English 203 Final Reflective Essay

At the beginning of the semester, I remember staring at that picture of pants hung over a chair, and thinking how is this relevant to literature? Throughout the course of the semester I soon answered my own question. The purpose of the suspicious pants epigraph was to represent interpretations and the uniqueness of everyone’s ideas and thoughts on the subject at hand. This epigraph and its meaning has stuck with me throughout the entirety of the semester, leading me to conclusions that I didn’t even think I could come to. The different ideas that I had come up with had come to me based on the uniqueness of my own interpretations of the literature in class. The idea of perspective and interpretation goes along with most things that we did in class this semester and it offered me so much growth along the way. 

In one of our first in class discussions, I recall having a war over whether or not it was pronounced elemen-tary or elemen-tree. This discussion brought about the idea that interpretations can differ depending on where someone may be from. For example, I personally say elemen-tary and I happen to be from upstate New York, while most people from down state New York often say elemen-tree. This just shows how easily an interpretation of something may differ. By looking at this interpretation in class and outside, I was able to write about these differing interpretations and what they mean in my first blog post. This first post was something that was extremely difficult to write for me, I was not used to having to pick my own topic on something and have to write something deep and meaningful about that topic. Needless to say it did not end well, and I was more than a little discouraged. I continued on throughout the first couple posts without any help, which only caused my grades to drop even lower. Once I realized that I needed help, my topics and interpretations of those topics improved greatly over the semester. 

One of those topics is that of the Common Core standardized education in the public school system and how it takes away the students right to interpret and internalize something in their own way. With standardized education comes the added consequence of a lack of uniqueness in students writing. Students are not able to form any opinions of their own, and are often taught for their final exam, rather than taught to learn and understand the subject. The unrealistic expectations of students is mentioned in Will Greer’s article, The 50 Year History of Common Core, which states that it is “mandated that 100% of students be proficient, or at grade-level, on state standards by 2014.” This expectation was completely unrealistic, and since students were more focused on learning for their exams, they lost the whole idea of interpreting something and formulating an important opinion on it. I had my own personal experience with this in the beginning of the semester, since I had come from a Common Core based education at a public school my writing was not up to the standard that it should have been. I thought that I could figure it out myself, but once I decided to ask for help, Professor McCoy’s interpretations and ideas given to me helped me out of the hole that Common Core writing standards had dug for me. 

The idea of rules was something that I had also spent a good amount of time interpreting and pondering during the semester. Mostly when looking into Percival Everett’s novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, I looked into the idea of how the rules work in this fictional world. Most of the time, these rules were interpreted by corrupt individuals who used them against Not Sidney. Such as when Not Sidney was arrested for “sassin’ an officer of the law”(Everett) and also for simply being black. These officers had interpreted the laws how they wanted to, which was corruptly, and also gave them more power over Not Sidney. I interpreted the idea of rules as the concept I listed above, and this gave me the idea of writing about the idea of societal rules and how they can often dictate someone’s every move. This whole idea offered a wide set of interpretations along with it, and I was even able to make a blog post out of it. This was a post that I was sure was going to go well, but yet again I was disappointed with the results. This was the post that pushed me to go in and receive help, and it was also the post that showed me that it is okay to ask for help when you need it. 

Our lesson in the library about using our resources was also something that I will take with me during my whole time here at Geneseo. The lesson taught us how to properly use the library databases and how to use our resources to the fullest. Not Sidney, in I am Not Sidney Poitier, often found many lessons and resources in his local library. It was here that he found a book by an Austrian Psychiatrist which outlined a theory called Fesmerization: “a method of gaining control of a subject without the subjects awareness”(Everett). Not Sidney had taken this with him and used it throughout the whole novel to his advantage. He interpreted it in a way that he could use it during his whole life, and it boded well for him in many different ways. For example, Not Sidney had decided to join a fraternity, but when he realized how degrading the hazing process was he decided enough was enough. In order to get himself out of this toxic situation, Not Sidney had Fesmerized his roommate and asked him not only to kick Not Sidney out of the fraternity, but also to “start a recycling campaign on campus”(Everett). In doing this, Not Sidney had effectively started a campus wide recycling project, and he avoided joining an incredibly toxic group of boys, which saved Not Sidney from the degradation that he would have suffered otherwise. The great thing about most resources is that they can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on the resource being used. Once I decided I needed help, I used my resources to better my own writing, and with all the resources available to me it seemed to improve from there. I began learning how to properly write a blog post once I learned that it’s okay to ask for help and to use resources. 

