So here�s the thing; I…

So here�s the thing; I have anxiety. Specifically, about academic writing. Yes, ironic, I know, given that I teach it. But bear with me, and I�ll try to explain.

Various people seemed to really like my WorldCon academic presentation, on Guinevere and Sita. I could try to turn that into a paper. Also, more importantly, I have been wanting to put together a collection of Asian American SF/F for some years now, modeled somewhat after Cosmos Latinos, so that it would be a good teaching book, something that could be used at the college level, as well as read for pleasure. With little introductory essays to each story or group of stories, essays either by me or from other people, plus a hopefully coherent introduction to the book by me.

Possibly co-edited with Cecilia Tan or Derwin Mak or some such, although honestly, it seems like it might be easier if I did the main editing myself, and then had some additional consulting editors as needed, for regional areas? And there�s the question of whether I�d want to try to cover the Middle East as well (maybe pulling in Sofia Samatar, etc.), or stick to South Asia / Southeast Asia / East Asia. We are sorely lacking in anthologies covering any of that material right now.

I�m not sure whether Middle East folks would rather their material was covered, even briefly, or would rather wait for their own separate anthology. Or maybe Sofia could just go ahead and do it now. Not that she didn�t just start her first academic job and move to a different state or anything. :-)

And to reiterate, I�m mostly thinking of doing an Asian American anthology, rather than an Asian one. It would be totally awesome to have two separate but linked companion volumes, but it doesn�t make sense to me to try to cover both homeland and diaspora / immigrant material in the same volume � it�s too disparate thematically, and too huge.

I think I have a few interesting things to say (especially after teaching this Asian American SF/F writers of color course a few times) on the topic. But I�m finding myself exceedingly anxious about my academic / critical writing. I mean, I understand theory reasonably well, I think. But I don�t speak it naturally, I don�t think in it in a way that is conducive to writing papers with casual allusions to Foucauldian this or Derridean that. I can do theory if I have to; I did it for the doctorate. But it�s not my natural mode.

And I�m wondering if I can still do this project without writing theory. Whether I can, in general, write and publish academic papers that are more purely textual analysis, without really bringing much theory into it at all. And yes, I know that the very first baby step in figuring that out is to go and actually read some current stuff from academic SF/F journals, given that it�s been a while since I�ve looked at them, but I am finding myself so anxious that I don�t even quite want to do that. I guess I just want someone to reassure me that I�m not going to be completely out of my depth. Farah? Gary? Help.

4 thoughts on “So here�s the thing; I…”

  1. Why worry about theory in the anthology? If your introduction makes readers want to explore the stories, haven’t you done your job?

  2. I think theory is misplaced in abook which is trying to cover Asian literature. Especially one which is aimed for college student curriculum.

    Also, I want you to remember that I always thought that as good as your fiction is, your nonfiction is better. You would do an awesome job.

  3. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I think I’m just anxious about theory in general. 🙂 But you’re right, we probably don’t need much, if any of it, in this book.

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