Publication of Literary Lost

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2011 by SCS

Announcing the official publication of Literary Lost: Viewing Television through the Lens of Literature by Sarah Clarke Stuart.

To purchase the book click here

The Publication Party

Please join us for a celebration and book signing.

When: 7:00pm, Wednesday, February 2, 2011

(part of downtown Jacksonville’s Artwalk)

Where: Chamblin’s Uptown, 215 N. Laura Street, Jacksonville, Florida

 

Reviews for Literary Lost

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 by SCS

I’m so pleased to share these positive reviews for my upcoming book, Literary Lost. To pre-order the book, see the link to Amazon below.

“I did not need to be convinced that the recently completed Lost was a series of great complexity and depth, one of the most narratively rich in the history of the medium, but I was not prepared to discover the Lost Sarah Clarke Stuart discovers in this important and insightful book. By diving deeper than any critic has to-date into Lost’s intertextuality, by asking questions nobody so far had thought to ask, Stuart not only takes our understanding of a small-screen masterwork to a whole new level; she also builds ready-to-be crossed bridges between one-time adversaries: literature and television.”

– David Lavery, co-author of Lost’s Buried Treasures

“I’ve been arguing for decades that not only is television not inimical to literacy, it is a great ally of reading.  Sarah Clarke Stuart’s Literary Lost provides a brilliant, meticulous, soaring and satisfying proof of that proposition.  Her tour-de-force analysis examines the roles of nearly a hundred books in Lost, ranging from the Holy Qu’run to the Wizard of Oz. The television series had highs and lows of narrative; Stuart’s work has only highs, and is destined to become a classic in television studies.”

– Paul Levinson, author of New New Media, and The Plot to Save Socrates

Pre-order Literary Lost at Amazon

Lost and Literature at Lost University

Posted in Literary Lost, Season 6 Lit with tags , , on August 30, 2010 by SCS

As most fans know by now, the season six collection and the full collection have been released on DVD and Blu-ray. For those of you interested in delving deeper into the literature and theology of Lost, check out the Lost University Master’s Program where courses such as “the Building Blocks of Storytelling” and “Redemption and the Afterlife” are featured. You’ll see that I am one of the “professors.” Also, my soon-to-be-published book, Literary Lost, is on the reading list for one of the classes. Here’s a link to a description of one of the lit courses, LIT 601.

LIT 601, Lost University

A “Lost-themed” Book Recommendation

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2010 by SCS

I have spent the last month or so completely immersed in finishing my book manuscript for Literary Lost. Now that I’m done I can post here on a regular basis again, returning with book recommendations and the occasional commentary on the final season.

A Recommendation: The Island of Dr. Moreau

Though I don’t cover it much in my book, this brief H.G. Wells novel is a new favorite of mine. For “Lost readers” wading waist-high in book titles, I would recommend this one as a priority read. With its central plot revolving around a mad scientist and his frankensteinian drive to create  life, it doesn’t readily lend itself to a comparison to the show (besides the fact that it is set on a strange, uncharted island). But one passage that strikes me as relevant reflects a broader theme of the human condition in the confines of civilization and social life. The following line recalls the frequent description of Lost‘s island as a “microcosm of life”:

“A strange persuasion came upon me that…I had here before me the whole balance of human nature in miniature form, the whole interplay of instinct, reason and fate in its simplest form” (149).

The creatures that Dr. Moreau “humanizes” are destined for a crueler fate than brute animal life; they are bound to an existence in which they must “stumble in the shackles of humanity.” Moreau is the god of these creatures, but even he is subject to the limitations of animal life. As the castaway narrator eventually concludes, “A blind fate, a vast pitiless mechanism, seemed to cut and shape the fabric of existence” (150).

In a way, this is also Lost‘s conclusion. Though the central characters are redeemed in a spiritual sense, most of them suffer greatly as a result of their own physical fragility and the calculated forces of other human beings. They face brutal deaths as they are hunted down not only by the Smoke Monster, but by one another. Naomi, Sayid, Daniel,Jack, Charles Widmore, Dogen, Charlie–these characters “stumbling in the shackles of humanity” find their doom in the “pitiless mechanism” of both the violence of the wilderness and the cruelty of human nature.

Communion, Community and Redemption in “The End”

Posted in Sacred Narratives and Lost with tags , , , , on May 26, 2010 by SCS

“Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We’ll live together or we’ll die alone”

Billy Bragg,“The Internationale”


The last 15 minutes of the finale left me speechless. Mostly, I was surprised by my own reaction. Typically, I’m turned off by anything so blatantly sentimental, but I was sincerely moved, awed by the emotional power of those last few scenes, which were intensified even more by the subtle tenderness of Vincent’s entrance. I realize that, despite my recent criticism of everything Lost, from hokey dialogue to implausible motives, I still feel a deep connection to these characters. Much has already been said about how the finale, and the series in general, is fundamentally a character-driven story. But it wasn’t just the individual personal dramas that moved me; it was the return of a few very fundamental themes, most notably, redemption through community. Emotional interdependency and salvation through a communion with others drives this episode and, arguably, the entire narrative.

