The article that I chose to focus on for this week is “Reading LGBT-Themed Literature with Young People: What’s Possible?” by Caroline T. Clark and Mollie V. Blackburn. In it, the authors discuss the various ways that LGBT texts have been incorporated into classrooms and the limitations behind these approaches. I chose this article because I felt that we spend a lot of time talking about the books we read from an academic stance but sometimes fail to address the intended audience of these texts. While this article does not directly address Aristotle and Dante, it does provide some valuable insight into what it would be like to use such a text in a classroom and offers some advice as to what is the best way to do so.
Here is a video of figure skater Elizabeth Manley, picking up on our discussion about ballerinas and figure skaters in Skim:
- Fink quotes Scott McCloud writing that McCloud “suggests that in reading comics, one must pay attention to the interplay of image and words, noting discrepancies between what is written and what is shown.” In what ways does reading between the lines in the graphic novel Skim applies to what McCloud is saying? Is it the representation of food on the pages without the actual talk of Skim’s body image? Or the juxtaposition of the gym class based on days when Skim is participating or not based on her injury?
- The article writes about how image versus actual depression is depicted in the eyes of others, (142) whereas to some they see the person as if they’re losing weight and looking better, inside the person themselves depressed based on something happening in their lives. How does this translate throughout the graphic novel Skim, does how much of it shows that no one is really paying attention to the protagonist?
- “In this flashback to age thirteen, Skim recounts being invited to the costume slumber party of a popular classmate, only to be chased and then locked out of the house by a “herd of ballerinas” (85). The skinny White feminized bodies of the party’s exalted attendees are framed against the Asian nonconforming bodies of Skim and her classmate Hein, who are forcibly removed from the birthday celebration. The ballerinas giggle at Skim (who is dressed as a lion) and Hein (who is costumed in combat gear) from inside the house, tossing out their lootbags as if to formally exeunt them from the event.”(136) How does this separate the other, versus the in-crowd? Skim is only invited at the last minute in the graphic novel, but is surrounded by the supposed perfect image of the female body. How would this effect a person in the future in regards to how the world would perceive them?
Hi everyone, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the following questions:
- I was mesmerized by Skim’s mom’s note that Skim should tell everyone she’s the moon in the school play as opposed to the night sky. For me, it highlights a central question of the text: How and When is Skim made visible? How and when is Skim made invisible? Of course, there are so many approaches we can take in answering this question since this is a graphic novel, but I’m especially interested in visibility of her queerness, her racial identity, and her subcultural identity(ies).
- Lisa goes on (and on) about Katie’s “scar” as a girlfriend of someone who has committed suicide. On the other hand, Skim talks about “marks” we all have whether we want them or not. Is there a difference between scars and marks in the texts’ mind? Do you think Lisa’s experiences of scarring are different than Skim’s experiences of “marks?”
- I’m obsessed with all of the bathroom scenes in this novel. I don’t know why. This might be such a silly question, but do you find value in a YA novel that gives its readers access to girls talking in the bathroom, washing their hands in the bathroom, etc.? If value is an awkward word, what about is there a reason why we have it in this text?
- What is the responsible way to deal with Ms. Archer and Skim’s relationship? On the one hand, I get there’s so much going on there with sexual identity, coming of age, experimentation. But on the other hand, Ms. Archer totally abuses her power. Right? Am I supposed to forgive her for that because she gives Skim an A and runs away? Because I don’t forgive her. I guess what I’m asking you is, how did you understand their relationship? Is that kiss supposed to be as innocent as Mr. Tushman “not seeing” the bullying that Jack and Auggie experience? Or is it more layered?
See you Thursday!
I was unable to put my secondary source in the dropbox, so I’ve included it below.
The article focuses on the narrative strategies of the novel, Obasan, and provides historical context on multiculturalism in Canada. While I haven’t read Obasan, yet, I’m interested in Davis’ points on “silence to speech” as a flawed representation of progress and how that intersects with the “transgressive eating” we see in Skim. I’m also interested in Skim’s school as an imagined community and Skim’s role in making the fractures of this imagined community visible, so Davis’ points about Canada’s imagined communities feel especially important.
I’m looking forward to discussing!
- At moments in the text, Kim (Skim) disappears into lines. What is the significance of her disappearance in those moments? When does shading put her firmly on the page? How are these moments contrasted?
- The novel starts with Kim’s diary entry: “Dear Diary, Today Lisa said, ‘Everyone thinks they are unique.’ That is not unique!!” The entry sits on top of a white page that is split in half by leaves blowing in the breeze. Rather than introduce us to the main character, the novel introduces us to her regurgitation of someone else’s words. What is the significance of hearing before seeing the characters? Why do Lisa’s thoughts seem more prominent than Kim’s, whose “That is not unique” is written below, like an afterthought?
