Mad Trapper's Examination of Reader Response and Reception Theory
I ground this
reading of reader-oriented criticism in a particular text, Rudy
Wiebe’s The Mad Trapper. Positioning this novel as representative
of the contradictory characteristics of all texts--”always already”
open to multiple interpretations--I use these multiple readings
both to examine and undermine the novel and Reader Response/Reception
theory. Situating and problematizing my own discourse by examining
its pedagogically-questionable origin, I begin my reading of both
Reader Response and the novel with a Phenomenological investigation
into intentionality and the construction of the reader’s consciousness.
I then move to a reading of Reception theory which, by examining
The Mad Trapper’s textual conditions of production and
dissemination to the reading public, works to undermine Phenomenology’s
problematic stance. Since both of these theoretical readings are
premised upon notions of a unified and coherent self, I further
explore their implications by discussing at first general theories
of subjectivity and The Mad Trapper, and then finally making
a reading of both Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and The Mad
Trapper. I intend that this multiple reading of both theory
and text, by utilizing interpretation’s inherent yet often unacknowledged
multiplicity, undermines the dominant objective and authoritative
interpretation of traditional critical practice.
Metafiction, Or Lying with the Truth
In this project
I ground my reading of historiographic metafiction in a series
of postmodern texts which work out of and subvert traditional
notions of historical writing. I use Linda Hutcheon’s construction
of this postmodern genre to investigate the particular literary
and historical strategies these texts use and abuse in order to
write an alternative history. Beginning by reviewing the theory
surrounding historical fiction as well as historiography, I investigate
the specific textual strategies that historiographic genres—such
as the postmodern novel, the Canadian long poem, the short story
and to some extent, the film genre—use to present their self-reflexive
interaction between history and fiction.
I open my
discussion by analyzing those texts which both posit the necessity
of history and investigate it as a verifiable discourse. I next
discuss the necessity of history by looking at legitimizing historiographical
strategies postmodern historical texts use: “found” texts, Comic
Book covers and newspaper articles, the public archive and major
players in historical events. Historiographic metafiction overturns
these discourses by the use of anachronism and the deliberate
falsification of an accepted historical version. I examine the
gradually revealed multiple truth which is left to the reader’s
interpretation and the construction of history as myth, as well
as the problematic narrative voices—such as the so-called unreliable
narrator and the use of the lyric “I” in the contemporary long
poem. In some incarnations a historian figure directly criticizes/enacts
how events become facts. Still other postmodern re-visionings
of the historical past are politicized retellings which question
the official historical version of particular historical events
the deliberately political and even polemical nature of historiographic
metafictions, I focus upon these specific literary strategies
in order to argue that historiographic metafiction’s specific
and political use of these strategies is an attempt to recover,
re-examine, mythologize and narrate the assorted discourses we
call history. I argue that historiographic metafiction creates
a previously nonexistent historical space which writes both people
and events into a traditional history from which they have been
deliberately—and with political motive—excluded.
is meant to assist the student of literature and the creative
writer in their understanding of how literary techniques and
narrative devices can inform a reader's interaction with text.
Each writer, from experts in the craft--like the writers of
the stories I use as examples--to the beginner who wants to
exercise control over the story they are writing, choses from
a series of techniques or strategies that permit or prevent
certain stories from being told. This study is an attempt
to examine more closely the ways that literary techniques--such
as use of narrator, the construction of character, narrative
desire, the manipulation of narrative levels and narrative
time, the evocation of cultural codes, as well as metafiction
and magic realism--assist or frustrate the reader's attempt
to understand the author's intentions.
writerly readings of realist texts as well as symbolic, psychological,
and speculative thought experiments from writers as diverse
as Jorge Luis Borges, Bruno Schultz, Octavia Butler, Charlotte
Perkins Gilman, Fritz Leiber, George R. R. Martin, Gabriel
García Márquez, Thomas King, and Kim Stanley Robinson, the
implications of these choices can be more easily seen. The
reader becomes privy to certain types of information depending
on what strategy the writer has chosen, and that choice leads
the writer to ever more circumscribed possibilities until
the story has fulfilled its author's intention. Although knowledge
of these techniques is typically demanded at the undergraduate
level, and there are list-like guides which purport to define
them, seeing them in their natural habitat gives the reader
a much better sense of what the technique or strategy offers
to the author.
