Dear Christian and Francesca and colleagues

This seems like an aggressive way to reach out to you, but I was so inspired by our conversation on disability studies and fairytales, that I facilitated a conversation on both during my composition course’s flex period.

Christian– we watched Split and looked at the different models of disability. They were super interested in talking more about the social model and the religious model. They were also interested in the way the film conflates victimhood with mental illness.

Francesca– we watched Tangled and I had them read Rapunzel. We talked about the way characters often serve as metaphors for “good” and “bad” behavior and the way that’s shifted over time. I then asked them to create an updated version of Tangled that subverts Rapunzel even more than Tangled. It was great– revisions included: the prince is in the tower; the witch is not a witch, but a plastic bottle [commentary on pollution- the princess is trapped because the air outside is too poisonous]

All this to say– thanks!

Dhipinder

 

Blog #4

For my final project, I’m creating a series of lesson plans for high school students, with a personalized introduction to each one that outlines my rationale for using a particular primary text. Although this isn’t for a thesis or capstone project, I think it’ll be useful for me to get more experience on the practitioner end of teacher training. So far, the research I’ve done supposedly informs my teaching practice, but with the gap between research and practice in education, it’s no surprise that I’m already finding this to be a bit of a challenge.

I thought introducing each lesson plan would give some context to you all, but also force me to really think about why I wanted to incorporate certain texts into the high school classroom at all. Some guiding questions that I’ve been using are: What does this text provide that is not done so in a better way by anything else? is this text developmentally appropriate for the students I have decided to create lessons for?

I’ve been inspired by some of the work I’ve reviewed so far in class. I’m considering expanding the introductions into journal entries of sorts, where I really hone in on things that I learned through engaging with the text at different stages of my life, and how that has led me to prioritize certain information or “lessons” I want my hypothetical high school students to learn from my lesson plan.

Thanks so much for taking a look at my very rough draft, I look forward to talking through it on Thursday.

Final Project- Letter to generous readers

The tentative title of this project is: Teaching Adults through Children’s Literature. Long term, I’m interested in writing an autoethnography that blends experiences I’ve had in my Composition classroom, conversations I’ve had (accidentally and on purpose) with departmental heads and bosses, and composition rhetoric studies to support the use of postcolonial theory and now, children’s literature in the writing classroom. I’m not in the headspace yet to tell you how postcolonial theory/literature and children’s literature will intersect with one another, but I imagine it will, especially considering how “othered” both fields are in literary studies as a whole.

This particular project is a sliver of that, yet I think still able to exist independently. It has many parts, some of which I hope to complete by the end of this term, some of which I’ll need to work on after implementing my syllabus in a classroom.

What I’ve shared with you are drafts of three parts: 1) The context: I have imagined an email exchange with a chair and a lecturer who I affectionately name Y. Y is able to share their decision to incorporate Children’s Literature into the English 121-English Composition II classroom. Given Y’s familiarity with the Pathways program, public college bureaucracy, and English departments’ altruistic albeit violent desire to other, Y comes prepared with course objectives, methodologies, reading lists, and an annotated syllabus. The tone is purposefully cynical, but do let me know if you feel that takes away from your understanding of the project. 2) The Value statement pre implementation of syllabus: It’s REALLY unfinished, so please rip it to shreds. 3) The syllabus: It’s mostly fleshed out, but there are a couple of readings that I am missing. I’m also interested in possibly using children’s lit/YA lit that is open access—any tips on that would be most appreciated.

Additionally, I have three major goals for this project:

  1. Bug the shit out of academics: Because, why not? I’m reading Kynard’s Vernacular Insurrections and I’m finding there’s power in hybridity. There’s also value in messing with form and expectations. Rather than position my argument as a defense, what happens if it’s a part of a conversation free from power dynamics, academic gestures of politeness, and language that often hides meaning instead of creates it. So yes, I would never think to talk to my chair in the way I do here, but I think that’s the point.
  2. Use course objectives as a way to substantiate the value of Children’s literature in developing literacy: Fun and games aside, I have to eventually get down to business if I want this course to run. That means, I have to take each course objective listed on the ENG 121 syllabus and argue how Children and YA literature will assist me in meeting these objectives. I sort of start to do this with my scenario bits and I do it on the syllabus as well. It’s not fully fleshed out yet though.
  3. Design a syllabus that I would implement in the Fall 2018 semester: I’ve got to have a syllabus, or else nobody giving me not one course for not one student. Facts.

