caitri: (Gamora)
I've talked about this before, but I just had to finish reading Fred Smeijers Counterpunch: Making Type in the Sixteenth Century, Designing Typefaces Now, and it made me angry, so I'm going to rant:

I would argue that there is a type of man in the print/book trades who I'm just gonna call a Typebro. It's not just that the context and practice of books are genderless and so read masculine, but the emphasis on a print culture that historically valorizes masculinity through craft practices and ignores women practitioners, even goes a step further in pornographically alienating them; for examples see the American Type Foundry How to Make Love to Your Type flyer and this essay on Sexism and Fonts. This context underlines everything to the point of active erasure. Now, in my experience, practice in bookmaking actually shows this in rather stark relief, so I was struck by how Smeijers uses practice to make some historical arguments that vary from useful to unbelievably problematic.

Most of the book discusses recovering sixteenth century punch-cutting practices by experimenting with a few different processes, including cutting and digging, and comparing them to historical passages in Moxon and Fournier. Which is all well and good, except that Smeijers as a contemporary typographer thinks a lot about the design of letters, and somehow totally misses out on early typography's connections to manuscript culture. So for instance there's a part where he talks about how the ~amazing~ thing about 16th c. punchcutters is that they had "no models" drawn for their letterforms.

Just. Dude. NO. It is incredibly well-documented how the various early types were drawn from common scribal-hands in black letter, Roman, and Italic fonts. He also supposes that, of some surviving types, the cause for multiple versions of a single character comes from the punchcutter's love of design and aesthetic, and how much "fun" he must have had designing. DUDE, scribal practices include multiple letterforms for each character, ANY BASIC PALEOGRAPHY MANUAL WILL TELL YOU THIS. Even in a basic English secretary hand you will have anywhere from 4-10 different forms for a single letter, all of which were equally acceptable. A lot of this survives in the ligatures for the long s, the double f (ff) and the f in combination with other letters (such as fi, ffi, fl, and ffl); part of this is because of the kerns and how when set together the individual letters when put in these configurations could get damaged, but also how visually we are used to them. There are also the scribal practices of deleting letters and supplying a subscript to indicate these deletions, you see that in early books too before that disappears. Typebro mentions this not at all, nor is there any reference to the concurrent print and manuscript cultures that flourished through the 18th c. Because to him, print is its own special unicorn, devoid of all other contexts.
caitri: (books)
"Dark books:
What’s more wholesome than reading? Yet books wield a dangerous power: the best erode self, infecting readers with ideas" by Tara Isabella Burton

In his condemnatory tract Popular Amusements (1869), the American clergyman Jonathan Townley Crane cautioned his flock against reading novels: ‘novel-readers spend many a precious hour in dreaming out clumsy little romances of their own, in which they themselves are the beautiful ladies and the gallant gentlemen who achieve impossibilities…’ only to find themselves ‘merged in the hero of the story’, losing the sense of who they really are. ...

And it’s not just toxic notions of gender that novels have the power to reinforce. Historically speaking, control of narrative and language has been inextricable from notions of political and cultural control. The power of the writer is to decide which characters, which worlds, he treats as fully human, and which as reducible and other.

In a 2009 TEDx talk, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie highlighted the dangers of the ‘one story’, explaining how she, as a Nigerian, found her self-understanding dominated by collective narratives – the ‘single story of Africa’ – in a manner not so different from Cordelia’s possession by Johannes. As a child, Adichie wrote exactly the kinds of stories she had access to:

"All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out… I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to."

To be a fully formed character, in the stories Adichie read, was to be white and British; the story of Africa, by contrast, was a story ‘of negatives, of difference, of darkness’.

Here, too, the act of reading is an act of experiencing another kind of danger: in this case, the danger to the self posed by writerly erasure. ‘Like our economic and political worlds,’ Adichie says, ‘stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: how they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.’ ...

