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Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies : James Tiptree , Jr. & Science Fiction. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever : "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" (1974). Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies : James Tiptree , Jr. & Science Fiction.

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Her Smoke Rose Up Forever: "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" (1974)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Her Smoke Rose Up Forever: "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!" (1976)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Meet Me at Infinity: “Afterword to ‘Her Smoke Rose Up Forever’”

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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James Tiptree: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon: Chapters 15-19

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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50 Key Figures in Science Fiction: Leigh Brackett (1915-1978)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Leigh Brackett

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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50 Key Figures in Science Fiction: Octavia Butler (1947-2006)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Octavia Butler

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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50 Key Figures in Science Fiction: David Cronenberg (1943- )

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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David Cronenberg (1943- ). Canadian Filmmaker

Cronenberg Interview on the Grotesque Blog

David Cronenberg and the Cinema of the Extreme

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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"[He] encouraged my body to revolt against me."

a character in David Cronenberg'sThe Brood*

". . . the idea of a creative cancer; something that you would normally see as a disease now goes to another level of creativity and starts sculpting with your own body."

Cronenberg in an interview

The words quoted above are from a character named Hartog, a patient in Dr. Raglan's "Psychoplasmics Institute," where a mad scientist teaches his patients how to cure themselves by manifesting their own neuroses and psychoses physically. Bodies are always in revolt (revolting) in Cronenberg's films. It was in his films in the seventies and eighties that we were first "privileged" to witness those images of subcutaneous movement that became his trademark, of something alive and independent moving beneath our skin, of alien presences inside our own bodies.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Another mad scientist's creation (in Shivers) of a parasitic organism—supposedly intended to stand-in for and then replace failing bodily organs but actually designed to put an end to mankind's over zealous rationality—goes awry and creates a plague of sexual violence in a seemingly utopian community.

An experimental technique of plastic surgery (in Rabid) turns a young woman into a rabies-spreading vampire.

Her Psychoplasmic "cure" induces a woman to give birth to a murderous "brood" of offspring, who fulfill her every violent repressed wish, including murdering her own parents. 

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Exposure to a clandestine satellite TV channel called "Videodrome," invented by Professor Brian O'Blivion and intended to pave the way for mankind's next evolutionary step—the development of "The New Flesh"—induces in a Toronto cable station owner a brain tumor and subsequent hallucinations of bodily mutation and murder, etc.

As one critic (William Beard) has observed, the body in Cronenberg's films is "an anarchic domain," the "untamable half of the human animal—an aspect that forever lies in wait beneath the bland assumptions of control and the airy cerebrations of the conscious mind." Sometimes a truce between mind and body is momentarily established, but it can never be maintained. For if the body's "mysterious needs and mechanisms are tinkered with or denied or ignored," catastrophe results. 

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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As "part of trying to reverse the normal understanding of what goes on physically, psychologically and biologically to us," Cronenberg counsels in an interview, we must learn to understand a disease "from the disease's point of view." "A virus is only doing its job," he theorizes in an interview.

It's trying to live its life. The fact that it's destroying you by doing so is not its fault. . . . I think most diseases would be very shocked to be considered diseases at all. It's a very negative connotation. For them, it's very positive when they take over your body and destroy you. It's a triumph.”

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1975 (aka Shivers)

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1977

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

On the Grotesque Blog

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1979

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

On the Grotesque Blog

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1981

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1983

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1983

Satuday Night Live’s“Ed Glosser: Trivial Psychic”

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1986

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1988

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1991

On the Grotesque Blog

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1996

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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1999

On the Grotesque Blog

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2005

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2007

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2011

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenberg, by DrMartynSteenbeck

ln 1976 I contracted an audiovisual virus. It happened in a cinema. At that time, I believed that few people had been exposed to this particular cinematic phenomenon. However, I was later to discover that large audiences in more than forty countries had also been ravaged by what I had seen. There was no known antidote, and worse, the contagion seemed to spread at an alarming rate among those very unsuspecting souls who had exposed themselves to it for the price of a movie ticket.

It is now clear that in the warm, dark recesses of movie auditoriums everywhere, the virus found little resistance among audiences whose immune systems had grown soporific and complacent on a diet of polite imagination, subtle subtext and decorative gore. We had exposed our- selves to a movie called Shivers. Eighty-seven minutes later, life was a different prospect altogether.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenbergby DrMartynSteenbeck

The perpetrator, mad scientist, creative genius - depending on your point of view - was Canadian film-maker David Cronenberg, a man (I have since discovered) whose social camouflage resembles a recently graduated dental student with straight As for etiquette, articulation and an uncanny ability to locate painful nerves.

