January 28, 2008
Looking at the National PCA/ACA Conference: Interesting Presentations (2 of 2)

For me, Friday at the PCA/ACA conference will see me give most of my day to discussing the current state of soap operas, in a series of three panels.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., the Soap Opera I panel--entitled "Families, Fantasy, and Values: Shaping Soap Operas and Telenovelas"--will feature four presentations. Barbara Irwin from Canisius College chairs the panel. Mary Devine from Marblehead, Mass., will be presenting on "Dynasties on All My Children." Jeffrey Lubang from De La Salle University Dasmarinas in The Philippines presents, "Commodifying Culture: Telenovelas as Cultural Commodity and Social Fantasy," looking at Mexican, Taiwanese, and Korean telenovaelas in Philippene Television History. I'll be ready to discuss MariMar with him. Melixa Abad-Izquierdo from SUNY at Stony Brook will be presenting "Cinderella, Indians and Aspirations to Modernity: Mexican Telenovelas 1958-1973." Finally, the University of Buffalo's Marsha Ducey will present As the World Turns: "Indecency" in American Soap Operas."

From 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. on Friday, I will be participating in the Soap Opera II panel, entitled "Soap Operas in Daytime and Beyond: Style, Form, and Audience." My presentation is called "Valuing Fans Outside the Target Demographic: Soap Opera Fans and Proselytizing." I will be joined by Angelic Saulsberry from Little Rock, Ark., who is contributing to the upcoming soap opera anthology I'm co-editing as well, will present "Dropping the Soap: Finding and Defining the Soap Opera Genre in Primetime Television." Melissa Ames from Wayne State University will present "The Problems of Existing on the Cultural Periphery: A Look at Soap Parody, Products, and Program Paraphernalia." Finally, Mary Cassata from the University of Buffalo and Barbara Irwin (both of whom Abigail and I are interviewing for our collection for their longtime commitment to scholarship on daytime serial dramas) will present on "The American Soap Opera Genre at the Crossroads: An Analysis of Its Past, Present, and Future." Cassata chairs the panel.

From 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m., the Soap Opera III panel looks at "Portrayals of Gender and Sexuality on Soap Operas and Telenovelas: Perspectives from the US and Abroad," chaired by M.J. Robinson of New York University. Iva Barslarova from Masaryk University in Brno in the Czech Republic will present on "The Television Genre 'Soap Opera': The Role of Mass Media in Co-Creating Gender Identifications by Storytelling." Jessica Savalia from California State San Marcos will present "From Disreputable Vamp to Admired Hotel Owner: Gender Politics as Seen in General Hospital's Carly Corinthos." Niina Kuorikoski from the University of Oulu in Finland will present "'Women Who Long, Love, Lust...': The Limits and Possibilities of a Lesbian Soap Opera." Finally, Julee Tate from Berry College presents "Masculinity and Sexuality in 21st Century Telenovelas."

The soap opera panels round up from 2:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., with Soap Opera IV, entitled "Looking Back and Looking Forward: Paying Tribute to Suzanne Frentz." Frentz, who was the longtime chair of the Soap Opera area at the PCA/ACA convention, had a definite impact on the soaps industry and scholarship on soaps as well. This conversation will pay tribute to her work, as well as discuss the current state and future of soaps. Leading the discussion will be Cassata, Devine, Irwin, and Robinson, as well as Diane Calhoon-French from Jefferson Community and Technical College and Carol Williams.

If soaps aren't your interest, here are some alternates for Friday that might be of interest. From 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., Ted Butryn of San Jose State University and Theresa Walton of Kent State University present "Wrestling with Representation: A Content Analysis of YouTube Narratives Following the Benoit Family." This presentation on pro wrestling and YouTube culture would be right up my alley if it didn't run counter to the soaps panels. As an extra bonus, the panel also includes someone speaking from my alma mater, Western Kentucky University, as Eric Bain-Selbo presents, "Sport as the New 'Opiate of the Masses': College Football in the American South." This Sports IX panel is entitled "Ethics."

From 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., while I am presenting, Linda Saladin-Adams from Florida State University will make a presentation called "Let's Regress to the Fifties or Experiencing Reality Dating Shows." Saladin-Adams has a scholarly interest in soaps as well, and we have crossed paths before. She will be presenting as part of the Television XII panel, entitled "Does Reality Bite?" Meanwhile, Sue Clerc from Southern Connecticut State University is competing alongside me as well with "Life on Mars: The Past Is a Foreign* TV Show," as part of the Memory and Representation II panel, entitled "Mediated Memory and Representation." Sue came to visit my pro wrestling class last spring, as she has written essays on pro wrestling fan fiction in the past, and she has an interest in soaps as well.

From 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m., MIT's Greg Dancer is chairing the Film XIX panel entitled "Postmodern Horror," where he will be presenting: Monster Mashup: Bong Joon-ho's The Host, Global Culture, and Digital Cinema." Meanwhile, alongside the final soaps panel--from 2:30 p.m. until 4 p.m.--Michael Duffy from the University of Nottingham will be presenting "'The Pleasure of Anticipation': Truth, Fantasy and Tecnical Allusions in Heavenly Creatures, as part of the Film and History XIII panel, entitled "Technology in Film." I have interacted with Duffy in the past based on his scholarly interest in soaps as well.

On Friday evening, a friend of mine--Louis Bosshart from the University of Fribourg (Freiburg) in Switzerland--will be presenting "To Become and To Be a Celebrity: The Case of the Swiss Musicstars," as part of the Celebrity Culture II panel. In competition of that presentation, one of my undergraduate mentors, Karen Schneider from Western Kentucky University, chairs a panel called Shakespeare on Film and Television IV, entitled "Visual and Aural Rhetoric in Shakespeare Adaptations." Presentations will be made by Mason Broadwell, Robert Deignan, and Brooke Shafar at WKU, as well as Peter Babiak from York University.

On Saturday morning, from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., the University of Amsterdam's Marja Roholl, who has been a visiting scholar here at MIT, presents "USIA in the Netherlands: Strains of Cultural Diplomacy," as part of the World Popular Culture I panel, entitled "Soft Power, Cultural Diplomacy, and the Cold War." Competing with that, Comparative Media Studies alum James Nadeau chairs the Gay, Lesbian, & Queer Studies XII panel, entitled "Festive, Ludicrous, and Musical," with his presentation: "The Tragically Ludicrous and the Ludicrously Tragic: Genre, Appropriation and Creation in Queer Cinema."

From 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., Clayton Childress participates in another panel, this time the Politics, Law, and Popular Culture I panel, entitled "Changing Times in Popular Culture." His presentation will be called "Variations in Talk from Trash to Simulated Courtrooms." Again, Childress is one of the contributors to the soap opera volume I am co-editing. Finally, from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m., Lydia Nelson from my alma mater WKU is presenting "Bicycle Built for Two: A Democratized Sport's Spinning Standards of Sexuality," as part of the Popular Culture in the Age of Teddy Roosevelt III panel.

Hopefully, this rundown gives you an idea of some of the diverse topics presented at the PCA/ACA conference each year, and this didn't even begin to delve into the fat studies, motorcycle culture, or grave markers panels that are signatures of the PCA/ACA. But hope to see some of you readers there!