In Memoriam


The Popular Association celebrates the lives of our members who have passed. If you have information on a member you’d like to share, please contact PCA Historian, Gary Burns, at [email protected].  



Virginia Bemis

Longtime Popular Culture Association member Virginia Thompson Bemis died April 12, 2022, in Ashland, Ohio. She was born January 17, 1949, in Oberlin, Ohio. Virginia received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan in 1970 and a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University in 1974. She received her Ph.D. in English in 1980 from Michigan State and a Master of Divinity degree from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in 1988. She was an ordained minister in the First Congregational Church in Mansfield, Ohio.

Virginia was retired as a professor of English at Ashland University, where she taught for more than 27 years. She also taught for Catherine of Siena Virtual College and served as a chaplain for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Virginia’s academic specialties included nineteenth-century women writers, disability studies, popular culture pedagogy, and contemporary African writers. Her publications include Energy Guide: A Directory of Information Resources (Garland, 1977); “One Poet in Two Parts: A Study of Hans Jewinski” (University of Windsor Review, 1979); “Barrayar’s Ugliest Child: Miles Vorkosigan” (Kaleidoscope, 1997); “Reverent and Reserved: The Sacramental Theology of Charlotte M. Yonge” (in Women’s Theology in Nineteenth Century Britain, edited by Julie Melnyk [Garland, 1998]); and “Chaos and Quest: Miles Vorkosigan’s Disability Narrative” (in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Janet Brennan Croft [McFarland, 2013]).

Virginia presented many papers at conferences of the Popular Culture Association and served PCA for many years as a member and Chair of the selection committee for the Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Anthology, Multi-Authored, or Edited Book in Feminist Studies in Popular and American Culture. In addition, Virginia was active in the Midwest Popular Culture Association, the American Academy of Religion, the Midwest American Academy of Religion, and the Modern Language Association.

Virginia is survived by her husband of 51 years (Robert Bemis), her sister Elizabeth Adie Thompson, her brother David Thompson, and two nieces.


Felicia Campbell

Felicia Campbell founded and directed the Far West Popular Culture Association (FWPCA) and served as president for the national Popular Culture Association as well. She was also the founder, and remained until her passing as the editor, of the influential journal Popular Culture Review. The FWPCA this year celebrated its thirty-second anniversary with Felicia at the helm. Seven years ago, at the twenty-fifth anniversary, conference-goers held a special celebration of Felicia and all of her wrong choices, crowning her as “The Queen of Pop Culture”—a horribly wrong thing to do in a democracy, though nothing could be more correct than that mantle and title, for not only had she carved out the space for such interests to be taken seriously in academia, the Queen had truly created a niche within the academy where the local culture could be a model for the culture at large. Unlike many other academic conferences, the Far West meeting has historically never been driven by hostility, aggression, or ego. Attendees might not always agree when they speak to each other, but it is truly wondrous that a conference space could be such a constructive place to have those agreements and disagreements, a space that is based on community, collaboration, and getting at the truth of the matter together rather than showing off or belittling others. Such a culture and ethos were not accidents. They were created at the top. The Queen of Pop Culture, Felicia was and always will be.

Read about Felicia in The New York Times, watch a segment about Felicia on PBS Newshour,  and learn more about her amazing life and legacy. 



Bryce Christensen

Longtime Popular Culture Association member Bryce J. Christensen died February 13, 2022. He was born June 30, 1955. Bryce received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University, an M.S. in English from Brigham Young in 1980, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from Marquette University in 1984. He was a professor of English at Southern Utah University from 2001 to 2021 and had served as chair of the English Department and as director of the English as a Second Language Program. Prior to working at Southern Utah he taught at Rockford University (in Rockford, Illinois) for fifteen years and before that had taught high school chemistry.

Bryce’s research interests included Chinese literature, utopian literature, and family life. He was active for many years in the Asian Popular Culture Area of PCA and was scheduled to present at the 2022 PCA conference.

Bryce was a prolific author and editor. His books include Utopia Against the Family: The Problems and Politics of the American Family (Ignatius Press, 1990); When Families Fail–The Social Costs (edited collection, University Press of America and the Rockford Institute, 1991); Divided We Fall: Family Discord and the Fracturing of America (Transaction Publishers, 2006); Winning (novel, Whiskey Creek Press, 2007); “The Portals of Sheol” and Other Poems (White Violet Press, 2012); and The Professor: A Novella (Adelaide Books, 2021).

Bryce’s numerous scholarly articles include “The Apple in the Vortex: Newton, Blake, and Descartes” (Philosophy and Literature, 1982); “The Family in Utopia” (Renascence, 1991); and “ ‘Dark Matter’: Science as Metaphor in the Poetry of Jared Carter” (Rocky Mountain Review, 2019).

