my conferences

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.


#NeMLA17 #S621: “DC vs Marvel in Japan”

Thanks to all who turned out for the Northeast Modern Language Association’s session on Edgar Allan Poe in popular culture! Now I’m about to present at 11:45 AM Eastern as part of the DC vs Marvel panel. Follow along with this linked slide presentation, and feel free to submit questions there or on Twitter, hashtags #NeMLA17 #S621.

Send your questions for “The Pop Culture Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe” here! (#NeMLA17 #S411)

Today at 8:30 AM Eastern, we’re talking Edgar Allan Poe’s continued influence on popular culture.

Watch the slideshow here (where you can submit questions as well) or on Twitter hashtags #NeMLA17 #S411.

#NeMLA17 #S306: “Transformation Sequences in Comics,” Thu Mar 23, 4:30 PM in Dover A

On Thursday, March 23, 2017, at 4:30 PM, I will be chairing the session “Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics,” at the 2017 Baltimore meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, organized by my colleague Rafael Ponce-Cordero at Keene State College. I had helped Rafael with writing of the session description:

The transformation sequence is standard to comics: Clark Kent rushes out of the phone booth and is now Superman, Usagi Tsukino spins and lights up to transform into Sailor Moon, Kamala Khan experiences terrigenesis to become Ms. Marvel, and Bruce Banner hulks out into a giant green rage monster. This session welcomes submissions that look at transformations not only of characters but of the graphic narrative form, and how those alterations affect other narrative practices in the novel, film, and television.

I’m honored to chair on Rafael’s behalf.

Below is the lineup:

  • “The Interrelation of Transformation, Ethnicity, and Form in American Born Chinese
    Kom Kunyosying, Nashua Community College
  • “The Gay Superheroine As Filipino: A Postcolonial Queerying of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah
    Christian Ylagan, Western University
  • “Rejecting the Mainstream: Transformative Rage in Queer Comics”
    Tesla Cariani, Emory University

The session is in Dover A on the Third Floor of the Marriott Waterfront. If you can’t make it, message questions to me on Twitter @dereksmcgrath or at the hashtags #S306 #NeMLA17 between 4:30 PM and 6:30 PM.

Edgar Allan Poe Sessions at #NeMLA17 Baltimore, March 23-26

The Northeast Modern Language Association comes to Baltimore, one of Edgar Allan Poe’s homes, Thursday through Sunday. Below is a list of some of the sessions we have put together in examining his literature, criticism, and ongoing influence.

As well, the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum will be open during the convention.

Thanks to Susan Elizabeth Sweeney at College of the Holy Cross for compiling this list!


#GeekGuide: Comics, Video Game, and Fan Culture Panels at #NeMLA17

Each year, the Northeast Modern Language Association’s (NeMLA) annual convention features presentations on comics and graphic novels, already long accepted as media worthy of critical analysis. And this year’s convention at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, Maryland, March 23 to 26, also features sessions on related topics in anime, manga, video games, and fan culture.

And I would know–I’ve been proofreading this program repeatedly as part of my job at NeMLA.

I’ve compiled as many comics, video game, and fan culture presentations that I could find in the online schedule. I encourage you, if you are attending the convention, to check out these sessions and share your thoughts on social media. And check out the program online for more sessions!


My Presentations at #NeMLA17: Poe’s Pop Culture Afterlife, Disability in My Hero Academia, Batmanga and Spider-Man Sentai

Yeah, the only Poe image I could find that fits here was from Bungo Stray Dogs–don’t blame me, it’s a fun series!

I’ll be presenting (and working the registration table) at the upcoming Baltimore meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 23 to 26, at the Marriott Waterfront. The full schedule of presentations is available to search or download, and if you have any questions about the convention, feel free to tweet at me, email me at, or approach me at the convention (my name badge will have “Staff” on it).

The Pop Culture Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is a zombie: his themes, tropes, stories, tone, and arguments persist long after his death, not only in subsequent poetry, short stories, and criticism but also in film, television, music, and new media. This session looks at approaches to reading Poe’s influence forward into later popular culture, in particular strategies for incorporating works of current popular culture in the classroom when teaching Poe. Presentations look at Poe’s influence on The Following, Richard Corben, Fight Club, and Black Swan. Friday, March 24, 8:30-9:45 AM, Grand Ballroom 2

