Fandom and Neomedia Studies

FANS 6 Full Schedule

FANS Conference Logo Mk II

We are pleased to announce the full FANS 6 schedule with film schedule and presentation abstracts. All events listed here are open to the A-Kon Community. Our venue is the Sheraton Ft. Worth Downtown Hotel, in room Magnolia VI. All events will be in that room unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

7:00pm – 10:00pm: Film & Discussion, hosted by Christopher Carson, Sheraton, Oak Room


Although his flashy, bombastic Akira became effectively synonymous with Japanese animation almost as soon as it appeared, nearly 30 years ago, and is still one of the titles most synonymous with anime outside otakudom, Katsuhiro Ohtomo has always been on the periphery of the medium and its associated industry, rather than part of the main stream. This collection of three of his stories — “Magnetic Rose,” “Stink Bomb,” and “Cannon Fodder” — produced in cooperation with other familiar names such as Satoshi Kon and Yoshiaki Kawajiri, together comprise what the authors of The Anime Encyclopedia call “one of the best anime of the 1990s.” Presented in laser disc format in Japanese with English subs.

Friday, 8 June 2018

9:00am – 4:00 pm: Conference Registration Open

9:30pm – 12:00am: Film & Discussion, hosted by Helen McCarthy, Convention Center, Room 108

A Thousand and One Nights (1969)

This remastered version of the classic anime film, directed by Yamamoto Eiichi and produced by Tezuka Osamu, was part of Mushi Films Animerama series aimed at adults. The story follows the (mis)adventures of Aldin in this adaptation of the classic novel. Only 18+ admitted.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

9:00am, Conference Doors Open

9:15am: Opening Remarks

J. Holder Bennett, FANS Chair

9:30am: A Brief Report on Differences in Big Five Personality Dimensions between Anime Cosplayers and Non-Cosplayers

Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Courtney N. Plante, MacEwan University

Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College

We tested whether there exist differences in the personality traits of anime fans who cosplay as compared to non-cosplaying anime fans. With regard to the big five personality traits, cosplayers scored higher than non-cosplayers on extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness. In contrast, non-cosplayers scored higher on emotional stability. The results are discussed with regard to existing research on the personality traits of actors, creativity, and parasocial relationships.

10:00am: Motivations of Cosplayers to Participate in the Anime Fandom

Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Courtney N. Plante, MacEwan University

Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College

We examined differences between cosplaying and non-cosplaying anime fans with regard to their motivation to participate in the anime fandom. Participants, all anime fans, completed scales assessing a myriad of possible motivations for anime fandom participation. Cosplayers rated all of the assessed motivations higher than non-cosplayers. The highest-rated motivations for cosplayers included entertainment, escape from everyday life, belongingness, eustress, and aesthetic beauty. Modest sex differences were also found, as women were more likely than men to cosplay and, even among cosplayers, women reported higher belongingness, family, self-esteem, and escape motivations. With the exception of sexual attraction, however, where men were considerably more motivated by sexual attraction than women, the effect sizes for sex differences were fairly small, suggesting little true difference between male and female cosplayers. The results are discussed in relation to past research examining anime cosplayers.

10:30am: “Coming Out” as an Anime Fan: Cosplayers in the Anime Fandom, Fan Disclosure, and Well-Being

Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Courtney N. Plante, MacEwan University

Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College

In the present study we tested the hypothesis that cosplayers experience greater well-being than non-cosplayers within the anime fandom in part because they are more likely to disclose their fan identity to non-fans. Anime fans indicated whether they engaged in cosplaying or not, and rated the degree to which they disclose their anime fan identity to non-fans, satisfaction with life, self-esteem, and depression. Compared to non-cosplayers, cosplayers reported greater self-disclosure and better well-being across a number of indicators. Mediation analyses revealed that the relationship between cosplaying and well-being was consistently mediated by disclosure, a finding in-line with existing research. These are discussed within the context of existing research, providing both a conceptual replication of past findings from related fandoms (i.e., the furry fandom) while also suggesting a myriad of possible directions for future research on the subject.

11:00am: “Who I Want to Be”: Self-Perception and Cosplayers’ Identification with Their Favorite Characters

Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Courtney N. Plante, MacEwan University

Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College

We examined cosplayers’ perceptions of their favorite character representing their actual, ideal, and ought self as predictors of identification with the character. In a large-scale survey study, cosplayers rated the degree to which they identified with their favorite character and rated the extent to which the character represented their actual, ideal, and ought self. The results revealed that both actual and ideal selves were positively associated with character identification, while perception of the character as resembling one’s ought self was not associated with character identification. The findings are consistent with prior research examining cosplayers’ choice of character to cosplay.

