So, I just got back from the Contemporary Screen Narratives conference, where I presented in front of Henry Jenkins and Jason Mittell! The paper I gave was on fanmixes; I was presenting on the fanmix as fan-adopted paratext and I was using Jenkins’ and Mittell’s work in the paper. Actually, I was arguing with what Mittell writes in his new book, though I didn’t outright say I was arguing with it (obviously!). I knew that they’d both be there as they were both giving keynote addresses, but there were train strikes on the day so I did think they might have turned up late and missed my panel (first one). No chance! Jason Mittell sat next to me and my friend Rich in the introduction and then announced he was off to the paratexts panel, and I got into the room and saw Henry Jenkins sitting there. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I was fairly confident with the paper as a friend had read it over a few times and made suggestions but still – when you’re presenting in front of two of the biggest names in the field it’s intimidating. Anyway, I gave the paper and it was great to see people nodding along with the points I was making.
Henry did ask me a question at the end, which I couldn’t really answer at the time (I’m covering it in this section of the PhD so I’m still doing the research) but I did go up to him in the coffee break and chat to him. I had already introduced myself to him in the morning as I’ve got a piece coming out in the Transformative Works and Cultures issue he guest edited so we’d chatted a bit, but when I went up to him he did say that he enjoyed the piece and I’d found an area of fan production that hadn’t been written about yet, so that was good. We also chatted about the Fan Studies Network that I’m a board member of and he said that he’d be happy to help us out in any way so that was brilliant.
At lunch then I spoke to Jason Mittell. I was more nervous about talking to him because I was kinda arguing with his work more in my paper. I was behind him in the lunch queue and was plucking up the courage to talk to him when he turned round and said he enjoyed my paper and was interested in my take on fanfic as an orienting paratext. I was so pleased! He pulled me to one side a bit and we had a short dicussion about whether I think fanfic writers would think of their work the same way. After that I managed to relax a bit more and I did enjoy the conference. There were some great papers there and I did some networking and met some interesting people. I chatted to some more people (some of whose books I have!) at the wine reception and then went out that evening with a few of the other delegates. I had fun – it was great!
Friday was spent travelling to London and going for food with the rest of the fan studies people, and then Saturday was the Popular Media Cultures conference which Henry, Matt and a few other people were presenting at. That was really interesting. The papers were fascinating and I managed to promote the network more successfully than I had at CSN. I also got to chat to Henry again and he reiterated that he’d help out the Network. I did miss my train so had to hang around in Paddington for an hour, but even with that it was an amazing end to an amazing couple of days.