I, along with Mea Hall, presented at the 47th Annual PCA/ACA Conference in San Diego this year. We presented our paper “Seeing Black & White in a Four-Color World: A Post-Structuralist Reading of the Original X-Men Film Trilogy.” The Pop Cultural Association/American Cultural Association conference is a forum in which to discuss artifacts of pop culture: films, television, video games, popular literature, etc., in a manner that addresses how such artifacts function within a given socio-cultural context. Our paper, specifically, examined the original X-Men film through the lens of disability studies. We sought to understand how the film might be read if we ask the question, “Can ‘mutants’ in the films be considered disabled? If so, how does that change the impact or message of the films?” We, Mea and I, came to the conclusion that yes, the X-men are disabled, however the limitation imposed by their embodiment is often social as opposed to physical.
Unrelated to our presentation at the conference, I had the opportunity to hear Special Effects Producer, John Dykstra speak at the conference. Most famously, he was head of special effects for the first Star Wars film released in 1977, but has gone on to supervise and produce effects for more recent films such as Ghost in the Shell (2017), X-Men Apocalypse (2017), Spider Man (2002), and Stuart Little (1999). Interesting bit of trivia I learned from Mr. Dykstra, Stuart Little was the first film to feature a fully CGI principal character.
All-in-all, I would have to say that attending and presenting at the PCA/ACA conference was a terrific experience, I heard some really fantastic talks, like the moral imperative present in games like Starcraft or the discussion on Gonzo-Gothic themes in AMC’s Preacher. The best part of the conference was that if there was a property or “fandom” you were interested in, chances are there was more than one panel discussing it. I would definitely recommend this conference to my peers.
In the fall of 2016, GEW instructors Shannon Wales-Baker and Cyndi Headley, co-presented with former GEW instructor, Lauren Springer, in Pasadena at the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association's annual conference. The Composition and Rhetoric panel, "Questions Only: Getting the Writer to Speak up," showcased the project that began in 2012 when their collaboration with Dawn Formo led to a pilot program for composition classes that focused both on question-based lessons and on exploring student engagement in the feedback process. The presentation explained how students are required to engage in the feedback and grading process in order to engender instructor feedback. The interactive presentation discussed their findings and approaches to a question-based pedagogy in first-year writing courses. They shared why they chose a question-based approach, their methodology and results, and how they taught their GEW students to ask for feedback.