PCA/ACA Conference Report

Apr 3, 2013 by

PCA/ACA Conference Report

Last week, I was in Washington D.C. for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association’s National Conference. It was my first academic conference, and I have to say it was a stimulating and exciting experience.

I presented a version of my sibling incest fan videos essay – Keeping it In the Family – in the Fan Studies area, on a Supernatural panel. As such, I had to tweak the paper to focus on Wincest and cut out the content from  The Vampire Diaries and Heroes, which was a little intimidating. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know my Supernatural pretty well, but I lack the encyclopedia-like recall that I have for the other two fandoms.

Add in the wariness of bringing up the incest thing, even in a fandom where it is one of the best known attributes of the fandom, and I was a nervous wreck.

I’m pleased to say that it went flawlessly, however. People were very receptive to what I had to say, seemed to follow the historical and psychological trajectory I connected the phenomenon to, enjoyed the example videos I showed and laughed at my jokes–real laughter, not that fake “oh, we pity her” laughter one sometimes expects.

Not bad for my first time out!

Beyond my own presentation, I loved sitting in on so many others. My mind is still overflowing with all sorts of ideas for new projects, and I made some fantastic connections to bring some of that research hopefully into published fruition.

Here were some of my key takeaways for future conferences:

  • If possible, get to your room early to play with the hook up for your Power Point. At the least, test it repeatedly at home–especially if you are embedding videos. Something is bound to freeze at least once, and far better it be during a test run.
  • Don’t just read your paper–people get bored and restless, even if you’re reading about 50 Shades of Gray.
  • Have business cards available.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to editors.
  • Don’t just write/present about the latest thing–know your subject matter or admit your lack of expertise and talk about your research as your preliminary thoughts. Do not act like you know an area then say, “Oh, I don’t really remember that” about a major plot point in the work.
  • Go to roundtables–they’re a great place to get to know people and have an in-depth discussion.
  • Talk to people who share your interests, make connections, be open to collaborations.
  • Relax. Breathe. Have fun.

I’m really pleased that my first conference was such a laid-back, friendly one. I had visions of people in suits, wearing glasses and frowning a lot. Instead, I found a vibrant group of scholars operating from a diverse array of theoretical perspectives, sharing a love and interest in the same things I am drawn to. A lot of opportunities were laid out for me, and I can’t wait to go forward with them in the coming year!

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