Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

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.

Ceremonial End of the Semester Tab Purge and Semi-Annual Apology for Being So Busy

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Between my research, service obligations, Zoom teaching, the kids’ virtual schooling, and getting a new puppy, I’ve been just incredibly busy. Another man might say: hey, this is the perfect opportunity to let the blog you’ve been updating continuously since 2004 die! But I am no ordinary man...

First, just a few things I’ve been doing:

And a carefully curated, deliberately and self-consciously incomplete list of some things I’ve been reading this spring:

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May 11, 2021 at 1:41 pm

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

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Teaching PARASITE!

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I’d solicited Parasite readings on Twitter and Facebook, and there was some interest in the results, so I figured I’d consolidate what i’m doing on the blog for anyone who wants to see what I’ll be doing.

This is for the course on the “hypercontemporary,” all texts that were either created or rose to prominence between 2019 and 2021. It’s one of two films the students chose for the film sequence in the course; the other one they picked is Soul, which makes for a nicely odd one-two punch.

I landed on a two-day structure. Day one is politics:

Day two is devoted to matters of form, both with respect to the way Bong puts the film together but also the complicated way we read Parasite as Westerners encountering a subtitled film from an Asian nation whose politics and culture are not especially well-known to the US and European audience:

The sandbox post is wide open this week but I do invite their thoughts about what the rumored HBO adaptation might do differently.

As I noted on Twitter, Parasite was the last film I saw in a movie theater before the world ended so this is very much a “nature is healing” moment for me personally. I can’t wait to talk about it.

I got a good question on Twitter: “Did you come across any pieces critical of the film?” Here’s the answer, such as it is…

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March 27, 2021 at 1:16 pm

Friday Links!

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GSV25: Death March, Power Rankings, and Celebratory Clambake

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March Links!

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2021 at 9:04 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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GSV24: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”!

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Marquette English Has Podcast Fever!

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Marquette English has podcast fever! In addition to the world-famous Grad School Vonnegut (new episode coming this week!), there’s Sub Titles (substituting each entry on Spin and AFI “Best of” lists), The Annotated 80s (turning a scholarly lens on 80s pop culture), and the brand new, very fun Mismatched Texts (talking about two texts you wouldn’t normally talk about together, together). And these are just the ones I know about…

Have a listen!

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February 17, 2021 at 2:39 pm


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This is the one the podcast has always been building towards: Gerry, Aaron, and special guest Brian Thill take on Galápagos. Does it hold up? Is it secretly the best Vonnegut novel? Can Kurt wriggle out of being canceled one last time? Only our big brains know for sure…

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February 9, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Emergency Tab Closure Post – 2.9.21

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As Tolkien observed in an essay of the late 1950s, even Sauron’s motive was initially to attain a form of political utopianism: “He loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction.”46 As many characters are hopeful utopians in their political orientation, any opposition to this standard soon becomes a radical alternative: “It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.”47 In this scheme, the utopian-political becomes the conventional, while the utopian-ontological becomes the radical; indeed, the latter’s radicality derives not from making different political choices but different personal ones. This is no clearer than in the case of Faramir who, unlike his brother Boromir and father Denethor, will not allow himself to be tempted by the Ring:

I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs.

In these positive characterisations, with their exemplary portrayal of heroic subjective values, we can identify aspects of Levitas’s argument for a utopianism of the wholeness of being and human flourishing. As Levitas suggests, many utopias do their work by advocating better ways of being rather than by illustrating better forms of social organisation.

A Hypercontemporary Literature Syllabus! And More!

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The first week is already over and I realized I never got around to putting up my syllabi. I’m teaching two classes this semester, an all-Zoom revision of my Tolkien class and an all-Zoom survey of 21st Century Literature that I decided to focus on texts from more or less the last two years. (I also have an independent study on Gender and Sexuality in New Wave SF that’s been terrific; no formal syllabus for that one but we’re reading Le Guin, Russ, Delany, Tiptree, Lem, the Tarkovskys, all your faves.)

Thanks so much to everyone on Facebook and Twitter who flooded me with suggestions for the 21st Century course. In the end I was so overwhelmed by the possibilities I solicited suggestions directly from the students, which allowed me to craft a syllabus that was both inside and outside my usual wheelhouse, hopefully in ways that will be fun for both my students and myself. And we still get to be surely the first class in the world to study Ishiguro’s new book.

The syllabus doesn’t list the films they picked, but our class vote landed on Parasite and Soul for the last two weeks of class, an intriguing dialectic arraying the full possibilities of the human experience…

synchW1/27Among Us game and thinkpieces [D2L]
asynchF1/29Giorgio Agamben, “What Is the Contemporary?” [D2L]
synchM2/1PLAY/MOVIE: Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me (including bonus material) [Amazon Prime]
synchW2/3What the Constitution Means to Me discussion continues
asynchF2/5POEM: Andrea Gorman, “The Hill We Climb” [D2L] and online reactions 
synchM2/8SHORT STORY: N.K. Jemisin, “Emergency Skin” [Amazon Kindle]
synchW2/10SHORT STORY: Ted Chiang, “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” [online]
asynchF2/12Jemisin and Chiang sandbox assignment
synchM2/15COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part one
synchW2/17COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part two
asynchF2/19COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part three sandbox assignment
synchM2/22COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part three discussion
synchW2/24COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part four
asynchF2/26Haruki Murakami, “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey” [D2L]optional: Haruki Murakami, “A Shinagawa Monkey” [D2L]
synchM3/1Haruki Murakami, “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey” discussion
synchW3/3Hades [Steam or Nintendo Switch]
asynchF3/5Hades sandbox assignment
synchM3/8Hades discussion continues
asynchF3/12Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 1-16
synchM3/15Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 17-30
synchW3/17Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 31-45
asynchF3/19Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 46-60
synchM3/22Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 61-74
synchW3/24Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 75-90
asynchF3/26Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, whole book
synchM3/29Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future and responses
synchW3/31Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future and responses
synchM4/5Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
synchW4/7Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
asynchF4/9Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
synchM4/12Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
synchW4/14Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
asynchF4/16Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
synchM4/19CREATIVE NONFICTION: Zadie Smith, Intimations (first half)
synchW4/21CREATIVE NONFICTION: Zadie Smith, Intimations (second half)
asynchF4/23MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
synchM4/26MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
synchW4/28MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
asynchF4/30MOVIE or TV SHOW TDB


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Gerry and Aaron return for a discussion of “EPICAC” (1950)! Join us for a meandering tour of automation, machine learning, feminism, suicide, the war machine, masculinity, STEM, and so much more…

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January 15, 2021 at 3:34 pm


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What’s that? There, in the back, behind the Christmas tree? Why, it’s a very special, two-hour episode of Grad School Vonnegut, guest-starring Matt Hauske & Hilary Strang from the Marooned! on Mars podcast! We talk Player Piano, automation, capitalism, revolution, utopia, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ministry for the Future, failsons, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, the Ghost Dance, and so much more…

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December 29, 2020 at 2:54 pm

Ye Old Link Roundup!

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