My schedule was busy from the outset and I was still reading through my Friday morning paper and making last minute edits at 4 a.m. on the day I was due to give my paper. I spoke about Harry Potter and the Quest for Family: Heteronormativity and Homonormativity in Canon and Fanon. If heteronormativity is the persistence of the world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation, Harry Potter is essentially that. Although I would argue there is a raft of queer potential in the series (the wizarding world in and of itself being inherently queer) that potential is ultimately unrealised. The post-canon interviews and Pottermore character expositions shut down any possibility for literal queering in every instance, with the one exception of Dumbledore who is not the most identifiable character for a young readership. I also looked at homonormativity and whether fanworks demonstrate an appreciation of or perpetuate the privilege which exists in queer communities and how that intersects with other kinds of privilege such as white privilege, capitalism, sexism, transmisogyny, and cissexism.
After the paper was out of the way, I just had panels to focus on where there's an element of safety in numbers. I moderated a panel which explored whether creating slash fanworks (fanworks featuring male/male pairings) could be said to be feminist. The panel looked at everything from the historical suppression of women's writing (fandom still being a largely female gendered space) to the question of whether writers have responsibility and whether fan writing is different to publishing original fiction in that regard. We talked about some of the problems of the prevalence of the white cis-male experience in slash, fandom's beautiful boys and the way in which fan communities which have historically challenged the mainstream can embrace the normative. I was lucky enough to have a number of fantastic panelists with lots of thoughts on these topics so my job was really to take questions from the floor and to steer the discussions on occasion.
I also co-hosted a panel on ageism in female/female fanworks (femmeslash) where we explored the ways in which writers and artists portray some of the older women of the Potterverse. We had a great time talking about the queer coding of characters like Hooch and Grubbly-Plank and the way in which characters like Molly Weasley, Rosemerta and Dolores Umbridge are written and presented in canon and fanworks. We talked at some length about Minerva McGonagall, both her canon presentation and her more detailed Pottermore backstory. We examined whether erotica is the domain of the young and the beautiful and how far images from the media and popular culture play into our own standards of beauty. My co-host was enormously prepared and knowledgeable in this area and it was such a treat to be part of the panel with her.
I spoke on a panel on queer YA fiction, hosted a roundtable on the taboo and self-censorship in fanworks and attended a number of other panels and talks, where I could just sit back and relax. I particularly enjoyed an excellent discussion on the popular Remus Lupin/Sirius Black pairing (or 'ship' in fandom parlance). I ate my fill, drank plenty of beer and Californian Merlot and donned my Auror Tonks costume for the Saturday evening.
There's something I've always loved about conventions and being part of a Harry Potter convention specifically just felt very special. I write all of my fanfiction under a pseudonym (as almost everyone does) but to the people at the convention, that's the name they know me by first and foremost. A number of people there knew me solely through my stories, just as I knew people attending through their stories or their art without knowing much else about them. There's something really exciting about meeting people who have enjoyed something you created and make the effort to come up to you and tell you so. As well as that, there's the opportunity to sit with people and talk about creating in fan spaces, negotiating new platforms (such as a Livejournal to Tumblr shift) and the canon itself.
It was a whirlwind of Hogwarts robes and too many extremely interesting papers and panels to go through each one in depth. Fandom doesn't always get things right but I'm consistently impressed by the way fans keep interrogating themselves, their spaces and the things we are fed through literature, film and television.
I thoroughly enjoyed Leviosa and now I'm saving the pennies for the next one, mooted to be taking place in 2018...
If you would like to hear any more detail on the content of any of my panels or papers, please let me know.