MFA Students Present Research and Writing at Annual PCA/ACA Conference

University of Washington Bothell graduate students Alysa Levi-D’Ancona (‘23), Alexandria Simmons (‘23), and Raelynne Woo (‘23) presented their research and writing at the Popular Culture Association & American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference this Spring. The three are part of the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics program in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS).

This year, the PCA/ACA Conference took place April 5-8 in San Antonio, Texas. The conference brings together scholars from across the nation to talk about various aspects of culture that are impactful to our world—varying from subject areas like fiction and nonfiction, to vampires and Disney, to gender and politics, and more!

“When I found this conference, what stood out to me were the wide variety of topics to choose from and the opportunity for graduate students to share and receive feedback on their research,” Woo said.

Levi-D’Ancona, Simmons, and Woo shared research and work written in their Winter 2022 class, Poetics Seminar: Art, Technology, And Practice, under the guidance of Professor Ted Hiebert. Levi-D’Ancona’s research focused on realism, narrative authority, and restorative poetics, presenting in the conference’s non-fiction category. Simmons, whose research focused on the many retellings of La Belle et la Bête and the folkloric implications of each adaptation, and Woo, whose research focused on literature and activism, both presented in the children’s and YA literature and culture category. In addition, Simmons also presented and read an excerpt of her forthcoming YA fantasy novel and current thesis project—which features themes of BIPOC representation and the implications of antimilitarism—in the fiction category.

After the prepared presentations, audience members and panelists engaged in discussions that inspired panelists to share their poetics and expand on their research. All three UW Bothell students commented that these discussions were one of their favorite parts of the conference, where they could partake in scholarly discourse about their work. They felt their research took a new life during these panel discussions, more inspired than ever to ask hard questions during the research process.

“I loved how kind, inquisitive, and respectful the conference was,” Levi-D’Ancona said. “Though everyone is an expert in their field, the collegiality, networking, and genuine excitement from PCA/ACA is unparalleled in comparison to other experiences I’ve had on this scale.”

The three students didn’t stop at panels, however. They mingled with other attendees between and after scheduled events, talking endlessly about their passion for their subjects.

“One professor and presenter said, ‘I love this. You guys are so drunk on theory!’” Simmons commented. “It was nice to be among people who get as excited about our research as us.”

The PCA/ACA Conference was an exciting opportunity for Levi-D’Ancona, Simmons, and Woo to further share their passions as writers amongst a larger community of scholars. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the conference, each of them were able to establish new connections and walk away with new insights in their respective interests and field. They each hope to return to the PCA/ACA Conference with new research in the coming years.