i paid her with love and taxes

This morning I got up and went down to the Cook County Courthouse to serve my jury duty. I’ve been called at least once in every state I’ve lived in, and actually had to go once before in Philadelphia. That time, I was interviewed for a jury and when asked about whether I could be objective, started expounding (more or less) on the nature of truth and I may have even cited Rashomon to prove my point. Needless to say, I was no selected. Today, however, was different. Today when the plaintiff’s attorney had his chance to ask the prosepective jurors questions, he went down the line following along with the surveys we’d filled out on our summonses, asking us questions about what we did for a living, how much education we’d had, if we’d ever been to court before, etc. etc. I did not have an opportunity to explain my skepticism about objectivity. For whatever reasons, then, I was chosen to serve on this jury. And I have complex feelings about what went on.

The case was a civil suit One guy was accelerating through a green light, when another guy turned left, right into the first guy’s car (it was a mustang, it was clearly his pride and joy, he even had the mustang logo tattooed on his arm). While the second guy tried weakly to defend his actions, it was clearly his fault as he simply didn’t have the right of way. In the jury room we all relatively quickly conceded that the second guy was entirely at fault. What was more complicated was the question of damages. In his closing argument, the plaintiff’s attroney asked for $21,000 in damages–$9,500 for pain and suffering, $11,500 for loss of life enjoyment. The plaintiff contended that because of the accident, his client has suffered new injuries–pain in his neck, shoulder, back and hip–and as a result was unable either to perform his job as he normally would or to enjoy such hobbies as fishing. There was no medical testimony, no medical records submitted to evidence, no bills cited. It was one guy’s word against another.

I was skeptical about this guy’s injuries, but I was willing to let my fellow jurors convince me that were legitimate. I’m still not sure, but giving him the benefit of the doubt, the preponderance of evidence, seemed and seems reasonable. What was interesting was whether the amount–$21,000 total– seemed like alot or a little. To a graduate student uncertain about my job prospects, it seemed like alot. To someone who’s had dozens of medical bills and had to take time out for medical treatment, as well as having work and leisure patterns disrupted, $21,000 may seem like small consolation. We ultimately compromised and agreed $18,000 seemed fair. At the time, it did, in retrospect I still have a nagging sense of sympathy with the defendant who now has to confront that debt for an accident, that even if it were the result of negligence still seems to me just that, an accident.

Which leads me to the most complex of my complex feelings. Why do we live in a society where litigation is the way in which we resolve these kinds of issues? Why is the second guy held accountable in this way for what was, I think, genuinely an accident? Where my thought process leads me is, basically, to socialism (I know John is smiling now). In invoking socialism, I first of all mean socialized medicine and labor laws that are sensitive to these kinds of situations, and labor situations which are flexible based on these kinds of (physical) injuries.  Yet second of all, I mean more generally a system whereby we don’t need to use the law to get our due. This case seemed to me kind of waste of time. It only lasted an hour and I’m interested in questions of citizenship so it wasn’t without merit for me, but I can only imagine the time and money spent just to get to that point in terms of bureaucracy and administration, legal fees and the judge’s time and salary. Couldn’t we be spending our time better? Isn’t there a system in which $21,000 doesn’t matter because there are mechanisms built in to catch us when we fall, when we are unintentionally injured or when we unintentionally cause an accident? Where even if the condition was preexisting, it could nonetheless be treated effectively? Where the legal system isn’t the recourse to deal with the commodity fetishism of one man’s attachment to his car? Is that system socialism? It seems to me that it is certainly not capitalism and the civil division of the American legal system.

my wedding vows.

