Matching Items (7)

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The Cultural Value of Bad Storytelling

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An investigation into the cultural phenomenon surrounding books and movies that are considered critical failures, but are nonetheless championed in popular culture. Stories are an essential part of American culture,

An investigation into the cultural phenomenon surrounding books and movies that are considered critical failures, but are nonetheless championed in popular culture. Stories are an essential part of American culture, and many people not only tolerate but truly enjoy those stories that are shocking, confusing, and, in some cases, those that were created by storytellers with almost no talent at all. The continued production of these lackluster stories was considered, with an eye to the corporate influences on film studios and publishers. This paper also looked at two storytellers, the filmmaker Ed Wood and the author Stephen King, whose value as artists has been debated by passionate fans and their strongest critics. The sociological concepts of taste and cultural capital, as defined by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, and the art movements of postmodernism and metamodernism, particularly the style of camp as defined by Susan Sontag and the value of bad taste in art as defined by John Waters, were investigated in regards to their connection to the popularity of bad films and novels. A brief investigation into the psychological effects of consuming bad stories, especially in children, was also included. From this foundation of the bad story as an important part of our culture's ideas about art and its consumption, the paper then addresses some of the popular methods of consumption of the bad story. For novels, the paper examines the trend of pulp fiction novels and of romance novels, going into depth on the role of E.L James' Fifty Shades of Grey in popular culture. For film, the paper examines the impact of the midnight movie trend on the popularity of subversive, counter-culture films, the role of camp genre films like Sharman's The Rocky Horror Picture Show in our culture, particularly with an eye towards audience participation screenings, and the way in which other projects, like Joel Hodgson's Mystery Science Theater 3000, transform bad films into new, enjoyable entertainment. Overall, this paper investigates all of the positive aspects around a failed story that allow these missteps in writing and directing to still find success in our culture.

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  • 2018-05

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Can You See Me?: Stories to Fight Erasure

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There has been a recent push for queer fiction, especially in the young adult genre, whose focus is gay and lesbian relationships. This growth is much needed in terms of

There has been a recent push for queer fiction, especially in the young adult genre, whose focus is gay and lesbian relationships. This growth is much needed in terms of visibility and the furthering of acceptance, but there are still subjects within the LGBTQ+ community that need to be addressed, including bisexual, asexual, and non-binary erasure. There are many people who claim that these identities do not exist, are labels used as a stepping stone on one's journey to discovering that they are homosexual, or are invented excuses for overtly promiscuous or prudish behavior. The existence of negative stereotypes, particularly those of non-binary individuals, is largely due to a lack of visibility and respectful representation within media and popular culture. However, there is still a dearth of non-binary content in popular literature outside of young adult fiction. Can You See Me? aims to fill the gap in bisexual, asexual, and non-binary representation in adult literature. Each of the four stories that make up this collection deals with an aspect of gender and/or sexuality that has been erased, ignored, or denied visibility in American popular culture. The first story, "We'll Grow Lemon Trees," examines bisexual erasure through the lens of sociolinguistics. A bisexual Romanian woman emigrates to Los Angeles in 1989 and must navigate a new culture, learn new languages, and try to move on from her past life under a dictatorship where speaking up could mean imprisonment or death. The second story "Up, Down, All Around," is about a young genderqueer child and their parents dealing with microaggressions, examining gender norms, and exploring personal identity through imaginary scenarios, each involving an encounter with an unknown entity and a colander. The third story, "Aces High," follows two asexual characters from the day they're born to when they are 28 years old, as they find themselves in pop culture. The two endure identity crises, gender discrimination, erasure, individual obsessions, and prejudice as they learn to accept themselves and embrace who they are. In the fourth and final story, "Mile Marker 72," a gay Mexican man must hide in plain sight as he deals with the death of his partner and coming out to his best friend, whose brother is his partner's murderer.

