Off-hand, I have a list of a few words that I think apply to my experience at PCA 2019
First of all, while I was surprised that folks in fan-studies gave two shiny cents about me when I was at PCA back in 2017, that was nothing compared to this year.
Y’all. I had meetings (like two, but still). I have a mentor. People were happy to see me and wanted to see more of me as a person and as a fan-studies person. Hell, I went to a panel on k-pop (more on that in a minute) and when I was poking holes in the one panelist’s argument, there were several people in the audience who referred to me by name and like…I’m just gonna believe that they all knew me beforehand and didn’t read my nametag beforehand.
Then, the validation.
Generally, the reaction I get to my work on fandom racism and racism in media… isn’t great. If it’s not coming from my friends and followers, there’s a huge chance that it’ll be antagonistic and unkind. (Like I detail in this thread.)
Coming to PCA and having people not just excited for my work, but excited to see what else I’m planning on was amazing. People told me that they reference my work in their work or use it as an example of accessible academic writing (that was Kathy Larsen, in the Future of Fan Studies Publishing panel).
Multiple people told me that folks in their fandoms/fan spaces are like “oh, you’re into this thing? You should read what Stitch has said about it” in a positive way.
Like… it’s all very validating considering that outside of this space, folks… don’t like me very much because I talk about fandom and race.
(Mind you, I’m sure that there were people at PCA that know of me and don’t like me. But unlike social media, they can’t come up to me and say that without it ending poorly for them.)
So I got to spend time in a space where I could be almost wholly myself and talk critically about fandom but also like… the weird and wild shit I’m into.
Now, onto the cannibalism.
I’m sure y’all aren’t surprised.
But cannibalism came up a lot this PCA. I talked about it with EJ Nielsen, Samira Nadkarni, and Lori Morimoto at various points across the conference. At one point, when I walked past the Palgrave booth for the first time and saw Tammy Lai-Ming Ho’s Neo-Victorian Cannibalism: A Theory of Contemporary Adaptations, I literally made a Noise. I mean, giddy squealing excitement about finding an academic book that seems to dovetail with one of my darker literary interests.
Thanks to my mentor, Robin, that book is now next to (and technically part of) my altar to Dionysus. (Picture incoming, I swear.)
Because I love that shit.
And finally, expensive.
DC is literally one of the most expensive places to stay (for a week or for a lifetime) and it was wild realizing that I had a more affordable experience in San Diego of all places – where we ate hotel food and multiple meals/drinks at the lobby bar in 2017 – than there.
Without my Fairy God Academic, I couldn’t have done this. So thank’s a ton, FGA. You know who you are and I hope you know how much I appreciate everything! ❤
Now, onto a brief summary of my week in DC.
If you’re on Patreon, you’ll be able to check out the nightly vlogs I did for my trip by the end of the week as separate videos/a whole “movie”, but since a lot of y’all aren’t… we’re doing text stuff (but not a lot because well… it’s currently Thursday as I write this up).
Monday was the flight from heck. My travel buddy and bestie S traveled first from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville and then from Jacksonville to DC. Both flights were hell and S had me crush the hell out of her hand throughout both flights. I don’t tend to fly well, but this was beyond terrifying for me.
I livetweeted the flight experience and like… I’m never doing that again, but I’m also trying to figure out a way to never fly again either. So we’ll see how this goes.
A Tuesday highlight was S and I having dinner with my fellow fan studies folks. We were having dinner as a “we’re all in DC and meeting for the first or second time” kind of thing. We ate at a really great Lebanese restaurant that had so-so service. We also went for a post-dinner walk that was supposed to take us to the CVS past the zoo – hilarious in hindsight because there was a CVS right by the place we had dinner – but ended up at a 7-11 and liquor store that were just as awesome.
I think I’m always anxious about panels. This was my third time presenting an academic paper and my second PCA and it’s always a bit daunting. This time, I was also a bit on edge because I was moderating both my panel and the roundtable on racism in fandom/fan studies spaces afterwards.
But apparently, I did well.
I presented with two very awesome people that were talking about discrimination in fandom – one on racism in comic book fandom and one on how fans discriminate based on a hierarchy of fans/fannishness. I hope to see more work from them in the future and if I do, I’ll share it with y’all.
I had a fantastic first day at #PCAACA19! My two events – a race and representation panel and a roundtable about fandom after Racefail 09 – were amazing and well received.
— stitch (she/they) (@stichomancery) April 18, 2019
The roundtable – with Samira Nadkarni, Robin Reid, Cait Coker, and me – was another amazing experience. Last time, in 2017, I was on a round table on race/racism in fandom but I wasn’t moderating. I also wasn’t as angry with fandom and with fans’ refusal to recognize that fandom is a flawed space and that one of those glaring flaws is in how fans handle race/racism.
We were all angry.
There’ll be more on our specific parts in the near future because everyone on the panel has graciously allowed me to host their write-ups about their topics/thoughts on the panel. I’m really excited to share their work because they were all brilliant.
(Also on Wednesday was the second of many ABO conversations where I over-thought my way into ickiness at a breakfast that we – roundtable folks and Jill, one of my DC Comics fandom beloveds – were having off-site to talk about our plans for the upcoming roundtable and the rest of the day. I am now supremely against the word “cloaca” in any context.)
I also got to meet some cool twitter peeps – like EJ, Kav, and Kav’s darling little bean of a babby girl! Which like… y’all know how much I love meeting new larval humans! ARGH! SO CUTE!
The Toxic Fandom panel was awesome and I actually want to see if I can get any of the panelists to consider writing a blog post for me because it was 100% not what I’d originally been worried about.