Finally, I left a table of contents in there so you can see where I’m hoping to take this project long-term, feedback on the table of contents is also welcomed.

I so appreciate any time you put into my project and am looking forward to all of the insight you’ll provide.

Dhipinder

Blog 4

For my final project, I will be working on a part of my portfolio exam. Although the exam has 4 parts and I am hoping to be finished with at least 2 of them before the end of this semester, I will only be using one piece for workshop because that is all that I have had time to focus on so far.

The piece that I will be submitting for workshop is the draft of a 10 page conference paper. The entirety of my portfolio exam will be focusing on the topic of queerness in literature, but for the conference paper I am specifically focusing on Queer Young Adult literature. My idea for the paper is to trace the emergence of Queer YA  fantasy novels, and what fantasy means when dealing with queer characters.

In the broadest sense, my interest in queer young adult fiction stems from my own lack of exposure to queer texts in my young adult years. Reading fictional stories was a large part of my own coming out experience, but I did not have any books to refer to. Instead, I had to rely on online stories and finding queer subtexts in classic texts like The Great Gatsby. I know that YA novels with gay and otherwise queer characters existed, but they were never made readily available to me. As such, I study this literature as a means of bringing it into the classroom so that others can be exposed to it.

While I am not entirely sure how the idea to focus on fantasy novels came to me, I think that part of me wanted to look at texts that I would not normally look at, and another part of me just wanted an excuse to read some of the books that have been on my reading list but that I haven’t felt like I had the time to read.

So far in my process, I have spent a great deal of time researching which books I should look at, and admittedly getting a little carried away in this part of the process. I have been reading as many q         ueer YA books as I can get my hands on, starting from the book that is widely considered to be the first in the field. As I have been reading, I have been trying to find trends within queer YA books that might have led to the fantasy novels and thought about the interplay between queerness and fantasy.

If I am able to finish this essay, the other two parts of the portfolio exam that I am considering doing are: an annotated bibliography exploring queerness and gender-nonconformity since the Medieval era until now in order to show that you cannot ascribe the labels we use to identify gender and sexuality to figures from before the time that these terms were coined, and a syllabus focusing on the concept of coming out as any subversive identity, including  but not necessarily related to gender or sexuality. Any suggestions for texts for either of these projects would also be greatly appreciated.

Blog #4 – Final Project

My final paper is also my overall project for my Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies, within my track of Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs. The project itself is a memoir on my teenage years, in which I’m attempting to trace the steps of how I was bullied in middle school and how I coped throughout that time as well as afterwards. Using old journals, which were filled with various kinds of writings, as well as photos and artworks that I’ve compiled I’m hoping to write the details of how I see those years. It also deals with how I’ve dealt with the difficulties I’ve had with my own family and the amount of verbal abuse I’ve dealt with over the years.

Some of the research that I’ve done has not been limited to what I have saved over the years but also text that I’ve found while researching on how to write the white pages of my capstone project. Articles on the effects of bullying, and the long term effects on someone who has dealt with childhood bullies. One of the articles specifically focusing on Latina teenagers and how they’re most likely of their peer group to have suicidal thoughts. Between their social interactions at school and their interactions with family it is possible that there have been lasting effects on their lives.

Books in which the characters have been put through a situation in which they’re bullied or even forced to stay away from school because of the effects of bullying have also been a part of the reading. Many of these text have been listed in the bibliography at the end of the project. The words of these characters didn’t exist when I was growing up but they have taught me that some of these authors know about or have dealt with the problem of bullying.  Their stories have given me the opportunity to understand how a creative person has found an outlet for their work, whether dealing with their own characters overcoming the same obstacles or by showing that they can be better than they are.

Writing about my life as a creative project is not something I have come to terms with just yet, even writing it in the style of a novel or something close to that. It’s a difficult task and one that I’m struggling with, as of now it’s just a stream of conscience writing for the creative part until I’ve found a center to where I hope to go with the project. It’s a difficult project and one where I’m also trying to find a place to integrate some of the text that we have read in class.

Honestly since I’m one of the first going into this workshop I’m not sure of how this project will work but I’m hoping to get feedback before I continue to move forward. Don’t mind the blank spaces, I am trying to fill them in as I go but since I had to post the draft for this project, well it is a work in progress.