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  • 2018-05

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"Nobody leaves paradise": Testing the Limits of a Multicultural Utopia in Deep Space Nine

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This paper analyzes the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine within the context of the other Trek series, especially the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, with

This paper analyzes the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine within the context of the other Trek series, especially the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, with a particular focus on multiculturalism. Previous Trek series present an image of the United Federation of Planets that has evolved into a peaceful, cooperative, post-scarcity, multicultural utopia, but gloss over the difficulties the Federation governments must have faced in creating this utopia and must still face in maintaining it. I argue that DS9’s shift in focus away from exploration and towards a postcolonial, multicultural, stationary setting allows the show to interrogate the nature of the Federation’s multicultural utopia and showcase the difficulties in living in and managing a space with a plurality of cultures. The series, much more than those that precede and follow it, both directly and indirectly criticizes the Federation and its policies, suggesting that its utopian identity is based more in assimilation than multiculturalism. Nonetheless, this criticism, which is frequently abandoned and even undermined, is inconsistent. By focusing on three of the show’s contested spaces/settings—the space station itself, the wormhole, and the demilitarized zone—I analyze the ways in which DS9’s ambivalent criticism of the success of multiculturalism challenges the confidence of the Trek tradition.

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  • 2016-05

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Dismembering Rape Culture: Exposing Ghosts of Sexual Violence from London, 1870-1890

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Did the Victorians live in a “rape culture”? London between 1870 and 1890 was certainly a place in which sexual violence was publicly condemned as an overall concept (W. T.

Did the Victorians live in a “rape culture”? London between 1870 and 1890 was certainly a place in which sexual violence was publicly condemned as an overall concept (W. T. Stead’s “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, for example). Yet, in contrast to the moral denunciation, the historical archive demonstrates excuses constantly condoned sexual violence (as evidenced in parliamentary debates, criminal transcripts, newspaper crime coverage, and social campaigns like those of Josephine Butler). Forensic medical doctors, police, coroners, journalists, illustrators, and editors all contributed and reinforced a system that sustained and condoned rape as evidenced by the newspaper crime reports; but, to blame them for their actions, as if each action was performed with malicious intent, would hide the greater system of oppression that operated both blatantly and in the shadows. When one demographic holds significant power over another – as men did over women in Victorian England – those power relations become embedded into its culture in ways that are never clearly transparent and continue to haunt the future until exposed and rectified. To this end, my dissertation investigates newspaper crime narratives to reveal the heterocryptic ghosts and make their multiple legacies visible.

Murder of women by men are significantly linked via cultural perceptions. Anna Clark discovered this with Mary Ashford’s rape and murder in 1817. Though Ashford died from drowning, the narratives rewrote her death as if it was the rape that had killed her. Based on this correlation, this study focuses on six cases of unsolved female murder and dismemberment. The decision to use unsolved cases stems from the hypothesis that more gendered assumptions would manifest in the crime narratives as the journalists (and police, coroners, and forensic doctors) tried to discern the particulars of the crime within contexts that made sense to them. Analytical coding of the data demonstrates the prevalence of rape myths operating within the narratives in conjunction with misogynistic and classist beliefs. From initial discovery to forensic inspections to inquest verdicts and beyond a number of myriad historical materializations are exposed that continue to haunt the present.

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  • 2020

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Interrogating rusticism: extrapolitan collisions between rural and urban cultures in nineteenth-century literature

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Interrogating Rusticism utilizes concepts from postcolonial theory and studies in cosmopolitanism to examine the relationship between the country and the city in nineteenth-century Britain. The project considers the way in

Interrogating Rusticism utilizes concepts from postcolonial theory and studies in cosmopolitanism to examine the relationship between the country and the city in nineteenth-century Britain. The project considers the way in which rural people, places, and cultures were depicted in popular literature and introduces two new terms that help inform one’s understanding of rural and urban interaction. “Rusticism” refers to a discourse reminiscent of Orientalism that creates an “us and them” dichotomy through characterizations that essentialize rural experience and cast it as distinct from urban living. “Extrapolitanism” evokes a cultural practice similar to rooted cosmopolitanism that entails traveling back and forth between the country and the city, engaging in both urban and rural cultural practices, and not committing oneself solely to the social and political causes of either the country or the city. Because rusticist stereotypes regarding rural life, such as the notion that rural labourers possess an energy and love for their work but are also uneducated and backward, have persisted into the twenty-first century, studying the more nuanced, less-rusticist aspects of rural life in nineteenth-century Britain is an often overlooked, but still very important, endeavor. Interrogating Rusticism closely examines literature by authors known for imbuing their works with rusticist portrayals of country life, and seeks to illuminate how, in addition to perpetuating rusticist discourse, those authors also cultivate an extrapolitan type of mindset when they do depict more nuanced aspects of rural life.