Batmanga and Captain America Ramen: DC vs Marvel in Japan

Shifting from comics publishers to multimedia content-branding enterprises, DC Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment have enlarged their markets overseas. While their fictional accounts are set largely in the United States, their film productions have sought to appeal to a wider global audience, especially in marketing towards Japan. Starting in the 1960s, DC licensed Batman for a 50-chapter manga series that proved popular in Japan. However, as this Batmanga series only recently has been translated and distributed to United States audiences, the potential bidirectional partnership between DC and Japanese publishers has been far less obvious compared that same partnership opportunity for Marvel. The list of Japanese properties featuring Marvel characters is extensive: ramen shops produce Captain America and Iron Man-themed meals; studios such as Sony and Madhouse produce anime based on Blade, Black Widow, the Punisher, and the X-Men; and Marvel has partnered with manga publishers for transpacific crossovers, such as between its Avengers and Kodansha’s Attack on Titan. Even the live-action Spider-Man series in Japan in the late 1970s allowed its local producer, Toei, to develop the tropes, special effects, sets, and costumes that would give birth to the ubiquitous brand Super Sentai, known in the United States as Power Rangers.

While Marvel is more visible, this competition between it and Marvel has not necessarily translated into more cinematic success in Japan: both Batman vs Superman and Captain America: Civil War opened much later than they did in other parts of the world, and sold far fewer tickets than Japanese films in the same opening weekends. This presentation will consider how economic, cultural, and media differences between DC and Marvel’s United States and Japanese distribution networks have led to innovations for both companies, while also increasing Marvel’s presence in Japan compared to DC. Friday, March 24, 11:45 AM-1 PM, Heron Room

The Quirkiness of a Superpower: Normalizing (Dis)abilities in Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia

Superpowered individuals are commonly treated in popular culture as the outsiders, their abilities making them stand out as othered. Japanese mangaka Kōhei Horikoshi reverses that idea in his comic My Hero Academia, recently adapted as an ongoing animated series. In his story, superpowers are the norm: 80 percent of the Earth’s population possesses such abilities, known as Quirks. This fictional world has adjusted considerably well to suit the needs of these superpowered individuals, who vary in size, ability, and shape: entrances serve persons both short and gargantuan, clothing stores make on-site adjustment to attire for multi-limbed or tailed individuals, and the government sanctions schools and agencies to allow for training of superheroes. In such a setting, My Hero Academia raises complicated questions about how othering can still persist, treating non-powered individuals as if they are analogous to persons with disabilities. For example, series protagonist Izuku Midoriya, who admires popular superhero All Might, is in that 20 percent of humans without a Quirk and is bullied by a superpowered classmate who mocks him with the nickname “Deku” (“Weakling”). A chance meeting with All Might reveals to Izuku that his superhero mentor has been living with an injury that is slowly sapping him of his Quirk, leaving the usually buff and tall superhero emaciated and bleeding. All Might’s injury is treated in-series as analogous to enervating conditions experienced by many people, showing how he lives with his condition while striving to maintain his previous and still arduous schedule of superheroing. My Hero Academia also prompts disconcerting questions regarding All Might giving his superpower to his new mentee Izuku, as this ability inheritance is treated as a way to normalize his supposed disabled body, prompting careful consideration about how this series reinforces and subverts representations of disabilities in superhero stories. Friday, March 24, 4:45-6:15 PM, Grand Ballroom 8

I’m moderating “Know About Poe” this Friday at NYU

Here’s something to prepare me before I talk “The Pop Culture Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe” at NeMLA in Baltimore this March.

I will be moderating “Know About Poe,” an informative discussion as part of New York University’s bi-annual event hosted at their School of Law’s Edgar Allan Poe Room this Friday at 6 PM.

Poe’s Manhattan residence was previously located where the School of Law now stands. NYU hosts these events to spark discussions about the author’s works, with events including performances, lectures, Q&As, and other dynamic entertaining and informative activities. I previously presented at NYU’s Showcase at the Poe Room in 2012, and I am honored by this opportunity to moderate a discussion that will appeal to scholars and Poe enthusiasts alike.

Thanks to Lois Rakoff, Arlene Peralta, and Nichole Izzo for organizing these events, where New Yorkers get to come together to join the conversation about the many aspects of Poe–his criticism, his philosophy, his poems, his politics, his horror.

Audience members can expect to learn more about the author’s life and works, as well as how we continue to discuss him in scholarship and posthumous adaptation. We’ll be looking at Poe in relation to pop culture, gender, mystery, visual art, and more! Whether you are a newbie to his literature or a seasoned expert, you’ll get something worthwhile from this session. Audience members also get to submit questions with their RSVP, and I’ll look at ones received on Twitter.

“Know About Poe” will take place on Friday, December 2, 2016 at 6 PM, at New York University’s School of Law (245 Sullivan Street, Furman Hall, Room 216, between West 3rd and Washington Square South). This event is free and open to the public.

Visit this link to RSVP or for more information.