Around the Web: Gender Equality in Lit Crit, Children's Lit on Immigration, Mad Scientists, and Audiobook Engagement

22 Jun 2018

Hello everyone! Hope you’ve been enjoying the week. I sure have, and that’s because I’m getting ready for the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair! It’s tomorrow, and if you’re around you should definitely come say hi to me. Anyway, between packing books and getting things printed, here’s what caught my attention around the web this week.


Gender Equality in Literary Criticism


VIDA has released its 2017 VIDA Count, a report on literary publications in print that looks at the statistics of who gets published. If you’re interested in gender equality, this is a really interesting examination of which voices are given space to discuss literature.


In the Main VIDA Count, only two of fifteen publications published 50 percent or more women writers. That means that most books are being reviewed by men – at least in the major publications VIDA looked at. That might not seem like a big deal to some people, but VIDA board members warn that continually centring white men in literature and literary criticism “creates a dangerous lens through which the world is viewed” and doesn’t allow for books by women and non-binary writers the same chances as books by those who share the same live experience as the majority of reviewers.


The VIDA Count also contains a intersectional report that stats on women and non-binary writers of colour, disability, sexual identity, trans women & non-binary writers, and ageism & academic access. It’s a good resource for examining the state of the publishing industry, so I encourage you to check it out if you’ve got the time for a longer read.

 

Children’s Lit Stands Up for Kids


It’s been a bit of a rough week for lots of people concerned about children and families at the southern border of the U.S. But perhaps this will make you feel a bit more optimistic: authors of children’s literature are raising money to support families through a new initiative called Kid Lit Says No Kids in Cages. Publishers Weekly has the full story, but I’ll tell you that the initiative has already surpassed its initial fundraising goal.


Mad Scientists in Literature


What do Dr. Faustus, Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Moreau, Dr. Griffin, Dr. West, or Dr. Banner have in common? That’s right, they’re all white male characters. This is a bit odd considering that science fiction was created by a woman (Margaret Cavendish or Mary Shelly, I’ll take either). This is the subject of Hernan Diaz’ essay “Who Gets to Be a Mad Scientist.”


As someone who has studied early science fiction, I find this examination of the sci-fi genre fascinating, so I encourage you to read it (and its second installment). 


Here’s a little snippet to get you interested: “ It is stunning that the radical literary invention that conceived of ‘bestowing animation upon lifeless matter’—along with time travel, teleportation, transspecies hybridization, invisibility, death rays, light-speed vehicles, and more—has, for the most part, been unable to imagine a woman scientist.“ 


Audiobooks and Emotional Engagement


Do you prefer reading a physical book, listening to an audiobook, or watching a television or film adaptation? A new study suggests that audiobooks elicit the strongest emotional response of the three mediums. 
The Guardian has a summary of the findings, but I’d love to hear from you. What form makes you feel the most? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

That’s it for now folks. Hope you get some reading time in the sun this weekend (and that I see some of you at the fair!).
 

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