Bryce was the founding editor of the journal The Family in America, which began publication in 1987.



Esther Clinton

Bowling Green State University faculty member Esther Ann Clinton died in Bowling Green, Ohio, July 16, 2022. She was born December 17, 1971, in Bloomington, Indiana. Esther attended Brewster High School (Brewster, New York) and received a B.A. degree in 1994 from Hampshire College (Amerst, Massachusetts). She received her M.A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2005) in folklore from Indiana University Bloomington, with a Ph.D. minor in Old English and German philology. Esther taught numerous popular culture courses as a visiting professor and adjunct professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green, beginning in 2006. She served as a valued employee of the Popular Culture Association at the national office in Bowling Green in 2018.

Before coming to Bowling Green, Esther taught at Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University Kokomo, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Bergen Community College (New Jersey), Hudson County Community College (New Jersey), West Virginia State University, and Marshall University (West Virginia). She was active in the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the International Society for Metal Music Studies, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Folklore Society, the Midwest Popular Culture Association, and the Midwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology.

Esther’s publications include “Academia Against Popular Culture: Popular Culture Against Academia” (Journal of World Popular Music, 2019); “Theories of the Post-Colonial and Globalization: Ethnomusicologists Grapple with Power, History, Media, and Mobility” (coauthor Jeremy Wallach) (Theory for Ethnomusicology: Histories, Conversations, Insights, 2nd edition, edited by Harris M. Berger and Ruth Stone [Routledge, 2019]); “Leisure Activity in Southeast Asia” (coauthors Sarah Moser and Jeremy Wallach) (The Palgrave Handbook of Leisure Theory edited by Karl Spracklen et al. [Palgrave, 2017]); “Talking Metal: A Social Phenomenology of Hanging Out in Metal Culture” (coauthor Jeremy Wallach) (Heavy Metal and the Communal Experience, edited by Nelson Varas-Díaz and Niall Scott [Lexington Books, 2016]); and “Proverbial Play: Proverbs in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings” (Proverbium, 2014).

Esther’s survivors include her husband, Jeremy Wallach (a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green); her mother, Millie Clinton; and her brother, Nye Clinton, Jr.



Randy Cox

Longtime Popular Culture Association member John Randolph “Randy” Cox died September 14, 2021. He was born October 7, 1936. Randy graduated from Albert Lea High School in Albert Lea, Minnesota, in 1955. He received a B.A. in English language and literature from St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1959 and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1961.

After receiving his M.L.S., Randy worked briefly at the St. Paul Public Library, then as a reference librarian at St. Olaf College from 1962 until his retirement in 1996. At St. Olaf he taught one of the nation’s first college courses on mystery and detective fiction. Following retirement, Randy taught classes for many years at the Cannon Valley Elder Collegium in Northfield.

Randy was active in PCA from 1984 to 2005. He was a major collector of popular culture materials (crime fiction, old-time radio, dime novels, comic books), many of which are now housed in special collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Randy received the Munsey Award (named after pulp magazine publisher Frank Munsey) at PulpFest in 2014. He was invested into the Baker Street Irregulars (Sherlock Holmes literary society) in 1967 and honored in J. Randolph Cox: A Sherlockian Festschrift, edited by Phillip Bergem and published in 2013. Randy edited and published Dime Novel Round-Up from 1994 to 2012.

Randy was a noted scholar of dime novels and mystery and detective fiction. His books include TAD-schrift: Twenty Years of Mystery Fandom in The Armchair Detective (edited; Borgo Press, 1987); H.G. Wells: A Reference Guide (with William J. Scheick; G.K. Hall, 1988); Man of Magic and Mystery: A Guide to the Work of Walter B. Gibson (Scarecrow Press, 1988); Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography (Salem Press, 1989); The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book (Greenwood Press, 2000); Flashgun Casey, Crime Photographer: From the Pulps to Radio and Beyond (with David S. Siegel; Book Hunter Press, 2005); and Dashing Diamond Dick and Other Classic Dime Novels (edited collection of dime novels; Penguin, 2007).

In addition, Randy published numerous journal articles, including articles in Clues, Popular Culture in Libraries, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, and The Armchair Detective. He also published many book chapters, including chapters in Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage (Scribner’s, 1998); British Mystery and Thriller Writers Since 1960 (Gale, 2003); and The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Randy is survived by his brother, James Cox.



