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Wednesday, December 4 • 11:30am - 1:00pm

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Chair: Matthew Wynyard 

Emer Lyons: MTV and ME, ME, ME: How 90s Pop Culture Messed Up Millennials

“[. . .] wherein history unfolds as the future envisioned for a Child who must never grow up” (Bersani 2004, 21-22).

Why do I think everybody cares (/HURTS)? This paper is an autotheoretical hunt through the poetics of the nineties through M People, Daria, and the Spice Girls to see how a generation of forever young (me)millennials was created. In 1994, I’m six years old. My mother goes to an M People concert, she brings back a cloth neck tie with M PEOPLE stitched into it. I wrap it round my head like how I’ve seen the IRA wear their tricolour Tiocfaidh ár lá headbands. In section one I’ll deconstruct pop songs to analyse how Gen Y learnt individualism, to “search for the hero inside” ourselves (M People, 1994). In 1998, I’m ten. The world becomes autotuned. Ireland gets MTV. The Spice Girls are falling apart. I’m certain I’ll be a famous. In section two, I’ll look at the MTV show Daria and how individualism becomes nihilistic as millennials begin to chant “No Life. No Hope. No Future” (Daria, 1997). This paper will draw on queer anti-futurism through Leo Bersani, queer futurity through Jose Esteban Muñoz, and growing sideways through Kathyrn Bond Stockton.

Morgan Hodgson: The millennial question; who are we and what are we doing?

Millennials are a generational grouping who are increasingly facing the challenges of precarity. Where higher education once provided a route into secure employment, graduates are increasingly leaving universities to find themselves without any employment advantage, relegated to precarious employment with the addition of student debt. This presentation is going to look at the narratives of millennial graduates in New Zealand to discuss the emerging trend of educated precarity and to ask who are we, and what are we doing? These experiences consider the challenges of transitioning from a university into employment, the functionality of a university degree in New Zealand, and the looming mental health crisis of burn-out. What can these stories tell us about the state of capitalism in New Zealand, what can they tell us about our national identity, and how can we address the rise in precarity? It is through sharing our individual experiences that we are able to critique our social realities, join me to discuss the contemporary neoliberal climate in New Zealand.

Natalie Matthews: Subduing Sabrina: embodied metaphors of in/authenticity and the devaluing of the teenager

Recent churlish reactions to young people’s leadership in global climate strikes indicate the continuing relevance of the devalued “teenager” as a cultural trope. Here, I expand upon a case study from Neopagan Witchcraft to argue that teenagers are not merely understood as deficient adults-in-progress but as fundamentally inauthentic; a charge of some significance in what Charles Taylor characterised as an “age of authenticity”. I detail the stereotype of the “Teen Witch”, a defining Other within Neopaganism, including among young Witches themselves. Style-oriented, aligned with commoditised media imagery, and above all fundamentally susceptible, the teenaged Witch has elements of historical specificity but is also remarkably similar to boundary figures within diverse contemporaneous subcultural groups. Further analysis sees this as resting on wider constructions of in/authenticity. Drawing on an understanding of thought as fundamentally embodied, I show how these constructions rest on a depth model of authenticity upon which other binary relations of in/authenticity and un/desirability are articulated. The “teenager” consistently falls on the devalued side of this embodied understanding, both within Neopagan Witchcraft as the “teen Witch” and in wider representation.

Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.

avatar for Emer Lyons

Emer Lyons

PhD Topic: Shame in Queer Contemporary Poetry in Ireland and New ZealandResearch Interests: Queer Theory, Poetic and Lyric Theory, Feminism, Affect Theory, Sociology of Emotion, Queer Theology, Irish Studies, Performance Studies.

Matthew Wynyard

Massey University

Natalie Mathews

Massey University

Wednesday December 4, 2019 11:30am - 1:00pm NZDT
206-215 - Seminar Room 5