After everyone had left on Saturday evening, John told me I was too talented a writer to be wasting my time with academia. <3<3

When I was sixteen and studying abroad in Spain, I used to write just to know that I was still here, still there. I used to write pages and pages wondering who I was and trying to figure out where I was. There’s a song that haunted me during those days, Ani DiFranco’s “Hour Follows Hour.” She sings that “hour follows hour like water in a river, and from one to the next we don’t know what each hour will deliver… maybe the most that we can do is just to see each other through.” It was this last line that seemed especially to follow me. Even if all that we could do was as little as seeing each other through, it seemed like something and something I didn’t have. I’d write desperately hoping for something or someone and on the darkest nights, I was lost, sure I was without even the stars to watch over me.

When I was twenty and living in Philadelphia, I no longer wrote in journals as regularly as I once had. I no longer spent so many desolate nights trying to find myself in words that I was sure were all I had. There were still nights like that and there were still words like that, but there were also these: “when I bought this book I thought so clearly that my struggles would be about BEING A WRITER. I had no idea having a boyfriend would be this hard.” I was still scared, but it was as much of being together as it was of being alone.

At twenty eight and making a home in Chicago, all of these questions returned to me. They returned literally in the form of a package from my mom filled with a decades worth of notebooks; and they returned figuratively in the form of existential questions I hadn’t considered this strongly in nearly ten years. Though I didn’t say it out loud, I wondered if we would make it and I can’t say that I was always sure, I can’t say that I’m always so sure even now. I’m not always an easy person to be around, much less to live with, much less to spend the rest of your life with.

Writing these stories down, offering these reflections on my wedding day, I’m trying to highlight the holes the man next to me has filled in my life over the past eight years. But there are other names that are silently spoken as well. My sisters who listened to Ani DiFranco with me. Our mom who reminded me that writing in journals is being a writer. My best friend and maid of honor who I followed to Philadelphia, who in fact introduced John and I, and who was there to listen and more importantly was there to talk whether I had anything to say or not. Thus, while I take this opportunity to thank John for all he’s been through with me, I also want to thank the other people in this room as well. I, Mabel Rosenheck, take you John and you my friends and family, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health… I may not know much more about who I am and where I’m going than I did when I was sixteen, and I may not be sure either how to be a writer or how to be a wife, but if you’ll have me, I’m here to see you through it, and if that’s the most that we can do, at least it’s something.

two zero one three. lucky 13.

In 2013, I’m going to continue reading The New Yorker, and I’m going to continue reading fiction and literature. (“In 2013, I’m going to catch up on The New Yorker, and I’m going to read more fiction.” That’s a new years resolution. But I’m already reading The New Yorker (though admittedly I’m not quite caught up) and I’ve read quite a bit of fiction the last few months. Noteworthy titles and highlights (not necessarily the same thing) include Shani Bolanjiu’s The People of Forever Are Not Afraid; Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her; Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom ; Amelia Gray’s Threats; Alan Heathcock’s Volt; Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea; Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love; Nicole Krauss’s Great House; Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles.)

In 2013, I’m going to be more honest. I’m going to try to be more honest. With myself. With the people around me. (I’m not sure what this means, the honesty bit. It’s not as if I’m exactly lying to myself or the people around me, or if I am, it’s hard to tell. But there’s something dishonest about the way I’ve often lived my life the last few years. I don’t think I tell people I miss them enough. I wish I had more correspondence. Maybe that’s a real resolution: write more letters. But Do I have anything to say?)

In 2013, I’m going to continue writing. For me, for my dissertation, for my blog(s), maybe for literary journals or MFA applications (probably not the latter, but maybe). I’m going to keep writing. (But do I have anything to say?)

In 2013, I am not going to worry about writing for peer reviewed academic journals. I am not going to worry about abstracts and conferences and conference presentations (beyond the one I’m already committed to). I am writing my dissertation and finishing my PhD not so I can search for a R1 tenure-track job that may not exist and that that I probably don’t want. I am writing my dissertation and finishing my PhD so I can see what happens next; so I can see where I take it, not where it takes me. (I have something to say, I’m just not totally sure what it is yet.)

