Editor's note: In Media Res maintains a policy that users create accounts under their real names and professional identities. Among the reasons this policy exists is our desire to facilitate engaged and respectful discourse among our curators, readers, and staff. In a rare exception, we have attributed the following post to Anonymous after the curator expressed anxiety about institutional blow black due to the content of the post. Theme week coordinator Karen Petruska will address this and other issues of taste and the professional stakes of popular culture consumption in her own contribution for the Fifty Shades of Grey theme week tomorrow.
It all began with a dare-you-to-read-this taunt on Twitter, and enough of us bit to join The Fancy Ladies’ Book Club on Facebook. Through social media we goaded each other into hate-reading through the novels’ painful prose stylings, annoying plot holes, improbable narrative twists (sure, an English major who has only ever seemed to read two authors and acquires her first email address from her lover in 2010 will land a top job at a Seattle publishing company in this economy), and her magical ability to have mind-obliterating orgasms on command. Every time. A few of us slogged through all three novels, while others bowed out after the first. We followed Christian and Anastasia on Twitter; they followed us back; we unfollowed because our feeds were clogged with passages from the novel. Then one of us suggested a live reading at the next academic conference we attended, and a few months later in Boston, it was on.