"Representations of Business/Professional Communication in Popular Culture"

deadline for submissions: 
March 11, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
William Christopher Brown, Association for Business Communication and Modern Language Association
contact email: 

CFP for the 2023 ABC MLA Panel:

"Representations of Business/Professional Communication

in Popular Culture"

Conference: Modern Language Association Convention

Location: San Francisco, California

Dates: 5-8 January 2023

Full name of organization: Association for Business Communication

Contact email: wbrown@midland.edu 

Due date for abstracts: 11 March 2022

Call for papers/abstracts: In the Netflix show The Chair, the newly appointed chair struggles to communicate her vision in the workplace (Bailey 2021; Terry 2021). The show includes a variety of representations of communication in academia ranging from nonverbal elements such as office placement or what various professors wear to how one talks about work and talks at work. Past studies have suggested that popular depictions influence real practice (Pozner 2010; Thompson 2007; Guy 2007; and Cerny et al. 2014); understanding popular depictions now and in the past can help us understand how we communicate as well as how people view or viewed work, workplace communication, and professional writing. 

This panel seeks submissions that analyze the representations of business communication in popular culture including literature, film, comic books, TV series, and more. Approaches could cover positive or negative representation of business communication, professional writing, and behavior in the workplace, or take a comparative or cultural approach. Papers could explore depictions of professional communication in an academic setting or in private or public business settings. Papers could take an interdisciplinary and historical perspective on communication between employees and employers in a wide range of fields including Victorian, Post-Colonial, Modern, and Post-Modern in addition to contemporary works. Theoretical approaches are open: Affect Theory, Critical Disability Studies, Critical Race Theory, Cultural Materialism, Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies, Heteroglossia, Marxist Theory, Organizational Communication Theories, Pop Culture Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Psychoanalytic Theory, Queer Theory, etc.

Exploring the representation of business and professional communication in popular texts can lead to a better understanding of professional behaviors; better ability to teach writing, communication, and pop culture; and a better understanding of how business communication works and is expected to work.

Submission: Submit a 300-word abstract, including references, for a 15-minute presentation to William Christopher Brown at wbrown@midland.edu by 11 March 2022.  Selections will be made through blind review. All identifying information should be removed from submissions. 

Required memberships: To participate in this panel, all participants must be members of both the Association for Business Communication and the Modern Language Association by 07 April 2022.


Bailey, A. (2021, August 19). "The Chair: A dark comedy?" Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2021/08/19/netflixs-chair-depicts-.... Accessed January 2022.

Cerny, C., Hatters Friedman, S., & Smith, Delaney. (2014). "Television's 'crazy lady' trope: Female psychopathic traits, teaching, and influence of popular culture." Academic Psychiatry, 38(2), pp. 233–241.

Guy, T.C. (2007). "Learning who we (and they) are: Popular culture as pedagogy." New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2007(115), pp. 15–23. 

Pozner, J.L. (2010). Reality bites back: The troubling truth about guilty pleasure TV. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Terry, J. (2021, August 25). "We asked actual academics to review the new Netflix show The Chair." Vice.com. https://www.vice.com/en/article/qj85bb/we-asked-actual-academics-to-revi.... Accessed January 2022.