caitri: (Books)
Today is a lovely fall day with a dark blue sky, golden sunshine, apples on the air, and in the distance, dark clouds over the mountains promising snow up there. It is also decorative gourd season, motherfuckers, as I was reminded when running errands this morning; I impulsively added a small bag of candy corn and a can of pumpkin puree (to make pumpkin espresso bread!) to my grocery run, because while I feel functional I'm going to work it.

I have a new article out at TWC: The margins of print? Fan fiction as book history. I also got cited in another article in the same journal issue, which is exciting!! With my colleague Kate O, we also relaunched the Women in Book History Bibliography last week with a new searchable interface, and I've been doing a lot of data entry from our backlog with it, adding some 250 citations in the past week so that we're at over 900 now! This is extra exciting since when we started we had just over 100, so yay blooming and growing!

I've really appreciated the messages of support I've gotten from you guys about working my way through depression--it really helps knowing that others share the feeling, and so on. <3
caitri: (Chris Vocabulary)
Viet Thanh Nguyen Reveals How Writers' Workshops Can Be Hostile

What Nguyen says about writing workshops I want to apply to printing and bookmaking workshops:

As an institution, the workshop reproduces its ideology, which pretends that “Show, don’t tell” is universal when it is, in fact, the expression of a particular population, the white majority, typically at least middle-class and often, but not exclusively, male. The identity behind the workshop’s origins is invisible. Like all privileges, this identity is unmarked until it is thrown into relief against that which is marked, visible and outspoken, which is to say me and others like me.

We, the barbarians at the gate, the descendants of Caliban, the ones who have no choice but to speak in the language we have — we come bearing the experiences and ideas the workshop suppresses. We come from the Communist countries America bombed during the Cold War, or where it sponsored counter-Communist efforts. We come from the lands America occupied, invaded or colonized. We come as refugees and immigrants, documented and undocumented. We come from the ghettos, barrios, reservations and borders of America where there are no workshops. We come from the bedrooms and the kitchens of the American home, where we were supposed to stay, and stay silent. We come speaking languages other than English. We come from the margins, where English is broken. We come with financial aid and loans and families that do not understand what “creative writing” is. We come from communities we do not wish to renounce in the name of our individualism. We come wanting to do more than just sell our stories to white audiences. And we come with the desire not just to show, but to tell.

But what is that art that is also political, historical, theoretical, ideological and philosophical? How is it to be taught? It must be taught not only as an isolated craft or a set of techniques. It must be taught in relation to, or within, courses on history, politics, theory and philosophy, as well as ethnic studies, gender studies, queer studies and cultural studies.
caitri: (ample nacelles)
I'm writing an article for PopMatters on Reboot fandom as part of their special issue on Trek's 50th Anniversary, and as a sort of prelude to that (and because of the new movie) I've been reading a bunch of my fav fics. I really, *really* want to have time and energy for fic (I have a couple of paragraphs for a PWP??? But that's it) but...I kind of don't. And what I do have needs to be devoted to the diss and my Literary History of Fanfic projects... But still. I remember being able to mentally checkout and WRITE and it was GREAT....

*sighs wistfully*
caitri: (charles write)
I've been reading a friend's book (Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning; it's lovely and the Cushing and Todd are mentioned in the Acknowledgements, so go get it) and regretting how I haven't made more time for fiction-writing these last few years. I've finished, what, a story a year, on average, I think? Which isn't the worst, it just makes me sad because I remember how easy it used to be, and how lovely it was to escape for a while.

And that brings me to the news today, and Orlando--and Tel Aviv, and ye gods, just, everything, like, seriously, Humanity get your fucking shit together already, godsfuckingdammit!

And somehow that got me to thinking about the idea of a better world, a utopia, and of course Thomas More's Utopia, which is problematic. And there's the saw about how utopias never make good stories, so then I got to thinking about how one COULD make a good story about utopia that wasn't, you know, Star Trek. And of course More's book was also a volume on political philosophy and, I think we could argue about this, TOS really was as well.

