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Happy September!

Happy birthday to marthawells and aragornlover! May your next year be your very best yet.

And happy first day of September to everyone! My favorite time of year is just around the corner. How can I tell? I am told that Starbucks is offering pumpkin spice lattes again. * fist pump of triumph* Fall is coming soon, my friends - we can, quite literally, taste it!

I have a couple links to share:

* From Damien G. Walter: "Today is Support Our 'Zines Day!: How to Support Our 'Zines."

* From Brainplucker: "10 Sensational Sense of Wonder Covers from Vintage Science Magazines."

* From Unique Scoop: "101 Shirts for Scientists, Science Geeks, and Nerds."

* On the latest episode of The Sofanauts podcast, I am one of three guests in a roundtable discussion on "the week in science fiction news" along with Lawrence Santoro and Damien G. Walter. You can stream or download this episode here.

And in other news...

* Thanks to those of you who have taken part in my fall science fiction/fantasy television poll. It's still open, if you haven't voted and would like to do so.

* I've settled my schedule for which next upper-division seminars I'll be offering soon at Belmont.

In the spring, I'll be teaching "The American and the Frontier."

By exploring key romantic images of the ideal American across time [such as Explorer, Pioneer, Highwayman/Cowboy, Policeman (of home and/or of the world), Spy, and Astronaut] in rhetoric, fiction, film, and music, this course will consider if the frontier really is a key ingredient to American identity and, if so, what it means, who it includes and excludes, how it is a limited and problematic image, and what “the frontier” might be in the twenty-first century.

In the summer, I'll be teaching a brand new course: "100 Years of Fiction About One-Sex Worlds."

What would a world of only women look like? A world of only men? This course will begin with one of the first known depictions of an all-woman, self-sufficient world, Mizora (1880) by utopian feminist Mary E. Bradley Lane, and from there explore a number of key utopian, dystopian, and speculative works depicting the development of single-sex societies, from Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic social critique Herland (1915) to Philip Wylie's dark satire The Disappearance (1951) and beyond to consider why authors repeatedly have revisited this unique thought experiment. The class will analyze these works in their historical contexts and mine them for valuable insights into changing attitudes about and understandings of gender and sexuality, power and authority, individualism and community -- and, ultimately, what it means to be human. The class will also compare and contrast the assumptions behind and arguments in works such as Lois McMaster Bujold's optimistic tale of the scientifically advanced, devoutly religious males of Ethan of Athos (1986) and Sheri Tepper's cautionary tale of a post-apocalyptic gated community of females in The Gate to Women's Country (1988). In so doing, the students will gain a greater appreciation for how these works speak to each other, and how the tradition of speculative fiction allows authors to use fantasic premises to discuss concrete social and political issues of immediate relevance to the author and his/her world.

The upper-division seminar I'm currently teaching is "History and the Gothic Imagination."

The Gothic literary tradition began in the mid-eighteenth century in Europe and lives on in various forms across the globe through contemporary fiction, poetry, art, music, film, and television. Mad scientists, blasted heaths, abandoned ruins, elusive ghosts, charming vampires, and even little green men people its stories. With ingredients such as a highly developed sense of atmosphere, extreme emotions including fear and awe, and emphases on the mysterious and the paranormal, Gothic works tend to express anxieties about social, political, religious, and economic issues of the time, as well as rejection of prevailing modes of thought and behavior. Using classic texts and the latest multimedia sources, this course will investigate the fascinating and subversive Gothic imagination (from the haunted castles of Horace Walpole to the threatening aliens of H.P. Lovecraft, from Frankenstein to Doctor Who), identify the historical conditions that have inspired it, consider how it has developed across time and place and medium, and explore how it has left its indelible imprint on the modern genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

While thinking for this class about some moments in popular culture that were not framed as Gothic, but that clearly reflect the Gothic imagination, I thought of a classic music video that was all the rage back when I was an undergraduate. Do you remember Richard Marx's "Hazard"? I recall extended debates about who, in fact, killed Mary. If you ignore the unfortunate mullet of doom, I think the video still holds up extremely well...

Watch it HERE! You know you want to watch it now!

Ah, taste that Gen-X nostalgia. It's almost as sweet as a pumpkin spice latte.

