Literature & Psychology
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Literature & Psychology
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“Games of Thrones” and the Fantasy Author's Challenge

“Games of Thrones” and the Fantasy Author's Challenge | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

“Games of Thrones” and the Fantasy Author's Challenge
New York Times (blog)

 

Of course some of this is part of the general disdain for “genre” in all its forms that permeates the respectable literary world. But I also suspect that there is a particular obstacle with fantasy that doesn’t exist with, say, horror novels or murder mysteries: The sheer immensity of the standard-issue fantasy saga, and the fact that committing to a bestselling fantasy author takes much more, well, commitment than reading Dean Koontz or Peter Straub, Michael Connelly or Tana French.

 

Fantasy, by design, is an exercise in world-building, and many of the most famous examples of the genre, from Lord of the Rings and Narnia and the Gormenghast novels and Earthsea down to Martin and Pullman and Rowling and so many others in the present day, are multi-volume affairs that require a serious investment to actually finish. (The multi-volume expectation has an unfortunate tendency to encourage today’s bestselling authors to never … actually … finish their stories, which as Lanchester notes is the great fear gripping Martin’s fans today.) So it would make sense that there would be a higher bar for mass success than in many other genres: Reading a bad murder mystery only sets you back a day or two, and the satisfaction of finding out whodunit can compensate for lousy prose, whereas I’ve definitely found myself flagging at page 300 or so even in many highly-regarded fantasy novels I’ve dipped into. (My apologies, Steven Erikson.) It would make sense that certain readers would be more likely to commit only in cases where the books in question are already mega-sellers, and thus pre-approved by millions of other readers. And it would also make sense that adolescents, who have more time on their hands (especially, ahem, the somewhat awkward ones) and more empty headspace waiting to be filled, would be more likely to gravitate toward the sprawl of mediocre fantasy than adults … which then, in turn, ratifies the perception that the genre is just for teenage Dungeons and Dragons dorks, and not for grown-up readers.

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Fiction for older children – review - The Guardian

Fiction for older children – review - The Guardian | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Guardian
Fiction for older children – review

 

Bridging the gender divide in children's literature remains a rare feat. Girls still contend with a shameful amount of inane claptrap; boys are presumed to enjoy shish-kebabbing foul beasts. This batch of books for older children features gendered reads of quality, and some tightrope acts in between. If unifying themes exist they are music, dancing, animals, absent parent, and eating strange substances.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Since literature can be a strong formative influence on children, it's always good to have some solid recommendations.

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The Silver Linings in Literature's Bad Marriages

The Silver Linings in Literature's Bad Marriages | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Silver Linings in Literature's Bad Marriages
Huffington Post

 

Troubled fictional unions can serve as useful cautionary tales of mistakes real-life readers might avoid when looking to get hitched. And even if we don't view literary mismatches as educational tools, unhappy pairings can make for intense, dramatic, memorable reading.

 

Also, while bad marriages can make life miserable for literature's make-believe couples, the experience may help them make better choices the next time. So the cautionary-tale thing can help fictional as well as actual people!

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A New Way for Gay Characters in Y.A.

A New Way for Gay Characters in Y.A. | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Suddenly, it seems like gay characters are everywhere in young-adult literature. How well is Y.A. doing at reflecting the current state of teen culture with regard to LGBT issues, and how far need we still go?
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David Mitchell and Michel van der Aa on Sunken Garden

David Mitchell and Michel van der Aa on Sunken Garden | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Guardian
David Mitchell and Michel van der Aa on Sunken Garden

 

Novelist David Mitchell and composer Michel van der Aa have written an 'occult opera' – complete with surreal garden, 3D footage and electronica. They explain why they like a challenge

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Mitchell is the author of "Cloud Atlas," recently made into a film.

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Why we should stop criminalizing practices that are confused with plagiarism

Why we should stop criminalizing practices that are confused with plagiarism Poynter.org

 

It is time to decriminalize certain practices now described under the rubric of plagiarism.

