Category Archives: General

I’ve moved

Hello, all — or the few who come and visit every so often. I’ve moved from this free WordPress blog to the blog on my own site, Storytrade. That’s where you can find me these days, mostly ruminating about the doctoral work I’m doing. So, if you’re still interested, head on over, and I hope to see you there. 


Seduction of the Innocent – fast and loose with facts and data?

I was introduced to Frederic Wertham‘s book sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, on a late night interview show Bob Costas had. That night I stayed up to watch him talk to William Gaines, the (benevolent) dictator of MAD Magazine, a rag I loved while growing up, and for which I’d like to write someday.

Voodah & Jano

Voodah & Jano (Photo credit: Felix_Nine)

Costas asked Gaines about his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954, hearings that were called in direct response to Wertham’s scathing accusations against comics, and particularly horror and true crime comics like Gaines’ EC used to publish. The very reason MAD is a “magazine” and not a comic book was to get it out of the clutches of the Comics Code Authority, a ratings code adopted after the hearings by most comics publishers and still followed by a handful of publishers as late as 2011.

Well. Turns out that Wertham’s data, portions of which have been considered questionable for a while, have significant problems. Carol Tilley, Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has gone through a portion of the documentation Wertham used in composing Seduction, initially looking for letters from angry librarians complaining about comics, and found very few. As Tilley took notes back to her hotel from examining Wertham’s files at the Library of Congress, she found instead more and more inconsistencies. And to make sure she wasn’t making errors in her note-taking, she photocopied parts of files to be sure.

The news article on her findings is definitely worth a read, and her findings themselves in Information and Culture: A Journal of History are absolutely riveting.

I find this turn of events fascinating, especially in light of how, after a long series of recent gun tragedies in the US, video games are again being scrutinized and demonized as instigators of violent and anti-social behavior not just in children, but now adults as well.


University of Tennessee School of Art offers new MFA concentration

This? This is incredibly exciting. I think I may get in touch with them and ask some closer questions about curriculum….

Art@UT

transmedia

The School of Art announces a new three-year MFA concentration designed to support discovery, research and creative activity between graphic design and time-based media. Transmedia Design merges the former Graphic Design and 4D area masters concentrations into a new graduate curriculum. Combining faculty from both areas, it will begin its inaugural year with the Fall 2013 semester. “This program will compliment our other MFA concentrations already offered in Painting and Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture and Ceramics,” says David Wilson, School of Art Associate Director and Graduate Program Director.

Within Transmedia Design, the faculty foresee work being produced on a variety of levels including: interaction design, design strategy, video, film, performance, gaming, identity and branding, sound art, information design and motion. “The fields of both design and time-based media have changed considerably over the past several years. We see this merger as an opportunity to expand in a manner that does not…

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I should be writing a paper (or, a BA in Advanced Storytelling)

So, I had an awesome meeting on Monday with one of my instructors. –I say instructor because in Australia and the UK, the term “professor” has a very specific meaning and is not a title easily gained. I’ve heard it equated to tenure in US university terms, but I’m not sure I understand the matter either way.

I say this so you understand if I use the wrong term for someone — no slight is intended.

Anyway. I’m angling to add this instructor as a second academic advisor (she comes from a narrative and prose writing background, while my current advisor comes from a music and production background — combining advice from the two would be, in my mind, ideal), and we sat down to have a chat about things in general. We talked about my project, why I have an interest in transmedia, why I have an interest in the story I’m planning to tell.

When I did my undergrad degree, it was at Gallatin, at NYU. A place where you get to create your own major. I called it “multimedia communications” for purposes of resumes, but when I described it to my instructor (I’ll name names eventually), she smiled and said “sounds very transmedia to me.”

To me, story is king. If you’re telling a story, it’ll tell you how it wants to be told. Sometimes you can shoehorn it into something else, but that often doesn’t end well. My thesis play for my MFA is proof of this. That degree I got from Gallatin, I earned it by taking literature courses, photography, film criticism, video art production, and in my spare time learned how to use Photoshop and Quark. –I may have just dated myself with that remark.

I did all of those things because they’re all legitimate ways to tell a story. I saw myself as a bit of a jack of all trades. This hurt me in the job market because not many people look for jacks of all trades. But it prepped me for what I’m aiming to do now. I’ve always had a holistic view of things, that a thing can’t exist independent of the context surrounding it. Everything informs everything else. I saw it when my plays were performed. I see it when I GM a table top RPG, or I play in one.

