Monday, July 02, 2007

Idle Minds Lead to Chaotic Thoughts

So, after thinking about continuing to take classes here in the Journalism Departmet at UMaine, which is actually above my head; I started to look into the PhD program they offer, which has a concentration in Creative Writing. Dr. Allan? Would you read a crime book by Stephen J. Allan, PhD? Probably not. It sounds as impressive as Stephen Allan, MFA - which isn't that impressive.

OK, I'm now taking suggestions for dissertation topics, just in case I do pursue this. It has to do with Mass Communication and Crime Fiction, because I'm not going to stray far from my chosen genre. So, give me some ideas.

6 comments:

Stephen Blackmoore said...

How about this.

How about drawing a connection between crime, the reporting of crime in news, true crime books chronicling crime after the fact and some of the crime fiction authors currently doing some of the most cutting edge work? Is there a chain linking them? If so, how does one link affect the other? How much does each feed back onto previous links?

Much as science fiction is often, if indirectly, a social commentary on today, is crime fiction a product of its time, reflecting the issues prevalent at the time of its creation?

Lyman said...

Stephen is onto something. Genre theory is a great way to get at that subject matter. Much of what genre theory states revolves around the idea that the fiction we produce is a direct reflection of our times. We write about the world around us. Anthropologists bought into that a long time ago, stating that ancient writings are accurate depictions of the morals and societal boundaries of their time.

I've always thought it would be interesting to look at the desensitizing of violence. Granted I am not well read in crime but horror has gone through many of the same changes. The Horror of the Forties and Fifties has a very different face than the horror of today. Starting with Michael Myers and the advent of the slasher film, violence in horror made a quantuum leap. As for crime and violence, just ten years ago only 20% of primetime television had depictions of violence. Now well over 80% does. What does this say about us? Are we more tolerant of violent crime? Less?

BTW, is this still the IPhD program?

Steve Allan said...

Thanks for the ideas. So far this is just in the what if stage, but the more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to seriously look into it. I have a meeting with the graduate coordinator of the mass communications department on Thursday - his office is right above my head. Lyman, if you want to tag along, you're more than welcome - you know you wanna. And yes, it is the IPhD, but it's a little more structured since they've pretty much designed it already; the part that isn't as formed is the concentration in English.

As for desensitizing of violence, weren't you the one I saw Hostel with and laughed your ass off (as did I)? What does that tell you? Besides that we're sick individuals who really should be locked up.

Erin Underwood said...

"How about drawing a connection between crime, the reporting of crime in news, true crime books chronicling crime after the fact and some of the crime fiction authors currently doing some of the most cutting edge work?"

Great idea, but what about the criminal?

What affect does crime reporting, true crime books, and crime fiction have on the criminals that commit such crime (or plan to commit a crime)? Does the plethora of prose help them to step up their game thereby feeding the cycle from that angle as well?

What is the connection between crime reporting, true crime stories, and crime fiction and the creation of a smarter, more discerning modern criminal?

Steve Allan said...

To quote from the movie SCREAM: "...don't you blame the movies, movies don't create psychos, movies make psychos more creative!"

Stephen Blackmoore said...

"What affect does crime reporting, true crime books, and crime fiction have on the criminals that commit such crime (or plan to commit a crime)?"

Hmm. That's an excellent point. Much as throwing criminals into lock up with other criminals tends to make better criminals, how much of modern media is a growth culture for criminal training?

Makes me wonder about video games, too. Sure, there's the arguments about Grand Theft Auto, which is probably as much (or more) a product of its environment than a creator of same.

But I'm wondering more about games like America's Army, a game designed specifically as a recruiting tool by indoctrinating young men into military basics.

How does this sanctioned violence differ from non-sanctioned violence ? Do they have equal impact? Or none at all?

Damn. Now you're making me want to go back to school.