The entirety of our English 203 course was based on the idea of intertextuality and how Percival Everett used intertextuality throughout all his pieces that we looked at during the semester.  Professor McCoy also introduced to use the idea of New Criticism which is defined by The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Supriya Ray, as “a type of formalist literary criticism characterized by close textual analysis”. When comparing intertextuality and New Criticism, it all comes down to the interpretation of different literary texts. When looking at a piece New Critically you can only interpret it based on the work in front of you, but when looking at a piece intertextually you can interpret it based on other pieces of literature as well. The ideas of both of these concepts was something that drove me to write better blogs by incorporating other pieces of literature, but also being able to observe one piece and use it to my own advantage in the blog post assignment as well. 

Once I began to become more comfortable with the writing style of blog posts, I began to think of what to write about rather than how to write about it. This brought about the idea of writing a poem for my post titled Poetry, Everett Style!, which was about the 7 Deadly Sins and how Everett alluded to them in his final poem in his poetry book re: f(gesture). Poems in themselves have many layers, and are often complex to write and read. The beauty of poetry, is that it can be interpreted in many different ways, and none of them are necessarily wrong or right. In my poem I decided to write of the 8 Evil Thoughts, which is where the 7 Deadly Sins of Christianity are derived from. I depicted them in a way that was supposed to show a critique of the Christian faith, and how people often break the rules they are supposed to follow. This post in particular was a big growth post for me, as was really interpreting Everett’s poems and trying to capture his essence in my own work. 

In my final blog post of the semester I decided to write about nonsense, or more so the concept of nonsense and if something can truly be nonsense or not. I toyed with the idea that if something is nonsense, can we make it into sense just by educating ourselves about the subject at hand? I came to the conclusion that it is all based on interpretations of the subject; whether or not the reader or listener believe it to be nonsense or not. Professor Everett in I am Not Sidney Poitier is a prime example of someone who seemingly speaks nonsense, but has alot of education and knowledge to offer his students. Not Sidney learns many important lessons from his class called The Philosophy of Nonsense, and he often uses these lessons in his real life. Often times during class conversations, some things that my peers would say would go right over my head and I personally declared it nonsense. After class time, I would find myself pondering the conversations that had went on and educating myself on the subjects we were covering in discussion, and slowly the nonsense became knowledge for me. 

The blogging assignment in its entirety is something that was so incredibly useful in bettering my own writing. The whole idea of the blog post assignment was to find different ways of interpreting and connecting the literature we were given over the course of the semester, and to make intelligent claims from these pieces of literature. These blogs were something that caused a tremendous amount of growth in not only my writing, but my own confidence in my writing. And the suspicious pants seem to come full circle here, the idea of interpretation and how each person’s interpretation can be different was something that ran through the entire semester. There was a huge lesson to be learned simply by looking at the picture of the suspicious pants, and that lesson will stay with me during my entire college career. 

Is it Nonsense?

I have been thinking about the meaning of nonsense recently and whether or not something is truly nonsense, or whether we just haven’t been offered the knowledge to make it into something that makes sense to us. Often times older literature, such as Shakespeare, can be seen as nonsense to someone who wasn’t offered the knowledge to understand the meaning of what is actually being said. But when pondered and discussed, we can make connections and often make sense of the literature at hand, despite it being difficult to understand. Often times in class I would listen to the conversations at hand and initially be incredibly confused, but when I thought about the conversations post-class I would uncover so much knowledge simply as a result of my classmates comments within discussions. By educating myself on the things that I thought were nonsense in class, I was even able to make some blogs out of the topics discussed. In this post I would like to discuss the “nonsense” within Percival Everett’s novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier and his poetry book, re: f(gesture). 

When we look at the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett there is one character who seemingly speaks nothing but nonsense: Percival Everett (more widely known in the novel as Professor Everett). Professor Everett taught a class called The Philosophy of Nonsense, which Not Sidney had enrolled in during his time at Morehouse University. During this time, Professor Everett seemed to constantly spew actual nonsense most of the time, but Not Sidney soon realized this was not the case. He had learned so much from his supposed nonsense, through episodes of learning such as Professor Everett’s mentioning that Not Sidney should avoid becoming “a sheep”(Everett). This piece of knowledge ran into Not Sidney later in the novel when he decided to join a fraternity and saw that the hazing and abuse was not worth becoming a sheep in a sense. Professor Everett offers Not Sidney the advice that if he can “imagine that he doesn’t have limitations” (Everett).  Contextually, this advice seems like something nonsense filled, but Not Sidney takes this advice and carries it with him throughout the novel, moulding it in his own interpretation into something much more significant, perhaps something much more sensical. Although Professor Everett seems to be filled with nonsense, his words actually carry meaning when pondered by Not Sidney. 

