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Supernatural Age-Gap Romance: Dope or Nope?

In stories where some characters are immortal – i.e. living for a very long time without aging – the subject of romance can be a touchy topic. It is hard to find people with shared life experience when everyone else measures life in decades rather than centuries. There is often a question of power imbalance when one side of a relationship is so much older than the other.
On the other hand, an immortal character finding romance with a regular mortal is an example of love bridging gaps. It means the immortal has chosen to care about people, even though he will outlive all of them.
Examine arguments for and against these age-gap romances. Examples include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, the Immortal and Dupli-Kate from Invincible, Thor and Jane Foster from Marvel, and more.

  • Diana Prince and Steve Trevor. – T. Palomino 1 month ago
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The Rise of Fast Fiction and its Effect on the Publishing Industry

With the growing popularity of platforms like TikTok, micro-communities like BookTok are influencing the reading/publishing industry. A recent example of this is Rebecca Yarros’ ‘Fourth Wing’ which released in April 2023. The sequel to this, Iron Flame, was released in November 2023. This is an unusually short time line for traditionally published work and has lead to some quality issues. A vast amount of readers have reported issues with quality in terms of printing (i.e. whole chapters missing, headers missing, etc) but also in terms of writing (lack of editing or depth in plot).

Is the publishing industry changing? Is it attempting to mimic the quick release model of indie authors in order to exploit the market and make more money?

  • Effect, not affect. – T. Palomino 6 months ago
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  • Cool topic! I've noticed this in genres I read a lot as well. Since you bring up quality issues, perhaps the article could go into ways of solving these issues without "fast fiction" becoming as difficult to break into as traditional book publishing? As in, maybe the standards need to be tightened or watched more closely, but that looks different than how you'd monitor or tighten standards for a traditional novel. – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
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  • I saw a tik Tok referencing this same idea and the effect that it is having on the publishing industry as well. Books are being produced more quickly than ever and overflowing the market. This practice is also more prevalent in certain genres. The concern is that instead of making new, meaningful contributions to literature (not that every book has to be serious or educational), popular tropes are being replicated for the wrong reasons. Instead of recognizing that the first author wrote the trope well, these ideas are being reproduced multiple times at a lesser quality. – AmyKryvenchuk 5 months ago
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  • Although I'm not a reader of internet literature myself, I've noticed that internet authors who self-publish novels by instalments have attracted large readerships. The chapters appear online periodically and have many followers. This reflects the changing landscape of reading and writing practices under the influence of technology. However, one can also say this is nothing new. Weren't many of the great novels in the 19th and 20th centuries originally published in newspapers by instalments also, chapter by chapter? In this sense, this could be seen as a revival of an old fashion. It would be interesting to do a comparative study. – Lydia Gore-Jones 1 month ago
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A Perspective on Banned Books in America versus Other Countries

Recently, a lot of books have been making it onto the infamous banned books list in America, due to containing such themes as "strong female leader" in the case of Wizard of Oz, "racism", especially with children’s books that tend to point to the systemic nature of racism in America, and of course, "sexuality and gender" that basically gets slapped on anything that even remotely hints at an LGBTQ relationship or gender expression outside of the cisgender spectrum. Most of these entries to the ever-growing ban list seem to be coming from conservative areas. It might be good to take a small sample of the banned book list from the past 2 years or so and see how it would compare to, say a European banned books list, if the idea of a banned books list isn’t something that is wholly limited to America in the first place, and see if there are any overlapping topics between the lists to see what trends might exist cross-culturally.

If this cross-examination is not possible, the topic taker could instead talk about whether or not book bans should exist, and the reasons why they do, and could choose to take a few selections from the banned books list and make an argument as to whether or not the themes presented in the literature truly merit a spot on a banned books list.

Banned Books list for America: (link)

  • I think for this to be good analysis of cultural differences it should look at time frames as well. 90s America vs 90s China for example. Or a myriad of differing ideologies within the nations and have they remained the same or evolved as times have changed. – Sunni Ago 2 months ago
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  • I think this is a very interesting topic! I think it would be fascinating to research if book bans come from liberals as well. The comparison could be what each side of the spectrum is trying to ban. Also, I think your second paragraph could be an interesting focus. – shoafhannah 2 months ago
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17th century poetry - the Metaphysicals