In 2013, I’m not going to let my soul die. I’m going to keep fighting for my soul against a world that wants to deprive me of it. (It’s a constant struggle and the calendar pages are just an opportunity to steel the resolve). In other words, 2013 is for remembering this: somewhere in my soul, there’s always rock and roll.


somewhere in my soul, there’s always rock and roll

Today is the ten year anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death. A few days after he passed, I posted this in my LiveJournal:

Subject: i will always believe in punk rock because its about creating something for yourself -joe strummer
Music: Westway to the World.
Time: 1:35 am.

im not really sure why ive waited till now to write this… its certainly been on my mind for the past two days, since i saw in savannah’s livejournal that joe strummer died, but i didnt know that i needed to write until now… but i think i do. joe strummer was my first fuck you hero. the clash was the band that above al introduced me to punk and being what and who they are and were, introduced me to the possiblilities of punk and reggae and rockabilly and hiphop and politics and emotion and everything in between. i remember hearing shit like rock the casbah on mtv when i was really little, or maybe it was just my dad rockin out to its memory last year… and then i bought the clash on broadway boxed set a few years ago, maybe 3? and the whole thing just blew my fucking mind. id hear the later stuff like combat rock… but then i heard the stuff off of the self-titled record, shit with titles like i’m so bored with the usa and… i’d just never heard anything like it. it sounded like how i felt and straight through three discs from straight-up punk anthem to reggae covers to rockabilly to the fuckin beatgenerationallenginsberg i was amazed and i think that they’ve been my favorite band and punk my favorite kind of music ever since. everytime i saw a band who cites the clash as an influence and hails them for the amazing band they are, i get that excited feeling in my stomach and i listen, sometimes its dissapointing, of course… but the legacy that that band has left is really just astonishing from their peers like stiff little fingers and the damned, to american punks (dont care about truth) like rancid and green day and unwritten law covering guns of brixton in brixton to a bunch of kids who dont even know what that shit is… punk rock 101 my friends. i just dont know that there’s another band that makes me as excited and tingly all over like the clash, and they’ve done that since the first times i heard them and even with joe strummer’s death they’ll still fuckin do that and that’s what’s so amazing to me and that’s what keeps his death from being the loss and the tragedy that it might be. his death will maintain the clash as everything it was and while it would have been amazing to hear mick jones and joe strummer playing together again, i wonder how pure it could have been… i mean john lydon on stage with “the sex pistols” makes me wanna stick a fork in my eye, and in a way i think that joe’s death will keep that from becoming a clash reality and part of me is thankful. let’s leave the legacy to the bands that played alongside the mescaleros on hellcat records like the distillers, dropkick murphys, tiger army, transplants and on and on and on because punk rock is about creating something for yourself and that’s the legacy that strummer should leave us. there’s so much more i could say… and so much more that wouldnt do either that man or that band justice. he created for himsef. and now its our turn.

Today, Tom Hawking published a piece at Flavorwire on “Why the Clash Really Were the Only Band that Mattered- To Me.” He’s right on about Joe Strummer and what he meant to punk rock as a movement, as an idea, as anything, but what got me most was this:

‎”As we get older we tend to forget how profoundly art — and, especially, music — affects us when we’re young.”

This is something I’ve been thinking about alot lately. In many ways, this is what I was talking about when I talked about missing CDs, though there I thought about change more in terms of technology and materiality, than emotion. But as I wrote by way of sharing the Hawking piece and that quote on facebook

i think its sad and stupid. ive been trying lately to both revisit old stuff that impacted me this way and to continue letting those things like books and music effect me that way. here’s to not being such a jaded and cynical film/tv studies grad student. i mean really, fuck that. and rock on joe strummer. are you going forwards or are you going backwards indeed.

In Our Town, Emily asks the Stage Manager “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute?” And the Stage Manager says “No. The saints and poets, maybe they do some.”

In The Sun Also Rises, Robert Cohn says to Jake Barnes “I can’t stand to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.” Jake Barnes replies “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.”