Looking into Percival Everett’s poetry novel, re: f(gesture) can offer us some insight into the idea of what nonsense actually is. I want to look specifically at poem 5 in the set of poems titled, Logic. When I first looked at this poem, and honestly most of the poems in this poetry novel, I was confused as to what it really meant. At first it looked like pure nonsense, but after a discussion in class I discovered that it could have many possible underlying meanings. The poem goes as follows: “From rags and dust- a rat is formed in the cellar. It was not there before. Only rags and dust.”(Everett). While discussing this my classmate Liz brought up that this poem conjured up the theory of spontaneous generation, which I had mentioned in my past few blogs. Since I had the opportunity to ponder this with my classmates, the nonsense that I originally saw in this poem slowly faded into something that I could make sense of. 

My question at hand is whether or not true nonsense exists. Is anything truly nonsense if we can ponder and research to our hearts content? I believe that nonsense only exists because we allow it to exist. Since someone believes something is nonsense, it is nonsense in their eyes until proved otherwise. When we look at literature and the idea of nonsense surrounding complex literature, can we even categorize it as nonsense? Nonsense is all about the perspective of the person who is taking in the supposed nonsense. It is only nonsense if we allow ourselves to believe it is nonsense, and it only begins to make sense once we educate ourselves on the subject at hand.

The Power of Wanting

The theory of spontaneous generation has been something that I have been pondering as of late. The theory goes as such: living creatures were thought to arise from nonliving matter, and that this was commonplace and regular. This theory arose in the early 6th century, and many well-known philosophers, such as Aristotle and Anaximander, held experiments to prove this theory correctly. We now know with modern science that this is impossible, because all living things must come from other living organisms. But, for a greater portion of our history many believed this to be factual science. With this I believe comes the element of human want and greed; since we don’t know how something is formed, we can assume it was formed in any way that we want it. I want to look at spontaneous generation within Percival Everett’s novel I am Not Sidney Poitier and his poetry book re: f(gesture), and look at the idea of human want within this scientific ideal.

In Percival Everett’s novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, Not Sidney’s mother seems to have her own experience with the spontaneous generation theory. Not Sidney’s mother, Portia Poitier was so eager to conceive her own child that she had conjured up her very own “hysterical pregnancy”(Everett). Now, Spontaneous generation has to do with a living organism coming about from a non-living organism, but the term for what happened to Portia Poitier is called biogenesis: life coming from another living organism. Scientifically speaking, biogenesis is what Portia Poitier went through during the nine months that she was actually pregnant with Not Sidney, but I would personally associate her hysterical pregnancy with the idea of spontaneous generation. Since she had conjured up her own child, it is a living organism coming about without any other living organism (a man), which goes along with the whole idea of spontaneous generation. The idea of humans greed and their wants can also be acknowledged here, since Portia had wanted a child so incredibly bad she just created one without a partner in order to do so just shows how incredibly powerful a humans want for something can be. 

The spontaneous generation theory can also be seen in Percival Everett’s poetry book re:f(gesture). In his set of poems titled Logic, the fifth poem goes as so: “From rags and dust-a rat is formed in the cellar. It was not there before. Only rags and dust.”(Everett). This poem can go along with the spontaneous generation theory, in that the rats seemed to have been created out of the rags and dust within the cellar. Another example of spontaneous generation would be that in the late 6th century many people believed that maggots would just protrude from rotting meat. They did not understand that flies would lay their eggs on the meat and that’s how the maggots came about, they just believed that they would appear whenever there was rotting meat. This also goes along with the ideal that since they didn’t understand where the maggots came from that they could just assume it was formed in anyway that they want it. This also can go to show that since these humans during this time didn’t quite understand where certain things were coming from, their extreme need and want to understand where they were coming from formed the spontaneous generation theory itself. 

The whole idea of the spontaneous generation theory has clearly been debunked, but the idea of human greed and want being so strong that it conjures something completely out of something that is nonliving is an idea that we still see present today. We can see it present in literature, as seen in the novel and poetry book listed above, and we can also see it in many different forms. Even though it’s not physically possible for life to form from nonliving matter, we can still understand the roots and that the lack of education on the subject presented the theory in the first place. Although it’s not scientifically correct, this theory and all the ideas and experiments surrounding it still fascinates me, and clearly fascinates Everett as well.

Poetry, Everett Style!


Seven Deadly Sins, 

Eight Evil Thoughts.

How often do we break these rules?

Seven men will die, 

But not eight.

Eight will have a feast.

Eight will find love in coition.

Eight will be found hoarding their wealth.

Eight will have the arrogance of a lion.

Eight will envy their enemies good fortune.

Eight will feel great anger.

Eight will brag of their riches.

Eight will show weakness from their despondency.


But not Seven,

For Seven is a Christian. 

