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Convergent Wrestling: Call for Chapters

Official Call for Chapter Proposals Title: Colliding Inside the Squared Circle: The Convergent Nature of Professional Wrestling Editors: CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (Dominican University) & Christopher J. Olson (Dominican University) Purpose: The concept of convergence represents one of the most pervasive buzzwords in media studies, but with good reason. In essence, convergence concerns how the boundaries between different technologies, practices, and ideas blur together to create … Continue reading Convergent Wrestling: Call for Chapters

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Online Learning Communities with a Dominican Flair

Online Learning Communities with a Dominican Flair: Arguing for applying the Dominican ethos to online higher education CarrieLynn D. Reinhard and Claire Noonan (Dominican University) Introduction It seems that everywhere one looks in the world of contemporary higher education, someone is making an argument for the elimination of faculty in favor of technology as the driving force in the learning environment. From the creation of … Continue reading Online Learning Communities with a Dominican Flair

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Professional Wrestling, Smarks, and Convergent Media

As part of the project on understanding professional wrestling through the theoretical lens of convergence (i.e. convergent wrestling), I recently wrote out an explanation for how Christopher Olson (Seems Obvious to Me) and I see this concept of convergence being able to describe various aspects of professional wrestling. Now, being that we are academics, one way we advance our scholarship and our knowledge is by … Continue reading Professional Wrestling, Smarks, and Convergent Media

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Advice for Children on Social Media

My first piece of advice is to focus on teaching your children how to be respectful when they communicate and engage with people, online but also in person. This means being aware of not just what you are saying but how you are saying it, and that how is immensely important in social media with its lack of emotional cues. Even a young child can … Continue reading Advice for Children on Social Media

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The Pop Culture Lens: Episode on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fandom

On a special episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and I discuss a subject that has been one we have debated numerous times in our private lives and has become one that I have been focusing on as a research project: fandom, is it good or bad? http://ThePopCultureLens.podbean.com/mf/web/4kuzg8/Ep9FandomGoodBadUgly.mp3 We begin the conversation with a reflection on our experiences at the Chicago Comics … Continue reading The Pop Culture Lens: Episode on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fandom

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Ghost Whisperer’s Ghost in the Machine

This essay was originally posted as part of my work for the Virtual Worlds Research Group at Roskilde University. This essay reflects my interest in how pop culture represents new media technologies, such as virtual worlds, as part of the process whereby a society / culture comes to determine what will be the acceptable and thus normal use of such technologies. My reflection on this phenomenon in 2011 suggests the tensions that can occur during such a normalization process; in this case, the seeming fear of virtual worlds that exists in the world. This interest led to the creation of my course “New Media in Pop Culture” launched in January 2014, which I will write about further in this blog.

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Ghost Whisperer’s Ghost in the Machine: An example of pop cultural representation of virtual worlds

Since the fall of 2005, on Friday nights in the United States on CBS you can find the series Ghost Whisperer (NOTE: the series ended in 2010). The series is about a woman, Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who can communicate with, and thus help, ghosts. In the third episode of the fourth season, “Ghost in the Machine” (originally aired October 17, 2008), the ghost emerges from a virtual world to draw her into a case about one of the oft-discussed threats of going digital: online predation.

In this episode, virtual worlds are both defined through conversation amongst characters and visual representation for those unfamiliar with these new-ish cyberterrains. However, the use of the virtual world, created for the show, is less to explore what these cyberterrains are and more to use them for a traditional morality tale on the dangers of talking to strangers.

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Categorizing Fractured Fandom

Defining Fractured Fandom

According to the discipline of fan studies, at this point in history, being a fan is considered a positive for any individual. Being a fan helps people discover their identities, and to determine what they like and do not like. Being a fan helps people find friends, establish communities, and develop a sense of belonging. Being a fan allows people to express themselves creatively, whether through theories, writing, art works, or costumes. Being a fan represents a means for everyday people to establish themselves as active and powerful creators and participants in a capitalistic system that otherwise sees them as nothing more than passive consumers. In other words, being a fan, especially since the advent of the Internet, is considered a positive aspect of life.

There are times, however, when being a fan presents a problem: a problem for the fan; for others the fan engages with either inside or outside of any fan community; or for entire fan communities that clash with one another, whether from the same fandom, from different fandoms, or outside the context of any fandom. Sometimes, what one fan considers good another might consider bad. These differences hold the potential to cause problems in how individuals treat one another, and can impact people’s behaviors in such a way that what once seemed brilliant and fun becomes unwelcoming or even threatening. When an individual’s sense of self depends too much on identifying as a fan, or when a fan questions the legitimacy of another group of fans, then fandom becomes problematic. Such instances can lead to what I call fractured fandom.

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