My upcoming cons: Presenting at and reporting from #AX2017–teaching, melancholia, nostalgia, and more!

Anime Expo will take place June 30 to July 4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I’m happy to return to AX as a presenter once again–and now also as both a special guest contributor and an on-site reporter for the new site JAMS Anime. Anime Expo is the perfect opportunity for me to continue my work in scholarship, news, and analysis at a location that brings together different elements of the anime community–journalists, industry leaders, scholars, and fans all around–for discussion about Japanese popular culture, in the United States and elsewhere.

My schedule includes:

  • July 1, 8 PM Pacific: Presenting ” ‘Ha Ha! Boring’: Nostalgia and Melancholia in Servamp and Anime Fan Communities,” Live Programming 4 (LP4 / Room 411)
  • July 4, 2:30 PM Pacific: Participating in the special guest panel, “Teaching Happiness: Using Anime and Manga as Educational Tools,” Live Programming 4 (LP4 / Room 411)
  • Reporting all updates and announcements about upcoming anime and manga on Twitter @JAMS_ Anime.

More information is below about these presentations, JAMS, and a conference panel CFP for scholars interested in talking about how they teach anime and manga.

My first presentation, ” ‘Ha Ha! Boring’: Nostalgia and Melancholia in Servamp and Anime Fan Communities,” will be July 1 at 8 PM Pacific in Live Programming 4 (LP4 / Room 411). I am really proud of this presentation, as it applies under-research history in the medical humanities I had researched on behalf of my graduate adviser, Susan Scheckel, who is a major scholar on the history of melancholia and nostalgia. My presentation is part of the panel “Studying Anime Fans Around the World,” which will also feature discussion by Casey McDonald at the University of Florida about love and justice in fandom and Sailor Moon. Below is the initial summary of my presentation:

In the ongoing serialized manga Servamp, the lead antagonist, the vampire Tsubaki, refers to himself as the Sin of Melancholia. Unable to move past a traumatic memory—the loss of his creator, a parental figure—Tsubaki fashions himself as a father to his own assembly of vampires, only to again struggle with despair when some of his brood die and he fears that their association with him will get more of them killed. Trapped in that moment of loss and unable to fully move on, Tsubaki is frozen in time—the psychoanalytic definition of melancholia and its closely associated medical condition, nostalgia.

Anime and manga have served as focal points for the development of communities built around shared interests, fostering productive relationships, creativity, artwork—as well as toxic communities. Much of the content watched and read have consistent themes related to melancholia–the bleak wistfulness of despair about past events–and nostalgia–known today as a desire for the past but, in psychoanalysis and even in nineteenth-century medicine, also considered a pathologized form of homesickness. This presentation applies psychoanalytic and historical medical theories about nostalgia and melancholia to consider the following. First, what can explain the ongoing fascination fans have with older, retro, and re-made anime and manga— such as Voltron, Escaflowne, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood? Second, how does such interest in the past as shown in Servamp help us, as teachers, students, and fans, understand the emotional and psychological dimensions of our fascination with anime and manga? Finally, what can we gleam from the productive examples shown in anime and manga to better foster self-care in responding to difficult circumstances, inside and outside anime fan communities?

I will also be participating in the special guest panel, “Teaching Happiness: Using Anime and Manga as Educational Tools,” at 2:30 PM Pacific in Live Programming 4 (LP4 / Room 411) with Brent Allison and Stevi Grimm. (And you can learn more about what Stevi and I are working on with our call for papers on “Teaching Anime and Manga,” with an abstract submission deadline of September 30.)

Finally, I’m going to be reporting about all updates in anime and manga while in Los Angeles for for the Japanese, Anime, and Manga Studies Association (JAMS Anime), a news and scholastic service reporting and analyzing all aspects of Japanese popular culture. This site also will host my upcoming articles on prepping for fan conventions, new editions of my weekly Fandom Report, and my ongoing reviews of series such as My Hero Academia. This web site is a work in progress, and I’m happy to launch it during Anime Expo–so please be sure to follow JAMS Anime on Twitter, WordPress, and Tumblr. Recommended news to share is welcome, and I’m seeking additional contributors. If you’re interested in having JAMS host your writing or link to your articles, videos, or podcasts, email jams.anime.association@gmail.com.

I look forward to seeing so many fans out in Los Angeles next week!

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