And as Hawking notes, in “Silver and Gold,” Joe Strummer declares, “I’m gonna go out dancin’ every night/ I’m gonna see all the city lights/ I’ll do everything silver and gold/ I’ve got to hurry up before I grow too old.”

I think all of these authors and characters are talking not just about doing and being or experiencing and adventuring, though certainly Hemingway for one was always trying to outrun himself by just that. But I think they’re talking about feeling too. The kind of feeling you have, that I had, and sometimes still have, when I started listening to the Clash and to Joe. I think about that passion, the feeling in your stomach, the racing heart and eyes almost welling into tears at sheer… amazement, astonishment, awe. It may not be living everyevery minute, but time does, I think, slow down enough to live it and feel it and be it a little better. Maybe it’s that the saints and the poets are offering a little vicarious moment of really living. But if I learned nothing else from Joe, it’s that that’s not enough. The future is unwritten.

I'da Called You Woody, Joe

I’da Called You Woody, Joe

Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades

Lately I’ve been missing CDs. This may not be as hip as coveting vinyl (which I still sort of do), or as pleasurably ironic as returning to cassette tapes, but despite having connections both youthful and historic to those media, when all is said and done, CDs were my formative format and I miss them. Recently I’ve been thinking about my teenage and early 20something past for a variety of reasons, but it was something more specific that made me pull my dusty discs off their secluded shelf on the other side of my bed.

Records in My Apartment

Records in My Apartment

Every few months (or sometimes years), I discover that one (or more) of my favorite bands have put out new records. (Not coincidentally, recently, this has often been on the occasion of anniversary, usually ten year anniversary, tours dedicated to debut or breakthrough albums.) These are the bands that meant the world, more than the world to me, once upon. They are bands whose shows were occasions not just for live music but for social gatherings that often felt like the life in the life and death everyday life of my late teenage years. These are bands whose new records can hardly replace and can rarely replicate the passion with which I hear older records, but I usually listen nonetheless. Indeed, when I hear about the new stuff, I usually do a few things. I like facebook pages and follow twitter accounts, migrating forms of music news. (I have often missed record release announcements for just this failure.) I check to see if the band is touring and if they’re coming to Chicago in the near future. And, of course, I go to iTunes and download the new material.

The other day, I was listening to Brand New’s second record, Deja Entendu. While thinking about how much I adore the album and what it meant to me in 2003 and 2004, I discovered that they’d released a new record in 2009 (which itself was around the time I discovered that I missed their third record, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me). This most recent recording is called Daisy. As I am wont to do, I liked their facebook page and downloaded the record from iTunes.

Brand New is a band whose career, if divided into halves by record release, incidentally lines up neatly with my own music consumption habits. While their first two records were pre-iPod/iTunes and were purchased on CD, while the latter two (both major label releases) I’ve only ever owned digitally. Though I don’t actually remember where I bought Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, they were probably purchased at a show, online, or locally at either Cutler’s in New Haven, CT or Best Buy in Orange (unfortunately when I was a teenager the big box chains were already often distributing a wider variety of ostensibly indie labels than the area independent record stores). It has occurred to me with some dismay that while in New Haven and later in Philadelphia I had record stores that I patronized religiously (Cutler’s, or sometimes Exile on Main Street in CT, and Repo in Philly), when I wanted new music or when a band came out with a new album, I have no place I go in Chicago, and I didn’t have a spot in Austin either. This is partly by virtue of iTunes and MP3s so easily replacing CDs and brick and mortar stores, and it is equally by virtue of moving too much and being too busy to invest the time, money and energy it takes to form a bond with a given record store and its local ethos. It is also (I think regrettably) a sign of how my passions have changed from following and spending money on music to… whatever it is I spend my time and money on now.

