Indiana State University Newsroom

Crime and pop culture conference kicked off Oct. 5

October 6, 2009

A three-day Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies Conference at Indiana State University, which attracted more than 100 participants from 10 countries, began Monday.

With a number of the presenters recent doctoral graduates, current doctoral or master-level students, Frank Wilson, Indiana State assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice and conference chair, said the conference covers a relevant topic.

"We are seeing a movement more and more toward this type of study," he said.

Although the conference has criminology and criminal justice at its core, it encourages a cross-disciplinary exchange between academic scholars and practitioners to allow for further growth in the area.

"Given the increased role of media and popular culture in our understanding of crime, deviance and the justice system in general, it is my hope that attendees begin to look at how this area of study plays a role not only in our intellectual growth but also in how it can influence policy in the future," Wilson said.

In welcoming the attendees to Indiana State, Provost C. Jack Maynard said it is important to take an interdisciplinary approach on the issues.

"I hope that you will be challenged as you interact and discuss these important things," he said.

Jeff Ferrell, sociology professor at Texas Christian University and visiting professor of criminology at the University of Kent, began the conference by discussing "Crisis Culture: Shaking the Social Order."

Ferrell, who is well known for his book "Empire of Scrounge," which details his year spent scrounging and Dumpster diving, said much of what he learned can also be applied to academia.

"Lessons I learned in the Dumpster can also be applied to intellectual life," he said.

Just as Americans frequently toss out old but still good items for new, so do academics with new theories that come their way.

"Whether they're advances remain to be seen," he said.

Taylor Mali, nationally known slam poet served as the keynote speaker Tuesday afternoon. He was followed by presentations from:
• Brett Mervis, from the University of South Florida, on "Rest in Peace T-shirts: An Exploratory Study of the Phenomenon in Media and Popular Culture."
• Gregory Snyder, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Baruch College, on "Graffiti Lives: Youth Culture, Hip Hop and Beyond."
• Robert Weide, from New York University, on "Freight Train Graffiti: A Subculture Within a Subculture."

Featured speakers on Wednesday, Oct. 7, are:
• Nickie Phillips, assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology at St. Francis College, and Staci Strobl, assistant professor of law, police science and criminal justice administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, at 9 a.m. on "Utopian Imaginings: The Comic Superhero's Quest to Eradicate Crime."
• Frankie Bailey, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Albany, at 10 a.m. on "Crime and Clothes in American Culture."
• Vikas Gumbhir, from Gonzaga University, at 11 a.m. on "And All the Pieces Matter: The Reproduction of Urban Inequality in ‘The Wire.'"

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or


Cutline: Jeff Ferrell, professor of sociology at Texas Christian University and visiting professor of criminology at University of Kent, speaks during the inaugural Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies Conference at Indiana State University Oct. 5. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem