On Blog Posting, Memory, and Performance

Last week, Aidan and I talked before class about blog posting. He brought up an idea I thought was quite cool—writing a blog post about blog posting and memory. On Monday, I asked for his consent to write about this for my own blog post, to which he conceded. I’d like to use my last blog post of the semester to reflect on blog posting and how it contributes to our course concepts of memory and forgetting.    Continue reading “On Blog Posting, Memory, and Performance”

“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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Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel” and Commemorating the Dead

In Friday’s class, we took some time to read a few blog posts. I’d wanted to write a blog post about remembering and forgetting the dead, and both Spencer and Helen’s blog posts struck me as texts I wanted to put my own blog post into conversation with. In Spencer’s blog post, he writes that “[h]istory has shown that prolonged memory in death is a privilege granted to only those with the power to afford it” and Helen writes that “[w]ith the bodies in the street and the unnamed, almost invisible collectors disposing of them, it is clear the Whitehead is referencing the history of plagues and body disposal, particularly the Black Plague.” These two quotes together exemplify remembering and forgetting—we tend to commemorate those in power, and forget the “average” (and I use this word loosely) civilian.  Continue reading “Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel” and Commemorating the Dead”

Expression of Culture, Empowerment, and Memory and Forgetting Through Dance

Throughout the course, and in Dr. DeFrantz’s workshop, we have learned about the power of dance and expression.  Dance is powerful in the context of memory and forgetting—dance helps people mark their culture and thus contributes to memory. Dance can be used to help remember the culture of oppressed groups, such as the ballroom scene that was started in the 1970’s by queer people of color, and can be legitimized through place, like Congo Square in New Orleans. The Babydolls, a mark of New Orleans culture, help in the process of memory, and this practice was especially important after Hurricane Katrina. Dance can also be used to cope with traumatic events and help people understand the new semiotics of place after a change, which is seen in Zone OneContinue reading “Expression of Culture, Empowerment, and Memory and Forgetting Through Dance”

Remembering and Forgetting Incarcerated Children

I’ve written two blog posts on children as paratext and effigies, and I hope to continue the topic of children’s reduced autonomy in this post. After reading the “Of Levees and Prisons” chapter in Unfathomable City, I wanted to write a blog post on juvenile detention, control, and the even further reduced autonomy incarcerated children face.  Continue reading “Remembering and Forgetting Incarcerated Children”

Waterbearer by Lorna Simpson (1986)

A few weeks ago, I went to the Albright-Knox and saw an exhibition titled “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-1985,” and one piece that stood out to me was Waterbearer (1986) by Lorna Simpson. The subject of the piece is a black woman who is pouring water out of two jugs—one plastic, one metal. I’ve inserted images of the piece below:

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Children: The Interplay Between Effigy and Paratext

A trend that I’ve noticed in the physical classroom so far is the problem of reading paratext out loud—some people skip over the paratext, while other people don’t. Paratext is outside the main body of the text, i.e. it is not central, but paratext is needed in order to complete a text. Paratext then, by nature, is peripheral but also necessary. This reveals a hierarchy in the physical pages of books—the main body of the book is imperative to read, while everything else is considered supplemental, which parallels how we frame Others in society—groups of people who are necessary but overlooked, and therefore, invisible.  Continue reading “Children: The Interplay Between Effigy and Paratext”

Children’s Culture and Children as Effigies

One of the things that struck me most at the beginning of the semester was how Beth pointed out that “make-out spots” aren’t included on maps, which got me thinking about how children’s culture is not recognized, or legitimized, by adults. Maps—a reconstruction of the landscape—tend to reflect wider societal mores and values, not a constantly changing and developing viewpoint of minors. Children’s culture, however, is important—it’s rooted in developmental years that shape a child’s world view—so why isn’t it recognized and legitimized? Continue reading “Children’s Culture and Children as Effigies”