Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

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”…

GSA1: Things Fall Apart chapters 1-13

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It’s all happening again…

Wednesday Night Links!

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* Somehow, Grad School Vonnegut has returned.

* I’ll be giving a talk at UCSB next Tuesday as part of my ongoing Aurora project. Email me for details if you want them!

* What Is It Like to Be a Robot Fish Man? A Conversation with Ted Chiang.

* The Personal Works of Samuel R. Delany.

* She’s appeared in over 100 Star Trek episodes and three films — meet Tracee Cocco.

* The Planet after Geoengineering, at Biennale Architettura 2021.

* ‘A Watershed Moment’ for Shared Governance. AAUP Report: Survey Data on the Impact of the Pandemic on Shared Governance. Austerity Pedagogy and Unilateral Leadership Decisions. University of California Lecturers Unanimously Authorize Potential Strike. Why does college cost so much? Don’t save the university — transform it.

* A New Hire, a Koch Grant, and a Department in Crisis. A Poisonous Atmosphere at the County College of Morris. What Do You Do with a BA in English? The Native Scholar Who Wasn’t. How Many Black Women Have Tenure on Your Campus? On Decolonisation and the University. Academic Freedom on the Ropes.

* COVID-19 left college students depressed and anxious. Who will pay for their therapy?

* Oklahoma teacher says summer class canceled due to bill that bans teaching critical race theory. Why Social Justice Triggers Conservatives. Words That Mean Nothing. The Republican Party, Racial Hypocrisy, and The 1619 Project. Nikole Hannah Jones, A Mega-Donor, and the Future of Journalism. Behind Nikole Hannah-Jones’s Tenure Case. “Cancel Culture,” Hypocrisy, and Double Standards. Cancel culture telephone. Wild.

* Imani Perry: Ok, here’s some of the CRT books that I’ve taught and read over the years.

* We’ll Innovate Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis or Die Trying. Prayer for a Just War: Finding meaning in the climate fight. Why two women sacrificed everything to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. Eight children and an octogenarian nun took the Australian Minister for the Environment to court, to establish whether there is a ‘duty of care’ to future generations. What’s Worse Than Climate Catastrophe? Climate Catastrophe Plus Fascism.

* Gymnastics, fresh from its nightmarish decades-long rape scandal, wants to make it so being one of the greatest gymnasts of all time doesn’t get you any points.

* We’re Not Ready for the Next Pandemic. The End IS Near. No, Seriously. The unseen covid-19 risk for unvaccinated people. New Mask Guidelines Don’t Take a Huge Number of Americans Into Account. Necrosecurity, Immunosupremacy, and Survivorship in the Political Imagination of COVID-19. How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible. If the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis is true, expect a political earthquake.

* We Should Applaud the Cuban Health System — and Learn From It.

* Queer Girls in The Wilds: Refusing White Feminism’s Settler Colonial Fantasy.

* An Elementary School Teacher’s Secret Life As A White Nationalist Writer.

* 500+ Biden/Dem staffers call on Biden “to end the…occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion that led to this exceptionally destructive period in a 73-year history of dispossession and ethnic cleansing. The resulting status quo is…apartheid.” Biden Steps Back On Student Loan Debt Forgiveness, Leading To Major Criticism.

* The neoliberal order seems to be collapsing. A generation of young activists is trying to insure that it’s replaced by progressive populism, not by the fascist right.

* Crisis at the AP.

* Small Businesses Have Surged in Black Communities. Was It the Stimulus? What happened to the $45 billion in rent relief? Hospitality Workers Struggle to Find Reliable, Affordable Ways Home. Giving people money makes them happier and safer.

* The Graveyard Doesn’t Like: The Texas Winter Storm And Power Outages Killed Hundreds More People Than The State Says.

* We’re Being Worked to Death by Capital. Work Isn’t Fulfilling Because Capitalism Is a Death March. Bosses are acting like the pandemic never happened. The Luddites Were Right. The Blue Welfare State. On Chandler Bing’s Job.

* After 150 years of technological innovation, the problems facing the United States Postal Service are only getting harder.

* ‘No One’s Ever Talked to Me About This Before’: Social media creators are helping women and people of color identify possible symptoms of A.D.H.D., a disorder most often diagnosed in white boys.

* Hard to Read: How American schools fail kids with dyslexia.

* Wisconsin Republicans advance ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports.

* The Professor Who Became a Cop. The Lies Cops Tell and the Lies We Tell About Cops. And on the carceral futurism beat: How Will Radical Life Extension Transform Punishment?

* U.S. Soldiers Accidentally Leaked Nuclear Weapons Secrets Online: Report. Let’s hope the Russians haven’t heard about flashcards.

* The Spacefaring Paradox: Deep-space human travel is a lose-lose proposition.

