Week 2: Imagery, Metaphors, and Starting Project Poetry

Hi all,

This week we’ve continued discussing more awesome poetry from some great authors. We started off the week on Monday with a Meter and Terminology Exam, just to make sure we remembered all the terms and scansion skills we practiced last week. We also talked about some poems by Native American author James Thomas Stevens. Then that evening we attended a reading by James Thomas Stevens and several other Native American poets and prose writers in Gaylord Hall. It was especially cool to listen to them read because one was Colorado Coffee’s very own Byron Aspaas, who read a short piece from his memoir. A lot of us had no idea Byron was a writer, and were entranced by the beautiful and personal stories he shared with us.

On Tuesday we did a cool project with imagery. Jane gave us this poem, “City Limits” by Joseph Hutchison, and asked two people to draw on the board the image they pictured in their heads while reading the poem. It’s a beautiful description of the relationship between cities and the natural world. Here’s the poem:

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Mary and Kai drew on the board for us. This is Mary’s image:

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And this is Kai’s:

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Both images highlight different aspects of the poem and represent the imagery in different ways. Which image do you feel most connected to after reading the poem? Would you draw your own image differently?

We spent the rest of the week focusing on metaphor, and on Thursday had a great discussion about Sharon Olds’ “Sex Without Love.” Olds uses metaphors of dancers, ice-skaters, religion, and runners to describe people who have sex without love. This poem is wonderful because it does what great poems do: it comes close to saying the opposite of what it says. The speaker of the poem seems to disapprove of people having sex without loving their partner, but she also talks about those people in terms of strong and reverent metaphors, using words like “beautiful,” “great,” and “true religious.” Ultimately, however, she suggests that despite the power and pleasure that can be attained by loveless sex, those people, whether they know it or not, will ultimately end up a “single body alone in the universe.”

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Last but not least, on Thursday we also kicked off Project Poetry, a competition we invented inspired by some of my classmates’ love of Project Runway. We brainstormed and came up with several sets of creative constraints, then voted on our three favorites:

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In order to compete, everyone has to write at least one of the three poems. We’ll submit them on 4th Monday and have some senior poets come into class to judge and pick the winners. Jane will be our Tim Gunn to give us advice and help us out as we go, and the winners of each category will get a prize! (Exactly what that will be is TBD.) So look forward to more info on Project Poetry come 4th week! (I’m sure everyone will be quite secretive until the day comes for the competition.)

Happy snowy weekend!

O

A Look at our Readings and Thesis Presentations

The following books have all been assigned over the course of the last week, and we’ve had some interesting follow-up discussions (and an essay to write!) regarding the ethics and efficacy of ethnography and participant observation as a research method. I highly encourage, if you’re interested, that you check these books out. They are written on a spectrum of styles, from first person all the way to third person omniscient and work meaningfully to portray the perspectives of marginalized persons living on the fringes of American life.

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These books are all accessible to the educated reader, but I would argue that all three need to be read with a critical eye. That means thinking about who the researcher is, which stories he/she decides to include in the text and why, and how he/she navigates the connection between micro- and macro-sociological patterns. One of the more clear examples of the effect of human, subjective interaction, is from On the Run; the author’s key to acceptance in the community that she is researching is a Black man named Mike. Upon taking her under his wing, Mike describes to Alice (the author and researcher) unabashedly why she is a poor fit for his own community. “First off, my clothes were all wrong – they didn’t even match. My toenails were bare and uneven, and what was I doing wearing flip-flops in January anyway? […] The way that I spoke was strange, and I could stand to get a little more husky. Plus, I didn’t know how to walk or hold my body right” (2014:223). In scenes like this, I can imagine the young Alice Goffman, in her doe-eyed whiteness, sticking out like a sore thumb from a community that she grows to consider herself part of.

