The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

The Book

Get the Gutter in Book Form with Original Infographic Illustrations by EJ Lee!

From ETC Press
Carol Borden, Ian Driscoll, Jim Munroe, James Schellenberg and Chris Szego. 2011

Science fiction, fantasy, comics, romance, genre movies and games all drain into the Cultural Gutter, a website dedicated to thoughtful articles about disreputable art—media and genres that are a little embarrassing. Irredeemable. Worthy of Note, but rolling like errant pennies back into the gutter. But the writers at the Cultural Gutter know that being canonized isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maligned genres and media allow for vital new ways of using old conventions and have more in common with high art, as itchy as that term makes us, than with respectable, middlebrow art. High art is often disdained as something a child could do, as mocking the audience, as degenerate, as trash. Gutter genres and media aren’t known for their subtlety. In fact, their obviousness and their barenakedness is why they’re destined to remain beneath the radar of serious culture — and why they continue to thrive. The Cultural Gutter is dangerous because we have a philosophy. We try to balance enthusiasm with clear-eyed, honest engagement with the material and with our readers. This book expands on our mission with 10 articles each from science fiction/fantasy editor James Schellenberg, comics editor and publisher Carol Borden, romance editor Chris Szego, screen editor Ian Driscoll and founding editor and former games editor Jim Munroe.

Available in print from Lulu and Amazon.com or in digital formats.

(Digital editions are not illlustrated)

 

Some kind words about The Cultural Gutter:

“Call it Pop Culture, call it Disposable Culture, call it Trash Culture. Whatever, it is OUR culture, and Carol Borden and company give it more than just geek love, they give it proper respect, in the form of considered opinion, deep analysis, and intelligent wit.”

John Crye
Creative Director, Newmarket Films

“I found the Cultural Gutter by accident, while I was trolling for information about an author who was successful, but not well-regarded by literary critics. I came back to the site regularly, because reading the Cultural Gutter is like attending a party where everyone is interesting, witty, and well-informed. I enjoy the articles both when I know nothing about the cultural artifact in question, and even more when I do.”

Lorna Toolis
Collection Head, Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy

“I rely on the Cultural Gutter’s dedication to getting down and dirty to sift through the refuse and debris of un-popular culture past, present and future on a regular basis.”

Colin Geddes
Midnight Madness and International Programmer, Toronto International Film Festival

 

The Cultural Gutter is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License

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  • The Book!

  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tom Burtonwood has created Folium, a book of three-dimensional printing of bas relief, for the Art Institute of Chicago from its collection. (Via Boing Boing)

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    We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

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    Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet.

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    At We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega interviews friend of the Gutter Mark D. White about the virtues of Captain America. “In this, the ninth episode, of the second season of WARN’s podcast series, we talk about what comic books and superheroes can tell us about philosophy and politics, work through what makes someone ‘heroic,’ the ways that the general public often misunderstands and misreads the Captain America character, as well as how American exceptionalism, race, and identity relate to superhero and other types of comic books and graphic novels.”

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    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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    At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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