Unraveling in Parable of the Sower

Throughout this course, something that we have discussed in depth if the idea that everything has to go somewhere.  The terms buildup and pressure have become essential to this course, in the idea that our actions, and the actions of others are not meaningless but will eventually lead to something.  This idea of pressure building was especially pertinent to The Big Short, where the buying and selling of subprime mortgage loans ultimately resulted in the stock market crashing, and consequentially, the housing crisis.  We have discussed how even the very act of reading a novel; turning the pages and seeing how much is left, is a type of buildup. Continue reading “Unraveling in Parable of the Sower”

Space in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House

I had never before seen Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, but after watching it in class I was struck by how much it related to my own upbringing, specifically in the context of space.  In the movie, it is comically shown that the 4 person family does not have enough space in their Manhattan apartment.  Scenes such as Mr. Blandings and his wife fighting over who gets to use the bathroom mirror demonstrate that personal space is definitely an issue for this family, and is ultimately what leads to their moving out of New York City.  Growing up in New York City myself, I can relate to these issues of personal space, and although they are certainly comical in the film does not mean that they are at all an exaggeration.  Sharing a one bedroom apartment with my sister and two parents, personal space always was, and still is a point of contention in our household. Continue reading “Space in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House”

Why 13 Siblings in the Turner House?

As I was reading the turner house, something that I wondered was why Angela Flournoy decides to include 13 Turner siblings in the novel, when only about 3 of them are heavily focused on and given a POV. Why have a family composed of so many siblings when some aren’t even accounted for?  Did Flournoy just want to show the dynamics of a big family, or was she trying to get at something deeper?  When I tried to answer this question in class, I said that perhaps Flournoy was trying to show that when you have such a large family, with so many stories to be told, some are “naturally” left out.  Beth compared this to picking up a large pile of leaves, where some leaves are naturally going to fall out of ones grasp.  However, my assertion that leaving out most of the siblings stories was a natural process was questioned.  Someone in class (sorry I am forgetting who!) pointed out that this is not really natural at all but very intentional.  This made me question my initial assertion, and look deeper into the stories that are not being told in this novel. Continue reading “Why 13 Siblings in the Turner House?”

Wall Street and Stereotypes

As I was discussing the fictional elements of “The Big Short” in a small group, my group talked a lot about how many of the characters in the story are presented as “quirky”, not like how we would imagine someone on Wall Street to be like.  For example, Michael Lewis repeatedly mentions how Steve Eisman, one of the major players in the story is “atypical” when compared to the usual characters of Wall Street.   Continue reading “Wall Street and Stereotypes”

King Lear and “Hysteria”

In class we have discussed King Lear’s supposed “madness”, which many of the other characters in the play seem to term him as, and wondered what might have brought on this sudden bout of madness.  Although the conflict with his two daughters Goneril and Regan seems to be the driving force of his hysteria, I wondered if there were other factors that may have contributed to his madness, and what the term “mad” really meant in the 17th century, when King Lear was written.  There was one quote regarding Lear’s madness that particularly interested me.  In act 2 scene 4, when Lear is conversing with Kent and the Fool, after his daughters have made it clear that he is not welcome in their home, he laments “O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!  Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing daughter!” (line 63)  I wondered what hysterica passio, the condition that Lear claims to have, was, and why he related this condition to mothers, when the conflict he was describing was in reference to his daughters.

After researching the term hysterica passio I learned that in the 17th century, this condition of hysteria was mostly associated with women and that “its being originally applied to women thought to be suffering disturbances of the womb” (uaf.edu).  This belief derives from the greek word hysterikos, which simply means “hysteria of the womb”.  It is interesting, then, that Shakespeare chooses to use this feminized term hysterica passio, to describe King Lear, and that Lear uses this term when describing himself after he reflects upon how horribly his daughters have treated him.  Obviously Shakespeare was not insinuating that King Lear literally had a “hysterical womb”, but perhaps he was trying to comment on Lear’s maternal role.  Because King Lear was solely responsible for the upbringing of his three daughters (as there is no mother in the picture), he has a maternal relationship with them.  Their betrayal of him, then, is seen not only as a threat to their family and royal status, but a threat to his masculinity as well, which contributes to his madness.


If you would like to learn more about the origins of hysterica passio: https://www.uaf.edu/files/english/people/faculty/reilly/static/NCHCproject/Psychology.htm