Why Folks Avoid Literature

girlwithabook via art inconnuThe authors says it’s all about us. If the readings were interesting, the students would be there.

What can students learn from literature that they cannot learn elsewhere? Why should they bother with it? For understandable reasons, literature professors assume the importance of their subject matter. But students are right to ask these questions. All courses are expensive, in money, time, and opportunity costs.

No, the real literary work is the reader’s experience.

This means the first thing a teacher needs to do is help students have the experience the author is trying to create. There is no point in analyzing the techniques for creating an experience the students have not had.

Students need to have such experiences, and not just be told of their results. It is crucial for them to see how one arrives at the interpretation and lives through that process. Otherwise, why not simply memorize some critic’s interpretation?

Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature

Spock v the Sorcerers: Fantasy or Science Fiction?

These are notes from a presentation at NineWorlds. I took them last year (2014), but apparently didn’t post them. Oops.

9Worlds GeekFestSpock vs the Sorcerers: F or SF? The Genre Deathmatch Smackdown!
Anne Perry (judge, jury, executioner)
Daniel Polansky, Liz Bourke (fantasy)
Zen Cho, Geoffrey Ryman (science fiction)

Geoffrey Ryman:
write both f and sf

Liz Bourke:
Write about books on the internet

Daniel Polansky:
write fantasy as sci fi killed my parents

Anne Perry: moderator

Debate will begin with science fiction. Three minutes with Geoff. Then three minutes for Daniel. Then three minutes for Zen. Then three minutes for Liz. Then 30 seconds each for rebuttal.

Today, my yellow card is Baron Harkonen.
Red card is Hiccup that I got in Happy Meal.

Be fun and have a good time. Clap and cheer if you hear a point you agree with.

Geoff:
Can’t compare sff on quality. both usually terrible
embody ideas that shouldn’t be
sf is a sub-branch of fantasy, an improved sub-branch
SF is aiming at more positive and more mobile… not looking at past. Actively engaged in trying to imagine how tech is going to change us. Envisage good usages of tech. Not just necessarily to understanding the world but to changing the world.
It is acting on a more difficult task: dealing with the future and how we will deal with the future.
I was not prepared for the future which I was being given, but to the extent that I was cyberpunk helped.

Daniel:
That was very eloquent.
I’m going to do my best to seriously decrease the quality of the conversation.
Since time immemorial, man has looked up at the stars and seen them and thought, “Screw you.” Who would want to write about that kind of thing?
Doctor Who? more like Doctor Who Cares… (lots of laughter)
particularly profane comment
Balance of my time to read part of the script from Star Wars III: (not F)
“Oh Anakin. Thank goodness you are back.” “I’ve missed you, Padema. I’ve missed you.”
“Anakin, don’t say things like that. You are important.”
“I’ve given my life to the Jedi order, but i would only give up my life, for you.”
“Patience, my handsome jedi.”
Goes on for another 2.5 hours…

Zen:
spaceship goes faster than imaginary horses
black vulcans but no black elves
pokemon and dragons in sf
All small children cover ears, …

Liz:
not to praise sf, but to bury it
older
roots go deeper into the human psyche
around fire, monsters out there (might be sf, but I am not switching sides)
fantasy better than sf
no techno issues

Anne:
interesting points

rebuttals

Daniel:
SF is for geeks.
I don’t want none of that.
I do think Zen and I are going to switch teams.
Starships are lame.
Wm Shatner was a bad actor.

Zen:
shooting fish in a barrel
wave your magic wand–mind control and authoritarianism–I’m from there. Don’t want to live there.
the other become orcs–let’s not
Whorf had a life and girlfriends and friends and a job and a child. Can you name a single orc?
space ships are faster than horses

Liz:
horses are friendlier than space ships
Where is the joy in the journey?
Not all who wander are lost.

Anne: I am slightly offended that you are calling Shadowfax an imaginary friend.

Geoff:
f is old
got old ideas
Tolkien thought he was writing about how good variety was. Fantasy establishes power through fear.
SF is trying to be new. Usually fails if muddling it up with fantasy.

Talk about Star Wars.

Daniel:
SF folk … anything they don’t like are “anything I don’t like” is not sf. Not hard enough.
Not a desire to fake new imaginary physics.
Pod racing… Flashbacks they were in? I have nightmares about the pod racing.
What are they going to do to fix my shattered psyche?
–in US and don’t have proper healthcare

Liz:
Shouldn’t talk about it because it is so terrible.
Swept under a rug.
So much of sf and f are terrible.

Geoff:
Star Wars needs a trigger warning.