* Crowdfunding is killing board game expansions. Video games have turned my kids into wage slaves – but without the wages. The Shortest Possible Game of Monopoly.

* Amazon Prime Is an Economy-Distorting Lie.

* Question time: my life as a quiz obsessive.

* How many American children have cut contact with their parents?

* Disaster patriarchy: how the pandemic has unleashed a war on women.

* RIP, Eric Carle.

* When Watchmen Were Klansmen. Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood found prosperity after the 1921 massacre. Then the highways arrived. Tulsa and the Myth of Objectivity.

* Let’s review how Bill and Melinda Gates spent billions of dollars to change public education.

* “Effective Altruism” and Disability Rights Are Incompatible.

* Spare a Thought for the Billions of People Who Will Never Exist.

* Oh, you think?

* It has been hard to convey, through anecdotes or data, how bizarre the U.S. housing market has become.

* You can’t outrun a nightmare: The lasting trauma of rape.

* Dangerous Bodies & Dress Codes.

* This Mommy Blogger Is Under Fire For Refusing To Stop Writing About Her 9-Year-Old After The Girl Begged Her To.

* QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests.

* ‘Greater Idaho’ took one step closer to being a real thing as 5 more counties voted to explore leaving liberal Oregon for conservative Idaho.

* Potatoes exonerated. Cleared of all charges!

* Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health.

* Not great: The Age of Autonomous Killer Robots May Already Be Here. Yikes.

* The world’s riskiest project.

* Neuralink Brain Chip Will End Language in Five to 10 Years, Elon Musk Says. Well, if Elon Musk says it…

* The Oral History of A Different World.

* Spanish Civil War ends.

* And Wes Anderson’s next movie has a release date. Nature is healing.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 2, 2021 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Grad School Achebe: Episode Zero

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The first episode of season two! Gerry and Aaron discuss the gameplan for Grad School Achebe, the history and reception of African literature inside and outside academia, Achebe’s place in the canon, his uncanny recurrent deaths on social media, the finer points of pronunciation, and more. Next week: the podcast falls apart.

Texts discussed:

Chinua Achebe in conversation with Bill Moyers (1988)

Chinua Achebe in conversation with Lewis Nkosi and Wole Soyinka (1964)

Chinua Achebe, No Longer at Ease (2015)

Monday Morning Links!

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* Paradoxa 32 has a cover.

* Boys don’t read enough.

* The era of high fertility is ending. Every child on their own trampoline. Police-Free Childhoods. The Seismic Generational Shift in Worldview: Millennials Seek a Nation Without God, Bible and Churches.

* Selfies, Surgeries And Self-Loathing: Inside The Facetune Epidemic.

* The Bullshit Jobs Boom.

* The empty brain. Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer.

* My theory, Philip K. Dick style, is that we didn’t survive the Cold War. All the evidence points that way.

* We still know basically knowing about COVID policy.

* Life Under Occupation: The Misery at the Heart of the Conflict.

* An interview with Emily Wilder, recent Stanford grad fired from AP job over criticisms of Israel.

* Science Fiction and Fantasy by Palestinian Authors.

* They tried to overturn the 2020 election. Now they want to run the next one. Republicans Move to Limit a Grass-Roots Tradition of Direct Democracy. 27 possible voter fraud cases in 3 million Wisconsin ballots. What if the Renegade Arizona Audit Declares Trump Won? Republicans Want You To Forget January 6 Ever Happened.

* Some Republicans may talk the talk, but this one walks the walk.

* Linkrot and you.

* How UFO sightings went from joke to national security worry in Washington. How Washington Got Hooked on Flying Saucers.

* California climate refugees. Indigenous Land Management Is The Solution to the Wildfire Crisis. World’s largest iceberg, nearly four times size of New York City, forms in Antarctica. If these trends continue…

* Civilization Battle Royale.

* Makes a biographer’s job a bit easier when they can destroy the primary sources when they’re done with them.

* Indigenous Cinema and the Limits of Auteurism.

* How could anyone doubt it? “Generous” Billionaires Are Part of the Problem.

* Rebellion in the Faculty Lounge. For Colleges, Vaccine Mandates Often Depend on Which Party Is in Power. Why Did a University Suspend Its Mandatory Diversity Course? Conservatives Control Public Higher Education: UNC Chapel Hill Edition. What is at stake with Nikole Hannah-Jones being denied tenure. The Real Reason UNC–Chapel Hill Is Withholding Tenure From Nikole Hannah-Jones. A Statement from the UNC AAUP. Guess Who’s Coming to the Lecture?

* Right-wing media helped usher in the age of “cancel culture,” but now pretend it’s an invention of the left.

* ‘I am seeking justice’: Tulsa massacre survivor, 107, testifies to US Congress.

* Decolonizing Education: A Conversation with Linda Tuhiwai Smith.

