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Beyond Gratuitous Sadness: Unmasking Trauma Porn in Film and Literature

Discuss how to discern genuine quality from exploitative storytelling. Gratuitous sadness in movies and books is a contentious issue, with some works blurring the line between genuine emotion and exploitative storytelling. To determine if a movie or book is truly good or just trauma porn, readers and viewers can look for key indicators. Examining the intent behind the portrayal of sadness, evaluating the depth and complexity of character development, and considering the impact on the audience’s emotional well-being are crucial factors to consider. For example, novels like "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara and the 2023 movie "Close" by Lukas Dhont, have sparked debates on the fine line between authentic emotional storytelling and gratuitous trauma exploitation. Understanding these nuances can help discern between quality storytelling and sensationalized trauma porn.

  • I think how you define "genuine quality" and "truly good" should either be elaborated on; or, the effects of gratuitous sadness should be judged according to a less subjective measure than goodness and quality, for example, by authenticity – Yusra Usmani 1 year ago
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  • A good place to look for uses of 'trauma porn' is within the BooTok world, particularly when it comes to the dark romance genre. An example of this is 'Haunting Adeline' which exploits conspiracy theories, sexual assault and stalking. This book is on the USA Today Bestsellers list and only moving up the ranks. It is definitely an example of exploitative storytelling. – morgantracy 8 months ago
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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 7 months ago
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Alice Munro - her mastery of the short story genre

Any Alice Munro fans out there? It is due time to honour her memory with an article on her mastery of the short story genre. Your article could focus on one aspect of her story telling. For example:

Her narrative techniques.
The Nobel Prize committee characterised her writing thus: "A brief short story can often cover decades, summarising a life, as she moves deftly between different periods. No wonder Alice Munro is often able to say more in 30 pages than an ordinary novelist is capable of in 300. She is a virtuoso of the elliptical and … the master of the contemporary short story."
What techniques does she use to create scope, depth and complexity in a short space of 30 pages?

Her characters.
To quote the Nobel Prize presentation speech again, "Munro writes about what are usually called ordinary people, but her intelligence, compassion and astonishing power of perception enable her to give their lives a remarkable dignity – indeed redemption – since she shows how much of the extraordinary can fit into that jam-packed emptiness called The Ordinary."
In particular, Munro writes about women and family relationships. What kinds of female characters end up in her stories? What do they have in common? What about her characters that leaves an impression on the reader?

Her favourite themes.
Are there certain major themes that emerge across the large number of her stories? What are they? Did her treatment of the themes change over the decades of her career and did they reflect changes and transformations of Canadian society?

You could do a thematic or character study across the corpus of her works, or offer a literary analysis of one or two particular stories.

  • Unfortunately, her knowledge of the abuse her daughter suffered at the hands of her step-father may recontexualize some of her works that may be important to consider. A link to an article about the abuse: https://www.npr.org/2024/07/08/nx-s1-5032827/alice-munro-daughter-abuse-stepfather – Siothrún 2 weeks ago
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Namjoon's Book Club: The Literary Influence of BTS and Its Impact on Fans

Namjoon’s Book Club has become a notable aspect of BTS’s public image, showcasing the group’s interest in literature and intellectual pursuits beyond music. This topic explores the significance of the books read by BTS members, particularly leader RM (Kim Namjoon), and their influence on the group’s creative process, worldview, and public persona. It delves into how BTS’s promotion of reading has inspired fans to engage with literature, fostering a community of readers among the fandom. Analyzing the titles recommended by BTS and their themes, this topic examines how literature has played a role in shaping the group’s identity and connecting with fans on a deeper level. Additionally, it discusses the broader implications of BTS’s advocacy for literacy and education, both within the fandom and in society at large. Through Namjoon’s Book Club, BTS not only expands their artistic horizons but also encourages a culture of intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning among their audience.

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    The Third Person Narrator in Ottessa Moshfegh's Lapvona

    In multiple interviews Moshfegh notes how she explored third person narration as a technique in her novel Lapvona. Compared to her other works that focused primarily on the internal experiences of a single character how did this change in narrative style affect the overall tone of the work and how does the narrative voice develop into a character itself. One could explore how the work contrasts the individual against the collective, moving from the experince of a single character to the experience of Lapvona as a whole not only for the characters but for the reader as well. There is also a tension with the narrative voice’s interpretations and the characters subjective experiences. This can particularly be seen in the moments of miscommunication, where the absence of understanding contrasts with the third person expanded view. This can perhaps be seen as contributing to the dark humor of the story. Moments of humor arise in part by the expanded view of the reader due to the narrative voice where the absurdity of some events becomes clear. Overall the third person narration comes across as a subtle but powerful and permeating influence and an exploration into the direction of this influence can be fruitful for a deeper understanding of the work as a whole.

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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 3 months 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 8 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. 7 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 6 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 3 months ago
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      Locked

      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 4 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 3 months ago
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      Taken by mmclaughlin102 (PM) 2 months ago.