Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In the Shadow of the Golden Gate!

I arrived last night for the national conference - no exciting stories to tell about the trip out here, which is just the way I like it. Let me explain a little about the conference - this is quite a large one. I don't have a count yet on the number of presenters, attendees, or panels, but the conference program itself is quite hefty. The academic study of popular culture spun off of the American culture movement back in the late 60s/early 70s. The spin-off was led by scholars who were frustrated with the lack of attention being paid to contemporary events. As it has been put, "Redundant presentations on Melville, Whitman, and Poe were followed by more redundant presentations on Melville, Whitman, and Poe." (I'm paraphrasing, but that's about it.) The two areas of study eventually made their peace and have held joint conferences for decades - the first joint national conference was held in 1971.

It's a smorgasbord here. Panels are devoted to just about any aspect of American life you can think of - baseball, Chicano writing, using popular culture in the classroom, rhetoric, history, the role food plays in our lives, and everything in between.

San Francisco is a city that has a special place in the heart and history of America - Mark Twain first used that nom de plume here, Jacks London and Kerouac lived and wrote here, Chinatown provides a peek into a culture very different from my own, Blade Runner and Vertigo were both set here (at very different times, of course). By the way, the movie version of Blade Runner switched the setting to Los Angeles; I don' t know why but I bet someone here can tell me!

More later - I need to check in.

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