Meet the Editors: Jovaughn Williams

Welcome back, everyone! We hope the winter weather has been treating you all well as we transition seasons. For our first and only installment of our Meet The Editors series this semester, we’d like to introduce to you our newest staff member: Jovaughn Williams. Jovaughn is a Junior transfer student from College of Dupage. He’s majoring in English within the Writing concentration with a minor in Psychology. If he’s not getting his hands dirty in a sport, he likes to spend his free time writing stories, making videos, and hanging out with his friends. His major goal is to bring his writing skills to the next level, eventually becoming a novelist so he can spread his creative novel ideas to everyone around him. His favorite authors included the likes of Pierce Brown, James Dasher, and Cherie Dimaline. 

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McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human

Hello and welcome back, everyone! These past few weeks, since my blog about Milan Kundera, I’ve had difficulty finding the time to sit down and read a full-length novel that I wasn’t already reading for one of my classes. With stressors in mind, I started to scramble through my bookshelf for a lesser-known book that had an impact on my life and the lives of others. While doing so, I came across a book that I had completely disregarded from my mind halfway through my reading of it: No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai. If you’ve read it, you can probably guess why I chose to forget this book, a lot of the themes found in this novel are heavy to accept, and it didn’t help that I was visiting themes of suicide, depression, and alienation after my re-read of A Little Life. So, I put the book down some months ago and tucked it away until just yesterday when I decided to re-read and finish the novel. Luckily, I was able to finish it, but at some cost to my mental well-being. Before I delve into this, I’d like to offer a similar warning I gave with Hanya Yanagihara’s novel. If you aren’t in a good headspace, don’t be afraid to put the book down. Many who suffer have found Dazai’s work to be a comfort to them and even inspirational, but I’d argue it’s easier to read this and be put into a more negative headspace. All that being said, I’d like to introduce you to No Longer Human.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Witches

The Witches, is a 2020 supernatural comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, and stars Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and is narrated by Chris Rock. It is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl and is the second feature-length adaptation of the novel, after the 1990 film of the same name directed by Nicolas Roeg. The film starts with narration by an adult Charlie Hansen (Rock) as he gives a presentation on witches. He then transitions into talking about his childhood (younger version played by Jahzir Bruno) and how he first came in contact with witches. In 1968, Charlie’s parents die in a car accident and he goes to live with his grandmother (Spencer) in Alabama. While at the store a strange woman with a green snake offers him a piece of candy, but they are interrupted by Charlie’s grandmother. This encounter scares Charlie and that night he confesses to her what happened. She then informs him what he saw was actually a witch and tells Charlie how her childhood best friend was turned into a chicken by one. In an attempt to get away from the witch for a while, Charlie and his now ill grandmother go stay at a fancy hotel where a family member works. The next day Charlie goes off alone to train his pet mouse (Kristin Chenoweth) as his grandmother rests, and he ends up in a ballroom set up for a meeting. When a group of ladies arrives to start their conference they reveal themselves to be witches. The meeting is presided over by the Grand High Witch (Hathaway) as she explains her plan to get rid of all the world’s children by turning them into mice. Drawing Charlie and his grandmother into a fight with the witches they had been trying to escape from in the first place. In this blog post I will look at how the change in setting and character background for the adaptation works in the story. 

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McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera is both widely praised and somehow overlooked in talks of influential postmodern authors and poets of the 20th and 21st centuries. Kundera was born in 1929 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and came of age during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia that started with the Munich agreement. From his early teenage years, Kundera was a devotee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In 1950, he and his close friend Jan Trefulka were blacklisted from the party for “Anti-Communist activities,” since the party’s take-over in 1948. Kundera and Trefulka both criticized the movement’s deviation from Marxist principles and leniency toward totalitarianism. In response to his expulsion, Kundera wrote The Joke, a novel in which he pointed out the hypocrisy of the party, which was banned as soon as it reached bookshelves. This novel was published in 1968 and was Kundera’s foothold for his involvement with the Prague Spring. To understand Kundera, you first have to understand this history. The Prague Spring was a reformist movement led by groups of philosophers, writers, and artists who introduced enlightenment ideals like freedom of speech and religion, as well as a decentralized economy and democracy to what was then Czechoslovakia. You can probably see where this is going if you know your history. The Soviet Union didn’t take kindly to these “Western” ideals being implemented so close to home and used other nations of the Warsaw Pact to invade and take control of the country in a rapid display of violence that lasted only 2 days. Kundera, though certainly on a hit list for his influence in the reformist movement, remained hopeful throughout the occupation, but was eventually pressured to flee from Prague to France in 1975, where he now, at the age of 93, lives a quiet, isolated life.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 gothic supernatural horror film directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, with Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, and Casper Van Dien in supporting roles. It is a film adaptation loosely based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The movie is set in 1799 and follows New York City police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as he is sent to the small Dutch Hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders that have plagued the town. He is given very little information regarding the town or its victims, besides the fact that they all had their heads cut off. When he arrives, Ichabod is told by the town’s leaders that not only were the victims beheaded, but the murderer also took their heads after he killed them. The townspeople believe the murders to be committed by the apparition of a headless Hessian mercenary from the American Revolutionary War who is looking for his own missing head. Ichabod is skeptical about the paranormal elements of the story and takes a more scientific approach to his investigation. Slowly he unravels a conspiracy against the leading families in the town and also comes face to face with supernatural forces which seem to be trying to drive him away from Sleepy Hollow, if not kill him. While at the same time being forced to confront his childhood trauma and developing feelings for Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), the daughter of one of the town elders. In this blog post, I will look at how the film expanded on the original story and how the character of Ichabod Crane changed between the two mediums. 

