The reason it’s been quiet here for the last couple of days is that I’ve been in Albuquerque, N.M. to speak at an interdisciplinary conference on cultural studies in the humanities and social sciences.

The conference featured two evening screenings of Traces of the Trade for attendees, and I spoke at two panel sessions about the use of film as a popular medium and as a pedagogical tool for exploring under-appreciated history and contemporary social issues.

I was also able to attend a wide variety of panels related to studying and teaching the cultural dimensions of such issues as race (particularly relating to black Americans, but also Hispanics and Native Americans), gender, and colonialism.

To give an idea of the diversity of topics covered at the conference, I attended a particularly informative panel concerning the legacies of historical and cultural paradigms for black Americans; this session included papers on the African-American narrative as seen by researchers, Richard Wright and negro pool halls, and E. L. Doctorow’s novel Ragtime.

Because the conference included scholarship on popular culture, however, I was also able to sit in on a panel exploring gender, race, and imperialism in popular culture, including portrayals of women and interracial relationships in Star Trek. (That last topic included, but was certainly not limited to, the ground-breaking television kiss between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner, playing Lt. Uhura and Captain Jim Kirk, which the actors managed to force on reluctant network executives.) The conference also included an evening sing-along featuring the musical episode of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“Once More with Feeling”) and his Internet sensation, Dr. Horrible.

I will try to put up a post soon to mention a few issues in the news to which I might otherwise have devoted entire posts over the last few days.

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