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On the road again...

I have two out-of-state scholarly colloquia scheduled in the next two weeks, so I'll be away a good deal of the time. I'm getting ready to head off to participate in the first, an interdisciplinary roundtable discussion of David Hackett Fischer's landmark study Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America; next week's event focuses on a draft of Lawrence H. White's forthcoming book The Clash of Economic Ideas.

Just in case I'm unable to keep up online, I want to send early happy birthday wishes to pewterwolf, lexie_marie, and jalara. May all three of you enjoy many happy returns of the day!

A few links of interest:

*** Zittaw Press has launched a new journal, Studies in Gothic Fiction. The first issue is already available, and it includes articles as diverse as "'Did I Scare You?' The Curious Case of Michael Jackson as Gothic Narrative" and "The Nightmare of the Unknowable, or, Poe's Inscrutability."

*** As many of you already know, a new round of debate about fan fiction recently ignited after author Diana Gabaldon made posts in opposition to fan fiction in her blog. (She has since deleted these posts.) Another author who jumped on the bandwagon was George R.R. Martin. Of all of the exchanges that followed, I simply wanted to point out author Nick Mamatas's excellent and important rebuttal to Martin, specifically Martin's use of H.P. Lovecraft as an example of the perils of fan fiction: "George R.R. Martin Is Wrong about Lovecraft." (I won't climb onto a soapbox here. My support, both as a scholar and a writer, of fan fiction and other transformative works is a matter of public record.)

For those who are interested in learning specific author's attitudes about fan fiction, there is a well documented entry in the Fanlore wiki on "Professional Author Fanfic Policies."

*** The Hog's Head has featured some terrific posts recently on everything from Lost to wizard rock, and I recommend checking out the site. Recently Travis Prinzi noted the rekindling of public venom against Sir Michael Gambon's portrayal of Albus Dumbledore in the latest Harry Potter films. In the past, Gambon's admitted that he has not read J.K. Rowling's books and does not plan to do so.

Of his performance as Dumbledore, Gambon said last month in The Irish Times, “There’s no character really, it’s just me! Me dressed up in a costume! I’m essentially playing myself, that’s all I’m doing.”

As Travis suggests, Sir Michael may need Sir Ian McKellen's masterful help with his method. Enjoy:

"How do I act so well? What I do is I pretend to be the person I'm portraying in the film or play."
- Sir Ian McKellen, "On Acting"


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 12th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
Ha, I just sent that video to a bunch of my fellow LOTR nerds. They loved it
May. 12th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Ha! I'm so glad they enjoyed it.
May. 12th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Well, there's always some annoying pedant and today it's me!

The name of Ireland's paper of record is The Irish Times.

Now! Off with ye to another conference!
May. 12th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Ha! I have great appreciation and affection for annoying pedants! I apologize for the error (it's fixed now); thanks so much for the correction.

Off I go!
May. 12th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian
I rather loved Mamatas's rebuttal, and I rather love Extras as well. Big thanks for the link to the new journal on Gothic Lit, too, very excited about that.
May. 20th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Re: Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian
I agree with you 100% about Mamatas and Extras. And I'm excited about the new Gothic journal, too! I'm glad the link was of interest.
May. 12th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Haha, love the video! So that's how he did it! ;-)
May. 20th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
LOL! Indeed. :) Glad you enjoyed it, too.
May. 12th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
I can sympathize with both sides of the fan fiction argument. I would never write fan fiction (other than maybe a short toss-off) using the characters of an author who opposed it.

One upon a time I used to write fan fiction based on a certain TV show. Over time I met many of the people associated with the show. At some point, one of the actors gave the producers/writers (an award-winning writing team) a copy of the first fan fiction story I ever wrote (oy vey, looking back at it now). I later met the authors and one of them told me that not only had he enjoyed it, he was considering using the idea on the show. Well, they never did, but it was a very nice compliment!
May. 20th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
A very nice compliment, indeed! How wonderful.
May. 12th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
But, Dr. Amy! How can you support fanfic??!! 90 percent of it is crap!!!!!!!!

-The Fredösphere
May. 20th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Fanfic
I invoke Sturgeon's Law: ninety percent of everything is crud! So why hold fan fiction to a separate standard?

Seriously, I've read very shoddy professional fiction, and I've read fan fiction that far exceeded the quality of the text that inspired it. But I'm most concerned by the idea, the principle of the thing: we as a species have been involved participants in communal storytelling since the first campfires were built (not just centuries, but millennia before copyright). The whole medieval Arthurian tradition is one long parade of fan fiction. I don't think it's any surprise that some of the best storytellers of our age - the Neil Gaimans and Lois McMaster Bujolds and Joss Whedons - appreciate this and support transformative works.

Edited at 2010-05-20 06:04 pm (UTC)
May. 12th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
Albion's Seed was a really fascinating book, not least in its examination of the diverse traditions of supernatural belief in the four folkways. I found it striking that the Pennsylvania Quakers had a sort of proto-spiritualist belief system more than a century before the founding of the Spiritualist movement in upstate New York. It's the sort of detailed cultural analysis that people who want to build worlds for fiction, films, or rpgs ought to study up on.
May. 20th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
It's the sort of detailed cultural analysis that people who want to build worlds for fiction, films, or rpgs ought to study up on.

