Thesis Thursday: Thesis Defended

13095941_10209728188466067_7456087342351197460_nWell. Here we are. The last Thesis Thursday post. Last Wednesday, I successfully defended my 84 page behemoth that had 7 pages of work cited, single spaced. The only thing I have left to do is get it bound and submit a copy to the English Department. My panel has already decided that I get English Honors, so there is no stress left. Just the finished project.

Chapter One, which took up all of last semester, 16034235was the real, serious English-y investigation. I read five YA female assassin novels and talked about how YA literature is either letting girls be their real, strong selves or … not. Mostly it was not. Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass remained my shining centerpiece, but … well. Graceling by Kristin Cashore actually sort of held up, but Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker, Bridget Zinn’s Poison and RL LaFevers’ Grave Mercy did not. All the links I just inserted are to my reviews or re-reviews of those books. Mostly, I ended up talking about how YA tropes end up promising strong female characters and then don’t give us that–and that makes me angry.

12801277_10209140220927246_1575951528546352262_nChapter Two y’all saw some of, but that was the hardest chapter to write. I was talking about the commodification of YA book covers, but my original thesis didn’t hold up. I ended up needing a lot more quantitative research than I expected, and I had to redo my entire thesis statement. In the end, what I ended up saying is that the YA book cover industry looks a lot more diverse than it used to, but only for books that can pay for good cover art. Everything else is still blase look-alike kind of stuff. I actually did a video summarizing some of my research!

Chapter Three was the one that made me REALLY angry. I even posted a video about how it13094374_10209689763425465_2413078371465464007_n almost got me to stop blogging for like 30 seconds. It was all about how the publishing industry uses the free labor of teens to get their marketing data, but how a lot of the really GOOD data is ignored for information about what sells–like love triangles. It was all stuff I knew, really, but seeing it proven was just … wow. It was worse than I thought, I guess.

At my defense, my advisor–who’s been with me through all four years of college–got kind of nostalgic about all that time she’s known me, and now seeing this project come to fruition. She knows better than almost everyone else how much time and energy I put into my study and love of YA, and how much this project really means to me. It isn’t just a research project. It’s the culmination of years of my life spent blogging and reading, and a deep love of YA literature that is coupled with a serious desire for improvement within the genre. I guess, in a way, I hadn’t thought about this as the project I’ve been working on for all those years. This was just, you know, this year. But … she’s right. It never was. This is my heart and soul on these pages.

13139156_10209728182145909_7859981542704917588_nAnd now it’s done. Well, the paper anyways. I’m far from done. This project has shown me that this kind of research–in YA, on YA–is what I really want to do. I want to live this kind of work. Yeah, I’m going to Korea for a year, but this is the end goal. I want to go to grad school and do an even better version of this project. I want to say something that someone is going to listen to. This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning.

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Thesis Thursday: First Complete Draft is … Complete

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

13094374_10209689763425465_2413078371465464007_nYou heard that right, folks. Since the last time I made one of these posts … I did it. I wrote the first draft of my third chapter. It lives and breathes in the world, bringing my page total for the first draft up to 75 pages altogether.

The fight is far from over. In fact, I really should be editing right now. However, all of the initial hard work is … done. On top of that, my defense was just scheduled for next Wednesday, so time is really running out on this whole thing. I can see the finish line–for this, as well as school in general.

I think there are only going to be one more of these posts, considering that there will be a Thursday right after my defense. Wow. What am I going to do with my Thursdays now?

Well. Hang on. Back up. Let’s talk about this third chapter that just, as far as these posts are concerned, appeared out of nowhere. The working title is all over the place, because I don’t like it and it’s really long, but here’s the gist: big, traditional publishers exploit teen online engagement for their own marketing gains, but focus on what their research says will make the next bestseller and NOT the next good book. While authors can make use of these new media outlets these days, publishers ten to ignore them and instead create these debilitating feedback loops with their own marketing departments that keep us trapped within really bad trends.

Out of all three chapters, this is the first one that really made me … angry. Like, really tumblr_mkqimsivr61ruw1vso1_500angry. And all the stuff I researched and talked about, it’s nothing that I didn’t at least subconsciously know about YA publishing. But seeing it, reading it, understanding the depth of the madness–it’s just terrifying.

I write posts like In Defense of YA: We need a Rebellion of Our Own because I genuinely love YA, and I believe that the genre has a powerful role to play in literature if only we can rescue it from its dependence on tropeism and “what sells.” However, writing an essay like this and seeing how far the traditional publishers go to keep producing the next new megahit … it’s sad. I start to wonder if the whole idea of a rebellion isn’t just some cute idea. I start to wonder if YA is eventually going to implode on itself, and if I’ll have to watch the whole genre fall apart.

200_sNot to be a total Debbie Downer, I guess that’s why I do this kind of research: because I think I can say something that someone can here. And my research did turn up a bunch of publishers doing really important and innovative things because they believe as I do. So, the battle isn’t lost. But, still.

I’ll probably come out with a From the Notebook video on Monday talking about how this paper literally made me consider deleting my blog and throwing in the towel on my participation in these schemes. Obviously, I only considered that for about 0.1 seconds before I threw the idea out entirely, because I love you guys and this community and I get excited about books and what we do. I could never leave.

