Console-ing Passions Conference--thoughts from the road

This weekend Conseula and I are in Santa Barbara at the Console-ing Passions Conference, a feminist media studies conference. The conference has been really interesting so far. I don't typically do media studies, so it's been fun to hear feminist scholars from a discipline related to my own talk about their field and their work. Here are some random thoughts from the three days:

  • This is a conference fully of techno-savvy people, many of whom are on their computers, online, during the various presentations. I wonder just how many blog posts having been written during this conference.
  • On Thursday night, a speaker called for a fourth wave of feminism, one that will "return to the issue of sexism." Because obviously the third wave doesn't care about sexism at all.
  • Another speaker mentioned "Web 3.0." Conseula said, "That's where the fourth wave lives."
  • I think a lot of media studies scholars are defensive, concerned that because they're studying tv and blogs and video games that their work won't be taken seriously as academic work. As a result, many of them surround themselves with the big names of high theory. So far at this conference I've heard a lot about Deleuze, Guattari, Sedgwick, and (god help us) Zizek. It is not going to be a good day if you have to hear about all those folks.
  • On the flip side, I also got to see some porn, because some feminist media studies scholars study porn. So that helped to balance out all the high theory.


Curtis said...

How many waves do there have to be before a Movement becomes purely academic? I don't mean to imply that feminism has become pointless- far from that. BUT would it be realistic to say that once something is codified so much, the desire for Actual Change is sublimated to an extent in favor of academic dissection?

Of course, I'm talking out of my butt. I don't want you (or anyone else) to think that I'm even suggesting that movements and Grand Important Things shouldn't be studied. But I can't think of any other Movement that has had a Fourth Wave- and certainly not a wave that was named as such until after it had been overtaken by the next wave- or even years or decades later. Am I making sense?

I think your post is titled absolutely perfectly (especially since you were the first person I knew with a true videogame CONSOLE, that Nintendo we played Zelda on). It's all about media. And I don't mean THE media, I mean this medium as opposed to that medium. McLuhan was right. Medium IS the message.

Aaron Piepmeier said...

my first thoughts after reading your comment, Curtis, was..."shit! did he play Zelda using my 'guy' after I'd gone to sleep?"...

Sarah said...

Hmmmm, porn at conferences. I'll talk to the Furniture Society.

Biffle said...


ripe for exploiting isn't it? stuff about swollen joints, 10" tenons, socket tangs, shaving, dry fit, tung oil...

how'm'i doin' so far?

Bob Rehak said...

I'm sad I missed the porn panel! Loved the rest of the conference, though.

Alison said...

Woo hoo! Bob Rehak! One of my new conference friends.

Curtis, feminism is still alive and well, but I think movements on the ground change faster than academics can keep up with them. So when a feminist scholar at a conference complains that third wavers aren't concerned about sexism, what I hear is, "They aren't talking about sexism the way that *I* talk about it, and therefore I can't hear them." I have said it before, and I'll say it again: there is no fourth wave of feminism. That's just marketing. Indeed, the same could be said of the third wave, although I still find it a useful enough concept that I study it.

Curtis said...

I agree with you, Alison- it's certainly useful to study it, and I'm sure you'd go so far with me as to say it's NECESSARY to study it. Certainly with social movements, an *internal* critical eye (or 2 or 2,000 or 200,000) is extremely important. In fact, I think the fact that gender studies and women's studies have become so widespread at universities is one of the best things that has happened to the movement. If only civil rights had the same academic force (not that there's not an academic force behind civil rights, but as far as I can tell, it's not as prevalent as feminist academia). Speaking of study and academics, check out my blog. I have some Big Things happening quite suddenly.

And no, Aaron, I didn't play your guy after you'd gone to sleep (I hope no one ever publishes that statement out of context)!

Who yew? Yew gots my triforce? I kill yew!