Eruditorum Press

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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.

26 Comments

  1. Sparhawk
    May 15, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

    Jeeze. I love you, man.

    It feels like you've really questioned the legitimacy of what you're doing to wihin an inch of it's life and found that, yes, in fact this is worth doing, this is actually USEFUL, that there's a region of the cultural map that's been overlooked for exploration and there's gold in them thar hills.

    Can't wait for this.

    Reply

  2. Anton B
    May 16, 2013 @ 1:09 am

    I look forward to this. I've always found Wonder Woman a character I 'want' to like but who in practice proves elusive. As you point out – 'Wonder Woman is a character who is extremely well-known and well-liked, but with only a few exceptions her comics have sold at best mediocrely, and she’s never done as well as Superman and Batman when adapted into other media. She is at once a universally recognized media icon and an arcane, niche character.' It's fascinating to observe how well recognised she is as a Pop Art Art signifier whilst at the same time most people would be hard pressed to describe any of her adventures or even her origin and mise en scene. Will this be published here as blog entries or solely as a book?

    Reply

  3. elvwood
    May 16, 2013 @ 1:46 am

    I have virtually no interest in Wonder Woman. So why do I now feel compelled to buy the book when it appears? That's down to you.

    I aspire to be a socialist, except when I'm aspiring to be an anarchist – I have yet to figure out how to marry the two aspirations. What I am in reality, though, is a fat white male capitalist consumer who indulges in idle dreams of a better world (and occasionally takes tiny steps towards changing things). So, utopianism, then? I'm in.

    Reply

  4. Jack Graham
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:35 am

    "Utopians, in our culture, aspire towards harmlessness." A very Zizekian observation. And, sadly, very true. That's why I try to make a point of doing things like shoving my admiration for Bolshevism into people's faces. I aspire to be non-harmless. This is one of the tasks facing what remains of the Left: to overcome the desire to apologise and swear good behaviour.

    I too have little knowledge of Wonder Woman, yet now feel an intense desire to read your book about her. So, job done.

    Reply

  5. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:45 am

    "Utopians, in our culture, aspire towards harmlessness."

    I used to see utopians as being essentially harmless idiots, because obviously the long arc of the universe bends toward death and all progress is local and short-lived.

    It's been a long road, but I'm slowly, bit by bit finding a glimmer of utopian impulse in myself, due basically to the combined influence of TARDIS Eruditorum and Friendship Is Magic. And it's actually really hard not to squelch that impulse, because it's dangerous to not be harmless.

    Reply

  6. Contumacy Singh
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:27 am

    I've never found Wonder Woman interesting, but I suspect that will change after I've read your book.

    😉

    Reply

  7. Jesse
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:31 am

    I cannot shake the sense that Lanier is just a really crappy futurist.

    He does have a habit of being wrong about everything.

    Reply

  8. Matthew Celestis
    May 16, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    I love Golden Age Wonder Woman. All that stuff about submission to loving authority is so fascinating.

    Reply

  9. Josh Marsfelder
    May 16, 2013 @ 10:23 am

    I'm really looking forward to this project and hope you can hammer out a release date soon. I was never much of a superhero fan as a kid, but I did enjoy Wonder Woman and became really interested in her history from an academic standpoint when I got older.

    Also, I love how upfront you are in this introduction about looking at how utopianism has fallen out of vogue and perhaps redeeming it to an extent. I've been thinking along similar lines for my current projects: I think there's a great deal of value in idealism and a wholehearted rejection of the concept hasn't been entirely for good.

    Ideals are philosophical role models; things to strive for. Rejecting them would seem to be a rejection of the idea material social progress is possible: An embrace of nihilism, eschatology and complacency.

    Reply

  10. Josiah Rowe
    May 16, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    I'm looking forward to reading this too. Wonder Woman is a fascinating character, not least because nobody in comics quite knows what to do with her. The most successful incarnation, I think, was George Pérez's reboot in the late '80s, when he matched her feminist idealism with a fish-out-of-water story, and put it all against the original character's Greek mythology background, which had never really been developed.

    I've stopped reading comics, and have no idea what's going on in the current "New 52" incarnation (although I hear WW and Superman are dating?), but it seems that most contemporary comics can't make Wonder Woman strong without making her mean. Which, I think, says a lot about how female power is viewed in our society.

    Reply

  11. Charles Knight
    May 16, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

    I have the same problem, over the years I've kept trying Wonder Woman comics (generally acclaimed runs) and they never do anything for me.

    Reply

  12. Anton B
    May 16, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    I'm enjoying the current 'New 52' version of WW. I've been picking it up from the relaunch and this must be the longest consecutive run of Wonder Woman comics I've ever read. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are exploring a more mythic and magic realist take on the character both in the writing and the impressively expressionistic art.

    Reply

  13. Iain Coleman
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

    There's an excluded middle there.You don't need to define an ideal society to make material social progress: you just have to be able to say that some small change would make society slightly better than it is now. Then make that small, positive change and iterate.

    This has two advantages over step-changes driven by utopian idealism:

    1. It's easier to get a majority of public opinion in favour of a small, incremental change than a large leap forward. The people who voted in favour of gay marriage, for example, would have had very diverse ideas about the ideal society, but were able to agree that this one step would be a good thing.

    2. On the whole, not so many piles of skulls.

    Reply

  14. Josh Marsfelder
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    I'm not even talking about defining an ideal society, I'm talking about making idealistic characters or simply saying things like "women should be treated as equals to men and are equally human". That's an ideal. In that regard I try to distinguish between "idealism" and "utopianism": I'm usually more in favour of the former than the latter.