Another part of this week has to do with CC’s Sociology Department at large! Today, Friday the 29th, was Senior Thesis Day. Here’s what the schedule looked like:

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I attended the second session, “Sociology of College Life,” which had a fabulous mixture of qualitative/quantitative and local/national research completed by three women of Sociology that will be graduating this year. From inclusivity to sexual assault, the three presentations investigated social problems that affect college students around the country as well as the CC student body in particular. One of the main takeaways that connected to Symbolic Interactionism is the way in which the publicized image of CC (supposedly, we all ADORE the outdoors and spend all our free time in the woods, which is ironic given my “About Me” at the bottom of this page) unequally affects students of color in an exclusionary way. It’s research like this that will keep Colorado College a changing place, and one that cannot ignore its social issues thanks to students brave enough to confront them.

Theses are required of Sociology majors at CC, whether they be a research project or literature review, on a topic of their choosing. To be completed senior year, each student plans for two blocks to be conducting research, writing, and editing with the help of peers and an advisor of their choice. What follows are a few photos of the women that so successfully completed and presented meaningful research; I can’t wait to see them walk the Commencement stage in just two weeks!

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A final note: I spent my last time in the field at Penrose Hospital observing yesterday. My group has started to more specifically investigate the systematic separation of hospital personnel based on profession (as dictated by uniforms) and how those professions correlate to race. Gender dynamics have also been interesting to observe more closely; the profession of nursing is both largely female and largely social (they chat… a lot…) in the cafeteria.

It’s snowing buckets on campus! Nothing like a late April snowstorm in Colorado Springs!

What are we here to do?

The Queery Is

First and foremost:

Queer Theory is not just for Queer Bodies to participate in. 

As I define it, queerness can be as minute as an identity signifier outside of the normative, but it can be as expansive as deconstructing and reconceptualizing our “natural” worlds. Queerness, through subversion, transgression, and the necessity of survival, exposes the artifice of society and what  has been  assumed to be the essence of humanness. It interrogates the idea of an essence at all.

On the first day,  a classmate of mine said
“There have been certain people who have made sense of the world for others..”
Those people in American society have been white, hetero, and male. Therefore,  the compulsory understanding of natural has aligned itself with their  positioning. A position of power. A position of regulation. And a self-perpetuating, self-sustaining, misconception of naturalness functioning, solely, to reinstate a dynamic power.

 SOCIETY’S ARTIFICE.

“The fallacy of binary opposition” is a phrase I first encountered in Mock Trial. For those of you who have yet to embrace this deliciously nerdy subculture, it is essentially learning a real case, with an assigned position (defense or prosecution), and then competitively reenacting that case in courthouse.  Where “binary opposition” asserts itself is in the construction of our team’s argument. We have to believe that we are right and they are wrong. Us/them, right/wrong, prosecution/defense –those are our functioning binaries.  However, in order to move forward, we have to learn both sides of the story (high-five debate team tactics)– and this is where the fallacy is revealed.  The narrative of opposition between two objects (between us and them) is the one we are creating.

And I think we can all agree that we are surrounded by spectrums and fluidity, not hard lines. Or maybe we don’t agree… but,

LET’S GO FURTHER

Binary structures work as a tool to create power dynamics, founded in an assumed or constructed, irrefutable truth. For example, the gender binary male/female: where male is the dominating force. One of the underlying assumptions is the “truth” that women are weak and men are strong, which gives reason for men to be in a position of power. And (surprise, surprise) these support systems take a binary form: strong/weak, natural/unnatural, sensible/silly.

While homosexuality threatens (or challenges) the power dynamic of the male/female binary, the term was created* in conjunction with its own binary force: homosexual/heterosexual. What this, then, did is reestablish lost power within the heteronormative, where homosexuality is subordinate, unnatural, etc.

​Part of this “truth” is grounded in the assumption that the dominating side is the majority, and it’s power is simply a matter of numerical fact. And in some instances, binarisms do follow this narrative. But can dominance be as basic as having the most bodies? How much of it is really the power of numbers or just the reinforcement, and gravitation towards, a larger binary construction for justification. What binary is that, you ask? Majority/minority. But if we think about colonization, which party had the power? The colonizer or the colonized? The majority or the minority?

