Gone West: ICAF and Congress 2013

As previously reported, my first stop was Portland, OR, for the International Comic Arts Forum. ICAF is one of my favourite conferences to attend, and I hadn't been in several years. As ever, comics scholars are a very friendly bunch. We're all just so happy to be around other comics scholars for a change, I guess. I caught up with some acquaintances, got to put faces to names I've known for a long time, and met a bunch of new folks, too. On the whole, the presentations I attended were of a very high calibre—a testament to the organizer's curatorial insight. If I had to, I'd single out Jeremy Stoll's work on Indian cartoonists, Josina Robb's paper on Joe Sacco, and Franny Howes's engaging presentation about using comics as part of a writing curriculum as standouts.

Receiving the John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies from John A. Lent

Also, they gave me a plaque.

After ICAF, I took the bus to Vancouver and spent a week with friends (and, coincidentally, an evening with my dad) before riding the ferry over to Victoria for the Congress of the Canadian Federation of the Social Sciences and Humanities. My friend Jamie Rennie and I were amused/angered that the hotel where we were staying, which was full of academics in town for Congress, kept putting copies of the National Post in front of our door so that their trolling "Oh the Humanities..." series was the first thing we saw in the morning. But even the National Post couldn't ruin my week. The weather in Victoria was amazing and, all in all, I had a great time at Congress, meeting with friends and supervisors, old and new.

UNB's Duncan Philpot demonstrates that he doesn't just study jugglers, he's also a client

My first order of business at the Canadian Sociological Association was the set of panels on creative practice that Frederik Lesage and I had organized. We had a pretty great set of papers examining how various social, institutional, and technological forces mediate the work of creativity. And there was juggling!

Tuesday, I presented in one of four panels at the CSA devoted to the sociology of consumption. My paper pulled some key themes out of my dissertation research, focusing on how MacIntyre's particular version of practice theory foregrounds the immanent normative dimension of consumption and leisure activity, whether subcultural or not. This session also featured really interesting papers on the experience of food allergy and the social construction of hoarding.

Wednesday, I hopped over to the Canadian Communication Association to chair a panel on cultural scenes organized by myself, Jamie, and Stuart Poyntz. It featured Miranda Campbell, Danielle J. Deveau, Sara Grimes. (Michael Darroch was scheduled to participate but unfortunately couldn't make the conference.)

This work has been front of my mind lately, as we move forward on a couple of publishing projects around the idea of scenes. Jamie and I presented a co-authored paper, "Thinking through Scenes: Scene as Sensitizing Concept in Social Research," Thursday back at the CSA on some of our own recent thinking about the concept of scene.

Friday, I managed to attend one last panel back at the CCA. SFU's Zoë Druick, Ryerson's Jean Bruce, and UofA's Julie Rak were presenting work from their collaboration on "realty TV" (i.e., reality TV shows focused on real estate). Besides being a fascinating series of talks, this was a real treat as Jean was a favourite professor of mine as an undergraduate in film studies at Queen's.

Then we hopped back on the ferry to Vancouver. I had a drink with my friend Bethany at my favourite watering hole and was interviewed for the SFU student newspaper, The Peak, but that's another story. I caught the red-eye at midnight and was back home in Toronto before nine the next morning.


John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies