Thursday, September 29, 2011

BLOG #9 Topical Questions

     In response to the video of Malika Sarabhai and our class discussion of this, I am writing a related exploratory essay.  
     As a musician, I am wondering, what can I find out about groups using music specifically to spread political messages of awareness?
     Is there documentation of specific ways in which these groups, through their music, have affected change in others?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#8 Suheir Hammad "First Writing Since"

     Suheir Hammad is definitely using poetry to make her argument and she was very persuasive in doing so.  The logos appeal is to tell us the wrongness of killing, of racism, of "assuming that a people represent evil" (Hammad). She points out the false logic of someone asking her if she knew who the 9/11 attackers were just because of her heritage. Her thesis is stated at the very end, saying "You're either with life or against it.  Affirm life" (Hammad).    Her ethos is evident in her message as she speaks clearly and powerfully, with a genuine plea to the audience, telling us "I've read too many books to believe what I'm told".   Hammad's appeal to our pathos is in the pictures she creates in our minds of skyscrapers falling, transforming to smoke, of  the injustice of 9/11 being no different than what was happening on the West Bank and Gaza.  She talks about her love and fear for her brothers, a family love with which we can all identify.   
    I felt extremely "persuaded" by this poem, by Hammad's pictures she put into my mind, by her strong voice, and by the overall message that is left with me after listening. When she told us "I have never been so hungry that I willed hunger", it struck me that the people in this world who are killing and causing such incredible hurt, must be so intensely hurt themselves in order to wish such pain on others.   Affirming life is essential, and needs to be taught and practiced by all peoples.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guinevere's blog #7, Exploratory Essay

     In an exploratory essay the writer first tells of their question and its complexity.   It is important to pose a problem that is not yet answered and carry the reader along in their mental questioning, keeping the tension of a sought after answer in mind throughout the essay.  The essay itself does not need to give the reader the ultimate solution, but might just create more thought toward the said problem. "Your goal is not to answer your question but to report on the process of wrestling with it" (Allyn and Bacon 109).
    The writer then gives us the opportunity of seeing alternative ways of looking at the situation.  In doing this, the reader's perception can be expanded beyond just their own personal opinion, and the writer can also go beyond his/her own ideas as well.  "The essential move for exploratory thinking and writing is to keep a problem alive through consideration of multiple solutions or points of view" (Allyn and Bacon 107).
     In writing exploratory essays it is important to "show how you chose sources purposefully  and reflectively rather than randomly" (Allyn and Bacon 109).  This entails showing the reader our logical thought processes as we research our question topic. This can also include exposing our sources and the how one part of our research chronologically leads to a subsequent path of searching for our answer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Bros Before Hos" Guinevere

     In the beginning of this essay, the author Kimmel poses the question of what it means to be a woman or man,  and notes the differences of response between genders.  One female college students says, "Nobody can tell me what it means to be a woman anymore" (Kimmel 44). To me, this statement pronounces the overall feeling I also get as a woman living in today's culture.  In the past, there were many unequal struggles for the female gender, and after decades of hard work  I believe much of the fight for equality can now subside.  I, too, feel that as a woman I can choose any path I want, and I am grateful for this (of course in many situations other than my own, this is a whole different story for some women).  After reading this essay and alongside with our recent class discussions,  the men's side of all these issues is becoming more and more clear, and I am beginning to see the immense struggle of the male "box" of Guyland to which so many males are being held captive.
      In reading about how this box becomes constructed as boys are very young, I am reflecting on my own seven year old son and our mother/child relationship.  Kimmel writes about boys feeling the need to create distance from their mothers.  "Along the way they suppress all the feelings they associate with the maternal- compassion, nurturance, vulnerability, dependency.  This suppression and repudiation is the origin of the Boy Code.  It's what turns those happy, energetic, playful, and emotionally expressive 5-year olds into sullen, withdrawn, and despondent 9-year olds" (Kimmel 52).  As my son is in the middle of these ages, I am wondering what is to come for us down the road.  He is mostly still this bubbly little one, but from time to time we enter those sullen phases when I feel him pulling away from me, and this is one of those fragile, almost painful parts of parenting that I try to recognize and accept, as it seems like in many cultures for many ages, as boys grow there is a natural shifting from being at home with their mother to craving the company of males, the learning and the commradery of uncles, community men, etc.   While I feel it is important to respect my child's need to explore the ways of his own gender, I work very hard to have him exposed to the positive aspects of this with positive male examples.  It makes me so angry to think of all the little boys in this culture who might be growing up learning that it is imperative to fit inside this awful tough-guy homophobic "box".  No one would want to be inside these constraints, male or female.   It is time we all recognize that compassion is not gender-specific, it is the path we all may choose.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guinevere's Blog #5 You-Tube Videos

