Academics and fans once again have the opportunity to dive deep into the world of the popular show Riverdale on Friday in Abbotsford.
The University of the Fraser Valley hosts the third annual Riverdale themed pop culture event, this year entitled Ride or Die: The Riverdale Universe, A Semi-Academic Conference.
Organizers say that the event’s schedule boasts a dozen presenters, all of whom are unabashed nerds. The group is ready and willing to defend and critique the program to the death.
Similar to the conferences in the past, roundtable panels on a variety of different topic related to the show and its universes are discussed, with presenters giving 10-minute talks followed by discussion. Every type of presentation can be submitted, including creative or hybrid proposals, art projects, performance art, or photo essays that examine or respond to the show.
Possible topics could be gender, sexuality, racial or class identities in the show, allusions, crossover theories, geographic discussions, set design and anything and everything related to the show.
Conference coordinator and UFV associate professor of English Heather McAlpine stated that the show creates vibrant conversations about the intersections of fandom and academia.
“This conference shows how the tools and techniques that you learn by studying the humanities can enrich your experience of everyday life and the culture that’s all around you,” McAlpine stated in a press release. “The humanities are not just about studying ‘great works’. They’re about making sense of the culture we think of as ordinary, too — understanding how it’s doing what it’s doing, whether you love it or hate it.”
The Riverdale spin-off The Chilling Adventure of Sabrina will also be discussed at the conference, and the fact that the show is filmed in and around Aldergrove, Mission, Vancouver and Langley adds to the fanaticism of the local fan base.
“The location definitely gives us a special connection,” stated Dessa Bayrock, one of the members of the conference planning committee, a UFV graduate now studying in Ottawa who flies into Abbotsford every year for the conference. “We make fun of it, but in a loving way — a way that also celebrates the show. It’s like making fun of a sibling; there’s a little bit of cruelty, yes, but at the end of the day, we’re family.”
The whole thing started as an inside joke on Twitter, when McAlpine and several other UFV professors, graduates, and students started comparing their experiences of binge-watching Riverdale in 2017.
“We were cracking jokes about it, and someone made a joke about starting a conference,” McAlpine explained.
And then, suddenly, it wasn’t a joke.
“Here we are, two years later, and it’s still gaining momentum,” McAlpine said. Last year, the organizers took on a related project — namely, compiling a book of critical essays about Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which was quickly taken on by an academic publisher and will be hot off the press early next year.
But, she said, the conference is still the same as they’ve always loved it: just a group of nerds in a room, cracking jokes and sharing the equivalent of academic conspiracy theories.
The free and public event occurs inside the South Asian Studies Institute (Building F) on campus. Panels begin at 9 a.m., and this year includes a staged reading, an interactive choose-your-own-adventure-style fan fiction that attendees will play as a group and many other activities.
Four seasons of the show have been produced, and it was announced in January that a fifth season will be occurring.
For more on the event, visit FraserValleyRiverdale.Wordpress.com.