The 90s saw tons of ‘darker’ middle-grade series, Animorphs and Goosebumps to name a few. Neither of these series were so mature that they became inaccessible to their target readers but their stories were grounded in themes or tropes that could still appeal to all ages. Discuss the middle-grade demographic and whether it has more potential to experiment and mix genres and exist outside of the common publication conventions than other demographics such as children’s, YA, or adult.
Thoughts on middle-grade? Thoughts on defining books by their demographic rather than genre? Anyone have any good recommendations for more recent ‘all-ages’ novels or series?
In the Urban Fantasy genre – Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, etc. – magic and magical creatures exist alongside humans, but humans don’t know about them. The Cosmic Horror genre – i.e. H.P. Lovecraft – has a similar rule, except if humans see "past the veil," what they see is usually terrifying and even madness-inducing. Meanwhile, in the Percy Jackson series, a demigod can see monsters just fine, but looking at a god or titan’s true divine form is hazardous to their health. This seems to be an overlap between Urban Fantasy and Cosmic Horror. Similarly, the existence of Squibs and Obscurials in Fantastic Beasts lore sometimes approaches Cosmic Horror territory. Compare and contrast the two genres. What other overlap exists between them? Where do world-builders and storytellers make distinctions between the genres and why? Do interesting themes and lessons emerge when you consider Urban Fantasy from a Cosmic Horror perspective or vice versa?
This topic could be more complete if you delved into the historical functions of both genres. Horror studies traditionally position the horror genre as a means of confronting taboo or unfamiliar things. Why is it that demigods in Percy Jackson are the only ones allowed to witness - regardless of the risk - beings that can cause insanity, whereas Lovecraft's works allow ordinary people to peek behind the veil? Could that be because fantasy-as-escapism invites an extra distance between the reader and the horrifying truths they're confronting? Try looking into some theorists or case studies examining the functions of cosmic horror and YA fantasy. – CharlieSimmons3 months ago
Magical realism is a literary genre that combines elements of the fantastical with the ordinary, blurring the lines between reality and imagination. When writing on this topic, one can explore the significance of magical realism in contemporary literature and its impact on storytelling, symbolism, and thematic exploration. Additionally, one can delve into how authors employ magical realism to convey deeper truths about the human condition, cultural identity and social issues.
Perhaps consider discussing this topic in relation to well-known magical realism writers such as Haruki Murakami or Neil Gaiman. As a starting point, consider the following: how is this genre defined and how does it differ from other genres like fantasy/surrealism? How does magical realism challenge readers’ perceptions of reality and provoke them to question the nature of truth and existence? How can magical realism allow authors to explore complex themes and societal issues that might be difficult to address through realistic fiction?
All these questions have already been answered extensively. Magical realism is one of the most explored topics by literary critics in the last 50 years, especially after the publication of "One Hundred Years of Solitude." In fact, several studies have shown that there are more pressing and interesting questions than those presented here. – T. Palomino3 months ago
It’s a tale as old as erotica: a girl sits down at a coffee shop and pulls out her e-reader because the cover of her steamy romance novels will be judged if she bought the physical book. In 2022 seven of the ten best-selling books were romance novels that contained erotic content. Adult romance and erotica are almost indistinguishable these days, for example the number one best-selling fiction book in 2022 It ends with us by colleen hoover contains several graphic sex scenes yet is labeled romance not erotica. Adult romance is the best-selling fiction genre of all time, yet despite the popularity of the genre, men and women still deal with romance reader shame. Why is this genre seen as trashy? Is it misogyny, classism, or something else?
Although the criticism of modern erotica may seem like a modern issue, this debate has been going on for centuries. It would be interesting to analyze the modern romance reader shame and its relationship to the criticisms of the 19th century sensation novel.
I do not think the unpopularity of Adult Romance can be directly attributed to misogyny, of all things. At best, there is an implicit connection there, and even that, I fail to see. If you think about it, a man reading a steamy romance novel with a suggestive title would be considered a creep if he did it in public--which is considerably worse than being judged trashy. The genre has a bad reputation because it is saturated with low-quality content. A lot of writers try to create erotic fiction. A lot of writers fail. If you compare erotica to historical novels, for example, you are significantly more likely to find tawdry content in the former category than in the latter, not to mention the fact that many people cringe at the believability and logic of most Adult Romance books. – Rahul4 months ago
This is really intriguing topic. I'm trying to think of 19th century novels that I would classify as erotica. Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1929) comes to mind, but I haven't read it myself. I suppose Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded which is much older could work as well. But both of these novels are mainly a commentary on marriage and how sex can fit into it. I think maybe you could argue that erotica isn't considered literature because it seems like its only about the physical act and not the personal or cultural impact. – E. DeWitt4 months ago
Currently, split time novels are some of the most popular in the fiction market. These novels usually pair a historical protagonist with a contemporary one, connecting their stories across time through similar themes and motifs or sometimes a significant object or event. For instance, one protagonist might have lived through World War I or II, and the other might be that protagonist’s grandchild or great-grandchild looking for answers regarding what happened to that grandparent during the war years, but the other family members never talk about.