The philosophy’s there, has been for years — I used to joke that my degree was a BA in Advanced Storytelling. And it feels as if I’ve accidentally ended up in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.


Studies and Resolutions

So, as I think I’ve said before somewhere around here, I’m currently a doctoral student at Queensland University of Technology. It’s not precisely a PhD (in fact, it’s called a Doctorate of Creative Industries).

I have never had to think like this before. It’s a completely new plane of thought. I like it, I do, but it’s exhausting in the same way a new exercise regimen is.

I am also thoroughly unaccustomed to being considered, and treated as, an expert (at least in a professional sense). I’m so constantly on the edge of putting my metaphorical dukes up, ready to defend my position on just about anything, that having a slew of very intelligent, insightful, and supportive people being nice to me and acknowledging the value in what I say is just bewildering.

And it’s a wonderful rush to get questioned not to knock me down, but to actually query my ideas. Mush ’em around a bit. Find new leads, close off old ones, or develop them further. Help other folks bolster theirs, or bring focus, or contrast.

I am just not used to this.

And it’s great.

My only problem, as it always is, is time management. I’m eating better mainly because it keeps the brain-fog sleepies at bay. But sleep deprivation is a beast that can’t be tamed by staying off the sweets.

Again, as I mentioned somewhere in a tweet or Facebook or something, I have learned that blogs are a perfect acceptable, and even encouraged, form of qualitative research. This provides a nifty solution to two things at once: one, I’ll actually write things here on a regular basis. I’ll have to; a lot of the stuff boiling up in my head gets lost in the slew of notebooks I have lying around. (Speaking of which: is Evernote worth it? Reviews and personal anecdotes welcome in the comments.)

Two, I’ll have a chronological breakdown of the thought processes surrounding the research and practice going into making Project 1. I’ll cover just what Project 1 (and the subsequent Project 2) is in a follow-up post.

This said, I have some caveats. Well, I have one for now, reserving the right to add more as I see fit. This place will be a bit of a mess. I am not, by nature, an organized person. You’ll see blather show up in here that may have very little relation to a well-thought out idea. Feel free to skip those; I’ll find a way to tag them, or mark them in the title of the post. But I recommend you actually read them. I expect they’ll be fairly short — I tend to think in bursts of static — and they may have insights that you might find useful, even if the first thing you think of is how strongly you disagree.

Because that’s okay. What matters is that it got you thinking in the first place.


Update from off-shore

That’s a metaphorical off-shore. I’m still here in the antipodes.

For those who know me, you won’t be at all surprised that despite being keenly aware of the work expected of me and the like, I’ve still managed to let school broadside me. I’m just frustrated at myself, really; I’m not completely a grown-up and am probably not capable of it anyway, but I tend to be pretty mature when it really counts.

And this is just soup all over the floor.

It’s a kind of manic, terrified joy, really, like that awful, vertiginous moment before the first drop on a roller coaster. Every nerve fiber is screaming that this is a very bad idea with all the falling and hurtling through space at alarming angles on a loud rickety machine, but this is seriously fun and astonishingly interesting and nothing short of thrilling.

I know I’m not saying anything new. But I hope it helps me somehow to say it.

Anyway, I’m back off to the grindstone or plasma screen or whatever’s the right metaphor now. Keyboard? Mouse? High speed wireless connection?

…Heh. I’ve managed to compare higher education to a loud rickety machine. Heh.


A brief note

Still here in the US. Things are still serious, but we’re fighting it as best we can. These days are looking pretty good, and for that I’m grateful. It’s hard, sometimes, being so far away from home.

Home. Tricky subject! I think of a lot of places as home, simultaneously. I guess it’s a mark of the 21st century that this is a common situation. I’m here at home with family; I left my husband back at home. And home is where many of my friends are, where I spent nearly 14 years of my life.

So. Leaving home for home, but not for a couple of weeks. Once I’m back in the southern hemisphere, I aim to update at least once a week. Might be a bit spotty in May, but pick up by June. That’s the hope, at least.

In the meantime, here’s a four year old photo of the Sydney Opera House I took after catching a Judith Lucy show.

I had to sit on some steps and rest my elbows on my knees to get this shot. I think it was a half-second exposure. This was taken, believe it or not, around nine at night.


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