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Fantasy literature, often derided as superficial and escapist, is one of the most popular and enduring genres of fiction worldwide. It is also—perhaps surprisingly—thought-provoking, structurally complex, and relevant to contemporary society, as the essays in this volume attest. The scholars, teachers, and authors represented here offer their perspectives on this engaging genre.
Within these pages, a reader will find a wealth of ideas to help teachers use these texts in the classroom, challenging students to read fantasy with a critical eye. They employ interdisciplinary, philosophical, and religious lenses, as well as Marxist and feminist critical theory, to help students unlock texts. The books discussed include epic fantasy by such authors as Tolkien and Le Guin, children’s fantasy by Beatrix Potter and Saint-Exupéry, modern fantasy by Rowling and Martin, and even fairy tales and comic books. The contributors offer provocations, questioning the texts and pushing the boundaries of meaning within the fantasy genre. And in doing so, they challenge readers themselves to ponder these tales more deeply.
But through each of these chapters runs a profound love of the genre and a respect for those who produce such beautiful and moving stories. Furthermore, as with all the books in this series, this volume is informed by the tenets of critical pedagogy, and is focused on re-envisioning fantasy literature through the lens of social justice and empowerment. Prepare to be challenged and inspired as you read these explorations of a much-loved genre.
Volume: Haruki Murakami: Challenging Authors
Proposals due: June 30, 2015 [EXTENDED]
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org 100-word chapter proposal, 50-word author(s) bio(s), contact information, and 8 key words by above due date.
Accepted chapter notified: June 30, 2015
Accepted chapters due: October 31, 2015
Final draft submission: December 15, 2015
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has achieved a rare status among writers—incredible popularity in his native country and world-wide as well as rising critical acclaim. Murakami, in fact, in addition to receiving most of the major literary awards in Japan, as well as many around the world, has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize, and is likely to be Japan’s next Nobel laureate in literature. At the same time, his relationship with the Japanese literary community proper (known as the Bundan) has not been a particularly friendly one.
Writing about Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Matthew Carl Strecher (2014) notes that one of Murakami’s central and enduring themes is a persistent warning not to suppress our fundamental desires in favor of the demands of society at large. And while Murakami’s writing over his career reveals some recurring motifs, his message has also evolved, creating a catalogue of works that reveal Murakami to be a challenging author.
Many of those challenges lie in Murakami’s blurring of genre as well as his rich blending of Japanese and Western mythologies and styles—all while continuing to offer narratives that attract and captivate a wide range of readers. A highly challenging author, Murakami is, as Ōe Kenzaburō once contended, not a “Japanese writer” so much as a global one, and as such, he merits a central place in the classroom in order to confront readers and students, but also to be challenged as well.
This volume seeks to offer 15-20 chapters examining Murakami against the problems of genre and form, within cultural and national ideologies and mythologies, and spurred by the tensions that arise from being both popular and critically acclaimed.
Analyzing and considering teaching Murakami through the lenses of critical pedagogy and literacy offers another layer of complexity to the Murakami phenomenon and expands the scope of this series significantly, notably in the context of Freire (2005):
One of the violences perpetuated by illiteracy is the suffocation of the consciousness and the expressiveness of men and women who are forbidden from reading and writing, thus limiting their capacity to write about their reading of the world so they can rethink about their original reading of it. (p. 2)
Reading, teaching, and studying Murakami serves well the goal of rethinking this world. It will open new lines of inquiry into what constitutes national literatures, and how some authors, in the era of blurred national and cultural boundaries, seek now to transcend those boundaries and pursue a truly global mode of expression.
Freire, P. (2005). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare to teach. (D. Macedo, D. Koike, & A. Oliveira, Trans.). Boulder, CO: Westview.
