Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

SFFTV Call for Reviewers

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SFFTV is looking for reviewers for a few recent books:


Becky Bartlett’s BADFILM: INCOMPETENCE, INTENTION, FAILUREhttps://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-badfilm.html

Jayna Brown, BLACK UTOPIAS: SPECULATIVE LIFE AND THE MUSIC OF OTHER WORLDShttps://www.dukeupress.edu/black-utopias

Arthur Krker and Marilouise Kroger, TECHNOLOGIES OF THE NEW REAL: VIRAL CONTAGION AND DEATH OF THE SOCIALhttps://utorontopress.com/9781487540227/technologies-of-the-new-real/

Michael Pitts, ALTERNATIVE MASCULINITIES IN FEMINIST SPECULATIVE FICTION
https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793636614/Alternative-Masculinities-in-Feminist-Speculative-Fiction-A-New-Man

Robert Yeates, AMERICAN CITIES IN POST-APOCALYPTIC SCIENCE FICTIONhttps://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/178921

Contact Gerry Canavan (gerrycanavan@gmail.com) if you are interested!

Written by gerrycanavan

November 29, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Grad School Achebe #8: “The Voter”

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The long-anticipated to The Many Saints of Newark bonus episode is finally here: “The Voter”!

Written by gerrycanavan

November 12, 2021 at 9:38 am

GSA #7: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE!

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November 5, 2021 at 9:24 am

Spring 2022 Courses!

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Marquette’s English department has put up its course descriptions for the spring, which you can find here: https://www.marquette.edu/english/courses-offered-spring-2022.php

Here are mine!

ENGLISH 4762/5762: Neuroscience and Literature
101 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Disability and Narrative

Course Description: From the Shakespearean soliloquy (famously credited by Yale’s Harold Bloom with “the invention of the human” as such) to James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness narration, and beyond, literature has long been fascinated by the inner workings of the mind, and the so-called “cognitive turn” in literary studies of the 2000s created a vast subfield devoted to understanding these representations with more specificity and in more detail. Marquette’s new “Neuroscience and Literature” course, included in the Cognitive Science interdisciplinary major, draws on this critical archive to explore how literature understands consciousness, particularly in the way literature has posited disability and neurodivergence. Narratives about disability follow predictable and often quite hurtful patterns, typically centering compulsory optimism around concepts like “cure” and “inspiration,” or else fixating on inexorable decline—but emerging narratives about neurodivergence also register the efforts of social and political movements to expand awareness about the lives of people whose minds and brains are not neurotypical, and to change social structures, especially in education and medicine, in order to improve the quality of those lives. In literary terms, representing neurodiversity raises questions such as: What narrative strategies do writers use to represent various ways of perceiving the world? What are autistic voices, or amnesiac voices, Tourettic voices, sociopathic voices? Do these differ, and in what ways, from so-called neurotypical voices? How do fictional voices compare to autobiographical ones? How does centering neurodivergence impact the way we tell and understand stories? Modules in the course will pair scientific and therapeutic writing with literary examples that center the lived experiences of disabled people. 

Readings: The final reading list is still being developed, but this semester’s reading list will likely focus on autism, Huntington’s disease, addiction, and depression. Readings will be balanced among fiction, memoir/nonfiction, popular science writing, and literary and philosophical theory around disability studies. Interested students are invited to contact the instructor in advance of registration to discuss material that will be studied in the course.

Assignments: Enthusiastic class discussion; two papers and one final project; online discussion posts; presentations 

ENGLISH 4717/5717: Comics
101 TuTh 11:00-12:30 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Comics as Literature
Fulfills English Major Requirement:  Post-1900
Discovery Tier: Cognition, Memory, and Intelligence

Course Description: This course surveys the history and reception of comics and graphic narrative since 1945. We will explore the history of the comics form from its origins to the present moment, watching as the medium shifts from a predominantly American, predominantly male fixation on the superhero towards an increasingly popular international art movement crossing gender, class, and ethnic lines. What are comics today, and who are they for—and why, as Thierry Groensteen has pointedly asked, are comics still in search of cultural legitimization? As in previous instances of the course, we will consider science fictional and superheroic comics alongside high literary novels and confessional autobiographies to gain a full understanding of the medium and its possibilities. In addition to studying comics as literary scholars, along the way we will also consider alternative modes of comics reception, including the great comic book panic of the 1950s, the underground “hippie” counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, film and television adaptation, and Internet fandom today.