TL;DR How to write a story about building a utopia?

What strikes me is the idea of going very old school and having a set of connected short stories that take place in different time periods with different characters. Possibly starting from the almost obligatory post-apocalpse/post-nuke scenario, because it's easiest to build from scrap rather than from a pre-existing system.

Anyway, anyone have any thoughts on this?
caitri: (charles write)
Sent a diss chapter to my chair this afternoon. YAY!!!!!

Anyway, I'm about to go on a conference binge--Canadian Society for 18th c. Studies in Vancouver this week, the American Print History Association in Rochester, NY next week. Then I'll have a week of downtime and it will be November. And I signed up for NaNo so I can finish my STBB. So...I feel together-ish.

My chair also wants me to apply for a BSA Fellowship. I think what I want to do is apply to go to the Folger in DC to look at microfilms of SC records. I'm going to try to get a skype meeting with her when I get back.

So. There's me.
caitri: (Cait pony)
*waves* I am so discombobulated this Fall. My summer was ridiculous and Fall is not any less so. ANYWAY. Stuff to share:

"The misogyny towards fanfiction: she, her, hers" by Nandhini Narayanan

I am concerned about this social inclination to dismiss or trivialize fanfic works. The implication is that something written by women and read majorly by women is somehow less important and unworthy of respect. There was a loud and angry twitter campaign a while ago called #fakegeekgirls. The premise was that several women were attending comic conventions in costumes in order to “seem nerdy and pick up the interest of men.” Female cosplayers were specifically picked on and accused that they were dressing up to get attention. Yes, I saved up for weeks, tailored my own spandex outfit and took a nine hour flight to trap you in my romantic clutches, dear stranger. ...

Consider how, by trivializing and marginalizing an entire body of work as unimportant, we are not paying attention to the trends that are manifesting in fanfiction. Think about the profound space fanfiction provides for representation of minority communities. Canonical books, comics and TV shows revolve around the white male. Fanfiction provides the space for a gay Clark Kent, a genderqueer Sherlock Holmes, a lesbian Nancy Drew or an asexual Harry Potter. Most mainstream blogs are cis-gender owned, but Tumblr has more out and proud gender-queer writers in fandoms than any other social media site.

A short, superficial piece, but it's a relief to have someone somewhere calling these shenanigans what they are.


PBS Idea Channel gets it Absolutely Right about Trigger Warnings in the Classroom:

My favorite quote is "Academic trigger warnings aren't a shield or armor, they are a horn announcing the charge is coming." Yes. This.


I got a paper on recovering the history of women in the book trades accepted into next year's ASECS conference, which is back-to-back with PCA. This is only the second book history paper I've had accepted and the first one in the US, so I feel very happy (and relieved) about it.


Other news: I've joined a local writing group with some of the cool Tolkien people I met back in April, and we're meeting for the first time in a couple of weeks. I'm also very excited about that, though I haven't written anything creative in way too long. (I feel like a slacker, while fully aware that I have, in the past month, sent off two sets of book chapter revisions, finished half of a book chapter, and revised two outlines.) Because I like books on writing, I started reading The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club this afternoon to start thinking. That totally counts, right?
caitri: (printer)
There is a Fonts & Boobs Tumblr that is what it says it is (NSFW). I am fascinated by it to the point that i'm probably going to end up rewriting the paper I'm giving next month because I am ridiculous.

also: ATF's How to Make Love To Your Type

Sexism and Fonts
caitri: (charles write)
"Shiva and Octavia" by Sam J. Miller

I think it’s difficult for writers and readers who carry privilege, whether of class, race, gender, or sexuality, to understand just how crippling it is to look around at the books and magazines that you love, and not see yourself there. How deep the internalized wounds can go, when everyone around you from high school on up is holding up a book that looks nothing like you, and saying “THIS IS GREAT LITERATURE. THIS IS A STORY WORTH TELLING.” Every writer faces an uphill battle getting their words in print--my hero Octavia Butler said “everyone who tries to write experiences savage rejection, and it just goes on and on until finally you begin to break through”--but the savagery is compounded when you add in the external obstacles outsider writers face when their stories feature experiences and arcs that white straight middle class college-educated editors have no personal experience of ... and the staggering, sometimes crippling, internalized obstacles: the self-doubt and the self-rejection. Brilliant writer of color Lisa Bolekaja tweeted about facing the need to “work through shit just 2 feel comfortable putting sentences on paper. Somedays 1 sentence is a miracle.”

