Archive for the 'genre' Category


Feb 17 2010

American Sympathy, Caleb Crain

by at 11:00 pm

In order to get ready for some major thesis writing, I still have to do some more reading on Wieland criticsm. Sigh. I give you my first attempt at summarizing some Wieland criticism:

Informed by Freud and writings on “insanity” or imbalance behavior (as evidenced by his refernce to Dora, etc.),  Caleb Crain emphasizes the importance of the father and what he terms “copyism” in guiding the narrative’s direction. Crain defines copyism as follows: “A copyist is a self whose creative impulse has been destroyed as a sacrifice to authority. The sacrifice is in a sense a gift of love. The copyist would rather not be himself or herself than lose the approval of the one he or she copies” (Crain 107).

Crain cites a letter CBB writes to a friend of his in which he rails against the entrance of copying into the realm of art. In a discussion on music, Brown writes, “low, indeed must be the ambition, which is satisfied with pleasing by mere mimicry, but putting off every distinctive property, everything that constitutes themselves; and warbling the words of others, and running through unmeaning, unappropriate, unintelligent notes.”

Not coincidently, Brown was preoccupied with the idea of copying and imposture. His father, Elijah Brown,was a conveyancer and copied over legal documents but he often copied over documents on his own time as a kind of therapeutic technique of relaxation. Brown was also involved in lots of shady business transactions, and here is where Crain ties in issues of copyism, and issues of father figures. Brown attempts to do things differently–not to imitate his father’s shady ways, but Brown cannot help but see the links between the literary art and its “combination of imposture and projection,” which like Carwin, can “speak where he is not” (108). The idea that the novel itself is suspicious with its disembodied voice, just as Carwin’s ability to project his voice as if it is detached from his own body, is an interesting idea to think about.

No responses yet | Categories: Charles Brockden Brown,genre,Thesis,Wieland

Oct 30 2009

Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Introduction

by at 9:27 pm

Farrah Mendlesohn, in “Reading Science Fiction,” argues that “science fiction is less a genre–a body of writing from which one can expect certain plot elements and specific tropes–than an ongoing discussion” (1). If it were a genre, Mendlesohn contends:

we would know the rough outlines of every book that we picked up. If it were a mystery, we would know that there was ‘something to be found out;’ if a romance, that two people would meet, make conflict and fall in love; if horror, that there would be an intrusion of the unnatural into the world that would eventually been tamed or destroyed (2).

Mendlesohn brings Schild’s Ladder (1992), one of the best examples of sf, to show how sf cannot be a genre: it is both mystery, romance, and horror story.

Question: Could this explain why Sheppard Lee’s plot is so bizarre? Is it melding genres?

Mendlesohn naturally contradict herself by claiming  that there is “genre sf,” which began in the mid-1920s.” This genre, she claims, is united by a “sense of wonder.” Charasterics of this “genre sf” include:

  • “the earliest sf relied on the creation of a new invention, or an arrival in a new place. For the readers of this material, this was enough; one could stand and stare at the flying city, or gasp at the audacity of the super-weappon” (3).
  • the tone was primarily descriptive, the protagonist unfamiliar with his/her surroundings describing to the reader, or auditing a lecture on our behalf” (3).
  • “almost all stories ended either in universal peace or with the destruction of invention and inventor because the writers either lacked the skill to go beyond the idea and employed the explosion as the sf equivalent of ‘I woke up and it was all a dream,’ perhaps in order to avoid any sense of consequence […] The result was a sense of wonder combined with presentism” (3).

No responses yet | Categories: genre,Orals,Personal Statement