Friday, February 19, 2016

CFP in a Hybridized Academic-Fan Space

Hey everyone, I just wanted to drop an interesting CFP in light of our discussions on academia and fandom. This conference, though academic in nature, is situated physically, temporally, and thematically within a fannish space: the largest anime convention in the U.S., AnimeEXPO, located here in L.A. In some ways it's an ordinary academic conference, sending out calls for papers in well-established academic channels (like UPenn's) and competitively selecting papers for presentation. It attracts some well-known scholars who investigate Japanese media, but is intended for an unusally wide audience (the majority of those attending the lectures are not academics, and quite a lot of bodies show up relative to traditionally academic conferences). It's a unique way for scholars to directly address consumers of the media they study, and for the consumers to talk back.

This sort of space brings up many questions about the nature of the academic as distinct from the popular, given that all the academics in attendance are there not only for professional purposes (it's still another line on the CV), but for openly fannish pleasures as well (you can attend the 4-day convention for free with an industry pass). Those who study Japanese media and its fans may therefore choose to attend fan panels alongside other fans, attend screenings/events, or even cosplay (typically when not presenting, though one of Henry Jenkins's students hosted a more informal pseudo-academic-fan-panel-thing outside of the regular symposium in crossplay two years ago, further muddling this boundary).

What is the role of the critic who admits to being a fan, and deliberately opens their criticism to the critique of fans (who then, in addition to already having their own kind of textual authority, become critics of academia  and academic authority themselves)? The job of the critic is always a tenuous thing, resting on particular positioning relative to textual objects and established forms/sources of intellectual authority alike, and spaces that posit a multiplicity of textual positions as potentially authoritative certainly complicate traditional models.

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