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Introductory Essay MA Thesis

Introductory Essay MA Thesis

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Published by Carl Javier
Here's the intro essay to my MA thesis where I talk about geeks and geekery, writing comedy, fiction and CNF, and business concerns of literary writing like marketing, branding, and distribution.
Here's the intro essay to my MA thesis where I talk about geeks and geekery, writing comedy, fiction and CNF, and business concerns of literary writing like marketing, branding, and distribution.

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Published by: Carl Javier on Mar 20, 2011
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09/13/2011

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Introduction
Geek Tragedies and Geek Triumphs 
collects works written in the span of sevenyears, three books written while I was studying in the MA in Creative Writing program. Thisessay serves as an introduction to those works which comprise the main body of thisthesis, while effectively also laying out my own perspectives on writing. I stress that thisessay will introduce and discuss not only the creative works and the poetics that drivethem, but also aspects of book publishing that include marketing, branding, anddistribution concerns. I include the business aspects of writing because I became largelyconcerned with how they worked as I continued writing and began publishing my work.
Geeks are cool now, haven
ʼ
t you heard?
!!
It is still unusual for me to wake up in a world where geeks are considered cool.When I was in grade school, first discovering my geekiness, first indulging in the wondersof Star Wars, dreaming of wielding a whip and a doctorate like Indiana Jones, obsessingover time paradoxes in Back to the Future, and spending way too much time with myNintendo, the geek was the antithesis of cool. The way that the geek is perceived haschanged since the early 80s, but then it is also possible that the definitions and theconcepts we employ to describe someone as a geek have similarly changed. According toKatie Lambert (n.d.) in her essay “How Geek Chic Works,”
The kids who spent their high school years outside the popular crowd have comeinto their own, with a defiant, open-armed embrace of what makes one a geek: loveof books, computers, video games, comic books, horror films, technology. It's coolto be smart. It's cool to do what you love -- bonus points if what you love requiresexhaustive knowledge of obscure things.
!
 
!
When I was in grade school the definition was synonymous to “weirdo” or “freak,”an outsider who was “uncool,” someone who could not talk to girls (bear in mind that at thetime geeks were always male). The geek was susceptible not only to verbal ridicule butalso to physical attacks on his person or property, which is to say that bullies pushedgeeks around and they messed with geeks
ʼ
stuff. If this sounds like it is taken fromhackneyed portrayals and high school flicks that rely on over-stereotyping characters, it isbecause these are common and true occurrences.
!
An internet search I conducted for another paper yielded a minimum of sixteendifferent definitions for the term “geek.” These have a varying range of definitions that will,at one end of the spectrum, describe the geek through the word
ʼ
s etymology, like in
dictionary.com 
and refer to him as a circus performer who would bite the heads offchickens and other animals and do other bizarre acts (as an aside, one must wonder howthe term fared when Ozzy Osbourne, who is a cool musician, went around and as part ofhis show, bit the heads off animals; I
ʼ
ve never heard anyone call Ozzy a geek-- crazy,yes, messed up, definitely, but geek, never) and on the other end of the spectrumchampioning the geek as a specialist who possesses knowledge and understanding ofconcepts beyond normal human beings. For example the
Merriam Webster Online Dictionary 
defines the geek as “an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field oractivity.”
!
In
The Free Dictionary 
, we get a number of varying definitions, among them:
Aperson regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy;” “A person who is single-minded oraccomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept; “a boring andunattractive social misfit;” and possibly the funniest definition because it runs so powerfullyagainst what we refer to as geeks now, “a degenerate.” I find these definitions funnybecause they illustrate just how far the term has come from describing social outsidersdecades ago, to how they are seen in the 21
st
global society and culture .
 
!
The definition which I prefer, and which I will use henceforth comes from a flowchartwhich can be found in
Flowtown 
(Martell, 2010). It states, “In the past being described asa geek was considered an insult, for it reflected a certain manner of social skills or status.Today, it is used to describe someone impassioned or obsessed by a particular area ofinterest.” 
!
In addition to that definition is something taken from Wikipedia
1
(updated 2010).One of the definitions states that a geek is:
A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or heroutside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subjectof their interest. This definition is very broad but because many of theseinterests have mainstream endorsement and acceptance, the inclusion ofsome genres as "geeky" is heavily debated on. Persons have been labeledas or chosen to identify as physics geeks, mathematics geeks, engineeringgeeks, scif-fi geeks, computer geeks, various science geeks, movie andfilm geeks, comic book geeks, theater geeks, history geeks, music geeks,sports geeks, art geeks, philosophy geeks, literature geeks, historicalreenactment geeks, 2012 geeks, video game geeks, and roleplay geeks.
!
Similar to the explanation above is the definition in the website
howstuffworks.com 
 (Lambert, n.d.) which states, “A geek has obsessive, esoteric knowledge about massmedia, pop culture and technology. Geeks are generally smart, they're passionate aboutthings most people don't care about, and most of them tend to be early adopters when itcomes to the latest gadgets.”
!
One key aspect of geekery that needs to be integrated in my own definition of thegeek is social ineptitude or awkwardness. This trait of the geek comes from the classic orearly definitions of the geek as someone who did not fit in, someonewho is an outsider.It
ʼ
s essential, at least from my perspective and from my experience, to point out that theoutsider status is what allows for the devotion and passion for decidedly non-mainstreamthings. Geeks needed something to huddle over and discuss, something that was their
1
While Wikipedia is usually not acknowledged as an academic reference, it serves as a good place to checkfor definitions on the geek because of its being constantly updated. Also, Wikipedia illustrates a number ofpoints about geek culture, such as collaboration, crowdsourcing, and the idea of collective knowledge.

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