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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

20 Comments

  1. Anton B
    May 31, 2014 @ 12:55 am

    Please accept a very English, self deprecating, polite and concise –
    'No. Thank you '
    Back.

    Reply

  2. elvwood
    May 31, 2014 @ 2:33 am

    Ditto.

    Reply

  3. jane
    May 31, 2014 @ 4:02 am

    Okay, I'll be the first to say, "You're quite welcome."

    Reply

  4. storiteller
    May 31, 2014 @ 4:31 am

    Thank you for all of the wonderful writing you have shared with us! I'm proud to be a supporter of your Kickstarters. I have to say – I wish I had your writing in grad school. I think I would have understand the times we talked about critical analysis much more.

    For those interested in the Moffatt and feminism debate, this is a really interesting info graphic from an academic project analyzing how often Davies and Moffatt episodes passed the Bechdel Test and how much companions spoke per episode.

    Reply

  5. evilsoup
    May 31, 2014 @ 5:34 am

    Finally, scientific proof that Donna is the best.

    Reply

  6. Bennett
    May 31, 2014 @ 5:57 am

    I'm really interested in reading Phil's response to this as an academic in the relevant field, but rather than sensibly wait for it I just can't resist sticking my oar in a little. I don't intend for this to come across as a personal attack on its author, and I really don't want to be associated with the simpletons throwing vitriol at her in that page's comment section. Please read this with that tone in mind (but also pick me up on it if I stray from that tone).

    The Bechdel Test wasn't designed for use in this context, but the sharp disparity between the two eras should be acknowledged. While I'm not sure it can work as an objective metric, examples of the exchanges on which an episode was deemed to pass/fail would be illustrative. Sadly, these are not provided.

    The companion speaking time is an odd measure, and clearly subject to statistical oddities. I mean, Rose has the second lowest average time by a fair margin, and for two years it was her show. I suspect the number of companions is a major bias factor here – both Rose and Amy shared the TARDIS for a nontrivial proportion of their time in the series. Cameo appearances must also be a factor: Rose is surely weighed down by Series 4, and the episode count Amy is credited with suggests that at least one of Closing Time and The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe was included. Similarly, Donna's high time was likely buoyed up by Turn Left alone.

    The writeup, while clearly not a part of the academic submission, also has some concerns for me – particularly the way in which fan debate is characterised as a two sided war with each side ascribed a certain belief. You don't have to swing an Ergon too far in this fandom to hit someone who doesn't pass off feminist arguments as "too sensitive" or "you're just pining for Davies" – but instead appreciates the strengths, weaknesses and complexities of Moffat's female characters. (As an aside, I have found The Impossible Girls podcast to be an interesting listen of late. It features a group of young, passionate fans sharing their understanding of the Moffat era and articulating their emotional connection to it. Makes such a refreshing change from the staid and tired old curmudgeons that are usually the voice of fandom.)

    I guess my feelings are that there's better ways to measure feminism than with a stopwatch, and better ways to quantify media studies than with a pithy infographic.

    But at the very least, these are statistics worth revealing and this is a debate that is certainly worth having. And no-one said the prosecution had to be fair.

    Reply

  7. Jordan Murphy
    May 31, 2014 @ 6:51 am

    Thank you for the reminder that the Kickstarter for Last War in Albion ends today. I'd been meaning to contribute what paltry amount my meager finances can accomodate, but kept putting it off. No longer.

    Reply

  8. Pen Name Pending
    May 31, 2014 @ 7:11 am

    Congrats! I don't really read it because I'm not that familiar with the material, but I might check out the Sandman volume since I'm trying to read that (I still have to start Volume 3…)

    Supposedly a Doctor Who trailer is airing tonight before Casualty? One with actual footage?

    Reply

  9. Pen Name Pending
    May 31, 2014 @ 7:20 am

    Clara isn't counted, and she has an 82% pass rate so far. Also her speaking time would be higher due to lack of an additional companion.

    Somehow "The Girl in the Fireplace" doesn't count, despite it having a minute conversation in which Rose warns Reinette.

    River disagrees with the Doctor plenty of times. (Also it's fair to note that Rose becomes increasingly dependent on the Doctor, while River becomes increasingly independent, but of course her story is shown backward.)

    Moffat's episodes tend to be more centered around the main characters and give less screen time to supporting ones. (Just look at the finales especially…and there are many episodes with a small cast regardless, like Craig's episodes, "The Girl Who Wait" [which wasn't counted in the study], "Let's Kill Hitler", etc)

    There are lots of flaws, obviously, and there are people who have gone way more in depth than I did. I personally just wish people would stop simplifying the characters.

