(Brief) Reflections on the American Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting

Hello again,

With ASA in the rearview mirror and the holiday season on the horizon, I thought I would take a moment to post some (brief) relfections on the conference, and make my paper temporarily available (that’s a separate post).


I was originally unsure about the choice to go to ASA — as the annual meeting of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) met the same week on the other side of the country; however, ASA exceeded my expectations and made me feel lucky to be on a panel there.

Although I saw a number of excellent panels, the highlight for me was actually on the morning of Sunday — one of the ‘worst’ time slots for a major conference, as people tend to leave early or take the last day off. I made a tough choice between interesting panels at 10AM on Sunday Nov. 9, and I ultimately missed out on “The Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas” in order to attend “Sex Panics, Dangerous Pairings, and Moral Rhetorics of Pleasure and Pain,” which turned out to be a panoply of impressive papers. Somewhere between a roundtable and a traditional panel, this session featuring talks by Jonathan Metzl, Roger Lancaster, Sarah Banet-Weiser, Dorothy Roberts, and Priscilla Wald, followed by some stellar Q&A/Discussion. It really brought together a number of questions around power, sex, gender, race, genetics, and modern science as an institution. To see such great scholars come together and not just speak to each other thematically, but to engage and build upon one anothers’ ideas and critiques was, in itself, a learning experience about what a panel could be.

That’s not to knock the other panels I attended, which were impresive in their own right! I managed to make it to at least a couple panels each day, and I won’t detail them here for the sake of time, but I did learn about: Haiti; surveillance; minority politics in American culture; and matter, metaphor, and death.

I also learned a lot about politics and ethics in game studies from my co-panelists (shout out to Amanda Phillips, Bonnie Ruberg, Jordan Youngblood) and our chair, the ever-impressive Lisa Nakamura. This was my second foray of sorts into game studies (I addressed the Resident Evil franchise in a publication). I originally thought of the paper as a one-off, but it ended up complementing my previous publications really neatly, and I’m pondering a paper dealing with the Resident Evil universe in more detail.

Ultimately, ASA was a really invigorating academic experience, one I hope to repeat; although, in the future I hope I don’t have to choose between MSA and ASA again, they’re both too good!

So, many thanks to my co-panelists, our chair, and to the presenters I had the pleasure and privilege to see in action. Hope to see you again nex tyear.

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