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A Mad Trapper's Examination
Historiographic Metafiction
How to Write an English Paper
The Appearance of Solidity
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A Mad Trapper's Examination of Reader Response and Reception Theory (1995)

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.

 

Historiographic Metafiction, Or Lying with the Truth (2000)

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 or people.

Arguing for 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.

 

This guide 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.

With the 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.

Lastly, 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.

 

The Appearance of Solidity: Media and Culture in the Electric Age (2017)

This collection 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.

Technological 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.

New trends 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 the future.

 

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