At its most fundamental level, to read is to put our selves at risk, to make ourselves vulnerable by welcoming the presence of an other into our psychic space. This can be a radically transformative experience, challenging us to reformulate our own self-understanding. But at worst, we become like the dinner-party guests in The Torture Garden or Don Juan ­– our ‘possession’ by a storyteller awakening our inner violence. Or else we become like Johannes’ Cordelia, the books we read reinforcing existing societal threats to our being. Either way, the act of reading is an act of acceptance of power: a power that, if not god-like, is nevertheless – within the sphere of the text – absolute.
caitri: (books)
"What is an @uthor?" by Matthew Kirschenbaum

But there is also a new kind of archive taking shape. Today you cannot write seriously about contemporary literature without taking into account myriad channels and venues for online exchange. That in and of itself may seem uncontroversial, but I submit we have not yet fully grasped all of the ramifications. We might start by examining the extent to which social media and writers’ online presences or platforms are reinscribing the authority of authorship. The mere profusion of images of the celebrity author visually cohabitating the same embodied space as us, the abundance of first-person audio/visual documentation, the pressure on authors to self-mediate and self-promote their work through their individual online identities, and the impact of the kind of online interactions described above (those Woody Allenesque “wobbles”) have all changed the nature of authorial presence. Authorship, in short, has become a kind of media, algorithmically tractable and traceable and disseminated and distributed across the same networks and infrastructure carrying other kinds of previously differentiated cultural production.

Let me be clear: I’m not referring to “ebooks” here — that is, to literature as content or commodity. I’m referring to authorship itself as a category of cultural authority. If works and texts have become licensed properties subject to DRM and the strictures of the DMCA, and if readers have become self-enlisting data handlers by contributing ratings and other forms of reporting on sites like Goodreads (purchased by Amazon), then authors, I would argue, have become vectors for media diffusion, both in the mass proliferation of the authorial image and the power or authority channeled through their individually authenticated social media presences. Moreover, all of this also generates new kinds of authorial metrics and measures, new nodes of critical data that make pattern recognition possible amid our contemporary networks. While some scholars may shun such developments, others are embracing them, leveraging analytical tools and techniques to account for a landscape of authorship and reading that is no longer confined to simple geometries and lines of influence, and no longer served by the established critical schools.

One of the most important such vectors are the lines of interaction between literary and fan culture. The question of whether The Peripheral can be regarded as a sequel to the Blue Ant novels — a question seemingly definitively answered by Gibson, as we have seen — is emblematic here, more so than whether or not the novel has a “happy” ending. This is because sequels raise precisely the kinds of conundrums about storyworlds, continuity, and canon that often loom large in fan circles, where vast storytelling universes (Star Wars say, or the Harry Potter series) spawn hundreds or thousands of derivative works, some licensed, some not, all of whose relationship to the original franchise must be adjudicated for internal self-consistency (not unlike the genre problems of time travel fiction that Gibson, like any author who experiments with that device, must confront). Here the existence of a controlling authority over a given creative property is both a legally binding fact and the ultimate arbiter of arguments on forum threads. Even for more prosaic literary fiction, where transmedia franchises and fan fiction are unlikely to develop, I predict that the conventions and expectations from fan communities will cross over and mediate (literally) the authority of authors on a variety of critical questions.
caitri: (books)
The Trickle-Down Effect of Genre Bookselling by Andrew Liptak

Paperback novels, largely denied a place in “proper” bookstores, had found their ways into consumers’ hands by going through magazine channels, which distributed books to department and grocery stores, as well as newsstands. In 1961, the first bookstore opened that sold paperback novels and bookstobookselling 1res slowly began to stock them on their shelves. Miller notes the stark differences between buyers and the stores they frequented: “The drugstores, the discount stores, and the newsstands were the outlets geared toward the growing mass of working-class readers. Bookstores, on the other hand, cultivated the “carriage trade”—a more affluent, educated group of patrons. Thus, bookshop owners did little to counter their growing reputation among the public for being intimidating figures with minimal patience for customers who were not appropriately bookish.”

While this was happening, genre paperback publishing hit its stride. David G. Hartwell noted that when he entered the science-fiction publishing industry as a young editor at Signet Books in 1971, the genre publishing field became "unknowable: the total number of books published per month was 32 in hardcover and paperback," a number that exceeded what anyone could realistically read, between the books and magazines. Throughout the 1960s, Hartwell noted, "the biggest money you could make in SF was a serial to the major could make more money serializing your story in Analog" than one could by selling the rights to a paperback publisher. By the 1970s, that point had tipped, and paperback publishers began to pay above the serialization rate that the magazines paid.

This is owed in part to the number of science-fiction paperback publishing lines out there: 12 in all. Competition between the various paperback lines increased, and science fiction authors found themselves in more demand. An author could typically expect an advance of around $5,000 (just under $30,000 in 2014 dollars) for a three-book contract with a paperback publisher, with some advances going as high as $100,000 (almost $600,000 now).

