About Us

About the Popular Culture Association

The individuals who comprise the PCA are a group of scholars and enthusiasts who study popular culture. The Popular Culture Association (formally the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association) is a 501c3 which offers a venue to come together and share ideas and interests about the field or about a particular subject within the field. The Association also provides publication opportunities and sponsors the PCA Endowment.

The phrase “Popular Culture” is difficult to pin down. Common usage yields several different definitions. Our list of Subject Areas shows the term’s many facets for us. These Subject Areas, as diverse as they are, focus on one common denominator–the study of popular culture.

To learn more about us, we welcome you to explore this site. You will learn about our history, mission, and goals. You’ll find information about travel grants that can help pay for expenses incurred while traveling to our National Conference–our flagship event, held each year in a major U.S. city. The site also includes useful information for our members and links for you to notify us about an event or opportunity in Popular Culture studies.  Most importantly, you can use your account here to submit papers and register for our national conference. Click the links at the top of this page for more information.

The Popular Culture Association is sustained through our endowment, which has been built through donations and careful stewardship of our funds. We invite you to support this organization and help us fund our grants by donating.

We are always pleased to hear from and correspond with individuals interested in the PCA. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please visit our contact page, or email individuals directly using information on our Team page.



The mission of the Popular Culture Association is to promote the study of popular culture throughout the world through the establishment and promotion of conferences, publications, and discussion. Aiding the PCA in this goal is the PCA Endowment, which offers support for scholars and scholarship.

The PCA actively tries to identify and recruit new areas of scholarly exploration and to be open to new and innovative ideas. PCA is both inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary. Finally, the PCA believes all scholars should be treated with dignity and respect.


The Popular Culture Association was founded by scholars who believed the American Studies Association was too committed to the then existing canon of literary writers such as Melville, Hawthorne, and Whitman. They believed that the American Studies Association had lost its holistic approach to cultural studies; there was little room, as they saw it, for the study of material culture, popular music, movies, and comics.

To remedy this situation, Professors Ray Browne (Bowling Green State University) and Russell Nye (Michigan State University) started an organization that would be open to more subjects and forms of cultural studies. The Association’s first meeting was in East Lansing, Michigan at Michigan State University in 1971. Aiding the efforts of Browne and Nye were early pioneers such as Jane Bakerman, Carl Bode, Pat Browne, John G. Cawelti, George N. Dove, Marshall W. Fishwick, M. Thomas Inge, Susan Koppelman, Peter C. Rollins, Fred E. H. Schroeder, Emily Toth, Tom Towers, Daniel Walden, and many others.

In 1979, the American Culture Association became a partner in the study of Popular Culture and the two organizations have held joint conferences since that time. Under the tutelage of Ray Browne, the organization grew. The national conference has over 2,000 participants. Moreover, the organization has seven regional organizations: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, Far West, Southwest/Texas, and Oceanic. The regional organizations range in size from 200 to 1,000 participants. Popular Culture is also closely affiliated with four international popular culture organizations in Australia/New Zealand, East Asia, Canada, and Europe. PCA/ACA also maintains an international organization that meets in the summer of odd numbered years.

The PCA/ACA has also established two journals (The Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of American Culture) to foster the intellectual discussion of the field. Recognizing excellence is another goal of the PCA/ACA. The organization has established a series of awards to honor the highest quality of scholarship.

Supporting the study of popular and American culture is an important mission for the organization. To that end, the PCA/ACA has established the PCA/ACA Endowment. Drawing from the interest it receives, the PCA/ACA Endowment has been able to support graduate students, international scholars, collections, and collection research.

In 2003, the organization went through a major change in leadership when Ray and Pat Browne stepped down as the leaders of the PCA/ACA after many years of building and nurturing the organization. Michael Schoenecke became the Executive Director and along with Presidents Lynn Bartholome and John Bratzel (PCA) and David Sokol and Ken Dvorak (ACA) the organization struck out on its own. Gary Hoppenstand took over The Journal of Popular Culture, and Kathy Merlock Jackson became editor of the Journal of American Culture. New bylaws were written for both the PCA and the Endowment, and subsequently, the PCA and ACA merged their boards to streamline decision making and avoid duplication.

In 2009, Ray Browne passed away. He was the pioneer of the field and his hard work, encouragement, intellect, and leadership ability is sorely missed.

In the future, the PCA/ACA plans to continue to nurture the study of popular and American culture, to support new and established scholars in both their research and teaching, to support the publication of its two journals, and to internationalize the organization.

For more history concerning the organization, three books are particularly useful: Ray B. Browne, Against Academia(Popular Press, 1989), Pioneers in Popular Culture Studies, ed. by Ray B. Browne and Michael T. Marsden, (Popular Press, 1999), and Mission Underway, The History of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association and the Popular Culture Movement 1967-2001, ed. by Ray B. Browne (Popular Press, 2002).

For more information, please contact us.