Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

Check these out:

1. John Markoff, "The Coming Superbrain," in today's New York Times: a succinct summary of renewed interest in A.I. and the Singularity-- nothing unfamiliar to readers of science fiction, but always worth noting when the mainstream features themes from the genre. Terminator, Google, NASA, Arthur C. Clarke, Vinge, Kurzweil, Joy...all the "usual suspects."

2. Children's Literature Association Spring 2009 Newsletter includes summaries of relevant panels at the 2008 Modern Language Association national conference, including a panel co-chaired by June Cummins and Catherine Tosenberger on the "Princess Culture Industry," in which "panelists discussed many depictions of the 'princess' figure in contemporary literature, media and culture for girls." I am particularly intrigued by Natalie Wall's paper, "Revisiting the Exotic: Manipulating the Postcolonial Princes in Western Discourse," in which she explores use in Disney films of princess figures from non-Western cultures, arguing that these films present the heroine's culture as the chief obstacle to her success. Also, Helen Pilinovsky's "Passive Princesses: Perversions of the Fairy Tale Form in Princess Culture," in which she identifies startling changes made in modern princess stories to the traditional tales-- she notes that 18th-century French salonistes wrote literary tales that empowered women, while later versions have robbed the princess of agency and autonomy.

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