Fascinating nuggets in this article that will make one happy AND sad. For one thing, genre numbers are up right now--I think I saw at SFSignal that 350 SFF books are going to be published this month. On the other hand, we only have, what, five big genre publishers right now and a number of smaller publishers that go in and out of business seemingly at the drop of hats. Also, those advance numbers--I think right now the average-ish is something like $2-5k in today dollars, with a $30k advance if you've become a steady seller, so... yeah. Fascinating look at the history of the industry though.
caitri: (books)
1) "Anonymous was a woman"

- literalized by kink memes/social media: sites of writing (some of which require anonymity)

2) The order of knowledge

- use of tags as commentary itself (tumblr, lj, ao3); using tags as text

3) Meta Not Meta

- tags as stories
- meta as narrative
- narratives as meta (I'm thinking of The Theory of Narrative Causality, User Since)
- textual production as the text
caitri: (books)
So earlier this morning I sat down to read Sidney's "The Defence of Poesy" and was reading the introduction and there was a really interesting bit on Renaissance writing and imitation. English Renaissance literature--prose and poetry--grappled with imitation as they came out of the Continental European Renaissance and its preoccupations with classical culture; you can see this particularly in the concurrent shift in reading practices (intensive to extensive) where you go from reading the Bible and Aristotle to reading the Bible, Aristotle, Cicero, Herodotus, contemporary pamphlets, etc. etc. etc. You have a shift not just in texts but in how to *read* the texts: from memorization to being able to crossreference or gloss.

There's three forms of imitation: Greek mimesis, which is imitation of representation (drawing an apple, say); Latin imitatio, which is literary and stylistic imitation from a model (an argument using Cicero's rhetoric); and emulation, what is believed to be readerly imitation (reading Sidney and then writing an essay).

So we have this entire humanist vocabulary for dealing with adaptive texts. This is why you also have the rhetorical devices of "I heard this story" or "I found this source" for wholly fictional works, because that was what was respectable for a lengthy period of time. It wasn't until we got to the Romantics with their emphasis on valorizing self-expression--and of course, the accompanying image of the heroic (dare I say Byronic? I dare! I dare!) and struggling author--that we truly shift to the modern preoccupations with "originality." It is also worth noting that this is concurrent with the development of copyright culture; where print culture is truly modern in that only printed books are "published" and the circulation of written material is directly tied in with ideas of professional authorship and ownership and livelihoods.

And so OF COURSE I had to tie all this in with our contemporary attitudes to adaptation and, of course, fan works. I recently picked up Diana Gabaldon's newest book; she had a rather famous spat with fandom a few years ago (I'm linking to the Fanlore wiki because a lot of the original stuff has been scrubbed from the internet); the gist of which is that she felt that fanfic was like raping children (yep, actual words) and then she backed off only slightly when people called her on her crazy. Anyways, in her newest book, there's a cameo with Natty Bumppo, you know the hero of the Leatherstocking Saga, or, if you prefer, young Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans (y'know, either/or). And what I find continually interesting is how the use/re-use of famous characters becomes imminently respectable if done in a "literary" fashion--eg. legit publication, the bigger the author and the publishing house, the more legit it is.

I mean, when we quote Henry Jenkins, we always talk about "textual poaching" in the context of fan writing, but what about the textual poaching in publication? I mean, sure, Fifty Shades of Grey and other Twifics began life as fic, but once they got bought up and published by various presses, they become (magically!) adaptive texts, in dialogue not only with Twilight but with the other texts. (Archontic literature at its finest?) Once it's been bought and paid for, it's no longer "fan" writing; it's legitimizing bastard texts, if you will. And people complain about all this, rightly or wrongly, but that doesn't change you have an entire body of work in conversation with each other and with a clear line of descent. In comparison or contrast, you can look at Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments books, which originated in Harry Potter fic--and her HP fic that, itself, quoted extensively (and some places where it wasn't quoting so much as cutting and pasting...) a number of other media texts including Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (I maintain a major weakness of the film version was there were no Whedon actors involved; imagine if Jace had been played by a CGI de-aged James Marsters, and how much more sense everything would have made then!!!)

In conclusion: the cultural capital we assign various works varies greatly depending both on time period and material, and--at least seemingly--happenstance.