Cutler's Records (formerly of New Haven, CT)

Cutler’s Records (formerly of New Haven, CT)

Yet, while the loss of independent record stores and the experience of buying albums is easily made nostalgic, particularly for the ways in which that loss highlights my own disconnection from the city around me and the scenes, bands and labels I’ve loved, it is equally the materiality of the object itself that I’ve been missing. What I miss about CDs is their malleability, the way they come apart into disc, liner notes and jewel case, each with their own importance, their own meaning. I miss purchasing an album, sitting in the car wrestling the plastic wrapping off and cracking the disc out of its case to put into my car stereo (or in my case, car discman) for the way home. I also miss the way I would take those CDs home, put them on and slide out the liner notes to absorb the record’s visual aesthetic, to follow the lyrics as the sound came through for the first time. I loved how I could dismantle a record on CD, highlighting its constituent parts, the disc that would find its way to the car, the liner notes that would stay safe at home holding the band’s place on a shelf. Though eventually I moved my CDs and their liner notes into books, the decision was a huge one for me, one I agonized with. The day I got rid of all those jewel cases was a genuinely tragic day for me. But at the same time, it is the second life of sound laid flat which reiterates the CD’s malleability. In any case, there was a ritual to the music and its material parts that is lost with MP3s and iTunes where everything is prearranged, digital booklets automatically linked to their digital tracks.

Brand New (though certainly not brand new) records

Brand New (though certainly not brand new) records

I still have those CDs and, just as importantly, I have those CDs arranged in the binders where I laid them to rest before I moved out of my apartment at 46th and Chester and put everything I owned into storage for (Jude Law and) a semester abroad. Now my CDs are a collection I hold onto consciously as an archive of who I was and who I have been: “Mabel Rosenheck, circa 2004.” And like VHS tapes of Superstar that are copies of copies of copies, or like ancient vinyl that comes with the pops and crackles of time, love and listening, my CDs have come to bear the physical marks of time. Scratches and skips, yes, but also wholesale loss and replacements burned and labeled with permanent marker in my 19 year old hand. I had to replace Deja Entendu and a hundred other discs when they were stolen out of my car two blocks away from the coffee shop in downtown New Haven where I worked while taking a leave from college and living back with my parents. I forgot the liner notes to Hot Water Music’s Caution when I brought them to a tattoo shop to get the Scott Sinclair swallows tattooed on me. I have two sets of liner notes for Rites of Spring but only one CD because I had to buy it again after it was stolen. In this case though, I was happy to buy the same record twice if it would support Dischord Records, one of the best labels in the business. On the other hand, I have two discs for Osker’s Idle Will Kill. I wore out the original and had to burn myself a new copy to listen to in the car. Browsing those pages, I didn’t even recognize Chuck Ragan’s Gold Country. Released in 2009, I apparently own the CD, but I’ve only ever listened to it digitally. There are CDs whose liner notes are present, but whose discs are missing. They might still be in my car, though the CD player hasn’t worked in years.

Front Seat of My Car, circa 2002 (shout out to the youth ahead sticker on my water bottle!)

Front Seat of My Car, circa 2002 (shout out to the youth ahead sticker on my water bottle!)

This is just what I miss about CDs– flipping through books looking for what to listen to. I still know just about every album in these binders, though I haven’t looked at them or listened to the discs in ages. I don’t even own a CD player and haven’t in five or six years, yet the objects, carefully and lovingly purchased with meager salaries and hours leafing through bins of used music, passionately listened to and sung along with on hours and hours of highway driving to visit my best friends in Boston, New Jersey, Long Island and Philadelphia still echo in my ears, like those friends’ voices and the live voices of these bands we’d travel to see. In my iTunes library on the other hand, I have 6,495 items, 15.4 days of music, including a half dozen albums by the Arcade Fire and Bon Iver which I don’t think I have ever listened to. I meant to check out the new cool “indie” bands, but it turns out indie doesn’t quite mean what it meant to me when I was trying to be a teenage punk rocker. On iTunes it’s so easy enough to forget that bands exist or that you’ve acquired a given record that even while they exist side by side, my past and its memories end up overrunning the present. Familiarity ripped from old CDs us more listened to than illegally downloaded discographies I don’t know where to start with. Even when made seemingly equal in iTunes libraries, the remembered materiality (or the material memory) of CDs carries more weight for me than idly torrented tracks by the new what next.

