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Bloomfield College Students Present Findings at SWPACA Conference

Bloomfield College students at SWPACA Conference

By Alicia Cook

A select group of Bloomfield College students attended the 38th annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Conference February 15 through February 18, 2017, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

According to their website, the mission of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) is to promote an innovative and nontraditional academic movement in the humanities and social sciences celebrating America’s cultural heritages and to increase awareness and improve public perceptions of America’s cultural traditions and diverse populations. 

The SWPACA works toward this mission by providing a professional network for scholars, writers, and others interested in popular/American culture. Additionally, the SWPACA has a long-standing commitment to supporting the development of new and young academic professionals in the fields of popular and/or American cultural studies through conference travel grants, paper awards, and professional development opportunities.

Bloomfield College students Jessi Melendez ’18, Jason Dorlean, ’18, and Kyle Arias ’19, along with Dr. Fiona Ramsby, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric, put together a panel and presented on February 16.  The panel, titled “Post-Apocalyptic Performativity: Sex and Gender in Mad Max: Fury Road,” was a result of their class, “Dystopia and Identity.”

All three students acted as presenters on the panel, contributing different points about the film relating to gender and discourse.

“While we were extremely nervous, we all fed off of each other’s positive energy and represented Bloomfield College proudly,” said Melendez, who is studying English Literature at the College.

“I loved how the students stepped up to the plate, and how well they delivered their presentation in a way that I could tell they really 'got' the theory they were discussing,” said Dr. Ramsby, who noted the conference mostly consisted of those with doctorate degrees who were already teaching professionally. “I think it’s inspiring as a student to mingle with like-minded students and scholars from around the country. It really raises the academic bar. Some of the theory we wrestled with last semester was really challenging but so crucial to a student's development in critical thinking.”

Funding for this trip was made possible by the Bloomfield College Community. A true group effort, Bloomfield College alumnae, Rose Marie Meola Rudy ’65 and John Cross, former Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance, provided approximately 40% of the funding. Martha LaBare, Associate Professor of English, then secured portions of the funding thanks to Barbara Appel, a longtime donor to the Humanities Division, and Dr. Paul Puccio, Professor of English and Coordinator of the English program, made sure that the Cyrus H. Holley Professorship sponsored part of the trip