ECA: Two Thoughts from today's conference

Enjoying the ECA Conference very much. Heard a lot of smart things today. Reflecting on them quite a bit, but I have a couple of initial thoughts.

First, I think I have found a new rhetorical move similar to Mary Daly's argument about how feminist and gender issues are always put on the back burner in favor of "more important" policy or issues. The typical form of this move is, "How can you be worried about X issue in a world where these other horrible things are happening? [List goes here]"

Here is the move that I saw about two or three times today: Scholar is presenting a paper that moves toward a gender issue or gender theme. Scholar takes pause to identify to the audience that there is a gender component or issue here, and that it is important to attend to it. Scholar then explains the gender/feminist element of the argument is so important, it warrants a paper and/or panel of its own. It would be terrible to undercover it, so we are going to return to the argument of the paper, sans gender/feminism consideration.

This is a nice move for the patriarchy, as it gives due deference to the importance of gender and feminist issues with a sincere hat tip. But if the issue is that important, why does the paper continue in a direction that totally tables - or ignores in other words - the issue completely until an uncertain, future paper or panel? This way, the gender and feminist concerns of any research project can be addressed by being tabled indefinitely.

The second is more of a question - where is the line for media scholars between being a fan of a TV show or movie, and wanting to talk about how awesome it is that it dove tails with the scholarly literature, or glances off of a theory, and doing serious theoretical or critical work on a TV show or a movie? That line is a tough one to nail down, but I don't have a lot of tolerance for papers where the author sounds like I do when describing a show I enjoyed or a movie I thought was cool because it reminded me of a theory. I think the direction that best serves us and the field is the direction that uses the show or movie to elucidate, re-read, or enlighten some aspect of communication or rhetorical studies, instead of enlighten us as to the hidden or clever elements of the show.

More to come tomorrow. Our Minecraft presentation went really well today, and our papers merged pretty well with one another - without any planning to do so. More on Minecraft in a later post.