Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Direction (Hopefully)

Over the past few months, I have pondered whether or not to cede this forum to wherever it is all the abandoned internet observations go to die. However, I still have a readership of a few dedicated friends and colleagues and I do not want this forum, and the specific connections it engenders, to go away and therefore be of no use to me or anyone else. At the same time, a resounding emptiness has settled over the intellectual part of my brain as I have finished my thesis and all that remain are the formatting changes the graduate college will invariably cast upon me whether I followed their style guide to the letter or not. However, such a project leaves many future avenues for investigation, hopefully by me as I further my academic career, so I have decided to use this space to write, in short pieces, about the questions I hope to answer.

My thesis dealt with the influence of the digital on print, specifically how such
influence affects composition and narrative in contemporary novels like House of Leaves and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that contain a variety of visual media. Meanwhile, I have become a fan of the films of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, in which narratives are related in a nonsequential and often disjointed manner, especially in 21 Grams. Rudimentary research revealed to me the existence of a genre of film called hyperlink cinema, of which Inarritu's films are primary examples. As I already am interested in what Jay David Bolter has called the 'remediation' of the digital into other media, such a term suggests that hyperlinks, which are a component of hypertexts, are being remediated into film and influencing their narratives. I am skeptical of a straightforward interpretation such as this, but it bears investigation, and I will hopefully be conducting it here with the intention of presenting a paper at the 2010 PCA/ACA Conference in St. Louis this March.

With my primary research interests centering around the graphic construction of narrative, it should surprise no one that I have a scholarly interest in comic books. In yet another attempt to develop a conference paper for the University of Florida's ImageNext (which I hope to attend assuming I can get a travel grant), I want to investigate the use of the nine-panel (or even six-panel) page in contemporary comics, especially as it is used to as individual panels and a larger cohesive picture at the same time. This is much less grounded in theory at this stage, and much more supported by my singular amazement at one particular page in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. But as proposals are due at the end of the year, I should hopefully stumble upon something before too long.

Several colleagues have expressed surprise at my willingness to put all my scholarly ideas in a public forum before I take steps to insure they are published (thereby giving me all the credit). I find that a bit of an antiquated view, and think the benefits of outside discussion greatly outweighs the slim chance that my work will be hijacked or plagiarized. In addition, writing is a lonely business, and working out ideas here will allow me to keep plodding towards my ultimate goal of working full time as an academic, hopefully helping me deal with the fact that I have to work more and more in my service industry job just to make ends meet. Help keep the eyes on the prize, so to speak.

Please, let me know what you think about this decision, and more than that, feedback will do nothing but help me as I implement these plans. Many of you are academics, or at least academically inclined, and I suspect that you have an idea or two about such topics already. In fact, I would be open to using this space with other authors who are attempting to jumpstart their own research in a similar fashion, assuming of course that the content was relatively the same.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reading List: October 2009

Almost no new content here over the past month, though there are two ways to look at that. The first is that no content means no readers, which does not bode well for a blog that I am struggling to figure out what to do with anyway. However, I did write about 20,000 words this month as I finished my Master's thesis and successfully defended it, so it is not as if I did nothing.

Yet the former is what I have been mulling the past few days. A big problem I have with this space is that I don't really know what it is here for. I occasionally post reviews of books I read or films I see, but those reviews vary not only in quality but in substance as well. There seems to be no unifying theme, save me, and while the readers here are all people I know from elsewhere so no problem is immediately apparent, no one drops in here via Google and sticks around because they have no relationship with me and no attachment therefore to the content.

So my goal in the next month is twofold: one, revise and submit my thesis to the graduate college; and two, decide what, if anything, I want to continue to do with this space. It needs to be about something, or what's the point?

Last month I finished only 12 books/graphic novels/plays:
  • Swamp Thing: Reunion by Alan Moore, et al.
  • The Walking Dead: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkland & Charlie Adlard
  • The Great Movies by Roger Ebert
  • The Last Generation by Andrew Steven Harris & Gordon Purcell
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Troublesome Minds by Dave Galanter
  • Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem & Farel Dalrymple
  • Final Crisis by Grant Morrison & J.G. Jones
  • Fables: The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham, et al.
  • God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
  • Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert
  • Reasons to be Pretty by Neil LaBute
Further updates as events warrant.