Despite the popularity of these stories, they’re arguably becoming formulaic. Some time periods and plotlines are becoming overdone. For instance, it is no longer uncommon for World War II to be the featured historical period. A contemporary protagonist is often drawn to care about the past only if he or she "gets something out of it," such as a promotion at work or a "last chance" to connect with a grandparent dealing with dementia (the question becomes, why didn’t the grandchild ever attempt to connect before)?
Discuss some of the more popular split time novels and what sets them apart from their myriad counterparts. Discuss what historical time periods aren’t being taken advantage of right now that could be, or what plotlines contemporary characters could experience. For instance, could time travel be a possibility? Body or identity switches? Historical and future timelines?
I suggest including good examples of split-time novels to give authors a basis to work from. – noahspud5 months ago
I agree with noahspud, some examples would be perfect. – Beatrix Kondo5 months ago
I think something that could break the formulaic nature of the trope would be to have an integration of two different cultures and timelines that are neither modern nor Eurocentric. As you have mentioned the contemporary counterpart is usually the default, acting as the representative of the modern audience, however as an example, if someone from 18th-century Japan met someone from Ancient Egypt or 14th-century Brazil, there can be more chances for complexity. The downside would be introducing the viewer to too many unknown systems. The benefit of the eurocentric and modern counterpart is that it acts as a blank slate. Could this potentially work? – LadyAcademia5 months ago
Theosophy was an American religion which emerged during the Spiritualist movement of the late 19th century, and is considered to be the starting point from which various new-age ideologies originated. Analyze the ideas espoused by Theosophical texts, its effects on American art and culture, and how these ideas have influenced modern thinking.
Can you give examples of theosophical texts on which writers can base an article? Also, "American arts and culture" and "modern thinking" are good starting points, but broad. Can you narrow these down? This might help the argument you seem to be going for, which is that theosophical texts are contributing to a new religion (what kind of new religion? Based on what)? – Stephanie M.6 months ago
Many people argue that the purpose of The Hunger Games is to discuss the topics of fascism and capitalism, but many ignore the deeper meaning of the issues presented in both the novels and the movies. It’s the entertainment value of the unfortunate chosen who are forced to kill themselves than those of the capital enjoy. They are advertised and marketed to an extreme extent, as well as dressed up and dined as a means to create a personal connection from the audience to the participants. While it’s argued that this is to signify the class differences due to wealth and poverty, this really shows the threats and problems that occur with the interpersonal enjoyment of reality tv and entertainment through the enjoyment of both beauty and violence shown in this series.
Harry Potter is a beloved series all over the world, and whether you’ve seen it or not, everyone has heard of it. While the author J.K. Rowling has come into some heavy fire from the media for her transphobia and racial stereotyping over the past few years, the Harry Potter franchise still stands in our hearts. Can art be separated from the creator? Do benefits for transgender and racialized youth outweigh the original intentions of the author? What are the connotations of new creations set in the universe J.K. Rowling imagined? Should they be supported?
I believe that a really constructive way to bridge this topic is to provide different forms of media and or people that also face the difficulty of separation from creator and product. This could be things like the creator of Attack on Titan and the show itself, or Marilyn Manson and his music. While not relevant to the topic of Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling, this idea could be something worth noting in order to create critical thinking for readers. – bluestarshine7 months ago
One point I often see raised is that JK is quite literally still benefitting from people talking about, reading, and buying content in the Harry Potter franchise. So even if you can separate it in your mind, it's not really separated in the real world. Even if you acknowledge her wrongs and have your opinions, each time you buy a new copy of one of her books you do imply support for her, and directly fund her and her cause. You can even argue just talking about the franchise implies support and aids her, though this is a little tenuous. This is in contrast to older creators where it is possible to have more separation. If you read HP Lovecraft's work, for example, he isn't going to use that public support or the money you spend to further racist causes because he's dead. You of course don't have to agree with this take on the topic, it's just one I've seen around in discussions of it, and I think it makes an interesting point. – AnnieEM7 months ago