Blending and Cultural Narratives by Trites (Discussion Questions)

  1. How convinced are we by Trites’ argument that lila’s xeroderma pigmentosum is “an embodied metaphor for racism (58),” that “xp may well be a metaphor for race in [a cool moonlight] (58)”? Are we not veering into dangerous territory when we conflate the two?
  2. Trites quotes David Herman’s argument that “cognitive narratology ‘investigates how narratives, through their forms as well as their themes, work to privilege some world models over others’ (79),” further specifying that she believes the most influential world model found in adolescent literature is “the model of requisite adolescent growth (79).” Do you think this is true of a cool moonlight? How do we see this play out in lila’s journey from wanting to be a sun goddess to being happy with being a moon girl?
    • Is it only the child/adolescent protagonist that must grow? Are the characters that form the community also growing or not growing? What is the role of the community/family in maintaining/enforcing this “requisite adolescent growth”? Do monk and mama and dad want lila to grow?
  3. I have never read Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, but juding from Trites’ analysis and quoting of the text, feel that it seems to be a highly problematic text. Trites says, “the book is ultimately far more pro-life than pro-choice, even though the text appears initially to try to present all sides of the debate fairly (71).” But it doesn’t! And ultimately, the message is received by readers, whether consciously or not. So. Where does that leave us? As someone interested in the sociology of knowledge and the way language works to enforce and maintain certain ideologies, I find this kind of work operating in children’s literature extra alarming. This goes back to our discussions around the fact that, ultimately, adults write children’s literature. Trites may argue that “the model of requisite adolescent growth” is the major unifying cultural narrative found in children’s literature, but perhaps it’s just the “ideas of the ruling class” (sorry to bring in Marx) that make it into these texts?

Blog #3

I realized this was sitting in my drafts and I never posted it!!

I chose Lemony Snicket’s “The Bad Beginning,” his first of 13 books in the Series of Unfortunate Events. He is a master of morbid humor through sarcasm and irony. McGillis talks plenty about the use of bigness to convey characters in a “fearsome,” exaggerated, and sort of gross way (pg. 261). Villainous Count Olaf is described in this manner, as “very tall and very thin, dressed in a gray suit that had many dark stains on it. His face was unshaven, and rather than two eyebrows, like most human beings have, he had just one long one (pg. 22).” The whole description, but the unibrow in particular, is humorous insomuch as it’s incredibly obvious who we are supposed to hate from the very beginning of the text.  Similarly, Olaf’s henchpeople are described in “grotesque” ways (pg. 267). The hook-handed man is a personal favorite — how does he do anything with two hooks for hands??

Throughout the book, Snicket isn’t didactic so much as comically instructive. He literally defines words for young readers, but then will use this method with a sly humor. For example, he doesn’t actually define the word “adversary,” he simply writes “…adversary, a word which here means Count Olaf.”

The “sheer nonsense (pg. 265)” McGillis describes is present throughout the text, from Count Olaf thinking himself a magnificent actor, to Mr. Poe’s ridiculous cough (and name…Edgar Poe!) to the use of alliteration (the children are at Briny Beach when they hear of the terrible fire that destroyed their home, Count Olaf puts on the play A Marvelous Marriage to legally marry Violet so that he can get her fortune).

McGillis describes the “freakish” nature of children’s literature and how it lends itself to humor. This is evident in the descriptions of the three orphans themselves, especially Sunny, who is an infant but has razor sharp teeth that she uses to bite through things like tree trunks! She also babbles but is completely conscious of what is going on around her, and her babbling is understood by her siblings, who regularly translate for her.

Snicket’s work embodies a lot of what McGillis describes, in a way that leaves readers feeling uneasy about the fact that they’re laughing at the terrible plight of three young orphans. Whether they are reading about “a greedy and repulsive villain” or “cold porridge for breakfast,” young readers are sure to be entertained, even if they’re not sure what’s so amusing about the shenanigans three kids get into trying to stay alive.