Sammy Danna


Longtime Popular Culture Association member and Advertising Area Chair Sammy Richard Danna died February 20, 2019, in Monroe, Louisiana. He was born March 26, 1934, in Monroe. He graduated from Neville High School in Monroe in 1953 and received a B.A. in speech education (1956) and an M.Ed. (1962) from Northeast Louisiana State College (now called the University of Louisiana at Monroe). He taught at public schools in Monroe from 1956 to 1961 and received an M.A. in speech from Louisiana State University in 1960. Sammy took graduate courses in rhetoric and public address, minoring in radio-television, from 1962 to 1963 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He taught speech at Illinois State University from 1963 to 1964. Sammy received his Ph.D. in speech with an emphasis in radio-TV-film at the University of Missouri (Columbia) in 1967. He earned a Master of Divinity degree at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1972 and became a Franciscan deacon.

Sammy taught at Loyola University Chicago from 1969 until his retirement in 2012. His courses included broadcast law, media and popular culture, advertising, and history of broadcasting. In 1978 he founded Loyola’s FM radio station, WLUW. He created the long-running annual Loyola Radio Conference in 1972.

Sammy’s publications include “The Six-Year Fight to Save WEFM” (Journal of Broadcasting, 1978); Advertising and Popular Culture: Studies in Variety and Versatility (edited, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1992); “Sexier and More Sensitive: The Changing Advertising Image of Males in the 1990s” (Gender & Utopia in Advertising: A Critical Reader, edited by Luigi and Alessandra Manca [Procoopian Press, 1994]); Lydia Pinkham: The Face That Launched a Thousand Ads (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015); and Student Voices: The History of Loyola University Radio (Loyola University Chicago School of Communication, 2017).

Sammy is survived by his sisters Betty Gilreath and Theresa Coco and his brother Tony Danna.




J. Joseph Edgette

Longtime Popular Culture Association member J. Joseph Edgette died February 12, 2022, at his home in Glenolden, Pennsylvania.  Joseph was born June 8, 1942.  He received his B.S. in English from West Chester State College (now West Chester University) in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1966.  He received three graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania: a Master of Education in Instructional Media in 1971 and an M.A. in Folklore Studies and a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife in 1982.  He worked as a teacher, department head, and vice principal for the Ridley School District in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, from 1966 to 1979.  Joseph was retired from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he had worked since 1979 as a professor, administrator, and (since 2008) folklorist emeritus.  He was also an adjunct professor of English at Villanova University for several years.

For many years through 2021 Joseph served as the Area Chair for Cemeteries and Gravemarkers for PCA and the American Culture Association.  He was Co-Chair of the Death in American Culture Area for the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association.  He received the Loretta Lorance Award from MAPCA in 2017 and the A. Lewis Smith Award from the Delaware County Historical Society in 2018.  In 2015 Joseph received the Forbes Award from the Association for Gravestone Studies, which has also established the J. Joseph Edgette Education Fund, described here: https://www.gravestonestudies.org/j-joseph-edgette-education-fund.

Joseph’s publications include “The Gravemarker and Oral Tradition” (New Jersey Folklore, 1985); “ ‘Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep…’: Symbols and Their Meanings on Children’s Gravemarkers” (Children’s Folklore Review, 1999); “RMS Titanic: Memorialized in Popular Literature and Culture” (Studies in the Literary Imagination, 2006); and “Larger Than Life: Titanic and Her Name Heritage” (Names: A Journal of Onomastics, 2006).



Mort Gamble

Longtime PCA member Mortimer Williams Gamble V died on January 29, 2020.  He was born on September 21, 1951, in Cumberland, Maryland.  He grew up in Moorefield, West Virginia.  Mort received his baccalaureate and master’s degrees in English and his doctorate in higher education leadership, all from West Virginia University.  He taught English, humanities, and communication at West Virginia Wesleyan College and served as Director of College Relations at that institution.  Subsequently he worked in many administrative positions at Fairmont State University (West Virginia), Waynesburg University (Pennsylvania), Hood College (Maryland), George Washington University (DC), and Bethany College (West Virginia).  Since 2016 he served as Senior Vice President at Virginia Wesleyan University, where he was also an associate professor of communication.

Mort was a former member of a traveling circus troupe and conducted research on circus history and culture.  He was active for many years in the PCA Circus and Sideshow Culture Area.  He was a columnist for The CFA Word, the national magazine of the Circus Fans Association of America.  Mort’s publications include “Circus! Life Under the Big Top” (Goldenseal, published by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, 2009); “Bethany Trolley” (with Laura L. Cramblet) (Goldenseal, 2011); and (with Maureen Brunsdale) “Little Caesar: The Secret Life and High-Flying Times of Art Concello” (Bandwagon, published by the Circus Historical Society, 2017).  Mort also published “Circus Kirk: A Mud Show Back to the Future (What the Circus Did for Us),” “Circus Noir: Peering Into the Dark Corners of the Big Top,” and “Circus in a Box: The Big Top on TV,” all in The Many Worlds of Circus, edited by Robert Sugarman (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).  Mort presented a paper at the 2019 PCA conference, “The ‘Soul’ of the Circus: What Animals Under the Big Top Continue to Teach Their Audiences.”  At the time of his death, Mort was working with Maureen Brunsdale on a book-length biography of trapeze artist and show manager Arthur M. Concello.