    Reply

  15. Ross
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    Some years ago, as an aside from an attempt to explain what was wrong with the 2009 revival of Knight Rider, I hit upon the idea that we've had a hard time culturally with coming up with compelling visions of the future since the end of the cold war. We basically spent the 1980s assuming that there would be no future, due to the impending doom of nuclear war, and when that didn't happen, we were collectively so surprised that, what with current rate of societal change, we're entirely at a loss to imagine how the future could be anything other than "This, only moreso"

    (How does this all tie in to why Knight Rider 2009 didn't work? Because in 1982, the "Super-Car of the Future!" was made of an indestructable super-alloy, could talk, drive itself, and jump over things. In 2009, it's a car with a built-in iPhone whose big selling points were "It gets about 200 miles to the gallon," (Yes. Gasoline. They even badmouth the idea of making a super-car run on alternative fuels) and "Can change color by setting the desktop theme")

    Reply

  16. Multiple Ducks
    May 16, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    Reading this, I was reminded of the (awful) unaired 2011 pilot for a rebooted Wonder Woman TV series. We're given a character that is devoid of all utopian vision, replaced with a head of a corporation who uses her image as a platform for selling merchandise to fund her crime-fighting exploits, which seem to consist of her brutally beating up lower level thugs in the employ of her evil rival company. Also, the lasso of truth is framed twice as a torture device, but the torture is implicitly justified. It's a reminder of how incompatible Wonder Woman is with the 'gritty reboot' aesthetic.

    Reply

  17. Jack Graham
    May 17, 2013 @ 1:30 am

    Normal, everyday capitalism – run by moderate, mainstream centrists – generates piles and piles of skulls. We hear a lot about the dangers of the extremes, left and/or right. But the world as run by the centrists is deformed by poverty for billions, obscene inequality, ruthless imperialism, war, racism, endemic rape culture and encroaching environmental catastrophe. I wonder why we never hear anything about the horrific dangers of the extreme centre. Actually, no, I don't wonder that at all.

    Reply

  18. SpaceSquid
    May 17, 2013 @ 2:28 am

    Needs more Byrne bashing…

    Reply

  19. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 17, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    I did find his bemoaning that successful people on YouTube only make it to be about millionaires to be one of the most searingly weird bits of privilege blindness I've seen in a while. His completely unexamined concern that what's happened to the creative classes will happen to nurses also struck me as a bit poor.

    I mean, for my part I'm pretty sure my career is only possible because of the Internet.

    Reply

  20. Daru
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    I have to say Phil – you had me at the Siouxsie & the Banshees cover art!

    Reply

  21. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:23 am

    Oh gods. I haven't seen the pilot itself, but I've seen the TGWTG riffing of it, and the awfulness of the underlying pilot definitely bleeds through. It's inexpressibly awful.

    Reply

  22. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

    Oh, I wish that were the cover. I mean, I'm sure it'll have a great cover. But that's just part of a series of New Wave band images of superheroes – the caption links to the full set. I stumbled upon it earlier in the day, and loved it, so figured it was the obvious image to use.

    Reply

  23. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

    There's a whole chapter. Actually, wait. I think I merged that chapter with two others. But there's still a lot.

    Reply

  24. SpaceSquid
    May 19, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

    You were kind enough to send me an earlier form of that chapter, actually. I'm glad it's made it in some form into the book, even if the reasons you bash Byrne are slightly different to the reasons I bash him. It's not like there isn't plenty of room in that tent…

    Reply

  25. SK
    May 21, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

    but were able to agree that this one step would be a good thing

    Won't that lead to problems in the future, though, when you get to the point that their ideas diverge?

    (More to the point, it's wrong to use that as evidence that 'You don't need to define an ideal society': rather, it means that each one of those people has, more or less vaguely, defined an ideal society, at least inasmuch as in a direction from 'here'. So you do need to define, not just one, but lots of 'ideal societies'; and if more people at a given moment think the ideal society lies to the east than the west (we'll gloss over for the moment whether this 'wisdom of crowds' must necessarily coincide with what is 'really' more ideal), then society takes a step east. But, 'it would be better if we were more eastwards' is still a definition of an ideal, just a vague one.)

    Reply

  26. Daibhid C
    May 27, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    I'll definitely be interested in this. About ten years ago, I suddenly realised that at some point the consensus view of the DCU writers as to who Diana was had become radically out of sync with mine. Actually, I liked what Rucka was doing in her own book, showing her as an idealist actively working to make her ideals a reality, it was just the way this seemed to get interpreted in the other comics, from Johns's Flash dismissing her as "Wonder Woman preaches to everyone" to the (admittedly parodic) Formerly Known As The Justice League, where she's incredibly condescending and assumes the female characters should like her automatically. Like you said, the 21st century is not a good time for utopians.

    (During a casting game on rec.arts.dc.universe, someone said Wonder Woman was Diane from Cheers, and I thought, "Yes, but she shouldn't be.")

    And then we got The Max Lord Thing and Amazons Attack!, and I just gave up for the first time since the Byrne years.

    To be honest, I gave up on the current run as well. A year into the New 52, I looked at all the comics I was buying and asked myself if I desperately needed to buy this comic. And with Wonder Woman, the fatal question was "Do I agree with Azzarello's take on the character?" And the answer was that after 12 issues, I had no idea what Azzarello's take on the character was. The book's take on Greek gods as borderline-Lovecraftian entities was interesting, but as far as I could see Diana's role had simply been to react to them. (Also, I'm of the opinion that you can overuse Greek myth in WW stories. Not all Superman villains have to be aliens, after all.)

    Reply

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