Liz:
Star Wars is sf because it labels itself as sf.
We point to it and say “that’s sf”
Fantastical way of making a definition.
Sound dodge–SF mixed with F fails.

Anne: How does SF side feel about Star Wars?

Geoff:
Star Wars tries to inflate himself.
Lucas hadn’t read Joseph Campbell’s 1000 Faces.
psychological damage … read Stephen Donaldson’s first novel. Pain of growing up and alone in Texas.

Zen:
Star Wars, fake Buddhism that doesn’t even work. get really angry when you don’t win.
George Lucas, be consistent.
Remedy for traumatic pod racing: diet of Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin.
ShadowFlax is running in this world. (F imaginary horse)
When a book blows your mind, it’s SF. Shows you the world in a new light.
Ursula LeGuin–planet with introvert… I thought cool. Can you live with that model?
What fantasy book does that?
sf will blow your mind rather than f

Anne:
Hands up.
SF blow your mind–a bit more
F blow your mind–a fewer less (my perception)

Liz:
rounded up–at least 3/4s of room
mind blown by fantasy
SF gets itself weighed down by plausible and technobabble…
F blows mind because ways that it approaches divinity, talks about human potential and interactions, does it in ways that speak to me in deeper ways.
F holistically is pretty much like poetry. Opens up whole levels about ways I’ve never considered before.
SF insists on only looking at life.

geoff:
raise you podcasting and give you quidditch

What is sexier?

Geoff:
SF in wrong way.
Women in short dresses with guns. Has Spock, which is sexy.
F has all those men in leotards.

Zen:
Kirk/Spock is science fiction
SF was the place out of which grew fandom based around exploring women’s sexuality. That makes it the best.

Geoff:
Voyage to the Bottom of Sea far more ?slashable?

Daniel:
Played with Baron Harkonen. Does he sodomize people? Does he do drugs? Who made a toy for this?
SF is sexier. Want the toy.

Liz:
for my personal safety I am moving to the SF side
still arguing for fantasy, think F is sexier.
Hiccup can fly. Sexy flying.

Lots of random quiet jokes that I cannot understand either because of the sound level or the accents.

Fashion

Liz:
fashion in sff are same thing–past is made of leather, but so is future
all for hats with feather plumes. Not really for skinny catsuit things. also a problem with chain mail bikini.
When you have the right combination and leather…
Velvet and silk in science fiction? Nope.

Geoff:
Steampunk.
Alternate reality. SF.
Don’t find dinosaurs sexy.

Liz:
What about werewolves and vampires in steampunk?

Daniel:
Apparently not.
In my imaginary world, I just dress handsomely.
Point of fantasy: can wear whatever you want.

Zen:
jumpsuit that is comfortable
Future–so has figured out how to go to bathroom without taking them completely off.

Geoff:
ladies in scanty outfits
World’s worst costume ever is Wonder Woman’s. Ludicrous. She would wear tunics and Greek armor. Would rather see Wonder Woman in Greek armor. Is Wonder Woman SF or F? Daughter of Zeus. F. God, not an alien.

Liz:
Amazons show up more often in fantasy and properly clad ones.
Some people who do fantasy actually do historical research.
Ancient Greeks for Amazons… lizard skin.

Who also wears lizard skin, Daniel?

Daniel:
The things that happen late at night we are not going to be taken.

Geoff:
SF doesn’t wear lizard skins unless they are lizard skins.
You can have sex with an alien.
But I would rather have sex with an elf, and with dwarves–since both women and men have beards.

Liz:
Having fun no matter who they are having sex with, I’m okay with that.

Anne:
Superheros SF or F?

Daniel:
We’ll take them.
We need all help we can get.

Liz:
fantasy–superheroes

Batman might be SF or F.

Anne:
quick lightning round

SF–name 2 important spaceships
F–name 2 horses

SF: Enterprise, Heart of Gold
Space Eagle, Justice of Turin, Skywalk

Hit us with some horses or dragons. Novik dragons.
F: ShadowFax, Binky, Valdemar horses–Roland, etc.
Toothless the Dragon. Temeraire.

EEDocSmith “marriage of the hero”
“He descended the staircase wearing sheer glamorette and 1000 xx rose as one”

Audience:
Assumption that fantasy means medieval fantasy, but urban fantasy.

Avoiding Buffy.

Audience:
who would you pick from your genre to fight and win?

Philip K. Dick because he used to take speed to help him sleep.
Octavia Butler because…

Terms of the fight determined after fighters picked.

GK Chesterton because he was 7 ft tall and carried a sword cane everywhere.
Daniel Polansky fisticuffs before the panel started, takes speed to help him sleep.

Mud wrestling with no weapons. Who wins?

