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Had a great time Friday afternoon/evening representing Whedon Studies at the Browncoats Ball (an international gathering of fans of Joss Whedon‘s Firefly and Serenity) in Charlotte, NC, in the Whedon Author Panel Q&A. The others on the panel, Dale K. Koontz and Sherry Ginn, have much more Firefly cred than I, (as does Linda Jencson [link to her Firefly/Serenity essay in Slayage 25] who unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute).

Dale is the author of Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon, and Sherry is about to publish a book on neuroscience in the works of Joss Whedon, especially relevant to Firefly/Serenity, in which one character in particular has her brain tampered with, as well as a book on women in science fiction TV. So mainly we all talked about how we got interested in writing about Joss Whedon’s show(s), how we got our books published (mine with two co-editors—Lynne Y. Edwards and James B. South—who also deserve praise), and how our “pop culture” research and writing connects (or sometimes doesn’t) with our “official” areas of study/teaching. I guess it’s all right now to tell the story of how I skipped a couple afternoon sessions at the Southeastern Medieval Association conference in 2005 to attend a premiere-weekend matinee of Serenity. I love Middle English, but just look at Nathan Fillion as Mal (above).

Seriously, that was NOT my only reason for seeing the movie!

All three of us are fortunate to have generous, even enthusiastic support from our adminstration and colleagues for our conference presentations and publications in Whedon Studies. But we’ve all heard & read stories about the difficulty of negotiating the lines between scholar/fan and fan/scholar in academic pop culture—also something we talked about a bit.

The Browncoats also gave us a table at the “Bazaar” to sell our books, and all of us sold a few—Dale, especially, as it should be, because it’s a good book, and more relevant to Firefly/Serenity than Buffy Goes Dark. You don’t have a copy yet? Why not? I bought a copy of Sherry’s book myself, because it covers most of my OTHER favorite shows, such as Babylon 5. We also signed our books in return for donations to two Firefly fan-favored charities: Equality Now and Kids Need to Read.

ETA: Dale’s account of our exploits.