Mid-Atlantic Popular &
American Culture Association

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Daniel Walden Prize

The Walden Prize for Graduate and Undergraduate Papers is awarded annually to outstanding emerging scholars in popular culture studies. Walden Prize awardees receive recognition and complimentary registration for the upcoming conference and will have their papers published in MAPACA’s journal, Response. The Walden Prize is named in honor of Daniel Walden, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, English, and Comparative Literature at Penn State University.

Any undergraduate or graduate student reading a paper at the current year’s conference is eligible for award nomination. Nominations must progress through an Area Chair and be submitted, by an Area Chair, to the Vice President of Awards at

Submitted papers must be a publication ready exact duplicate of the paper read at the conference (i.e. no longer than 10 pages, double-­spaced, 12 ­point font). The deadline for submissions is December 1st.

Graduate Student Recipients:

  • 2022: Allyson Wierenga, “ ‘How Were You Cured If None of the Others Were?’: Transcending Bodies in The Two Princesses of Bamarre and the COVID-19 Pandemic”
  • 2021: Amelia Estrada, “Disciplined Intimacy: Entangled Female Bodies in Acrobatic Gymnastics”
  • 2019: Olivia Stowell, “A Good Soul and Handsome Too: Aladdin, Pocahontas and the Reproduction of Cultural Power”
  • 2018 Samantha Przybylowicz, “From Tess to Aileen: Gendered Rhetoric and Masculiniziation of Murderesses, 19th Century to Present”
  • 2017: Miranda Hajduk, “’This is what it means to be a wolf’: Monstrosity and Gender in ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Marie de France’s ‘Bisclavaret’”
  • 2016: Urszula Pruchniewska, “Producing ‘Sneaky Feminism’ in Online Cultural Content”
  • 2015: Mariaelena DiBenigno, “The Timeshare Ghost Hunt: Interpretative Techniques at a Historic House Museum”

Undergraduate Student Recipients:

  • 2019: Charlotte Kane, “Under the Influence: How Instagram Propagates Eating Disorders”
  • 2017: Jennifer Brown, “Satirizing the Supercrip: Disability in The Antagonists”
  • 2016: Alyssa Rodriguez, “She Contains Multitudes: Debunking the Myth of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in Paper Towns”

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