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Saturday, February 13, 2010

The SWTXPCA Conference: Day One (Conference Day Two)

What a great way to begin a conference. The SWTXPCA Conference (31st Annual) began on Wednesday, but, due to my school schedule and other obligations, I couldn’t leave for Albuquerque until the first day of the conference. Silly me for thinking that airline travel would go smoothly.

To start things off, my flight was canceled and nobody at U.S. Airways told me until I arrived to check my bags at the lovely Gainesville airport. Thankfully, they shoved me onto a different flight, which had one less change, and no airline switching. That meant that my professional early arrival (two hours before my flight) ended up being an extra two hours.

But, I made it to Albuquerque at around midnight and proceeded to put the finishing touches on my paper, since I had to present it at 8 in the morning (apparently it’s a great idea to put Battlestar Galactica at the ass-end of the morning).

The presentation, however, went well. There were four of us, and when all was done and over with, there were a lot of questions and folks seemed generally receptive to my argument. Mixing Philip K. Dick with Battlestar Galactica really opens the discussion and I received some excellent suggests for how to take the research further (such as looking deeper into the cosmopolitan or rhizomatic figure--for non-academics, that means a person who is kind of between spaces/worlds, such as Helo from BSG).

After that, I attended several other panels and had the pleasure of hearing some amazing papers. One in particular by a student from Lakehead University up in Canada dealt with how Futurama's future representation is, in the end, still a reaffirmation of (American) patriarchy--a fascinating paper indeed. Pretty much every panel I attended had something fascinating going on, from discussing the problems of race in Battlestar Galactica (now I can't think of Duala as removed from the "magical negro" trope), to a humorous, but serious look at the apparent rules to surviving the apocalypse (post-event), to representations of religion and homosexuality in 20th century young adult literature and the idea of "girly culture," to a very fun look at Whedon's various universes, which included an interesting discussion of the frontier "myth" in Firefly and Serenity.

Needless to say, I learned a lot the first day, and feel very much like I'm at the equivalent of an academic version of a science fiction convention (with the exception being that not everything being discussed is science fiction). The only thing I wish they had more of was academic booksellers; there were several fairly important sellers at the convention, but it would have been nice to see it extended to other companies (like Routledge or Wesleyan) and to wider subjects (much of what was available focused entirely upon popular culture things; I would have liked to see some inclusion of theory that has been used in popular culture, though). I did purchase two interesting books, however:
--Twain and Freud on the Human Race: Parallels on Personality, Politics, and Religion by Abraham Kupersmith
--The Cinema of Mamoru Oshii: Fantasy, Technology, and Politics by Dani Cavallaro

In closing out this discussion of the first day, I'll leave you with my new reading/watching list:
--Foucault and Gramsci (on the hegemonic principle)
--John Locke and Schumaker (on personal identity)
--Peter Singer (on suffering, which I've read before)
--Crip Theory (or Crypt Theory)
--Slave of the Thirst by Tom Holland
--Third Space Feminism
--The Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway
--Sandoval (on cyber-identity)
--Newly Born Women by Helene Cixous
--Strange Days
--The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault
--The Fatal Environment

And that's it from me for today!

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