The Cronenberg Condition (I can describe it in no other way) has proved contagious and addictive. Although the director's own viral approach to horror is less a part of the healthy flow of the genre than a parasite or tumour on it, Cronenberg's visions have been appropriated by the main body of the horror/sci-fi genres. It's unlikely that the million- dollar mainstream shock of. Alien could have been realised without the extreme and uncompromising purity of imagination of the low-budget Shivers, made four years earlier. 'Body horror'- as convenient a phrase as any with which to satisfy the impulse to imprison and control such phenomena - is now everywhere. But it starts and ends with Cronenberg. The (un)intention is clear: to transpose a sensibility into language: 'Felliniesque', 'Kafkaesque', and now 'Cronenbergesque'.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenbergby DrMartynSteenbeck

His practice has no other cinematic parallel that I am aware of. Its true equivalent is to be found in the nature of pure scientific endeavour. Very obviously in the early films, the director is the absentee scientist of the narratives: the man who sets in motion an experiment aimed at short-circuiting the evolutionary process, but is no longer present to witness or fully comprehend its inevitable and unpredictable course. However, this self-reflexive alignment with fictional scientific masterminds is only the beginning. Cronenberg's practice itself is truly scientific. The films are experiments, conducted in a 'pure' sense, with little or no regard for the consequences. The point is to follow the experiment or hypothesis through to the end, unrestrained by social or political considerations.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenbergby DrMartynSteenbeck

Furthermore, each film can now be seen as an important and necessary stage in a continuing meta-experiment, which has taken years. In true scientific spirit, the director has been encouraged by each movie to progress and refine that experiment - film to film - as part of a lifetime's commitment towards an end: finding the cure to a disease common to us all. It is called mortality.

Knowing this disease to be incurable, and finding religious belief an unacceptable anaesthetic, each film explores an alternative way of exploring and defusing anxiety about death. Mutation and transformation are offered up as possible cures for a mind./body schism which results from the very incomprehensibility of bodily demise. The fact that these alternatives also lead to death and destruction is perhaps less to do with a deep-rooted pessimism or negativity than the need to seek a hard and realistic optimism. Needless to say, the experiment must continue. The cure is elusive.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenbergby DrMartynSteenbeck

Cronenberg sets his experiments in motion but, like his fictional counterparts, has no control over their eventual fate when released into the world. This may account for the observation - or criticism - that what the director says about his films sometimes fails to correspond to how they actually work on certain audiences and critics. However, scientific endeavour often causes unease, due to an unwillingness or inability - endemic to the process - to discuss or perceive effect or implication. It is Cronenberg's enthusiasm for the pure experiment that has distressed some critics: his determination to be unsparing and unflinching; his refusal to dilute what he creates with any considerations outside the demands of a particular narrative.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenbergby DrMartynSteenbeck

I have attempted to comprehend the nature of my addiction to the Cronenberg condition. Like certain other viruses that are pleasurable in the getting, it continually retreats to the safety of the nervous system where it loiters * only to break surface again in another story, on another screen, in another town. It seems incurable, to my mind. The pain is in its emergent melancholia; the pleasure is in its absolute integrity - a rare commodity in commercial movie-making; the joy is in its necessary and perverse sense of humour and play. And the consolation is in its cathartic effect: hopefully personal chaos isn't any more frightening, or more close, than what David Cronenberg projects on that screen.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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Foreword to Cronenberg on Cronenbergby DrMartynSteenbeck

Note: Psychologist and cineaste DrMartynSteenbeck established a revolutionary media studies course in 1978 at the Schreber Institute in northern Ontario. He dedicated much of his academic life to analysing the impact of violent sexual imagery on the central nervous system. The above is taken from his unpublished journals, lodged with the Schreber Institute by his wife Flavia, shortly after his mysterious death by self- immolation in 1988.

ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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David Cronenberg

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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50 Key Figures in Science Fiction: Samuel R. Delany (1942- )

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Samuel R. Delany

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: "How Science Fiction Diffused the Bomb”

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction: William Tenn, "The Liberation of Earth" (1953)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction: Alfred Bester, "Fondly Fahrenheit" (1954)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction: Avram Davidson, "The Golem" (1955)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction

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Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction: Cordwainer Smith, "The Game of Rat and Dragon" (1955)

Special Topics in Popular Culture Studies: James Tiptree, Jr. & Science Fiction