Jun. 13th, 2014 02:04 pm
caitri: (books)
So I'm reading Thomas Traherne today; specifically the selections from Centuries of Meditations. The notes in the back mention that the Centuries were written in a notebook that was a gift from his friend Susannah Hopton; apparently after finishing his writing Traherne returned it to her for her to write her responses. The editor mentions that Susannah is thus the "you" in his text, and that what in manuscript becomes an intimate sharing of thoughts and writing becomes a rhetorical device in print.
So of course this makes me think of how we share writing today: Google Documents with Comments, or MS Word with Comments and Track Changes. Visually very different. In my Google docs work pane I can see my list of documents, who I have shared them with, and whether someone has commented or edited recently. Is this intimate? Is this shared text?
caitri: (books)
So earlier I had a conversation in comments with [ profile] afearfulthing that got me thinking; the context was of reading only fic, blogrolls, and recs. In short, the selective reading of only trusted sources etc. There's nothing unusual in that, per se, except the reflection/self-consciousness of choosing to read from a body of free, communal, and public work versus industrial/pop culture production. I think that self-conscious choice is the key part, here, because it implies not only active choice in selection but also active selection.

A project I'd love to pick up one day is the history of women's private reading. Reading is of course both fascinating and difficult because it is in many ways invisible: How do you know who read what? And what she thought of it? There's a rabbit-hole of locating information from marginalia, from bookplates, from notes and diaries, from eyewitness discussions of women in line at bookstores, etc. etc. There's the story about Anne Boleyn's Bible: how she made marks in it with her fingernail: this visceral, bodily connection with a text that is still almost literally invisible.

A lot has been done on women's reactionary writing--especially in fandom, where fanworks are operators of critique and in some ways recovery: bids to "rescue" characters we love. But I'm not sure much has been done on reactionary reading--I'm writing this freeform without having done any research.

I'll use my own experience to talk about this a bit: I often find a lot more reading material of interest to me in fandom than in traditional publishing. Part of this is an access issue: what I want is a really good story with x, y, z. In a brick and mortar store or a library, you can ask clerks for recs, or see what they are promoting at the moment; but these depend on that individual person, and--sometimes--the necessity of building a relationship with them. In an online bookstore, you can run a search and sort by popularity, but this is limited by the interface's algorithms and the site's own audience. You go to a fansite, or AO3, search by tags and recs, and boom--you're done. Because you're automatically in a community of the likeminded. Going back further, you end up with similar situations in print zines, because the zines were community-based--if you were in that community, you would probably already like its content.

I imagine the closest analog to this community appeal in traditional publishing is how some companies--and I'm think specifically of Marvel and Harlequin here--build their lines for specific demographic audiences. Both companies literally have dozens of titles and each of them is for a specific audience: older readers, younger readers, African-American readers, queer readers, etc. I'm curious if anyone can think of other companies that do this?

I'm also thinking of the ongoing schisms in fandom right now, particularly on the topics of race. Check out N.K. Jemisen's GOH Wiscon Speech for more, but here's a key bit:

Maybe you think I’m using hyperbole here, when I describe the bigotry of the SFF genres as “violence”. Maybe I am using hyperbole — but I don’t know what else to call it. SFF are dedicated to the exploration of the future and myth and history. Dreams, if you want to frame it that way. Yet the enforced SWM dominance of these genres means that the dreams of whole groups of people have been obliterated from the Zeitgeist. And it’s not as if those dreams don’t exist. They’re out there, in spades; everyone who dreams is capable of participating in these genres. But many have been forcibly barred from entry, tormented and reeducated until they serve the status quo. Their interests have been confined within creative ghettos, allowed out only in proscribed circumstances and limited numbers. When they do appear, they are expected to show their pass and wear their badge: “Look, this is an anthology of NATIVE AMERICAN ANCIENT WISDOM from back when they existed! Put a kachina on the cover or it can’t be published. No, no, don’t put an actual Navajo on the cover, what, are you crazy? We want the book to sell. That person looks too white, anyway, are you sure they aren’t lying about being an Indian? What the hell is a Diné? What do you mean you’re Inuit?”