    Reply

  10. Bennett
    May 31, 2014 @ 8:58 am

    "Somehow "The Girl in the Fireplace" doesn't count, despite it having a minute conversation in which Rose warns Reinette."

    I assume that conversation would not count as it was largely about the Doctor (as would the conversation between Reinette and Catherine because it regarded King Louis). Again, it is worth emphasising that the test is being employed here for a purpose it wasn't really designed for.

    In other news, thanks to the Guardian* this 'study' has now received an official response from Faith Penhale – the Executive Producer of The Day of the Doctor recently seen collecting that production's well-deserved BAFTA. To be honest, this whole situation is getting me a bit steamed – not at the original author whose intentions were probably benign, but at the Internet snark brigade twisting that work into an assault on a writer who is more invested in defending the right for feminist critique than in defending himself. I must have missed the Guardian's post about that.

    *I'd link to the Guardian blog entry in question, but I don't care to support clickbait. I just wish web browsers had a redaction option.

    Reply

  11. Andy
    May 31, 2014 @ 9:20 am

    Thanks for the blog. I'm a lurking reader and this post made me get my arse in gear to give you something back. Sorry it can't be more.

    Reply

  12. Nyq Only
    May 31, 2014 @ 10:00 am

    "I guess my feelings are that there's better ways to measure feminism than with a stopwatch, and better ways to quantify media studies than with a pithy infographic."

    I can imagine that there are many ways to study feminism but I'm not sure if there are better ways to measure it than looking at lengths of time that women lead a conversation.

    Reply

  13. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 31, 2014 @ 10:01 am

    I think this is a really impressive piece of undergraduate research. There are a wealth of methodological critiques to be had, yes, but if it were one of my students writing this, I'd be proud as hell to be able to call myself their teacher.

    Reply

  14. Bennett
    May 31, 2014 @ 10:31 am

    Well put, Phil.

    I do want to reiterate, as vehement as my above rantings are, that I bear no ill will towards the author; nor do I doubt either her intentions or her skill as a media student (it's a lot better than some of the crap I wrote for my undergraduate degree). Again, it's the repurposing of her work by others who represent it as something it is not that really grinds my gears, but that is beyond her control.

    So I'll revert back to my first closing statement (and where I probably should have left it): whatever minor quibbles I may have, these are statistics worth discussing and a debate worth having.

    Reply

  15. mewiet
    May 31, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

    "I assume that conversation would not count as it was largely about the Doctor"

    It wasn't, it was largely about Reinette and the threat coming for her. According to Moore's stipulations – more than two lines of exchange by named women with allowed brief mentions of a man that, if removed, would not have any impact on the topic at hand – it passes.

    Reply

  16. mengu
    May 31, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

    They say Dalek passes and Let's Kill Hitler fails.

    On a larger scale it can be useful, but it needs to be based on accurate data.

    Reply

  17. Daru
    May 31, 2014 @ 11:09 pm

    Hey, thank you Phil! I feel really grateful for your work and for this blog's community. Well done!

    Reply

  18. peeeeeeet
    June 1, 2014 @ 12:40 am

    It wasn't, it was largely about Reinette and the threat coming for her.

    If we're looking at the same scene, eleven out of 22 lines refer directly to the Doctor and a couple more indirectly. I don't see how you can remove these references without removing an important purpose of the scene which is the development of Reinette's attitude to the Doctor based on Rose sharing her experience.

    Reply

  19. Jack Graham
    June 1, 2014 @ 1:01 am

    Interesting little study.

    It reminds me – very faintly, and I don't make any claim to any comparable degree of scrupulousness – of a little study I myself made of reactions at Gallifrey Base after the showing of an episode.

    It seemed to me that, after every episode aired, the Rate-It thread would be deluged with broadly positive responses, only challenged in number by the amount of complaints about suffocating negativity. So I made a little study of the Rate-It thread for 'Vampires of Venice' (it just happened to be the next story to be shown) once the thread was a few days old.

    I created four categories, something like 'Positive', 'Mostly Positive', 'Mostly Negative' and 'Negative'. I included all posts (not excluding multiple posts by the same author, since I was guaging the feel of the thread) and posts of all lengths, from one word responses to longer ones.

    I found – as I recall – that Positive responses outnumbered all other types combined. I thus concluded that the widespread perception on the boards that the threads were deluged with complaints and negativity were wholly mistaken.

    Of course, looking back, I should have also counted how many posts complained about complaints and negativity, and thus quantified the accuracy of my own perception that large numbers of people were complaining about a phantasmic avalanche of complaints.

    I posted my results in-thread but nobody took any notice. Except to call me anal. Which may have been a fair point.

    Reply

  20. Kit Power
    June 2, 2014 @ 12:44 am

    Hey, you keep writing 'em, I'll keep buying 'em.

    Reply

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