It seems the world was overdue for a news story that once again makes non-academics snicker at academia, and academia wonder what the hell is wrong with everyone who doesn’t think this stuff is important. As a testament to her enormously influential work—or maybe because it’s just sick of the same Buffy The Vampire Slayer academic conferences, year in and year out—Duke University has announced that they are convening a symposium on the impact of Shonda Rhimes on mainstream television.
Entertainment Weekly reports that the two-day conference will bring together female scholars from various fields to talk about the effect of Rhimes’ work. Discussions will include analyses from the perspectives of black diaspora studies, media studies, law, history, women’s studies, gender and sexuality, and cultural studies. The first night is billed as a “Watch Party” of the pilots for all three of Rhimes’ shows currently on television: her creations Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, and the Rhimes-produced How To Get Away With Murder. Apparently, even Shonda Rhimes scholars want to pretend like Private Practice never happened. (Also, pro-tip for scholars: if you want people to think you’re doing serious academic-type stuff, maybe don’t call your screening a “Watch Party.”)
The second day will consist of two panels. The first, “I Woke Up Like This: Desire And Respectability In ShondaLand,” is about “black women and desire, and how respectability might stifle sexuality.” The second is called “You Gotta Testify Because The Booty Don’t Lie: The (Il)Legality of Black Womanhood,” which was a pretty catchy title until some grad student had to add that parenthetical. Come on, academics: it’s not the ’90s anymore, and postmodernist tics like that are pretty embarrassing for all concerned. The A.V. Club is still trying to live down the title of its 1993 A.V. Fest: Just (Op)Press Play.