Eighteen attendees comprised of both voting and ex-officio (non-voting) members of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Governing Board came together between Thursday, June 25, and Saturday, June 27, to craft the organization’s first five-year strategic plan along with revising and updating its mission and vision statements. The Cincinnati meeting was very productive and collegial. Under the able leadership of President Diane Calhoun-French and former Interim President and Secretary, Michael Marsden, the group was focused, energetic, and working on all cylinders.
One item that came up early was the shortening of our organization’s name from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (“PCA/ACA”) to the Popular Culture Association (“PCA”). Towards the end of our three-day gathering, President Calhoun-French charged me with writing up a contextual statement and resolution to this effect for your review and consideration. It might also be helpful if I include a link from our association’s website that provides a concise history and overview of PCA/ACA http://pcaaca.org/about/history-and-overview/
As you’ll see the roots of the Popular Culture Association (“PCA”) date back into the late 1960s, culminating in the first national meeting at Michigan State University on 1971. In 1979, the American Culture Association (“ACA”) was established for conceptual and practical reasons. From a conceptual viewpoint, scholarly work in popular culture always included other cultural strata that fit into prevailing models at the time (e.g., high/popular/folk; highbrow/middlebrow/lowbrow; etc.). What ACA did was assert that all cultural expressions were relevant for study by our membership as the two associations met concurrently until they were merged in the mid-2000s and became the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.
Probably even more importantly, the American Culture Association was created in 1979 because many administrators and scholars in higher education believed that popular culture studies was on the margins and even outside academe; and Ray Browne was intent on creating ACA as a vehicle by which scholars could garner financial support from their home institutions to attend the national and regional meetings. In hindsight, this strategy was quite successful from the outset. Although some bias still remains in a few quarters of higher education, popular culture studies is more in the mainstream of academe. It is more readily accepted-maybe even taken for granted as a legitimate discipline-by younger generations of administrators and scholars.
As a result, the governing board would like to unanimously recommend that our association’s name be shortened to the Popular Culture Association (“PCA”) since the reasons why an American Culture Association was created as a separate entity in the first place are less pressing or non-existent today. The assumption is that in the 21st century the transnational nature of popular culture is a given. Depending on one’s conception of culture, scholars are already free to focus on American culture or other cultural strata under the rubric of PCA. TheJournal of American Culture will continue unaffected by this name change as one of the two major journals of PCA.
Finally, our sense is that the appellation–Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association-has not only outgrown its usefulness, but it is too long and cumbersome as a name. I say this as someone who served as President of ACA from 1995-1997 along with many other administrative positions in both PCA and ACA as well as now PCA/ACA. On behalf of the PCA/ACA Governing Board as its Chair, let me put forth the following resolution:
Resolved, That the name of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (“PCA/ACA”) be shortened to the Popular Culture Association to simply and directly reflect the primary focus of this scholarly organization.
We welcome all questions and comments, and ask that they be submitted no later than Friday, September 18 to the Executive Director of Operations, Brendan Riley, at firstname.lastname@example.org