 

There has been too much loose talk about plagiarism since I first wrote about the topic in 1983. I’ll share some of the blame. The result is that serious acts of literary theft have been mixed up with trivial ones. Carelessness has been mislabeled as corruption. Clear norms of personal morality and professional ethics have been confused with standards and practices.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I don't agree with everything Roy Peter Clark says in this opinion piece, but he gets my thumbs-up for two points that have always bothered me in discussions of plagiarism: (1) Self-plagiarism is NOT plagiarism unless the author is trying to sell the piece as unpublished data; all scholars adapt their ideas over time. (2) Literary allusions also are NOT plagiarism; they've been around ever since "In the beginning. . ." (and perhaps even before that).

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Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies

Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
OUPblog (blog)

Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies

 

Like the great and powerful Oz, filmmakers conceal themselves behind a screen and offer a mesmerizing experience that engages our sights, thoughts, and emotions. They have developed an assortment of magical “tricks” of acting, staging, sound, camera movement, and editing that create a sort of sleight of mind. These techniques have been discovered largely through trial and error, and thus we have very little understanding of how they actually work on our psyche. Scholars of “film studies” have thought deeply about the nature of movies, yet few scientists have considered empirical analyses of our movie experience—or what I have coined psychocinematics. Yet more than any other artistic expression or form of entertainment, we are captured by movies and involve ourselves with the characters portrayed, almost as if are in the scenes themselves.

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Army targets the historic home of two literary sisters in the Hudson River Valley

Army targets the historic home of two literary sisters in the Hudson River Valley | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Army targets the historic home of two literary sisters in the Hudson River Valley
New York Daily News (blog)

 

One spot that didn’t rate [as a National Historic Landmark]— and is sinking slowly and quietly into oblivion — is the home that belonged to the Warner sisters, America’s answer to the Brontë sisters. The Warner House sits on a deserted island in the Hudson River off West Point, New York. 

 

Susan and Anna Warner were teenagers when they relocated from New York City to Constitution Island with their father and their aunt in 1838. Their father had lost almost everything in the Panic of 1837, with the exception of a shabby cottage on the 280-acre island.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Susan Warner was "one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “damned mob of scribbling women”

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Lindelof, Lemire do the 'Time Warp' with Rip Hunter

Lindelof, Lemire do the 'Time Warp' with Rip Hunter | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Lindelof, Lemire do the 'Time Warp' with Rip Hunter
USA TODAY


"Science fiction that is merely a kind of game of prediction leaves me cold," Milligan adds. "The greatest science-fiction writer of them all, Philip K. Dick, wrote about the very things that a 'serious' or non-genre writer would — the nature of being, religion, madness. He just used science fiction as a medium."

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72 Proverbs for Life… From Hell

72 Proverbs for Life… From Hell | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
72 Proverbs for Life… From Hell
PsychCentral.com (blog)


Several of the proverbs were familiar to me, from other reading, but I didn't know their origin in his book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell [by William Blake].

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Roll in the hay: The rise of the Amish romance novel

Roll in the hay: The rise of the Amish romance novel | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Salon

Roll in the hay: The rise of the Amish romance novel

 

Many of the Amish people I have spoken with display a mix of bemusement and disgust at the novels, especially the covers, with their airbrushed models with plucked eyebrows. They point out glaring inaccuracies in some of the books, such as one Amish person calling another “Mr.” or “Mrs.” On the phone with me, Doretta Yoder expresses more trepidation about the genre than her glowing reviews might suggest. “I have some personal opinions about how some of them write about us,” she tells me, obliquely. “It seems like word has gotten out that if you write about the Amish, you can sell books. I think it’s getting out of hand.”

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Julie Myerson: a life in writing

Julie Myerson: a life in writing | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The Guardian
Julie Myerson: a life in writing

 

In the 20 years since Myerson sent her debut novel, Sleepwalking, to four agents and secured her first contract, she has made a speciality of writing about heightened emotional states. She has also made a habit of digging into some of her own most troubling experiences, starting with her father's rejection of her as a teenager and his suicide.