 

Blog – Blending and Cultural Narratives

  1. Trites states that adolescence is a blend of man concepts, hat include, at a minimum, the following: biological concepts of puberty; social constructions of adolescence; religious and social rites of passage… economic factors that define the adolescent’s ability to work or not educational constructs of adolescent learning styles… and psychological concepts of cognitive capacity. How do these constructs apply to someone like Lila who doesn’t have the same social constructs as other children her age? Would she have the same rites of passage as other children, as she grows into adolescence?
  2. “[b]uilding the blend requires composition, completion, and elaborations” (Turner 2002:11). In other words, blending in literature occurs because of the author’s composition of the text, the adolescent reader’s cognitive act of reading, and that reader’s imaginative process of elaborating the blend into a new meaning. ” (56-57)  Thinking of what we were discussing in class last week about childhood text having a different meaning in adulthood. What does this mean if we read adolescence text as adults?
  3. “The ideological act, in which blends create new domains specifically aimed at manipulating a reader’s belief system, involves what cognitive narratology refers to as cultural narratives.  Cultural narratives have been called by many names: master narratives, metanarratives, dominant cultural ideologies, or even stereotypes; Zunshine herself refers to them as “cultural representations” (2002:126)” (60) In all of the text we’ve read this semester, what “cultural representations” are represented in them? Does this shape how we read a text?
  4. THE BODY IS A CONTAINER – “As Lakoff and Johnson explain, “We are physical beings, bounded and set off from the rest of the world by the surface of our skins, and we experience the rest of the world as outside us. Each of us is a container, with a bounding surfaces and an in-out orientation” (1980:29). (71) What does this type of context mean for a character like Lila who’s outside world is limited to the nighttime?

 

This last part is an extra, because once I learned about the context of Lila’s disease I was reminded of a movie and a show that I watched a long time ago about someone with the same disease. There is a 2006 Japanese movie as well as a 2006 Japanese Television Drama called Taiyo no Uta about a teenage girl with Xeroderma pigmentosum, it’s interesting to read something that came out around the same time with the same concept but a different age for the characters.

 

a cool moonlight discussion questions

  • There were some really magical, tender moments in the text. For me, three stuck out in particular: 1) the scene of Lila and her father having middle-of-the-night grocery cart races in supermarket aisles, 2) when Lila is baking cookies with her sister, Monk, and 3) the ending when Lila literally becomes light and illuminates, accepting herself as moon girl, firefly keeper, and superhero. Did you find any magical moments while you were reading?
  • Any thoughts on the style of the narration? Thinking of lack of capitalization, sentence structure, diction, style …
  • I found the descriptions of characters to be sparse (and I wanted more, I think). We discover little things here and there about certain people: Lila’s dad is tall and skinny. David has red hair and freckles. The waitress, Callie, has a big afro and dragonfly tattoo. But, overall, descriptions are slim.
    • This is particularly true in case of Lila. Did you like or dislike this approach? Do you think the lack of physical description surrounding Lila is a result of her being a “night person” as opposed to the “day people” described above?
    • Trite points out “the race of her family is textually ambiguous.” Thoughts on this?
  • I realized in my second reading of the book that glowing is an important theme. It’s talked about a lot. Mushrooms glow. White tennis shoes glow. Alyssa and Elizabeth glow. Raisin cookies glow. Fireflies glow. The city glows. The sunbag glows. And, of course, Lila, in the end, glows. Why is glowing so important?
  • We have talked about the value of community more than a few times this semester. In a cool moonlight, the community surrounding Lila is quite strong. They always seem to be around to protect her (which may be partly why it’s so utopic? I wonder if/how this will change as she grows up…). From her parents, to David, to her sister (and even her sister’s boyfriend and friends), to maybe even the neighborhood? Where do Alyssa and Elizabeth fit into Lila’s community, if at all?
    • Side question: just curious if people knew right away Alyssa and Elizabeth were imaginary companions?
  • Of course, a question about the positionality of the author! On the book jacket, we are told that Angela Johnson “read a news story about the rare sun allergy xeroderma pigmentosum, and she knew that she had found the subject of her next novel.” Reactions? Did this remind anyone else of R.J. Palacio’s inspiration for Wonder? Yes, no, maybe so?
  • Why does Johnson have Lila describe her disability to us a “defect.” Reactions to this?

-Christie

Don’t forget your final blogging assignment….

Blog Assignment #4: Post on final paper and responses to each other’s post, if writing a final paper:  About a week before you submit your materials for workshop–or before–you should write a 1-2 page post about your final paper and the research you are completing.  I would like everyone to comment on these posts.

I would recommend that everyone get going on this–and do comment on each other’s posts.  It will enhance the workshop experience, which is otherwise going to unfold in Dropbox (and in the classroom of course!).