Books

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You don't have to act like a Klingon glacier, I don't bite. Well, that's wrong, I *do* bite.

I'm interested in reading the posts that will come out of this first-ever Feminist SF Carnival. Here's the call for posts (Via Lis Riba):

Even today, some fandoms seem to have a “No Girls Allowed” sign. Created by men and for men, and populated with men who don’t realize that women also dream of telepathic communication, traveling to the stars, dragon-slaying and x-ray vision, it can get stifling for a female fan. Often a search for positive female portrayals is answered by “This is not for you, so go read Harlequinn romance,” “CENSORSHIP!! She’s crying for CENSORSHIP!!” “I know at least two women who like [simpering, annoying female stereotype “character”]” or even “If you are actually a woman, online its hard to tell.”

(At least, that’s how it seems in superhero fandom.)

But there are female-friendly stories out there. There are female-friendly sites and communities. There are female-friendly fans out there. And yes, there are even feminists out there! Which brings us here.

The Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans periodically collects posts from the hazy side-reality where feminist social consciousness meets the outer limits of the imagination. This is to draw attention to lesser known bloggers, to bring individuals of like-minded (or at least, understanding) interests together, and to foster the growth of feminist fan communities.

The first edition will be on Written World (a comics weblog, so posts from other sci-fi/fantasy fandoms will be welcome and necessary) on July 2, 2006.

Deadline for submissions is June 29th, 2006. Since this is the first edition, we’ll be considering posts during late May 2006 and all of June 2006. After that it will go back to the deadline of the previous carnival. Please email the hostess at ragnellthefoul AT hotmail DOT com or use the submission form.

Some Basic Guidelines:

  • All Weblog Postings on Science Fiction and Fantasy works in all media (books, comic books, television, film, roleplaying tabletop games and video games) written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Fan fiction written from a Feminist Perspective is eligible.
  • Posts about fan fiction written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts about conventions and fan gatherings of a Feminist nature are eligible.
  • Posts about conventions and fan gatherings written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts about any science fiction or fantasy fandom written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts linking to news and announcements are eligible, so long as they pertain specifically to the Feminist Sci-Fi Fantasy community.
  • Considerations about science fiction/fantasy news from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Analysis of non-Feminist works from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Rants about any of the above written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts which spell “Space” using 3 A’s and two exclamation points and are written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
  • Posts about Green-Skinned Amazons (from Outer Spaaace!) with more than two breasts that are not written from a Feminist Perspective will not be eligible (and if they aren’t damned funny,* will be reproduced for mockery).
  • Posts about Getting Your Girlfriend into [specific type of fandom] had also better be damned funny. If written from a Feminist Perspective (even tongue-in-cheek), they will be eligible.

*Sexist and/or homophobic does not equal damned funny, nor does it constitute anything approaching a Feminist Perspective.

Any questions may be directed to Ragnell the Foul — ragnellthefoul AT hotmail DOT com

I'm not as involved in fan communities as I'd like to be, but it seems clear from this call and a few other things I've read that they're called the fanboisie for a reason. Maybe I'll contribute a brief annotated bibliography of feminist SF scholarship that's published online.

Biographical Awareness

As you can probably tell, I'm really enjoying Heilbrun's book. I'll likely post more about it in the coming weeks. I find myself wondering if Nels and Prof. B. have read it, and if so, what they think of it. I also wonder what Heilbrun would have thought about all these women who are writing about their lives every day on their weblogs.

As an aside, I created this comic of sorts before I saw that Collin just put up a much better one. Do read it.

Notes from Next/Text Rhetoric

What follows are my notes on the Next/Text meeting for Rhetoric and Composition. At first I was really vigilant about preceding people's comments with their names or initials, you know, so they'd get credit for what they said. But then things got so rapid-fire that I got lazy about it. These notes represent what we, as a group, said, and each of us made contributions: myself, Cheryl Ball, Cindy Selfe, Daniel Andersen, David Blakesley, David Goodwin, Geoffrey Sirc, Janice Walker, Jeff Rice, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Karl Stolley, Kim White, Michael Day, Victor Vitanza, and Virginia Kuhn. To give a little background, Next/Text is one of the projects of the Institute for the Future of the Book, which is part of the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California. Next/Text is focused on classroom textbooks in particular. Our meeting was devoted to imagining how we in rhetoric and composition would go about creating a completely new electronic textbook -- new, as opposed to CD-ROM companions to print textbooks: your basic linear, text-with-images, PDF-esque, "take a book from the tradition of print, digitize it, and smack it up on the Web."

As we started out, we briefly discussed institutional constraints and realities -- the old hiring, promotion, and tenure. In any discussion of online/technological work, we can't put those aside or dismiss them. Although this part was kind of bracketed after the initial comment, I suppose it was always in the background. For a while, we talked about generalities: basic needs, realities of textbook publishing, realities of online projects which someone starts (a faculty member) and others work on and contribute to (e.g., graduate students/T.A.s, non-tenure-track instructors, etc.). There was a stated need for what we, for lack of a better term, called a datacloud with portals and axes that help to organize content (which I'm going to call tags here, because that's basically how they'd function). I kept smiling and thinking of a conversation I had once with (the brilliant) Geoffrey Sauer, who emphasized the need for me really to connect scholarship with what it is I do online. I was trying to offer ideas of what I thought he was driving at, and he kept saying, "no, it can't be just another archive!" I relayed Sauer's call for some new online endeavor that wasn't just another archive to the Next/Text group, who agreed vigorously.

