Links roundup for 20 February 2012

Here’s a roundup of “fandom everywhere” stories that might be of interest to fans:

  • Mardi Gras in New Orleans now has an open-source side. “Bar2D2, as the robot is called, is the mascot of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, which runs a ragtag operation dedicated to all things science fiction. In two years, the group, which started as a drunken joke in a bar, has become the quickest-growing krewe in the city, and a center of the amateur costume culture in New Orleans.” Aside from giving people a chance to be creative, “Chewbacchus and krewes like it are a response to the exclusivity of the older groups. Chewbacchus does not have any waiting lists or recommendation requirements, and dues are only $42 (an arcane numerical reference to the novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”).” Rather than change old traditions, the krewe believes they are modernizing it. ““The old Mardi Gras krewes play off of Greek gods,” Mr. Powers said. “We believe sci-fi is the strongest mythology of our time.””
  • Star Wars fandom was also in focus at the Hollywood Theater in Pittsburgh. The Fandom Meant Us is “a romantic comedy about Star Wars fans’ love for Star Wars, and their love for each other” that was advertised as “an awesomely geeky Valentine’s Day date.”
  • Media scholar Henry Jenkins ran a three-part interview with authors Catherine Belcher and Becky Herr-Stephenson, authors of Teaching Harry Potter: The Power of Imagination in the Multicultural Classroom, which Jenkins recommended as “one of the most powerful and engaging books I’ve read about American education in a long time.” In discussing student reluctance, the authors write “The first thing we question is the idea that the “whiteness” of the books negates their use in multicultural classrooms. The nature of the books themselves – their complexity and Rowling’s willingness to take on difficult and contemporary issues such as racism, genocide, classism, and difference – make them uniquely valuable.” They add “On another level, it is also important because so many white, middle to upper middle class kids DO have ample access to Potter and other popular series at home and at school. In many ways, building students’ reading confidence, helping them discover that yes, they too can tackle a book of this length or “that style,” whether they end up feeling it is ultimately for them or not, is the most valuable accomplishment.”

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