Mort is survived by his wife (M.E. Yancosek Gamble) and his brother (Dave Gamble). Read more from Virginia Wesleyan University.


M. Thomas Inge

Pioneering popular-culture scholar Milton Thomas Inge died May 15, 2021, in Richmond, Virginia, after suffering a fall at home.  He was born March 18, 1936, in Newport News, Virginia.  He received his B.A. in English and Spanish from Randolph-Macon College, in Ashland, Virginia, in 1959.  He received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Vanderbilt University in 1960 and 1964.

Tom served as an Instructor of English at Vanderbilt from 1962 to 1964, then as an Assistant and later Associate Professor of American Thought and Language at Michigan State University from 1964 to 1969.  He was an Associate and later Full Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1969 to 1980 and chaired the English Department from 1974 to 1980.  He was Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Clemson University from 1980 to 1984, then the Robert Emory Blackwell Professor of English and Humanities at Randolph-Macon College from 1984 until his death.  He was a Resident Scholar in American Studies for the United States Information Agency from 1982 to 1984 and directed the USIA Summer Institute in American Studies in 1993, 1994, and 1995.

Tom’s many books include Donald Davidson: An Essay and a Bibliography (coauthor Thomas Daniel Young, Vanderbilt University Press, 1965); George Washington Harris’s High Times and Hard Times: Sketches and Tales (edited, Vanderbilt University Press, 1967); Agrarianism in American Literature (edited, Odyssey Press, 1969); Donald Davidson (coauthor Thomas Daniel Young, Twayne Publishers, 1971); the landmark three-volume Handbook of American Popular Culture (edited, Greenwood Press, 1978-1981; 2nd ed., 1989); Concise Histories of American Popular Culture (edited, Greenwood Press, 1982); Handbook of American Popular Literature (edited, Greenwood Press, 1988); Comics as Culture (University Press of Mississippi, 1990); Faulkner, Sut, and Other Southerners: Essays in Literary History (Locust Hill Press, 1992); Perspectives on American Culture: Essays on Humor, Literature, and the Popular Arts (Locust Hill Press, 1994); Anything Can Happen in a Comic Strip (Ohio State University Libraries, University Press of Mississippi, and Randolph-Macon College, 1995); Charles M. Schulz: Conversations (edited, University Press of Mississippi, 2000); The Humor of the Old South (coedited with Edward J. Piacentino, University Press of Kentucky, 2001); The Greenwood Guide to American Popular Culture (coedited with Dennis Hall, Greenwood Press, 2002); William Faulkner (Overlook Duckworth, 2006); Literature (editor, University of North Carolina Press, 2008, volume 9 in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture); Charles M. Schulz’s My Life with Charlie Brown (edited, University Press of Mississippi, 2010); and Will Eisner: Conversations (edited, University Press of Mississippi, 2011).

Tom published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters.  Among the journals in which he published are American Literature, American Studies International, the International Journal of Comic Art, the Journal of American Culture, the Journal of Ethnic Studies, the Journal of Popular Culture, the Journal of Popular Film and Television, the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, PMLA, the South Atlantic Review, Studies in American Culture, and Studies in Popular Culture.  In addition, Tom published articles in Studies in American Humor and edited that journal for four years.  He founded the journal Resources for American Literary Study in 1971 and the book series “Studies in Popular Culture,” “Great Comic Artists,” and “Conversations with Comic Artists” for the University Press of Mississippi.  He edited the book series “American Critical Archives” for Cambridge University Press.  He was a founder of the American Humor Studies Association and the Southern Studies Forum of the European Association for American Studies.

The M. Thomas Inge Papers are held as part of the Comic Arts Collection at the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.  Tom is profiled by Michael Dunne in Pioneers in Popular Culture Studies, edited by Ray B. Browne and Michael T. Marsden (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1999).

Tom won numerous awards for his research, including the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Award for Distinguished Scholarship (2006), the Society for the Study of Southern Literature Richard Beale Davis Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service to Southern Letters (2008), and the Popular Culture Association Lynn Bartholome Eminent Scholar Award (2018).

Tom is survived by his wife, Donária Romeiro Carvalho Inge.

Read more about Tom here. 


Kathy Larsen

Longtime Popular Culture Association member Katherine Ann Larsen died February 9, 2022.  She was 63.

Kathy received her B.A. in English Language and Literature from the State University of New York at Albany in 1980, her M.A. in English Literature from Georgetown University in 1986, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1996.  She was a professor in the University Writing Program at George Washington University from 1995 until her death.  Kathy served on the steering committee of the Faculty Association at George Washington University and was a strong advocate for labor rights and collective bargaining at the university.

Kathy was a pioneering scholar of fan culture and served as the PCA Area Chair for Fan Culture and Theory for many years until her death.  She was one of the founders of the Journal of Fandom Studies and also edited the journal.  Together with Lynn Zubernis, Kathy founded the website Fangasm.  One of Kathy’s specialties was the WB (later CW) TV series Supernatural.  Among her innovations (with Lynn Zubernis) was working with the directors and actors of the series to influence plots and make the show more appealing to fans.

Kathy was a prolific writer and editor.  Her edited collections include Fan Culture: Theory, Practice (with Lynn Zubernis, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012); Supernatural (with Lynn Zubernis, Intellect Books, 2014); and World Film Locations: Washington, D.C. (Intellect Books, 2015).  Kathy was coauthor, with Lynn Zubernis, of Fandom at the Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012); Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls (University of Iowa Press, 2013); and the chapter “Make Space for Us! Fandom in the Real World” in A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies (Wiley Blackwell, 2018, edited by Paul Booth).


Mery-et Lescher

Longtime PCA member Mary Elizabeth Lescher (also known as Mery-et Lescher) died on June 2, 2019.  She was born on August 19, 1957.  She presented at PCA conferences in the Animation Area and in the Popular Art, Architecture, and Design Area.  Mery-et received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts (New York) in 1983 and a B.A. (2008), M.A. (2010), and Ph.D. (2017) in Art History, Criticism, and Conservation from Florida State University, along with a Graduate Museum Studies Certificate from Florida State (2012). Her Ph.D. dissertation was “The Little Studio That Could: The Contribution of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida to the Animation Renaissance and Theme-Park Entertainment.”

Mery-et had extensive professional experience in animation and worked in many different film production facilities around the world.  She has numerous credits listed in the Internet Movie Database, including Klaus (2019), an English-language Spanish film directed by Sergio Pablos and distributed by Netflix.  Klaus is dedicated to Mery-et’s memory and was released shortly after her death.  Mery-et’s numerous credits for Disney productions include Brother Bear (2003); Lilo & Stitch (2002); John Henry (part of Disney’s American Legends) (2000); Mulan (1998); Hercules (1997); Pocahontas (1995); The Lion King (1994), Aladdin (1992); and Beauty and the Beast (1991).  Mery-et’s animation position titles included 2D Scene Planner, Senior Scene Planner, Scene Planner, Master Cameraperson, Optical-Camera Operator, and Computer-Graphics Artist.

In addition to her film work, Mery-et worked as a curator at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, Florida), the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, and Richmond Community Hospital (Virginia).

Mery-et received numerous awards, grants, and other honors, including a Michael Schoenecke Travel Grant from PCA in 2016.

Mary-et is survived by her partner, John Urbancik.

Martin Manning

Martin Joseph Manning died February 28, 2019, at his home in Woodbridge, Virginia.  He was born in Boston on November 2, 1950.  Martin received a B.S. degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in library science from Catholic University of America (DC).  He was a research librarian and archivist for the U.S. government for 44 years, most recently for the State Department.

Martin was active for many years in PCA and in the Northeast PCA.  For PCA he served as Area Chair for New England Studies and as Area Chair for World’s Fairs and Expositions.

Martin’s books include Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads (with Frank Hoffmann) (Haworth, 2002); Historical Dictionary of American Propaganda (edited with Herbert Romerstein) (Greenwood, 2004); Pop Culture versus Real America (Managing Editor with Megan A. Wong) (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010); and Encyclopedia of Media and Propaganda in Wartime America (edited with Clarence R. Wyatt) (ABC-CLIO, 2011).

Martin also published several articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries, including “Malcolm Bingay” (in American Sportswriters and Writers on Sport, edited by Richard Orodenker) (Gale, 2001); “Impact of Propaganda Materials in Free World Countries” (in Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War, edited by Greg Barnhisel and Catherine Turner) (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010); and “Disney’s Europe: Hans Brinker and The Three Lives of Thomasina” and “The American Revolution and Disney: Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain, and the Celebration of Liberty” (in Walt Disney, from Reader to Storyteller: Essays on the Literary Inspirations, edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson and Mark I. West) (McFarland, 2015).

Martin was also a barbershop quartet singer and a judge for National History Day competitions at the state level in Maryland and nationally in Washington, DC.