This is why queers need to destroy science fiction. It’s why women--and people of color--and writers working in languages other than English--and other marginalized communities need to destroy science fiction. We need to undermine the Straight White American Male Underpinnings of the genre.
caitri: (Gamora)
To start with, there's an upset in Agent Carter fandom on the absence of POCs in 1940s NYC. Tamora Pierce stepped into it by stating that "If you mean the cast is primarily white, it’s the 40s. Which is more offensive to you: black help and blacks in service, or no blacks? I would like to see more POC, yes, but that was the time, and I’m not sure I’d like to see more POC if they’re always going to be in service" and it was one of those moments of OH GODSDAMMIT YOU TOO?! (Seriously, my love for Alanna is now muchly sullied. Anyway) So I wanted to blather on a bit.

So, first of all, the erasure of women and POC from everything is very much a narrative of our culture--in history, in writing, in art, everything. (I've promised myself that one day I'm going to write an essay called "My Invisible Labors" on every time my participation in something high-profile had been erased by TPTB.)

First off, this happens because of a straight-up devaluation of contributions, or what I sometimes like to refer to as "the magical elf narrative." This is when things happen magically, without people "doing" anything, because the people themselves are invisible. Think of it as like hotel service, right, you check into a room, it's perfectly clean and neat, you leave the place a mess, and come back later, and--everything is magically clean and net again, the bed all made up, the towels replaced, etc. You sometimes catch glimpses of hotel staff, but most of the time you don't think about it, because we don't value their labor. I tie this directly to Pierce's statement, because she is devaluing a specific kind of labor--but THE SAME THING HAPPENS ACROSS THE BOARD.

Think of the books that are "magically" ordered and shelved in libraries, of the author-less blocks of text in various circulars and so forth. (I remember once being scolded by a faculty member for not buying a book for her. I apologized and started looking in my records, then asked when she'd put in the request. "What do you mean?" she asked. "You wanted me to buy a book for you but I can't find the record of when you asked for it--usually I keep those on file for when I buy stuff." "Oh, I never told you about it, I just assumed you knew." "..." Yep, actual story, and a useful reminder that I don't actually have psychic powers.) There are an awful lot of things that are done anonymously--or rather, without acknowledgement, because the work is not valued.

Now, when it comes to the idea of POCs as only "the help"--well, 1) that is a very specific, privileged point of view and 2) easily disproven. Like, voila. That we don't see other roles for POC in film speaks more to the received knowledge of filmmakers--people "don't" want to see POC in lead roles, people "won't" find it believable--than to any kind of historicity, and this is problematic. I've written about this before, but once when I was in a fiction seminar and had given folks a chapter of my in-progress novel about a black girl in 17th century England, a ridiculous amount of time was spent--by white people--telling me that it wasn't realistic because "there weren't black people" back then...which led to me reciting population statistics in London and so forth because, well, me, and then finally the teacher just telling me that "even if it's realistic, it's not believable because it's too much," like there's this intellectual yard stick and it has some kind of quota system to it.


[And it's funny, as I'm writing this I'm participating in a discussion on Facebook on the issues of class and poverty and elite universities, with someone decrying this as kids "feeling sorry for themselves" and others (including me) arguing that social and economic isolation have very real effects on the academic performance of students, and how there are programs developing to help with this. So, you know, a nugget of hope in the world, as it happens.]

The other thing going on is, well, how all of this is still going on. TPTB still try to limit opportunities for POC and women based on the received knowledge WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN TAUGHT. It's a full, ugly circle of power, and privilege, and really the only way to break it is through education, new texts, and (clearly) sheer stubbornness.

