I never thought when I decided to stay in school for the rest of my life that it would involve so much travelling. But if you like to travel, academia is a good place to be. Next week I'm heading to Germany to give a presentation at the University of Heidelberg's Exzellenzcluster on Asia and Europe in a Global Context
. (I like the word "Exzellenzcluster" a lot. I like the people in the Exzellenzcluster even more!) Also invited is a scholar of East Asian pop culture, Dr. Chua Beng Huat, who will give a lecture and lead our workshop on soft power and media.
I hope this doesn't sound like boasting, but I'm really excited and a little astonished to be doing things like this. When I started studying anime, I thought I'd be pretty much on my own. But now I discover that there are all kinds of people studying all kinds of popular culture across the world. Sure, I always knew that in the abstract. But once you actually go meet people from countries that were only names on a map before, and find that you have some very different experiences but also some common points of reference...it changes things.
It's all so fresh to me, this global aca-fan community. It's both like and unlike non-academic fandom. I find in general that academic gatherings -even about pop culture- involve a lot more career-building maneuvering: what will look good on my cv? Can I get a publishing deal out of this? And so on. But in the end, academics are also a bunch of geeks who like to sit around and argue about everything from human rights and international relations to the relative popularity of Korean and Japanese idol singers. The difference is more in the certain kinds of language you have to use (fan and academic jargon) and also in the restrictions on who can join (because face it, university degrees cost a whole lotta money.)
Well, maybe I'll write more about my actual experiences in Germany when I get back. Or maybe not. I'm always unsure of what I should write about here. Professionalism is a difficult discourse to handle when it comes to new media. What is proper to blog about? What will hurt my prospects? How public or private is this writing? Well, I don't know. In the meantime, I hope I can make a worthwhile contribution at the workshop!