For this blog post, I have decided to write a poem based on the last poem of Percival Everett’s poem series titled Logic. In his novel, re f(gesture), there is a blank final page, and I took it upon myself to write a poem for the final page, hopefully in true Everett fashion. 

In my poem, I wrote about the Eight Evil Thoughts, which is what the Seven Deadly Sins in Christianity was based upon. The Eight Evil Thoughts consist of: Gluttony, Prostitution, Avarice, Pride, Envy, Wrath, Boasting, Dejection, and these are linked to the fourth-century Monk Evagrius Ponticus. Although these ideas did not originate during the Greek and Roman empires, they are credited with the precedents for the ideas. Aristotle had also brought up the ideals of positive and negative virtues, furthering the birth of the Seven Deadly Sins, which has turned into a capital vice for Christian teachings. Many of these hold true to the Christian faith still today, and many people follow the pathway that the Seven Deadly Sins paved for things to follow as a Christian.

In the last line of my poem I stated “For Seven is a Christian”, and in doing so I alluded to a critique of  the Christian faith. I tried to show how many people of the Christia faith preach in following the Bible and God’s words, but many do not truly follow the Christian ideals. For example, it states in the Bible that we must love one another and accept one another, but there may be some people who follow the Christian faith, but dislike the gay community. Also, I personally believe that the Christian faith offers structure for people’s lives, but not necessarily a soundly made one. I think that often this structure can become corrupted by the leaders and the followers of the faith, and the true intentions of the Bible can be overlooked in the name of gaining power.

In relation to this, Percival Everett also seemed to critique the Christian faith and church in his novel I am Not Sidney Poitier. Everett gives a band of nuns that Not Sidney runs into along his journey in the novel names that belong to extremely powerful Saints, while giving them little to no power in their roles in the story. These nuns receive any power that they may hold from Not Sidney’s very own wealth. Religion throughout history has given many people power, and in turn created a very ironic power dynamic for the nuns in the novel; since they are offered so much power with their names, yet they hold no power in their town.Along with these power dynamics, comes structure to hold it all together. In writing my poem, I used the abstract structure, but there are many more structures within poetry. I am in a creative writing class, and we learned of sonnets, odes, and ballads, all of which have a rigid structure that the writer must follow. The structure that is in those kinds of poems could be paralleled with the structure that religion produces in society. Poetry, depending on the type of form, can be governed by the same principles that govern each and every different type of religion. The power and structure that religion can offer is also limit that can be put upon people, such as the Seven Deadly Sins which is something that people of the Christian faith are supposed to follow in their everyday lives. The rules of poetry are also something that poets are supposed to follow fairly strictly in their writing, much like the rules of religion. 

In writing this poem, I aimed to show the structure that religion may hold over someone’s life, but I also wanted to show that there is fluidity, by writing it in a free form that offers no rules over the structure of the poem. I also tried to capture the essence of Percival Everett himself, by finishing the blank page of his poetry book with something that might reiterate the meaning of all the poems within the book. Looking at the power dynamic within the life of Not Sidney, we can see the structure that he was also offered throughout his life by using his wealth to his advantage. We can also see the corruption within that structure, since it was run by his wealth.   

From Rags To Rats

When looking at the terms intertextuality and New Criticism, on the surface they seem like basic literature language, but by looking deeper into the meaning of those terms, we can see that although they may seem simple and even possibly related, they are the exact opposite. Supriya Ray defines intertextuality in The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms as “the condition of interconnectedness among texts, or the concept that any text is an amalgam of others”. Ray also defines New Criticism in the Bedford as “a type of formalist literary criticism characterized by close textual analysis”. When looking at both of these definitions side by side, we can see just how different these terms are from each other. Intertextuality uses the idea of references within texts to make connections to other texts, while New Criticism introduces the idea of looking solely at one piece of text and interpreting it based on just the text in front of the reader. Both of these literary terms are effective in their own ways, and we can see that when we look into pieces of work by Percival Everett. Everett seems to have a way of connecting everything that he writes. We can see this intertextuality in his novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, and how he relates different scenes in this novel to the films The Defiant Ones, and Lillies of the Field. Everett’s art of using intertextuality also runs into his collection of poems, re: f (gesture), and we can see that in his first two sets of poems titled Zulus and Body. Although, when we look into his last set of poems titled Logic, Everett seems to take on a New Critical way of writing for these pieces, and I want to look into the importance of that stylistic choice.

