Terri has stimulated a fantastic discussion on her livejournal about the themes of race and disability in Harry Potter. I must remember this for my children’s literature class next year!
Meanwhile, I must be one of the few people I know who hasn’t read HP6 yet, but thanks to the newspaper printing all the secrets (backwards, but who can’t read backwards print?) I already know what happens. The more HP I read, the less enraptured I am and the more I see problems with the discourses in it which serve to marginalise women, race and now it seems, disability. Thank goodness for all the amazing fan fiction writers who are responding critically to HP by writing their own versions which subvert these discourses, that’s what I say!
(See forthcoming chapter: Thomas, A. (in press). Fan Fiction Online: Engagement, Critical Response and Affective Play through Writing. In: Unsworth, L. and Hansford, D. ICTs, Literature and Learning: Re-engaging readers in the middle school years. )
Two of my research participants, Tiana and Jandalf, are spending time with each other in the same physical space. Jandalf took a 14 hour bus trip to visit Tiana and spend a week at her house. They organised a time to meet up with me and we spent almost 4 hours on and off last week role-playing together (well, they role-played while I watched and asked questions from the sidelines mainly). The final transcript of our interaction is about 33 pages long in single spacing font size 8 plaintext, so it’s too long to include here.
There are some really interesting things to note here though - first of all, I am searching for differences between this transcript (where the two girls were in the same room and could use spoken language) and the transcript from a couple of weeks ago when they were in different locations. So far there aren’t too many differences once the actual role-playing started, but in the pre-plan out stage there are a lot of references to what they are doing, where Tiana’s mom and siblings were, getting drinks and so on. I am still looking at this.
The second thing I am working on is analysing the genre of the text produced. I used our last transcript as a focus for a genre and register analysis in my systemics conference paper last week and I want to refine that and turn it into a paper. So far the schematic structure of the text looks like this:
1. Conversation prior to role-play
2. Planning of the role-play in director-type roles (the girls call them narrator roles)
3. The role-playing, complete with OOC chat and Narrator chat to keep the role-playing on course. The role-play then follows most of the usual structure of a narrative: orientation, complication, resolution. The resolution has a different quality to it though as it really just sets a re-orientation for the next episode, since it is serial in nature.
4. Denouement - I steal this from my drama days because of the obvious link between online role-playing and drama - its a way of reflecting and coming out of role by talking about the events of the role-playing. The girls do this in their narrator roles for a while and then eventually switch back to their “real” selves.
In this last role-play, both girls were role-playing two characters - one “good” role and one “evil” role each. They role-played two related scenes with a time gap in between (it was very film-like actually). In the first scene, the character called Willow, a Jedi knight who had been trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, had been kidnapped by a Sith lord and was being tortured. In the second scene, she was murdered. By the end, both girls were physically crying, but were also joyous about the depth of the scene they had role-played. Tiana, who was playing Willow, was crying about the loss of her character as much as her identification with the pain Willow was experiencing (a double kind of pain). Jandalf wavered between being really cold and intouched about the death because it was her evil character that had killed Willow, but then when her good character rushed in to find and cradle the lifeless body of Willow, she wrote in her director / narrator role (N1):
audreidi_ytho: N1: That sort of thing just reminds me too much of when I sat by my grandma’s hospital bed while she was in a coma. I held her hand like that for hours, and it was the last time I saw her alive. That feeling’s so real to me.
and then she too started crying.
It was very emotional for me too and I wasn’t even role-playing. I was so touched at the emotional depth the girls invested into their characters, and even though I’ve written before about how they do this, I hadn’t felt the power of it all myself until being a part of the role-playing too. I think its really important to understand that insider perspective!
I have blogged about the email serial fiction, Daughter’s of Freya here and included it an article I wrote here. Yesterday I received the email below from one of the authors outlining plans for a DoF reading discussion group that’s being organised. For anybody who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend it - it’s fun receiving emails each day and having the mystery unfold over time. Here are the details:
On August 1, readers around the world will be participating in a Group
Read of The Daughters of Freya. Readers will not only read the mystery
at the same time, they will be able to discuss it as it happens in an
online forum during the three weeks it takes for the mystery to unfold.
(Since all readers receive the installments at the same time, nobody can
’spoil’ the mystery for others.) The idea is to create a shared
experience out of what is normally a solitary activity and we think it
will be fascinating to see what kind of dialogue ensues.
The Group Read is being run in conjnction with ARGN.com, a website
devoted to alternate reality gaming, who will set up the forum for the
Readers who want to take part can purchase the mystery at a special
price of US$3.99 (Cdn.$4.79) at: