MAPACA Experience

by Megan Tyson

As a high school English teacher, “conferences” are typically either of the parent/teacher variety or solely focused around education. My one big goal in joining the M.A. English program at Millersville is to be able to teach a Composition I course through HACC in my high school, so when the opportunity to present at a conference on “The Applicability of Composition Pedagogy” came up with Dr. Pfannenstiel and some peers, I said yes without hesitation. 


Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association (MAPACA) 2023 conference was held the second weekend in November in Philadelphia. I’ve attended other conferences in the past, but this was different from the others based on the wide variety of topics. It was possible to find presentations on topics anywhere from activism to Disney to horror and paranormal studies to professional wrestling. I often find myself staying in my lane of education/professional development when it comes to English, because that’s what is immediately relevant to me, but this conference reminded me there is a whole other world outside of education when it comes to English. I was able to see so many other sides and concepts studied in different areas I don’t always think about because of where I am professionally. 


Our presentation was roundtable style, which allowed for some really great conversations between all participating parties. For me, roundtable discussions can be a little intimidating because there is no guarantee where the conversation could go before starting. It’s possible to prepare, but depending on the people in the room, it could go any direction. At the same time, that type of uncertainty is appreciated because it really is a test of knowledge and applicability. Plus, it’s an opportunity to learn from others in a similar field, or some who have a completely different experience in another field. From this conference, I learned what was happening in other schools across the country as well as how higher education views composition pedagogy’s function in other fields, specifically STEM fields. As someone who teaches English in a STEAM Academy, hearing the real world application of what I do in the K-12 classroom in higher education shows where the real alignment and knowledge transfer falls between the humanities and STEM. It’s amazing to be able to have those real time conversations with people actively in those “opposite” fields to find those common grounds and how they can be supportive of one another, which isn’t something I’m able to do professionally or as a grad student regularly. 

After our presentation, I attended two sessions. The first one was about poetry, modern sonnets, and Bob Dylan’s The Philosophy of Modern Song. The second session was about identity and representation in Disney movies, both personal and culturally. Overall, my first attendance at MAPACA was great and I’d recommend anyone to check it out if they’re interested. I also encourage anyone at any level to jump in to present their thoughts, research, and ideas whenever they can!

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