I want to first evaluate the intertextuality of the poems in Zulus and Body. A lot of the poems in Zulus seem to have specific names or references, such as Anaximander, who happened to be a greek philosopher. One of the poems also mentions “G is for Ganymede” (Everett) and Ganymede is one of the moons that orbits Jupiter, and also a divine hero in greel mythology. By using these references in this set of poems, Everett is relating each poem to one another and to things that, if not already known by the reader, must be researched for further understanding of the poems. The set of poems in Zulus offer so many outside references that it is almost impossible to look at the pieces with a New Critical lense. Looking into another set of Everetts poetry titled Body, we can see all the interconnectedness of these pieces as well. The poems are all titled with different parts of the body, for example one poem is titled “Palmar Fascia” (Everett) and it goes on to describe this part of the body. Each of these poems seems to connect to one another, since each one is about a different part of the body. One can clearly see the intertextuality in this way, but also the fact that most of the terms listed are not common knowledge, I had to look them up to fully understand the pieces as a whole. New Criticism could not be used easily for these poems in Body because the point is to show the interconnectedness of each part of the body, and doing this in a New Critical kind of way would defeat the whole purpose of the poems themselves. Both sets of poems can be easily be interpreted using intertextuality, but they are hard to look at in a New Critical way because of all the names and references used throughout all the pieces. 

Everett seems to stray away from his intertextual roots in his set of poems titled Logic. It is much easier to interpret these poems with a New Critical lens; they lack any certain references or names, unlike the first two sets of poems. When we look at the fourth poem in this collection, we can clearly interpret what it means solely by reading just the text. For example, it has the lines “There are samples of- colors somewhere in a case”(Everett) we can interpret this in a New Critical sense, and we do not need to look anything else up in order to understand it, which stands for the poem in its entirety. Although the poems in Logic are mainly interpreted using New Criticism, my classmate Liz made a comment on the line “From rags and dust, a rat is formed in the cellar. It was not there before. Only rags and dust.” (Everett). Liz had commented that this poem reminded her of the spontaneous generation theory, which is a theory that living creatures could arise from non-living matter, which is in fact a very intertextual way of thinking of this poem. Although these poems have one intertextual aspect, it would most likely be interpreted in a New Critical type of thinking. New Criticism offers a new way of interpreting a piece, and also a more focused point of view that you can’t get through intertextuality. New Criticism also does not allow readers to insert their own feelings into the pieces that they are reading, so the poems in Logic are not as emotionally fulfilling as they would be if they were interpreted intertextually.

So what does all of this mean? The use of intertextuality and New Criticism is essential in Percival Everett’s poems in re: f (gesture), and can better our understanding of each piece. Although New Criticism can be helpful, I personally believe that interpreting something using intertextuality is much more effective. You can draw on so many more things using intertextuality, which I think is very important for analyzing literature. In general, many humans naturally connect things in their brains, so the concept of New Criticism is often hard to grasp and also do properly. The emotional connections that can be associated with intertextuality are also overlooked when one interprets it New Critically, which can hinder the experience of the piece.

Use Your Resources!

Resources and databases are something of importance in many settings. Students use them everyday to conduct proper research and to make everything that they put into their assignments valid, and scholarly. From Google, to Wikipedia,  to library databases, people use resources everyday of their lives. By using the library databases, students learn how to go around fake sources that they could be finding on less reliable websites, and they also learn how to use the data that they find not only in their assignments but in their everyday lives. In Percival Everett’s novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, the protagonist Not Sidney learns early on in life just how important these resources are to his education, but also his life.

As a student myself, learning how to use the library databases was significant to my career here at Geneseo. The Milne Library website offers much more than just resources, it offers students the tools to properly cite their work, and even a chance to chat with real librarians in order to find proper sources. The website itself offers a variety of ways to search for proper scholarly articles quickly and efficiently, which makes the heavy load that students already carry just a little bit lighter. These scholarly articles also add a new depth to the education that the student is receiving by doing their assignment. 

When we look into the life of Not Sidney in the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett, we can also see the effects that library resources and familial resources had on his life. When he was young, Not Sidney’s mother had always told him to never stop reading, she had claimed that reading was the only way he was going to survive in this world. From there on, Not Sidney had taken that advice to heart and found comfort in his local library. Not Sidney “loved the smell of the books there” (16) and he “studied and studied, devouring all sorts of books”(16). In this library, Not Sidney had found a book by an Austrian psychiatrist. This book contained information on the use of Fesmerization, which is “a method of gaining control of a subject without the subjects awareness”(16). This information is something that Not Sidney had kept and used to his advantage throughout his whole life. He used it to his advantage on the playground the next day, by setting his new talent on a bully. By using this Fesmerization method, he was able to stand up to the bully on the playground and “beat him up fairly well”(17). This gave him a new kind of strength that he had never had before, and he barely had to lift a finger to do it.  His talent of Fesmerization carried well into his adult life, when Not Sidney had decided to use it on his new college roommate, who happened to be a part of a fraternity on campus. During a hazing event, Not Sidney had decided to Fesmerize his roommate and dismiss all the new fraternity pledges. When he gave his instructions, he had told his roommate to “start a recycling campaign on campus”(103) and to reject Not Sidney from his fraternity. In doing so, Not Sidney had effectively started a campus wide recycling project and had avoided joining an extremely toxic group of fraternity members. This Fesmerization trick had clearly helped Not Sidney overcome bullies throughout his life and even created a green community out of it. By using his resources and the knowledge he gained from them, he was able to overcome many obstacles that life had thrown at him. 