11:30am: A Brief Report on the Prevalence of Self-Reported Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Anime, Brony, and Furry Fandoms

Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Courtney N. Plante, MacEwan University

Daniel Chadborn, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College

Justin I. Miller, Transylvania University

Amanda Gamboa, Texas A & M University at Commerce

We examined the prevalence rates of mental and neurodevelopmental illness among members of three different fandoms: anime, My Little Pony (brony), and furry. In total, nearly 2,600 fans across these groups self-reported whether or not they had ever been diagnosed with a psychological/neurodevelopmental illness. Data revealed that anime fans, bronies, and furries all show higher rates of diagnoses on the autism spectrum than rates observed in studies of the general population. Rates of mood and anxiety disorders were lower than that of the general population. Rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder were lower in anime and brony fandoms, but were not different from the general population for furry fans. Taken together, the results provide an exploratory look at mental health issues in fan communities and suggest both commonalities across fan groups and idiosyncrasies within particular fandoms.

12:00pm: Making the Grade with Fandom Workshop: From Anime to A+

Karson Bryant, Collin College

Connor Leshner, Arizona State University

John Thomas Haller, Mt. Vernon High School

A high school student, an undergraduate student, and a recent college graduate comprise a workshop group detailing different ways in which they have incorporated their respective fandoms into their academic work. Students and educators alike are encouraged to attend this panel and share their experiences.

1:00pm: Lunch Break

2:00pm: Keynote Presentation: Frankenstein at 200

Dr. Sabrina Starnaman, University of Texas at Dallas

3:00pm: Feeling the Force: Exploring Star Wars through the Lens of Durkheim

Jacob Hardy, Texas A & M University

This project explores an application of Emile Durkheim’s classic work, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life to Star Wars fandom. In his work, Durkheim studied Aboriginal Australian religion in an effort to better understand humanity as a whole. In doing so, he introduced a variety of concepts and terms that to many of today’s readers could be considered rather confusing. This project works to make tangible and relatable the implications behind the esoteric Aboriginal Australian terminology used by Durkheim. It does so by relating vocabulary and themes contained within the text to the galaxy far, far away of Star Wars. Several key examples of this application and relation to Star Wars include relating Durkheim’s totemic force to the Force in Star Wars, connecting the concept of a churinga to the light saber, and examining Durkheim’s division between religion and magic by looking at the Jedi and Sith. This project then, utilizes fandom to bridge the gap between a classic sociological text and the pop culture phenomenon of Star Wars.

3:30pm: On Superherology

Kyle A. Hammonds, University of North Texas

In 2012, Travis Langley’s book, Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, introduced the term superherologist, indicating Langley’s belief that scholars who study superheroes belong in a unique field of study. This presentation seeks to explore historical academic standards for the constitution of disciplines, fields, and topics, and hold them against Langley’s claim that superhero studies warrant their own field. Further, if superherology does indeed qualify as an academic field (versus a mere topic, subject, etc.), what are the boundaries of the field and how should researchers engage in appropriate scholarship for the subject matter? The legitimacy of superhero studies in academia is bound up in whether superherologists fit the historical boundaries of rigorous scholarship.

Further, this presentation does not solely seek theoretical ground for determining whether superhero studies belongs in scholarship; a praxical approach to superhero studies is suggested through a discussion of the questions: 1) Who can be a superherologist? and 2) What are the practical aims and scope of superherology? Ultimately, the presentation will conclude that superhero fans all have the opportunity to engage in superherological work.

4:00pm: End of formal conference day

9:30pm-12:00am: Film & Discussion, hosted by Helen McCarthy, Convention Center, Room 108

Cleopatra (1970)

This classic anime film, directed by Tezuka Osamu and Yamamoto Eiichi, retells the final days of an independent Egypt as the Roman Empire expands to conquer all the lands of the Mediterranean in a tale of love, intrigue, time travel, and murder. Only 18+ admitted.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

9:00am: My Hero Akademia and Durkheim: A Case Study of Blood and Hair as “Sacred” Objects in a Japanese Anime Television Series

Dr. Ronald P. Lorenzo, Prairie View A & M University

In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), Emile Durkheim analyzed religion sociologically. Durkheim stated that religions are defined by the way they classify the world into the categories of the sacred and the profane. In religion, people, places, and things can be designated as sacred. Anything that is sacred in religion is set apart from everything else in the world that is not sacred. Strict rules are put in place on how to treat anything or anyone designated as sacred and people regard the sacred with awe and respect. In religions, gods and spirits can be sacred, but also people, places, and things. Durkheim noted that two substances of the human body conferred universally with sacredness are hair and blood. Both substances are associated with power. Thus, blood has been used in religious ceremonies as part of initiation rites or to mark a place or object as holy, even when blood is used symbolically through the use of the color red, for example. Hair, too, is a universally sacred human substance, also associated with power and respect. Societies establish rules for how hair must be worn or handled. In sacred places, rules may exist about how hair must be either exposed or covered. The hair of sacred people in different religions is worn differently from the way hair is worn by ordinary people. Durkheim’s observations can be extended to examine the way in which blood andhair are portrayed in the Japanese anime television series My Hero Academia, originally airing in Japan as Boku no Hīrō Akademia. In the series, blood, hair, and the characters associated with those substances are often portrayed as having powers above normal, or being outside the realm of the profane. The use of blood or hair as “sacred” substances by the characteristics in the animated series results in either the gain or loss of superpowers. How blood and hair are portrayed in the series is not random or idiosyncratic, but is based on shared meanings attached to these two substances.

9:30am: Understanding Ludic Mythology: Deities and Heroes in Synthetic Worlds

Daniel Browne, University of Queensland

Myths express the human experience by distilling it into compelling narratives. Video games are a powerful communicative medium with significant cultural influence. These factors mean the myths that appear in video games assume tremendous cultural importance. And yet there is a distinct lack of academic research into this phenomenon. This article seeks to fill the space in what is known by investigating the relationship between video game mythology and existing forms of mythology. It argues mythological video games typically either adapt existing mythological traditions or appropriate the raw material of the past to transform it into something new. It further contends that ludic mythology—contextually important video game narratives that typically thematise deities, supernatural powers, or heroic journeys and the associated mise-en-scène that validates these stories—deserves to be studied as a separate phenomenon because existing comparatist, psychological, ritualist, structuralist, and ideological approaches towards the study of mythology do not acknowledge the distinct characteristics of the video game medium. Ludic mythology has an identifiable point of origin. Game designers and players co-author mythic narratives that are both malleable and capable of rapid change. Ludic myths take place in synthetic environments. They explore themes such as deicide and apotheosis that can be problematic for other mythological traditions. And the player’s interactions can determine both the content and structure of these stories. Essentially, ludic mythology is a new form of mythology that will be of great interest to mythologists and to those who study popular culture.

10:00am: One and Done: The Futility of Nietzsche in One Punch Man

Ryan Johnson, University of Texas at Dallas

It is not a particularly controversial claim to say that Superman, and almost all of the be-caped figures who followed him, are examples of Friedrich Nietzsche’s übermensch. They tower above the mortal world, exerting their great prowess for the good of humanity, regardless of social conventions. Even the name of the Ur-hero, Superman, is indicative of the German “Superior Man.”

But the wholesome image of a beneficent demigod has not been left unchallenged in the intervening decades. Authors such as Alan Moore and Mark Waid, among others, have imagined a world where these übermenshen are not truly heroic, but are corruptible, fallible people. Other comics have posited similar concerns about the unthinking adoration of a pseudo-master race, and it is in this tradition that the manga One Punch Man lies.

A parody of the traditional superhero narrative, One Punch Man details the adventures of hero so incredibly strong that he defeats every opponent in the eponymous one punch. Although an apparent exemplar of the Nietzschean ideal, the hero finds himself so strong that nothing is a challenge, and his life is ultimately unfulfilling. By contrasting the works of Nietzsche and the mainstream superheroic interpretation thereof with the hero Saitama, I will examine precisely how the mangaka ONE and Yusuke Murata engage in hyperbolic satire to deconstruct the concept of the übermensch, portraying it as lackluster and ultimately self-defeating.

10:30am: The Sartrean Struggle of Banner/Hulk in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe

Jason Sams, Arizona State University

Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk is gauged as the least favorable showing of Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk in Marvel’s cinematic universe (MCU). Despite its criticisms, the film remains in the cinematic canon. The opportunity to retcon the content of Ang Lee’s Hulk has been possible in any of the subsequent appearances of Banner/Hulk in the MCU. However, this has never come to pass, which indicates that Hulk makes a significant contribution to the character.

Unlike the traditional comic book representation of Banner/Hulk, Ang Lee’s offering does not establish the emergence of the Hulk as the result of the gamma radiation accident. Instead, an attentive analysis shows that the Hulk has been, from Banner’s birth, a part of the unity of the character. The gamma accident in the film is just a catalyst that tears away any sort of divide between the two facets of Banner/Hulk. This duality can be understood through the existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre develops two concepts within Being and Nothingness that ultimately drive the ontology of Banner and Hulk, bad faith and authenticity. Banner is the epitome of bad faith, or the denial of one’s freedom in the face of the conditions of the world. Eric Bana’s banal performance becomes justifiable in this context. The Hulk, on the other hand, represents the authentic within the character. These two concepts establish the philosophical ontology through which Banner/Hulk can be best understood; driving the development of Banner/Hulk through his subsequent appearances in the MCU. The distinction between Banner and Hulk, along these existential lines, begins to decay as the interpolation of these ontologies begin to impact one another in their continuing presence within the ever expanding MCU.

