Updates and Papers

Hey y’all. Tomorrow morning I start four months of nonstop chemo, which is sure to be a living hell. I don’t know how I’m going to react to the new chemo drugs, but if how I reacted to the first one was any indication, I’ll be like a landed fish flopping around on the couch and whining nonstop for 16 weeks, so that will be fun. On the bright side, they don’t think I’m going to die, so that’s nice. Surgery went fine, and I had a CT scan last week that suggested it hasn’t spread anywhere, so.

I was hoping to get further into Umineko before now, but unfortunately recovering from surgery was a lot more crappy than I thought. Anyway, since I haven’t done that which sucks, I thought I’d share what I was actually able to do, which was my term paper for my independent research project this semester. My proposal was a study of contemporary (defined by me as post-1970 in my proposal, though in practice it’s really post-1980) popular women’s detective fiction. It was mostly borne of curiosity — after 1970 or so, detective fiction rather suddenly becomes completely female dominated. In what I’m sure is a complete and utter coincidence, scholarly study of the genre also basically stops then, petering out with the hardboiled era. So I thought it’d be good for me to look at where the genre has ended up and how it got here. Like all popular fiction aimed at women, the genre has gotten a reputation as being unliterary, low-hanging-fruit. I wanted to really push up against that belief in myself.

What I absolutely did not expect was to read like 25 books about rape culture. I read about so much fucking rape this semester. It was really emotionally draining, as was writing my paper about it. I did the most depressing research I’ve ever done, and found that I could only write it in like 2-page increments before I kind of wanted to blow the world up and needed to go like, playing kids’ video games for two days to work up my resolve again. (Or, as Mr. Act put it, “I think you’ve earned the right to write about teletubbies or something next semester.”)

Anyway that’s all a long way of saying I had to do this and now I’m bringing it to you because I deserve to have someone else have to know all the shit I now know.

I also thought more generally that it might interest some of you since you’re all weirdly interested in what I have to say anyway, to which end I’m also linking my spring term paper about the way the modernist era used the label ‘middlebrow’ to marginalize women’s writing. The research I did for that one has actually been really helpful in thinking about some of the books Farla’s done here, so even if you’re not willing to subject yourself to 23 pages of someone talking about rape (which, HUGE FUCKING TW ON THIS), you might be interested in this one.

I’ll also say that the whole opening section to the rape paper is kind of a mess. I rewrote it a bunch of times and at this point I’m just so exhausted with this damned paper that I’ve kind of said fuck it and I’m hoping the more focused analysis and conclusion sections can hold it together. It’s not my best work. The middlebrow paper is much better, IMO.

Anyway. Hope you’re all well. If there’s some kind of book emergency and anyone needs to contact me, please do so through Mr. Act instead. You can reach him at mr.act(at)dragon-quill.net.

Much love, and happy holidays.

Fall 2018 IS Final Paper (The Rape One) — please email me for this one!

Spring 2018 602 Final Paper


  1. Spoony Viking says:
    Oh, nice! I’m sure they’re both excellent reads.

    I’m really sorry about the chemo, but also really glad you’re going to be alright. :-)

    1. Seconded. It sucks that you have to go through months of chemotherapy, but I’m glad they say you’ll be alright at the end of it, You got this. Kick cancer’s ass.

      I went over the Spring paper. It was very good! It started off strong a la Virginia Woolf and kept going strong. I’d never come across the various “brow” terms before, which was interesting to see explored with a focus on Woolf and her viewpoints on the subject. 

      I would read the other one, but rape is, unfortunately, a huge trigger for me. I’m sure it was equally as good, however. 

      Good luck with everything. Take it easy when you can. Life won’t be easy for a little while (obviously) but you’ve got us here cheering you on. 


  2. Roarke says:

    I hope everything goes well with the treatment.

    I read the final paper, and I liked it a lot. I’d first read Naked in Death when I was like 14 years old, so naturally none of the stuff you brilliantly discussed registered back then. I want to re-read it now. Eve <3 <3 <3

  3. illhousen says:

    Hang in there!

    I’ve read your papers. It’s kinda weird seeing you go for srs academic tone instead of more conversational one you use here, but I guess the academia wouldn’t accept a blogpost-style rant about Archer, which is a shame.

    Anyway, your work is interesting. Straight detectives are usually not my cup of tea (like, full disclosure, I’m mostly familiar with the classics because there are some really good Russian movie adaptations of Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle), so I wouldn’t know the state of the genre today without your paper. It’s a really interesting direction for it to evolve into.

    I may pick up Naked in Death at some point. The futuristic setting gives it an edge that would make it more appealing to me than normal for detectives, and from what you describe it sounds rather relevant in modern climate.

    On another topic, I actually didn’t know the whole highbrow-lowbrow thing comes from phrenology. I thought it was basically referring to highbrow writers having an image of being incredibly smug and consequently having one eyebrow frozen high.

    I haven’t heard the word “middlebrow” at all before, so the paper was enlightening to me.

    I think you’ve earned the right to write about teletubbies or something next semester.

    Teletubbies actually had a batshit discourse surrounding them at one point, ranging from “dumbing down of our children” to “gay agenda,” so good luck with it.

    1. Act says:

      Lol yes I forgot to mention they’re both written in Academese.

      1. Roarke says:

        Have you poked at any of the later … in Death books? I’ve read like 30 of them but it was half my lifetime ago so I don’t remember how well the others stack up to Naked in Death.

  4. Heatth says:

    Best luck with the chemo, I hope you have a good recovery. Hopefully after that this whole thing will be “over”. (I know it is never really ‘over’ but, you know)

  5. Hearing that you have a good chance of surviving the cancer is great news. And I hope that the chemo won’t be unbearable.
  6. CrazyEd says:

    “Book Emergency”.

    By the time I figure out what one of those might look like, you’ll probably be done with all that unpleasant stuff.

  7. Embershine says:

    The fall paper wasn’t as rough as you made it out to be. I enjoyed the read, and your breakdown and analysis of the subject matter. Couple of typos, but overall well constructed. I haven’t read enough mid century detective fiction to be aware of the racist tropes surrounding the misrepresented rape culture of the time, so it was especially informative to read as a relative outsider to the source material.

    It sucks to write about depressing subject material. I just finished a thirty page American history essay on an in depth analysis of how the Dust Bowl ecological disaster affected the Great Depression. The only thing that got me through it was frequent breaks for Breath of the Wild and the new Let’s Go game.

  8. Yay, good news! Or rather a good new, which is you’ll be alrightish eventually. Yay to that, as all the rest of it sounds like crap but the yayable bit is the most important bit here.

    You go Act, kick its ass and take its name. Then chuck that name to trash, cos who’d wanna keep the name of a cancer?

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