If Not Sidney had never been able to attain the book on Fesmerization, many parts of his life could have ended up differently. His access to this resource and many others had shaped the outcomes of different parts of his life. He was also pushed from a young age that using his resources was very important, and this push from his mother to never stop reading encouraged Not Sidney even further to use the resources at hand to his advantage. The resources and databases here at the Geneseo library are also crucial to the lives and grades of students. The availability of the resources makes students more eager to incorporate proper scholarly articles into their work and gain valuable knowledge from those articles. Without resources and databases, Not Sidney’s whole life could have been different, and many students here at Geneseo would be lacking in the education that they receive. Resources are crucial to all aspects of life, whether you are writing a paper or just trying to better your own education.

Standardized Education

Today, we have many national standards. We have a national standard for currency, measurements, and even clothes sizes. The use of these standards seem to pop up in our everyday lives, and we simply accept them because they are national standards. We, as Americans, have decided to also standardize our education. Our Federal Government did this by creating the Common Core State Standards, and the No Child Left Behind Act. Both of these standardized education implementations had one goal: to set a standard for teaching and testing in English and Mathematics in grades K-12, and to increase our national education standings in the US. By doing this, our education’s have relied heavily on testing and teachers have been encouraged to teach for the test, rather than to teach to have their students gain useful knowledge for their futures. The NCLB Act was also set up specifically for minority students who may have not had a sufficiently useful education. The goal was to give these students more of a chance in their education and to better support the students as they moved through their academic careers. I personally believe that Common Core and the NCLB Act are both harming the public schools of our nation.

In Will Greer’s article, The 50 Year History of the Common Core, we can look into the logistics and the finer details of both the No Child Left Behind Act and Common Core.   The No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law on January 8th, 2002. This Act increased the federal role in holding schools responsible for the academic progress of the students. Greer documented that this Act was controversial when it was put into place for a number of reasons. The NCLB “mandated that 100% of students be proficient, or at grade-level, on state standards by 2014” which later, in turn, became unfeasible. It just was not possible for 100% of students to be proficient in these areas. NCLB also only focused on English and Mathematics, which led schools to lose focus on other subject areas outside of the testing subjects, such as fine arts, history, and music courses. Greer stated that this focusing hindered students from learning more than just English and Mathematics. NCLB also required the “reporting of test score results by ethnic, income, and ability groups.”  which ultimately led to an “impoverished , constricted curriculum in some low-income LEA (Local Education Agency), and a less fulfilling schooling experience who needed it the most.” The NCLB Act also mainly focused on standardized testing to record public schools progress in education, which was an unreliable way to gather those results. 

Because of all the controversies surrounding NCLB, Greer also states that the Common Core State Standards were put in place to remedy this, but did not do much to fix the problems in public school districts. Greer suggests that Common Core mainly stuck to the same ideals when it was implemented in 2009. Common Core standards still mainly focused on testing the subjects of English and Mathematics and did not offer much room for other subjects. Many teachers were only teaching for the exams in order to pass federal education standards, which in turn led to many students being under prepared for further education. 

When we look into the universe of Percival Everett’s novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, and into the life of the protagonist, Not Sidney Poitier, we can clearly see how the lack of a standardized education affected his own life and education. When Not Sidney enters into Morehouse University he takes a class with a professor named Percival Everett. Percival Everett seems to have his own curriculum and grading system, which is allowed in a privately run institution such as Morehouse. Many of the students in this class say that it is complete nonsense and dismiss it as a rubbish pass or fail type of credit. Not Sidney seems to have a better intuition than most of these students, and genuinely learns the lesson behind all of Professor Everett’s “nonsense” lessons that he was teaching to the class. Not Sidney seems to have a love hate relationship with Professor Everett, and often calls or speaks to him for advice. He seems to offer Not Sidney some very meaningful advice such as “Oh, and one more thing, don’t imagine you have limitations.”(112) which is something Not Sidney took with him throughout the novel, realizing slowly throughout the story that his skin color and odd name are no reason to be held back in life. Also, when Not Sidney had first met with Professor Everett, he had offered him the advice to not be “a sheep- be a deer or a squirrel, a beaver or a gnu, but don’t be a sheep.”(90) Soon after Not Sidney decides to join a fraternity, but remembers Professor Everetts advice during his hazing process and realizes what he meant by not being a “sheep”. Not Sidney would have never been able to obtain many of Professor Everett’s lesson had this institution been struck with a standardized set of rules for his education. Furthermore, Professor Everett had complete control to run his classroom how he had wanted too, and if the Federal Government had implemented Common Core standards then Not Sidney would have never taken anything away from his class, other than what he would have had to learn for the test. 