Plus the other thing is--aren't these erased stories just simply more interesting? I mean, think about how everyone freaking loves Downton Abbey--because the bulk of the emphasis of the story is on the less privileged. Hell, they even dabble a bit with diversity with the gay dude, even though they basically made him Neutral Evil. But--can't we hear the stories of ALL the gays, and ALL the POC, etc. etc.?

Anyways, I'll conclude this messy ramble: I didn't get accepted into a prestigious conference, and was feeling rather bummed about it, and I talked to my dissertation chair about it. Her response was basically "lol of course not--because you're writing about women, and that group has always been invested in ignoring them as much as possible. Be patient and get the last laugh!" My chair, btw, is pretty literally a rock star for writing THE book on women's writing in history, so, yeah, she would know, wouldn't she?

Now, it should go without saying, that the rest of us should have our last laughs at the expense of those writers who keep insisting we don't exist, or that we are "too much."
caitri: (Dorian)
I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, I just wasn't sure how to because there's always the "stating the obvious" thing.

So to start with, a month or so ago I had a chat with another writer friend, who was angsting about "how" to write POC in her novel, because she has fears of being perceived as racist or accidentally racist. Which I guess happened because she read the new Donna Tartt book, and I guess Tartt was criticized for writing all POCs as servants and whatnot? Anyway, my (ever so deep) response was, "Dude, just do your research and write people AS PEOPLE."

which, you know, obvious, right? And yet.

So I just finished reading the new Diana Gabaldon book, Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Which, I largely love her because man she does historical research RIGHT. But she's one of those cases where she tries to write diversity and comes so CLOSE and yet SO FAR. Because she writes POC in broad strokes but doesn't seem to understand that she's doing so, or that, for instance, coming at historical stereotypes from the opposite end is problematic, ie. that writing Native Americans as nobly doomed and JUST AS PROBLEMATIC as writing them as scalping maniacs. And its one of those cases of, see, putting all that attention to detail and family trees and characterization that you put into the Scottish people? Doing THE SAME THING to the Mohawks and the Black freemen and slaves.

Like I said, should be EASY. AND YET.

Here's the other thing, particularly about historical fiction (And this needs to be its own post sometime): Historical fiction is ALWAYS just as much about the time in which it was written as about the time it depicts.

So, for instance, Downton Abbey. (I fucking hate Downton Abbey but damn is it a useful Cliffsnotes sometimes.) Thomas, Teh (sic) Gay Character, is largely treated sympathetically even as he is often a douche. But there's one episode where a character informs the police of his Gayness and Lord Grantham has to talk to the cops and be all "he's just as God made him" and there's a moment and Thomas is left alone. And some people were all "Ohmigod, that is so not historically accurate!!!!" Which, of course not, because in 20fucking14 you can't demonstrate that sort of intolerance without being *read* as intolerant yourself--it's a storytelling decision to maintain sympathy. BUT, when they *do* choose to demonstrate period-accurate intolerance to the Jewish characters? That TOO is a decision, and we HAVE to understand that by doing so the writers are trying to demonstrate that as an old intolerance that is dead and thus "safe"--and never mind how contemporary Jews are getting the same crap as always because it is "invisible" and "historically accurate." We're saying that anti-gay is not okay but that anti-Semitic is normal.

Now think about what that means.

Meanwhile, back to Gabaldon. She has a history of some deeply problematic things, but there were two in this book that REALLY stuck out at me. SPOILERS ) I still love the writing by itself but I really want to make Gabaldon take some consciousness-raising classes and whatnot.

