UCF English professor Tison Pugh won The Popular Culture Association John Leo and Dana Heller Award for the Best Work in LGBTQ Studies for his new book, “The Queer Fantasies of the American Family Sitcom.” PCA, a national group of scholars and enthusiasts who study pop culture, gives the award annually to recognize work that contributes to the understanding and representation of sexual minorities and pop culture.
“I am grateful for receiving this award, as it demonstrates that watching hundreds and hundreds of episodes of family sitcoms was not merely a quixotic quest or simply an idle waste of time, but an important contribution to the study of queer representation throughout U.S. television history,” says Pugh.
Pugh’s book examines how family sitcoms depict sexuality, delving into the history of increasing sexual depiction in the genre while also how sitcoms use sexuality as “a source of power, as a kind of camouflage, and as a foundation for family building.” It also notes how innocence and sexuality often conflict in these shows.
Pugh has published books with LGBTQ focuses before, such as “Precious Perversions: Humor Homosexuality, and the Southern Literary Canon” and “Chaucer’s (Anti-)Eroticisms and the Queer Middle Ages.” The latter combines his interest in LGBTQ studies with his Ph.D. in medieval English literature. He has even argued in a scholarly article that there is “potential for queerness” in the Harry Potter books, a series that he also teaches a class about at UCF.
In April, Pugh was one of four winners of the Pegasus Professor Award, the highest academic honor a UCF professor can receive.