2022 Featured Speakers

Lynn Bartholome

“They Once Had Hopes and Dreams for the Future”: The Life, the Betrayal, and the Afterlife of Anne and Margot Frank

At the beginning of World War II, there were over 1.5 million Jewish children living in territories controlled (or soon to be controlled) by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi collaborators. These children had the same hopes and yearnings many youngsters have—to play with friends, attend school, go to a local swimming pool; they aspired to become writers or artists or just follow their passions. As a result of the oppression of Hitler and his sympathizers, the number of remaining Jewish youths shrunk to less than 500,000 by the end of the war (1945). Most of these children were not killed in warfare; they were deliberately murdered by a political regime that believed they had no right to live, simply because of their religion. Anne and Margot Frank were two of these victims (Lee 1).

During the war, many children kept diaries, including Anne and Margot.  Anne’s diary survived the war; sadly, Margot’s did not. Today. Anne’s diary continues to be the most widely read document from the Holocaust, selling over 30 million copies, and translated into more than 70 languages. Each year, more than a million people visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Through the words in Anne’s diary, we also learn about Margot Frank, who for decades had been considered the introverted, reserved sister. Recently discovered photographs and survivor interviews cast a different light on Anne’s older, bookwormish sibling.

This presentation will revisit the short life and premature death of both Anne and Margot Frank. It also considers Anne’s evolution into a twentieth-century icon and symbol of the persecuted in a world of aggression and cruelty. “Her name invokes humanity, tolerance, human rights, and democracy; her image is the epitome of optimism and the will to live” (Muller ix). The session also examines the recent investigation undertaken to determine the actual betrayer of Anne, Margot, and the other Jewish residents of the Secret Annex.


Lee, Carol Ann. Anne Frank and the Children of the Holocaust. Puffin Books, 2006.

Muller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography. Metropolitan Books, 1998.


Lynn Bartholome is the first full-time executive director of the Popular Culture Association.  She has also served as an area chair, board member, and president of both the PCA and the combined PCAACA. Dr. Bartholome is a Professor Emerita at Monroe Community College and taught courses at Ferris State University, University of Rochester, and Bowling Green State University; she also served as a division dean at Northern Virginia Community  College. Lynn has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards (including the SUNY Chancellor Award) and literary honors (including the Ray and Pat Browne Award for the Best Reference Book). She has studied and written about Anne Frank since she was in grade school.


Adam Crowley

Representations of Poverty in Videogames

This interactive presentation is the subject of the upcoming monograph Representations of Poverty in Videogames, which is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan in 2022. The primary argument of this book is that the videogame form has become a meaningful vehicle for representing contemporary, middle-class anxieties about poverty in the United States. In this presentation, these anxieties are explored with gameplay examples relevant to select supply-chain and inflation-related concerns that manifested in the United States during the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic. These examples are drawn from genre-specific titles published by Blizzard Entertainment: e.g., StarCraft (real-time strategy game), World of Warcraft (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), Diablo (dungeon crawler game), Overwatch (team-based first-person shooter game), and Hearthstone (strategy card game). The aim of this presentation is to contribute to Game Studies scholarship on the significance of economic anxieties to the player’s act of play and to relate these concerns to everyday experiences with income inequality. Representative examples of scholarship relevant to this presentation include but not be limited to Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter’s Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games (2009), Randy Nichols’ The Video Game Industry (2014), Carly A. Kocurek’s Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade (2015), and Michael Z. Neuman’s Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America (2017).


Adam Crowley is a Professor of English at Husson University, where he serves as Director of Composition. He is the author of The Wealth of Virtual Nations: Videogame Currencies (2017) and Representations of Poverty in Videogames (2022). Dr. Crowley chairs the Computer Culture division of the Southwest Popular Culture/American Culture Association and serves on the executive council of the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association. Additionally, he sits on the PCA/ACA Ray and Pat Browne Best Book Award selection committee and the CWPA Best Book Award selection committee. He lives in central Maine with his wife and daughter.

