I am super psyched about the upcoming pop culture conference (info here) that I am running alongside my amazing colleagues from UPRM and all the undergrad and graduate students from the PCSA. I’m really impressed with the abstracts that are currently in the system but I’ve been hearing some elements of confusion as to the theme of the conference. For those of you new to the conference game, a specific theme in a conference can seem intimidating and may deter you from trying your luck at submitting an abstract. So let me give you some extra tips and tricks as to for dealing with conferences, specifically with current Person to Persona developments. (FYI: I made a post on overall conference protocols from beginning to end worth checking out too here)
The biggest thing when dealing with a conference as a potential presenter is to make sure that your abstract feels like something that the conference organizers want to see. Obviously, you bring your A game of topics you are already researching and have minor to major expertise on. The problem is making sure that your area fits with what conference wants to portray. As you have seen if you know me/actually read this blog, you’ll know that I work a lot with serialization, especially when it comes to webcomics. It’s a niche field that puts me in that odd place between “wait, what?” and “quasi exotic” for areas like literature. Because I am a would be professor, many conferences in my area have to do with pedagogy, where webcomics are a much harder sell. This means that I need to do one of two things: write about something completely different or somehow morph webcomics into a more pedagogical direction. I’ve got some familiarity on both ends but when you’re starting out as an undergrad or grad student you’re not sure how to reshape your topic or going into an area you aren’t super knowledgeable about. It’s a tricky space to maneuver because if you don’t handle it well you don’t get into the conference or potentially worse you get in but your presentation ends up as that one presentation people talk about for the wrong reasons.
When it comes to “From Person to Persona” the first thing that comes to mind is that of names and when people change them. Technically true but there are a lot more dimensions to unravel within so many levels and areas. Let me give you some examples that I imagined when putting the CFP together to help potential submitters stimulate some neurons.
- Literature: Bad guys changing their names is classic as they shed their old identities. Anakin into Darth Vader or Tom Riddle into Voldemort come to mind. But also once you think of categories of characters, like the Chosen One, suddenly a name is given to you that you now have to live up to.
- Music: Rappers and musicians who have stage names and how these transformations can set up new personalities to set up a better/more marketable connection to the fans.
- Pedagogy: I’m normally a shy person but once I’m in educator mode I am extroverted and try to be super entertaining. I’d love someone to talk about different teaching styles, especially with adopting them if your actual personality doesn’t exactly fit beforehand.
- Linguistics: The whole field of morphology is about figuring out meaning behind words. This isn’t my specialty but I’m sure you smart folk can figure something out.
- Marketing: Did you know that Chilean sea bass was originally called “Patagonian toothfish”? Sales after the change of the seafood’s title made it sound edible. More examples like these would be amazing.
- Psychology: Tons of studies detail what happens when you are given a label and it sticks. Bad boys in school are more likely to turn into possible menaces to society. Not to mention the whole stigma of being in prison just ONCE labels you forever as not a good person.
- Sociology: All of the stereotypes and racism fall into here. There’s a study that says if you have a more “ethnic” sounding name your resume is less likely to be accepted. Or the applications in pop culture of being the “token” minority. So many applications.
- Video games: With character customization and multiple story paths to go on, today’s video games give players a chance to change their style and thus the perception of the character changes. Think Undertale pacifist runs versus genocidal runs and how you as a character/player change in the process.
- Politics: Ever noticed how candidates change their voice and mannerisms when the go to different parts of the country while running for higher positions of office. Or how they reshape their image from one debate to another.
- History: Fun Fact, did you know that Joseph Stalin changed his name to Stalin (aka of steel) in order to distance himself from his Georgian roots as he rose to power? All this and so many more things.
Hope this helps.