 

"When you make your own death as he did, you deliberately stir the black silt on the bottom, disturbing all that debris which should be left down there in darkness," she wrote on page one of her debut, as a way of introducing her fictionalised account of his death. She says now that she did this "probably slightly coldly, because I felt I had recovered from my father's rejection and it was good material for a novel. It was a very typical first novel in the sense that I had to try and work out what I had in my life that I could write about. Not much had happened to me except having babies and being rejected by my father."

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

All novels are autobiographical in some sense.

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Scientific Explanations for Why Spoilers Are So Horrible

Scientific Explanations for Why Spoilers Are So Horrible | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Scientific Explanations for Why Spoilers Are So Horrible

The Atlantic

 

Studies show that anticipation and suspension of disbelief are both key ingredients in a pleasurable experience—and spoilers have a tendency to kill both.

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Neuroscience in Fiction: “Slaughterhouse 5”, by Kurt Vonnegut

Neuroscience in Fiction: “Slaughterhouse 5”, by Kurt Vonnegut | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Scientific American (blog)
Neuroscience in Fiction: “Slaughterhouse 5”, by Kurt Vonnegut

 

Remember how Billy Pilgrim came unstuck in time? He could revisit his past, time and again, or peek into his future. The horrific firebombing of the beautiful city of Dresden and Pilgrim’s captivity in the planet Tralfamadore were two of many oft visited time destinations.

 

This last week, I had the opportunity to re-read the book as an assignment for my local book club. What struck me about it, and I had failed to appreciate the first time around, was the intricate relationship between the story and the neuroscience of free will.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Reflections of a neuroscientist

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Grotesque (New Critical Idiom): A Review | The Gothic Imagination

Grotesque (New Critical Idiom): A Review | The Gothic Imagination | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

With preoccupations with the body—body horror, the abject, disability studies, medical themes, etc—prevalent within the contemporary Gothic and Gothic studies as a whole, it is little surprise that one of Routledge’s upcoming New Critical Idiom books is devoted to the grotesque. This volume by Justin Edwards and Rune Graulund highlights the importance and potential of locating the power of bodies (and the literature that features them) in the vehicle of the grotesque and its many manifestations: from the manipulation and transgression of boundaries and rules to a critique of institutions and classifications, from the embrace of uncertainty and contradiction to a reinstatement of new boundaries and (ab)norms.

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Resurrections in literature

Resurrections in literature | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Quiz: Easter celebrates a remarkable return to life. But characters who rise again are not so rare in fiction. How alive to them are you?

 

(The Guardian)

 

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The great ghastly - Sydney Morning Herald

The great ghastly - Sydney Morning Herald | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The great ghastly

Sydney Morning Herald

 

Therese Anne Fowler here builds on the letters, biographies and work itself of the Fitzgeralds, one of the most infamous literary couples of their age, to show Zelda's conflicted lives: dancer, writer, painter, mother, wife - and how those possible lives were tragically destroyed.

 
Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I haven't read this novel yet, but the description reminds me of "Blonde," Joyce Carol Oates's novelization of the life of Marilyn Monroe.

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Somaesthetics and Literary Criticism

Somaesthetics and Literary Criticism | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

As literary scholars we are often bending and stretching our frame of reference looking for a new lens with which to examine texts to provide fresh insight and unique views. We beg, borrow and steal ideas from across the academy in order to give ourselves the best available set of tools for our research. In that tradition, this article will examine the burgeoning field of somaesthetics, developed by Richard Shusterman, as a possible way to inform our current views of how the body-mind and literature interact. My primary research consists of an intellectual history of William S. Burroughs and the examination of his writings and artistic experiments as a philosophy. In so doing I plot the course of his interests in the work of Wilhelm Reich, Alfred Korzybski, and W. Grey Walter. 


While each of these authors come from vastly different intellectual backgrounds (psychology for Reich, semantics for Korzybski, and cybernetics and neuroscience for Walter) each has a very compelling view on the role of the body with relation to their discipline. Having been somewhat familiar with Richard Shusterman’s research I decided that somaesthetics could have great value when applied to the work of William S. Burroughs and other writers and thinkers whose work demonstrates an interest in the role of the body.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Don't let the academic stuffiness put you off. He has interesting ideas on how the body affects literary appreciation.