Each chapter follows a similar methodological approach that involves looking at a specific rusticist notion, the binary distinctions that help construct it, the historical background that contributed to its rise, a critically overlooked work that informed the writing process of a commonly studied piece, and how the commonly studied piece challenges the rusticist notion by revealing that the binary distinctions actually inform one another. Chapter 1 focuses on the rusticist idea that rural communities are pastoral, pre-modern sites untouched by the effects of modernity, the repeal of the Corn Laws, which eventually led to rampant poverty in the countryside, George Eliot’s travel memoir “Recollections of Ilfracombe” (1856) that chronicles her visit to a rural, sea-side community, and her first novel, Adam Bede (1859). Chapter 2 turns to the comparison that was often made between rural workers and nonhuman animals, the negative connotations it carried, which became even more pronounced following the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins’s dramatized account of their 1857 walking tour of rural England, The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices, and Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend (1864-65). The final chapter examines the expectation for male rural workers to be hearty, highly masculine figures, which was emphasized by both the use of the derogatory term Hodge to refer to rural workers and the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1884, Richard Jefferies’s post-apocalyptic novel After London (1885), and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895). Interrogating Rusticism helps elucidate often overlooked aspects of rural life in nineteenth-century Britain that can and should inform rural and urban interaction today as long-held stereotypes regarding rural life still persist and the world becomes increasingly more urban.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Non-Natives and Nativists: The Settler Colonial Origins of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Contemporary Literatures of the US and Australia

Description

Non-Natives and Nativists is a relational analysis of contemporary multiethnic literatures in two countries formed by settler colonialism, the process of nation-building by which colonizers attempt to permanently invade Indigenous

Non-Natives and Nativists is a relational analysis of contemporary multiethnic literatures in two countries formed by settler colonialism, the process of nation-building by which colonizers attempt to permanently invade Indigenous lands and develop their own beliefs and practices as governing principles. This dissertation focuses on narratives that establish and sustain settlers’ claims to belonging in the US and Australia and counter-narratives that problematize, subvert, and disavow such claims. The primary focus of my critique is on settler-authored works and the ways they engage with, perpetuate, and occasionally challenge normalized conditions of belonging in the US and Australia; however, every chapter discusses works by Indigenous writers or non-Indigenous writers of color that put forward alternative, overlapping, and often competing claims to belonging. Naming settler narrative strategies and juxtaposing them against those of Indigenous and arrivant populations is meant to unsettle the common sense logic of settler belonging. In other words, the specific features of settler colonialism promulgate and govern a range of devices and motifs through which settler storytellers in both nations respond to related desires, anxieties, and perceived crises. Narrative devices such as author-perpetrated identity hoax, settings imbued with uncanny hauntings, and plots driven by fear of invasion recur to the point of becoming recognizable tropes. Their perpetuation supports the notion that the logics underwriting settler colonialism persist beyond periods of initial colonization and historical frontier violence. These logics—elimination and possession—still shape present-day societies in settler nations, and literature is one of the primary vehicles by which they are operationalized.

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  • 2019

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The story must be told as it is: colonial spiritual self-identification and resistance in Leslie Marmon Silko and Luci Tapahonso

Description

This thesis will examine the novels and poetry of Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna) and Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), exploring how they are working to maintain, control, protect and develop their spiritual

This thesis will examine the novels and poetry of Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna) and Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), exploring how they are working to maintain, control, protect and develop their spiritual Indigenous identities. I link their literary work to Article 31.1, from the United Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that “Indigenous people have the right to maintain, control, and protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies, and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.” I argue that both Silko and Tapahonso create narratives and characters that illustrate how indigenous identity is self-determined and maintained through resistance to colonization and assimilation. I examine how these stories and characters incorporate new knowledge, about modern lifeways, into traditional Indigenous oral traditions and histories. Both Silko and Tapahonso connect nature and history, as they illustrate how oral traditions are passed down through the continual sharing of inter-generational stories and ethnobotanical information about plants, animals and food. This study will track how oral stories help the characters (re)connect with the land, and with foodways, by re-establishing a relationship of resistance against the exploitation, assimilation, and colonization of indigenous peoples, lands, and resources and the maintenance of spirituality through oral traditions.

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Date Created
  • 2016