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Lauren’s Etude to Eden: Loveless and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the blog! It has been a wild summer and I spent a lot of money on books (as usual). However, I have yet to read the vast majority of them. Therefore, this semester will be more of a book review. My time will be spent constructing and (hopefully) adhering to a reading schedule, where I will read a book between each blog and write about my experiences with it through the lens of the funky songs I come across. This plan cannot possibly fall apart, so it will be a blast to work through the weeks with more material and adventures through my library. Additionally, most of these books will all hold a similar theme. I’ve been allocating a lot of my time to reading new LGBTQIA+ stories emerging into the publishing world, so most of the new additions to my shelves are just that. So, for the foreseeable future I’m going to spice up our lives by reading through my abundant amount of queer literature and expose you all to the madness that are the ideas floating around in my head. Without further ado, here is the newest addition to my Etude to Eden: Loveless by Alice Oseman.

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Stardust

Stardust is a 2007 fantasy adventure film directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars an ensemble cast led by Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong and Robert De Niro, with narration by Ian McKellen. The film is an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman 1999 novel of the same name. The movie opens roughly 19 years years prior to the start of the main character’s, Tristan Thorn (Cox), story with the meeting of his parents in a strange magical land. Baby Tristan is left for his father, Dunstan (Younger: Ben Barnes, Older: Nathaniel Parker) to raise in the fictional English town of Wall. When the story jumps ahead 18 years, Tristan is a rather naive boy who believes himself to be in love with the vain Victoria Forester (Sienna Miller). After seeing a falling star, Victoria agrees to marry Tristian if he retrieves it for her in time for her birthday. The night he is to set off, Tristan learns the origins of his birth in the magical land next to the town of Wall. Using a Babylon candle, which allows a person to instantly travel to the place they are thinking of when it is lit, gifted by his mother (Kate Magowan), Tristan tries to find her. But Tristan gets distracted by his thoughts of Victoria and the star, transporting him into a large crater where he falls onto a young woman (Danes) who he mistakes for his mother. He quickly realizes that the hurt girl is actually the fallen star and sets out to bring her back to Victoria, which leads to a wild journey for Tristan and the star, Yvaine, including run-ins with princes, witches, and even pirates. In this blog post I will look at the backstory established between the two mediums as well as the ways Tristan’s character is developed in the story. 

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McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: Hanya Yanagihara

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all had a great summer and are enjoying the weather as we transition into autumn. This summer I spent a lot of time, though not as much as I wish I could have, reading and re-reading some of my favorite texts. Some off-the-bat recommendations I have from my new reading list this summer include The Sun Also Rises by Hemmingway, The Stranger by Camus, Immortality by Milan Kundera, and Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky. Again, I hope you all had a wonderful summer, thank you for joining me again as I delve back into this blog. Without further ado, I’d like to talk about one of the novels I re-read this summer, why I chose to re-read it, and why I think everyone ought to read it. 

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McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: David Foster Wallace’s response to Postmodernism.

David Foster Wallace was an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. He’s best known for his novel Infinite Jest, which totals at 1,079 pages. He’s widely regarded as one of the best American writers of all time, and Time Magazine awarded Infinite Jest a spot among the top 100 English novels since 1923. Some of his other better-known works include his collection of short stories Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, his essay collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and his final, unfinished novel, The Pale King. His writing is perhaps the closest we’ve gotten to responding to the postmodernists, and I’m sure with time, Wallace will be officially considered to be in a category of his own, but for now, he’s often called a post-postmodernist. 

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Peck’s Programming a Narrative: Jack into the Matrix!

Throughout this blog series, I have discussed various ways a developer can use the unique medium of video games to tell a story. Player choice allows the developer to create levels that reflect player styles or decisions. Through good moments of player choice, it can make them feel as though they are in control and actively contributing to the story. Atmosphere influences the mood of the player and set their expectations. But there is one other more subtle decision that is integral to telling a story through an interactive medium. That is the perspective of the player character themselves. In video games, there are many ways to experience a game. Sometimes you are a faceless entity controlling groups of units from high in the sky. In other games you are locked in a first-person perspective, experiencing events as the character does in graphic detail. These perspectives each factor into the player’s immersion, each one serving a specific purpose depending on the genre and type of game.

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