The fascination with (and study of) media materiality isn’t something new. Adding to a pile of academic articles on media collecting, PBS Off Book just released a piece on retro media, focusing on vinyl, VHS, cassette tapes and film. CDs haven’t yet been fetishized the way these other obsolete forms have. Undoubtedly it’s only a matter of time before they find their way into this list, but it interests me that they haven’t yet, simply because they are so intimately tied into my experience of music, which is among my earliest processes of making meaning out of media. Is this not true for other people my age, other people for whom collecting media is such a passion, not to mention a marker of status and hipness? How are CDs and teenage CD collections like mine different from (or similar to) collections of more distantly past and especially analog forms of media?

For me, I think there are two equal, yet opposite, factors that may prove distinctive. On the one hand, my collection was not made as a collection. I was not a collector, collecting objects to complete a set or to create a library. I was buying music to support my favorite bands, scenes and labels. I was buying music I liked so I could listen to it again and again, wear it out, know all the words to shout at shows. I can’t quite articulate what’s different between me at that age and the contemporary collector. I think there’s a different approach to the objects, though I’m not entirely sure what those approaches are. I think there’s a way in which my music was living, sounds almost a part of me, not objects apart from me. The music and I lived in messy piles and single disc cases on the front seat of my car and at the foot of my bed. It was not neat, and was not organized. And now, while the collector’s collection continues to live and grow, my CD collection stands frozen in time. Aside from one or two, I have neither added to nor subtracted from this archive in five or six years, if not more. It’s not exactly that I’ve stopped listening to new music or picking up my favorite bands’ new stuff, though those acquisitions have slowed considerably. But these shifts in media consumption, both technological and personal, mean that what used to be my mobile soundtrack has now been sealed off, ceasing to live and becoming a more static archive defined solely by its definition of myself in context of technological change.


Part of the reason I wanted to blog about SCMS is because unlike the glowing reports so many have offered (see especially the SCMS site and Antenna), my experience at my first SCMS conference was very ambivalent. In short, the anxiety of networking just came to feel depressing very quickly and to be honest there weren’t that many panels that I was interested in or that were relevant to the work I do. I ended up going to a few “state of the field” type workshops, but honestly I felt alot of them said similar, sometimes unsubstantive things over and over again. I think alot of my experience was a result of not knowing what to look for and what kind of panels and workshops would be most exciting or most relevant. Another part I think was having my panel be the very last on Sunday. I finally felt somewhat energized and excited after it, but then the conference was over. In light of this lukewarm experience, I want comment on a few things.

First of all, I very much sympathize with many of the things Jason Mittell said in his final blog on the SCMS site. I, too, often have trouble paying attention and garnering useful information from 4 consecutive 20 minute presentations after which there is often little time for useful discussion. Even of my own paper I wondered what would have resulted had I say, cut out all the citations, and read simply the meat of my argument– potentially a ten minute workshop paper rather than a 20 minute presentation. Though we are told we go to conferences to get feedback on our work, I find that that seldom happens. I often get support– “I loved your paper”/”That paper was great”– which is incredibly valuable as a graduate student who inevitably often lacks in the self-esteem department, but real suggestions are mostly few and far between. What could be useful is a more workshop-oriented format with dialogue. I do genuinely get inspiration from other people connecting the work they do to mine (the comment which ends with “could you speak a little more to that”) and so wonder if something between traditional panels and the Flow format could be the best use of time and energy at conferences like SCMS. Among the main problems I think is how application and tenure committees might view that differently from the traditional 20 minute paper and this is a big obstacle, especially for grad students.

