The Last of Us Area

deadline for submissions: 
November 14, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Southwest Popular and American Culture Association
contact email: 


Call for Papers


Southwest Popular / American 

 Association (SWPACA)


45th Annual Conference, February 21-24, 2024

Marriott Albuquerque

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Submissions open on September 1, 2023

Extended submission deadline: November 14, 2023


Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 45th annual SWPACA conference. One of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary academic conferences, SWPACA offers nearly 70 subject areas, each typically featuring multiple panels.  For a full list of subject areas, area descriptions, and Area Chairs, please visit


The Last of Us Area will focus on the widely popular survival horror video game, The Last of Us and the HBO television series based on the game. The Last of Us Area will explore the social, cultural, resonance of the video game and episodic series on players and audiences. The Area will cover a variety of approaches to the game and the series including fandom, game design and development, game mechanics, embodied play, spectatorship, transmedia storytelling, post-apocalyptic narratives, race and gender representations, and ecocriticism among other topics. 


The Last of Us Area invites proposals on any topic related to The Last of Us video games, television series, and comics. We invite submissions that explore a variety of themes including player experiences, play cultures, game design, game development, and television adaptation. 


Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

·  theories of play

·  the aesthetics, storytelling, and sensibilities within post-apocalyptic gaming realms

·  the connection between post-apocalyptic settings and player agency

·  the player’s role in negotiating and co-creating post-apocalyptic experiences and game worlds during gameplay

·  navigating player-character identity

·  conceptualizing the end of virtual worlds and the birth or renewal of new digital worlds

·  ecocriticism, ecological awareness, or deep ecology

·  non-human and posthuman entities (animals, plants, infected) 

·  post-capitalist storyworlds, romantic anti-capitalism, and communal living

·  representations and performances of race and gender identities 

·  HBO and genre revisions

·  television and serial adaptation

·  transmedia storytelling (games and television)

·  elongated narrative structures in games and television

·  performative fandom (cosplay, fannish tattooing, collecting)


All proposals must be submitted through the conference’s database at


For details on using the submission database and on the application process in general, please see the Proposal Submission FAQs and Tips page at


Individual proposals for 15-minute papers must include an abstract of approximately 200-500 words. Including a brief bio in the body of the proposal form is encouraged, but not required.   


For information on how to submit a proposal for a roundtable or a multi-paper panel, please view the above FAQs and Tips page.   


The deadline for submissions is November 14, 2023.


SWPACA offers monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due January 1, 2024.  SWPACA also offers travel fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, visit


Registration and travel information for the conference will be available at

For 2024, we will be returning to the Marriott Albuquerque (2101 Louisiana Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110), which boasts free parking and close proximity to dining, shopping, and other delights. 


In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at


If you have any questions about The Last of Us area, please contact its Area Chair, Adrienne Domasin, Claremont Graduate University, If you have general questions about the conference, please contact us at, and a member of the executive team will get back to you.


This will be a fully in-person conference. If you’re looking for an online option to present your work, keep an eye out for details about the 2024 SWPACA Summer Salon, a completely virtual conference to take place in June 2024. However, do keep in mind that the Summer Salon is a smaller conference with limited presentation slots and no student funding assistance.


We look forward to receiving your submissions!


I am delighted to announce that outstanding submissions will be handpicked for inclusion in an upcoming edited collection. If you are unable to attend the conference in Albuquerque, NM, yet are interested in being an author for this collection, please submit a proposal to