Readings: I will poll the class for their particular interests once registration is done but core texts I have taught in this course in the past include Warren Ellis and John Cassady’s Planetary; Mark Millar and Dave Johnson’s Superman: Red Son; G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel; Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead; Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and II; Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home; Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories; Ben Passmore’s “Your Black Friend”; Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis; David Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp; Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper; and Richard McGuire’s Here. I am, of course, always open to suggestions of new texts.

Assignments: Enthusiastic class discussion; two papers and one final project; online discussion posts; presentations

Written by gerrycanavan

October 26, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Grad School Achebe #6: ARROW OF GOD!

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We are all but faulty microphones in the podcast of an angry God! Grad School Achebe is back with its very-long-awaited discussion of Arrow of God:

Thanks to Aaron Bady for his absolutely heroic efforts to recover the audio from this nearly lost episode and thanks to all of you for your grace and forgiveness on the sound quality. In this one we close out the so-called African Trilogy with Arrow of God — lots of religion talk for all you religion-heads, and a lot more to talk about besides…


Next week: A Man of the People!

Grad School Sopranos #0: THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK

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We’ve had some audio problems with the Arrow of God episode, which Aaron is working hard on and which should be out soon very soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this emergency b-b-b-b-b-b-bonus episode of our brand-new season that is absolutely not a one-off joke, all about The Many Saints of Newark…

Brand New Semester, Same Old Pandemic

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I’ve finally beaten my syllabi into shape for the semester:

ENGLISH 3241: “Crafting the Short Story” (my summer/J-term lit/creative writing hybrid, now in person!)

ENGLISH 4716/5716: “Classics of Science Fiction” (featuring Slaughterhouse-Five, The Female Man, Kindred, Ted Chiang, The Fifth Season, and a NCAA-style tournament to determine which 1980s SF movie we’re going to watch instead of reading Neuromancer)

Comments and suggestions welcome, as always!

Written by gerrycanavan

August 29, 2021 at 6:19 pm

Just Another Monday Morning, Just Another Set of Monday Morning Links

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Monday Morning Links!

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Friday Links!

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A Whole Summer’s Worth of Links Crammed into a Two-Weeks-Sized Bag

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet, Look at what I put on the Internet

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GSA #3: NO LONGER AT EASE!

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Sixty years later, Gerry and Aaron are joined by Keguro Macharia to talk about No Longer at Ease! Should it be illegal to teach Things Fall Apart without also teaching its sequel? Find out within…

Call for Papers: SFFTV 15th anniversary issue, “Oversights”

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For its fifteen anniversary issue, Science Fiction Film and Television invites submissions for a special issue loosely organized around the theme of “oversights” — that is, those texts from sf film, television, and interactive media that have not yet been a primary subject of an article in the journal. 

We see the special issue as a moment for canon creation, reconsideration, deconstruction, and deformation. What in sf, and in sf-adjacent genres, have we left out? What texts should become part of the core of the next fifteen years of SFFTV? We especially welcome submissions from outside the Hollywood system, outside the “blockbuster” media form, and outside the US and UK. 

Writers interested in pitching for the issue should contact Gerry Canavan at gerry.canavan@marquette.edu to confirm that the text you want to write about is eligible for the issue. (No need to do anything here but ask after the title.) After that, initial 6000-12000-word drafts will be due January 1, 2022. Articles not selected for the special issue will still be considered for regular issues of the journal.

Please note that beginning with its next volume, SFFTV will be switching to US spelling and Chicago-style citation. The updated SFFTV style guide will be made available to authors.

A full list of ineligible texts is much too lengthy to provide, but as you might expect much of the standard canon of SFFTV has already appeared, including 2001, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Akira, The Alien series, Arrival, Avatar, Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica, Battlefield Earth, Black Mirror, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange, The Cloverfield movies, The Day the Earth Stood Still, District 9, Doctor Who, Dollhouse, E.T., Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Evangelion, eXistenZ, Ex Machina, Firefly/Serenity, Frankenstein, Fringe, Get Out, Ghost in the Shell, Godzilla, Gravity, Gremlins, Hard to Be a God, Her, The Hunger Games, I Am Legend, Inglourious Basterds, IT, Lost, Lost in Space, Lucy, Mad Max, Minority Report, Monsters, The Matrix and its sequels, The MCU, Moon, The Omega Man, Orphan Black, Planet of the Apes, Primer, Robocop, The Running Man, Source Code, Soylent Green, Starship Troopers, The Star Trek franchise, The Star Wars franchise, Stranger Things, The Terminator franchise, The Thing, The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, Under the Skin, WALL-E, and The X-Files. Put all such films out of your mind — and please bring us instead your neglected and forgotten classics, your cult masterpieces, your triumphs of global cinema, and your weird obscurities…

