Thursday, 31 January 2013 20:35

Another conference related blog update!

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It’s been a week since the first GANZA conference in Auckland and I’m still reeling with ideas and booklists, not to mention Gothic food recipes! The conference got the research of the Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia off to a great start with a fantastic selection of presentations that looked at where the Gothic is headed these days in relation to contemporary global culture and also in the regional context of Australasia.
Ken Gelder’s lecture ‘Endangered species in some Asia-Pacific rim vampire films’ was one of the main highlights of the two days of talks, considering the transcultural modulation of the vampire in the context of contemporary economic and ecological concerns. Reading films including Thirst, Daybreakers and Perfect Creature, Ken offered insights on the derivative and repetitive nature of the vampire as a definitively modern creature, perfectly suited to critiques of consumer capitalism. Of the panels that followed on the first day ‘Gothic Food’ emerged as one of the most memorable experiences of the conference, with talks from Donna Lee Brien on funeral feasts and Carmel Cedro on Gothic cakes. Toni Risson also had everyone in good form with her samplings of, not ‘candygothic’, but Gothic candy. The audience had the chance to taste aniseed jellybeans and black sherbert, washed down with a pallet cleanser of tongue curdling sweet n’sour spray (Yum!)
The second day for me reached a highpoint with a panel that I chaired on ‘Perception, Paranoia, and the Postmodern’. Dennis Yeo gave a fascinating presentation on David Fincher’s Se7en and Fight Club, which started interesting conversations on the postmodern Gothic and the popularity of Gothic film at the recent fin de siècle. In this panel, Ashleigh Prosser also picked up postmodern themes and anxieties in relation to Peter Ackroyd’s representation of the Gothic nature of London. Discussing the city’s spectral consciousness and its visceral body, and the importance of the concept of the ‘spirit’ of place, Ashleigh inspired questions on the ghostly nature of the city’s history and historiography.
Aside from excellent presentations and stimulating discussions, the conference food and entertainment was of a high standard. The Stamford Plaza kept us well fed on all kinds of ‘Gothic goodies’ and on the second day delegates were treated to a teppanyaki lunch at restaurant Kabuki. While the hotel does deserve some credit for this, really, the food and hosting was a testament to the conference organiser’s background, not just in the Gothic, but also in food culture. Lorna was an amazing host for the entire conference. She welcomed everybody with such warmth and energy and set a comfortable and engaging atmosphere from the beginning. Throughout, she ensured that we all had ample time for discussion and networking and even after the conference ended, she followed up with a celebration of what was a great event down at the waterfront in Auckland, where the cocktails flowed, and the fun continued.
Thanks Lorna for all your hard work in making this a great conference! And thanks to the conference delegates too. I’ll look forward to seeing you soon at another Gothic event, if not – surely – at the next GANZA conference in Australia.

 
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