MarkReads in Syracuse

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry about MarkReads.net. Just this week, he had a tour stop in Syracuse which I and a few of my friends were able to attend. Very few YA-oriented literary events usually occur in Central New York, so I was especially excited to learn he was coming to Syracuse. My two friends and I hit the highway and made the hour-long trek down to LeMoyne College. Despite my dislike of highway driving and the slightly embarrassing difficulty we had navigating LeMoyne’s small campus, the drive was worth it.

Mark Oshiro started out the evening with a lecture.* His topic was online reading communities. He placed a strong emphasis on the idea of creating a space of inclusion and personal connection when running an online community – whether a blog, a forum, or something completely different. I think it would be interesting to compare his brand of literary criticism – which places equal emphasis on the emotional and intellectual experience of reading – with more traditional, scholarly literary criticism. While it makes sense that literary criticism functions well when everyone has the same terms and phrases to describe a piece, I’m very intrigued by the idea of more informal, personalized literary criticism emerging through the Internet. Book blogs, forums, and review sites like GoodReads certainly make a greater variety of literary criticism accessible. I do realize though that online literary discussion has its limitations as well – not everyone has regular Internet access.

Although I enjoyed the lecture Mark gave and found it immensely helpful both as a blogger and aspiring YA librarian, my favorite part of the evening came afterwards. He delivered a dramatic reading of one of the most ridiculous fanfictions I’ve ever read. The story is called “Gurren Jesus,” and though I’ve never seen the anime it was based on, it was no less amusing. Jesus and an anime character team up to ride motorcycles and try to assassinate Hitler, who is dressed up as Chester Cheetah. Before I’d finished laughing over that story, he went into a real-life annecdote that involved drunken Tennessean nerds playing gladiator with tree trunks. It made me wish I was better at actually telling stories rather than writing them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet. It gives me a way of connecting with far more people than I ever would in person, and helps me gravitate towards people with similar interests. But this event was a good reminder of how enjoyable it is to connect with other readers face-to-face. It’s a great feeling to be laughing with a room full of people who appreciate the same kinds of jokes, read the same kinds of books, and who probably spend the same amount of time on the Internet as I do. I came away from the event energized by a renewed sense of my love for both online and in-person communities of readers.

*Maybe “lecture” gives the wrong impression – his talk was far more entertaining than the word lecture usually connotes.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “MarkReads in Syracuse

  1. As one of Thea’s two traveling companions, I just wanted to chime in and say how much I enjoyed the evening without having previous knowledge of Mark’s work. One of my favorite things that he said: “Whenever I approach a topic, I remember that it is someone’s favorite thing in the world.” His talk was incredibly fun, insightful, and very respectful of all different types readers/fans/etc.

    P.S. Part of the fun is in the journey, and if it wasn’t for getting lost we would have never realized LeMoyne has a building simply called “Science”!

  2. iannead

    I like the approach you took with this post. At first, I thought “What will she write about Mark this time?” In the end, it seemed more of a piece about socializing in person than over the internet, and how activities such as reading can help organize these events. Your voice is definitely heard in this post.

    In the first paragraph, you stray away from MarkReads and go on about another site. For purposes of this post, I would stick more to MarkReads and less on other sites since that is what brought together the event at Le Moyne.

  3. Maybe you edited the article, but I don’t see anything about another site in the intro paragraph. Assuming that there was at one point, and it sidetracked from the MarkReads topic, I’m glad you edited it out.

    Though I certainly liked it, I wish there was photography, video, audio, or some other form of multimedia. Even if you did not generate the media yourself and simply embedded a pre-existing YouTube video of a different presentation, it would have made the post even better. Instead of having to imagine what he looks like, what he sounds like and what the presentation is all about, I would have it all in front of me.

  4. My initial reaction to his idea that emotional reactions were important was one of skepticism. After all, I feel like our workshops have taught us to be more objective. But that’s why we read isn’t it? To connect with emotions and ideas? Not to mention, not everyone is a writer, a literary scholar, or a highly critical reader. But we do need to encourage reading, and a community in which to do that is vital, online or not. We all have emotions, so that sounds like a great place to start.

    I like the follow up on Mark, and I think it keeps your posts interesting. However, I’m excited to explore some new YA books with you.

  5. I like that you talked about seeing Mark speak after posting about him a few weeks ago. It’s helping us (the readers) develop more of a relationship with you (the blogger.) I also am really intrigued by that fan fiction and I will not sleep until I read it (just kidding I am going to bed as soon as I am done writing this comment.)

    I do want to hear more about the YA literature you speak so fondly of. I feel like I haven’t been reading enough about these books, and your last post about a book was really nice to read.

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