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More on Women's Writing; also, Race and SF

Previously I had a long and rambly post about women's writing that I want to bring up again because I found a lovely nugget in Joad Raymond's Pamphlets and Pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain. He reprints a comic poem by John Taylor (cited in The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509-1659, selected by Norbrook, ed. Woudhuysen (1982), p. 740) that talks about pamphlets, which was also apparently yet another word for prostitute:

For like a Whore by day-light or by candle,
'Tis even free for every knave to handle:
And as a new whore is belov'd and sought,
So is a new Booke in request and bought.
When whores wax old and stale, they're out of date,
Old Pamphlets are most subject to such fate.
As whores have Panders to emblazon their worth,
So these have Stationers to set them forth.
And as an old whore may be painted new
With borrowed beauty, faire unto the view,
Whereby shee for a fine fresh whore may passe,
Yet is shee but the rotten whore she was.
So Stationers, their old cast Bookes can grace,
And by new Titles paint a-fresh their face.
Whereby for currant they are past away,
As if they had come forth but yesterday.

*NB. All italics are represented as in the text, as they were presumably printed in the 16th c. Also, "Stationers" is a catch-all term for those in the booktrades, so printers, engravers, binders, and even booksellers.

I'm finding it increasingly fascinating and creepy how there is a consistent language connecting women's writing with women's bodies, especially with regards to being read and consumed. I suppose an analog is the "Biblical" (can someone correct me here--I'm thinking this is KJV and therefore 1611 language) phrase "to know" someone ie. "to have sex with them," knowledge/"carnal knowledge" etc.

~

Other interesting things:

Genre Wars: SFF at the AWP Conference

Both women fielded questions about breaking into science fiction as a male-dominated field. Le Guin’s response—that she “didn’t care what men were doing,” that it wasn’t a feminist movement, but “just taking over,” was patently great. Gloss was quick to point out, though that the question had disregarded the masculinity of the literary canon. Their “take-over” was not of an inherently misogynist genre, but of a larger, male-dominated publishing industry and culture.

...

Mamatas went a slightly different route, tracing the history of publishing to highlight its economic divisions. The pulps, produced for and by the working class, and the “slicks,” which paid their authors and were only accessible to the middle and upper class, is just one example of this phenomenon. If the middle class is in charge of schools, he said, the schools will work in the mode of the middle class. Like Wonders and Kanaka, though, Mamatas spoke in terms of the larger picture—it’s high time that we stop pretending that the literary world’s dialogue about genre has anything at all to do with “bad writing” alone. Surprisingly, art doesn’t exist in a vacuum—economic or otherwise.


The article also references a panel on teaching SFF in creative writing classes, but doesn't discuss the panel in depth, which is too bad. Of the six university-level creative writing courses I've had in my life, not one taught SFF, and not one of the teachers was prepared to provide feedback on SFF material. I say this with the nota bene that I was always told I could write SFF but the profs couldn't help me with it--which, fair enough, but how is it that genre does not seem to come up at all as a topic of discussion in writing courses?

Smuggler’s Ponderings: History, Fandom and Masters of Science Fiction

It seems to me that there’s this idea that Science Fiction – as genre and as fandom – has a “history.” And that (real) fans should know this particular history.

My main question when hearing this argument is: “history” as perceived by whom? As defined by whom?

Why is it that this early history of Science Fiction fandom is presented as “idyllic” when we know for a fact that large groups of people stood outside looking in? Isn’t that history being rewritten in front of our very eyes? Try this: when you Google “best Science Fiction of all time” or “essential Science Fiction novels,” you almost invariably get lists featuring works by the same group of people. Very few contain writers who are not white and male. The narrative that chooses this subset of people as the only worthy “masters” of the genre? Isn’t that, too, rewriting history in front of our very eyes?

It is obvious to me that this idyllic period of Science Fiction “history” is told largely from an American, white, male perspective. It might be an important part of a historical narrative, but it is not the whole narrative. Surely, it can’t be. If we choose to brand only those works “masterful” and “classic” and “essential”, what are we saying?


This article connects a few different dots in recent goings-on, including the Ross-Hugo flap and by Baen editor Toni Weisskopf's piece on "true" fandom/SFF readers.

How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist

In Philadelphia, the Lantern Theater Company is currently wrapping up the run of its annual Shakespearean offering, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. This time, they've put a twist on the great tragedy by changing up the Roman Republic and setting the play in medieval Japan. That's great, except there isn't a whole lot in this production that's legitimately Japanese -- most notably, a glaring lack of Japanese actors.

Dance theater artist (and actual Japanese person) Makoto Hirano saw the play, and it did not sit well with him. So he drafted a letter to the Lantern Theater Company outlining some "friendly unsolicited pointers" on How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist. PROTIP: "DON'T say you were inspired by feudal Japan and then not cast any Japanese actors." Seems like that should have been a big one.


His full, gorgeous letter is reproduced in toto at the link.

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