Special Edition for PCSJ on Pro Wrestling

Journal Publication

The editors for the Professional Wrestling Studies Association are happy to celebrate this year’s Wrestlemania week with the new special edition of the Popular Culture Studies Journal on professional wrestling.

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This special edition can be accessed for free here. The essays contain work from a variety of scholars on numerous topics related to professional wrestling studies. All academic discussions were written to be accessible for the widest possible audience.

Along with the scholarly work, the collection contains an essay from a fan on New Japan Pro Wrestling, reviews for various pro-wrestling media (from a documentary to a podcast), and interviews with pro-wrestling indie stars on how they view social media in their profession.

You can see the full list of articles and contributors below.

TOC

PWSA would like to thank editors Garret Castleberry, CarrieLynn D. Reinhard, and Christopher J. Olson for overseeing this special edition, as well as reviewers David Beard, Matt Foy, Charles L. Hughes, Jack Karlis, Dan Mathewson, and Catherine Salmon.

Over the summer of 2018, we at PWSA will be working to organize our own open access, free journal to coincide with each year’s Wrestlemania. If you are interested in this journal, then please contact us at prowrestlingstudies@gmail.com.

Calls for Conferences

Calls, Works-In-Process

Central States Communication Association 2018

We are looking to create a panel for the 2018 Central States Communication Association convention to coincide with the release of the Popular Culture Studies Journal  special edition on professional wrestling studies. Since the convention is the same time that the special edition will come out (April 4-7, or Wrestlemania weekend), we thought it would be a good time to have such a panel to talk more about professional wrestling studies.

We would like to propose a panel for the Pop Culture Interest Group that would have people from different perspectives reflecting on professional wrestling and professional wrestling studies. We are looking for panelists who are either writing for the special edition or are not – so, basically, anyone who would like to come and reflect on any of the following:

  • the importance of professional wrestling studies
  • the fields of professional wrestling studies
  • an applicable field, method, approach for professional wrestling studies
  • what question(s) professional wrestling studies can answer
  • a particular perspective on the past of professional wrestling
  • a particular perspective on the present of professional wrestling
  • a particular perspective on the future of professional wrestling.
  • a research study that does any of the above.
If you would like to be on this panel (we are looking for 5 people), then please send to me by September 28st the following:
  • The title for your talk.
  • A 500 word abstract for your talk (that I will need to edit down, but I want a longer one to allow you to be as clear as possible about your idea).
  • Your contact information (university affiliation, address, phone, email).
We only want proposals from people who can commit to be at the convention in Milwaukee; here is more information about the convention: http://www.csca-net.org/aws/CSCA/pt/sp/callforpapers
If you are interested, then please send your proposal by October 5th to CarrieLynn D. Reinhard at creinhard@dom.edu.

Southern States Communication Association 

We are looking to create a panel for the 2018 Southern States Communication Association convention in Nashville (cultural proximity to Memphis Wrestling and Mid-South Wrestling, no doubt). This event hopes to coincide with the release of the Popular Culture Studies Journal special edition on professional wrestling studies. Since the convention is the same time that the special edition will come out April 4-8, or Wrestlemania weekend), we thought it would be a good time to have such a panel to talk more about professional wrestling studies.

We would like to propose a panel for the Popular Communication Division that would have people from different perspectives reflecting on professional wrestling and professional wrestling studies. We are looking for panelists who are either writing for the special edition or are not – so, basically, anyone who would like to come and reflect on any of the following:

  • the importance of professional wrestling studies
  • the fields of professional wrestling studies
  • an applicable field, method, approach for professional wrestling studies
  • what question(s) professional wrestling studies can answer
  • a particular perspective on the past of professional wrestling
  • a particular perspective on the present of professional wrestling
  • a particular perspective on the future of professional wrestling.
  • a research study that does any of the above.

If you would like to be on this panel (we are looking for 4-5 people), then please send to me the following no later than 5:00pm September 30th:

  • The title for your talk.
  • A 500 word abstract for your talk (that I will need to edit down, but I want a longer one to allow you to be as clear as possible about your idea).
  • Your contact information (university affiliation, address, phone, email).

We only want proposals from people who can commit to be at the convention in Nashville; here is more information about the convention: http://www.ssca.net/convention

If you are interested, then please send Garret Castleberry your proposal by September 14. You can send them to this email at garret.castleberry@macu.edu

International Communication Association 2018 

I am writing to see if anyone would like to submit a proposal for a possible panel at the 2018 International Communication Association conference in Prague (https://www.icahdq.org/page/cfp2018).
The theme for the conference is Voices, and I was thinking we could do a panel on the voices of professional wrestling.
Briefly, the panel could consider any voices: wrestlers, promoters and fans. The idea would be to present on how to study these voices, or how these voices are used to make professional wrestling. Thus, the presentations could look at issues of performance, activism, social media presence, storytelling, fan activities, histories, marketing, and representations (specific types of wrestlers).
If you are interested, then please submit the following to CarrieLynn D. Reinhard at creinhard@dom.edu:
  • 150-word abstract for what you would discuss
  • A title for your talk
  • Your contact information

Please send this proposal by October 25th.

