One of the interesting things that has stemmed from the corner of Homestuck fandom to which I pay attention is the surge of literary criticism.

Casual, lengthy, in depth literary criticism that examines motifs and characters and mines them for all they are worth. It’s generally referred to as ‘meta,’ since it is discussion of the story that does not directly relate to speculation about future events. It does not typically make negative statements about the original work, either, which may be a reason the word ‘criticism’ is shied away from.

To illustrate:

  • Take your high school English class around the time you had to read The Yellow Wallpaper
  • Take the worksheet or quiz with questions on it like “Who was Jennie? What was her relationship to the narrator?”*
    • Burn it.
  • Instead
    • At least one group of people is hotly debating it as a feminist critique of late-19th century treatment of post-partum depression.
    • Someone is writing a story from the perspective of Jennie.
    • Someone is writing about it as reflective of the social unrest in England throughout that time period.
    • Someone is writing about it as reflective of the untenability of separate sphere ideology in an industrialized country.
    • At least six people are writing commentary on it that I can’t even fathom.
  • Now make the source text all about teenagers kissing in space and you have the part of the Homestuck fandom that I follow.
    • It is like having a huge fantastic book club that only ever discusses one book.
This has been incredibly inspirational to bear witness to, to say the least. I think the Homestuck fandom has contributed more to me being a critical reader than most of the rationalist stuff I read, largely because it is explicitly about examining literature.
So I’m going to start an exercise: on Sunday, I’m going to post a short story. On Monday, I’m going to post about the thought process that went into it and what certain aspects of it are derived from. I will repeat as needed.
This serves a whole bunch of purposes: I will have a place to put fiction too short to submit to other places, or that I have no interest in submitting, or that have been submitted to contests and they don’t mind me reposting. I will have a log of the thought process that went in to it. And, down the road, when I have perspective on them, I will be able to read the pieces with fresh eyes and read the though process and judge how successful I was at incorporating the ideas I wanted to incorporate and what subtext I might have included unknowingly.
*To be fair, my high school English class did discuss its historical context as well, in terms of how women were treated for ‘hysteria.’
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