But this paper did make me think about it. And other things.

Really wish I had time to process those things, but it is not this day. I have chapters to edit 5dfa891ff25b2dcdd6fdbba908cf9130and other papers to write and graduation to get through. There will only be one more Thesis Thursday post, I think, and then I’ll try to figure out something new to do with the day. I’ll tell you guys all about my defense, and maybe wrap all this work up a but more thoroughly. For now, though, this post is the honest truth.

I hate YA. I love YA. I really, really want to fix it. Who’s with me?

Thesis Thursday: I DID IT!

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

12804668_10209117395316620_614087368349724463_nIf this were a movie, I think this is the point where I’d give some great speech about how I always knew I could do it. But, here’s the thing: considering that I had three panic attacks on Monday before it was even noon, I did not think that I could do this.BUT HERE WE ARE.

The chapter was due Wednesday. I finished it Tuesday. GO ME.

I finally, finally got all my reading done in time to spend all last Saturday writing the beginning of this paper. I spent (rounding) 5 straight hours, left for dinner with friends, and then 3 more straight hours just pounding away. That first night, I got up to 14 pages–which honestly wasn’t that great. I thought that I only had one more section to write and then my conclusion, and the paper at that point felt really lacking to me.

Enter Sunday. I just had to take that day to myself, meaning that I needed it to do all the12798887_10209122216317142_1628587853003279900_n homework I had for Monday and that left me no time for thesis writing. I let it go and pretended that that didn’t bother me. (It did.) However, in thinking about it all day, I realized that I needed to add a section, so I really needed to write TWO more sections and my conclusion and also rewrite my intro.

Which is why I had all those panic attacks on Monday. My Mondays have a really long schedule, and I wasn’t sure I’d even sleep that night. But I hunkered down and finished the paper and I even slept that night. VICTORY IS MINE.

In the end, it ended up being 24 pages. Between that and the 29 page first chapter, I’ve already hit the minimum page requirement for this thing. And there’s one more chapter to go. I must really hate myself.

12801277_10209140220927246_1575951528546352262_nI realized something, though, that is trending between my first two chapters. It’s not intentional. My first paper, “Taming of the Tropes: How the Female Assassin in YA Literature Showcases the Biggest Issues and Best Possible Subversions of YA’s Most Popular Tropes” (working title), is all about the content of YA books, and how they claim to include these strong female characters but the publishers are LYING. This second chapter, tentatively titled “Masking the Issues: The Commodification of Young Adult Book Covers” talks about how publishers are putting more and more effort into producing covers of quality but not texts of quality.

Basically, I’m calling out big conglomerate book publishers for being liars.

Whoops?

Alright, yeah, there’s a lot more to it, and I still love YA A LOT. Just consider it part of my continued effort to get all readers of young adult a genre that actually speaks to them like humans rather than formulaic tropes that are packaged in shiny covers.

Thesis Thursday: Sources Book Haul

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

Alright, enough messing around. I’ve started reading hardcore for this second chapter. The goal is to have the draft done by spring break. …we’ll see if that happens. This is going to be a really brief post, since I’m still hashing so many things out, but I wanted to share some of the sources I’ve found along the way with you guys. I may be the only one this fascinates, but if it doesn’t … well, this is for you.

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Thesis Thursdays: BIG NERDY NEWS

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

Alright, if we’re being honest this news might not mean as much to you as it means to me. But go into this knowing that THIS MEANS A LOT TO ME, GUYS:

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#imbibliomancy: Drunk Book Club with “The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguro

51txdww3tal-_sy344_bo1204203200_Holy mackerel guys. This. This book club is a … thing. I say at one point that I can’t tell if this is our best or worst hangout. There’s a section in the center where Taylor and I discuss our papers and theory and I’m not sure that will be interesting to anyone but our professor. Feel free to skip through that, because the ending is funny as all hell. Maybe you might even find that interesting, I don’t know. Are you an English major? You might.

This is the last Imbibliomancy episode of this semester, the first two episodes being The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and then John Dies at the End by David Wong. Look forward to more of these next semester! Don’t forget that we have a special episode that’s a follow up to our Magicians hangout from last January!

#imbibliomancy: Drunk Book Club with “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

The Bibliomancer team promised you more book club this semester, and we meant it. This time, with a very special bonus: all of the core team (since we’re all over 21!) came to this book club pretty tipsy–and we’re in the same room! With our English major love of pretentious discussion of literature, we figured that it really couldn’t get anymore hilarious than if we added alcohol to the mix.

We were correct.

Daughter of Smoke and BoneCome watch and/or listen to our discussion of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which was my pick and MICHAELA AND TAYLOR BOTH LIKED IT. (If you’ve watched any of my pick videos before, you know that this is harder than pulling teeth [book plot pun intended].) That said, there is no end to the hilarity, whether we’re playing with Michaela’s hats, the mic is falling into the pizza, or we’re just generally … imbibed. There is also a GREAT discussion of the book somehow. CHECK IT OUT!

Below that video I’m adding our pregame test stream, if you’re bored. It’s us just hanging out and eating pizza, but it’s also hilarious.

Keeping you aware, November’s pick is Micheala’s–One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski–and December’s pick is Taylor’s–The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.