The Metaphysicals refer to a loose collective of poets such as John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowley, Richard Crashaw and Henry Vaughan, who represent some of the highest achievements of the 17th-century English literature. A most conspicuous feature of their style can be described as using images concrete and tangible, richly appealing to human senses and emotions. The label, “Metaphysical,” was attached to them by later generations. “Metaphysical,” as a style label, refers to the so-called “figures of thought” marked by the use of conceits, witticism and paradoxes. But the term still fails to capture the ‘physical’ side of the Metaphysicals – that is, the corporeality, even fleshiness, in their using concrete images and metaphors on the one hand, and expressing sensational feelings and emotions on the other. How, then, do the ‘physical’ and the ‘metaphysical’ meet in 17th century Renaissance poetry? What makes the Metaphysicals ‘metaphysical’? This topic can be explored either by studies of common characteristics of these poets’ works or by close criticism of individual poets.

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    Locked

    Political Revolution and The Act of Reading

    Fahrenheit 451 focuses on the burning of books. In this fictional world, the owners of books and their homes are burnt and book ownership is seen as the root of unhappiness within society. During the period of the Enlightenment, books were a driver of change as new works like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense shaped ideas like liberty for the American public and led to American independence. More people read than did anything else during this period of change and political foundation for Western democracy. How is the act of reading linked to revolution in books like Fahrenheit 451 and what does this tell us about the importance of reading for the modern era?

    • It's not just reading, of course; it's sharing of information. Books are a great way to do that, especially when prying eyes might be listening and subtlety is key. During times of famous revolutions in history, the Internet wasn't a thing; when Fahrenheit 451 was written, the Internet wasn't a thing. Today, in countries where tyrannical governments keep firm control of their citizens, the Internet is restricted just as much as books were in Fahrenheit 451. In countries where the Internet is mostly un-regulated, everyone is making their best effort to sway public opinion in every direction - it may not lead to all-out revolution, but I'm sure one could make an argument for the influence this freedom of information sharing has had on major political events in the past 20 years or so. – noahspud 5 months ago
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    Taken by Lydia Gore-Jones (PM) 1 month ago.
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    Newspeak, 1984, and Big Brother

    Orwell’s 1984 ends with an in depth record of Newspeak, the language imposed upon citizens by the novel’s fascist government.
    Examples are:
    1) ‘renaming’ words (such as ‘concentration camp’ being changed to ‘joycamp’)
    This is interesting to analyse in light of the social theories which speak of how language constructs reality – if we refer to a concentration camp as a ‘joycamp’ for long enough, does that change the way we think of it? (eg. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which suggests that the structure of language shapes the speaker’s worldview or cognition/ Wittgenstein’s famous ‘the limits of my language mean the limits of my world’/etc)

    2) reconstructing words to make them ‘noun centric’, such as eliminating the words ‘cut’/’cutting’/etc, and making them ‘knifing’/’knifed’ and so on.
    Not only does this reduce the number of words we have at our disposal, it also limits the flexibility of language. To give a basic example, ‘cutting edge’ is an adjective that highlights the word succeeding it – ‘knifing edge’ instead places the focus on the knife. In due time, it is likely that ‘cutting edge’ as a concept itself may become obsolete in the absence of the word ‘cut’.
    These ideas are relevant in most linguistic analysis, but there may be scope to analyse them in the light of current corporate and social structures. For instance,
    – ‘Sending a message’ is a phrase that has largely given way to ‘inboxing’ or ‘DM’ing. Does this restrict the way we think of communication at large? Is there a potential future where written communication becomes unthinkable without monopolies such as Meta intermediaries? What of ‘Googling’ or ‘Xeroxing’ (instead of ‘looking for information’ or ‘making a photocopy’)?

    – Do the words corporates use modify our understanding of social structures? When Facebook switches the name for a user’s personal page from ‘profile’ to ‘timeline’, do we think of the personal page as less static and virtual, more a tangible piece of our lives?

    – Censorship in both mass media and private social media. Instagram and Google by default blur out posts containing certain words and images (‘Safe Search’) – there is little regulation as to what these words/images must be. Is the possibility that by routinely hiding these terms and visuals, the user’s reality is reconstructed to erase certain perspectives and realities?

