Yeah, it’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. Can I blame it on the shutdown? Well, either way, here’s what I’ve been doing with my time since then.
Philology through Tolkien — This trimester at the Mythgard Institute, I’ve been studying philology through Tolkien. The guy who wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings was really into languages. No, like, REALLY into languages. In fact, he once wrote that all his Middle-earth stories were just an excuse to make up languages (or something like that). The class was co-instructed by preeminent Tolkien scholar Dr. Tom Shippey and Nelson Goering, with preceptorial help from Dr. Carol Leibiger. It was a fascinating class, and quite difficult. I ended the semester with a paper comparing three versions of the Middle English poem Sir Orfeo — and as I haven’t gotten my grade back yet, I’m still thinking about it….
Joss in June (Remix) — At the end of June, I drove down to North Carolina for the Joss in June conference (recap), where I presented a paper entitled “Exploring Cabins in the Whedonverse Woods.” In that paper, I take a look at three episodes from Joss Whedon television shows that each feature a “cabin scenario,” namely Buffy 3×5 “Homecoming” and 5×20 “Spiral,” as well as Firefly 1×13 “Heart of Gold,” comparing them with Cabin in the Woods. At the beginning of October, the conveners of Joss in June announced a special issue of Slayage — the academic journal of the Whedon Studies Association — that will feature papers presented at the conference. So, I spent some time reworking and expanding my paper into publishable form. The deadline was November 30, which meant I basically spent my post-Thanksgiving hours trying to avoid a tryptophan coma so I could write. In addition to enlarging the analysis of the three episodes, I added a somewhat lengthy defense of why the “cabin scenario” is an important aspect of the horror film genre, especially given the apparently declining importance of monsters as the genre strays further from its Gothic literary roots. I also included an appendix analyzing the various top cabin movie lists I noted previously. To date, it’s the longest academic piece I’ve written. I won’t hear back until February as to whether my paper has been accepted, but I’m keeping a positive view.
That’s what I’ve been doing. Here’s what’s coming up.
Mythmoot II: Back Again (Dec. 13-15) — Last year, I attended Mythgard’s first annual conference, which was dubbed “Mythmoot” (recap). I’m going again this year and presenting a paper – that’s right, two paper presentations in one year! At this pace, I might someday be an actual acedemic-type personage. My paper is titled “Masks of Moloch: Demands of Sacrifice in Speculative Fiction and Film.” It’s about the various manifestations of Moloch throughout fantasy and science fiction literature, and it will look at how the demonic personality continues to be used as a metaphor for sacrifice, especially the socially destructive sacrifice of others (i.e., not “good” self-sacrifice). There are some other great papers being presented, the titles of which are available at Mythgard’s events page. Of note, on the same panel of me, my podcasting partner in crime Kat Sas is going to be looking at Doctor Who as a fairy story.
Antimatter-of-fact-and-fiction — A new digital publisher, Antimatter Press, is looking for stories about “local magic” that are one part fantasy, one part history and one part science. I like all of those parts, and I have what I think amounts to a pretty good idea for a story that covers all those bases. The deadline isn’t until mid-January, so I have a little time to craft it after Mythmoot…but not much.
So there you go, that’s what I’m doing these days. Oh, and then there’s the usual stuff: Work, kids, my weekly podcast on Buffy and Doctor Who.
What have you been up to?