BY BINCY ABDUL SAMADCulture Club: Cultural Studies Scholars’ Association
The Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ray Broadus Browne (1922-2009), a visionary and pioneer in the academic study of popular culture. A folklorist and literary scholar, Dr. Browne was instrumental in the expansion of popular culture studies and founded the Center for Popular Culture Studies, the BGSU Department of Popular Culture, the Popular Press (now at the University of Wisconsin), the Popular Culture Association, the Journal of Popular Culture, and the Popular Culture Library, which now bears the names of he and his wife, Alice Maxine “Pat” Browne (1932-2013).
The 2017, fourth annual Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies is co-hosted by the BGSU Culture Club: Cultural Studies Scholars’Association and the Popular Culture Scholars’ Association at BGSU. Bincy Abdul Samad, president of Culture Club and Courtney Bliss, president of PCSA were the co-chairs of the program.
This year’s conference is titled, “Intersections of Identities: Difference and Coalition in a transnational Context.” And the conference theme draws on multiple perspectives of difference and coalition, as well as how we write about, discuss, and even experience them in our own lives.
It was held from March 17-19, at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union in Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and there were over 127 participants for this year’s conference, which also included interesting events such as Safe Zone training, the Latino Student Union, and Black Student Union workshops, Scholar works workshop, discussion on Sanctuary campus, the second Annual Ray Browne film festival/screening, and also the tour of the Ray and Pat Browne Popular Culture library.
President Mary Ellen Mazey delivered the opening remarks and there were two keynote speakers, Staceyann Chin for the Culture Club, and Laurenn McCubbin for the PCSA. Chin is a spoken-word poet, performing artist, activist, and novelist. Chin currently teaches a seminar at the arts-oriented Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn and is working as a part-time faculty member at New York University. McCubbin is a large-scale, immersive installation artist, documentarian, and Associate Professor of Foundations at Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. The conference was a grand success with concurrent panels happening all three days and the turnout was high even on Sunday, the final day of the conference. The conference concluded with the closing remarks by Dr. Angela Nelson, Interim Director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies.
Bincy Abdul Samad, president of the Culture Club seems very happy about the immense success of the conference. She said, “The conference was the dream and hard work of many people, including the Culture Club and PCSA members who had been planning this since last August.”