Anyways, as a sort of conclusion: All writing is a deliberate choice on the part of the author. It may be an unexamined choice, but it is still a choice. When it comes to historical fiction, you can't really say "that's how it was back in those days" because that writing isn't coming from THEN, it's coming from NOW, and it's coming from YOU. And you have to be aware of that last bit before all others.
caitri: (bullshit)
Okay, so two things: This article on “Internet Famous”: Visibility As Violence On Social Media

I soon realized that calling me a "public figure" had nothing to do with describing my impact on the industry or recognizing my achievements within it. Rather, the term "public figure" is solely ascribed to me as part of justifying abuse, harassment, humiliation, boundary violations and invasion of my privacy by anyone -- from journalists to anonymous trolls to professional peers. When I protest journalists using bullying and dishonest tactics to exploit my life and relationships for page views, I'm a "public figure" and thus not allowed any privacy or boundaries, or to defend myself in any way. When my experiences and words are twisted, taken out of context and used against me as attacks; when months of my tweets are dug through to find a scrap of something to attack me with: "well you live your life in public!"

Ironically, people who actively stalk me, industry professionals and members of the media engage in the exact same rhetorical tactics of appealing to my "public figure"-ness to justify their acts. The constant gendered harassment, stalking and boundary violation I receive is considered by many to be the natural exhaust of my visibility. There's the assumption that the visibility itself is beneficial enough to me to merit the tradeoff of daily abuse, that I "should have known" it would be like that this, or that I have brought it upon myself by being a "drama queen," "attention whore," or by writing things that are widely read in the industry (which for white cishet men is termed "having ambition" and "being successful").

I also picked up Dowd & Eckerle's Genre and Women's Life Writing in Early Modern England at the library yesterday and have been making my way through it; it's a collection of essays focused on EME women's life writings (including diaries, letters, autobiographies, poems, religious treatises, cookbooks, etc.) and their presentations of "self" in them.

Traditionally when you talk about Early Modern women's writing, you talk about what's known as "the stigma of print", which is not just fears of public visibility but specifically *uncontrolled* public visibility (printing regulations had some controls and copyright and whatnot, but let's face it, media piracy goes a long way back; plus, manuscript circulation gave at least the feel of control because you could usually at least trace how someone came by something--a little bit like Tumblr or Facebook if you will) where there is control neither of how the text is presented but of how you yourself are presented. Print and manuscript circulation had the attendant implications of public/private discourse, though with a rather different impact: by sharing something through mss, though "unpublished" it was still available for consumption. Anyways, long story short, for these reasons Early Modern women have been identified with a specific textual production and consumption model for a bit.

Now, I think that we can talk about the analogs in likening manuscript transmission with social media: the ability to access text and how it is perceived. For instance, those warnings to beware of what you post online in case your employer sees it, etc. etc. Published yet unpublished, consumable and consumed. (I also think it's telling that the MLA guidebooks have FINALLY gotten around for developing citation formats for blogs, tweets, etc.) And I also think that while a fair bit of ink (or electrons) has been consumed talking about social violence in social media, we still have far the fuck to go. I'm lucky in that I'm a small-time blogger and scholar; I've never gotten rape threats etc. from dudez because I have the temerity to post my thoughts on books and comics, etc. But it happens enough to others that we have more or less accepted as a horrifying social norm. And because it IS a social norm there's all these other behaviors that society tries to encode into women writers: "be nice" and "don't be mean" etc. to the men who deign to recognize your work, even if "recognizing" means they are trolling your feed/blog/etc. It comes out of how we are taught "to behave" in everyday life and then feeds back into how we produce our writing.

It's fucked up, man!
caitri: (charles write)
Okay, so the other night I got into a spat on FB about "taking genre writing seriously." Because, you know, lolz, and whatever, amirite? *snort* But it got me thinking on the topic of writing and reading (shocking, I know), and what they mean in the everyday sense.

The Value of Literature

So lo many moons ago I remember my Mom asking me in college, "Are you sure you want to be an English major? You're never going to get a job!" Which is a not unusual statement from many parents. Which is untrue because 1) strangely enough the ability to write in a concise and comprehensible way is actually NOT easy, so people actually do want these skills in a variety of jobs, and 2) the ability to write when balanced with an ability to think critically and under time constraints is also fucking useful. And these are the things that most often come up when people want to defend the humanities, but this overlooks the specific value of literature. Literature is valuable in that it is kind of the doctor of our culture, taking our pulse and telling us what's going on. The recurrent trends in publishing are more than what's popular, it's what we are thinking about, anxious about, preoccupied with.

