Sunday, 15 July 2012 16:54

Pop and the Gothic

The annual PopCAANZ Conference in Melbourne was definitely one of June’s highlights. It was hosted at the spectacular Langham Hotel and, as always, it did not disappoint. The quality of the papers was exceptional and the atmosphere so friendly, that creative/critical juices could only flow.

But something was a little bit different about the conference this year…it had a distinct Gothic flair. Vampires, ghouls, werewolves and other spooky creatures were everywhere, claiming their rightful spot in popular culture scholarship. An extraordinary trip to the Victoria State Library to see the original death mask of infamous outlaw Ned Kelly cemented all out Gothic thoughts together. The support for GANZA was wide-spread and a lot of the delegates were very keen to be involved with our Association. Indeed, the Gothic influence was so strong , PopCAANZ President Vicki Karaminas announced that the Pop Culture Association will now have its own ‘Gothic Area’, dedicated to research and academic exchanges in our most beloved field. The chair for this area in charge of circulating news, CFP and maintaining links with Gothic Associations around the world…especially a certain one! is yours truly, who is very excited about the whole thing. So watch this space and don’t forget the annual PopCAANZ conference to be held in Brisbane in 2013…look for us in the Gothic crypt!

 

When Gothic researchers get together for an event, you can be sure of a few things: great talks, friendly atmosphere, and enticing scholarship.  The Studies in Gothic Fiction Conference delivered just that. San Diego proved a beautiful and exciting backdrop for the conference, as did the actual venue, the DoubleTree Hotel. The conference programme promised a thrilling collection of papers and a chance to discuss all things Gothic, and in that it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The conference was opened by a keynote address by Dr Katherine D. Harris (San Jose State University), who gave a talk on British Literary Annuals. The presentation was interesting and touched on several elements of Gothic scholarship within the digital humanities which I’m sure a lot of us were completely unaware of, but which totally captivated the audience’s attention. The keynote address definitely set the tone for the whole event, opening the way to the panels in the spirit of constructive discussion.

One of the best things about the conference was its eclectic mixture of participants, from research students and Gothic enthusiasts, to tenured professors and published authors. The mix proved incredibly productive in that it generated lots of dynamic conversations, bringing together a number of perspectives. The papers presented also mirrored the mixture of interests among the participants; the research varied from a focus on mid-Eighteenth century literature– with The Monk as a recurring presence – to work on contemporary horror cinema and Gothic art festivals. Vampires also made a few appearances here and there, which definitely made some of us very happy.

The conference was organised by Dr Colin Marlaire and Dr Franz Potter at National University (San Diego), to whom we all owe our gratitude for putting together such a successful event. It was a great advert for the way in which Gothic scholarship in the US is developing and moving forward. There was a suggestion to make the Studies in Gothic Fiction conference a biennial event, which was met with extreme approval and support by all the participants. There was also a final promise for a vampire-themed conference to be held in Lafayette, Louisiana, courtesy of Dr Potter. We can all only hope that comes true.

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