Southern Sociological Society 2018

I’m writing to you on behalf of myself and JT Thomas, asking the members and readers of the PWSA website to consider submissions for the 2018 Southern Sociological Society (SSS) annual meeting, which will be held April 4-7, 2018 in New Orleans – the same place and time as WrestleMania 34.

We are looking to hold a session, or possibly multiple sessions, exploring the intersections of pro wrestling’s fictional reality with our own social reality.

Possible topics might include the ways in which wrestlers, wrestling, and wrestling fans are portrayed in the media, the explosion of articles in the news comparing the ascendancy of Donald Trump with pro wrestling, the presentations of specific groups (racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and so forth) in the world of wrestling, and the ways in which wrestling as a business and as an art form constructs reality – the concept of “kayfabe” itself.

Submissions are due November 1st and can be directed through the SSS website, http://www.southernsociologicalsociety.org/annual.html

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me (Cenate Pruitt, ccpruitt@ung.edu) or JT (jmthoma4@olemiss.edu).

Online Relationships with Wrestlers

Audience Studies, Works-In-Process

This piece goes to the work I am doing on convergent wrestling.

Writing back in 2006, Henry Jenkins discussed how convergence culture was allowing more fans to have more power. Basically, in this context, convergence culture is this idea that digital technologies like smartphones and the internet have blurred the lines between audiences and producers.

In the past, television and movies would separate out those who produce the media and those who consume the media; in other words, audiences would simply have to take what they were given, and they did not have much say over production. Since the rise of the internet, and especially social media, audiences do have more say: they can talk to producers before, during, and after a television show, or movie, or game, or whatever is produced. As Jenkins (2006) said, “Shows which attract strong fan interests have a somewhat stronger chance of surviving.” That means, if the producers listen to what the fans want, then their productions will do better. Or, at least, that is the idea.

Ten years later, Kresnicka’s (2016) writing reiterates this power of fans by relating it to the “digital empowerment” that has been happening in various areas of life since Web 2.0 and the emergence of social media. With social media, people can connect to one another, control what they consume, create their own content (and thus have their own voices heard), collaborate with others, and curate the information that is out there (dictating what is good and bad in the process). These 5 Cs (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2011) represent some pretty amazing powers given to “ordinary” people, taking away some of the power that had before just been in the hands of producers, politicians, librarians, teachers, and so forth. And this fundamental shift that has led to digital empowerment has been impacting the relationship between media producers, celebrities, and athletes, and their fans.

Let’s look at this in terms of sports – well, sports entertainment, or professional wrestling.

Smarks and Convergent Wrestling

Audience Studies, Works-In-Process

As part of the project on understanding professional wrestling through the theoretical lens of convergence (i.e. convergent wrestling), I recently wrote out an explanation for how Christopher Olson (Seems Obvious to Me) and I see this concept of convergence being able to describe various aspects of professional wrestling.

Now, being that we are academics, one way we advance our scholarship and our knowledge is by attending and presenting at academic conferences. In order to test out this idea of “convergent wrestling,” we organized two panels that would bring together different researchers whose work on professional wrestling could be considered as using this theoretical lens. We presented the first such panel at the 2015 Central States Communication Association conference. At this panel, I presented this argument for seeing professional wrestling as an example of various convergences, as presented earlier on this blog. Along with my introduction to the idea, several researchers presented their analyses of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), its fans, and its business practices. With their permission, here are these presentations.

The Communities of AAW

Audience Studies, Reflections on AAW

It takes a community to build a wrestling promotion.

We have been going to AAW shows now for over a year. We have been to see them in the various venues they use in Chicago — Logan Square Auditorium, 115 Bourbon Street, the Berwyn Eagles Club, and Joe’s Live at Rosemont. We have watched some video clips of matches that go back throughout the 13 year history of the promotion.

What amazes me is how often I see the same faces across these different venues and spanning that stretch of time.

As part of my ongoing series reflecting on my time with professional wrestling, seeing the loyalty and dedication of some AAW fans got me thinking about the role of community in this promotion. With any fandom, community is immensely important. One of the reasons people self-identify as fans is because they want to bond with like-minded individuals over the passions that they have. Seeing your passion reflected back by another helps to validate your passion and worldview. And knowing that you share the same passion helps you to geek out or squee (pick your term) over just how worthy that this is to geek out or squee over.