We can even look into the world of SUNY Geneseo and come to the same conclusions as mentioned above. Although Geneseo is a state school and must follow some Federal policies, I have personally noticed the educational shift of coming from a Common Core centered high school. Since my high school had followed Common Core standards, I was always focused on getting the highest grades on all of my tests, but never focused on what I was getting out of the lessons I was being taught. Looking into my own English 203 classroom, I can see the policies that my professor must follow, but I also am getting so much more out of the lessons than I ever have before. In my class, Professor McCoy implemented a personalized blog post project which has forced me to write and think in ways that Common Core had never allowed me before. Despite the title of being a SUNY school, this school offers so many new ways of thinking that were restricted to me, and to so many other students by the implementation of Common Core standards in public schools

It seems as if the standardization of education has been a hot topic of controversy lately, and for very good reasons. By implementing Common Core and the NCLB act, which standardized education to the public, it did not allow students to be individualized any longer. In doing so, the states that implemented Common Core saw the students as nothing more than a statistic to put on charts. This standardization is unfair to the students who must endure it, and it tells students how to be educated. Every student deserves the individualization that Not Sidney was offered at Morehouse University. And they definitely deserve a Professor Everett as well.



Rules, they are something we have been told to follow since we were little kids; They are put into place to keep people in lince, and generally to prevent chaos.We have rules put in place that if we break, then we must suffer the penalty of the law, but we also have societal “rules”. These societal “rules” go as follows: Don’t do anything that isn’t normal. But what is normal? How do we define such a broad word? Who gets to decide what is normal and what is not? 

As our society grows and changes, so do these societal “rules”; The “rules” in the 80’s are much different than the societal rules that we have today. These ever changing “rules” that Not Sydney faces change constantly throughout the novel. Such as when he travels to Atlanta and he is prosecuted simply for being black. Societal “rules” can often change based on the location of the person, and in Not Sydney’s case, being in the south and being black was breaking one of their societal “rules”. In Percival Everett’s I Am Not Sidney Poitier, our protagonist Not Sidney is already breaking many of those societal rules simply by having the name of Not Sidney. Not Sidney was often beaten by his classmates just because of his peculiar name, although he was not breaking any actual rules, his name was out of the ordinary so Not endures the “punishment” of breaking the societal rules. Even before he was born, Not Sidney was breaking all of the societal “rules” of a normal pregnancy. His mother, Portia Poitier, had a hysterical pregnancy and Not Sidney ended up having a 2 year gestation period because of this. This already made Not not “normal” from the beginning of his life. His neighbors would often gossip about him and his abnormal gestation period, he was often given nicknames such as “Elephant Boy and on occasion Late Nate” (Everett 5) . These were all given to him simply because his own mother had bestowed this odd gestation period upon him. 

Beyond the real world lies the cinematic world; this world also contains a whole new set of rules and things to follow in order for the piece to be up to a certain standard. Most films follow the Freytag Pyramid, which is the general way a story should be presented in order to properly captivate the audience. This includes many norms; such as the guy winning over the girl, or the superhero kicking the villain’s butt, and at the end and the whole city was saved. It generally goes that there is rising action, then a climax, then falling action.  In the film The Defiant Ones, a black man and a white man are criminals on the run from the law, but they are chained together making it extremely hard for them to do so. The film mainly follows the Freytag pyramid where there is the rising action of them running from the law, and the general climax of them running to the freight train, and barely missing it. The only thing that does not follow the Freytag pyramid is that in the end the pair ends up getting caught. This ending seems to break all the rules! They were supposed to end up escaping the law, and live long and happy lives! By breaking these so called “cinematic rules” I think that the film makes more of an impact on the audience. The pair getting caught rather than living happily ever after is something that is more reasonable and realistic, rather than them truly escaping the law. By breaking these rules, we come to a much less satisfying conclusion, but a more realistic one nonetheless.  By going beyond the normal, this film is much more entertaining to watch.

Rules, they constrain us to be people who we are not. Although they do prevent general chaos in society, the societal rules are causing much more internal chaos than if there were no rules at all. Everyone feels constricted to follow these “rules” set upon them, to be “normal”.  If someone dares to break these rules, they are shunned for doing so. I think that breaking these rules allows one to be who they truly are, unconstrained. The laws should be followed, because no one wants to have a criminal record, but I think that if more people were unafraid to break out of the norm, our society would be more interesting today. Maybe even interesting enough for Percival Everett to write a novel about. 