* #ReleaseTheSteinbeckWerewolfThing.

* Has science fiction become too serious? Apocalypse movies need to imagine climate solutions, too.

* Bring on the Forgotten Realms!

* Bring on the Summer Slowdown!

* And I think I linked this one before, but we’re in the endgame now.

Thursday Links!

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* Call for Papers: Trans-Indigenous Science Fictions. CFP: Activism and Resistance at the London Science Fiction Research Community. And don’t forget about the mini-ICFA in October!

* In a lousy year, Phil Wegner’s Invoking Hope was something that made me feel really good about the work I do, and gave me hope for the possibilities of the university (despite its managers). Read my review at Ancillary Review of Books!

* On the other side of things: The Hopeless University: Intellectual Work at the end of The End of History.

* The New Republic has another review of the Butler LOA volume.

* Science Fiction & … Economic Crisis! with Sherryl Vint, Hugh O’Connell, and Malka Older.

* While I’m recommending stuff: my 21C students loved Zadie Smith’s 2020 mini-memoir Intimations — it was their favorite book of the semester — and I’ve had great fun playing Clank: Legacy and Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion with my third-grader lately.

* I also wanted to buy every game listed in this fun YouTube study of Tomb of Horrors, because I’m just that game-crazed right now.

* Gloomhaven sequel Frosthaven will change to address cultural bias.

* Teen Vogue: Colleges are right-wing institutions.

Conservatives continually cite statistics suggesting that college professors lean to the left. But those who believe a university’s ideological character can be discerned by surveying the political leanings of its faculty betray a fundamental misunderstanding of how universities work. Partisan political preferences have little to do with the production of academic knowledge or the day-to-day workings of the university — including what happens in classrooms. There is no “Democrat” way to teach calculus, nor is there a “Republican” approach to teaching medieval English literature; anyone who has spent time teaching or studying in a university knows that the majority of instruction and scholarship within cannot fit into narrow partisan categories. Moreover, gauging political preferences of employees is an impoverished way of understanding the ideology of an institution. To actually do so, you must look at who runs it — and in the case of the American university, that is no longer the professoriate.

* To whit. Exhibit B.

* new demographic cliff just dropped

* First the U. of Vermont Announced Cuts. Then Enrollment Spiked. Now What?

* North Carolina schools are re-segregating. A Wisconsin county completely loses its shit at the very idea of equality.

* The shocking MOVE bombing was part of a broader pattern of anti-Black racism.

* Can Climate Fiction Writers Reach People in Ways That Scientists Can’t?

* Cory Doctorow has been having some 🔥🔥🔥 threads on Twitter lately: 1, 2, 3…

* The Secret Life of Deesha Philyaw (or, why we need university presses).

* How Much Money Do Authors Actually Earn?

* Krakoa as libertarian haven. A Clockwork Orange and #MeToo. Fear of a Black Superhero. Putting an animated series on the blockchain seems like a Rick and Morty bit, doesn’t it? Apparently the Brontës all died so early because they spent their lives drinking graveyard water.

* For some Navy pilots, UFO sightings were an ordinary event: ‘Every day for at least a couple years.’

* Ominous: Alien life looks more and more likely. Catholics are ready.

* Africans in Space: The Incredible Story of Zambia’s Afronauts.

* The Strange Story of Dagobert, the “DuckTales” Bandit.

* Colson Whitehead and Margaret Atwood Discuss The Underground RailroadThe Handmaid’s Tale and the Challenges of Adaptation.

* Randall Kennedy and Eugene Volokh have the case for allowing the use of the n-word and other slurs in the classroom.

* they say your first Amazon order defines your future

* Now you’re just being rude.

* Dick Van Dyke at 95.

* When you’re cancelled, you’re cancelled.

* At only $20,000/month, you’d be a fool NOT to rent it.

* Just 12 People Are Behind Most Vaccine Hoaxes On Social Media, Research Shows.

* How the world missed more than half of all Covid-19 deaths. Is this the end?

* Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die. No, I don’t think I want to!

* The Darkness.

* Decolonization is not a metaphor. Imperialism: A Syllabus.

* But on the miracles and wonders beat: 1st Group Enrolled in Trial of uniQure’s AMT-130 Gene Therapy for Huntington’s Disease.

Thursday Night Links!

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Drastic as the decision may seem, particularly given that Pokémon cards aren’t the only things people wait in line for hours to buy, it comes days following a fight in a Brookfield, Wisconsin Target’s parking lot in which four people attacked a man, who then pulled his legally-owned gun on his assailants, prompting them to flee before later being arrested by the police. Target’s decision also comes just weeks after the company implemented new policies to curtail people camping out overnight at their stores. Beyond telling people not to line up like this, an alleged note to employees asked them to consider calling the police in order to force people to disperse.