#WaynePop2021: Disruptions, Gaps, Transitions, and Leaps (DGTL)

deadline for submissions: 
July 23, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Wayne State University Pop Culture Consortium
contact email: 

Conference location/date:

Virtual Conference; Friday- Sunday, September 24th-26th

Join the Wayne State University Pop Culture Consortium for #WaynePop2021, our 7th annual Conference on Popular Culture! This conference will be held virtually and includes both asynchronous and synchronous components.



The WaynePop2021 Conference Committee is pleased to announce that we have four confirmed special guest speakers for this year's event. All guest speaker engagements will be held in our new “In Conversation With…” format, where an established scholar is interviewed by a graduate student in their respective field. The speakers for the event will be as follows (time/date TBD):


Julian Chambliss (Professor, Michigan State University), Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domain (Co-Editor - 2018); Cities Imagined: The African Diaspora in Media and History (Co-Author - 2018).


Benjamin Han (Assistant Professor, Tulane University), Beyond the Black and White TV: Asian and Latin American Spectacle in Cold War America (Author - 2020).


Dan Hassler-Forest (Assistant Professor, Utrecht University), The Politics of Adaptation: Media Convergence and Ideology (Editor - 2015); Science Fiction, Fantasy and Politics: Transmedia World-building Beyond Capitalism (Author - 2016).

Marita Sturken (Professor, New York University) Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero (Author - 2007); Terrorism in American Memory: Memorials, Museums, and Architecture in the Post-9/11 Era (Author - forthcoming 2022).


The goal of this conference:

The #WaynePop2020 conference focused on how popular culture helps us reimagine our world; now, we want to explore how our responses to historical events are reflected in popular culture. For instance, when the theaters were closed due to the plague in the 15th century, Shakespeare wrote his sonnets as a source of income. Slave narratives are an example of cultural producers responding to gaps in the white world narrative. Early modern scientific discoveries discussed in popular literature illustrate social leaps from religious beliefs to scientific rationalism. Even more recently, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people watching Contagion (Soderbergh, 2011) spiked, suggesting a morbid fascination with pandemics as viewers made sense of their contemporary reality. 

Social upheaval, war, and pandemics often become topics that content producers circulate in their work, but technological disruptions and transitions also affect popular culture texts, as is evidenced from blackouts affecting viewing patterns to glitches in streaming media. Popular media can also serve as an alternate means of archiving events in a way that allows scholars to return to key perspectives outside of the dominant traditional histories. It can also serve to fill in gaps in the archive. However, popular media isn’t neutral, and what it documents also reflects dominant ideologies, producing its own gaps in historical narratives and archives.

This conference seeks to explore the ways in which popular media reflects political, historical, or technological disruptions, but also how popular media disrupts or revises traditional histories, fills in gaps, and participates or even precipitates historical transitions and leaps. We therefore welcome presentations that explore popular culture through a wide range of historical eras as well as technologies and platforms.


Topics might include the following:

  • Pop culture pedagogy in times of change

  • Temporal disruptions caused by historical events

  • How fans, fandoms, and content creators adapt during times of disruption

  • New ways of using existing technology to respond to quarantining (eg Discord, Zoom)

  • How ‘emergency’ practices developed during disruptions can serve to improve the accessibility of texts, events, and performances

  • Comparing pandemic viewing to in-person audiences

  • Technological disruptions, gaps, transitions, and leaps

  • Ways pop culture fills in gaps in traditional histories or archives

  • Pop culture anticipating real-world transitions or leaps, or inversely, lagging behind real-world transitions or leaps

  • How social movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter have disrupted popular culture, media industries, and audience practices

  • Disrupted and defunct technologies and platforms (MoviePass, Quibi, Vine)  

  • Ways popular culture texts serve to disrupt traditional histories and archives

Individual Papers: Paper proposals must include an abstract of 300-500 words and a biography of 100 words or less. 

Pre-Constituted Panels: Panel proposals must include an abstract of 250-300 words per presenter (2-4 presenters total) and biographies of 100 words or less for each presenter. 

Interactive Roundtables: Interactive roundtables may have up to 5 presenters. Roundtable proposals must include a brief explanation of the topic (250-500 words) and a biography of 100 words or less for each presenter.  

Workshops: Workshops may have up to 3 facilitators. Workshop proposals must include a brief explanation of the topic (250-500 words) and a biography of 100 words or less for each facilitator. Workshop proposals should be skill-focused and can be focused on creative production, research methodologies, pedagogy, etc. 


Proposals are due July 9th, 2021, and should be submitted via: 


All inquiries should be addressed to Conference Planning Committee chair Matt Linton and sent to waynepop@wayne.edu.