Audience:
One book for your corner.
Write these down.

Geoff:
The Time Issue. Boring choice.

Zen:
prefer a female author, but Air by Geoff Ryman–about happens when internet enters head in central Asia from POV of seamstress in village. Very readable.

Liz:
Lois McMaster Bujold’s XXX

Daniel:
Gene Wolfe’s First Book of the New Sun– first one, work of legitimate genius

Audience:
which side wants to take responsibility for zardors?

Geoff:
Sean Connery F

Sufficiently advanced technology is magic?
SF: yes
F: yes

Could SF give us colorful, magical talking horses?
SF: yes

Liz, if you develop technology to having intelligent talking dogs, eventually somebody will do the same to cats and we will all be doomed.

Meta difference between 2 difference.

F = there’s is crappy
SF = We like to think.

Robots.
F = dragons, vampires, undead, golems, gods
SF =Sometimes robots have feelings and they don’t understand. Lately what we thought were gods turn out to be aliens.

Audience Participation
SF? F?
Who makes most noise win?

Fantasy 1/5 of room
SF 1/2 of room
Rest of us didn’t get up.

SF won.

2 minutes each for rebuttals.

Geoff:
Love reading fantasy, even read Tolkien.
Hope you all continue to read it, but not as much as science fiction.

Daniel:
Be bitter. I hope no one ever reads sf.
Unless I write an sf book.

Zen:
Love dragons. dragons and spaceship can almost be the same thing–have telepathy and love you the best of the world.
Everyone should read everything.

Liz:
Agree with Zen.
But Geoff tried to intimidate me before hand. Now that we have a table, arm wrestling.
Liz won.
You totally let me win that one. We might not have the brains, but we have the muscles.

Notes from Anne:
Hitler elves
Star Wars sf or f?
Fantasy is old.
Star Wars needs trigger warning.
Flying is not sexy. (Baron Harkonen)
fake Buddhism
past is made of leather
What is sexier than Steampunk?

Winner is:
SF wins.

My notes:
There was very little discussion of Star Trek in this panel. I was expecting more Star Trek than Star Wars.

No one mentioned the authors I like and read. Interesting. Big names and panel names only.

SCMLA: Close Reading Toolkit

Jennifer Sapio
Close Reading Interpretive Toolkit: Transforming how we teach close reading

Graduate student at University of Texas at Austin
Tasked to think about traditional large lecture format, try flipped classroom techniques

Close reading interpretive tool
http://laits.utexas.edu/crit

text associated instructions
handout of crit steps

video, 1 minute, background
3D images
students rush to judgment—How does it connect to my life?
But we want the students to go through the process to examine the text in order to discover how a text creates its meanings.
How does a text create its meanings?

“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (1867) by Walt Whitman –steampunk?

Steps:
1. Paraphrase
2. Observe –as many observations as possible. They don’t have to justify why they notice something.
Poem is single sentences
1st 4 sentences start with When
shift from quantity to quality (proofs, figures, charts ?mystical, time to time)
3. Contextualize –important, keeping history in mind illuminates
Whitman’s Transcendentalist beliefs
history
4. Analyze—return to observations, justify, which are most important? Which can string together?
Fourfold When helps convey the static quality of the data-stuffed lecture. Tedium, boring, …
Mood shift from quantity to quality
5. Argue—synthesize an interpretation, one argument built on the evidence gathered in previous steps
6. Reflect
Why is it important that the poem is a single eight-line sentence? And what are we to do with the fact that the astronomer received “much applause” from the audience? Do these facts support our interpretation or challenge it? …

Students at UT are able to access with Get started and electronic id.
Everyone else, adapt this process in paper copy. Did paper for two years until site up.
Database of short passages, searchable.
Students are able to keep the passage at the top of the screen on every step.
Can move between the different steps and able to review and submit.

Methodology:
Gave students a pre-test. No content or skills instruction.

Cold reading poem pre-test they had never seen before. Average was 4.59.
Cold reading poem at the end of the semester. Average was 7.02

STEM students felt this was “more accessible and more objective” because before “English seemed frustratingly abstract” Jason Escandell (TA F2012)

Why is contextualize after observe?
Been talking about it for 3 years.
Not tied to the language of the text. We could contextualize at the beginning. Or at the end to add contextual frame.

After observe and before analyze.

Give students opportunity to make observations without any justification.
By placing contextualize between, hoped it would emphasize the difference between observe and analyze.

SCMLA: Storyworlds

Colin Irvine, Augsburg College (Minneapolis)
“Reading into the World of Panem”

associate prof, literature, environmental

Marie-Laure Ryan writes on dystopian texts and story worlds
Textual worlds—both imagined and real
Hunger Games, where is District 12 in the Appalachians?
Protagonists stand in for the reader.