Plus, my more cynical response: We can't all be fucking neuroscientists. There are a thousand and one ways to contribute to society, and literature is one. I think it's really telling that we tend to value only the really high-end jobs: actors, sports players, government officials, etc. But you know who is invisible and who, once they are gone, you really miss? The janitors. And a lot of writers are kind of like janitors, there's tons of "invisible writing" out there that we don't think about but we need in our lives.

The Value of Popular Literature

Popular literature is like Culture Concentrate: everything that worries us in big neon letters. The common wisdom used to be that popular literature and genre writing were the distillation of the status quo, but a century of literary criticism has proven that's not always true, and often, far from it. Whatever you might think about the Twilight books, they opened up a metric fuckton of conversations about young women in our culture--and a lot of these were conversations we REALLY needed to have!

The other thing about genre writing that I liked to point out when I taught was--literature that is not highly regarded thus has a LOT of wiggle room to do interesting things. For instance, comic books: as painfully bad as a lot of writing is especially in older books, they got away with a LOT. I remember being really struck by a Captain America comic ca. 1964 where Cap declares that the greatest thinkers of the new generation were Martin Luther King Jr., Marshall McLuhan, and JRR Tolkien: a civil rights leader, a media theorist, and a fantasy author. And holy fuck is that one trifecta to hold up as intellectual standard--and to a bunch of kids no less!! The entire genre of science fiction has always been the playing ground for a variety of exploratory political ideas, back to the 16th c. with Thomas More's Utopia.

Art is always political.

Whether it's high or low art, it's still true. Nothing is created in a vacuum, and everything is a product of its own time: it's an action, a reaction, and a lot of works are famous for starting chain reactions right back: Whether it's Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Jungle, or apparently right now, The Hunger Games (check out what's going on in Thailand if you don't believe me).

Why I take genre writing seriously.

You know, a theme of the 16th and 17th centuries was the ability to read correctly--it was part of that whole Reformation thing that then seeped into everyday life. I've been reading Thomas Hobbes and William Tyndale back to back, and man, the preoccupation with reading--specifically the Bible, but everything to a lesser extent--is just so acute. Which, of course, it would be, back when reading the wrong thing could get you hanged for treason or excommunicated or worse. But this determination to read everything as meaningful--the events of our lives as well as the words on (any kind of) page--is still something we see in our society, and hell, it's probably hard-wired into us now if it wasn't five hundred years ago. I think the ability to read seriously is what gives insight not only into specific works but also into our culture. I feel that's important for me to do not only as an individual but as a citizen of the world. If by reading certain things I see that some are oppressed, then I want to do that which will free them; if by reading I see something that hurts, then I want to find the thing to contribute that heals--etc. ad nauseam. And we all do this too, whether it's by choosing to--or not--shop at certain stores or using certain products or companies or (strangely enough), books.
caitri: (books)
Today was a bit more low-key than previous. I've finally gotten myself into a more or less focused mindset: projects in mine, strategies in place. I spent half the afternoon in the studio marbling sheets and making paste papers for projects to work on tomorrow. Unfortunately, after lunch I started feeling a bit dizzy (dehydrated, I think) and went back to the dorm to take a nap. It helped a little, but I still feel a bit out of it and not great. I did finish my homework though; I opted to skip out on the student readings tonight (I feel guilty, but there will be more nights, plus if I feel like crap and no one's going to miss me then why not).

Anyway, here are some of the marbled papers I made:


I painted them down with some varnish and hopefully will have some smooth, burnished sheets tomorrow.