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
- William Wordsworth, September


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
You're most welcome!
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
Sound like fun courses. I hope they go well.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! Me, too. The Gothic course is off to a terrific start. I am fortunate to have fantastic students. :)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
*joins you*
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
The Sherriff totally did it. ;)
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
LOL! That's my impression, too. I wonder: did he have a thing for Richard Marx's mother, and so he was always looking for a way to strike back at him for the fire? Or did he have a thing for Mary? Or both? And who was that mystery man in the car with her? The scenes of him watching, and/or taking pictures, are just chilling.
(no subject) - estellye - Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
i loved the song 'hazard'. and somehow, i never once saw the video! so thank you muchly for posting that! it was very awesome. (and yes, the mullet of doom was very doom-like. Oh well...)
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Isn't it a great song? I'm so glad you liked the video, too. I remember being fascinated by it at the time, but looking back, I think it really is an excellent video. There's a lot going on in that five minutes! And it fits the music beautifully. The fact it's in black and white really adds to the atmosphere and timelessness of it, too.
Abbie [wordpress.com]
Sep. 1st, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
"100 Years of Fiction About One-Sex Worlds."
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
Re: "100 Years of Fiction About One-Sex Worlds."
I thought that would be a fun way of combining some utopias and dystopias with other speculative fiction from different eras. And it's been ages since I offered a class over the summer. So I'm looking forward to it.
Sep. 1st, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
It's a remarkable video... but they did good videos in the eighties, mullets and all.

Good luck on your courses!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the good wishes!

They really did do some great videos. I remember Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" as another particular favorite. It's nice to revisit them and see they really are as good as you remember. "Hazard" is still very powerful, I think.
Sep. 1st, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
Lots of love for those seasonal drinks. And it'll soon be the time of year for pumpkin ice cream, too. Doesn't even remotely feel like summer's end, here, though. Warm and sunny. Then again, winter here is not much different than summer most of the time...

Mullet of doom - hah! I've never seen that video before. Although I recognize his name, I was suprised that a scan of youtube just now yielded nothing familiar... I guess he was never on my radar screen.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Pumpkin ice cream - yum, yum, yum! I am a huge pumpkin nerd. I also adore eggplant, and I've been growing some this summer in pots on the back porch (so the deer and rabbits can't get to them), and they're just now ripening. Delicious.

I think Richard Marx's height of "pop" popularity was in the very late eighties (that's when I saw him in concert), and since he's become more of - or returned to being - an acoustic singer/songwriter, as well as a music producer. "Hazard" was my favorite of his songs, and I always loved the depth of storytelling in this video.
Sep. 1st, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
This is me pretending to take your awesome courses from afar :D It looks like I have some new books for my must read list!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I'm so thrilled you think these sound interesting. :) If you have any recommendations, please let me know - I haven't finalized the reading list for the "Single-Sex Worlds" class, for example, and I'm always interested in new titles!
Sep. 1st, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, the single-sex course sounds fabulous!! I would audit it if I could. ;) Ah, for the good old days when I could audit your courses in person, learn all kinds of great things *and* knit!! I'll check out the video after work. Sounds promising!

And thank goodness for September! We're ever-closer to our favorite season and your favorite holiday. :D
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
Yay for September, indeed! :D

Thank you so much for your kind words about the classes. I'm thrilled that you think they sound interesting. I'll post the reading list for the "Single-Sex Worlds" course as it firms up: if you have any recommendations, I'd welcome them!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
Pumpkin creme frappachino! Yum!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
Woohoo! Yum indeed!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love novels about one sex societies! I wish I could take your class. Or be a fly on your shoulder...I think it's great that you are using Ethan of Athos in your class. One of the few examples of an all-male society. I have also read and enjoyed The Shore of Women, by Pamela Sargeant; Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (sort of) and Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith. I'm sure there are more I've read, but can't think of them now.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your kind words! I thought using Bujold and Wylie would be my best bet to get the all-male societies. Thank you so much for mentionming Sargent, Elgin, and Griffith! *notes to self* If you have any other recommendations, please let me know. I plan to work some shorter fiction in, as well, such as Joanna Russ's "When It Changed" and John Wyndham's "Consider Her Ways" - I need to start thinking about that.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
Bill Bartmann
Great site...keep up the good work.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Bill Bartmann
Many thanks for visiting and commenting!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
LOL, some of those teeshirts are *awesome*! Love the "magic is just stuff science hasn't made boring yet." And this one makes me laugh so hard I think I broke a rib: Time Travel
Sep. 3rd, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
The time travel shirt absolutely slays me. :) I also liked "Viva la Relativity!" - and, of course, the vacuum in space. *cackles*

Hey, did you see my subtle Robert Conrad-ism above? I'm discovering a new truth of the universe: everything relates to The Wild, Wild West in some way or another. LOL!
Sep. 25th, 2009 08:41 am (UTC)
Tell us how to enroll/register to audit these classes! Please? Pretty please?

By the summer, I may be ready to use my brain again! :-)
Sep. 30th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for being interested!

The general admissions information is here, including the information for those students who aren't seeking a degree and/or only wish to audit classes. My courses are almost always Liberal Studies courses (although specific ones often get dual credit with English or History, etc.), and the specific information on that program is here, along with contact information for further questions. Please let me know if you need anything else!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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