How he introduces his class:
Students often enter classroom stories like sleepwalkers, almost unconscious and fumbling.
The Way We Think—about reading, quote
Polar opposite of characters at beginning of Hunger Games

Students entry to course literature.
Ways that they think literarily when introduced to reading.

Couple of cartoons, what is this? Line drawings
Man lifting hat. Gutter/gap fill
Cocreate characters

A vixen sneered at a lioness because she never bore more than one cub.
“Only one,” lioness replied, “but a lion.”
Theme?
Strange about the story? Animals are talking.

Discussing texts and theories
Gerard Jay’s paratexts and narrative levels
Intra-diegetic level…

Show video from beginning of Get Smart. We walk into the story world, paratext. Gives us clues.

Threshold of paratexts… analyze the texts at the beginning
Ways each text makes most of the liminal space

Hidden, secrets, sources of suspense are common to fiction.
Unfolding and revelation = narrative

Situating protagonist in uncomfortable/unknown setting.
Complicates text.

Hunger Games beginning
Who is the narrator? Where is she waking up? What is reaping?
Divergent opening also.

Who are characters? Where are they? When are they?
Storyworlds themselves. Don’t know where they reside.

Ryan’s topology 5 types.
· Actual world
· Actual possible world
· Non-actual possible (Dems and Reps working together)
· Textual actual world
· Textual reference world (or alternate possible world, housed in mind of writer)

Textual actual v textual reference worlds
Explaining: Rowling’s experience of writing. In middle of the series. Have world. Rowling understood the textual reference world—where seemingly
5 years on HP and Philosopher’s Stones were laying down the rules. What characters can’t do.

Two additional
Textual Actual (fabricated) Arena/Game World (TAGW)
Textual Actual but Initially Unknown World, commonly coming after or outside the first book in series, (TAIUW)

Overlapping textual and actual worlds and way in reader warps into world of characters, we are linked to story by events in story.

What it means to grow up in a changing world.

Intersubjectivities in The Flood

LONCON3_logoAdam Welstead

intersubjectivities Maggie Gee’s The Flood

early 20C dystopian
literary legacy of utopian and dangerous European experience from utopia
1910 Wells

critiques of utopian stories
James “effect of anonymity …fundamental”

dystopian imagination
JG Bard—engulf self in crowds
Sarah Hall—brutally administered Britain, Sister revolutionary
Sam Taylor—cages of modern world, expat youths, contemporary Lord of the Flies
Thompson 2005—pop split by quarters, homogenization of space homogenizes people

Maggie Gee’s The Flood 2004
radically different notions of being together
“portrays prevailing conditions through near-future dystopia”
waterlogged Britain, unequal living conditions, frivolity of the rich, hopes for change lost
after the flood, people live utopian lives in the gardens

Sarah Dillon in critique “foregrounds ways in which … rejuvenating science fiction”

Living in the End Times, “global capitalist… approaching an apocalyptic zero-point.”
use the stages of grief to examine apocalyptic narratives

social divisions, equalities,
stage of denial in pending apocalypse
characters are living in the End Times, characters don’t recognize/accept the experience is happening at the time

“collective fetishistic disavowal”
just something new

easier for us to imagine world’s destruction than end of capitalism

News of ‘flood sickness’

ceremony marks 25-year anniversary of pleasure zone
destruction of pleasure zones
ominous foreshadowing, but politicians at a gala
lingering sense of hope resounds through the Flood
city “gorged on dreams”
spectators are linked only by disconnection

The Flood’s dystopian Britain
“dress up and see and be seen”

disaffection of those who do not appear
margins remain and yet are absent
only those who define the city are those who are heard
“Who is this ‘our people’ that they’re going on about?”
social discontent
closed spaces of society, social and religious activists
bored people are actually looking for

following the flood, post-apocalyptic space
“Unusually thoughtful”
garden as heterotopia, Michel Foucault
effectively enacted

Kew Gardens are sites of utopia. Something new, something other.
“Something outside the city, a blueness, a greenness”

post-absurdian

modest reinvention of utopia/dystopia

two worlds of the future—change and continuance… continuance is dystopia, change is utopia

Gee’s illustrations of marginalized people
social objection and its disastrous ramifications
alternative modes of existence

Rape as Characterization

Assaulting the Narrative: Rape as Characterization

Viktoriya Moderator, Cara Ellison, Den Patrick, Jane Fae, Sophia McDougall, Tom Pollock

Note: Some of the men’s names may be inaccurate. I somehow thought there were only 4 speakers. Sorry about that, Den.