Or if we think about the dynamics of a plantation house, where the plantation owners were the minority and the slaves the majority. A different binary was put in place to ensure positions of power, white/black, where scientific “truths” of “natural evidence” of inferiority were created to justify claims of necessary control.

In no way am I trying to invalidate the existence, significance, or consequences of oppositional binaries we are swimming in– male/female, white/black, good/bad, etc– but more so wish to illuminate the destructive pattern of thought (its sole purpose being to establish the dominate/subordinate power dynamic). ​​And for those of us who want to move towards balance and equality, or (at least) consensual inequality, we have to strip down the layers of our reality.

So where do we go from here? Well, 

TO EXIST CONSCIOUSLY WE MUST KNOW THE WAYS IN WHICH WE HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED TO MOVE, THINK, AND BE. ​

Queerness, as I embrace and use it, is a resistance to this conditioning.

 

SO322: First week… All the world’s a stage!

New this year, CC’s Sociology department has changed the way we take our theory courses for requirements. In Block II, I took the general Social Theory Class with Professor Deb Smith and then elected to focus on Symbolic Interactionism for my specialized theory. Following this, I’ll take either Quantitative or Qualitative Methods and then write my thesis!

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Symbolic interactionism is one of the major theoretical frameworks of modern Sociology, and focuses largely on micro-interactions between people of all sorts. It’s all about how we create meanings through interactions, and how, as Professor Vanessa Muñoz’s coffee cup quotes Charles Cooley, “Self and society are twin-born.” As far as class goes this week, we’ve read some philosophy regarding interactions: Mead’s “The Self,” Cooley’s “The Looking-Glass Self,” and Erving Goffman’s “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” From this final book we read a good 100 pages overnight, and one of the main points Goffman made works to counter my title for this post: “All the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy to specify.” In other words, we are all part of society that watches each other and assigns meanings to others’ appearance and demeanor, even though we are not technically on a stage. See the awesome Zits cartoon below for a contemporary example.

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In addition to the philosophy aspect of class, we have a field component that will culminate in a final research paper. Let me explain: in addition to reading/discussion, an ethnographic study done by student groups of five on a topic of choice is a large part of the syllabus. Ethnography is defined as the scientific description of the customs of individual peoples and cultures. My group of five women has decided to study the interactions of medical professionals with the general public in neutral spaces, specifically the hospital cafeteria. We have been visiting Penrose Hospital recently and have only begun to observe patterns of interactions that hint to the world of the cafeteria being a stage.

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For example, take the “costumes.” White labcoats, patient gowns, stethoscopes, ID badges… All of the characters are identifiable by what they wear in this way. Their appearances affect how people interact with each other in the cafeteria; for example, we sit with those who are like us and give space to those that merit respect. As a student that plans to go to medical school in a couple of years, it’s been interesting to start looking critically at the hierarchy of the hospital… Who are the doctors? Who cooks the food? What does it mean to be an RN versus a PA? What do subsets of employees talk about in their free time?

Obviously I’ve got a lot of questions about my ethnographic study, and I’m told that this is normal. Hopefully, in another week, my team’s observations will guide us to a specific research question and a theory – regardless of how blurry it is. Because Symbolic Interactionism works so neatly with ethnography – watching how people interact and create meanings is the way that we can more clearly theorize on dramaturgical interactions – I’m happy to say that I have no doubts that this first week has just been the beginning! I’m starting to see characters and costumes and stages instead of what I’ve always seen as just plain life… I’m thinking Goffman’s thoughts are on point.  

Week 1 Recap: Now I Understand What the Pied Piper is About

Hi all!

I’ve only just gotten my account set up so I didn’t get a chance to post during 1st week.

Here’s a recap of some of the cool activities we did. One of the things I really enjoy about Jane as a professor is that she’s incorporating aspects of writing poetry into the class – so we’re not just analyzing other people’s poems; we’re also writing our own and doing other kinds of creative work.

For instance after spending time analyzing meter, we also talked about line breaks and how form contributes to the meaning of a work. Jane gave us a poem called “After Love.” She had collapsed into one paragraph with no formatting, and split us into groups of three to add line breaks and format the poem how we wished. The results were all unique poems that felt different to read – some starker and colder, more removed; others more conflicted or more hopeful. Then Jane gave us the poem formatted the way the poet chose: a series of couplets ending with a single line. None of our poems looked even remotely like the original. It was fascinating to see the effect form had on our interpretations of the poem. Here is the poem my group wrote, compared to the original:

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On Wednesday we wrote our own sonnets in iambic pentameter and/or response poems in iambic tetrameter to Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” and read them aloud to the class on Thursday. Everyone took a different direction with each poem, and they were really fun to listen to.

On Friday we discussed sound in poetry and I got really into it. Maybe too into it, who knows. We catalogued sound patterns in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty,” noting the ways he uses sound to evoke images and colors within his written text. My partner for the activity, Jonathan, and I made this using a different color for each consonantal sound (though we didn’t get a chance to finish it completely). We tried to give softer consonants lighter colors and harder consonants darker colors when possible:image1

As we moved on to other poems in class, I couldn’t stop thinking about this poem, so naturally I distracted myself by color-coding the vowel sounds. Having just finished a Linguistics course, I have a solid knowledge of English phonology (meaning the study of sound in language). At its most basic there are 15 vowel sounds in English (12 pure vowels and 3 diphthongs), which is a lot more than most languages. Japanese, for instance, has only 5 pure vowels and no diphthongs. Spanish has 5 pure vowels and 5 diphthongs. I went through the “Pied Beauty” poem a second time, now in search of vowel patterns. This is what I produced:

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Hopkins’ poem is pied indeed, full of many colors. So far it’s been a good class, and plenty fun working with Jane and my fellow classmates.

Over and out,

O

Week 4

4/11-12/16

FIELD TRIP!!!

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The “cloudmaker” bomb, at a chemical weapons storage facility in Pueblo, Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to poor weather, our original plans for the trip changed and we ended up visiting numerous sites around the front range.

Bent’s Old Fort, in La Junta, Colorado.

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LUNCHTIME!!!!

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Campground for the night in Lake Pueblo State Park!

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On to some sweet paleontology and geology!

The protrusions in the rocks are actually the impressions of dinosaur footprints in mud.  The footprints were covered in sediment, which lithified forming the rock and the perfect molds of the dinosaur footprints .

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The entire rock deposit had the footprints of over four types of dinosaurs!  Students looked at the footprints and made predictions about how the dinosaurs may have walked, and some of their anatomy.  We also measured and compared stride lengths to leg lengths to estimate some more features of the dinosaur.

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End of Week 4 and the Block

Happy block break everyone! I definitely meant to write this post either last night or this morning, but found that I needed to give myself a little bit of a break before writing this! Although our final paper for this class was fairly short (especially since my last block ended with me writing my thesis), the idea of writing yet another something right after I finished my paper was more than I really wanted to do! Anywho, I hope you’ve all made it through the end of the block and can take some time to relax and rejuvenate before jumping into the last block of this school year!
We spent all of this week work4ing on our final papers, so I don’t have much to talk about on the reading side of life! Over the weekend, we were originally supposed to read a novel called Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties, but our professor decided to make that an extra credit assignment (read it and write a reflection) because we wouldn’t have the time to do the novel justice. I (along with quite a few of my classmates it sounds like) decided to read the book, mostly because I’ve quite enjoyed the readings for this class, but also in part because I was already part way through it! I can’t say it was my favorite thing we’ve read this block (that award probably has to go to Brando Skyhorse’s The Madonnas of Echo Park), but it was still an interesting read! Of all the books we read, this book and the collection of comics, The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S dealt the most explicitly with sexuality. I didn’t spend any time comparing how the two works grapple with the issue, but it would definitely be a good thought experiment! They’re both somewhat gritty representations, but beyond that I don’t really have anything to say!

Our final day of class was a peer editing day. Whether intentional or not, I was partnered with another senior (not an English major though) and we’d both written our papers on the same short story. For all that it was a peer editing exercise, it was kind of exciting reading another paper about this particular short story. It’s all of ten pages, yet our papers went in two completely different directions! Although that can sometimes be a bit disconcerting, I think we both felt pretty good about it because we knew that at the very least, we’d picked a somewhat controversial, but definitely arguable thesis, which is kind of the whole point of those kinds of papers!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! With the class over, this is my last blog post, so thank you to everyone who has read it! I hope it’s been enjoyable and informative!

End of Week 3

Now that we’ve reached the end of week 3, almost all of the reading is done (we have one last book to read this weekend), which seems kind of crazy to me! After spending several years on the block plan, you would think that I’d be used to how quickly blocks come to an end, but the end of this block has definitely snuck up on me (maybe because I was in a double-block at the start of the semester)! To all my fellow students out there, good luck with your fourth week! We’re in the home stretch!

The readings this week have had a very different feel from the readings of the previous weeks, and the texts for almost every other English course I’ve taken. We started off the week with a collection of comics, which was definitely a new experience for me! I’ve never really read comics, even as a kid, so it took some getting used to because there is a very different set of skills involved in reading comics, especially when you read them through a literary lens. Although it was hard work in the beginning, I found it much easier and therefore more enjoyable once I settled into the rhythm of reading comics. Not sure I necessarily want to read more comics, but I’m glad I had the chance to experience a different medium and now I have a better idea of how to read comics if I ever need to do that again!

On Tuesday, we had a much-needed day off to read. As often happens around this time of both the block and year, a bunch of people are dealing with various illnesses, which, when coupled with the workload of English classes, make time off incredibly valuable! Reading days give us all a chance to recharge a bit, which helps out our discussions for sure! I always enjoy reading days because I have the chance to sit and read a book basically straight through. While most people probably think that sounds like a somewhat torturous experience, I think it’s a really interesting way to read books every now and then. Reading a book in one sitting helps me see connections that I wouldn’t have made if I had broken the book up into segments to read at various times. So if you have the time and patience, try doing it sometime! Maybe, you’ll see things a little differently too!

I think one 3reason the texts from this week felt so different to me is because they were more contemporary works. Although the comics were published in the late 1980s, the content deals with contemporary issues (modern relationships to land, the treatment of women and queer identities come to mind). Hernandez confronts these and other issues in a fairly head-on attitude, which seems much more like current-day approach than I would have expected from someone writing in the 1980s. Brando Skyhorse’s novel The Madonnas of Echo Park and Myriam Gurba’s collection of short stories titled Painting Their Portraits in Winter were both published in the last six years and depict a number of the same themes as Hernandez. Because the three works shared similar themes, I found myself tracking how the authors approached the treatment of women and queer identities. I haven’t had the chance to form any kind of conclusions from what I’ve noticed, but it’s been interesting to see the similarities and differences!

With fourth week upon us, I’m off now to read a novel and research articles for our final paper! To any of my classmates reading this, happy researching! To other students, happy fourth week! To everyone else, thanks for reading!

Week 3

4/4/16

Today we started class with our second test, reviewing concepts from last week of land and rock disturbances.  this-changes-everything-9781451697391_hr

Once finished, we had a discussion on the weekend’s reading: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein. Students discussed the selfish psychology of big business and asserted that since business is only motivated by money, ethical environmental policy in business is very rare. Additionally we discussed the role of the people, the economy, and the government in implementing environmental change. We contemplated what it will take in order to get a global movement going to stop climate change, and discussed specific policy changes having to do with subsidy distribution. We ended class with a small debate discussing the necessity for global leaders to get real and take initiative to fight climate change, and determined that climate change will not be addressed by politicians until it is literally happening all around them, perhaps when it is too late.