This morning we also got to visit the Special Collections at Olin Library and look at their collection of artist's books. They also have an exhibit up of the first two volumes of the St. John's Bible (the Heritage fine press edition). The St. John's Bible is a massive seven volume work made by a team of artists to create a medieval volume in the new age--every page of the vellum edition is hand done script and hand done illuminations and art. The fine press edition is on paper but still has hand elements, as with the gold lead illuminations in the capitals, etc. This is the opening of Genesis, with the creation of the world in seven days:


This evening's writing prompt was for a fiction piece, which I spun into a mini-scene from the printerfic:

On Games of Chance )


I was hoping to write some more tonight but I'm not sure I have it in me. It could just be that I'm too tired from the last few days and need some recouping time.
caitri: (printer)
So to start off with, for some reason they decided to have an art studio class without providing aprons OR telling students to bring their own. Because printing ink washes out of nothing, ever, I improvised an apron with my rain jacket:


Not gonna lie, I feel like it was my best Macgyver moment ever.

Anyway, the day started with transforming yesterday's writing and image into a pamphlet:

0616141003 (1)

I'm still not thrilled with it, but it offends my sensibilities much less in this form, I will say.

In the afternoon we made a flag book with another accordion binding--a structure the prof is clearly really into:


I hope I can come up with some things I actually like before our studio show, I really, really do.


Today they set up a letterpress station, which, FINALLY, something I know how to do! I ended up helping a couple of students with it, as, of all things, apparently I have way more letterpress experience than anyone else. (That is a sentence I would never think to write when surrounded by book artists!)

Anyways, I had my writing critique today, and it was useful. The instructors are excited about my printerfic and were encouraging, which was great: no bewilderment about the language or concept, no wanting more violence, no arguing against the protagonist's race, which, THANK THE GODS. They suggested I try as much as possible to tie in the week's projects as a sort of meta for the novel. So.

Tonight's writing assignment was nonfiction, so here's what I came up with:
Wayzgoose )

So now it's about bedtime, and I'm zonked, but there you go. Stay tuned!
caitri: (charles write)
... but I am tired and my brain is fried.

So we officially got our house over a week ago, and since then we have been cleaning and packing and drywalling and priming and painting. I painted ~9 hours on Saturday and my hands are still crampy, and we have to get it all painted by next Monday because that's when the flooring guys come and do their reflooring thing. So. Um. I'm not getting as much studying done as I would like, obvs, because time-consuming and exhausting. (I think I'm just ultimately going to try to schedule my exams for December, because I originally wanted them done in September, but...yeah, no. No point killing myself to make a deadline that's going to exhaust and fry me. Look at me, being smartish for once.)

I meant to be doing Camp NaNo this month, and no. I think I got a token couple of paragraphs at the beginning of the month. I think I'll be able to do some writing proper once we've moved into the house and I'll have my actual home office space and all. I keep thinking about the things I want to write, though, but the energy to make actual words seems largely beyond me. I do have a great idea for a mini-fic that is from the POV of Sam Wilson's Nana the first time he brings Steve home. (It will be the fluffiest fluff of fluffdom.)

I want to write a brief essay about kdramas. I have been eating them up like candy and have so many feels and analyses. The one I'm currently watching, Coffee Prince, is basically like every coffeehouse AU ever and I love it! "Yes, let's have an entire show that's nothing but handsome boys and a girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy-because-reasons working in and being adorkable at a coffeeshop." YOU WIN, SOUTH KOREA. YOU. WIN.

Anyway. In two weeks I head to Texas for Book History Workshop (teaching), then I'll come back, finish moving into the house, be here for a bit, then go to Ohio for the Kenyon Review Literary/Book Arts Workshop (taking it--and having been accepted, which, so exciting! I'm also a little freaked because I'll have a week to write and make art with other people, and I've been so blocked, and so, freaked), then back for a month before going to Virginia to take a course on the History of the Stationer's Company, and then it will be the end of the summer and time to seriously buckle down on my studies for my exams.

