Moving on From the Either/Or to the Both/And

“My job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice”-Dionne Brand

Something that I’ve always found myself doing is categorizing things as I’ve always thought I was making my life simpler by doing this. However, as I began to engage with the texts assigned for this African-American literature class this semester, I started to realize how incredibly difficult and dangerous it is to put a single definition on something or someone as it causes a sense of restriction on the person or object. As I look back at the incredibly varied literature that we have engaged with this semester I have noticed that we have been presented with different perspectives to look through and it is up to us, as the readers, to notice these differences and then notice that they are all just as valid as one another because there is not just one way in which we can define anything or anybody.

In the context of my semester, this is what I believe Dionne Brand is saying when she says, “My job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice”. One must first notice their own perspective or definition of things. Then, they must also notice that their perspective or definition isn’t the definitive one, meaning that things in life are always open to interpretation and are not to be restricted to a single definition. Continue reading “Moving on From the Either/Or to the Both/And”

The Theatre-Going Experience

In my previous blog post I wrote about making connections across the different classes I am taking. I had another one of those lightbulb moments as we were talking about the theatre and audience’s expectations. I’m currently taking Professor Blood’s Western Drama class in which we read and analyze plays and critical pieces on the theatre. In that class we are just wrapping up a unit on the avant-garde. In Elements of Style Suzan-Lori Parks describes artists of this time by saying, “most playwrights who consider themselves avant-garde spend a lot of time badmouthing the more traditional forms” (8). I find this statement to be accurate after having read Antonin Artaud’s manifesto, ”Theatre of Cruelty: First Manifesto”, specifically in regard to his thoughts on how an audience should consume a performance. Continue reading “The Theatre-Going Experience”

Making Connections (And a Bracelet)

While watching A Raisin in the Sun on Monday, I had multiple moments in which a lightbulb went on over my head and I was jotting things down because it had reminded me of something we’ve already read or watched this semester. Connecting the film to course material from earlier in the semester had reminded me of the first day of class when Dr. McCoy had given each of us three beads and string to form a bracelet. I saw the three similarities I found between the different course material and the film as being representative of the beads and A Raisin in the Sun as being the string or thru line, tying each of the course materials together into one piece. Continue reading “Making Connections (And a Bracelet)”

Yes, This All Mattered!

The first question on the self-reflective questionnaire given to us at the end of class on Friday was something along the lines of ‘Did this process really matter?’. After looking at it for a few moments there was a bit of confusion as to what was being referred to, however Dr. McCoy had told us to interpret it however we wanted. I saw it as referring to the sustainability module as a whole and the answer was quite clear to me- yes this all mattered! Continue reading “Yes, This All Mattered!”

Daring to Differ in the World of Poetry

When Dr. McCoy had asked us to find our favorite poem from Angles of Ascent I thought it would be a daunting task as there were so many poems to look through, however after glancing through the anthology, one quickly stood out to me which was Thomas Sayers Ellis’ “All Their Stanzas Look Alike”.

Ellis’ poem stood out to me the most because of its placement on the page. It is not arranged in the “traditional” manner that I have become accustomed to seeing through my educational experiences which is in formal stanzas. What then appealed to me was the content of the poem. Ellis’ poem is calling for diversity not only in poetry but also in society. In this post I will only be focusing on the poetry aspect. Continue reading “Daring to Differ in the World of Poetry”

Power and Consent Between Teachers and Students in the Classroom

During class on Monday February 25th, each member of the class took a turn reading a couplet from “A Cabin Tale” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Several students (myself included) admitted that they found it difficult to comprehend what exactly was happening within the poem because they were focused on trying to find the lines they were to read aloud and how to pronounce them according to how Dunbar wrote it. Continue reading “Power and Consent Between Teachers and Students in the Classroom”

Recursion in Hollywood

The past few classes have sparked me to think about the concept of originality, particularly when it comes to Hollywood with films and television. Ask yourself- how many films or TV shows have you seen that are original ideas and were made in recent years? The answer probably isn’t many. Many of the things produced today are based off of other people’s stories. This can include other writers’ books, following similar plot lines of previous works, other people’s life experiences or are simply sequels or remakes to a successful film of the past. In the simplest terms there aren’t many original pieces of entertainment being produced today. Hollywood is trying to imitate what has worked in the past. Continue reading “Recursion in Hollywood”

Everybody’s Words Matter

Toni Morrison said, “Word-work is sublime, she thinks, because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference – the way in which we are like no other life. We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives”. I was particularly drawn to this epigraph because Morrison is talking about how much our words, whether it be through writing or dictated, is important in recognizing each of our lives and telling our stories.

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”, Adichie presents multiple examples of how individual’s were seen differently because others bought into believing one story. In one example she talks about how Africa was seen as a country as opposed to a continent made up of countries and then became known as being the place of “beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS”.

One of my goals for this class include avoiding what Adichie warned against in regard to the single story. It is important that I be mindful that there is more than one way something can be presented. As Dr.McCoy had said there is more than one way that African American Literature can be presented. For example on February 1st, she discussed how the Norton Anthology and the anthology that we are reading, Call and Response differ from one another. The Norton Anthology attempts to present a belletristic publication while Call and Response presents a cultural naturalistic response.

In class on February 1st, Dr. McCoy had done in exercise related to what we had read in They Say I Say about having meaningful class discussions. During this exercise she and fellow classmates had exemplified what should and shouldn’t be done during a discussion. For example you shouldn’t cut somebody off while they are trying to speak and then change the subject. You should be able to recognize the opposing view if somebody disagrees with you. As Morrison says, our differences are what makes us human and it is important that we express our thoughts as it is how are lives are measured.

Another one of my goals for this class is to listen more carefully to my peers’ thoughts during class discussions. I also hope to be able to participate more in class discussions. As Dr. McCoy said in class, we all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to class discussions and mine is expressing my voice. All of our thoughts and opinions are just as important as each others.

Overall, my main goal for this class is to recognize the importance in every word that goes into each writer’s work or each student’s argument including my own. Every word that someone wrote or said means something to that individual and their story.