Publishing on Pop Culture: An Interview with Jenna Guitar

JGuitarHeadshotWe are excited to announce that our own Jenna Guitar, a first-year PhD student, has recently published a chapter in Glee and New Directions for Social Change. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work and the publishing process. Congratulations!

Guitar, Jenna. 2015. “Glee Goes Gaga.” In Glee and New Directions for Social Change Ed. Brian C Johnson and Daniel K. Faill. Boston: Sense Publishers. 61-68.

Q: First, can you give us a brief synopsis of your chapter? A sentence or two take-away if you will.

A: My paper is occupied with examining the ways theatrical performance can help high school students understand Butler’s theory of fluid identity. The paper focuses on a specific season one moment in the television show Glee. The students are asked to “go Gaga” as they perform various Lady Gaga songs to tap into their theatrical identities. By tapping into these theatrical personas, the students learn that their identities are fluid and not stagnant. Essentially they perform Butler’s seminal argument concerning identity in the episode, which I found to be fascinating.

Q: I’d like to ask a bit about the process involved in getting this published. Was this a term paper that you found a call for, or did you find a call for chapters and decide to write this?

A: This was originally a seminar paper from a Queer Theory course I took at New Mexico State University. I later presented the paper at the National PCA/ACA in Washington DC, while I was working on my Master’s degree at SUNY New Paltz. From that conference I was approached by the editors of the book who were interested in including my essay in their collection Glee and New Directions for Social Change. The book was just recently published in January. All in all, this was a five year process from writing it to actually getting it published.

Q: How was the peer review process? Was it nerve wracking? Did you get constructive feedback?

A: My editors were very kind. They offered some minor tweaks and revisions, but the most labor intensive changes stemmed from having to change everything from MLA to APA. The book is interdisciplinary and the two editors kept going back and forth about how the book should be formatted and finally determined it should be in APA. So, it was a bit tedious changing everything to the new format, especially because I was not very familiar with how APA worked.

Q: Did you find anything about working with pop culture particularly challenging, or liberating?

A: I often work with popular culture, so I really felt in my element. I feel most comfortable in the pop culture arena and am always really excited when I get to do a project along those lines.

Q: Do you want to work on Glee in the future? Is the high school experience something you are interested in, or was the chance to talk about gender performativity the greater draw?

A: I’m not sure if I would work with the television show Glee again. I wouldn’t be opposed, but I don’t have any plans as of yet. However, I am fascinated by representations of high school students in television and would definitely like to continue research in that area at some point. Gender studies is one of my main research interests and generally the lens I adopt in my work, so that was definitely a draw.

Student Spotlight: Jason Shrontz

Profile-Pic-1-e1328930129560Hi, my name is Jason Shrontz, and I’m a 4th year PhD student in the English department. I completed my exams late in the Spring of 2014. My field is the contemporary novel with a focus on new media ecology. I’m interested in the rhetoric used to describe the historically precarious position of the novel within its media ecology: the novel is dead, the novel’s not dead, witness the death of the death of the novel! My dissertation investigates how novelists assert and scrutinize their print-based technology within this new media ecology. The first chapter turns to 9/11 novels such as Jess Walter’s The Zero and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It’s my argument that literary representations of the 9/11 attack have offered a place for novelists to discuss their craft within an increasingly connected and digitized world. The proliferation of media images juxtaposed by the consummation of paper in these novels provides a fertile metaphor for exploring the anxieties of a world void of print media. Another chapter investigates how the language we use to describe our social networks and media ecology—touch screens, staying connected, losing touch—mask an increasing absence of physical contact and interaction. New media hardware is increasingly moving away from physical interaction with our environment and data (think: touch screens, apple watch, google glasses, etc.). Looking at Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, a novel in which “the days of losing touch are almost gone,” this chapter focuses specifically on the relationship between figurative and literal understandings of touch. Other chapters, which I’m still developing, focus on the novel and remediation, as well as experimental print novels that integrate new media devices.

In addition to my scholarly pursuits, I’m also an ENG 999 mentor, a graduate liaison, and an associate editor for the Ocean State Review. I have an MFA from Northern Michigan University. Though I’m currently unable to write creatively as much as I want to, my position with the OSR affords me the chance to read and think about craft. I currently teach a class on the novel and new media at URI, and I’m hard at work twitter-stalking various authors to convince them to make a digital appearance in my class. While all this stuff keeps me busy, my absolute joy comes from my family: my wife Stacey, daughter Beatrice, and son Harper. Balancing family and scholarly time is always a challenge, but I don’t think I could realize the importance of maintaining this balance without my family and their support. It helps that I’m married to someone with unlimited patience and focus and a knack for making lists and schedules. Plus, at ages two and four, I’ve found that Harper and Bea have almost exactly the same interests that I do: books, things that beep when you push buttons, air-guitaring to rock’n’roll music, and running.