9Worlds GeekFestStarted late. Very full. 1:15 min. 45 minutes discussion from panel. Open to audience after that.

Rape and sexual assault in fiction. A part of what is portrayed in fiction.

Clara–track organizer… If you need to leave, feel free. Dedicated listener on hand, if you need to talk. If folks need to get out, give them space to get out.

Viktoriya–moderator

Jane Fae–author, write about oppression of women minorities
like musicals, lot of imagery turns up

Tom Pollock–author,

Sophia McDougall–author, also of kids’ book, wrote “The Rape of James Bond” about sexual violence about men and women

Dan Patrick–full-time writer, don’t normally speak before midday

Cara Ellison–address sexual assault in video games
Hot XX Miami 2 article, very well known on internet

Viktoriya;
pop culture is infused
What would be worse than that, would not having it talked about at all… Part of reality. How do we go about critiquing it?

What are the pitfalls?

Aware of sexual violence content. Is this a growth in sexual violence portrayals or more tuned to it?

Jane:
Always been there, since Shakespeare on through.
Man of LaMancha, pivotal point is rape
Problem is musical trivialization.
Dean Martin and Doris Day sing about it every Christmas. “no cabs out there. What’s in this drink?”

Sophia:
Could see some authors ignore it a little more.
Thinking about who does it well.
Is it when it’s done from victim’s POV? Absolutely critical to plot?
Tale from Time Being–serious sexual assault near end–treats it respectfully and well
Need to know something about it. Listened to survivors or done some research.
Media know it is something bad and has emotional power. Lots of writers don’t know much beyond that.

Cara:
rise of internet in particular, notice it more because have more language to describe what we don’t want to see
when rape is addressed in negative manner
“xx justice movement” on the internet
More support out there and more engagement with writers who write these narratives.
Seems more ubiquitous, but has been there from beginning.

Sophia:
identity of people discussing it has changed
The Monk (gothic)
These are books written by people who are unlikely to be victims.
More writers are survivors.
Increasing body of people talking about survival.

Cara:
Internet has given voice to the survivors.
Less marginalized.

Tom:
An example more visible and problematic.
People adapting book from television, turn complicated consensual sex into rape.

Jane:
So much film and television is dominated by men, are these the best people to be commenting on this topic?
Used as this character is evil.
Never get the aftermath. Never see what happens to the victim.
Not about that single event. Also what comes up there.
Did some brief research in comics… How many male comic characters were raped–3. All three survived and were raped by women.
Are men the best commenters on this particular subject?

Viktoriya:
One of the things you raised, differing treatments in the narratives. Are there differing standard approaches to different types of rapes? Violent rape versus coerced or drugged assault.

Sophia:
male rape–wrote “Rape of James Bond” sick of “it’s realistic” There are situations when rape becomes more likely. Don’t need loads and loads of this. Dangerous situations where becomes increasingly likely for women is also more dangerous for men.
Game of Thrones
male characters outnumber female characters 3 to 1 in fiction
male rapes do not outnumber female rapes at the same level
folks who disagreed said “here’s a male rape”
I don’t think the writers or readers experience female on male rape as a serious issue.
Similar to genre of romance when it was hard to write a woman enjoying sex, but could have forced sex… No transgressive sex. … “bodice ripper”
Men being ravished by beautiful evil women… absolve viewpoint character of blame… Same as bodice ripper.
Said that it isn’t treated the same. bUt it is at different times

Jane:
different narratives generate different types of rape
LaMancha in his madness she is redeemed. His high ideals and her belief is what gets her raped. On stage often shown as gang rape. In cinema the set up and then sat at the roadside with her clothes tattered and torn.
Where is the focus?
If focus is on Don Quixote, motivation? or about her redemption?
What is rape doing in Robin Hood? played for comedy
Rocky Horror fans, double rape in there–Song cut from the movie. Brad’s song. Turned that event from comedy into something else.

Cara:
video games usual discussion is problematic to say the least that you have control of the character and then your character goes on to seem like they rape a woman character, but then meant to be a film scene.
Doubly manipulated.
Why would do first place? Trivialize it.
Main discussion in comments say I ignored the fact that the game was entirely about violence. “Rape is just another form of violence.” killed 100s of dudes, why rape a problem?
Difficult to explain to someone why… disproportionately effects rape in our society…

Sophia:
Prince of Wands, too rape-y for me
guy said torture-y and murder-y–
but you aren’t going through life trying to avoid being tortured or murdered, but women 1 in 6 are experienced.

