By Daisy Brooks
Volunteer State Community College Associate Professor Laura Black will be presenting a paper at the Doctor Who: Walking in Eternity Conference in September.
“Doctor Who” is a BBC science fiction television series about a humanoid alien, known as the Doctor, who travels through time and space.
“[Presenting my paper is] a really big opportunity, there are well-established academia studying ‘Doctor Who,’” said Black, who teaches a course on American pop culture at Vol State.
“I’m working on my doctorate at Middle Tennessee State University, and one of the areas that I’m specializing in for my area of concentration is popular culture. I’m specifically interested in complex television narratives,” said Black.
“I love sci-fi, and I’m a huge ‘Star Trek’ nerd. Last winter, I did a study abroad in England and it was popular culture, special topics: ‘Doctor Who.’ I got to spend two weeks in London studying ‘Doctor Who’ with Dr. David Lavery, who is the pop culture guru professor at MTSU,” said Black.
As part of her study abroad trip, Black taught a class on the “Doctor Who” Christmas specials, set up a blog about the specials, laurablack.org/whofortheholidays, and wrote a paper about the season six of “Doctor Who.”
“More than any other previous [season], [season] six has not merely encouraged TV viewers to participate in analysis, interpretation, and play, it has demanded that viewers participate in the narrative-making process, making it one of the most complex narratives ever created in ‘Doctor Who,’” according to the abstract for Black’s paper.
Lavery encouraged Black to submit her paper to the ‘Doctor Who: Walking in Eternity’ Conference.
“When I found out that I had been accepted, I sort of couldn’t believe it,” said Black, “I can’t even imagine what it will be like,”
“I get to go to this wonderful international conference of really smart people. The ‘Doctor Who’ scholars of the world,” said Black.
“Part of my argument in my paper is that there is this general concept that pop culture that movies, especially TV, are dumbing down our culture. That they are making us stupid,” said Black.
“My argument is just the opposite, that things are becoming more complex. Our narratives are becoming more complex, they’re more demanding, and they’re more challenging,” said Black.
Since its premier in 1963, “Doctor Who” has become one of the most distinctive, powerful, varied, persistent and singular myths of the modern era,” Critical Studies in Television Online (cstonline.tv).
“This conference will look at the ‘Doctor Who’ phenomenon as it celebrates its 50th anniversary, bringing together figures who have worked on the show as well as journalists, writers and academics from a wide range of disciplines,” according to cstonline.tv.