The fifth biennial Pippi to Ripley conference — an interdisciplinary feminist popular culture conference with a focus on women and gender in imaginative fiction — returns to Ithaca College from April 26-27. The two-day conference features a wide range of events, panels and workshops, including a keynote from award-winning novelist Nnedi Okorafor. All events are free and open to the public.
Okorafor is the author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism books for both adults and children, such as “Akata Witch,” “Binti” and “Who Fears Death.” She has also written several issues of Marvel’s “Black Panther” and “Shuri.”
“Nnedi Okorafor writes directly out of her Nigerian-American heritage and speaks clearly about so many of the issues that are important today,” said conference founder Katharine Kittredge, a professor in IC’s Department of English. “Her work addresses the integration of heritage and identity; the intersection of race and power; and the important role that imagination plays in allowing us to both affirm our most human connections and imagine a future that is better than the past.”
The conference’s panels and workshops focus on a myriad of topics in popular culture, including comics, films, television, video games, podcast, web series, folklore, mythology, and children’s and young adult literature.
“The underlying idea of this conference is that we all — academics and fans; professors and students; librarians and children — can learn from each other,” said Kittredge. “Pippi to Ripley is a celebration of the intelligent analysis of popular sources and the belief that everyone has the ability to play the ‘academic game.’”
The conference has been a staple in Ithaca since 2011. “It is gratifying to see how the event has grown over the years,” said Kittredge. “What started as a small-time collaboration between me and three of my students has expanded — with the help of my colleague Elizabeth Bleicher, an organizing genius — into an event with five times the number of speakers, programs for community youth and local educators, and specialized workshops for undergraduates, graduate students and professors.”