Tom:
not a lot of murder survivors

Sophia:
if people in an audience, 1/4 of people in room had been murdered, 25% ghosts, but not the case and so it is easier to talk about murder

Cara:
killing does trivialize war
military violence is obvious on the front of the video box
but when people drop rape in like it is nothing, and then just expect us to deal with it, seems to trivialize
Veronica Mars–first watched, brought up fact might have been raped, handled well, treated as important to address by multiple characters

Sophia:
followed Veronica Mars intermittently–but bothered me
became obsessive about rape
this rape was even more rape
there are these rapists over here…

Viktoriya:
Jane, interesting point. Different narratives generate rape. What functions can rape serve in narratives?

Jane:
character’s motivation–most potent horror thing, can be child abuse or rape or someone has murdered your entire family
spoiler–killer is failed transwoman–big thing in past and makes you in present
big distinction–is it motivating character and developing from it? or is it a motif to respond to?

Tom:
or to demonstrate villainy
(He wrote about sexual assault in books. Tell us.)
Went back and forth about putting it in and taking it out. Left it in when I felt I had insulated it into the plot. … Raped and therefore became a superhero. Didn’t want that.
Read blog post on why should not read about life/death. Wanted to engage with topic. First place, friend survivor. Her complaint about way rape is portrayed is so trivialized OR single unilateral defining nature.
10% of world’s population. Don’t get closure. Have to make their lives about something else as well.

Jane:
tragedy
crap piece of narrative in Le Mis
what is the point of that arc? stepping stone for daughter and main character. There and brushed away.

Viktoriya:
What does it tell us about the rapist? Romanticizing villains. Is rape what keeps them from being a fan favorite.

Cara:
Silent Villain–PyramidHead primarily rapes people in this game–he’s a fan favorite
Particular fetish.

Viktoriya:
fan favorite, despite attempted Rape
Buffy and Spike

Sophia:
that was really bad for both characters
didn’t work
authors wanted to write something about it
but it destroyed what was going on and so everyone ignored it–
But then there are media where it is incorporated and coherent and you will still see excuse making and romanticizing.
Prince of X character, yes he rapes all these people, but he’s growing

TOm:
interesting to see what happens with Jaime Lancehead?

Someone:
Half Nelson film, about school teacher, managing drug habit
starts dating another teacher, tries to force his way into apartment–she hits him. He spends next minutes crawling around apologizing.
Nadir of the character.
What is a good depiction? This one.
But also it addresses the aftermath for him.
Something you rarely see. You get to see in this film.
Can imagine the tension in the staff room is awful. Do see it.

Jane:
Disney film.
Played Esmerelda… Hunchback… French music with Belle. Quasimodo and Captain X and someone else doing a love song together. Exposes that she is an object. Final staging, 3 of them surround her and she is lying back. That is what they want to do. They are defining her and are going to use her.

Sophia:
enchant her and marry her (marry her against her will) Aladdin?
hero saved the day but…
–Maleficent is effectively a story about rape, symbolism of rape. all about what victim does. Does in a way define her. Plot becomes about her doing things in reaction. Prophecy at beginning hero or villain but Maleficent was both.

Jane:
always wrong to say that it is because of that thing that happens to her
thing that happens AND the revenge
that is a story about developing as a character–not a prisoner of that bad thing

Sophia:
almost a reaction to the reaction

Viktoriya:
one thing not discussed that much is race aspect. Have rape character of color in background, but not addressed as much as white woman. Use rape to paint a culture as other or less civilized.

Sophia:
does happen, PAC rapist is endemic but PAC rape victims ignored
one example
Requiem for Dream… tiny white woman, falls into prostitution, first person she runs into is predatory black man

Viktoriya:
Lucy, coming out, same thing

Jane:
only doing things if something terrible has happened to them

Sophia:
rape as a compliment
rescued from being boring

Cara:
compliment or punishment
Thelma and Louise–thinking about running away because husbands are awful
Gina Davis’ character is assaulted in the car park
buddy movie–but not like male buddy movie which is fun–wrong and dreadful
That is kind of the inciting incident. That’s when it gets serious and decide to be transgressive.
Narrative is that women can’t be fun unless man does something bad to them.

Sophia:
Thelma and Louise–“empowering adventure film”
horrible things happen and then they die…

Cara:
movie says there is no end/answer to women’s oppression
originally saw them crash and exploded–tested wrong
gutting script
Women can’t go off exciting without something traumatic.

Sophia:
no canon is safe
Buffy–6th season
Tomb Raider–been around rage, retroactive explanation–powers was from men raping women via demons

Cara:
new Tomb Raider lots said about Lara Croft maybe being sexually assaulted
lots more narratives contain underlying threat of rape–
almost every day when I leave my house there is an underlying threat of rape
Tomb Raider blown out of proportion. Don’t think they ever intended to show her. But the marketing people thought it would be sexy to use this threat of rape as sexy.

