Here I sit, precisely 48 hours after arriving home from the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Boston…scratchy throat, drinking tea and running through kleenex like it’s going out of style.  Con crud has claimed another victim.  It feels an awful lot like late-July…

During Thursday’s “Gendering Fandom” panel, Paul Booth made a passing remark on the Twitter backchannel that got me thinking: Is there really such a difference between SCMS and SDCC?  Where do we draw the line between conference and convention?

We can partially credit the historic Park Place Hotel for allowing this analogy to worm its way into my brain.  After all, anyone who has braved the floor of the Expo Hall at SDCC knew exactly how to navigate those narrow, body-jammed hallways between panels (hint: it’s all about the elbows).  Once I started thinking about it, I noticed some other interesting parallels:

  • Panel overflow and “camping” (No Hall H worthy drama here, but my roommate did storm back into our room around 11:05am on Saturday morning complaining that people had camped out through the early panel.  Substitute “that Warhol paper I needed to see” with “the Dr. Who panel” and you see where I’m going with this…)
  • Underground information exchanges regarding party locations and access.  Arguably, more people have tried to get into the USC party than Flynn’s Arcade over the past few years.
  • Fan art!  (From my workshop on Teaching Comic Studies- thanks, Dan Carino!)

  • Passionate, analytical defenses of Indiana Jones 4: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (courtesy of Janet Staiger)
  • Panel envy.  The grass/exclusive footage/Foucault reference is always greener…
  • Swag from University Presses (?!)

Nina Huntemann rightly noted to me that it won’t really be Comic-Con until someone creates a stunt to promote a book they’re releasing.  So, if your study of race and representation in zombie horror has a 2013 publication date, just let me know.  I’m fully prepared to collect some likeminded scholars for a zombie walk around Chicago on your behalf.

All joking aside, there’s something to be said about how we navigate SCMS as fans (of particular scholars, media texts, disciplines), approach our own work as fans, and/or perform our fannish investments/detachment in that space.  Chime in on parallels I may have missed…I somehow doubt that cosplay was involved (if only!), but I’d be curious to hear from others who have noticed similarities in terms how we do/don’t perform our identities as media consumers (and “fans,” for those who feel comfortable embracing the designation) in the conference space we populate as media scholars.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: I love the week after the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, when all my favorite academics blog eloquently written impressions and analyses (some from the official SCMS conference bloggers are already up).  As always, I left SCMS intellectually invigorated, reconnected with old friends and colleagues and introduced to incredible scholars. A serious post about my takeaways from #scms12 and my workshops will follow…after I get rid of the crud.]

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  1. […] year, I wrote a somewhat cheeky blog post about the striking similarities between media studies conferences like SCMS and pop culture […]

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