Janell Hobson

When God Lost Her Tongue: Historical Consciousness and the Black Feminist Imagination 

Dr. Hobson will explore how Black women’s histories fuel the popular imagination: from the Haitian Revolution to the iconic Harriet Tubman to “Black Queens” and goddesses framed by such pop stars as Beyonce, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Janelle Monae, among others. Dr. Hobson attempts an interdisciplinary approach to the field of history and argues that we can expand our understandings of the past through the interdisciplinary and intersectional frameworks of art, literature, and popular culture. Hobson especially interrogates what she calls the “Black feminist imagination” in rethinking and politicizing a past that rescues the subject of Black womanhood from obscurity, victimhood, or stereotype. Dr. Hobson co-edited with feminist scholar Jane Caputi on a similar issue - “slavery and the popular imagination” - for the peer-reviewed Journal of American Culture 41: 1 (March 2018), and as the 2021-2022 community fellow at the University at Albany’s Institute for History and Public Engagement, Sr. Hobson will expand on this subject as guest editor for Ms. Magazine’s special issue on the “Ms. Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Project” for Black History and Women’s History Months 2022. 

Edward Janak

Contemporary Comstockery:  The Historic Context of Anti-Critical Race Theory in Education Bills

While there has been a surge in controversy around critical race theory (CRT) curriculum that may or may not be taught in the public schools of the United States, our nations’ public schools have been one of the major fronts of the culture wars since they began in the 1980s. However, struggles over what is taught in the public schools date back far longer than that.  This presentation examines the current rash of anti-CRT bills being proposed and passed through historic and contemporary lenses.  To accomplish this, the presentation focuses on four areas.  The first area is Control and Censorship of Curriculum:  The presentation will open with a summary of efforts to standardize and censor the curriculum in U.S. schools that parallels current efforts.  It begins with the first major period of educational reform—Horace Mann and common schools—and traces these debates to the present, focusing on how schooling and society have become entwined and concluding with the question, what does this have to do with CRT?  The second area is Development of Critical Race Theory: The presentation next examines the roots of critical race theory as a field of study and presents an overview of it in contemporary context.  Moving from the Frankfurt School in Germany to Harvard Law in the US, CRT has become a widely accepted theoretical lens used in many academic studies.  But if it is theoretical and academic, how do contemporary opponents claim it is present in K-12 schools?  The third area is Current Anti-CRT Efforts:  The presentation then discusses current anti-CRT laws at both the state and national levels.  There was a concerted national effort providing common ground among many of the bills at the state level worthy of exploration. It includes a list of states that have passed these laws and those that are debating them at the time of the presentation. But if people are opposed to this, what can they do?  The fourth area is Ways to Get Involved: The presentation concludes with a focus on dissention.  For those who oppose these bills, there will be a discussion of how to voice dissent on local and national levels.  It includes a “brainstorming” session among participants to generate sources of support and means of outreach.


A native of Buffalo, NY Edward Janak received his B.A. (English) from SUNY-Fredonia and both M.Ed. (Secondary Education) and Ph.D. (Foundations of Education) from the University of South Carolina.  He taught high school in South Carolina for almost a decade before becoming a scholar in the historical foundations of education and educational life writing.  During his “day job,” he critically examines the intersection of General Education Board funding and historically marginalized populations in the US West.  During his “night job,” he explores the role of popular culture texts as both informal and formal educational media.  He is the “Education, Teaching, History and Popular Culture” area chair for the Popular Culture Association and co-editor (with Ludovic Sourdot) of the Education and Popular Culture series for Lexington Books. He co-edited three collections on popular culture and education: 2013’s The Pedagogy of Pop: Using Pop Culture to Improve Instruction, 2018’s Educating through Popular Culture: You’re Not Cool Just Because You Teach with Comics, and 2022’s Kevin Costner, America’s Teacher, all with Lexington Press. He has published articles tapping popular culture in Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, TechTrends, the Journal of Thought,  and the Journal of American Culture



Francis Shor

Manufacturing a Television Personality: Soupy Sales and the Detroit Experience

When Soupy Sales left Detroit in 1960 after seven years on WXYZ TV, he was the highest-paid local television personality and one of the most well-known and loved celebrities in town. His daytime television programs in the early morning and noontime had an enormous and devoted following. The latter, Lunch with Soupy Sales, was nationally syndicated on ABC on Saturday, starting in the fall of 1959. His late evening program, Soupy’s On, featured everything from renowned jazz artists to pop singers to satirical spoofs. While he would achieve more celebrity status in Los Angeles and New York during the 1960s, the template for the puppet characters, comedy routines, and zany skits had been set in Detroit.

In order to situate those shows performed on WXYZ TV from 1953 to 1960 and the manufacturing of a television personality, this power point presentation will first highlight the role of television and popular culture in the 1950s. In particular, the commercial and comedic influences on Soupy’s children’s programs will be reviewed. Then, the Detroit landscape during the 1950s will be analyzed in order to sketch the economic, political, social, and cultural backdrop to Soupy’s time in Detroit. Finally, a close reading of elements of the daytime and evening show will be rendered, along with how Soupy achieved his celebrity status in the Motor City during this period.