(If you’re not in the know, generally “toxic fandom” panels can either actually be about the toxicity of fan spaces towards marginalized folks or reframing marginalized folks as the reason fandom is toxic. None of the panelists did any of that and the covered aspects of toxicity in fandom that are very important to think about.)
I also slept like a log and missed most of the panels I had originally wanted to see in the morning, but I did get to see NCT 127 on Good Morning America which was like… on my to-do list. (I love them!! What a good group!!)
I have mostly… no memory of Thursday because I was so sleepy, I’m gonna be real. However, I know I had a great time, networked a ton, and had k-pop conversations with Shandra – who is amazing.
The most important thing about Friday is that I had my “more experienced audience member at an academic conference” moment and uh… I am a better person for it? Maybe… Who knows.
Shandra and I decided to check out a panel on K-pop that was supposed to have a Korean panelist presenting on rap in the genre. Something that is very important to me. That panelist didn’t come. Instead, there were two Black panelists that could’ve… maybe used a little workshopping before coming to PCA to present because there were actual (minor, I guess) errors in the one presentation.
I’m not going into a ton of detail because these are active academics and I want to see them succeed because PCA is largely a sea of white faces and all, but with the one paper in particular I’d just like to say that: if you’re doing a paper on a non-Black Korean woman where you assign her Black womanhood and then uh… I and the East Asian women in the audience point out that you shouldn’t do that and are in fact missing a major mark when it comes to how Black cultures are consumed by non-Black audiences… Perhaps reconsider how you’re writing and what you’re saying with it.
I’m not super pleased about the fact that I literally couldn’t shut up in the discussion session, but in the one case, I have experience talking about (anti) Blackness in k-pop and Black womanhood in media. Like it’s my wheelhouse and I couldn’t freaking stop. Ugh. I wasn’t mean, but y’all… I could’ve been nicer considering how that kind of intense post-paper analysis is one thing I was terrified of my first PCA.
I strongly feel that both panelists had potential BUT were replicating the harmful way that white folks studying East Asian cultures tend to layer their Western (usually American) understanding of uh… everything on top of them.
Ugh @ me.
But then Shandra and I went to the Queer Studies track’s mixer. Which was fun, if quickly crowded since it was in a hotel room. I hung out with some other cool queer nerds (hi Abby!) that I hope to see again at other PCAs in the future!
And then we went to The Smuttening at the hotel bar with Katie Anderson Howell and a bunch of awesome nerds! Now, I thoroughly love chances to bask in giddy fannishness with other fans and reading fic aloud is always super freaking fun.
I read my [REDACTED] ABO story that’s no longer online, got to squeal over the word “mewl”, and I’m also pretty sure that someone brought up the word cloaca at some point. (It might have been me…)
I also had late night squid.
As a drunken snack.
Because drunk!Stitch doesn’t remember their commitment to not eating anything I know for a fact could probably put together a heist better than I could.
I definitely went to the fan studies panel on fan pilgrimages. I have notes on it and everything.
And we (Shandra and I) had lunch with fantastic fan studies people including Lori Morimoto, who is Amazing. Gosh!
That’s about the only thing I solidly remember until dinner because my brain is a sieve sometimes.
S and I had dinner at BUL, a Korean restaurant that was about an 18 minute walk away from the hotel. I’d been craving Korean for A While and South Florida isn’t exactly home to a thriving Korean community. The food was fantastic, the service was nice, and I got to try soju for the first time.
WE WENT TO VIRGINIA ON SUNDAY!
S, Shandra, and I made the trek to Annandale, Virginia to check out Lil Thingamajigs, a store in a shopping plaza that catered to the local Korean community. I wanted to get some souvenirs for the niecelings that I knew they’d actually like and use and well… they have been very invested in K-pop for a while.
Heading to Virginia was cool – also, I realized that I didn’t know what the Pentagon looked like from street level, only from above – and the shopping plaza was neat!
We had bubble tea! Exciting!
— stitch (she/they) (@stichomancery) April 21, 2019
After a thoroughly goopy goodbye with Shandra – henceforth known as my same-age sister as we’re both 90s babies into BTS – Katie took us to a taqueria in her neighborhood and I got to experience my first drag show. WOW!
(It was a ton of fun and I had a fantastic time! You can probably see me fall a little bit in love with this Queen in these photos Katie took, honestly.)
All in all?
I had a great time at PCA.
I sat in on some brilliant panels – including one on the future of Fan Studies publishing that I’ve got notes on that I want to turn into a blog post.
Again, I had meetings andI made tentative plans to write articles with people.
I got to meet some fantastic twitter /fandom friends in meatspace for the first time.
I got to be a fan surrounded by other fans who liked what I liked or something just as cool. I was surrounded by people who liked things and also like being critical of some of those things too.
I met other BTS fans!! That’s super important to me.
And aside from a single microaggression? I didn’t feel like I wasn’t being seen as a fully realized person. I felt seen.
All week, I felt like I and my work were taken seriously – and it’s never going to stop being weird that people like me for my writing, y’all. What the hell?
I said it a bunch of times throughout the conference, but it was mind-blowing to meet people who know me for my fandom and media criticism and continue to like me. Consider all the weird and rude shit I get directly from folks in fandom – or indirectly when they talk about me – and like… y’all can see how that affects me.
PCA was draining in some ways – so much walking around that massive hotel, and my social batteries were definitely in the red for much of the week – but it also recharged my writer batteries. It made me remember that I like doing what I do and that no one is going to force me to change how I do fandom.
So I’m looking forward to doing this again next year.
Only… I’m gonna try taking the train there and back.
Hope to see y’all there and thank you all for making this an incredible experience!
I know I didn’t cover everything, but next time I will document everything better – and plan all of my panels before they happen so that I can tell y’all what all I sat in on.