An Overview of 2021: Writing and Research

As the year comes to an end, I’m taking the opportunity to reflect on my research and writing. Shameless self-promotion indeed, but this year has been anything but easy, so I’m allowing myself to be indulgent. Especially because some of the projects that have finally seen the light of day this year have been years in the making. Seeing them come to life in the middle of a global pandemic has given me hope and a renewed sense of optimism.

Misogyny, Toxic Masculinity, and Heteronormativity in Post-2000 Popular Music

This volume, edited by Glenn Fosbraey and Nicola Puckey, explores a range of popular musical genres and their relation to misogyny and toxic masculinity. My chapter, called “How Female is the Future? Undoing Sexism in Contemporary Metal Music”, focuses on metal music and how female metal musicians use the genre’s performative nature to interrogate gendered stereotypes.

This chapter was my first foray into writing about popular music in an academic context. Of course I like music (who doesn’t) and have written blog posts about my favourites, but I am not a musicologist. Writing the chapter was the perfect excuse to revisit some of my favourite bands and broaden my academic horizon.

ReFocus: The Films of Mary Harron

This book has been years in the making and covers all aspects of Harron’s career. I was honoured to write the chapter on American Psycho, perhaps Harron’s best-known film. I have written extensively about the Bret Easton Ellis novel the film is based on – mainly in my book Extreme States – and this was a great opportunity to create a complimentary text on a film often interpreted as a feminist critique on the original.

The Routledge Companion to Masculinity in American Literature and Culture

I wrote a contribution to this whopper of a handbook. Again, I focused on an author I have written about in detail before: Chuck Palahniuk. Instead of his magnum opus Fight Club I opted to focus on his more recent novels. When I first started exploring his work I struggled to find useful analyses of his wider oeuvre so my hope is that this chapter will serve towards filling that hiatus.

Other than that, this is the book I wish I’d had as a student: packed with overviews of masculinity studies as an academic field, as well as varied and detailed analyses of the many ways in which masculinity is represented in American literature and culture.

Horror Studies: Special Issue on Stephen King

I contributed an article to a special issue of Horror Studies on Stephen King. My article focused on authorship in King’s writing. I chose to focus on some of King’s lesser novels. It was also a return to literary theory, particularly Roland Barthes. I really enjoyed combining theory and pop culture and am proud to be part of a special issue about an author whose work has been so influential.

Reviews

I often write reviews on my blog, usually about books, films, music, art, or whatever I happen to be interested in. Occasionally I am approached by publishers to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their new titles: the answer is usually yes (except when I don’t have time to do the book justice).

This year I reviewed Nicole Zelniker’s novel Until We Fall, published by Jaded Ibis Press. It’s a novel I enjoyed and would otherwise never have come across. My goal for the new year is to support more independent publishers – they’re often the ones publishing the books I end up loving most.

Writing advice

It’s been a while since I did any teaching but I still love sharing my ideas. Earlier this year I chatted with fellow author Todd Sullivan about essay writing, which he turned into a lovely video.

Last but not least…

I was extremely honoured to be invited to give a talk as part of the Institute of Gender Studies at University of Chester’s seminar series. It was based on my contribution to Misogyny, Toxic Masculinity, and Heteronormativity in Post-2000 Popular Music and a great opportunity to delve deeper into the subject. Thanks so much to Emma Rees for inviting me, to Holly Royle for her excellent introduction, and for the participants for their thoughtful comments and questions.

Next year

I have recently submitted a book chapter on Dutch popular music which, all being well, will be published in late 2022 or early 2023. I’m planning to finally take my creative writing more seriously and perhaps send some stories out into the world. But most of all, I’m hoping for a return to some form of normality, stability, and opportunity. Working on these projects with so many talented collaborators has been a great joy during two years of isolation and I can’t wait to meet some of them in person.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

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