When I started The Steampunk Scholar back in 2008, many readers immediately treated me as though I was already an expert, when the purpose of the blog had been to disseminate my research in an "open-air" fashion. Five years later, I felt like I ended up owning the title of the blog as a persona - I had become the Steampunk Scholar. Now, I'm looking to a much farther horizon - rebranding my online presences as myself, because I certainly can't claim to be the expert in the wider field of speculative literature in general.
I'm hoping to make this blog a resource hub rather than a straight-up
review site. While I've enjoyed being a book blogger, it's too difficult
to keep up with. I'm hoping I'll still get the occasional new book to
review, and I'll certainly still write about steampunk from time to
time at The Steampunk Scholar. But for now, I'm excited about sharing the world of speculative
literature with my readers.
Each post contains FIVE elements.
1. Main Article - briefer than what I've written in the past, but long enough to convey a key concept or explore a particular work. So as an example, I might write a post on Gojira, the original Godzilla movie from 1954 (which I will be doing in an upcoming post).
2. Intertexts: I will list 1-3 works that are companions to the idea or work in the main article. This could also include antecedents/inspirations. In the case of the original Gojira, I would choose to point readers toward the original King Kong, as well as The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and the short story by Ray Bradbury that it was based on, "The Fog Horn."
3. Secondary Sources: I will list 1-3 secondary sources, usually scholarly, that one could use to expand on the concepts from the main article. For an article on Godzilla, I'd certainly be referencing Steve Ryfle's "Godzilla's Footprint" or William Tsutsui's "Godzilla and Postwar Japan."
4. Teaching Tips: I'll provide an idea for how to include the concept or work in the classroom. For Godzilla, I'd talk about using the movie as a way to introduce a class looking at the real-world atrocity that inspired the film: the bombing of Hiroshima.
5. Potpourri: This is a space for a funny cartoon, a new geek meme, or potentially, a YouTube video of me doing a reading from the work I looked at in the main article.
This blog represents a much bigger project than The Steampunk Scholar - 200 Years of Speculative Literature, beginning with The Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales, and leading up to contemporary award winning books To do this project in a decade (I'm already a month and a half in) will require reading 16 books/year. I think this is an achievable goal, even factoring in new books I'm interested in reading. What attracts me most to this project is its rejection of the now. One of my frustrations with blogging as the Steampunk Scholar was that the blog transformed into "The Steampunk Reader," with most of my reading being brand new works, of which I could some years barely generate a "best of" list comprised of five works. What I'm doing now is an attempt to look at the best of 200 years of speculative literature, in tandem with looking at the best of each year's offerings of speculative literature - I'll be reading selected nominees in the area of best novel from the Locus, Hugo, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, Aurora, and Nebula awards. Each year, I'll produce that same "best of" list, but I have a feeling it will require some serious consideration, and it will no longer be the "best of this year," but rather the "best of last year," in the same vein as the awards.
The other advantage of this approach is that I'm effectively, finally, reading the Speculative Canon, if there can be said to be one. In an English department, I'm considered a generalist with a Comparative Literature background. In speculative fiction studies, I'd be considered an expert on steampunk. I want to become a generalist in speculative fiction as well. I don't anticipate writing any books or academic articles based in this project: instead, I will focus my writing attentions on this blog, to keep my discoveries available to everyone.