Monday, July 28, 2014

"Why is Rue a Little Black Girl?" - The Problem of Innocence in the Dark Fantastic

(Author's Note: This post contains racist images and language. Reader discretion is advised.)

Part of my job as a children's and young adult literature scholar is to keep up with the best new reads.  I began reading Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games books while a graduate student in 2009. I found Katniss' story compelling but familiar. As an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction trilogies, I find that generally the first book hooks me, the second book becomes my favorite, and the finale rounds off the story.  The Hunger Games was no exception.

When the movie series' first installment premiered, I was not as engaged on social media as I am now.  I was facing surgery for a rapidly detaching retina. I was performing the delicate political dance of leaving one tenure track position for another. And I was wrestling with the emotional angst of moving away from my hometown -- and almost everyone I knew -- for the first time in my life.

I don't remember much about the spring of 2012.  However, I do remember when certain corners of social media collectively decided that it wasn't exactly okay for Rue to be a little Black girl.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Asieybarbie's "I Am Beautiful" Campaign & Sleepy Hollow's Orlando Jones: Visual Representation Matters

It has been a pleasure witnessing the response to my blog launch -- thank you!  Since I last posted, I have been to South Carolina for Children's Literature Association 2014 and back again, which was a wonderful experience.  (If you are a scholar or critic of children's or young adult literature, media, or culture, you should plan to join us next year in Virginia.)

Over the past few weeks, I've been hard at work finishing the first four chapters of The Dark Fantastic, revising two research articles, drafting two more (with others in various stages), and was invited to participate in a recent New York Times Room for Debate forum on reading instruction in urban schools.  I've also been preparing for an upcoming project facilitating cross-urban conversations between teachers in Detroit and Philadelphia, trying to read a #bookaday although I'm far behind on my Goodreads reviews, and making plans to attend New York Comic Con in the fall.

My next essay post will be about race and innocence in the fantastic. I intend to touch upon some of the major concepts of my dark fantastic theory-in-progress on this blog over time.  But as we like to say in the multiverse, "fandom was being fandom," so I decided to alter my schedule a bit to talk about something that has happened recently.