But the violence that has been done is more than metaphysical or thematic. Careers have been strangled at birth. Identities have been raped — and I use that word intentionally, not metaphorically. What else to call it when a fan’s real name is stripped of its pseudonym, her life probed for data and details until she gets phone calls at her home and workplace threatening her career, her body, and her family? (I don’t even need to name a specific example of this; it’s happened too often, to too many people.) Whole subgenres like magic realism and YA have been racially and sexually profiled, with discrimination based on that profiling so normalized as to be nearly invisible. How many of you have heard that epic fantasy or video games set in medieval Europe need not include people of color because there weren’t any? I love the Medieval PoC blog for introducing simple visual evidence of how people like me were systematically and literally excised from history. The result is a fantasy readership that will defend to the death the idea that dragons belong and Those People don’t.

An ugly truth in publishing is systematic erasure of choice--just check out what's going on with Amazon right now.

[Direct linking because the embedding code just isn't working:]

The commentary on first-time writers and publications is as fascinating as it saddening and disgusting.

As such, we as readers (and writers) are left to make our own alternatives where possible--and then we see this co-opted as well in terms of the major publishers that give mega-contracts to fanfic authors with proven track records (most recently, literally two days ago, a 1D fan bags a mid-six figure deal for her fan novel), and Amazon's own Kindle Worlds.

This cycle of production and consumption is fascinating--I have a whole 'nother piece I want to do on historical disruptions in terms of women's writing and reception--but what we see here is how publishers are taking advantage of alternative communities and trying to use them for more profit.
caitri: (books)
Previously I had a long and rambly post about women's writing that I want to bring up again because I found a lovely nugget in Joad Raymond's Pamphlets and Pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain. He reprints a comic poem by John Taylor (cited in The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509-1659, selected by Norbrook, ed. Woudhuysen (1982), p. 740) that talks about pamphlets, which was also apparently yet another word for prostitute:

For like a Whore by day-light or by candle,
'Tis even free for every knave to handle:
And as a new whore is belov'd and sought,
So is a new Booke in request and bought.
When whores wax old and stale, they're out of date,
Old Pamphlets are most subject to such fate.
As whores have Panders to emblazon their worth,
So these have Stationers to set them forth.
And as an old whore may be painted new
With borrowed beauty, faire unto the view,
Whereby shee for a fine fresh whore may passe,
Yet is shee but the rotten whore she was.
So Stationers, their old cast Bookes can grace,
And by new Titles paint a-fresh their face.
Whereby for currant they are past away,
As if they had come forth but yesterday.

*NB. All italics are represented as in the text, as they were presumably printed in the 16th c. Also, "Stationers" is a catch-all term for those in the booktrades, so printers, engravers, binders, and even booksellers.

I'm finding it increasingly fascinating and creepy how there is a consistent language connecting women's writing with women's bodies, especially with regards to being read and consumed. I suppose an analog is the "Biblical" (can someone correct me here--I'm thinking this is KJV and therefore 1611 language) phrase "to know" someone ie. "to have sex with them," knowledge/"carnal knowledge" etc.


Other interesting things:

Genre Wars: SFF at the AWP Conference

Both women fielded questions about breaking into science fiction as a male-dominated field. Le Guin’s response—that she “didn’t care what men were doing,” that it wasn’t a feminist movement, but “just taking over,” was patently great. Gloss was quick to point out, though that the question had disregarded the masculinity of the literary canon. Their “take-over” was not of an inherently misogynist genre, but of a larger, male-dominated publishing industry and culture.


Mamatas went a slightly different route, tracing the history of publishing to highlight its economic divisions. The pulps, produced for and by the working class, and the “slicks,” which paid their authors and were only accessible to the middle and upper class, is just one example of this phenomenon. If the middle class is in charge of schools, he said, the schools will work in the mode of the middle class. Like Wonders and Kanaka, though, Mamatas spoke in terms of the larger picture—it’s high time that we stop pretending that the literary world’s dialogue about genre has anything at all to do with “bad writing” alone. Surprisingly, art doesn’t exist in a vacuum—economic or otherwise.

The article also references a panel on teaching SFF in creative writing classes, but doesn't discuss the panel in depth, which is too bad. Of the six university-level creative writing courses I've had in my life, not one taught SFF, and not one of the teachers was prepared to provide feedback on SFF material. I say this with the nota bene that I was always told I could write SFF but the profs couldn't help me with it--which, fair enough, but how is it that genre does not seem to come up at all as a topic of discussion in writing courses?

Smuggler’s Ponderings: History, Fandom and Masters of Science Fiction

It seems to me that there’s this idea that Science Fiction – as genre and as fandom – has a “history.” And that (real) fans should know this particular history.

