Collaboration By: Laura Montes & Jose Romero
During our first semester of our freshman year, we have learned more than we anticipated. We grew as readers, writers, and students. This is in part by the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education. It states, “Geneseo students should gain practice in “integrative inquiry,” defined in part as the ability to “synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge to address real-world problems and issues.” If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. English 101’s midterm exam focused on how reading Jemisin’s fiction helped us in the practice of fulfilling that learning outcome.
Through our constant readings and thorough analysis of various texts, we have been able to question the information presented to us and make meaningful connections to our current societal issues. This is due to our exploration of various topics such as researching what “solarpunk” is and what connection could be made to a real world issue. Through our in-class discussions, we noticed that not many of us were able to unpack that prompt at the beginning, but sooner or later excelled at it, as seen through our critical thinking blog posts. But, something that we haven’t discussed or spoken of is our midterm essays. This essay allowed so much flexibility for each writer to steer their way into connecting the text to larger personal reflections. We, being in English 101, would have loved to know what those in 431 wrote about, and how their incorporation of Geology benefited their thinking about the book. Thus, throughout this blogpost, we would like to take the opportunity to share and reflect upon our midterm pieces of work, continue describing the context within it, and analyze the progress we’ve made to master that learning outcome from them until now.
- Laura: In my midterm, I touched upon various topics such as how intersected my current courses are, my connections from the reading to pop culture, and the ways in which Jemisin focused on real world issues (including climate and social change) in her trilogy. I began my essay by breaking down my English and Geology classes because what I learned in one class helped me understand and synthesize the material in the other one. This includes the Earth’s composition, geology terms, natural hazards and disaster knowledge. It made it easier to understand the science behind Jemisin’s work. Next, I talked about how natural disasters are portrayed in movies such as 2012, San Andreas, The Day After Tomorrow, etc. just because the science behind scenes aren’t as accurate as people may think. Also, these types of movies are released under the genre of “post-apocalyptic” or “end of the world scenario”. But people don’t really stop to think about the severity of our Earth’s condition. That’s why I decided to also introduce my connection to real world issues specifically climate change. I asked myself “if people know how serious our ecological footprint on the planet is then why is it so hard to make a change and how can I make one as well? This has been a problem I have encountered for a very long time. I always find myself being over passionate about too many things to the point where I get so swamped with my own ideas and go on an unrelated rant. This problem has affected me in both my academic and personal life. Academic wise, I struggle to produce concise papers but it also influenced the difficult decision of choosing a profession. I have always been interesting in social change because the work is never ending and it will serve as a learning experience everyday. Whether it be dedicating my academic career to Environmental Studies, Sociomedical Sciences, or Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the answer has gotten clearer as a result of taking this class. This class has taught me that I don’t only have to choose one thing but I can find a way to do what Jemisin did with all her books: make everything that matters work together as one. I can end up doing one thing that involves all my passions.
- Jose: During the initial stage of planning for my midterm paper, I found myself confused as to which route to take. I did not know how to achieve mastery in directing this paper towards Geneseo’s GLOBE learning outcome while interweaving it to Jemisin’s text. But, I found myself hovering over excuses as to why I couldn’t complete the paper, when I could have been thinking about ways in which I wanted to format it. I did not share about my essay writing idea with my group, so I was lacking their feedback– but I really wanted it. So, I took a step back and realized that it was okay to be in the predicament that I found myself to be in. It was okay to be behind the reading schedule. After all, Dr. McCoy emphasized that she wasn’t going to be assessing on how much we know about the book, but rather about the thoughtful connections we made with it. Therefore, I began to brainstorm, and write. Eventually, I constructed my thesis which was, “In The Broken Earth trilogy, N.K. Jemisin depicts the idea of power in the Stillness, how the general public uses their power, and how Orogenes –a marginalized group– are taken advantage of by society. Through this text, Jemisin ‘s science fiction is guiding my social awareness of the 21st century issues related to the marginalization of many oppressed communities. As a person who is a part of a various marginalized groups, it is also making me challenge my thinking and plan to action in addressing these real-world problems today.” I thought this was an easier way to decipher my thoughts and articulate it to writing. Since this was not a standardized argumentative piece, I still wanted to follow a format. As I unpacked this thesis, I spoke about the ways in which oppression serves as a common ground in The Fifth Season and in today’s society as well. Those who immigrate to our country are called “illegal aliens”, a derogatory slur used by those who believe immigrants are a threat to our nation. I simultaneously connected this idea to Jemisin’s text when referring to orogenes as roggas. I furthered explored the concept of marginalization by depicting the ways in which women have been victims of poor rights and treatment for so long. Many are told to follow society’s standards, just like Syen and Syenite. I concluded this thought by analyzing the oppression in the book. I said, “N.K. Jemisin unpacks the ideology that race and oppression can occur to any group, regardless if they are human since Orogenes are placed away from the rest of the world and thought to be a threat to society.” Lastly, I aimed to argue my thesis by relating back Jemisin’s text to my own person growth which is a reflection of GLOBE’s learning outcomes. I reflected upon my own journey during my first semester in Geneseo, and related a lot to Essun since she takes upon many risks throughout the book to find her daughter, Nassun. Through this very intimate and personal reflection on my struggles to compose this essay, I carved my pathway towards learning on a growth mindset vs fixed.
As the semester comes to an end, we have taken away a lot of valuable life lessons that will help us succeed for the years to come. Most importantly, we need to take the time to unpack our thoughtful thinking. And, as Dr. McCoy commented, slow down to enjoy the process and practice mastering our work.
All we can say now is thank you Jemisin for this opportunity to connect literature to today’s society and thank you Dr. McCoy for your facilitation through this unpacking and reflection. You’ve taught us well, and we hope we have given you an insight into our thinkING, too!