A history permanently erased is not enough to question who I am, for who I am is more than my history. However my history does play a role as to why I am here. And then there is the question to why am I here? A question that will probably remain unanswered by the end of this post and time itself. I had recently come into contact with two artist that had taught me to look at line and space in unimaginable ways. There is the literal sense of looking at space and line as they surround you. And then there is that of the imaginary lines and space in which we use to limit or extend ourselves.
My history connects to imaginary space and line as to explain that I’ve been taught as my parents before me have been taught to think in a particular manor. To never go outside the lines, and to go around such space. Growing up in America I have become spoiled yet hindered in the way that I think, and that is not to just blame the country. My hindrance is in part my own responsibility. But it does not become hard to blame another identity for your restraints. Especially when in part they hold some responsibility. The idea of America’s biggest mistake, slavery, being something to confront, gives us a power like no other. We are able to acknowledge at least out loud that the damaging and genocide of innocent people were and is wrong. But we later think after confronting such issues what do we do? After the struggle what is there? I find it hard to celebrate when the consequences are so severe. Trauma is lasting generations affecting our mental health and what are we to do? How do we move on when moving on doesn’t always feel right?
As a first year student I am struggling to find out who I am as a person and what my purpose is, all I have come up with so far is uncertainty. I have tried to look into history to see that all that has been done, the fighting, and protesting, and the endurance of lost and discrimination are sacrifices that I am reaping the benefits of. There is a guilt of not paying that sacrifice the justice that it deserves. But I can assume that not knowing, and having that freedom to exercise uncertainty is to in a way pay such sacrifice a thank you. And to be welcoming to the idea that history however ugly and blotchy it may be, the acts of fighting and continuous fighting were made for such benefits and should be celebrated. While looking at the work of Steve Prince, particularly Urban Mix-tape I was able to see the in-clarity in our history as African Americans. But I was also able to see clearly what came out of such a dark error, and era. And I think in time, although it will prove difficult I will be able to see the beauty in it somewhere.
(Fertile Mind by Steve Prince)
Art and discipline are akin; these two branches of expression and practice work together in order to produce structure and allow the expression of an idea through that structure. Some may believe it obvious: art and discipline’s interdependence, but the two are often described as completely different forms. The typical connotations associated with discipline and art are strict regulation and extremely liberal and raw expression with little form, respectively.
I was once aware of both the detachment and coalition of art and discipline, conscious that the two were related somehow, but I was unaware of how different and how indifferent they were. I recognized that an artist needs practice to better their ability of expression through a medium, but I was not aware of the rules and absolute structure that stopped art from actually being “raw expression” with little form. Concepts like lighting, the horizon line, and perspective are essential parts of the foundation needed for the creation of a proper composition in an area like visual arts; artists follow these basic rule to connect their art and simultaneously explore the options and possibility surrounding these rules. Continue reading “Art and Discipline”
I just transferred to SUNY Geneseo at the beginning of the semester from a community college in my hometown. I found my classes at Corning Community College to be at the same difficulty level as the ones I took in high school. In particular, my English classes were introduction levels and the books that were on the syllabus I had already read in high school. Therefore, I didn’t have to push myself to learn new things because I had previously learned them. As a result, I was a little nervous to transfer to Geneseo because I had heard the reputation of their academics and I knew it was going to be challenging. During orientation I was so excited to be put into English 203 because at home I loved to go to our local theater with my Grandma and watch Broadway shows. Back in high school we always had to read old literature, such as Shakespeare, which wouldn’t be my first choice when choosing a play to read. So when I read that this class would consist of reading contemporary plays that I had already heard of, I couldn’t wait to get started. As promised, we read so many great contemporary plays during my time in this course. Reading the plays was my favorite part because it let me use my imagination to create a picture of what was happening in my head. I love watching plays, but it’s like when reading a novel is better than the movie itself. However, I did enjoy watching some of the plays after reading them to confirm that what I had imagined was correct. In high school and at my community college I was never forced to analyze a text too deeply because of the time limit set for each book. For the first time in this course I was challenged to examine the texts and relate them to modern issues in America, such as race, immigration, and gender identity. This was also one of my favorite parts of the course because we could relate it to what is happening in the world around us now. I’d say the least interesting part of the course for myself would be writing the reviews. Never before in any course I have taken did I have to use my opinion to analyze a text. Since this was my first time writing reviews it wasn’t one of my strengths and I think that is why I didn’t enjoy it as much. I have been used to thriving without really challenging myself, but I appreciate the fact that this course got me out of my comfort zone and taught me a new skill. I didn’t get the grade I expected on my first review, but as I kept writing and learning new things about how to write I got better and that makes me excited to continue in the English concentration and improve my writing skills.