Next/Text Meeting: Rhetoric Textbooks, Digital

I took copious notes at the Next/Text Rhetoric meeting of the Institute for the Future of the Book, but I still need to work on massaging them into blog-post suitability, and I have an imminent deadline for an article for S&F Online. Plus, I'll be out of town with spotty internet access until May 7, so posting will be pretty much nonexistent until then. For the time being, check out Jeff's notes from the meeting, Dan's notes, and the pictures I took during my stay in L.A. By the way, the folks at the Institute are terrific hosts. Great food and accommodations -- my first-ever stay at a bed and breakfast.

I don't get out much

A few months ago, I sent a text message to a friend of mine, not knowing whether or not her phone would accept them. A couple of days later, she called me, laughing, saying that she had gotten the text message, but at her land line, which I had accidentally text-messaged instead. The phone rang, and she heard the message in this weird digitized voice. She was bewildered, having not encountered this before. I sent a text message yesterday to a friend, only to get a return message with the Text to Landline notification. I laughed for a good five minutes. Now I'm going to start text-messaging all my friends who have land lines.

So last night I got back from the Next/Text meeting; this is why I haven't blogged in a few days. I read Baby Laughs by Jenny McCarthy and Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. I guess last time it was representations of India; now it's the parenting memoir (I also read Life As We Know It by Michael Bérubé and Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields.

Jottings

  • I cringe in anticipation of Tina Fey's joke about this story on tonight's SNL Weekend Update.
  • Would it be so bad if I had the following meal? -- waffles with maple syrup, followed by a dessert of popsicles and yellow cake with chocolate frosting?
  • What are the pros and cons of getting a seven-year fraud alert on your credit report?
  • This summer I'll be teaching Rhetoric 3401, Internet Communication: Tools and Issues (one syllabus here, another here). If any of you have any tips on teaching online courses or suggestions of readings to assign, I'd love to hear them.
  • Recent reads: Down Came the Rain, Brooke Shields' memoir of postpartum depression. It was surprisingly good, but this is of course coming from a general fangirl who, while a child, had a Brooke Shields doll. Also, Life As We Know It by Michael Bérubé, which I've already recommended. I'm now reading Woolf's To the Lighthouse (for the first time!), and will probably read Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn Heilbrun next.

Noted

From a book I finished this morning and which I highly recommend:

Even in our many representations of human affairs, from Oedipus to Hamlet to Ronald Reagan, we can find no correlation between reflective self-awareness and effective action. Still less is there any reason to link the rise of self-awareness to the rise of language; although the latter might enhance the former, the former doesn't compel the latter. Finally, though we may have evolved, by whatever chance, that sequence of biochemical reactions which Steven Pinker calls a "language instinct," there's nothing to suggest that a language instinct should also carry with it a reciprocity instinct. Our languages may all have an internal grammar for which we are hard-wired, but we were using our many languages for quite a long time before we conceived of societies founded on the idea of "egalitarian reciprocity" or "justice as fairness." All we know about this idea is that it's here, it's queer, and we ought to get used to it.

Michael Bérubé, Life As We Know It

Linky

First, some old stuff I should have blogged weeks ago: the posts at Crooked Timber and 11D about Unequal Childhoods, a monograph by sociologist Annette Lareau. The book description from Amazon, for expediency:

Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children. Drawing on in-depth observations of black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families, Unequal Childhoods explores this fact, offering a picture of childhood today. Here are the frenetic families managing their children's hectic schedules of "leisure" activities; and here are families with plenty of time but little economic security. Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of "concerted cultivation" designed to draw out children's talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on "the accomplishment of natural growth," in which a child's development unfolds spontaneously--as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided. Each of these approaches to childrearing brings its own benefits and its own drawbacks. In identifying and analyzing differences between the two, Lareau demonstrates the power, and limits, of social class in shaping the lives of America's children.

Admittedly, I haven't read the book, and I'm sure Lareau probably accounts for this, but I don't recall reading in the threads at 11D or Crooked Timber any consideration of families in which one parent is middle class and the other is working class (obviously the class position of the family would be one or the other -- or neither. I'm talking about the class backgrounds of the parents). Presumably, assuming each parent is equally involved in childrearing, the child would get some of both "concerted cultivation" and "accomplishment of natural growth."

Alex Reid has some interesting thoughts about not getting podcasting. He gets it, of course; the thing is, he just isn't all that impressed, heh.

How Tyler Cowen cooks blackened fish.

The only pictures that were taken of me at CCCC.

I command it! Read this review of the new collection of Elizabeth Bishop's previously unpublished poetry, Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box. And listen to this interview/slide show with Alice Quinn, the editor of the collection. Seriously, I do command it.

While you're at the New Yorker's site, read Relatively Deprived, a critique of how the poverty rate is calculated.

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