One of the criticisms that was directed towards Sartre’s philosophical offering was that he underestimated the strength of the world to limit the freedom of the individual, particularly in the face of oppressive political and economic regimes. As the MCU expands, and increasingly powerful entities emerge as antagonists, it is my intent to use Banner/Hulk as a response to such a criticism. The power and strength of the Hulk may, at first, seem the key to such an argument. However, the events of Thor: Ragnarok represent the apex of the interpolation between Banner/Hulk, which can be predicted through the existential understanding established. A possible solution to Sartre’s criticism and the continuing development of Banner/Hulk lies not with the Hulk, but in the rise of Banner.

11:00am: A Boy and His God: The Promise of Masculinity in Captain Marvel

Ryan Johnson, University of Texas at Dallas

Film and popular culture critic Bob Chipman has argued that, during the Golden Age of comics, one of the primary draws for many readers was the relationship between the adult-male hero and his young sidekick. Many boys, left without present fathers during the 1930s and 40s, found ersatz masculine role-models in the superheroes of the day, particularly those who mentored a young sidekick, as with Batman and Robin. While Chipman’s theory accurately explains one strong appeal of comics characters such as Batman, Superman, or Captain America to young boys, it does not account for the interest in one of the most dominant figures of the Golden Age: Captain Marvel.

A best-selling comics star for a number of years in the 1940s, Captain Marvel was a super-strong, flying champion of justice, who in reality was preteen Billy Batson. The relationship between boy and man was, therefore, markedly different for the Fawcett Comics publication. In this analysis, I will examine the precise nature of the relationship between Marvel and Billy through the lens of 1940s-50s masculinity in comics and culture, examining how the Captain alters and adapts the traditional heroic role of the ersatz-father to provide an idealized version of self-reliant maturity.

11:30am: “My Group Is Discriminated against, but I’m Not”: Denial of Personal Discrimination in Furry, Brony, Anime, and General Interest Fan Groups

Connor Leshner, Arizona State University

Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Courtney N. Plante, MacEwan University

Daniel Chadborn, Texas A & M University at Commerce

Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College

We examined perceived discrimination directed toward one’s fan group and toward oneself in multiple groups of fans. Specifically, furries, bronies, anime fans, and a group of miscellaneous fans completed measures assessing the extent to which they perceived discrimination toward both their fan group and toward themselves. Across all samples, participants reported greater discrimination directed toward their fan group than toward themselves, suggesting denial of personal discrimination. The difference between personal discrimination and fandom discrimination is a reliable one, as suggested by its persistence despite considerable differences between the groups with regard to the level of societal stigma, differences thought to be a product of their perceived similarity to prototypical fans (i.e., sport fans). The implications of these results and future directions for this line of research are discussed.

12:00pm: The Sounds of Silence: The Artist as Critique of Contemporary Film Methods

Lia McChane, University of North Texas

Nonverbal communication is a part of our everyday communication whether one realizes it or not. There are more messages being sent nonverbally from sender to receiver than one might initially think through forms such as your choice of clothing, lack of speech, environment, and more (Calero, 2008). Nonverbal communication between humans express so much more than language could ever tell in such a small amount of time. To cinema and theatre scholars, there is discourse about the role of dialogue in communicating a narrative to audiences. This paper focuses on understanding nonverbal communication through a silent film artifact and serves to explain and critique how nonverbal communication in the film communicates the intent of the filmmakers. Focusing on the French-directed film The Artist (2011), the author studied the use of nonverbal communication in a twenty-first-century film through the visual communication on conscious and unconscious levels. Despite being set in 1927, the 2011 film The Artist focuses on the Hollywood industry during the change from silent films to sound films. Through analyzing the film, the filmmakers for The Artist (2011) exceptionally expressed their intents to the audience through nonverbal communication, which many movies in the twenty-first century are not able to do due to their over-reliance on dialogue. Stemming back to the 1930s, Antonin Artaud’s Theatre and Its Double (1938) begins the discourse between visual communication and dialogue focusing on the premise that theatre must evoke emotion within its audience through visuals which therefore convey concrete meaning. The current study concluded that the filmmakers’ intents include the nostalgic side of setting this film in the silent era and the subtle critique of contemporary movies and Western over-reliance on dialogue to tell narratives visually. Artaud’s theory further explains the method and premise of the study and the lens used to break down the artifact. Through watching and understanding silent films, audiences have a better grasp of how the nonverbal communication, such as kinesics, proxemics, haptics, and more, in the film communicates the intent of the filmmakers. By doing these exercises and understanding nonverbal communication on a higher level, viewers are better able to pick up nonverbal cues in everyday lives which help to connect, empathize, and sympathize with other human beings.

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