Taking Scholarship to New Levels

Students Present at Popular Culture Conference

(LEBANON, Ill., April 17, 2018) — McKendree University students Elexis Baltimore and Sophie Jeffrey presented papers at the national Popular Culture Conference in Indianapolis on March 30.  For both students, it was their first professional conference, which was partially funded by a McKendree Student Engagement Grant.

Sophie Jeffrey, a senior English major from Mascoutah, Ill., presented a paper called “Tackling White Male Privilege in “The Fractured but Whole”: South Park Misses the Mark.” The experience reaffirmed her decision to pursue graduate work.

“Attending the conference was amazing! Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities that abound within academia,” she said. “I would have never even considered the possibility of exploring things like video games, fan fiction or costume design in an academic setting. We attended presentations by people at all different levels of academia, from undergrads to Ph.D. students to professors, which was especially meaningful to me as I have recently decided to go on for a Ph.D. after I graduate from McKendree.” 

Elexis Baltimore, a senior professional writing major and English minor from Lebanon, Ill., presented “Game of Thrones: The White Savior’s Guide to Conquering Cultures.”  She was excited by the opportunity to present at a conference that merged her academic interests with her interest in popular culture.

“I am interested in race and race studies and a huge fan of Game of Thrones,” she said. “I found it interesting to find that most people saw Daenerys Targaryen as this extremely feminist icon, and refused to acknowledge how problematic her character and storyline is, so I set out to look into it. I’m a huge advocate of being an informed viewer.

“I was surprised by how welcoming and kind everyone was, but everyone is very respectful and gives you really great feedback.”

Both students believe that having the opportunity to present scholarship at professional conferences is something that makes McKendree University unique. They were thrilled to have their English professors, Dr. Brenda Boudreau and Dr. John Greenfield, cheering them on from the audience.