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professional geek

VividCon panel notes + two more things

1) I forgot to post about this when it happened, but: I was interviewed by project-disco.org back in June, and you can read me talking about vidding, copyright, monetization, etc. The interviewer and I talked for more than 30 minutes, so the published version is heavily edited and thus contains a fair number of apparent non sequiturs simply because the intervening five minutes got edited out. *facepalm*

2) I mentioned this to a few people at the con, so I might as well mention it here: I proposed an essay on the role of music in vids for a special issue of the journal Music, Sound and the Moving Image; the special issue's title is "Musical Screens: Musical Inventions, Digital Transitions, Cultural Critique"--is that not just begging for something about vids? The essay's due at the end of December, which... I am trying not to think about lest I panic, ahahaha.

3) VividCon! I was speaking off the cuff from very brief notes so as not to be too boring and ponderous, so I don't have a whole lot to post, but I'm happy to share what I do have (including the presentation I gave as context for the vidshow I put together for my fan studies class last fall).

Quick reminder: I prefer not to link my pro name and my fan name in ways that are Google-able, so while most of you reading this post know both names, please stick to this one if you post about the panel.

I use vids in two current classes and am planning to use them in a third class that's still in the planning stages.
  • Fan Cultures and Fan Creativity, a fan studies class for first-year students, offered last fall and again this fall. The point of this class is not really content mastery; it's more about learning the ropes of college-level inquiry. The class is intended to get students thinking about knowledge as something that they produce together, in conversation with each other and with existing scholarly work, rather than something that a teacher or professor bestows upon them. And of course fandom, in which fans collaboratively produce knowledge and meaning all over the place, is a wonderful starting point for thinking about that kind of approach to learning.

    In this class, we talk about vids as expressions of fannishness and read and discuss academic perspectives on vids and vidding. All the students in the Fall 2013 class were fannish (and I assume this will be true again), but of course they weren't necessarily fannish about the same things or in the same ways; some were vidwatchers already, but many weren't. So in the vidshow I put together for the class, my aim was to give us a shared set of vids as a starting point for discussion. I wanted to present a wide range of fandoms and of types of vid: gen, slash, femslash, het, character studies, universe vids, constructed reality, celebration, argument, etc. I prefaced the vidshow with a short presentation intended to get students thinking about the choices vidders make, the process of vidding, and the different things that vids can do. Dreamwidth isn't letting me embed the presentation, but you can view it at this link if you want to see it.

  • Writing for the Liberal Arts, a writing class that all first-year students are required to take. In this class, I use vids to help students think about argumentation and evidence. Vids are useful for this purpose because, regardless of whether a vidder is thinking about a vid as an argument, vids function as arguments in that they have a because built into them: I love this relationship because, I think this character is hot because, I have a massive problem with this show because. This feature is really useful when trying to get students to move from opinions, which are easy, to argument, which is not so easy. I pick vids like sloanesomething's "Star Trek Dance Floor" or Seah & Margie's "Handlebars," which have super-clear thesis statements that students can immediately identify: "not enough ladies, too many mans"; "...that dude is scary." Then we rewatch and they have to think about how they know what the thesis is: what elements of the song, what clips, what relationships between clips and lyrics, etc. And then they have to think about their own writing: what evidence do they have to provide to make their arguments seem that clear and obvious to other people? It's a good way of nudging them to move from tacit or intuitive knowledge ("this is what the vid is saying") to explicit or conscious knowledge ("this is how it's saying it"), which is a huge part of teaching writing.

  • Multimodal Composing is a class I haven't taught yet but really want to. It's about communicating with sound and images (still or moving) as well as alphabetic text. Composition studies scholars have been trying for a while now to figure out how best to teach this kind of composing and to find models of it, and of course I think that vids and vidding are outstanding models--not just because so many vids are terrific multimodal compositions (though yes) but because vids represent a range of genres and purposes, including but not limited to argument, and also because fandom is a fantastic example of an affinity group that enables and supports learning to compose multimodally (think VividCon!). I think scholars could learn a lot from studying how and why fans learn to make and interpret multimodal compositions. (In fact, some of you may recall that I was doing interviews related to this line of research at VividCon a few years ago, back before the book took over my research agenda.)

[personal profile] kouredios has also posted notes from her half of the panel, in which she explained how she uses vid to teach Comparative Literature majors about different schools of literary criticism, specifically deconstruction. To the surprise of no one, I found it super interesting.

We got some great questions. Someone asked how difficult it was to get these courses approved; in my case the answers were "not at all difficult." The fan studies class was a non-issue because content isn't the main feature of the Intellectual Community courses, and the writing course was a non-issue because nobody cares how I teach argumentation and analysis as long as, you know, I teach it. Someone else asked what I do when students aren't fannish about anything, which honestly hasn't been a problem for me; my students are delightfully geeky. I mean, they're not necessarily involved in online media fandom, but they get the idea of fandom, the passionate investment in something. And of course my fan studies students do almost all self-identify as "in fandom," which is just one of the many reasons I'm looking forward to the fall semester. :D

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