Thursday, March 31, 2016

PCA/ACA 2016 and Fan Phenomena: Mermaids

Just coming back from the 46th Annual PCA/ACA Conference in Seattle, WA (well, technically I came back a few days ago, but we had chocolate eggs hunting in the meantime somehow). Like always when a meeting is held on the West Coast, there were slightly less people then when it is held on the East Coast or in central parts (even worse, last year it was in New Orleans, and that is a place difficult to compete with). Anyway, although there is always quite a huge variability in PCA/ACA talks (but that is due to the very nature of the topic of this conference I guess), the quality was once again there. I went to a few really interesting talks, coming back with new ideas and some new contacts of great people.

While individual presentations are of course of interest, it seems I am more and more drawn to the group discussions. Beside the open presentation I made in the Professional Development Area on “Publishing in the digital era: Presenting Computers in Human Behavior” which was a mix between thoughts and advices on publishing in the fields of Internet studies, Internet culture, and digital life, and on some specifics on Computers in Human Behavior (do I really need to say again all the good things I think about this journal? Obviously I am biased, but nonetheless it is a great media to publish all things related to cyberpsychology), I went to listen what people had to say in three roundtables. While the three of them where surprisingly excellent, one really deserves a few words. The “Game Studies XX – Roundtable on Teaching, Ethics, and the Future of Game Design: What are our Responsibilities?” from the always extremely vivid Game Studies Area was quite something. It was chaired by Dr. Josh Call who is Professor at Grand View University, and while the attendance was not that numerous (sadly it was in the evening and competing with quite a few other popular sessions such as the famous SFF screening), the discussions there were tremendous and thought-provoking (at least in my opinion). It was way too short to tap into all the potential of the issues which were raised there, but definitively, it was good having some serious group-thinking about these topics.

Oh, and yes, my talk on merfolk (“From fantasy, to virtual spaces, to reality, and back: Structuring the (online) merfolk community”, presented in the “Identity in Online Communities” session of the Virtual Identities and Self-Promoting Area) went really well! And related to that, the awesome book “Fan Phenomena: Mermaids” from Intellect is finally out!

It is available directly from UChicago Press; for your convenience, the link is even just here:

Oh My! Mermaids in movie, in popular culture, online merfolk community, and much more…
You KNOW you want to get it!
As all of the Fan Phenomena series of Intellect books, this opus combines scholars’ essays with the point of view of some leaders of the fan community (in this case, three amazing persons, the mermaid Hannah Fraser, the (virtual and real) Gold Mermaid Cynthia, and the mermaid instructor Marielle Chartier). And if you are into Internet studies (there is a lot of stuff related to the formation of online communities, and how online communities can have real-life impacts), film studies (obviously), fan studies (with three amazing non-scholar contributors, as well as in-depth analyses of the structure of the merfolk fan community), or cultural studies in general, I believe you might find it of interest.

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