The Daily Dose: Featuring Andrea Wood, Radical Romance–and the Future of Zombies

Welcome back to Literary Medicine’s The Daily Dose (companion to the Fiction Reboot).

In the past few weeks, I have been promoting several of my colleagues and their work at the boundaries of literature and medicine. Today, I am happy to provide a glimpse into the work of Dr. Andrea Wood, Assistant Professor of Media Studies. In addition to working on a project about “radicalizing” or queering romance, she is gestating ideas for her next project on zombies. On the surface, these may not appear to be “medical humanities” pieces, but they have everything to do with the complexities of gender and identity in popular genre fiction and film… and that, in my inclusive view, makes her work the perfect prescription for the Dose.

In addition to being a creative, ground-breaking researcher and a very dear friend, Andrea Wood is also my co-editor in the collection Birthing the Monster of Tomorrow: Unnatural Reproductions. Thank you, Andrea, for giving us a preview of upcoming work!

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Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the English Department at Winona State University, Dr. Andrea Wood is an interdisciplinary film and media studies scholar with research interests in transnational comics and animation, popular genres, digital media and fandom, women’s and gender studies, and feminist and queer theory. One branch of Dr. Wood’s research explores representations of gender and sexuality in Japanese visual media, with a primary emphasis on manga and animation. Her article on the transnational circulation of queer manga, “’Straight’ Women, Queer Texts: Boy-Love Manga and the Rise of a Global Counterpublic,” originally published in Women’s Studies Quarterly has recently been reprinted in the Blackwell anthology Global Visual Cultures (2011). Additionally, her article on young adult consumption of erotic Japanese computer games appears in the edited collection, Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s Literature, from University of Michigan Press (2011). Dr. Wood has also been invited to write an article on representations of disability in manga for a medical humanities special issue of the interdisciplinary journal Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry slated for publication in 2014. She will be presenting on some of her research on this topic at a 2013 Modern Language Association Conference panel, “Disability Discourses: Bodily Selves and Embodied Deviance.”

Queering Romance

Queering Romance: New Media, Transnational Publics and Participatory Culture is the first book-length study to provide a radical queer intervention into the overwhelmingly heterosexual approaches deployed in feminist research on romance. Focusing on queer concepts and LGBTQ texts, as well as the impact of new media on the genre—all of which have been glaringly absent from most studies—this book provides critically queer insight into the current evolution of romance and proposes new methodological strategies for studying the genre and its global readers in the twenty-first century.

Queering Romance contends that the rise of digital media and convergence culture have enabled the romance genre to rapidly expand to meet readers’ desires and fantasies, which are far more diverse and less heteronormative than feminist research has assumed. While previous book-length studies on romance have primarily focused on traditional mass-market paperbacks, Queering Romance examines contemporary narratives that complicate and trouble the boundaries and conventions ascribed to the genre. By considering texts that depart from the traditional format of mass-market paperbacks and present queer visions of love and desire—including lesbian romance comics, queer Japanese manga (comics), publish-on-demand gay men’s romance novels, African American erotica and fan created remix videos—I show how the advent of online technology, participatory culture, and media convergence have facilitated transnational circulation of and discourse about LGBTQ romance narratives through both commercial and non-commercial means. Examining these processes at work, I argue that in the digital age expanding transnational and online modes of circulation require us to begin conceptualizing romancereadership in terms of more nebulous and discursive publics rather than as a quantifiable and homogenous audience.

Future Projects

Dr. Wood is also co-editing (with me) a proposed book collection, Birthing the Monster of Tomorrow: Unnatural Reproductions, which will feature original scholarship on the persistent paradoxical repulsion and fascination with monsters and the monstrous, their genesis, and their reproductive potential—to infect, to absorb, to replicate—across different time periods and cultural contexts. In addition to co-editing the book, she will be including an article in the collection on “Failed Futurity: Reproductive Anxieties and Undead Children in Apocalyptic Zombie Films.” This piece connects to ongoing research for Dr. Woo’d next book-length project, which focuses on the evolution of zombies in international media. Her project examines, from intersecting feminist and queer theoretical approaches, how apocalyptic themes in zombie media inform conceptualizations of futurity and survival against the backdrop of decomposing social, national, and global landscapes.

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To learn more about Dr. Wood and her research, please visit her website: http://course1.winona.edu/awood/home/

Or, you can follow her on twitter @a_d_wood

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