    • Thanks! Edited for clarity and given a specific thesis and some examples. – Janhabi Mukherjee 5 months ago
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    • This is a really interesting topic! The complex linguistic concepts you note are ones that are not so readily and commonly explored in pieces that I have read about 1984, and I think they could make for a very fruitful article. This is just a bit more of a general question about where you see or intend these concepts to be rooted: is 1984 a lens through which you think your potential thesis should be explored, or was it just a springboard for more generalized questions? Either would still make for a great analysis! I was just wondering what role 1984 is meant to play in such analysis. – mmclaughlin102 5 months ago
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    • Thanks! I honestly think either approach could be taken dependiong on what the author wanted to focus upon. I was thinking of it as more of a springboard (beginning with the 1984 dictionary and taking up questions of language, reality and social structures) initially. But usingit as a lens to focus on more specific examples or instances (eg. how do 1984's lingustic concepts play out in situations like the current multiple antitrust lawsuits against Google) could also be a fruitful analysis. – Janhabi Mukherjee 5 months ago
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    The Appeal of Nonsense Literature: A Remedy for a Mad, Mad World?

    For many of us, our first exposure to nonsense literature in general came in the form of nonsense poetry. Authors such as Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss and Spike Milligan used non-sensical verse to subvert the power of language to label and own the world. Oxford scholars now suggest the origins of nonsense literature may be found in the 11th century, although there is circumstantial evidence to suggest an even older origin, possibly as far back as Aristophanes.

    Nonsense poetry (and, by extension, nonsense literature in general) is now an officially recognised subset of the international language of literature, and elements have even crept into everyday usage. For instance, few people know that the oft-used word ‘nerd’ was invented by Dr. Suess.

    In addition to the names listed above, Ivor Cutler, James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, François Rabelais, Flann O’Brien, Velimir Khlebnikov and Sukumar Ray (to name but a few) have all used either nonsense or nonsensical structure in their works, as have Bob Dylan, David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Syd Barret (Co-founder of Pink Floyd).

    Discuss how the anarchic power of nonsense writing can be liberating, both to the author/writer and to the reader/audience. Choose whatever examples you wish and show how, by breaking the established rules of grammar, punctuation and capitalisation, nonsense can also sometimes even act as a remedy for a mad, mad world.

    • I find a lot of children stories/poems are quite non-sensical. Like Alice in Wonderland, Winnie The Pooh, etc. I remembered when I was taking Children's Literature at school, I felt stuck reading non-sensical works intended for children. My prof said there are extensive academic studies into Alice in Wonderland, from psychanalysis to mathematics pov. – aumi 2 months ago
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    Coding, Bait, and Representation: Different Forms of Queer Media

    Analyze different ways that queerness has been tackled in literature over time, with particular attention paid to the shift in recent years away from queer coded characters to queer characters whose sexuality/queerness is explicitly stated and explored in the text. One of the most direct ways to look at this is through fairy tales. Many fairy tales when read through a queer lens reveal a rich queer subtext, even if they were not written with this intention. On the other side of the token, in modern times it’s common to write explicitly queer retellings of fairy tales, which bring that subtext to the forefront and make it textual, rather than regulating it to a subtextual reading. (This could be applied to storytelling as a whole, but it would be useful to narrow it down to one specific medium like classic vs contemporary literature. It could also have examples from TV & anime/manga).

    An article on this topic could also spend time on queerbaiting, which in some ways occupies a unique middle ground: characters that are queer coded enough for queer viewers to find them compelling and therefore a profitable audience, but not so explicitly queer that the writers ever have to commit to that reading (the show Supernatural comes up a lot as an example in these sorts of conversations). With many stories, it is worthwhile to go back and read them through a queer lens due to them containing rich queer subtext that wasn’t able to be made explicit in the time it was written (Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde and the Awakening by Kate Chopin comes to mind). However, when it comes to modern stories where censorship is less of a valid obstacle, this reliance on queer coding without explicit confirmation becomes baiting when done intentionally. (There is plenty of grey area when it comes to unintentional queer coding and where that line is drawn.)

    Additionally, this could also explore which types of queer characters are most needed in media today. While queer coding in classic literature is very important to look back on, now that explicit queer narratives ARE more normalized, it feels reductive to go back to storytelling that keeps all of its queerness beneath the surface. Nevertheless, a counterpoint to this push for explicit queer narratives would be that, at times, this type of storytelling can become heavy handed. It may be an issue where everyone’s ideal form of queer representation is subjective.

    • I think it's also worth noting that queerbaiting is often referred to as a marketing tactic - some media will sell the story as being queer, but not actually show this during the piece itself (eg a social media account posting a pride month post featuring a character or two, but these character's queerness doesn't actually get mentioned in the piece of media at all). It's a term that gets a lot of use, and some people seem to use it in very different ways with different meanings. Regardless, I do like this topic idea. – AnnieEM 1 year ago
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