In April, Faculty of Media & Communications lecturers Dr Julia Round and Dr Sam Goodman presented research papers at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association national conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Held this year at the Marriott Hotel in downtown New Orleans, the PCA/ACA conference is one of the annual highlights of the contemporary cultural studies community, as well as popular culture throughout history. It features a variety of research strands, including Comics, Gaming, British Culture, Science Fiction, Craft Beer culture, Sports, Gender and Sexuality and many more, and often hosts over 3000 delegates over four (very long – 8am-9.30pm) days. Sam and Julia’s attendance of this event represents the international reach of research at BU, and offered them both a number of opportunities for networking and engaging in critical discussions with an international community of like-minded scholars. Julia’s paper, entitled Revenant Landscapes in The Walking Dead, builds on her recent research into zombies and adaptation and she will be developing it into an article for publication over the following year. Sam’s paper, entitled Made Safe From Time’s Iniquity: Genre, Identity and Post-Millennial Tension in Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, was presented in the British Culture strand, and dealt with the expression of resurgent British nationalism expressed in popular media during the early 2000s. He plans to develop this paper into a longer article on the subject in conjunction with further research into how British identity changed after the end of the Cold War, with a view to submitting it to the Journal of Popular Culture in early 2016. Sam, Julia and colleagues Dr Peri Bradley and Dr Richard Berger, who also attended the conference, will present their papers at BU in a specially convened session in June 2015 (details to follow). Next year’s PCA/ACA conference will take place between March 22nd-26th in Seattle, Washington; more information can be found on their website: http://pcaaca.org.
Further to the event in New Orleans, Sam also took the opportunity to engage in archival research whilst in the US. Generously supported by the Faculty of Media and Communication’s Narrative Research Group, Sam visited Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, in order to inspect the personal papers and manuscripts of Salman Rushdie, acquired by Emory in the last five years. He said ‘though it may seem unusual for a literary scholar to be inspecting archives, it is a growing trend among my colleagues as they pursue interdisciplinary research in the humanities. Examining the evolution of a text through its various influences and rewritings enables deeper insight into its possible meanings’. Sam spent five days in the archive where he mainly examined the original typescript of Rushdie’s Booker Prize winning novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), however, he also had a chance to read through preparatory notes on this novel and its follow-up, Shame (1983), as well as various fragments and relevant personal correspondence. Sam further commented that ‘the archive holdings are extensive and a lot to manage in only a few days, however, the staff in the MARBL library were very helpful, and it was a very productive visit’. Sam is currently working on an article that reads Rushdie’s use of alcohol within the narrative of Midnight’s Children as an allegory for the legacy of Empire; combining post colonial and medical humanities approaches and informed by this archival research, Sam intends to submit the completed article to Wasafiri journal of Postcolonial Studies later this year.