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University of Northampton academics slay at international Joss Whedon conference

Date 14.07.2016

An international conference that recently took place at Kingston University brought together academics and writers interested in the work of TV creator, and screenwriter Joss Whedon (Avengers Assemble, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

The University of Northampton’s Dr Lorna Jowett and Dr Michael Starr were on the team that organised the seventh Slayage Conference (affectionately dubbed Euroslayage) where they also presented papers. The Slayage conference is the biennial international conference of the Whedon Studies Association (WSA), which publishes the online peer-reviewed academic journal Slayage: the Journal of Whedon Studies and undergraduate journal Watcher Junior.

Lorna and Michael were joined at the conference by the University of Northampton’s Dr David Simmons, who presented during the Fandom and Audiences session, and Anthony Stepniak – a graduating MA English / prospective PhD student – who presented a paper entitled Woman’s Body as Warzone: The Gender Identity of Drusilla.

Team EuroSlayageThis was the first time the biennial conference had been held outside of North America. The event was organised by Lorna and Michael in conjunction with Dr Simon Brown (Kingston University), Dr Stacey Abbott (Roehampton University—Stacey has just retired as president of the WSA) and Dr Bronwen Calvert (Open University).

Dr Starr, who spoke on accelerationism in Whedon’s work, and Dr Jowett, who presented with Mary Ellen Iatropoulos on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., joined more than a hundred academics from around the world, with speakers coming from across the UK, as well as the USA, Canada, Germany, Sweden, and India. Keynote talks were given by Dr Rebecca Williams (University of South Wales) and Dr Marcus Recht (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt) and the conference dinner on Friday evening was followed by the presentation of the annual awards for Whedon scholarship (the Mr Pointys) and the now traditional joint rendition of songs from Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode ‘Once More With Feeling.’

Both Michael and Lorna have been active in the WSA for some time: Michael has served on the five-person Whedon Studies awards jury for the last two years, while Lorna is a charter member of the association and has attended all seven conferences. The logo and poster for EuroSlayage were designed by Michael. “It’s great to see so many new people attending Slayage for the first time,” Lorna said. “This is why we worked so hard to hold it in Europe: we knew there were many people who really wanted to come but just couldn’t afford to travel to the US or Canada.” She added, “After the conference, I was talking with Bronwen and Stacey about how much we learn from meeting academic bright young things at Slayage, which continues to attract new people with great minds and fascinating ideas who are capable of articulating many valuable perspectives. The community of scholarship and learning around Slayage and the WSA is always reciprocal.”

‘The EuroSlayage Conference on the Whedonverses’ was held 7-10 July at the Knights Park campus of Kingston University. For further details and the conference schedule, click here. EuroSlayage was extensively tweeted using the hashtag #scw7.

Pictured above: (left to right) Simon Brown, Lorna Jowett, Stacey Abbott, Michael Starr, Bronwen Calvert.