Intradisciplinary Connections: Returning to Geneseo’s Learning Outcomes

Throughout the semester, this course has demonstrated several points of focus that the English Department seems to be increasingly concerned with as of late: encouraging reflective writing, and establishing clear connections with Geneseo’s established Learning Outcomes.

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Civilization-Barbarian-Savage: Categorization and Othering

Lewis Henry Morgan, a nineteenth century anthropologist, is credited with bringing the idea of the “ladder of cultural evolution” to the public. His theory, accepted as scientific at the time, suggested that there was a natural hierarchy between cultures that supported racial prejudice and subjugation of the perceived lesser peoples. Morgan’s scale had three distinct categories: civilized, barbarian, and savage. “Civilization” consisted of the Western ideals of private property and christian morality. “Barbarism” denoted those cultures in transition towards civilization who still had some “backward” ways to correct. “Savagery” was the lowest, most undesirable state that was equated with a complete absence of law, order, and morality. Aligning his theory with that of Charles Darwin, Morgan proposed that it was possible for a culture to evolve from one category to the next. However, this did little mitigate the resultant bigotry that the theory–at least to some–justified. Continue reading “Civilization-Barbarian-Savage: Categorization and Othering”

Dr. DeFrantz and The Vigilance of Dance

The Dr. DeFrantz workshop, as many of my classmates have already addressed in previous blog posts, was the most eye-opening discussion I have ever sat in on. I feel truly privileged and lucky to hear what Dr. DeFrantz had to say about dance, the knowledge he had about the evolution of dance, and how dance is seen as a performance within various cultures.

The act of vigilance, in relation to care as a course concept, when actively dancing, was heavily emphasized. The act of performing to portray a message in the most careful matter was something that stuck with me for the rest of the weekend as I kept replaying his lecture over and over in my head.   

Attention was drawn to the Congo Square as it became an actual place for Black people to speak through music and dance. Race played a role during his lecture as he mentioned stratification and alluded to the Apartheid as well as Jim Crow.

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The Awkwardness of The HurryCane

During this course I have noticed more the use of Hurricane language to sell things in our capitalist market. Enter in the wonderfully awkward HurryCane commercial. (The link provided is the commercial, however, it is recorded on a phone from a television.)The commercial is an advertisement for a tool used to help, in the case of the commercial, old men walk (hurry) to catch up to gorgeous women they are missing out on. This commercial is a performance of freedom using language that has a deep juxtaposition of its actual meaning.

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Shakespaw, A Wishbone Tale – The Tempest

One of the first thing Beth told us when we started The Tempest by William Shakespeare was, contrary to fellow academics, Shakespeare is difficult for her, and for many others. I put myself in that category, and was very grateful to hear that from a professor. The Tempest is not simple for me, however, I have prior knowledge that I definitely utilized from the children’s show, Wishbone. Wishbone, was probably the most influential television show of my childhood. It was all about books, and not just any books, the classics or “the cannon.” Books educated people assume you have read if you are also “properly educated.” Continue reading “Shakespaw, A Wishbone Tale – The Tempest”

“Trash” and the Body Politic

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the etymology of the noun trash is “late 14c., “thing of little use or value, waste, refuse, dross,” perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse tros “rubbish, fallen leaves and twigs,” Norwegian dialectal trask “lumber, trash, baggage,” Swedish trasa “rags, tatters”), of unknown origin. Applied to ill-bred persons or groups from 1604 (“Othello”), and especially of poor whites in the U.S. South by 1831. Applied to domestic refuse or garbage from 1906 (American English). Trash-can attested from 1914. To trash-talk someone or something is by 1989,” while the etymology of the verb is “”to discard as worthless,” 1859, from trash (n.); in the sense of “destroy, vandalize” it is attested from 1970; extended to “criticize severely” in 1975.” What I find really interesting about the etymology is that “trash” had originally been used to describe (perhaps supernumerary) natural refuse, while after Shakespeare used it in Othello, the connotation changed and the word was used to describe “ill-bred persons or groups.” “Trash” was also used to describe “poor whites in the U.S. South,” meaning that the word also undertook classist tones. With “trash” so enmeshed in societal oppressions, can we use the word without evoking classist/racist undertones, even subconsciously?

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Continuing the “Born and Raised” Conversation

As I mentioned in my last post, creating this post was a triple-flip if I ever saw one. I was going all over the place and just couldn’t organize my thoughts the way I wanted to. So, after being required to record my voice for another class (I KNOW I’m not the only one that dislikes the sound of my own voice, so I know that others can agree that recording one’s own voice brings up many thoughts and feelings of self-reflection and conscripted performance…), I decided to do the same for this post. Attached is a Google Drive link for an audio clip (it’s 14 minutes long so I’d understand anyone who skipped listening or put it on while doing something else) of me describing the complexities of being “born and raised” in the United Arab Emirates. It serves as a response to/continuation of Katie’s “Born and Raised” post, which deconstructs the pride and criticism surrounding individuals who stay in their hometowns.

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Re-establishing Civic Responsibility in Zone One

What is civic responsibility? And what does it mean to be civically responsible? Typically, when we hear those two words in the same sentence, we are conditioned to focus on suffrage and political elections. However, the “true” definition, according to, is “the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force[.]” If we align franchise with the course of civic responsibility according to the definition above, that responsibility becomes an obligation. The right to vote is merely an example of how civic responsibility is commonly displayed by the American people – and it shouldn’t stop there. My own definition is slightly different: it is the duties, based on ethics, of the people to react to the obstacles presented; the role of a municipality to change, for the better, the outcomes of events. In the context of our class discussion(s), Zone One questions the clarity of what it means to be civically responsible in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

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Preserving Memory: Whose Job is it and How Do We Do It?

A few posts ago, I discussed Patricia Smith’s (literal) performance of Blood Dazzler, and I promised to highlight an interview I found of hers, but didn’t, because my post already seemed too muddled at the time. I apologize in advance, I just can’t get myself to move past it; Patricia Smith’s work is phenomenal.

That being said, here I am again! I was reminded of the video after reading Beth’s comment on my original blog post, in which she suggested that I further explore the desire of some people to “move on” from Hurricane Katrina. (I would really recommend going back and reading said post before continuing.)

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Milan’s “True” Duke

The class discussion about the events which precede the events of The Tempest, brought about an idea that I had not considered the last time I read the through the play: who the “real” Duke of Milan was. Naturally, I had always thought of Prospero as the one true Duke, but when i began thinking more about it, I found my resolve shaken. Nominally, of course, Prospero was the Duke, but in truth, he was nothing like what a Duke should be. Rather than work to expand his kingdom or serve his subjects, he eschewed courtly affairs to indulge himself in the matters of philosophy and magic, and he passed the actual work onto his brother, Antonio. This fact problematizes the label of “Duke” in my eyes, and I intend to examine this dilemma to answer my own questions about what that label means.

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