of the techniques used to create engaging stories should be
useful for both students and writers who are interested in
learning about the diversity of ways in which authors have
confronted both narrative and structural questions in the
stories they wish to tell. The short story--just to name one
fictional form--seems endlessly flexible, but with an understanding
of what a particular strategy allows, both the reader and
the writer are better equipped to understand the text's messaging
as well as how the chosen technique informs or inhibits its
is meant to assist those who want to learn the basics of writing
English essays, as well as how to use research to support
their academic arguments. Accordingly, it explains the general
purpose of the academic English paper, the rationale for its
structure and how to incorporate quotes and separate arguments,
as well as offers research tips. Many guides on the market
are full of information the student does not necessarily need,
and tend to be expensive books whose rationale for existence
is hundreds of pages devoted to primers on sentence structure,
conjugation of verbs, and arcane use of punctuation. This
project is meant to answer the need for a quick, coherent
guide that focuses more on argument than grammar, and more
on research and literary terminology than parts of speech.
notion of research changing as quickly in the academic world
as it is in the mind of the general public, this guide takes
on the task of explaining the different resources available
as well as their relative strengths, and how to incorporate
material into the essay using both MLA and APA format.
the guide gives an editing checklist the reader can use to
double-check their own work, offers a description of how their
paper might be graded, and takes on the task of explaining
constructions as prosaic as punctuation and as arcane as fake
transitions and the incorporation of quotes. I also have a
list of literary terms commonly used in undergraduate English
papers, and offer a few fun exercises to tease your brain,
test your knowledge, and boost your self-esteem.
project includes H. G. Wells' World
Time Machine, and The
Island of Doctor Moreau. I plan for other work
in the series, but I am turning back to more creative
enterprises after I finish these three works.
have annotated the original texts of these novels and
lecture series (in the case of World Brain), as well as
provided a lengthy introduction to Wells' life and work.
Here I trace not only his relatively humble background
but also the fortuitous accident which gave him his insight
into the imaginative possibilities of books and which
led to the three major periods of his artistic expression.
At the end of each general introduction I provide an introduction
to the work under study, focusing on its societal and
critical reception, as well as an analysis of the work
Belief, and the Cultural Burden of Superstition (2022)
this idiosyncratic study I imagine the scientific enterprise
to be an edifice of reasoning and experimentation that
we share with every animal all the way back to the protozoa.
Only recently, in geological terms, did we choose to indulge
in fantasies and stories, and although they served to
entertain us through the dark nights, and could be used
as memetic tools, they sometimes confounded us when confronting
real threats. The river is not coming after us to demand
prayer, the water is not rising to wet the expectant frogs,
there has been rain in the mountains and we should move
to higher ground. In order to examine what conspiracy
theories, Santa Claus, fairies, luck, ghosts, and gods
might have to offer the post-Neolithic mind I trace the
logical implications of those superstitions through anecdote
science section begins as a kind of hymn to the experimentation
and reasoning of those whose efforts made our lives better.
I include more recent scientists, as well as those Indigenous
cultures which retained information over ten thousand
years so that the landforms and taxa around them might
make sense to their descendants. Such systems, regardless
of how robust, are also subject to the superstitions from
the age of fantasy, however. A closer look at prejudice
in the scientific system, a discussion of cultural inertia
and an unfounded and denigrating way of thinking about
our ancestors, show how those intellectual shortcomings
continue to trouble our understanding.
profound ignorance of how our world works has mixed fantasy
and science, is eager to shift blame to another, and culminates
in our own lack of self-knowledge. This takes the form
of the ego's effect on our reasoning, our susceptibility
to the blinding of self-undermining media, and our tendency
to think emotionally rather than rationally.
study is meant to be more than a list of problems, however.
In both the scientific and fantastical world, this more
than ten-thousand-year-old story is about our striving,
our recent missteps, and our greatest accomplishments.