4/5/16

Today in class we discussed the formation processes of coal, natural gas, and oil.  As plants and organic matter are buried under layers of sediment, they decay at a slower rate due to lack of oxygen. Compaction and decay turn this plant matter into peat, containing 50% carbon.  The peat is exposed to additional heating and compression as the seam deepens over thousands of years. Through these processes, peat eventually turns into coal, which is extracted and used for energy production. 

Oil and natural gas on the other hand are produced as plankton die and fall to the sea or lake floor. The organic material accumulates over time as a fine mud. Without any oxygen, the carbon is saved and buried with the decaying matter. Eventually lithification occurs and the mud forms black shale, a petroleum source rock. Once the shale is buried 2-4 km deep, and exposed to heat and pressure, it forms kerogen, a waxy oil containing rock.  Through additional heating and pressure, the kerogen breaks down and forms oil between 90-160 degrees celsius and gas between 160-250 degrees celsius.  If exposed to additional heating, gas and oil break down and form graphite.  This delicate combination of depth, temperature and pressure is known as the “oil window”. 

Next we discussed the process of fracking and the massive increase in U.S. oil reserves thanks to it’s technologies. We talked about how fracking has helped the U.S. achieve energy independence and discussed it’s many drawbacks, from water waste to land disturbance. Lastly, we ended class with a discussion of carbon sequestration and efforts to possibly bury our Carbon in sinks, much like the beds of decaying matter have in the past, and a possible answer to rising CO2 levels.

 

SecretOcean_leaf_8-24/6/16: FIELD TRIP

Today our class went on a field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Sciences.  First we watched the film: Secret Ocean.  The movie was shot really well and showed footage of animals only recently discovered in the ocean and their relationships with other animals within the ecosystem.  The movie featured the importance of zooplankton and phytoplankton in an ecosystem and described mutually beneficial relationships within ecosystems.  The movie also touched upon the importance of high biodiversity coral reefs and the intricate interspecies relationships that exist within them.

 

 

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After the movie students went on a ‘prehistoric journey’ through the paleozoic, mesozoic and cenozoic areas, looking at species local to the Americas and Colorado.  Students compared mammoths and mastodon skeletons and looked at the different ecosystems and transitions visible in the Colorado rock layers. Students filled out a packet answering numerous questions on the film and the prehistoric hall.  Students created food webs of coral reef ecosystems from the film, studied the rise of mammals and compared and studied the biodiversity of the Colorado area using evidence from the fossil record.

 

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4/7/16

Today in class we went over yesterdays field trip and shared some of our findings.  We also went over the worksheet from the museum and filled in any questions we were missing.  Once we finished our review Christine went into some explanation of some of her local field work in the area.

 

Tava sandstone is a bizarre geological formation found in the Colorado Springs area that Christine focused some of her study on.  The sandstone lies in the middle of a deposit of Pikes Peak granite, creating a geological anomaly.  How could the extremely old sandstone have formed in intrusions in the rock if the rock was formed after? It would have destroyed the intrusions! Christine looked at this rock and hypothesized that the intrusions were the result of a huge earthquake that caused the sandstone to form in the granite.  She went on to explain the process of her analyzation of the rock, and chemical tests. The tests informed her that the sandstone was precambrian and that it contained organic material within it (WOW! a peak into precambrian life perhaps?!) Upon further analyzation, the sample was found to have higher levels of a material used in organic sulfur processing.  This information led Christine to reach the ‘very preliminary hypothesis’ that the sandstone sediments once contained microfauna who possibly cycled sulfur as a life process.

4/8/16

Today in class we had our second class symposium, where students presented their research topics  to the class.  Students presented and spoke confidently on a variety of topics from bio-mimicry to planned obsolescence, and described methods of individual effort in stopping climate change.