Martin is survived by his daughters Anna Manning and Sarah Manning, five siblings, and several nephews and their children.


Ken Muir

Longtime Popular Culture Association member Kenneth Bradley Muir died December 26, 2021.  He resided in Boone, North Carolina, and was recently retired from the Sociology Department at Appalachian State University, where he had been a professor since 1998.  Ken was born August 26, 1957.  He received his B.A. in Journalism from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan, in 1979; his M.A. in Journalism and Communication from the University of Florida in 1985; and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Virginia Tech in 1993.  Before becoming a professor, Ken worked as a journalist for the Jupiter [Florida] Courier-Journal from 1979 to 1983 and for the Gainesville [Florida] Sun from 1983 to 1985.  From 1985 to 1998 he held academic positions at Radford University (Radford, Virginia), Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

At Appalachian State, Ken directed the M.A. in Social Sciences Program from 2001 to 2006.  He was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2006 and a Visiting Professor and Research Scholar at the University of Winchester (England) beginning in 2018.

Ken’s academic specialties in addition to popular culture included the sociology of sport and the sociology of media.  His publications include several book reviews in the Journal of Popular Culture and Journal of American Culture and articles in the Southwest Journal on Aging (2000), Research on Aging (2002), the Journal of Housing for the Elderly (2004), Deviant Behavior (2004), Educational Gerontology (2005, 2006), and Teaching Sociology (2013).  In addition, he published chapters in Rural Housing, Exurbanization, and Amenity-Driven Development: Contrasting the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” (2011, edited by David Marcouiller, Mark Lapping, and Owen Furuseth, 2011) and the Palgrave Handbook of Masculinity and Sport (2020, edited by Rory Magrath, Jamie Cleland, Eric Anderson).

Through 2021, Ken was the longtime PCA Area Chair for Eros, Pornography, and Popular Culture.  Ken was also active in the Southern Sociological Society and the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.  He was a nationally certified rugby referee and coached women’s rugby at Appalachian State for many years.  Ken is survived by his wife Lisa Muir, who through 2021 was the longtime PCA Area Chair for Creative Fiction Writing.



Douglas Noverr

Former PCA President Douglas Arthur Noverr died February 14, 2020.  He was born on May 13, 1942.  Doug grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, and graduated from St. Philip Catholic Central High School in Battle Creek.  He received his B.A. and M.A. in English from Central Michigan University and his Ph.D. in English in 1973 from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

Doug was President of PCA from 1997 to 2000.  Prior to that he served as Vice President (1995-1996) and as a Council Member at Large (1992-1995).  He also served as Sports Area Chair for many years.  Doug chaired the PCA-ACA Endowment Committee from 2001 to 2005 and served as PCA-ACA International Coordinator from 2007 to 2011.  He received the Governing Board Award for outstanding and far-reaching service to PCA-ACA.  The Douglas A. Noverr Grant for Collection Enhancement, awarded by the PCA Endowment, has enabled colleges and universities across the country to create and enhance campus-based research collections in popular and American culture studies.

Doug worked at Michigan State University from 1970 until his retirement in 2018.  During his time at Michigan State Doug served as Chair of the Departments of American Thought and Language and Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures from 1995 to 2007.  He served as Acting or Interim Chair of the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and Romance and Classical Studies.  He was Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Letters from 2007 to 2010.

Doug was a noted scholar of sports, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Midwestern literature, among many other topics.  He was active in the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.  He received a Fulbright award in 1976 and taught as a Senior Lecturer in American Literature in Lublin, Poland, at the Institute of English Philology at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.

Doug’s books include The Games They Played: Sports in American History, 1865-1980 (with Lawrence E. Ziewacz) (Nelson-Hall, 1983); Walt Whitman’s Selected Journalism (edited with Jason Stacy) (University of Iowa Press, 2014); and Michigan State University: The Rise of a Research University and the New Millennium, 1970-2005 (Michigan State University Press, 2015).

Doug’s numerous articles and book chapters include “Popular Fiction and the U.S.-Mexico War: Thomas Mayne Reid’s The Rifle Rangers (1850) and John Ludlum McConnel’s Talbot and Vernon (1850)” (Journal of Popular Culture, 2001); “Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig” (in The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past, edited by Peter C. Rollins) (Columbia University Press, 2003); and “Popular Culture in Sports, the Popular Culture of Sports: A Cross-Disciplinary Historical View” (in Popular Culture Studies Across the Curriculum: Essays for Educators, edited by Ray B. Browne) (McFarland, 2005).

Doug is survived by his wife, Betty Noverr.  A graveside service in Doug’s memory was held in May 2020 at the Barnard Cemetery in Charlevoix, Michigan. Read more from Michigan State University. 

