Yale conference – day 1

So the first day of the graduate conference at Yale mostly lived up to my high expectations: most papers that were presented during the two longish panels this morning and this afternoon were solid efforts, with a few standout contributions, and the keynote speech from Scott Bukatman was entertaining and contained some stimulating new insights, even if it was somewhat snarky and opinionated. I was pleased to encounter Ramzi Fawaz again after previously having met at the 2007 PCA/ACA convention, where I had already been impressed by his acute dissection of superhero mythology. His talk here at Yale focused on The Incredibles, laying bare the problematic ways in which this beloved film of mine actually has at its core a problematic resistance towards ‘otherness’ and non-conformity – I now understand somewhat better why I may have been so reluctant to work on this film and take its true politics to task…

Predictably, much of the discussion so far has been centered on The Dark Knight as a cultural phenomenon, with some heated exchanges of opinion about the film’s obvious (and less obvious) flaws. Unfortunately, much of the social banter between panels has had a tendency to the exchange of preferences and opinions rather than further discussion and analysis; I understand the impulse to defend or attack films like these among other academics, but there’s really only so many times I can stand to hear what’s wrong with Christopher Nolan as a writer, director and/or editor.

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