Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blood in Fairy Tale

I'm going to be preoccupied with the presence of blood in fairy tales for the next couple of weeks. This may sound slightly macabre (or very macabre), but in truth, I'm actually a late addition to the Fairy Tales Re-imagined programme: scroll down to the end there.

One of the first things that occurred to me as I contemplated my panel was that while we often associate blood with violence in fairy tale, very often the lips or cheeks of a particular beauty will be associated with blood. I have something to say about this, but I'm saving it for the panel!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A few quick things

I'm just having another quick cup of coffee before getting reading for a day of meetings.

I did come across this post linking to 18th century animal illustrations from 'Collection des Animaux Quadrupèdes'. The animals have peculiarly human expressions. We'll be studying anthropomorphism in Children's Literature this semester, as it underpins much of the great work: Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Rabbit etc. Who doesn't love teaching Winnie-the-Pooh?

We also have our new CFP for a conference in August.


12-13 August 2011

Monash University, Melbourne

Sponsored by: The Centre for the Book, Monash University

In 2010, the 600th issue of Wonder Woman celebrated the Amazonian superhero’s longevity in print media. To mark the occasion, the issue reinvented the superhero’s iconic costume to make it less revealing, introducing dark trousers and a blue, starred jacket. This shift to more practical, less sexualised wear arguably reflects changing attitudes about gender and the growing female presence in the comics industry. Nonetheless, the change prompted some controversy online amongst fan communities, again highlighting the problematic history of the representation of women as powerful figures.

‘Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures’ is a one and a half day interrogation of the construct of the ‘superhero’ as female and more generally of the representation of powerful female figures in fantasy and science fiction. Looking at a range of print and visual media, papers will explore the range of female characters in superhero narratives, the material history of the female superhero, and how visual and textual constructs of female heroes - and anti-heroes - have been re-imagined, re-invented and re-packaged over time.

Possible topics include:

The representation of female superheroes in print and visual media – in comics, comix, graphic novels, novels, short stories, fan fiction, film, television, and other media forms

Distribution of narratives and images of female superheroes across multiple genres and media platforms

The female hero quest

Deconstructing the superhero trope – studies in feminism, patriotism, politics, race, satire, comedy, and so on

Constructs of the female supervillain

Superhero fashions, including costumes, cosplay and sartorial signifiers

Female collaboration in comics

Female comics artists: historical and contemporary

Female comics audiences and fan communities

Analysis of the institutional, commercial and licensing histories of female superhero properties

The construction of powerful women in fantasy and science fiction genres

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words, accompanied by a brief bio, by emailed attachment to Dr Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario (Rebecca.DoRozario@monash.edu). The deadline for abstracts is 11 April, 2011.

We're really looking forward to this one.

One of the members of the reading group behind the conference also has a blog, Silk for Caldé. He just published a post on his new Lisa Snellings-Clark poppets, which are brilliant. Snellings-Clark also has a special edition range of poppets for The Graveyard Book. I'm still kicking myself for not getting her Gaiman rat.

Last, the ERA 2012 Ranked Outlets Public Consultation is open. Please have a look. This is about the ranking of scholarly journals. There are some brilliant scholarly journals, like Marvels & Tales, languishing at a C ranking for no logical reason and this is an opportunity to provide feedback and an argument for a better ranking. You can register at:


Universities are already starting to advise academics not to publish in C ranked journals. This is potentially very damaging, particularly to smaller (at least in Australia) and newer fields of research.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reminder - Fairy Tales Re-Imagined Symposium

Who knew catching up on email could take most of the day? One week out of action and the email reached terrifying proportions.

But I did learn of a new addition to the Fairy Tales Re-Imagined Symposium:

Dark Tales, Serial Archetypes
5pm, 11 March 2011
Cinema 2

Quoting from the promotional material:

"You may not know it, but the fairytale is alive and well and living in your TV through characters such as Dexter Morgan.

Join Jeff Lindsay, author and creator of our favourite serial killer sociopath, in conversation with Professor Sue Turnbull as they explore the renaissance of macabre fairytales in popular culture and examine how fairytales have influenced Lindsay’s writing."

Tickets can be purchased separately for the talk, with details available on the website (linked above).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Coming Semester

This semester, I'm coordinating ATS2519 and ATS3519 (same unit, different levels), Children's Literature.

The books we'll be looking at include:

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Emily Gravett, Wolves

Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book (Penguin edition, intro Daniel Karlin)
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
Shaun Tan & John Marsden, The Rabbits
Julie Vivas & Mem Fox, Possum Magic
Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief

We’ll also be sampling from Beatrix Potter’s The Flopsy Bunnies, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Ruth Park’s The Muddle-headed Wombat.

It's funny, isn't it? Yet entirely sensible. When looking at English Lit. units, one tends to think less about the overarching themes and epochs and more about the books themselves. Of course, the downside is that there are always going to be books on the curriculum that people don't like or find boring. This is okay. Although occasionally you have to prevent scuffles over whether Rowling is overrated and don't even mention Meyer. All healthy debate, though!

This year, I changed up the books a little. I'd been teaching Little Women. I really like Little Women. I read all the books about Jo's life and cried over the melodramatic Jo's Boys. But, as I confessed to students, Anne of Green Gables was always my favourite. Students would ask why I didn't teach Anne instead. I guess because she was and is my favourite. Yet, I realised that I was being a bit silly about it. I can forgive Little Women its obsession with goodness, but oh how refreshing to read Anne again and find that she very often wasn't trying to be good, but that she wholeheartedly stood up for herself. Who doesn't love that she cracks Gilbert over the head with her slate for calling her 'carrots'? Or that Marilla sympathises?

Oh... that's the one catch in teaching Anne. I've reread the books and reread the books, but I've likewise seen the miniseries with Megan Follows far too often (although, not The Continuing Story and A New Beginning). I get the books and the mini series mixed up. That is going to be a struggle this semester!

I've also added Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I like to try to include new books (ie from this century) and this one has a great advantage. You can follow Gaiman's reading of the book here. How fantastic is it that today we can hear and see the author read their work, no matter where we live? I think this is an underestimated benefit of the digital world for literary studies.