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Why ebooks are a different genre from print

Why ebooks are a different genre from print | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The Guardian (blog)
Why ebooks are a different genre from print

 

The differences in format are beginning to change the nature of what we're reading, and how we do it

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The Grand Fate Of Mary MacLane

The Grand Fate Of Mary MacLane | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Awl

The Grand Fate Of Mary MacLane

 

Reading MacLane I felt less convinced that MacLane found herself interesting than that she was anxious to convey her high degree of interestingness to her readers, at any cost.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Mary MacLane was an intriguing author at the beginning of the 20th century.

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'Age Atomic' is a blast for sci-fi fans

'Age Atomic' is a blast for sci-fi fans | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
'Age Atomic' is a blast for sci-fi fans
CNN International


My own writing has perhaps more of an American flavor than a British one, but that's because the stories I've so far written have needed it. "Empire State," "Seven Wonders" and "The Age Atomic" are all very place-centric, where the setting itself is almost a character. But there is a universality to story that isn't just limited to science fiction.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

About Adam Christopher's new novel "The Age Atomic," which "incorporates elements across the sci-fi and fantasy spectrum."

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Some Books Are Better Than Others

Some Books Are Better Than Others | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Some Books Are Better Than Others
Huffington Post


The problem, though, is that there are no "good" and "bad" books, and so all this energy that goes into judging books is misspent, and I think does more damage to reading culture than it does good.

 

The attributes of what we all generally agree to be good books are familiar, even if we don't say them out loud: complex characters, realist psychology, technical mastery and/or experimentation, social and political awareness.

 

The there are a whole host of other qualities that people look for in books, and not all of them are sanctioned by that critical/educational establishment: escapism, comfort, titillation, excitement, the exotic, education, humor, action, and still more.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

What do you look for in a good book?

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Interest in ethnic studies jumps after Arizona ban - Los Angeles Times

Interest in ethnic studies jumps after Arizona ban - Los Angeles Times | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Interest in ethnic studies jumps after Arizona ban

Los Angeles Times

 

Arizona lawmakers passed a law to dismantle a Mexican American studies program in Tucson schools, but the legislation has had an unintended effect: The controversy is renewing interest in the state and nationwide in ethnic studies and Chicano and Latino literature.

 

Some Tucson students have found new ways to study the subject while receiving college credit to boot. Others who had no interest on the topic say they are now drawn to the material.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Telling people they shouldn't read something is the best way to ensure that they will read it.

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Defying the limits of occupation: Capturing Ramallah in art and literature

Defying the limits of occupation: Capturing Ramallah in art and literature | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Ahram Online

Defying the limits of occupation: Capturing Ramallah in art and literature

 

The importance of art and literature is heightened in the context of occupation, discuss Ramallah-based visual artist Shuruq Harb, author of ‘In Ramallah, Running,’ and Guy Mannes-Abbott at Art Dubai's Global Art Forum

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Black Smurfs: The Birth Of Modern Zombie Fiction

Black Smurfs: The Birth Of Modern Zombie Fiction | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

WhatCulture!
Black Smurfs: The Birth Of Modern Zombie Fiction

 

Superficially, zombies are always about the mass, about the horde. They embody our fears of mortality and death (what of us lingers after we are gone?) and frequently exhibit our neurosis of becoming, or being prey to, otherness.Whether as a parody of consumerism – shuffling, insatiable, mindless beings driven solely to consume (even depicted tearing through a mall in Dawn of the Dead, 1978) – or as a manifestation of terrorism – they could be any of us, they could come from anywhere, they look like us but we can’t understand what they want (see: 28 Days Later, 2002) – zombie fiction often gives license to what it is that we fear our society at large might soon become as we fight to hold on to the individuality and selfhood that defines us.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I'm trying to be more open to the notion of zombies as cultural metaphors.

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