An example of Freytag’s Pyramid.

The Intertextuality of Demi Adejuyigbe’s September Genre.

Attributing Celena Kusch’s definition of intertextuality goes as so: intertextuality is the web of interrelationships among texts of various times and contexts, including indebtedness or earlier plots, common metaphors, idioms and other literary figures, and other influences and repetitions of language.

This definition of intertextuality can be seen throughout many genres, but my main focus is Demi Adejuyigbe’s September dance genre. When we look into this genre we can see many diegetic and non-diegetic sounds taking place. Something that is diegetic is reffering to any sound presented as originated from the source within the film’s world. Digetic sound can be either on screen or off screen depending on whatever its source is within the frame or outside the frame. And on the contrary non-diegetic, also called commentary or nonliteral sound, is any sound that does not originate from within the film’s world. The film’s characters are not able to hear non-diegetic sound.
So, in this genre the many instruments that Demi uses in his videos would be seen as diegetic while any background music would be non-diegetic. Demi offers both of these in his genre. A genre is defined as a category or type of literature, such as poetry, drama, and prose. Recognized by common conventions of length, style, form, content and other features, attribution again to Celena Kusch for the definition. We can categorize Demi’s dancing series as a genre for many reasons. One of these reasons is the fact that each one contains similarities as the genre continues on. For example, each video carries on the song September by Earth, Wind, & Fire, Demi always wears a white shirt that says “September 21st” on it, and each one was posted on the 21st of September. Although they carry similarities throughout, Demi knows to add some differences to keep the audience enticed throughout the series. Demi does this by adding new instruments, confetti cannons, and even a small choir of little kids singing the aforementioned song.
All of those things combined make Demi Adejuyigbe’s dance videos a genre, but how does intertextuality come into play? Well, all of the items listed above in turn lead to intertextuality.

Each of the episodes intertwine in different ways in that Demi keeps certain aspects of his videos each time, but he changes some aspects as well. From the first video to the second video, Demi uses dubbing, which is the act of putting a new soundtrack on a film or adding a soundtrack (of dialogue, sound effects, or music) after production, to match the action and/or lip movements of already-filmed shots, to keep his upcoming videos more interesting. Demi skillfully uses aesthetics and aesthetic qualities in his video to keep the audience entertained, such as the use of certain visuals and audios. The visuals and audios combined create a wholesome, and aestheticly pleasing experience.

All of these things are essential to Demi Adejuyigbes September genre. The intertextuality is shown within each of the things that I listed above.

Are the pants suspicious of something, or are they suspicious themselves?

Before my first class of English 203 Professor McCoy had us look at a tweet that I personally found comical. It was a picture of a pair of pants hung over a chair, and the pants pockets looked very much like eyes that were slits. This gave the pants a type of suspicious appearance. I honestly looked at it, giggled a bit, and put it away without even thinking twice. On our first day of class, she asked us to interpret this picture of a pair of pants. Each group came up with different interpretations of these pants hung over a chair, but the big question that arose from each group was as follows :

Are the pants suspicious of something, or are the pants themselves a suspicious being?

This is something I have been toying with since the first day of class, along with all of the different interpretations that my classmates had offered that day.

Much like the discussions we had in class, each person can interpret something differently than the person next to them for many reasons. One part of our discussion on this led to origins and how they can affect how we interpret things individually. Much like how I pronounce the word elementary as elemen-tary and individuals from down state often pronounce it as elemen-try. This discussion just leads to show just how much our origins can affect our interpretations of things. Much like in The Baccae, Dionysus’s origin affects how he interprets the world around him. Dionysus was born of a god (Zeus) and a mortal (Semele) and believes that he should be worshiped as a god, much like his father is worshiped. In order to do this Dionysus is ” changed, of course, a god made man” and decides to return to his home town of Thebes to restore glory to his name. Dionysus clearly interprets the world as something that he owns, or should be worshiped in, while clearly many of the people of Thebes do not interpret this same thing. Pentheus is the ruler of Thebes and actually comes up with the idea that no one should worship Dionysus and does not actually interpret him as a real god.

The Baccae has many references to origins much like the one I mentioned above and these origins are important to our individual thoughts and how we perceive things. These interpretations are critical to our thinking and to our knowledge of the world.

I still have yet to interpret correctly whether the pants themselves are a suspicious being, or they are suspicious of something else around them. I do not think that there is enough context to answer that question still, but by studying this image I have learned so much about interpretation and how it differs in societies.

Suspicious Pants Tweet.jpg