In the documentary, The Topdog Diaries, Suzan-Lori Parks states that while writing Topdog/Underdog she did not strategize to form a theme based on race. Many people have asked her “What’s [the play] about?” and “What are the issues you’re trying to defend?” She opposes with “Black people when they hang out is it an exploration of race, just two black people in a room together?” Though I concede that Parks did not intend to write a play on racial issues, I still insist that Topdog/Underdog portrays exemplary examples of discrimination in America today. To kickoff this theme, the characters, Lincoln and Booth, are named after two historical white men and are played by two black actors. This is an ironic start to the play and automatically delves into the social history of the United States and slavery. Booth, the underdog, does not have a job, is striving to be the best hustler in three card monte, and boosts every item that he owns. These actions contribute to the African American stereotypes in large cities today. On the other hand, Lincoln actually has a job that supports both him and his brother. However, the only way Link could get this job was to put on white face and it consisted of dressing as Abraham Lincoln and getting “assassinated” daily by paying customers.
The black man playing the Great Emancipator just adds to the racial satire in the play. I believe the title, Topdog/Underdog, is also tied to the act of reversing black and white characters and all of the undertones on race. It could be interpreted as the white population being the topdogs and African Americans being the underdogs. Unfortunately, we live in a dog-eat-dog world and our nation’s history has contributed largely to discrimination among African Americans. Although Parks did not intentionally write this play based on the explorations of race, I argue that these issues are what embody the play most.
In the class I have learned that people are allowed and able to make a story. In a Christmas carol there was a part where his flashbacks added to detail in the story. I learned that there is no right way of looking at something because of the way that people were raised and their background may impact their beliefs. A fluid reader needs to have an open mind that is good at interpreting through not only the eyes of a reader but as well as the eyes of the author. When there is an issue in the Alice books sometimes becoming real isn’t always something that comes easy to Alice. For example when the red king was asleep Alice was told by the Tweedledee that she was only there because the king had a dream of her but Alice sees that her crying is actually proving that she was real. In a Christmas carol scrooge tries to interact with the people around him but since he was apart of Christmas past and future he was not able to talk to them physically but he knew that he was real.
This semester as a whole has been a challenging and interesting experience; I’ve explored branches of education that were entirely new to me, participated in courses that exposed me to countless new methods of interpretation, and gained a renewed appreciation for key pieces of English literature. My time in English 203 this semester has been a substantial part of these experiences and the conversations I was a part of there have led to me asking bigger questions about not only the texts and their intended meaning, but also about the very study of literary analysis itself. In fact, I would say the most pressing questions asked by this course are: What does it mean to engage in literary criticism and why do we do it? Questions like these continue to be challenging to answer but they all lead into the idea of what my time in Fluid Readers and Fluid Texts was actually about. “About” in this case meaning a purpose, a single, but not uncomplicated, summation of everything this course has taught me. What’s one word, one concept that weaves together all of the novels, movies, and essays we’ve analyzed and discussed this semester? For me, the theme that the course emphasized the most, the theme that brings all of these materials together is the idea of connection. Continue reading “My Final Self Reflection: Understanding Connection”
For me, writing is like trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together. There are many different components that act like the pieces, such as: the language being used, spelling and grammar, supporting evidence, a sound structure, the list goes on. When these pieces come together, the writer should be left with the big picture, or the overall message trying to be conveyed in their writing. Reflecting on my writing in English 203 this past semester, I have noticed a trend where the claim I have tried to express does not appear clear to the reader. In solving this issue, I look at the feedback given by Professor McCoy and my peers, that would give supporting detail on how to revise my claim.
While I feel I have presented the pieces of the puzzle well, in that I provide evidence, revise for spelling and grammar mistakes, write in a formal and orderly fashion; the overall claim I have attempted to display has become lost in translation in my blog posts and formal essays. This observation is critical in addressing, as the claim trying to be conveyed in a writer’s work is the most important goal of writing.
Continue reading “Feedback, Feedback, Feedback”
In my first blog post, I wrote about how as I biology student I learned that there is a right and a wrong way of interpreting something. I explained how even though in a research setting curiosity is encouraged, in terms of studying for test we must learn the way the professors teach the subject or it is wrong. I have usually been apprehensive when it comes to sharing my ideas in an English class because I am afraid of sharing an incorrect interpretation. However, I have learned throughout this class that books belong to their readers and that no two readers could possibly read the same book, because they are able to make their own personal connections to the text and are able to associate their own experiences with what they are reading. I have seen this while working in groups. Even though we all read the same passages, everyone has something different they can contribute. The ability for every reader to have a different experience reading the novel gives them a sense of ownership. To the reader, their own interpretation will likely be the one that it most important to them because it is the one they can relate to the most. I have learned that it is essential for students to have their own interpretations of the text. By bringing their own experiences, the reader is able to form a deeper connection with the book they are reading. As a person who likes to have a clear answer, it can sometimes make me feel overwhelmed with how many connections someone can make when reading a text. Initially coming into this class, I was unsure if I would be able to match the level of complexity of the interpretations of some of my peers. However by learning how to connect the works with outside sources that I found interesting, whether it be with other texts, in class, group work, different fields, or personal experiences, I was able to form a deeper connection with the texts.
Continue reading “Making These Books Belong to Me: My Final Reflection”