Returning to an older way of looking at the world, we
are climbing out of the hole of self-imposed superstition
and emerging into the light. We might blink at first,
but the real world is more beautiful and fantastic than
the one we invented, and phenomenological magic waits
around every corner.
International Students: Recommendations for Success, Challenge,
and Delight (2022)
this book fulfilling two complementary roles. I hope it will
be useful for instructors of undergraduate students of the
humanities, as well as relevant for anyone interested in the
amount of forethought that goes into pedagogy in the international
student classroom. After more than two decades of experience
with international students, I have had the chance to try
numerous experiments with that demographic. Simultaneously,
I have developed a way of thinking about teaching international
students which has led me to understand the importance of
cultural elements in instruction, the significance of discussions
around academic misconduct, and how to construct a course
as well as assignments. In my evolving way of thinking about
my pedagogical practice, I strive to test my students' abilities
instead of how well they fit into the western education system.
begin with the challenges of teaching international students
as well as a discussion about the materials I have developed
for the classroom. Because I have long been interested
in how cultural difference affects instruction, I examine
how the students' cultural mores impact their learning.
I also survey, at length, how to overcome the challenges
of academic misconduct as well as approaches for paper
writing workshops and how to explain academic research.
I include examples that I have used in class, as well
as marking rubrics and codes.
students are a growing demographic in the west, and they
can be a delight in the classroom, but the instructor
must approach their pedagogy with a self-reflexive understanding
of what they hope to accomplish and what the students
need to learn.
Appearance of Solidity: Media and Culture in the Electric Age
of essays connected by the thread of media influence is an
attempt to trace the logical result of the Gutenberg Press
experience through print, telegraph, telephone, radio, television,
and internet technologies. Using Marshall McLuhan’s insights
as an impetus, this meandering tale draws upon novels, radio
and television shows, film, and trending internet platforms
and gaming to discuss the influence of media in a world increasingly
wrapped in the fibre optic cables of the technological age.
advances have always had a clear effect on the possible expressions
of culture, but those are best seen in retrospect. Now, with
the advent of the internet through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook,
Instagram, and the world of gaming, the cultural shifts that
are happening beneath our feet have become difficult to see.
The stream of data has become a torrent, but its vacant noise
obscures its exact shape. This idiosyncratic examination of
those shifts is a commentary on the current of our times and
an interrogation of the eddies and swirls of cultural influence
and societal change.
such as self-publishing have utterly transformed the established
publishing industry, just as Netflix has transformed the reception
of television, online piracy the notion of copyright, the
cellphone the paper map and the camera, and YouTube the home
movie. Like a skipping stone over the growing flood of the
digital age, this study examines some of these trends more
closely in terms of what we gain as a culture, as well as
what the current leaves behind in its inexorable rush into
study investigates and encourages the inherent playfulness
of language. By examining several case studies where the
written word has gone astray, I intend this tongue-in-cheek
discussion of errors to be both a fun exposition about
language and a way to enjoy learning about effectiveness
children we think a single word can change forever how
blossoms fall, or at least that's what the poem told us.
Later, we learn to depend on collections of words. We
hope that their jostling Brownian randomness will somehow,
eventually, encourage them to settle into a coherent meaning.
Once we understand syntax, that words can form coherent
structures, we know that more important is the order of
their appearance if we want the heavy lifting we are demanding
of them to be performed. For many, the final stop on this
uneven path is a fascination with the forms, rigidly demanding
the exact placement of the slotted word.
the forms stretch, we realize that the endlessly plastic
word can be twisted to suit nearly any shape. Deforming
structure around it as if it were somehow unreal, the
word is an arbitrary utterance cast adrift from intention
and desire. By that point some are ready to abandon words
entirely, and focus instead on what is known, the reliable
physicality of the unworded phenomenological world, an
image in a mirror, or going even further back, the glorious
chaos that was the wordless real of their youth.
after many years do we realize that we still rely on the
single word, that we ask it to carry the burden of inevitable
incoherence, collecting resonance as it tumbles across
the page and time, squirming for space, a piglet at a
teat, shouldering aside others in an urgent, interminable,
demand for meaning.