The projects can be viewed below:

 

Pandemics: Then vs. Now

California and the Drought

The Circular Economy: A New Means of Production

The 9 Limits of Planet Earth: How We’ve Already Passed 4 of Them, and What to do About it

The Impending Doom of Island Nations and What Must Be Done to Save Them

End of Week 2

Now that we’re at the end of our second week and more or less halfway through the class, people are beginning to feel more comfortable with each other and the course material, which means that we’re able to have deeper conversations with participation from a greater number of people! Yay! I’m really looking forward to weeks three and four and the discussion we’ll have then because we’ll all be even more comfortable and we’ll be reading more novels. This week we’ve focused on short stories, which has been fun because I think short stories are a really good way of developing analytical skills without overwhelming students with too much material to work with. But I almost always want more from short stories, so I’m definitely looking forward to novels because they contain a greater amount of complexity because they have more space and time to develop ideas, relationships etc!

For me, this week has reminded me of two very important things. The first is the skills required for a strong close reading assignment. I don’t think I’ve done a legitimate close reading assignment since my first year of college, so even though I use close reading concepts every time I write a paper, I forgot the absolute attention to detail required by a close reading. While writing these close reading papers, I keep finding myself wanting to make connections to other parts of the text or to other texts I’ve read. Although those connections will definitely help me out in the long-term, they are NOT the point of a close reading where you’re meant to stay within a specific passage and flesh out what you have in front of you! So lesson learned! It’s always a good idea to go back to the basics even when those basics challenge you do to things differently!

The second thing I’m taking away from this week is that just sometimes disliking a text is actually a sign of a good writer! We read Tomas Rivera’s Y no se lo trago la tierra (And the earth did not devour him for those who need the translation) earlier this week and I really, really struggled with it! Although quite short, it took me quite some time to read it because I would get so frustrated with how destabilized I felt while reading! I honestly felt like I wasn’t understanding what Rivera was writing, but after a little bit of reflection I decided that the instability of the text and narrative is quite intentional and helps give readers a better idea of the lives of migrant workers. After a few minutes more, I realized that I’d learned this lesson earlier in the school year when I read Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for a class. Sometimes not liking a text simply means that the author has done exactly what he or she set out to do! As a reader and English major, we sometimes have to take a step back from our personal feelings and take a moment to appreciate an author’s craft.

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Lastly, I noticed myself thinking about religion and spirituality with regard to almost every single thing we read. Maybe it had to do with the fact that it was Easter this past weekend or maybe that was just a fun coincidence! Either way, I fixated on religion quite a bit and probably had a better time than I should have thinking about the various ways the authors and texts treated religion and spirituality. Both Rivera and Américo Paredes seemed to have a more cynical view of religion than some of the other authors we’ve read in the past few weeks, such as Sandra Cisneros and Jovita Gonzalez. The authors presented both traditional Catholicism along with spirituality not based on religion (i.e. curanderismo in Bless Me Ultima [we watched the movie]). Although I found the authors’ portrayals of Catholicism interesting (thank you to my roommate who is always willing to answer any questions I have about Catholicism!), I was more intrigued by depictions of spirituality, probably in part because it is something I am less familiar with. I thought the way of interacting with the world and forming an intimate connection with the earth and those around them really stood out in the texts and movie. We also went to the Fine Arts Center to look at devotional art on Friday, which gave us another perspective on religion and spirituality. I thought the art pieces we looked at and the activities we participated in while at the center reinforced what we’ve read. Seeing the themes replicated in a different medium and across several hundred years was powerful indeed!

On a note not really related to this class, I was recently informed that in my first post I erroneously wrote “blogging world,” when I should have said “blogosphere,” so my apologies for that! The same person also pointed out several writing errors (or at the very least slightly sloppy instances of writing that I should probably avoid), so I apologize in advance for any further “mistakes” in any of my posts! In my defense, blogging is fairly informal and I haven’t had any glaring errors to really embarrass me!