- The novel begins with Kim and Lisa as friends and ends with Kim and Katie as friends. How do their friendships differ? How does GCL function? Is there a female care community present? What defines “true” friendship?
- The novel is decidedly female. Men play secondary, fleeting parts in Kim’s narrative. What is the effect on the narrative? On the characters?
- Kim catches Katie vandalizing the GCL board, suggesting that this is not the first time she has done this. Later, the photo of John on the GCL board is seen with “fag” written on the forehead. Is Katie implemented in this act? If so, how does that change her relationship with Kim? Is there relationship merely friendship or more? [Also, is the heart symbol Ms. Archer draws on both their casts a beacon of their connected nature, or simply, a mark to show that Ms. Archer has given both of them extra (and inappropriate due to her position and age) attention?]
For next week, I wanted to attach the following two articles. However, I know we are asked to only attach one, so I will be mostly talking about “Affect and the Body,” but I will be pulling in references to “Ideological Interpellation.”
When reading Skim, I was torn about where I wanted to take discussion. Female friendship and care communities present an interesting point of discussion in relation to Kim and Lisa, Kim and Katie, GCL, and the girls’ school. But also, bodies and eating disorders play a significant supporting role in the female characters’ development. Since we have an interesting article on female friendship, I decided to go with body, eating disorders, and identity.
In Patti Luedecke, “Affect and the Body in Melville’s ‘Bartleby’ and Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki’s Skim,” Luedecke explores the way body, consumption, affect, and identity work together in both texts. By juxtaposing “Bartleby” to Skim, she allows different perceptions of body, identity, and race to be discussed across time, culture, and genre.
- What roles do race and class play in the socioeconomic dynamics of August’s middle school? August is Jewish and Brazilian and Summer is biracial. Jack is white, but he lives on the “wrong” side of Broadway. In comparison, Julian is white and extremely rich. Is there a message of universal understanding of oppression?
- What rhetorical strategies are used to display disability? Was this a conscious choice? Was it well executed? Did it add to the story? Specifically, I’m thinking of Justin never using capital letters (and we can also talk about how August never gives physical descriptions, whereas Via gives lengthy descriptions).
- Mr. Tushman knows about the bullying, but he chooses to ignore it (this is reminiscent of Dumbledore knowing about how the Dursley’s treated Harry, but didn’t do anything about it). Why did he do this? Is the reasoning of “knowing oneself” and “personal growth” enough to not intervene? [I know the other post raises a similar question, but I want to reiterate it here because I think it’s an important issue. Why must adults let children suffer in order for them to “succeed”?]
- Speaking of bullying, this novel is taught in middle school to start a conversation about bullying. Do you think this is an effective lesson? Or, is it completely ignoring the larger bildungsroman of multiple characters by focusing on Auggie’s “disability?” Are we, then, promoting a form of ableism by focusing on the “disability” over all else?
- Speaking of ableism, the novel was written by an able-bodied woman whose child reacted negatively to someone else’s facial abnormality. Does this change the way we view the narrative?
(For some reason I can’t post this to the dropbox, it’s giving me a permission error, so the link should take you to the article and it can be downloaded from the top right corner.)
I wasn’t sure what kind of source to look for when I was taking on this assignment, but I found this interesting because the parents are just as much a part of the book Wonder, as August is. The article itself discusses the struggles of parents who have children born with a birth defect as well as how they advocating better communication with doctors as their children grow up. It’s as much a responsibility for the healthcare professionals as it is for the parents to help the child throughout their lives.
How the parents react to their child is something that is as important as how the child is received in school. That’s one of the reason I chose this particular article.
Something else I found while browsing around looking for the secondary article.
NPR radio did an interview with Robert Hoge for his book Ugly about what it was like growing up with his own deformity, but reading the transcript of the interview he also talks about his mother and how she processed who he was. Which makes me want to read this book after Wonder.
- In the novel, many characters go out of their way to say that August “does not have special needs. He is neither disabled, handicapped, nor developmentally delayed in any way” (163). However, Wheeler notes that from a disability studies perspective, he is disabled. Although Wheeler accepts this categorization, why do the characters in the novel resist it? Does this represent a barrier between disability theory (i.e. academics like Wheeler and their analysis) and the lived experiences of characters/people like August?
- In what ways is Wheeler not critical enough of Wonder? What are some of the “less realist moments” (338) and how do they detract from the effectiveness of the work as a whole?
- Wheeler discusses how three major models of disability (social, medical, and monster) are depicted in the novel, which impacts August’s life most?
- Wheeler continually cites Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s “Staring: How We Look.” Here is a link to the whole book online (it is absolutely worth reading and is very accessible). Because I had read Garland-Thomson’s book before I was intrigued by all the staring in the book, the visual politics, and how aware August is of stare dynamics. How do you feel staring operates in the novel, and what is August’s relationship to it?