Strecher, M.C. (2014). The forbidden worlds of Haruki Murakami. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Working Table of Contents
|Matthew Carl Strecher||The Chronicles of Murakami Haruki and the Chamber of Secrets|
|P.L. Thomas||Magical Murakami Nightmares: Investigating Genre through The Strange Library|
|Yuji Kato||The Memories of Our Old “Murakami Haruki” and the Teaching Experience of “Haruki Murakami” in Classrooms in Tokyo Today|
|Tomoki Wakatsuki||The Haruki phenomenon and everyday cosmopolitanism: belonging as a ‘citizen of the world’|
|Chikako Nihei||Leaving Behind the Label of ‘Un-Japanese Author’: Reading ‘Mirror’ in Japanese Class|
|Rebecca Suter||Between Self and Other: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World As Cultural Engagement Through Fantasy|
|Deirdre Flynn||The Trancreation of Tokyo: The Universality of Murakami’s Urban Landscape|
|Jonathan Dil||What’s wrong with these people?: The Anatomy of Dependence in Norwegian Wood|
|Daisuke Kiriyama||Exchanging “Far-From-Avant-garde” Jazz Records: Haruki Murakami’s “Nausea 1979” as Historiographic Metafiction|
|Matthew Carl Strecher||Conclusion|
Volume Title: The Politics of Panem: Challenging Genres
Editor: Sean P. Connors, University of Arkansas
By any measure, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series is a commercial success. In 2012, the bookselling behemoth Amazon reported that the trilogy outsold the Harry Potter series, no small accomplishment considering that the latter has the distinct advantage of consisting of seven novels. A filmic adaptation of the eponymous first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy premiered in the same year, and a sequel, Catching Fire, is scheduled for release later this fall. Still, in spite of its crossover appeal with audiences of all ages, and its subsequent blurring of the distinction between “adolescent” and “adult” literature, the novels that comprise Collins’ trilogy have received surprisingly little critical attention, a result, perhaps, of their status as young adult literature, a genre that is stigmatized in academic settings. Read from the perspective of critical theory, it is possible to appreciate Collins’ series as a multilayered narrative that lends itself to close reading, and which challenges readers to examine complex themes and social issues.
What does reading the Hunger Games series from a Marxist perspective reveal about the material basis of culture? Read from a feminist perspective, how does the trilogy illuminate power relations between men and women? In what ways does the trilogy instantiate, or subvert, dystopian genre conventions, and to what effect? To what extent might adapting the series for film complicate its ability to participate in sharp-edged social criticism? Most importantly, what does a decision to read Collins’ novels from the standpoint of theory reveal about the potential complexity and sophistication of young adult literature? By asking questions of this sort, this edited collection challenges the lingering perception that literature for adolescents is plot driven, superficial fare by making visible the complex readings that are available when readers examine works such as those that comprise the Hunger Games trilogy from the perspective of critical theory. In doing so, it reveals Collins’ series to be a complex narrative that, in the words of Aristotle, instructs at the same time that it delights.
This volume is currently in press with Sense Publishers.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Challenging the Politics of Text Complexity, Sean P. Connors
Part One: “It’s All How You’re Perceived”: Deconstructing Adolescence in Panem
1 — “Some Walks You Have to Take Alone”: Ideology, Intertextuality, and the Fall of the Empire in The Hunger Games Trilogy, Roberta Seelinger Trites
2 — Worse Games To Play?: Deconstructing Resolution in The Hunger Games, Susan S. M. Tan
3 — Hungering for Middle Ground: Binaries of Self in Young Adult Dystopia, Meghann Meeusen
Part Two: “I Have A Kind of Power I Never Knew I Possessed”: What Philosophy Tells Us about Life in Panem
4 — The Three Faces of Evil: A Philosophic Reading of The Hunger Games, Brian McDonald
5 — “I Was Watching You, Mockingjay”: Surveillance, Tactics, and the Limits of Panopticism, Sean P. Connors
6 — Exploiting the Gaps in the Fence: Power, Agency, and Rebellion in The Hunger Games, Michael Macaluso and Cori McKenzie
Part Three: “Look at the State They Left Us In”: The Hunger Games as Social Criticism
7 — “It’s Great to Have Allies As Long As You Can Ignore the Thought That You’ll Have to Kill Them”: A Cultural Critical Response to Blurred Ethics in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Anna O. Soter
8 — “I Try to Remember Who I Am and Who I Am Not”: The Subjugation of Nature and Women in The Hunger Games, Sean P. Connors
9 — “We End Our Hunger for Justice!”: Social Responsibility in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Rodrigo Joseph Rodríguez
Part Four: “That’s a Wrap”: Films, Fandom, and the Politics of Social Media
10 — “She Has No Idea. The Effect She Can Have”: A Rhetorical Reading of The Hunger Games, Hilary Brewster
11 — Are the –Isms Ever in Your Favor?: Children’s Film Theory and The Hunger Games, Iris Shepard and Ian Wojcik-Andrews
12 — The Revolution Starts With Rue: Online Fandom and the Racial Politics of the Hunger Games, Antero Garcia and Marcelle Haddix
Afterward: Why Are Strong Female Characters Not Enough?: Katniss and Lisbeth Salander, from Novel to Film, P. L. Thomas
How to Order
In-press with Sense.