“No one does it alone, Jack”

Christian Shephard

Jack’s transformation from doubting Thomas to savior was compelling by itself. He journeyed from being a reluctant leader to a prodigal son and, finally, a man of faith. From there, he was able to see that he had a purpose, that there was an order to the universe and that he was chosen to protect it from chaos. As Damon Lindelof said in an interview and I will paraphrase here, the metaphysical conflict has shifted from faith versus reason to order versus chaos. The Smoke Monster threatened to destroy everything and send them “all to hell,” as Isabella (Richard’s wife) told Hurley. Granted, we did not get an explicit answer about what exactly would happen, but we can assume that by destroying the monster, Kate and Jack  might have very well saved the world, and that whatever Jack did with the giant cork, he preserved the island. Jack did all of this selflessly; he served as the sacrificial lamb for all of humanity.

Jack’s Redemption

Jack became a willing participant of an extraordinary community, a kind of microcosm of the world, and worked with this group to shift the paradigm of the island. He had to accept, not only his role as a leader, but his function as savior. Quite literally, he did all of this “in communion” with others. So it was not only Jack that was redeemed, but everyone who cooperated in the greater cause. And they all achieved a sort of salvation, or at least authorization to “move on,” by re-assembling the group in the afterlife and by remembering the significance of their lives together. This theme—redemption through community—has arisen throughout the series, most notably in Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech, so it is no surprise that it plays such a crucial role in the resolution of the plot.

It makes sense too, within this context, that Hurley has been appointed as the next Jacob. He understands the value of community and how, if done right, a collaborative effort can elevate human beings. Recall his very first job on the island—to distribute food to the “masses”—and remember the golf course he made to ease the tension within the group and bring them all together.  He is clearly in communion with others. What many of us didn’t realize before, including me, is that being in communion with the island is not as important as emotionally connecting to others.

Hurley Organizes a Golf Day

The episode’s inherent message is that social collaboration and emotional engagement are the keys to redemption and a “life after death.” Christian tells Jack that all of his friends have come together “to remember;” they have constructed a shared space together because “No one does it alone.” Like Jesus and the disciples gathered at the last supper for communion, in anticipation of renewal and transcendence, the Lostaways gather to create a place for  their own salvation, even if being saved is simply “letting go.” (Remember the “Lost Supper” image?)

Hurley Distributes Food to the Castaways

“When I’m tired and weary

and a long way from home
I reach for Mother Mary
and I shall not walk alone”

—–Blind Boys of Alabama, “I Shall Not Walk Alone”

Pre-finale Sentiments: A Note on “The End” and the Purpose of Lost (NOT a spoiler)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 by SCS

As the global tribe of Lostians gathers around the flickering light of broadcast television tonight, the anticipation is high. Unlike some fans, I am eager for it to be over, not because I’ve grown tired of the series, but because I can’t wait to work with a complete narrative, to discuss the text in its entirety.

So what do we want from the finale? Well, it’s just a television show, just like any story is “just a story.” What can we expect from fiction? What is the purpose of spinning yarns in the first place? Because anyone who has ever been captivated by a tall tale knows that there is a purpose.

Like all good storytellers, the creative forces behind Lost are expected to enchant us while providing meaning within the narrative, and any good resolution should bring some sort of order to the fictional cosmos that has been established. An ending does not require a list of answers, but it should demonstrate that the central conflicts transpired for a reason. Like Jacob’s fire, the story will soon be extinguished, but its spirit will be preserved through those who choose to protect it, if it is worthy of being protected.

So here’s hoping that the final hours of Lost will simply do what a story is meant to do: delight, entertain and, just maybe, reveal a profound message or two. Happy watching!

Reminder: “Get Lost for the Night” at the University of North Florida

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 by SCS

Free and open to the public. Please see RSVP information at the bottom of the page.

Get “LOST” For the Night: Scratch Your Head with the Rest of Us with a Series Finale and a Serious Discussion

The series finale of the television series LOST has garnered much attention in the media, and for good reason. For years the show has been hailed as groundbreaking, criticized for redundancy and trite storytelling, and dismissed as too complicated in its plot. Not surprisingly, for seven years LOST has been a centerpiece for “watercooler” talk .

With the series “finale” at hand, we invite you to attend a discussion of the cultural and literary impact of LOST.  We also invite interested parties to present their readings of the significance of the show, with particular attention paid to the potential “reverberations” the show will have.

The “conversations” will take place on the UNF campus on Wednesday, May 26, from 5:00 – 10:00 pm. The order of events:

5:30 – 6:00, scholarship panel

6:00 – 7:00 discussion and refreshment

7:00 – 9:00, the series finale

9:00 – 10:00, a group discussion

Help us as we say farewell to a show and greet a field of inquiry in popular culture studies.

Please RSVP to englishdept@unf.edu by Wednesday, May 19, if you plan to attend.

Please forward panel/presentation proposals to lhowell@unf.edu by Friday, May 14.