The Dystopia- Favorite Social Issue Addressed in Fiction

Another way to think about Literary Citizenship: do we have an obligation to raise and address social issues in what we write? Does what we read reveal our societal concerns? For example, one of my favorite dystopian novels is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I realize speaks to my anxieties about women’s equality. Read this post by Eric Long and share with us your favorite dystopian novels and WHY you like them.

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Dystopian fiction has always been one of my favorite concepts in literature. Ever since reading Orwells’s 1984 in high school, followed by Aldous Huxley’s Brand New WorldI developed a slight, SLIGHT, obsession. A dystopia, for those of you who don’t know, is basically the opposite of a utopia. It’s an idea proposed to challenge the concepts used to achieve a utopia. For instance, Judge Dredd (super-future-cold-hearted-etc cop) does a hell of a job enforcing the law and minimizing crime rates, but does so at the cost of impoverished citizenship with leaps and bounds of social prejudice. For the rich this might seem like a utopia, but even from that perspective, I doubt you could argue against the derelict living conditions of 90% of the population. Some other fun dystopian universes I enjoy (Yay!):

  • The Matrix
  • Equilibrium
  • Clockwork Orange
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Blade Runner
  • Animal Farm
  • I…

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Be a Lit Citizen: Donate books, drink beer, and be merry!

What better way to practice literary citizenship: donate books and drink beer. Haley Muench tells you how.

A Generation Speaks

Indiana will soon have twelve more breweries to boast of in 2014. The Indy Star recently did a quick survey of some of the new businesses which you can glance at here. But one of these breweries (number 2 on the list) has an interesting twist that caught my attention.

Books and Brews can be found at their website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Books and Brews

Books and Brews, located near 96th and Hauge Rd Indianapolis, began as an idea for a bookstore and then added on the brewery as a way to attract more customers. They will feature live music, readings, beer tasting, a mug club, and more! The shop hopes to open this month (February 2014) and has done a fantastic job of keeping anxious would-be patrons updated with their progress.

This business is practicing a great model of literary citizenship. They’ve exposed all of their process…

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Students always complain that creative writing teachers never talk about publishing. Well, this week, I schooled them, and I schooled them good. You can check out the links in the right-hand column under “Publishing a Book 101.” I also had them read excerpts from Carolyn See’s MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, Betsy Lerner’s THE FOREST FOR THE TREES, Gerald Gross’s EDITORS AND EDITING, Eckstutt and Henry’s THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED, and Ted Striphas THE LATE AGE OF PRINT. It was a lot to take in. Here, Marvin Madison Jones takes it all in and makes sense of it all. In his own words.

Call Me Marv

The publishing world is a very mysterious world similar to that of Willy Wonka’s factory. No one knows what is going on up in there. The people involved hide their secrets well and do not write about the process of getting a book published very often. First book authors are left blind to the shenanigans and happenings that go on during the publishing process.

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Being part of Cathy Day‘s Lit Citizenship class I have been presented with many of the ugly truths and surprising information about the publishing process and I should share some of them with you.

Be warned that some of this information might be a bit disheartening to some writers but also remember that these are only some parts of the publishing world not all. Every single writer has a chance at success, you just got to find the write publisher and people that will treat…

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Austin Hayden discovers Scott McClanahan. That’s definitely something worth writing about.


What did you do today to get someone else’s work discovered?

Reading in public is an act of literary citizenship

Q: Professor Day, how do I get published?

A:  Work to create a culture in which books can thrive.

Q: No, seriously. How do I get people to buy and read my work? How do I get discovered?

A: What did you do today to help get someone else’s work discovered?

This is the essence of literary citizenship. Or as Chuck Sambuchino says in  “How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas for You,” a new post over at Writer Unboxed:

Help writers sell books. It’s that simple. Just help them and support the publishing industry. Good karma will befall you, and the hope is that others will help you in return as your big release day comes.

They are simple steps: Buy the book. Make sure it’s face-out on the bookstore shelf. Read the book in public. Request the book at your local library. Be an advocate for the book on social media, etc.

If you’re a part of the indielit world, the small press scene, these ideas and suggestions will be nothing new to you. These strategies are what have allowed the independent literary press world to explode and expand in recent years. (Go to the AWP Book Fair. You’ll see what I mean. 11,000 attendees. 650 exhibitors.)

But all authors need readers who will do these things, whether they’re publishing with a tiny micro press or the Big Five.

And all creative writing students need to know this is work they can (and should) do. 

In 1967, there were 13 creative writing programs. Today, there are more than 500. Every year, we generate thousands and thousands of graduates. We spend a lot of time and energy helping them to self-identify as writers. We are fools if we fail to show them how to self-identify as literary citizens, book buyers, lifelong readers, and lovers of books.

We’re creating a small army. Imagine what good work they could do.


An Interview with Vouched Books founder Christopher Newgent

Ball State’s own literary citizen: Christopher Newgent, founder of Vouched, talks to Adam Robinson.