And here are also some good things: in addition to the Leab Award, we got the Dana Cotton Award for Deeper Than Swords programming (national award, only one a year from ALA), and--I feel very little about it? Because DTS made my life hell for so long and was the straw that broke the camel's back, and to be recognized for something that made me miserable is fucking weird, but excellent for my CV? I got the Barzak Award, which is $2000 tuition for next term, so yay. I've been circulating a story and some poems and while neither have been accepted for publication, I got three letters from editors saying how much they like the writing, so, getting there, I guess.
caitri: (books)
Today's recommended reading: Confirmation Bias, Epic Fantasy, and You


Confirmation bias doesn’t cause the phenomenon of Mysteriously Whitewashed Medieval Europe. (Or Peculiarly Denuded of Women Europe, or Puzzlingly Focused On The Nobility Europe, or any of the other bizarre things we tend to see in medieval Europe-flavored fantasy.) Confirmation bias causes the freakouts that occur whenever somebody points out these phenomena, and names them as inaccuracies.


Like the Wikipedia entry suggests, confirmation bias is usually worst when a person feels threatened by anything that challenges their preexisting beliefs. Since the preexisting beliefs associated with bigotry are all tied up in identity and privilege, it’s not really surprising that the sense of threat is there, merited or not. Identity and privilege are things of the ego; they’re about what we think of ourselves. Bigotry tells privileged people that they deserve to be privileged; that they should have an easier life and a better self-image and more power because they are special; that the reason less-privileged folks don’t get the same preferential treatment is because they are inferior in some way. Challenging this thinking means saying to people: actually, no, you’re not all that special, or maybe you are but not because you’re [insert identity], and also those other people aren’t inferior at all, they just weren’t “lucky” enough to be born with your identity. For people who get used to being incessantly told “You’re awesome!” being told instead that, “Eh, you’re just okay” is a little bit of a comedown. (But a comedown is not oppression. Anyone who thinks that really has no concept of what oppression really is.)

(One day I am going to fangirl all over NK Jemisen and it's going to be extraordinarily awkward for everyone involved.)

I've been thinking a lot about race and worldbuilding recently because it's relevant to both of my current creative writing projects. Growing up, I didn't think about race in fiction because it's a topic that doesn't come up that much in the classic SF/F I was reading (because everyone was white) or on tv (Star Trek and stuff where it was a utopia and it didn't matter except when funny-looking aliens had issues, and it probably took me way longer than it should have growing up to figure out Those Metaphors). As an adult, I think about it A LOT because I see the things going on with Racefail and the SFWA fracas and so forth. I really wish it was something that could have come up in my writing classes, which were majority white with one Hispanic, and the one Hispanic teacher who actually told me that having my historical printerfic with a black woman printer stretched credulity because it was "too much" (I am never getting over that, ever, ever; "stretching credulity" has since become my unofficial motto).

It's funny to me how we become entrenched in these cultural narratives (Jemisen brings up the loaded "forces of light and dark") but aren't taught how to break out of them (if anyone has some books on the topic, could you rec them?), and only slightly are we taught to even see them. I feel like I keep my reading eyes so wide now trying to find things that I almost can't relax when watching media anymore (I think this is also why I've gotten addicted to Korean dramas, because the cultural narratives are so different that I actually can sit back and enjoy the story; also, I just really enjoy how they exoticize the west, which probably should be a paper sometime).


In today's reading here's a lovely bit of a poem by Lady Anne Southwell (1574-1636) who wrote a poem complaining about women writers being criticized by men:

Dare you but write, you are Mineruaes bird
the owl at wch these battes & crowes must wonder,
they'll crittickize vppon the smallest word
this wanteth number case, that tense & gender
then must you frame a pittiful epistle
to pray him bee a rose was borne a thistle.
caitri: (charles write)
You know, when you consider the treatment of women's writing both historically and in the current moment, it is at once shocking and makes total sense (for a specific degree of sense, ie. as to how women/women's writing is viewed and treated) to find that the term hack (cheap/bad writer for profit) was originally a term for a prostitute and that the term streetwalker (currently a term for a prostitute) referred to women who sold (and in some cases also wrote and printed) newsbooks/pamphlets/newspapers.
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: (charles write)
Stolen from [ profile] elanya:

Tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you between one and three sentences from that story.

(My muse is very cranky right now. Sigh.)


caitri: (Default)

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