CFP: Hindsight is 20/20: How Popular Culture Writes, Rewrites, and Unwrites History

6th Annual Pop Culture Conference
Pop Culture Consortium
Wayne State University, Detroit
March 27 - 29, 2020
Stichtag: 2019 12 02

From Roots to All the President’s MenMaus to Holocaust, our understanding of moments in history are often shaped by the media we consume. Whether its serialized television miniseries such as HBO’s Chernobyl or Netflix’s When They See Us, comics like March or Persepolis, or recent films If Beale Street Could Talk or Detroit, historical events and periods offer fertile ground for pop culture to create compelling narratives. The producers of these narratives do not have the same constraints or responsibilities to historical accuracy as historians themselves may, yet the media they produce often becomes the unofficial record for audiences. The focus of this year’s conference is to examine the many ways that our perceptions, identities, and cultures are regularly shaped and reshaped – positively and negatively – by these narratives.

We welcome presentations and panels looking beyond contemporary and/or American popular culture, and into international and pre-20th century texts which also look to the past to imagine or reimagine the present and future. We are also interested in texts which add voices and experiences which were previously missing, overlooked, or silenced. In what ways do these works rethink official histories to comment on or shape their own contemporary moments? Additionally, how have various genre reimaginings added to the discourse between history and pop culture? In what ways have different forms of media – video games, comics, plays, ballads, lyrics, board games, fan fiction, vids, zines, and so on – engaged with the project of writing, rewriting, and unwriting history?

Topics might include the following:  

  • Historical narratives in comics, film, television, and/or games.
  • Redefining identities through retelling, re-enactment, and revisionist histories, including but not limited to national identity, race, gender, and sexuality.
  • The role of the fan as archivist, and/or keeper of cultural memory.
  • Popular culture throughout history/historicizing popular culture.
  • Historical pedagogy which engages with popular culture.
  • Appropriation, white-washing, and erasure in historical or historically-engaged texts.
  • Futurisms and Pessimisms: Afrofuturism, Afropessimism, Sinofuturism, Indigenous Futurism and others which engage in rethinking or reimagining history.

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. Interactive roundtable proposals must include a brief explanation of topic (250-500 words), 5-10 discussion questions, 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 topic (250-500 words) and a biography of 100 words or less for each facilitator. Workshop proposals should be skill-focused and can be: creative (media production, including comics, films/fan vids, music, indie games, etc.); research (utilizing archives of fan-produced media, discussion boards, listservs, ethnographic studies, etc.); or pedagogy-oriented (how to teach game design, games as texts, comics as visual narratives, films as texts, fan studies, etc.).

Please note that preference may be given to workshops and/or interactive roundtables that have more than one presenter.

Skype Track: To increase accessibility to the conference and encourage participation from a wider range of scholars, we are offering a limited virtual presentation (Skype) track. We require that Skype presenters are available to (virtually) join us at least one week before the conference for a trial run to ensure that the technology runs smoothly. There will be limited spots available on the Skype track, and preference will be given to international presenters outside of North America.

Proposals are due December 2, 2019, and should be submitted via:

All inquiries should be addressed to Conference Planning Committee co-chairs Shelby Cadwell and/or Matt Linton and sent to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *