15th October Track 1
8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
This salon addresses the pleasures and politics of theme parks fans in the current moment, when closures related to COVID-19 and widespread protests against racism have fundamentally refigured the practices and politics of those fandoms. In the past several months, theme parks around the world have been forced to close due to the pandemic, while they have also found themselves the focus of political debates linked to the enforcing of wearing masks on-site and, in Disney’s case, representation and the Black Lives Matter movement. These developments have had an enormous impact upon fans who have often been ignored or maligned and misunderstood.
Participants: Kyle Meikle (University of Baltimore), Rebecca Williams (University of South Wales), Jess Gibson (York University), Sabrina Mittermeier, Carter Moulton )Northwestern University), Tom Robson (Millikin University) (moderator: Paul Booth)
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Many fan conventions have been postponed and cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, some smaller fan-run conventions (e.g. WisCon, VidUKon, CON.txt) translated their in-person programming into virtual forms. The necessity of moving online enacts and potentially redefines ‘fan spaces’. For example, this summer VidUKon used the new Conline platform for vidshows and panels, and a Discord server for conversation. This fannish ‘space’ expanded across time zones and continents; however, while this facilitated broader access (to a con typically held in Wales), the text-based and fast-moving Discord chat raised accessibility issues along multiple axes including physical limitations, mental load, and attention span.
In this salon we will discuss online conventions – as fandom studies scholars, con attendees, and organisers – and reflect on what responses to the crisis reveal about how media fandom events are planned and run.
Participants: E. Charlotte Stevens (Birmingham City University), Naomi Jacobs (Lancaster University), Melanie E.S. Kohnen (Lewis and Clark University), Sebastian F.K. Svegaard (Birmingham City University) (moderator: Lesley Willard)
noon to 1:30 p.m.
That fan studies has a whiteness problem is not novel. In the age of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, the need to address it has become all the more urgent. Yet in a classic case of people in positions of power and privilege misunderstanding the difference between intent and impact, fandom and fan studies are failing to deal with how white supremacy manifests within. There are ways to have this conversation done well, and well, we're not doing it.
I do not claim to be an anti-racism expert. As a Japanese-American with affluent parents who were a shining example of the Model Minority immigrant experience, I have walked through life with privilege and been complicit in white supremacy for most of my life. My own learning has grown significantly since I joined the People's Theatre Project (PTP), an explicitly antiracist nonprofit that creates ensemble-based theatre with and for immigrant and BIPOC communities in New York City. Dismantling racism is a core part of our work. At PTP, we talk frequently about drawing on the 'collective genius' of our artists, staff, and leadership to advocate for racial equity in the nonprofit industry and NYC's arts and culture scene.
Drawing on my experiences at the People's Theatre Project and as a scholar of color, I propose a workshop to reimagine fan studies a more equitable, anti-racist discipline. Too long, we've lived a deficit narrative that only serves to reinforce white privilege and the erasure of BIPOC fans and acafans. Past attempts have stopped at the 'listening phase' and become bogged down with discussions that distract from the core issue. Following up on an editorial I wrote for Transformative Works & Culture, the goal of the workshop will be to begin a list of actionable items that can set fan studies up as a more equitable space in the short-term and long-term. I do not claim to have answers, but I have a Hufflepuffian hope that the scholars attending the 2020 Fan Studies Network-North America conference will, through our collective genius.
Facilitator: Aya Esther Hayashi (Independent Scholar)
2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Bloomsbury / BFI will be hosting a workshop during the conference. This will be taking place Thursday at 14:00 CT.
Senior Publisher Rebecca Barden will talk about writing for the recently relaunched and widely renowned BFI Film Classics series, offering advice and tips for those looking to get published. Email email@example.com to sign up.
(moderator: Paul Booth)
4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Writing in the midst of the 2019 Democratic Presidential, New York Times essayist Amanda Hess argued that fandom is “now a dominant mode of experiencing politics.” Indeed, our current political moment is filled with examples. Elizabeth Warren’s supporters call her Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter readers have likened Betsy Devos to Delores Umbridge. The K-pop community has united to troll Trump campaign rallies and raise funds for Black Lives Matter. Harry Styles fans have attempted to mobilize his image as a populist figure, and Bernie Sanders followers have proven themselves devoted Stans through two election cycles. The turn toward popular culture fandom has introduced new practices into political campaigning, created new networks for political action, and offered citizens new ways to think about what it means to be politically engaged. This salon will examine these developments and more, with a focus on the question: how do citizens marshal the incredible resources of fandom to participate in American political culture?
Participation: Amber Davisson (Keene University), Ashley Hinck (Xavier University), Kyra Hunting (University of Kentucky), Lucy Miller (Texas A&M University), Ashika Paramita (Deakin University), U. Bruce Texx (St. Cloud State University)
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.