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I started this blog in 2007 partly as a writing exercise building up to my thesis. Now, the thesis (Full title: "Animating Transcutural Communities: Animation Fandom in North America and East Asia from 1906-2011") is done. Yesterday I had my oral defense and passed without any revisions required. Now it's just a matter of submitting the final draft, uploading it to my university's web archives (URL coming soon!), and applying to graduate!

I just wanted to say how very grateful I am to the people who did my survey for this thesis. I'll be sending out a short "research report" to those who requested feedback soon, but it's necessarily a general document that can't capture all the nuances of the thesis or of people's responses. Re-reading the survey responses in preparation for my defense, I was once again astonished at how much people gave in terms of thoughtfulness, details, experiences, stories, passions and even criticisms of my project. Some of the harshest responses were the ones that made me think, question my project and my position as a researcher in a useful way. But the kindness people showed also buoyed my spirits and motivated me to go on. Even though I couldn't quote everyone, all of the responses together (and also the blog posts and comments on sites I visit every day!) went into forming my understanding of anime fan community online.

Thesis writing can be long, hard and lonely. It was like that at points for me too. But doing work with anime fans has also been an opportunity to make friends, have fun and grow as a person on many levels. What more could an aca-fan ask? Now I hope to keep posting and making connections as I work more on digital culture and fandom in the future!
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For me, there's something unspeakable about fandom.

And so I must try to speak about it )
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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!

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April 2014

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