English 101: Literature, Medicine & Racism
ThinkING is a critical part of any course, especially in English and literature focused courses. The epigraph, “My job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice,” the words of Dionne Brand, represent a significant part of this course. Due to the nature of this course, with many self graded assignments, collaborative essays and class discussions, it is so important to be self-aware and keep notice of yourself and others. This allows for effective conversation and a beneficial learning space.
One of the largest parts of our course outline and even in life, is care. Care for ourselves, our peers, and the course accountability. This epigraph directly connects to the thought of care. As part of care, we must take notice of ourselves, others, and how the course progresses. This care allows us to work efficiently, work well together, and get in our best work. Quite literally, you will get out what you put in. We can track our work and effort in this course as well as our growth and progress, and this is an extremely important practice in any learning experience. Keeping in check with yourself as well as others holds you accountable and allows you to continue to progress in your knowledge and education. The epigraph refers to us and our peers, as well as Beth and other mentors. As we complete readings and discussions, Beth will offer her feedback in our thinking, and our peers will also provide feedback as well as their own thoughts. This allows us to grow as we learn other opinions, also by understanding different perspectives as valid. This ties to the notice of ourselves and the notice of others. As we notice ourselves and our peers, Beth also takes notice of us. Beth can keep us on track and assure that we are also keeping notice of ourselves and our peers.
In the novel by Toni Morrison, Home, care is a prominent theme. There is a disconnect in Frank and Cee’s family, the care is not exactly what you would expect. Throughout her life, Cee was taken care of by Frank. He shielded her from the threats of the world, protected her when her family was not there for her, and made sure she was okay until he enlisted in the army. In addition, Lenore was put into a motherly position when Cee’s parents could not be there for her. While Lenore’s care seemed harsh and unloving, she truly did want the best for her. Since Cee was protected by Frank for most of her life, she was not exposed to harm and hurt. This is why when she went to work for Dr. Beauregard, she was unaware of his true intentions, and in a way, she was naive and vulnerable. This example displays the importance of care in good faith. We should strive to always care for the growth of ourselves and others in good faith. Referring to that, we should provide helpful feedback and contribute to beneficial conversation. Like in the novel, Home, and many others that we may read, it is important to take notice of ourselves and others always. This allows us to grow as individuals and also together as a class, to get the most out of this course. Since this course combines both a 101 and a 439 class, we are all coming from different majors and educational backgrounds. Having a wide range and variety of knowledge and information, we can all benefit from each other’s contributions and feedback.
As important as it is to notice ourselves and others in terms of growth, it is also important to keep notice when we are reading. One of the most important things a student and reader can do to truly understand a reading is to keep up with proper analysis. Taking notice of significant symbolism and main themes is critical in proper analysis. The main topics of this course are Literature, Medicine and Racism. These topics parallel all of our readings in varying depths. In Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson, there are evident themes of medicine and racism. Fortune was a slave whose body was nonconsensually used for medical research. His body had been passed down into the researcher’s family to help their children learn about anatomy, however, his skeleton had been renamed Larry, which diminished his identity. When his body was later donated to a museum, an anthropologist had studied his history, learning his real name and about his life. This theme of nonconsensual medical research on African American people relates to the novel, Home. Cee was taken advantage of by her boss, Dr. Beauregard. Dr. Beauregard performed gynecological research on Cee while she was working for him, and the doctor left her in horrible condition, unable to have children in the future. These paralleling themes connect to a major topic in our course, the importance of looking forward while still circling back. This practice of looking forward and circling back refers to connecting current readings to past readings and seeing the connections in characters and motifs.
In this course, we can notice ourselves and others in many ways, and thoroughly keep track of our accountability and growth. In class discussions, we talk about important points in our readings and work together in groups to answer questions. In order to do this, we must keep up with the assigned readings and articles. This allows us to fully invest ourselves in conversation and provide beneficial feedback to our peer’s reponses. We also work on a few collaborative essays, which also require reading and working together. During group work, we must keep notice of what our peers are saying and respect other opinions and ideas. We may not always agree, but discussing in groups allows us to see things from different perspectives. Seeing things in different perspectives is a critical skill of learning. Readings can be analyzed in many different ways, and many authors typically leave their work up for interpretation. Working through readings together is important, especially when dealing with sensitive topics. While we work through sensitive topics such as medicine and racism, we can learn in good faith. Our job as students in this course is to notice our efforts individually and as a group, in doing this, we can grow together in a constructive learning environment.
Morrison, Toni. Home. ISBN: 9780307740915
Nelson, Marilyn. Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem. ISBN: 9781932425123