Apoorva Sanagavarapu

English - Experimental Digital Media

Detective Pikachu Apoorva Sanagavarapu is a current Masters’ student in the the Experimental Digital Media (XDM) CO-OP stream of English, at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests have led her to develop a deeper understanding of topics , including, but not limited to: fan studies, digital/social media cultures, feminist and gender theory, critical media infrastructures, critical race theory, the Anthropocene and environmental sustainability, as well as LGBTQ+ representation in the media, canon, and/or “fanon.” She previously earned an Honours BA in English Literature and Rhetoric, along with specializations in Digital Media Studies and Technical Writing, as well as a minor in Italian Studies, also from the University of Waterloo. Following a trend she started in the later years of her undergraduate career, she continues to pursue endeavors related to her primary interest in fandom/fanfiction studies, as seen through her research creation projects for XDM, the majority of which consist of a fanfiction component.

Earlier this year, (2020), she was accepted to present her research creation project entitled "Where are you Baby Pikachu? : A PowerPoint Presentation/[Prototype] Location-Based Mobile Game," at the 2020 Canadian Game Studies Association (CGSA/ACÉV) annual conference, which - prior to complications arising from COVID 2019 - was meant to be held June 3 to June 5 at Western University in London, Ontario, in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences. The current iteration of the game is a single player “demo,” of sorts, which centers on a non-conforming, gender-neutral, Pikachu – who has three adopted, multinational children – as the only playable character and protagonist (Games and inclusion: gender, minorities, and society; Stuart). Establishing a novel connection between Pikachu and the University of Waterloo’s Critical Media Lab (also known as the Crime Lab, or the CML for short), her PowerPoint-based game attempts to educate players on the history, as well as the potential narratives of place - or lack thereof – surrounding locations of the CML.

Going in a slightly different direction, the Major Research/Creative Project (MRP) she is completing for her Masters, aims to investigate the repercussions of repeated exposure to the "love triangle" - occasionally "rectangle" - trope on contemporary youth/young adult audiences. Inspired by Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games," it will analyze "shipping" practices related to some of the teen and young adult protagonists of the popular Netflix series Stranger Things (2016), by exploring "ships" within canon, and among related fan communities via fanfiction narratives. Predominantly concerned with the respective characterizations of Steve Harrington and Will Byers, as they appear in the canon, and in the fanon, respectively, in relation to the corresponding, complicated, fairly “triangle-esque” in nature, and generally “intimate” or “amorous pairings” of: Steve, Nancy Wheeler, and Jonathan Byers, and Will, Mike Wheeler, and Eleven (Born Jane Ives, and later Jane Hopper), her project will produce two separate but interrelated fictional accounts, each of which aims to examine the extent to which Steve and Will are personally being pressured by the pre-established expectation within their society, that they, being young adult/teenage males, are automatically going to be “romantically interested in” and/or pursuing “an amorous relationship” with (at least one,) [if not more,] other teenager(s) or young adult(s), either similar or close to themselves in age, at this particular point in their lives. In so doing, she aspires to get as many readers as she can to explore the impact that such reading material has on consumers' personal ideas, perceptions, and/or understandings of topics such as: romance, intimacy, and the construction of gender roles, and/or gender identities, as seen by comparing changes in thought and/or ways of thinking about these topics, demonstrated through pre- and post-reading surveys, respectively.

University of Waterloo

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