Jerry Rodnitzky

Longtime PCA member Jerome Leon Rodnitzky died April 25, 2020, in Arlington, Texas, following a brief illness.  He was born August 1, 1936, in Chicago.  He received his B.A. (1959) and M.A.T. (1962) from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illnois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967.

Jerry was retired from the History Department at the University of Texas at Arlington.  He had taught in the Department more than fifty years, beginning in 1966.  At UTA he received several teaching awards, including the Gertrude Golladay Award (1989) and the Freshman Leaders on Campus Outstanding Teacher Award (2008, 2009, 2011).  He was one of the founders of women’s studies at UTA and the first Director of Teaching of Women’s Studies.

Jerry was a leading expert on the 1960s counterculture and on American folk music, protest songs, and feminism.  His books include Minstrels of the Dawn: The Folk-Protest Singer as Cultural Hero (Nelson-Hall, 1976), Jazz-Age Boomtown (coauthor Shirley R. Rodnitzky) (Texas A&M University Press, 1997), Feminist Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of a Feminist Counterculture (Praeger, 1999), and Lights, Camera, History: Portraying the Past in Film (coedited with Richard Francaviglia) (Texas A&M University Press, 2007).  He also published numerous articles in popular-culture journals, including the Journal of Popular Culture and Popular Music and Society.

Jerry was a member of the Editorial Board of Popular Music and Society from its founding in 1971 until his death.  He was an Advisory Editor of the Journal of Texas Music History.  He presented papers at many conferences of the Popular Culture Association, including the first conference, in East Lansing, Michigan, in 1971.

Jerry is survived by numerous relatives, including his wife of 53 years, Shirley Marie Reiger Rodnitzky, and their two children, Mark Rodnitzky and Joan Anderson.


Michael Schoenecke

Former PCA-ACA Executive Director and cofounder of the Southwest PCA-ACA Michael Keith Schoenecke died December 16, 2020, following a long illness.  Mike was born March 17, 1949, in Oklahoma City.  He received a B.A. (1971) and an M.A. (1974) in English from Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma (now the University of Central Oklahoma).  He received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Oklahoma State University in 1979.

Mike taught in the English Department at Texas Tech University from 1981 until his retirement in 2014.  He founded the Department’s Film and Media Studies program.  He received the Texas Tech President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996 and became an inaugural member of the Texas Tech University Teaching Academy in 1997.

Mike was a key figure in the history of the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association.  Most notably he served as Executive Director from 2002 to 2007 and again in 2012.  He guided the Associations through their moment of greatest vulnerability following the retirements of Ray and Pat Browne and provided crucial continuity and stability.  Mike also served as PCA Endowment Director from 2007 to 2011.  He was a Vice President of PCA from 1989 to 1990 and a member of the ACA Board from 2001 to 2002.  He was a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Popular Culture.  In his honor, the PCA Endowment provides numerous Michael Schoenecke Travel Grants every year to support attendance of graduate students at the annual PCA national conference.

Mike was a cofounder in 1978 of the Southwest and Texas Popular Culture Association (now the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association).  He served that organization for many years as Executive Director, Program Chair, Vice President, Sports Area Chair, and Film Area Chair.  To honor Mike’s landmark contributions to SWPACA, in 2015 the organization welcomed the first class of Fellows in the newly established Michael K. Schoenecke Leadership Institute, a two-year training program to prepare SWPACA members for future leadership roles in the organization.

Mike published extensively on film, sports, music, and other topics.  His books include Film and Literature: A Comparative Approach to Adaptation (edited with Wendell Aycock) (Texas Tech University Press, 1988); The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Popular Culture [Volume 1]: North America (editor) (Greenwood Press, 2007) (the Encyclopedia received the 2008 PCA Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Reference/Primary Source Work); and All-Stars & Movie History: Sports in Film & History (edited with Ron Briley and Deborah A. Carmichael) (University Press of Kentucky, 2008).  Mike’s articles and book chapters include “William S. Hart: Authenticity and the West” (in Shooting Stars: Heroes and Heroines of Western Film, edited by Archie P. McDonald) (Indiana University Press, 1987); “Harry Chapin and American Culture” (Popular Music and Society, 1988); “James M. Stewart: An American Original” (in Back in the Saddle: Essays on Western Film and Television Actors, edited by Gary A. Yoggy) (McFarland, 1998); and “Bobby Jones, Golf, and His Instructional Reels” (Film & History, 2005).

Mike married Deborah Joan Cole on June 20, 1970, in Oklahoma City.  He is survived by Debby, their daughters Heather Disarro (and her husband Nate) and Salah Gibbons (and her husband Brett), four grandchildren, his sister Jan Baccus (and her husband Garrett), and numerous nieces and nephews.  Mike lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater.  View the video of Mike’s memorial service.


