18 January 2010

Reflection on the Con Year: Introduction

One of the truths about grad school is that it eats away at your time. They do warn you about this before you enroll, and they keep reminding you of it as they pile on reading after reading, hour of added study time before you can even set foot in your classroom. They advise you to limit your courses, especially if you have a job, and never cease to remind you that this isn’t undergrad study, so you’d best buckle down if you hope to survive. Speaking from the point of view of an anthropology grad student, it can be hell on you, and my navigation of my field hasn’t even been that grating. Of course, for half of my tenure in the grad program, I haven’t been working full time, so I’ve had more than enough hours in the day to devote to study and research. But nothing I had ever done could have prepared me for what happened last year.

Those who are regular readers on here already know that I spent the latter half of 2009, from Memorial Day Weekend until the end of November traveling. My goal was to get as many replies to my thesis questionnaire as possible, which in turn led me to travel to as many cons as possible. Between the end of May and the beginning of August, I had spent a total of 5 weeks on the road traveling between cons, sometimes with a week of downtime, sometimes continually, all in the name of science. And as I have said before, in the end it got me over 550 surveys filled out, 9 interview with attendees, guests and vendors, and over 200 pages of material gathered from hours spent pouring through internet forums. This was coupled with a horrendous lack of sleep, money being drained from my bank account before I even knew it was there, many hours spent negotiating with hotels and vendors, and a diet so horrible it took me a full month to recover. And that was the easy part.

I apologize in advance if my ramblings stray all over the place. I also apologize for not giving enough time to the site of late. Last year, when the thesis was still far in the distance, I was guilty of slacking with my data, comfortable that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years stood between me and the grind of academic writing. Now those holidays are over. Indeed, all of 2009 flew past in a blur, and now I stare down the barrel of a cannon known as a deadline, knowing full well that I need to manage my time meticulously or else I will never graduate by June. Six months may be a long time to many of you, but not when you spend your days entering data and setting up for the next con, knowing that now more than ever interviews and networking are one of the most important aspects of your life, alongside the monster of a paper you are preparing to write. I know some people share my burden, and to others it sounds like a self administered torture in the name of a piece of paper, but when you feel so strongly about something, you tend to jump in and make sure it gets done. That’s why I spend 7 hours a day staring at a computer, that’s why I limit my extracurricular activities, that’s why I don’t sleep. But when this is all done, I know I will have accomplished something, and that something will make my life that much more richer.

So, without further ado, welcome to my series called “Reflections on the Con Year.” I know I said January would be Mythology Month, but sometimes other things can’t be summed up in just one or two entries.


  1. i have a ?. are u still going to tell us storys

  2. more as they come. i still have a lot that i need to transcribe from the DVR, and Katsucon's coming up.

  3. ._.
    that sounds interesting, you said in the name of science...what exactly were you doing?
    And no I'm not going to read and try to find the answer. I don't exactly have such time nor boredom to do so.
    Also. You're in grad school, what is your focus and what do you hope to accomplish? [[this is just plain curiosity..for now.]]

  4. well, if you did read you wouldn't find much, since i haven't posted it yet (tomorrow is when I explain everything thus far).

    But my name says it all, I study anthropology, my focus is on international media culture, and how the internet has allowed for a sort of diaspora of international ideas and fandoms to spread globally. It ties in with what Jenkins, Hills and others have done about fandom studies in the 70s and 80s, and links them up to modern anime conventions and internet communities. It skews heavily towards conventions, though, and the idea of "idealized fantasy worlds", especially as an attainable goal rather than a "pipe dream."

    Hope that makes sense.