Sophia:
gamer was male and will want to try and protect her from rapists

Cara:
some people might think of women video game characters

Sophia:
external perspective–You will be feeling sorry for her. You’re not trying to save yourself.

Cara:
huge problem with people expect that men cannot identify with women–that men should not identify with women
writes off 50% of population
telling young boys women are other

Tom:
“There aren’t enough books with boys around” as if boys can’t read books with girls.

Sophia:
8-13 yo, 2 boys and 2 girls (Faeber wouldn’t take it because girls won’t read books about space and boys won’t read books about girls. One publisher had to talk about the girl thing. Did say “Will you turn one of the girls into a boy?” I said no. Okay. Decided would treat this as a feature not a bug. Asked her to write articles about the topic.
Boys wouldn’t read it if equal number of boys.
Disheartened.
Told school children about this. Boys didn’t seem surprised.
Couldn’t have woman on cover of first book because men audience.

Jane:
amazing how production can feed back on this
one of guidance things I was given–can’t write sketches with 2 women in the same sketch

Audience:
shark exploration–
male rape portrayed… Farscape, season 4, big new villain has to be worse than Scorpio so they have her rape him… Rape him. Sexually portrayed. Rape gland drug.
fudge the ball

Sophia:
Does the scent gland confuse him?

Cara:
Wish we addressed consent more–in schools.
Media has a role in that.
Documentary about Train Spotting–weren’t concerned about underage sex, but safe sex wasn’t being portrayed in a movie about drugs–you see him taking off the condom… That made me think a lot more about that when I was younger.
SF shows well placed to do this. Consent. Young people would benefit.

Sophia:
haven’t seen but heard Crighton being raped… But at least recognized it as a bad thing.
casually used–didn’t fudge that it was nonconsensual but still went the sexual route

Cara:
reversal of usual
rape used a lot for someone being sexy
I am wearing an incredibly tight dress, but I’m going to be on a panel about rape. Can I sit there? And that is the issue. People will look down on me for sexual attraction.

Audience:
episode of House which begins with what looks like rape scene, then assaulter collapses and woman asks, “Are you okay?” That was a form of play for them.
Is that a useful introduction to the idea?

Cara:
shock value, for the fun of it
Ha ha, we got you. You’re traumatized and it’s not real.

Sophia:
problem is that you can show a rape scene because people are aware of play

Viktoriya:
seems to be a formulaic way of introducing unknown characters
“stereotypical rape scene of intruder” used both as exploring the rape and rape fantasy

Sophia:
don’t do a rape fakeout
can be it about rape fantasy
don’t pretend it’s not that going in
… comical rape fantasy because she says “Do this while you’re raping it.” and adds it all up

Cara:
needlessly triggering
1/5 of women survivors
dropping it in as joke

Audience:
rape as shorthand
“This person is villain. Woman needs to be doing something important or someone else needs to be doing something important.”
Is that ever acceptable or always lazy?

Sophia:
backstory is incorporating it without shoving it in people’s
villain is abusing power by definition–misogynist area–more likely than not
Some villains are going to be rapists. But has to be done thoughtfully.

Jane:
device used in crime procedure
serial rapist
to increase tension
It’s a narrative device like any other. Less harmful. Thing that’s happened and is in the past.
When you start to tell the audience if this happens, this is what you become, that’s bad.

Cara:
Clint Eastwood, Two Mules? (movie) man is almost hanged. Woman helping, saying let it go. Woman says husband was murdered and I was gang-raped. He said “That’s Different.”

Tom:
embryonic idea
victim blame culture
All the emphasis is put on not to be raped. Casts potential rapists as people we can’t talk to. … You can talk to men about rape and they will change behavior.

Cara:
villains–rape, realistic
Rape usually happens between two people who know each other. Not usually stranger. Usually isn’t someone who isn’t a villain. realistically, should be addressing that more
We are othering rape.

Sophia:
consent
consent can be undermined… romanticization
Love Iron Man. Trying to get Pepper to dance with him. He pulls her onto the dance floor. PROBLEM.

? walking into shower?

Audience:
Mentioned earlier that there’s no explicit rape or explicit threat, but definitely underlying theme. One woman and a lot of aggressive men.
Women will say, “I was creeped out by this.”
Men will say, “What were you creeped out by?”
Do male writers maybe not realize what they are doing?

Cara:
So many more men written into stories than women.
One man with 100 women. Notice atmosphere is different.
Rare even in real life.
Needs to be addressed.
Don’t realize most of the time.

