This weekend is the flow conference here at UT and I wanted to put some thoughts down on some of the panels.
One of the panels I attended was on "Online and Offline Fan Communities." This was particularly interesting because in my class on Television Theory and Criticism we were also talking about fandom this week. Both in that class and in the panel there was a very distinct tension between fans and fan-academics and just plain old academics. This is an ever-present tension in fan studies in the academy, but I think especially when reading some of the earliest foundational texts of the area its easy to feel like the academy has grown more to accomodate those perspectives... what I saw this week went very much back to these original tensions and what happens is that in short: fans and fan/acas become defensive while others go on the (generally Marxist, but definitely theoretical) offensive. there is such a strong need to draw lines saying THIS is scholarship and that is not. one thing i find interesting (on sort of a tangent) is the way in which certain collections (particularly the David Lavery/IB Tauris "Reading..." series) are denigrated because theyre not academic enough where Flow is praised for much the same thing, however it comes out of a University press so its brand of "para-scholarship" is more acceptable. One thing I think academics need to do more is utilize more diverse sources
and identify each of them for waht they have to contribute.
this goes quite nicely into the "Feminisms and Feminists in the Public Sphere" panel which was exploring something very tangential to this... one of the issues that particularly was discussed was the issue of how valuable feminist academic blogs can be especially as a way of creating discussion between "regular people" and academic feminist discourse... but what role does that play in our careers as academics? blogs are not considered scholarly activity when being considered for tenure... and im 99% certain not considered scholarly activiity when being considered for jobs either. one issue that came up repeatedly was the fear of being penalized for political opinions expressed in the blogosphere. so one question that emerges is when is the academy going to catch up with what academics are doing adn want to do and what is contributing to public discourse on real issues. maybe one question is: when are feminists going to be the administrators of universities? one answer that definitely emerged in teh panel was... certainly not while feminism is relegated to "race, gender and class" classes.
one issue that Liz Ellcessor raised in her position paper is women and girl's blogging and how it relates to or parallels traditions of DIY and zine production. she also discusses the emergence of women from the blogosphere into more traditional media sources. This combination of women's production and media attention reminded me of recent media attention to and more importantly the emergence of crafting communities boht online and offline. people and communities (like Louisa does!) are turning traditional women's work of arts and crafts, sewing, knitting, etc. into this super-cool DIY ethic/aesthetic that is both modern, funky, cool, personal, punk, indie, etc. etc. and it does all this in this feminist way and its getting mainstream media attention and i think alot of that media attention is emerging from these women's engagment in new media, the internet, websites and blogs. (this stuff also relates to work Lynn Spiegel has done in terms of women's vs. men's barbie art.)
one last (pair of) note(s) for now is Elana Levine's note on the Flow Conference coming on the same weekend on as Yom Kippur. and God's apology to Jews for schedluing Cole Hamel's start on that day of atonement.