Francis Shor is an Emeritus Professor of History at Wayne State University.  He is the author of five non-fiction books, and a novel, Passages of Rebellion (Outskirts 2020). Of those non-fiction books the two most recent are Weaponized Whiteness: The Constructions and Deconstructions of White Identity Politics (Haymarket 2020) and Soupy Sales and the Detroit Experience: Manufacturing a Television Personality (Cambridge Scholars 2021). Other publications, covering a broad range of topics in 20th century U. S. and global history, have appeared in scholarly journals and popular online journals. In addition to his academic work, he has been a long-time peace and justice activist, serving previously on the Boards of Peace Action and Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR).  Presently, he is an Advisory Board member of MCHR and on the Board of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Metro Detroit, where he also co-chairs the Program Committee.


Randy Testa

Deeper Than “Edutainment”: Taking Books and Their Film Adaptations Seriously

Why is the use of film adaptations with the books from which they’re drawn, so limited within education work? Generally speaking, teachers show a film adaptation:

  • As the reward for first doing the “hard work” of slogging through the novel or
  • For a “compare-and-contrast” of novel with film, generally to critique the movie as “unfaithful” (and often therefore identified as inferior) to the book –especially when there are revisions or new content or
  • As a motivator to enhance teaching content in subject areas thematically related to the film’s plot or themes [E.g. HIDDEN FIGURES: NASA; physics; biographies of the African American scientists/mathematicians; space travel; John Glenn, etc.] or
  • To critique what is taken to be historical inaccuracy in the film

Given continuing advances in communications technology, e.g. streaming, ZOOM virtual classrooms, the newest Iphone, etc. across professions, educators are currently afforded an expanding menu of ways to use selected stories, both fictional and factual, in their work with students, perhaps too now out of necessity because of COVID-19 and online schooling.  And at a time when content streaming and movie-viewing at home are at all-time highs, this approach I’ll share can help educators evaluate and optimize the use of popular movie adaptations with the books they are drawn from, to promote social, emotional, and academic development with learners.


Tracy F. Worley

Marginalized to Mainstream: Toward Greater Inclusion of African American Women in Major Box Office Cinema Leadership

The purpose of the qualitative study behind Dr. Worley’s book was to construct a leadership theory that explains why African American women are disproportionately underrepresented in mainstream cinema leadership by revealing the barriers to entry. The study also led to the unmasking of potential strategies African American female film directors might pursue to reduce this inequity. Since the study concluded, additional research in the area of ethics found that there are specific consequences of the male gaze on women in cinema leadership, especially African American female directors. An analysis of ethics and ethical stance as it pertains to the motion picture industry uncovered some preliminary conclusions about the standards of social behavior among cinema leadership that negatively interposes on the advancement and success of female directors in cinema, regardless of genre or artistic merit. The #Metoo and #Timesup movements illuminated many unethical issues related to sexism, gender inequality, and objectification, and the ethical issues explored in the analysis pertain primarily to the expectation of autonomy, justice, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. In both the earlier study and the ethics analysis, themes drawn from interviews and the literature suggest a tradition of unethical behavior that the Hollywood industry has heretofore ignored at the expense of female industry participants in front of and behind the camera – manifesting in cultural disparities, objectification, and unethical social behavior, and resulting in limited prospects for motion picture directorial leadership for women in cinema, particularly female directors of color.



Bringing Order to Chaos: Unique Case Studies in Creating Popular Art 

Kathy Merlock Jackson is Professor of Communication at Virginia Wesleyan University, where she teaches courses in media studies and children’s culture.  She is the author of over a hundred articles, chapters, and reviews and has published ten books, four of them on Disney-related topics; two edited volumes, Storybook Worlds Made Real and Essays on Jaws, are forthcoming.  She is the former editor of The Journal of American Culture and past president of the Popular Culture Association. 

Gary R. Edgerton is Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment at Butler University.  He has published twelve books and more than ninety essays on a variety of television, film and culture topics in a wide assortment of books, scholarly journals, and encyclopedias.  He also coedits the Journal of Popular Film and Television

Jonathan Winchell received an MA in Cinema Studies from New York University. He currently lives in Greenville, SC, and teaches at the University of South Carolina- Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, Lander University in Greenwood, SC, and online at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. His interests include film and television.