100-500 words to the SW/TX PCA/ACA Conference database: Make sure that you indicate Reality TV in the topic area. If you wish to make a complete panel submission (four presenters), the organizer of the panel should submit all of the above information for each panelist as well as a title for the panel. If you are a graduate student who has a completed essay, please consider submitting that essay for consideration of one of the monetary awards that the conference provides:

Details regarding the conference (listing of all areas, hotel, registration, audio/visual support, tours, etc.) can be found at If you have any questions or concerns or if you want to make sure your submission was received, you can contact the Reality TV Area Chair, Josh Grant, at We had great discussions last year, both during the panels and during the dinner that followed, and I am looking forward to this year's presentations.