Volume: James Baldwin: Challenging Authors
Editors, A. Scott Henderson and P. L. Thomas, Furman University
The recognition and study of African American (AA) artists and public intellectuals often include Martin Luther King, Jr., and occasionally Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Malcolm X. The literary canon also adds Ralph Ellison, Richard White, Langston Hughes, and others such as female writers Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker.
Yet, the acknowledgement of AA artists and public intellectuals tends to skew the voices and works of those included toward normalized portrayals that fit well within foundational aspects of the American myths reflected in and perpetuated by traditional schooling. Further, while many AA artists and public intellectuals are distorted by mainstream media, public and political characterizations, and the curriculum, several powerful AA voices are simply omitted, ignored, including James Baldwin.
This edited volume will invite and gather a collection of essays that confront Baldwin’s impressive canon or writing and his role as a public intellectual while also exploring Baldwin as a confrontational writer, expatriate, civil rights agitator, and openly gay individual during a highly repressive era.
Cover portrait of James Baldwin by Roy Thinnes
Table of Contents [working]
Introduction, P. L. Thomas
- Conversion Calls for Confrontation: Facing the Old to Become New in the Work of James Baldwin, McKinley E. Melton
- Baldwin and the Black Theater, Susan Watson Turner
- Baldwin in South Africa, Hugo Canham
- From James’ Portrait to Baldwin’s Room: Dismantling the Frames of American Masculinity, Dwan H. Simmons
- Another Country: James Baldwin at “Home” (and) Abroad, Sion Dayson
- Feeling in Critical Consciousness: James Baldwin’s Emotions as Radical Critique of Capitalism, Jeffrey Santa Ana
- James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and the Jeremiad Tradition, James Tackach
- James Baldwin: Artist as Activist and the Baldwin/Kennedy Secret Summit Circa 1963, Charles Reese
- Uplift Versus Upheaval: The Pedagogical Visions of Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin, A. Scott Henderson
- The Agitating Power of Civil Rights Cool in “Going to Meet the Man,” Beazley Kanost
- James Baldwin vs. William Buckley and the Soul of America, Seneca Vaught
- James Baldwin’s Gospel of Postcategorical Love, Pekka Kilpeläinen
- “Fame Is the Spur”: James Baldwin’s Portrait of the Artist in His Later Novels and His Personal Struggle with Fame, Jacqueline Jones Compore
- “Digging through the Ruins”: Just Above My Head and the Memory of James A. Baldwin, Ernest L. Gibson, III
Call for essay proposals DUE: May 15, 2013
Essays accepted, author confirmations due: May 31, 2013
Initial essay drafts DUE: September 20, 2013 Editor feedback, drafts returned: October 1, 2013 Final/ revised essays DUE: November 15, 2013
Proofs due December 8, 2013
Final draft submission to Sense: December 15, 2013