Sally Sugarman

Former PCA Vice President Sally Sugarman died December 9, 2020.  She was born Sally Marino on March 27, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York.  She received a B.A. in English Literature from New York University, an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education (in New York City), and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Research from the State University of New York at Albany.

Sally was Vice President of Awards of PCA from 2008 to 2012.  She was active for many years in the PCA Children’s Literature Area.

Sally taught Childhood Studies for 35 years at Bennington College (in Bennington, Vermont), where she founded and directed the Early Childhood Center.  In 1955 she founded the Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School in Westport, Connecticut.

Sally served as Chair of the Vermont State Board of Education, President of the Vermont School Boards Association, and President of the Bennington Rotary, for which she also was newsletter publisher.  Sally was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars (an international, invitation-only Sherlock Holmes literary society) and founder and Chair of the Baker Street Breakfast Club (an approved scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars), for which she also edited the quarterly newsletter Groans, Cries and Bleatings.

Sally was a noted scholar of Sherlock Holmes and children’s literature and culture.  Her books include If Kids Could Vote: Children, Democracy, and the Media (Lexington Books, 2007), How Shakespeare Is Presented to Children: A Review of Methods Used to Incorporate the Bard Into the Canon of Children’s Literature (Edwin Mellen Press, 2016), and the edited collections Sherlock Holmes: Victorian Sleuth to Modern Hero (coeditors Charles R. Putney and Joseph A. Cutshall King) (Scarecrow Press, 1996) and Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His Worlds (Mountainside Press, 2013).  Her articles and book chapters include “Whose Woods Are These Anyhow? Children, Fairy Tales, and the Media” (in The Antic Art: Enhancing Children’s Literary Experiences Through Film and Video, edited by Lucy Rollin) (Highsmith, 1993), “Children on Board: Images from Candy Lands” (in Images of the Child, edited by Harry Eiss) (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1994), “Playing the Game: Rituals in Children’s Games” (in Rituals and Patterns in Children’s Lives, edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson) (University of Wisconsin Press / Popular Press, 2005), and “Sherlock Holmes and the Children” (The Baker Street Journal, 2008).

Sally is survived by her husband of 61 years, Robert Sugarman (also a longtime PCA member); her sons Paul and David; and her grandchildren Kate and Marnie.


Maryan Wherry


Popular Culture Association member Maryan Wherry died January 31, 2020. She was born December 24, 1956, in Kansas City, Missouri. Maryan received an M.A. in English from Illinois State University in 1990, an M.S. in history from Illinois State University, and a Ph.D. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2000. She taught for many years at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities and served as Coordinator of the university’s Writing Center. She also taught at Black Hawk College (Moline, Illinois). Before that she taught for many years for the University of Maryland University College (now called the University of Maryland Global Campus). In that position Maryan taught in many countries including Germany, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Azores, the Marshall Islands, and Bosnia.

Maryan was a member of the Boards of the Rock Island (Illinois) County Historical Society, the Colonel Davenport House (Rock Island), the Western District Library (Orion, Illinois), and Friendship Force Quad Cities (Bettendorf, Iowa). She spoke regularly at events in the Quad Cities area on Women’s Studies, Popular Culture, and American Culture.

Maryan was a frequent presenter at conferences of the Popular Culture Association and Midwest Popular Culture Association. She served as Romance Area Chair for MPCA.

Maryan’s publications include “Women and the Western Military Frontier: Elizabeth Bacon Custer” (Nineteenth-Century Women Learn to Write, edited by Catherine Hobbs, University Press of Virginia, 1995) and “More Than a Love Story: The Complexities of Popular Romance” (The Bloomsbury Introduction to Popular Fiction, edited by Christine Berberich, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015). Maryan also guest-edited a special issue of the Journal of American Culture on Love and Romance in American Culture (volume 36, issue 1, March 2013)

and wrote the introduction to the issue.

Maryan resided in Orion, Illinois. She is survived by her brothers Don Wherry and Chon Wherry, her sisters-in-law Diana Wherry and Donna Kerfoot, and close friends Marilyn Maus and Carol Schoening.


PCA Remembers

Virginia Bemis

Felicia Campbell

Bryce Christensen

Esther Clinton

Randy Cox

Sammy Danna

J. Joseph Edgette

Mort Gamble

M. Thomas Inge

Kathy Larsen

Mery-et Lescher

Martin Manning

Ken Muir

Douglas Noverr

Jerry Rodnitzky

Michael Schoenecke

Sally Sugarman

Maryan Wherry