Second, also similar to something Mittell suggested in his final blog post, is the need for a better system of representing papers in the conference program. Mittell suggests posting abstracts and a tagging system, the latter of which I also thought of. I think abstracts might be more information than is manageable, but I would love to be able to tag the title of my paper, specifying what conversations I’m entering into. My paper, titled “Beyond the Ruby Slippers: Media History and Citizenship at the National Museum of American History,” I might have tagged not only with “media history” and “museums” but also “television,” “media technology,” “cultural memory,” “the public sphere” and “nationhood.”

Third, the conference raised alot of questions for me about my place in the field. I am an active twitter user (@m_abel) and love many of the people I have gotten to know in that forum. However, I don’t think it has been (or will be) useful to my professional work because the twittersphere ends up being so focused on a certain kind of contemporary popular media. This makes perfect sense as it is a technology designed for up-to-the-minute, real-time conversation, yet it ends up reflecting a certain constitution of the television/media studies discipline. This is not to say that it only reflects “quality” tv and those who work on it– far from it. However, I have not engaged with media scholars on twitter who look at issues of history and memory– as I do. There is little to no live-tweeting of “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” or dialogue on issues of public history and private media. There could be many many reasons as to why this is, and I am absolutely not blaming the field, but I am reflecting on the difficulty I am having in finding and entering a niche in the field. Twitter doesn’t help, it somtimes leaves my work feeling peripheral. This doesn’t affect my work at all– I love the stuff I’m working on and I think its important and an important contribution to the field overall– but it does affect my sense of place in media studies, a place which I have always been unsure of as I am as interested in the cultural studies side of media and cultural studies as the media side. (Ron Becker recited a conversation he and Mittell had with Julie D’Acci as grad students at Wisconsin in which D’Acci asked if they were tv scholars using a cultural studies-influenced theory/method or cultural studies scholars looking at TV. Becker, at least initially, affirmed the former, I have always thought of myself in terms of the latter.)

I know many people love SCMS because they get to interact with people working directly in their sub-discipline in ways they can’t at their home institution. Annie Petersen wrote about just this in reference to star/celebrity studies. Maybe I haven’t looked in the right areas, but I didn’t feel this way at my first SCMS this year. I felt exhausted, a little sad and a bit alienated. I had a great time catching up with friends and colleagues from the University of Texas, and am excited for the day when we are established scholars at SCMS, hopefully helping grad students in ways we were or were not helped. (I want to give a shout-out here to Mary Kearney who more than once did just the things she wished faculty had done for her as a grad student– bought us drinks at the Grrrls Night Out dinner, made sure to introduce us when an old friend entered the conversation circle, etc. She’s a great model for the kind of scholar/mentor I can hope to be one day.) However, I nonetheless spent the weekend becoming increasingly unsure of myself, unsure how to interact with scholars I admired and even more than that realizing that the scholars whose work I invoke most often aren’t necessarily part of the SCMS membership.

This isn’t meant to be a knock on the institution of SCMS. I fully realize that there are other forums for my work which I equally need to pursue and also that there may even be people on twitter who I’ve missed because I have generally identified myself with TV studies and TV studies scholarship. I also hope that my continued presence in this organization helps to continue to expand its horizons in a productive and useful way. But I also did want to offer some small alternative (which may very well be completely unique to me) to the predominant opinions on the conference. (One other caveat for my experience is that being on the quarter system at Northwestern I have three papers due this week so I often felt stressed out in a way that undoubtedly negatively effected my experience of the weekend. Also being a first year PhD is generally a harrowing and overwhelming experience.)

Another resource that might enhance my experience at the conference is special interest groups/caucuses whose functions have never quite been clear to me. Additionally those that do exist don’t really capture my interests other than the broad “TV and New Media” group or the strangely designated and equally broad (but I suspect more narrow than its title suggests) “Nontheatrical Film and Media” group (I can’t imagine that includes radio and TV and computers, but those are nontheatrical media…). I also wonder if there should/could be some kind of media history SIG. I thought about going to the media archives meeting but I’m confused as to what exactly that group is since its referred to in the program as a “committee” and can’t be joined online…