My main question when hearing this argument is: “history” as perceived by whom? As defined by whom?

Why is it that this early history of Science Fiction fandom is presented as “idyllic” when we know for a fact that large groups of people stood outside looking in? Isn’t that history being rewritten in front of our very eyes? Try this: when you Google “best Science Fiction of all time” or “essential Science Fiction novels,” you almost invariably get lists featuring works by the same group of people. Very few contain writers who are not white and male. The narrative that chooses this subset of people as the only worthy “masters” of the genre? Isn’t that, too, rewriting history in front of our very eyes?

It is obvious to me that this idyllic period of Science Fiction “history” is told largely from an American, white, male perspective. It might be an important part of a historical narrative, but it is not the whole narrative. Surely, it can’t be. If we choose to brand only those works “masterful” and “classic” and “essential”, what are we saying?

This article connects a few different dots in recent goings-on, including the Ross-Hugo flap and by Baen editor Toni Weisskopf's piece on "true" fandom/SFF readers.

How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist

In Philadelphia, the Lantern Theater Company is currently wrapping up the run of its annual Shakespearean offering, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. This time, they've put a twist on the great tragedy by changing up the Roman Republic and setting the play in medieval Japan. That's great, except there isn't a whole lot in this production that's legitimately Japanese -- most notably, a glaring lack of Japanese actors.

Dance theater artist (and actual Japanese person) Makoto Hirano saw the play, and it did not sit well with him. So he drafted a letter to the Lantern Theater Company outlining some "friendly unsolicited pointers" on How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist. PROTIP: "DON'T say you were inspired by feudal Japan and then not cast any Japanese actors." Seems like that should have been a big one.

His full, gorgeous letter is reproduced in toto at the link.
caitri: (books)
This is what happens when one reads the following texts in quick succession:

Anne Jamison's Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking over the World (**Note, this book is AWESOME, covers academic subjects in a popular voice, and is massive in its undertaking. So. Much. Love.)

Arthur Marotti's Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric (About the shifts and overlap in manuscript and print culture, specifically the compilation and sharing of texts.)

The Sherlock Holmes Fracas (See Why fans are outraged at Sherlock and Watson reading sexy fanfic. See also [ profile] marthawells's awesome round-up on the incident.)

So I've had multiple ideas about all this stuff for a while now, many of which I am still trying to get a handle on aside from saying "hey lookit all these things that are SO ALIKE!" Specifically: gendered writing, gendered publication, sharing texts, transforming texts, the uses of authorship, the socio-political implications of all of these things.

Now, Sheena Pugh has another great book, The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context, which looks at a lot of this issues of authorship in shared texts and transformative works, and a lot more has been published on fanfic generally and specifically--we're finally getting over the questions of "why fans do they things they do" and into the "how fans do the things they do" which I think is WAY MORE INTERESTING. I mean it's one thing to say "women like to create things with their friends" but it's another to talk about how they do it.

Now Marotti and others are interesting in coterie writing in the 16th and 17th c.--where basically poets and their pals and patrons would share works, have ongoing conversations with texts, etc. etc. 1) A lot of this activity is by women 2) in manuscript rather than print. (Eg. They could to some extent control the circulation of their works.) A popular idea behind this behavior is what's known as the "stigma of print"--having "private" materials by a literary class (often upper class but also some middle-class participants) circulate publicly was seen as problematic, and in the case of women writers it could be politically and socially harmful. (Because if we attack "egotistical women writers" now, imagine what they did then: oy!)

So you have all of these women writing quietly, with men usually oblivious and occasionally condoning or praising.

[Sidenote, Marotti provides this fun poem by Henry King, who was also John Donne's friend and literary executor in addition to being a bishop:

To a Lady

When your fair hand receives this Little Book
You must not there for Prose or Verse look.
Those empty regions which within you see,
May by your self planted and peopled bee.
And though wee scarse allow your Sex to prove
Writers (unlesse the argument be Love)
Yet without crime or envy You have roome
Here both the Scribe and Author to become.

Things I particularly like: Hey, he's talking about women confined to genre back in the 17th c! And also, why doesn't anyone ever give me notebooks with poems? Sigh.]