Excellent point! It's a fascinating study - especially, as you point out, the section on the Quaker, for whom Fischer seems to have a particular affinity and insight.
Abbie [wordpress.com]
May. 13th, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
Ohhh! Surprise! I've actually read Albion's Seed (or at least a large excerpt from it) and wrote a short paper on it. It always excites me when I know what you're talking about. :)

"In the past, Gambon's admitted that he has not read J.K. Rowling's books and does not plan to do so." I laughed.

“There’s no character really, it’s just me! Me dressed up in a costume! I’m essentially playing myself, that’s all I’m doing.” I laughed even more. Me dressed up in a costume... where do they get this stuff.

"It was written down for me in a script." Sir Ian is so cute!

Um, let's see... what else? I hope you have good discussions!

May. 20th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! The "four folkways" argument is fascinating to discuss. It has its problems, but it's a very useful "shorthand" way to think about the contrasting/conflicting currents in the English colonists' thought. I hope you enjoyed it, too!

I laughed even more. Me dressed up in a costume... where do they get this stuff.

Seriously! Considering how much his portrayal's been criticized, I'm not sure he really wants to claim that identity as his. ;)

I loved Sir Ian in this clip. When he wiped his teary eye at the end, I just about lost it.

Thanks for the good wishes. I'm in Indianapolis at the second event now, and all's going well. I hope things are good with you, too!
Abbie [wordpress.com]
May. 21st, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
We read it in America Compared by Carl J. Guarneri. It was compared to "As Various as Their Land" by Stephanie Grauman Wolf, which, if I remember correctly, had something to do with different family structures.

Do you know Dr. Brenda Jackson-Abernathy at all? I absolutely LOVED the American history course I took from her! I get REALLY jazzed when I think about it! (I mean, almost as jazzed as when I think about First Year Seminar...) ;)

I think I'm rambling. I don't have Internet access yet at my new living space, so I'm at Portland Brew, getting in all the communication I can. Hope you continue to enjoy the discussions!

P.S. How does one italicize in these comment boxes? Is it just an html tag? ???
May. 25th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Very interesting!

I've only met Dr. Jackson-Abernathy briefly, I'm afraid. I'm so very glad you loved her course! It sounds fantastic.

How are things in your new place? Congrats on getting moved in and settled. I hope your summer's off to a great start.

Yes, you use regular html tags to italicize in the comments. I hope that helps!
May. 21st, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
But I thought Albert Spica was him?
May. 25th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
May. 19th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
The Hog's Head is an excellent blog that I've followed for about 3 years. Travis Prinzi and the Blogengammot are some of the best literary thinkers on the web right now. Definitely worth checking out.
May. 20th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like them, too! I was really pleased that Travis invited me to contribute an essay to his book The Hog's Head Conversations, and I hope to work with him again in the future.

I've been meaning to make time to post/read on their forums. I need to do that!

May. 21st, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
Yes, ironically, I found The Hog's Head maybe a month or two after I finished my HP/Narnia thesis in college. I was way excited to discover it, but a little bummed that I didn't find it sooner! Travis' insight would've been very useful to me in my research.

By the way, I really enjoyed the Halloween podcast you were featured in. :) Do you podcast regularly? I'm a podcast addict.

May. 21st, 2010 10:38 am (UTC)
Augh, isn't that always the way it goes? I'm glad you found it, though. And I think it's terrific that you did your thesis on Rowling/Lewis.

Thanks so much for your kind words about my appearances on the Potter Pundits! :) I do podcast regularly; I have a monthly segment about science fiction and fantasy called "Looking Back on Genre History" on StarShipSofa (which just became the first podcast to be nominated for a Hugo Award - we're very excited!), and I also do dramatic readings of contemporary short stories and novellas for that podcast. A full list of my segments and narrations, as well as interviews by other podcasts, is here on my website. Thanks so much for being interested!

I'm a podcast addict, too; I listen to several each week. Do you listen to the Tolkien Professor, by any chance? What did we do before podcasts? And iPods? And LiveJournal? And the Internet? :-D
May. 21st, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, I had my thesis posted on my entertainment blog, but my hosting site went under, so it's gone now. Next week I plan on starting my entertainment blog back up on a different site, probably wordpress, and keep this blog up as a personal blog. I'll put my thesis back up, if you'd ever like to take a look at it. I'm a ham and like to show it off, hee hee. :)

StarShipSofa sounds really interesting and the subject matter is right up my alley. I'll be sure to subscribe. I do listen to Tolkien Professor, actually! Now that my summer will be starting soon, I plan to read along with the class he taught this semester. I don't listen to all my podcasts regularly; I tend to save them up when I go to visit my fiancé in NC. It's about a 6-hour drive from where I live, so I enjoy having something good to listen to while on the road.

I am not sure what we did before podcasts, iPods,LiveJournal, or the Internet. I would probably have been in my room to be geeky all on my own! :) It's so nice to hear from you!
May. 20th, 2010 10:16 am (UTC)
I hope your colloquia go / are going / have gone well. We're missing you here!
May. 20th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm in Indianapolis at the second one now, and so far, all's been going wonderfully well. I do miss being on LJ as much as usual, however, and seeing my friends here. I look forward to being online more by the end of the weekend. I hope you have a great one!
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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