Written by gerrycanavan

July 14, 2021 at 8:22 pm

new book series: MASS MARKETS: STUDIES IN FRANCHISE FICTION

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Mass Markets: Studies in Franchise Cultures (University of Minnesota Press)

Series editors: Gerry Canavan (Marquette University) and Benjamin J. Robertson (University of Colorado Boulder)

contact: gerrycanavan@gmail.com

Mission Statement

“90% of everything is crap.” —Theodore Sturgeon

Sturgeon’s Law suggests that the bulk of cultural production is not worthy of our attention, except perhaps as a guilty pleasure. However, as popular media storyworlds increasingly dominate the global entertainment landscape, they call out for serious criticism. The “Mass Markets” of our series title refers both to the audiences who consume media franchises and immerse themselves in those storyworlds and to one of the key media forms through which this consumption has taken place, the mass market paperback. This series thus investigates an archive traditional scholarship typically ignores—from video game franchises to longstanding comic storylines, from fantasy trilogies to Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood blockbusters—even as it expands that archive to include cultural productions by marginalized auteurs and from the world beyond North America and Europe. These studies of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries’ most visible cultural texts are written for critics and fans interested in thinking through the joys and problems mass markets and their fandoms create.

Mass Markets books are 40,000 – 60,000 words each, focused on storyworlds developed in specific franchises and dedicated to expanding our understanding of what franchises can be and who can create and study them. Briefly put, Mass Markets: Studies in Franchise Cultures takes up popular narratives (from books and film to television, games, comics, and beyond) that:

  • are produced and distributed across relatively long timescales;
  • extend across multiple media (including film, television, streaming services, video games, books, comics, and, in certain cases, toys and other commodities);
  • generate extensive narrative storyworlds, both textually and through paratexts like maps, glossaries, indexes, and digital extensions like authorized encyclopedias and fan wikis;
  • have been produced by multiple writers, pen names, and work-for-hire journeymen rather than in accordance with elite notions of “authors” or “auteurs”;
  • are often governed more by a top-down corporate vision than aesthetic and political considerations;
  • and are created for large, mainstream audiences (although they may also contain Easter eggs and others sorts of fan service directed to longstanding fans of the franchise or the genre more generally).

The series aims not to produce full or complete histories of various franchises: their dates of inception, long lists of their various texts and descriptions of the relations among them, the economics and studio maneuvering behind their productions, and so on. Such nondiegetic history is necessary to the series, and we expect the individual texts that make up the series to situate the storyworlds they address in larger cultural movements and historical moments. However, the series shall focus on the diegetic natures of the worlds themselves created by franchises that wish to leverage those worlds into a sustainable condition for storytelling and profit, as well as on the varieties of reception and audience participation such worlds produce.

We therefore envision books on Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the Star Wars Universe, The Walking Dead’s ruined post-zombie America, Marvel’s Wakanda, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, The Broken Earth’s the Stillness, Tin-Tin’s Africa, Akira’s Neo-Tokyo, Valérian and Laurelin’s City of a Thousand Planets, the stylized India of Bollywood film series such as Dhoom or Raaz, Full Metal Alchemist’s Amestris, and so on. But the storyworld we are most excited about is the one we haven’t thought of yet.

Interested authors should contact us for more information and consultation prior to writing anything, but we include the elements of a Minnesota book review for reference.

Elements of a Book Prospectus (University of Minnesota Press)

1.  Overview of the book, including

            •  a summary of the book’s main substantive contribution(s)

            •  an explanation of the theoretical framework that you employ

            •  a description of the methodological approach(es) that you employ

            •  a comparison of the book to others in the field, as well as an explanation of the unique contribution that this work makes (i.e., xdescribe other books and how, specifically, your differs from them)

            •  a description of the target audience(s) for the book.

2.  Table of contents and chapter-by-chapter descriptions (one page per chapter describing its relationship to the other chapters and to the overall argument of the book)

3.  Sample chapter(s), preferably including the introduction and at least two substantive chapters

4.  Current curriculum vitae (if the book is a collection of essays, include a list of contributors’ affiliations)

5.  Manuscript specifics, including estimated length, delivery date, electronic format, and any special requirements (e.g., artwork, tables, photographs, film stills)

Written by gerrycanavan

July 14, 2021 at 6:48 pm

Grad School Achebe #2: 2 Things 2 Apart!

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Gerry and Aaron are back for more Things Fall Apart, talking about parts two and three of the novel! We also talk The Sopranos, Watchmen, Breaking Bad, bad fans, The Things Fall Apart film, just a little Vonnegut, and Achebe’s 1973 essay “Named for Victoria, Queen of England”…