Alright, now then you have Ben Jonson, who did something scandalous: He printed up a volume of his Works (also egotistical, because the implication of printing one's Works is that one had carefully DIED and your loving friends did it FOR you, see: Philip Sidney), which Marotti argues helped solidify not only the sociocultural impact of vernacular literature/literary history but also of professional authorship.

This segues to EL James, who did 50 Shades and broke the internet and also publishing because OMG this woman wrote a fanfic of a woman's books and then she published it and made money OMG, and 1) who does that and 2) what kind of a FAN does that?!

Leading BACK to the stigma of print with Caitlin Moran having the Sherlock actors awkwardly read some fic in front of an audience of hundreds, humiliating the fan, making the actors uncomfortable, and acknowledging the "silent" work of fans broadly and problematically, and ALSO without the CONSENT of that fan.

Mirrors in mirrors, man!

But also, let's look at the gendered interplay here: 1) Doyle's work 2) transformed by Moffat and Gattis 3) transformed by women fans 4) mocked by a woman writer 5) who then gets (reportedly) chewed out by (male) BBC controllers.
**A great big part of the problem of the fracas is the silence of both the Sherlock actors and writers on all this. Make what you will of this specifically male silence.

Okay here's another interesting book I also highly recommend: Fandom At The Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships by Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larson, which goes into ALL of the breaking the fourth wall/stigmas in Supernatural. Which, if you've never seen it: Um, women fans love this show about pretty guys fighting things, then in the show itself they wrote women fans interacting with texts about the protagonists, who were squicked, and again with the mirrors in mirrors. The book discusses not only this but documents reactions in fandom, where again you had something like the stigma of print because how could these people write about what women were doing and mock it, etc. etc.


Okay, so that's about as far as I got because my brain just went pfft but these are some things going on in my brain. So there.
caitri: (Cait Yatta!)
Sending it by my committee again but I think this is The One!

Sharing because I'm inordinately pleased.

Read more... )
caitri: (Default)
Looks like Dollhouse got the renewal! YAY!!!!!!!!


Btw I am about to disappear for Book History Workshop. It's going to be an intense week, starting tomorrow!
caitri: (Default)
Today we finished binding all our printings. We each got about four copies of "An Account of the Death of Thomas Hitchens," two of John Smith's "On Composing," and two on "A Sermon on the Death of George the II." Then we took a quiz, cleaned a lot, played Quadrats, and had pizza.

Quadrats, incidentally, is a betting game that printers used to play using quads. Quads are little rectangles which form the spaces between words. Bigger quads are used to fill out the lines when sentences end. You roll and toss five of them like dice, then you count which ones end notch side up. Everyone tosses three times and the highest roller wins.

It is actually ridiculously entertaining.
caitri: (Default)

Okay that wasn't us. But it was pretty damn close.
caitri: (Default)
I was in the workshop until about 10:30pm last night. Then I went home and took a shower and lay in bed far more than I would have liked because I've had a consistent stomachache from having had nothing but take-out college food since it's easier to go to Potbelly's or similar during breaks than it is to go home and I for sure have no cooking energy.

So. Yesterday we made letterforms. We made imprints of Gutenberg style letters into pieces of lead that were then inserted into a handmold, into which we then poured liquid metal to cast the piece and then popped it out. And voila: a letter. Mine were a slightly squished "i" because I didn't hold it exactly right the first time, a corrected "i", and a "P." I'm rather fond of that squished "i" as there's something very sweet about first attempts to compare with the corrections.

Today we actually did printing. We took the long sets of type we'd put together over the last two days into a printing press, inked it, pressed it, and poof, printed page. This is remarkably satisfying.

We also made paper. My boss made a large cat of lukewarm water with cotton lint pulp and some blue dye and put it out on the loading dock, and everyone took turns to go out there and set pages and hang them up to dry.

I've a lecture on collecting volumes of Virgil to go to in about ten minutes. I can barely see straight from tiredness but am having lots of fun (tummyaches aside)!
caitri: (Default)
Handsetting type is very Zen for the first hour. Then it increasingly becomes more arduous and irritating, starting with the accumulation of lead grit on your fingertips, and then as your eyes get increasingly dazed by picking out the type (12 point font? Not that big when you're picking up letterform slugs!!) you start to fuck up more and have to correct yourself with overly large and fussy tweezers that hinder far more than they help, except to use your fingers you have to wobble the type you just spent HOURS setting.

Tomorrow we're casting type. I look forward to melting metal. I think it will give me vengeance somehow.

More later.


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