And after three wonderful, geek-filled days, the PCA finally had to come to an end. I must say it’s been so fun revisiting all these great panels through writing these blog posts. Many thanks to those of you that have been reading along! It’s really been fun to share.
On Saturday, the last day of PCA, I first attended the panel Vampires and Heroes.
Megan Stoner Morgan discussed “Dr. Horrible as Byronic Hero.” She examined his blog as his form of resistance as well as a social place to state complaints. Even though he’s ostracized from society, he connects with his fellow outcasts. Society here is depicted as the root of evil. We see the loss of his beloved to Captain Hammer drive his rebellion further, with Penny’s death then completing his descent as Byronic hero. Megan characterized Horrible as “charismatic but gloomy hero” and said that while he’s admirable for taking on society, his character is ultimately unrelatable. In her final claim, Megan assessed that Dr. Horrible itself encourages rebellion against the studios.
Anaya Mukherjea presented “Am I a Righteous Man? Vampire masculinity, morality, honor and romance.” She said that the old metaphor of the vampire kiss still persists, but is now compounded with the vampire having love for a young, human female and being in need of redemption. She said this new myth also calls for the frail human woman becoming empowered. Anaya looked at Buffy as a hero functioning beyond her love of Angel and Spike. She also discussed LJ Smith’s Hanna and Simon and Zooey of the Silver Kiss, series I am unfamiliar with. Anaya concluded that in Whedon’s works, the vampire soul brings forth an ontological and existential argument. She concluded with a quote from Stacey Abbott indicating that it’s not Angel’s soul that sets him on his good path: it’s Buffy.
Tamy Burnett put forth an interesting argument in “Dead Women and Visions of Masculinities in Angel and Supernatural.” She posited these series as the post-girl power male-centric fantasy TV. She identified that when these series kill off female characters, they are not resurrected like their male counterparts. Tamy characterized the women in Angel as guides and motivators for the males; ultimately, the males are defined and shaped by the females. She discussed the idea of martyred mothers as seen on Angel with Darla and Cordy and in Supernatural with Mary. She also examined the dead female friend, Angel’s Fred and Supernatural’s Ellen and Joe. Tamy concluded that this series could enjoy commercial success without sacrificing females.
I would like to add that this very concern came up at this year’s Supernatural panel aat the PaleyFest. Creator Eric Kripke indicated, with a laugh, that they just tend to kill off a lot of people, male or female.
In the final paper, Heather Enrichs Angell presented “The Vampire Lover : Rethinking the Feminist Response to the Fang Phenomena.” She examined True Blood and Twilight, claiming that the good feminist debate has power imbalance, disregards media theory, and misses underlying feminist qualities that reader’s try to bring to the text. Her ultimate claim was that in these texts the female body serves as the landscape that the men fight over, but that Bella and Sookie maintainthe dominant voice. Heather discussed perspectives of the good feminist, the hegemonic feminist, and the academic feminist. I will admit that I’m not well-versed in all the subcategories of feminism. I have noted such extreme differences though that I do find that having all these varying viewpoints under the giant umbrella of feminism sometimes acts as a disservice. I’ve had many people assume I’m a feminist because I’m a fan of Joss Whedon, but what the word “feminist” means to them and what it means to me does not always coincide. Hmmm, this sounds like a good topic for a whole other blog post some time.
After this final Whedon panel, Tanya Cochran and I had a brief discussion about the idea that people assume you like “vampire stories” if you like Buffy and Angel. I’ve come across this a lot and find it amusing, especially because Buffy isn’t a show about vampires – it’s a show about a vampire slayer! Angel and Spike are the exceptions in a verse filled with very bad, undesirable vampires. Tanya said she’s never drawn to a text because of vampires, and mentioned some popular ones that she’s never delved into. I told her how I keep coming across vampires in narratives that I’ve been drawn to that just happen to have vampires in them. Take Vampire Diaries for example – I didn’t start watching it because of vampires, but for my love of Kevin Williamson. It’s interesting watching the vampire permeation of our culture, as well as the assumptions made about individuals based on the vampire texts (books and television series) they watch and write about.
I was then very excited about the final panel I could attend at PCA: “Pop Culture in the Classroom.” I was absolutely shocked to discover that only one of the presenters showed up! How rude! The poor chair was absolutely stunned. While this could have turned into a dud, the one panelist present dazzled us all! Aimee Blau Robison carried the session with confidence and charm with her presentation “Using Facebook in the Classroom.” She utilizes it as an additional tool to connect with the students. She indicated that one of the problems now is getting students to digitally disconnect in the classroom. Her solution is to connect with their digital world outside of the classroom to keep conversations going. Her ultimate claim is that “knowledge is socially constructive.” She discussed the idea of William Kist to use a “spoonful of sugar to make the print go down.” Aimee utilizes Facebook to get her students discussing possible issues/topics for their research paper. She even encourages them to scan their news feed for ideas, to look at what people are discussing. She lists the goals for student’s Facebook use, and then spotlights good dialogue from the net inside the classroom. It’s important to note that she’s not using Facebook inside the classroom. In fact, she even requests no lap top use so students are focused and attentive when in class.
On a final note, the panel chair, Erik Walker, noted that if you aren’t quite comfortable venturing into the Facebook sphere with your students yet, you can use edmodo.com as a “safer” alternative.
I don’t even know how to end this post! I couldn’t believe the conference was over as quick as it was, and now I can’t believe that, two weeks later, I’m just wrapping up writing about it. There were a lot of great people, wonderful ideas, and many sources of inspiration! Two giant thumbs up for the success of the PCA.