Thursday, October 12, 2017

Academics have led the way in championing the rise of the cli-fi literary genre, while the mainstream media sat on its tuches and did nothing

OPED by staff writer
Headline: Academics have led the way in championing the rise of the cli-fi literary genre, while the mainstream media sat on its tuches and did nothing
As the cli-fi literary genre gathers steam world, it turns out that the major force beind its rise -- both championing cli-fi and studying it -- is academia.

Cli-fi is where it is today largely due to the interest of academics in several English-speaking nations, including the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK.

Cli-fi has become popular *not* because of the lazy, provincial, partying media -- not the mainstream media (MSM)), not major newspapers like the New York Times or the Washington Post -- nor because of book reviewers, or literary critics or bloggers. The main force behind cli-fi's rise has been the global army of literary academics who have been writing papers, penning opeds and publishing books about cli-fi.
I am talking about Stephanie LeMenager, Andrew Milner, Julia Leyda, Susanne Leikam, Ted Howell, and 100 other academics worldwide. I salute them all! Scroll down to see their names at the bottom of this page!

Literary gatekeepers at such mainstream corporate newspapers with links to the publishing industry, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times, don't have cli-fi on their radar and some have even asked their reporters not to mention the term "cli-fi" in books reviews or news articles. The editor of the NYT books section has even said that as long she is the editor there, the cli-fi term will never appear in print in her section. Can you believe it? I saw the email. She really said that. 

The MSM is not interesting in the rise of cli-fi, while globally, scores of academics have risen to the challenge of studying the genre and delving into its origins and possibilities.  For MSM newspaper reporters and books section editors, the very nature of their jobs keeps them preoccupied with business as usual in kissing up the the corporate book industry and they say that they just don't have the time or interest in looking beyond their career and provincial literary borders.
Ask any editor at the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. But not Reuters or the Associated Press. Both wire services have reported on the rise of cli-fi, without fear from the corporate book industry at such publications as Publishers Weekly, which has also banned the cli-fi term from appearing in its pages as per orders from top editor Jim Milliot. Oy. C'est la vie. Business as usual.
But academics are interested in cli-fi and for a very good reason. The rise of cli-fi fits into the reason why they worked hard to obtain their PhDs and become academics in the first place. They are not beholden to the mass media or literary gatekeepers of the publishing industry or PW and the Sunday Book Review editor. Academics are pioneers, seekers, philosophers, critics. They see the world through their own personal lenses, and cli-fi fits right into their very reason to be alive and living in the 21 Century. Academics are the vanguard, while the MSM literary gatekeepers are the rear-guard. It's always been that way. Academics fear nothing. Literary gatekeepers at the NYT and the Washingston Post and the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe fear losing their access to power and posh publishing parties.

So long live academics! They are championing cli-fi in a way the MSM has never chosen to do. Academics go where their interesting take them, without fear or favor. Academics are trailblazers, the MSM literary editors are mere gatekeepers, keeping the "new" out of sight and off their radar screens.

This online essay by Susanne Leikam and Julia Leyda shows exactly how welcoming the academic world has been to the rise of cli-fi: 
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