Tom:
I didn’t step out of my room and worry about my outfit.
I don’t think about it all the time. It’s not something I live with because of my gender, it is much less likely to happen to me.
I would assume it would not take up much of their mental space either.
We aren’t talking to young boys enough about consent.

Viktoriya:
End panel… Good portrayal.

Cara:
free game online, really addresses issues online
Incorpari? Strip Tease game. Nature of voyeurism.
About nature of something and has sexual assault in it.
Aftermath of sexual assault is portrayed. Game makes you focus on stripper’s body. She is eventually naked. In between one of the levels a conversation will happen after work, she leaves venue and man rapes her.
Next puzzle you are trying to put her clothes on over bruises.
Addresses all these things really well.

Jane:
audience has to work at
not:
Susan McGlothlin’s track Confession, inspired by her being stalked–not good example
Jacques someone French, rape woman, woman blaming
Yes:
Josie Wales about coming back together again.
Maleficent–not a revenge film.

Tom:
Shawshank Redemption–There are many feed ins to his character. It’s only one of them and is developed over length of film.

Sophia:
Life After Life–reincarnation of woman in 1000s of lives, genuinely realistic–because will be raped in life
written in anger and survivor’s perspective, aftermath is grueling
because of the premise, you do get a release
Premise allows it to never have happened to her.
She starts sort of remembering all the things she has experienced.

The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo–but this panel may have changed my mind
does it need to happen? She already is a kick ass character. I don’t know. Maybe not.

Viktoriya:
Handmaid’s Tale…

My personal recommendation:
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.

Irrelevant?

Are English departments becoming irrelevant?

A colleague sent a link to Pulling the Plug on English Departments in The Daily Beast.

“Within a few decades, contemporary literature departments will be largely extinct,” Pulizzi submits before predicting that “communications, composition, and media studies will take English’s place.”

Rather than expressing anxiety, or at least, worry over the impending destruction of one of the only mechanisms for introducing young Americans to a pillar of art, human history, and the Western tradition, Pulizzi credulously asks, “Why should college students read narrative prose when they get their fill of stories from television, cinema, and interactive video games?”

…the future of a text-free college education does not seem outlandish.

The author is opposed to this, as I am, though our freshman offerings (and those at the rest of the state) has dropped “literature” as traditional literary readings.

Studies and experiments also demonstrate that reading comprehension and retention rates are superior among people who read from a printed page as opposed to those who get their information from an electronic screen.

I wonder if these studies (which I have not read and which are not linked) are referencing simple electronic screens or if they are talking about the typical chunked and short internet readings available. Is the author saying that because I read my novels on my iPad via the Kindle application that I no longer have long-term focus or that I’m letting my reading muscles get flabby? If he’s saying that–and he isn’t clearly NOT saying that–then I want some citations.

While far from a cure all for social ills, literature, more than any other medium, increases and enhances the ability to empathize.

Yes, yes, it does. It’s why “Teaching the Taboo: Reading Mental Health and Mental Illness in American Literature” was important enough to me that I wrote and published and article on it.

I particularly appreciated my colleague’s call to arms, in response to the article and the physical re-location of our offices:

“[I]t might be good to contemplate what we do and come roaring out of the box, no apologies made for trying to challenge our students to rise above the general intellectual sloth that surrounds us.”

CCTE: World Lit Winner

Mina L. Sommerville-Thompson
Tarrant County College, Northeast, “Caribbean Postcolonial Women’s Writing: Bildungsroman in the Diaspora”

bildungsroman = initiation to adult

When women tell stories about their own mothers and family members, ancestral myths.
stories laced with memory, loss, poverty?

extreme displacement
Caribbean Postcolonial women create stories unique
immigrant women writers rely on mother-daughter trope
cultural elements of rich oral storytelling heritage

tragic-laced family history

sustained narratives between mothers and daughters

deeper and darker from ancestral well of memories

Why are characters so manifested in ruins of historical violence?
motherland Africa, cultural heritage
African slaves remained more connected on Caribbean plantations

pidgin
creole dialects
Creole became valued xx to pass down stories.

Kincaid Annie John
defined by cultural continuity

rearticulation and reaffirmation
over-protective mother, rebellious daughter

mother’s importance in Kincaid
“fertile soil of my mother’s life”

daughters’ words seem to mimic slave thoughts
anti-colonial motifs in semi-autobiographical stories
subversive talent for playing marbles

dispossessed descendant of African matriarchy
as child worships mother’s touches, as teen rebels against mother’s deceptive voice

She continued her discussion of Kincaid’s work and went on to discuss two works by another author.