Did I say last month that a PhD is a hell of a thing? Well, at the risk of repeating myself, a PhD sure is a hell of a thing. I spent most of this month preparing (research-wise and emotionally) for a big ol’ presentation where I officially introduced my project to the world. The buildup, as with most public speaking gigs, turned out to be worse than the actual presentation itself. It helped that the seminar was held in a small tutorial room with a projector screen, when I had been picturing (against all logic) that they’d fling me into a gigantic hall with a stage and massive screens. Like, not even a lecture hall, but something like you’d see at E3 or some nonsense.
Hyperbolic imagination and all, it was kind of nice to be nervous about something because I was genuinely passionate about it and wanted it to go well, as opposed to the “oh my God I hate this and want to get it over with” sort of anguish. It’s rewarding to be given the freedom and support to dive into a project–both critical and creative–that is so close to my heart. And of course rewarding to get feedback from my (little) audience and have people show interest in it as well (this feedback was also rewarding because it confirmed that the audience not only listened, but managed to decipher what I said while I talked at 60KM/h in stage-fright!)
And of course you guys got a little taste of this project too in the form of my “genre is fake” post, which is a sort of blog-language literature review for one of the topics that’s most important to the project. Any posts to do with messing with genre and/or familiar tropes and narratives will go in the thesis tag from now on (including last month’s “Fairy Tales and Flowerbeds” which has been added retrospectively… to join most of the other posts I’ve written about Utena. Something about that show, man. It just lines up with all my stuff).
Some of you also expressed interest in a list of book recommendations to do with genre study/mythology/queer study, and this is on its way, if not ready just yet! Hopefully by next roundup I should be able to link to it.
Whew. With all that out of the way, I think I’m going to take a nap for a few days. Here are some cool links in the meantime:
On the blog:
Adolescence, Anxiety, and Amanchu! (a reflection on a sweet little show about scuba diving and how I could see my own high school experience reflected in it)
Genre is Fake (But Very Useful) (a brief rundown of a key concept in my thesis: that genre is not “the rules” so much as a guide and an analytical tool to be played with)
Cozy Campfires, Bitter Broth: Female Relationships in Laid-Back Camp vs Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles (an examination of the central characters in The Camping Anime versus The Ramen Anime, and how relationship development makes all the difference between a show that’s heartwarming and a show that’s teeth-grindly tropey and stagnant)
Cool reads around the web:
There’s a lot of manga about girls falling in love with other girls out there in the world, but as demonstrated by recent tropey, icky releases like citrus, some of it is not thaaat great. So Zeria steps up with a plateful of genre know-how and delivers a list of ten of the best yuri manga for those who haven’t dabbled before but want to give it a shot. A transcript can be found here! I really need to read Kase-san, don’t I…
This month I discovered Uncanny Magazine, a sci-fi and fantasy-focussed publication stocked up with both short fiction and essays from a variety of diverse voices. Some favourites so far:
- The Death of Very Special Diversity Comics by Sigrid Ellis
- They Love Me Not: How Fictional Villains Saved My Life by Alyssa Wong
- Fandom in the Classroom by Paul Booth
- Suspended Beliefs: Verisimilitude vs Accuracy by Diana M. Pho (on the issue of supposed “historical accuracy” when it comes to including–or as the case most often is, not including–minority groups in fantastical settings)
- Let Me Tell You by Cecilia Tan (on the so-called “universal narrative” and the writing rules that come with it, all of which speculative fiction has the power to remake anew)
Worth a read as well is this piece on Atlas Obscura about the history and impact of the lesbian pulp novels of the ’50s and ’60s. Always a bizarre and fascinating topic, and in many ways tied into many tropes we recognise today… though that’s material enough for another post.
This month a very Big Marvel movie came out and caused all sorts of ruckus. The Mary Sue had a few choice critical pieces about it scattered across the month, addressing how it sidelines certain characters, isn’t super great to its women, and… well, this one’s just called ‘Thanos is a Terrible Villain’. Zac Bertschy also put out an article specifically critiquing the choice to try and make Thanos “sympathetic”.
…actually, for my final link I’m going to leave you with this. I promise there is fascinating and in-depth analysis of geek culture and art in amongst the surrealist film: