Thursday was a beautiful day in Texas and a great day at the PCA conference. I used the morning to squeeze in some site seeing, and in the afternoon I returned to the hotel for exciting academia!
The first paper that really stirred my excitement was in aLOST panel. Dr. Kevin Drzakowski presented a fun theory on season six: he argued that the flashforward was both a heavenly dimension AND an outcome of “the incident.” Chew on that for a while! It will really get your brain going!! Apparently there was also a round-table discussion at the conference on the series finale, but I didn’t hear about it until it was over! That would have been great to get in on.
I then attended a panel that examined gender in Supernatural. The Q&A afterward brought out some great dialogue. There were four women on the panel (Amanda Straw, Kathleen McClancy, Melissa Bruce, and Lugene Rosen) and the discussion eventually got around to the fact that the fandom seems to be greatly female based. As I shared at the time, I’ve never really been involved in the Supernatural fan community, and it never occurred to me that the viewership would be so gender-based. I’ve been watching it with my husband, and we’ve both enjoyed it greatly!! It wasn’t until he and I went to the PaleyFest panel in March that we learned the female fans have a larger presence the male fans. One of the panelists then claimed that PaleyFest actually has even more males than the average Supernatural convention. (I wonder though if females are just more inclined to go to the conventions, and maybe the males are just more quiet at-home viewers?) The panelists then posed the question to the men in the audience: Why do you watch Supernatural? I quickly texted my husband, and he replied: “Because Dean is awesome. The Impala is awesome and guns and violence are awesome. Oh, the story is really awesome too.” I then shared his response, and the audience got a real kick out of it.
As the Q&A went on, I was surprised by an audience question: Aren’t Sam and Dean just white trash? A panelist was able to quote Kripke as saying the Winchesters, like all hunters, are clearly blue collar works. Someone jokingly commented that the boys sure are pretty and in nice clothes for white trash. Ultimately, the panelists drove home the idea that, despite the fact that the boys live out of a car, they have consistently demonstrated strong work values!
In the evening, I had the great pleasure of presenting on a panel with Jeffrey Bussolini and Erin Waggoner.
Jeffrey entertained us greatly with his paper “…Elle s’appelle Buffy: On the Rendering of Buffy in French and Italian.“ With his mastery of language, he was able to make comparisons to the original English version with the dubbed French and Italian version. I regret I didn’t take notes during his presentation, so I don’t have any great examples to dazzle you with, but it’s very intriguing to see how words are changed and how the meaning can be altered and how the puns have to be translated to have cultural relevance!! I look forward to seeing his continued work.
Erin presented us with, “Did the Professor Really Just Say That? : Teaching the Visual Rhetoric in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ‘Hush’ “ and cleverly showed us how to integrate Buffy into the classroom!! Using “Hush” to demonstrate the significance of language is brilliant! Students learn to watch and listen, pick up on visual cues, and discuss rhetoric in a refreshing way.
In my presentation, I discussed “Death and Sacrifice: Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In my essay, I argue that the way Whedon presents death and the characters responses to it (particularly in “The Body”) demonstrate to us that our culture is lacking appropriate death rituals. I also speak to how powerfully Whedon depicts the human experience and moves us, mythologically, throughout this season. The full presentation is now available here.
After my panel, I was in for a great treat: a Once More with Feeling sing-along! The audience was smaller than I expected, and there were complications with the audio and getting started… but I was in a room with singing Whedonists, so I was pretty darn happy!