    In the Sara Haskin video, her whole premise began with how women work, clean house, raise children and all without "a shred of help" from their husbands.  This seems totally unfair, as in the most likely scenario in the household she describes, the husband would be at a job all day long working to help support his family.  Even later in the video, a woman is sitting at home on the couch as the man comes in after getting a new job.   It struck me as only fair that if the man as a bachelor is described as cool- serving beer, having a  hot new car, and dancing all night long- that of course this type of person might not be the most helpful family man. What was she expecting, anyway?   But to say that husbands are just for "barbecues, breeding children, and taking care of the lawn" is an extremely disrespectful statement, and its no wonder that our nation is made up of so many unhappy and broken homes.
     In the BITCH video, the analysis of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"  seemed right on in defining this hollywood idea of women being out there in the world existing as "caregivers to be fixing men so they can fix the world".  But men and women alike at times are all searching for some kind of fix, whether it be through relationships, drugs and alcohol, materialism, etc.  Its true that the movies portray the girl who can save the man (or also the man saving the girl), but as for me, while I strive to be an inspiration as a loving person to all those in my life, I choose to recognize that I cannot fix anyone, and I am the only one who can fix myself.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Guinevere's Blog #4 Tannen/August

    Are you a marked woman?  Do you hate men?  While the two essays of August and Tannen were both about societies perceptions of gender, each author differed greatly in what they were saying and the way in which it was written.  I found the essay of Eugene August, "Real Men Don't" to be trite and almost offensive to the reader's sensibilities. He sounds as though he has experienced a great deal of name-calling and taunting as a young boy, and after growing up he has decided to lash back at all of his attackers.  He claims that "During the past thirty years, anti-male bias in English has been greatly fostered by misandry, hatred of men..." (August, pg.129).  I totally disagree, and his statement is poorly supported.  He goes on throughout the essay to use many examples of slandrous vocabulary, that he says is only used toward males. "Jerk, geek, chicken, weakling, fraidy cat", and so on, are some of his examples that have definately been put in use toward women as well.  He spends alot of  time explaining how men are every bit the target of abuse and violence as women, stating that "282,000 husbands who are battered annually" (O'Reilly,23, pg131). Well, this may be true, but since he does not compare the number of women ( I'm guessing this is because a significantly larger amount of women are in this sad situation), it really means nothing to the reader.  All in all, this essay sounds like the very needed therapeutic writing of a damaged human being, who has a huge chip on his shoulder about women and a dillusional perception of society in general being abusive toward men.
     The other essay,"There is No Unmarked Woman" by Deborah Tannen, was a comparative pleasure to read, and felt like fair assessments of  one person's observations regarding outer differences of men and women, and how this relates to the inner workings of our American culture.   She notes that "To say anything about women and men without marking oneself as either feminist or anti-feminist, male-basher or apologist for men seems as impossible for a woman as trying to get dressed in the morning without inviting interpretations of her character" (Tannen, pg.145).   This really says it all, as far as how tangled up and tongue-tied we have become, and I truly believe that if we would all step back for a moment and see that at the core of life there should be an innate and equal RESPECT for all beings,  we could begin to heal all of this human mess we have made over the centuries.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homework #1

     Is literacy being able to read and write, or in today's world is it something more?  From chapter 1 in Everything's a Text, we see that it is much more.  Today, we live in a technological society in which literacy is also defined as many types of communications, or "multimodal" (pg.3 ch.1).    Being literate also means taking into account the type of audience to whom we are addressing.  In the three different exerpts from speeches by Malcom X (pg.11-12, ch.1), I am amazed at the totally different ways in which he speaks to the different audiences.  In the first excerpt, he is speaking to a Detroit Civil Rights group, and as he begins, "Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms..." (Malcom X, pg.11).  This is a direct address to the people he is identifying with in a down-to-earth, informal way, and this is completely different than the following exerpt to the Harvard Law School, where he refers to Shakespeare, and uses a formal, structured way of speaking. The third excerpt from his speech to the Nation of Islam is still yet differing in how he speaks with a spiritual fervor. He asks rhetorical questions, such as "Who will make White America know what God wants?" (Malcom X, pg.12) In each of these speeches, he uses different language to identify with each of the groups
     In chapter 1 of the Pearson Reader, open and closed form is shown by example of two pieces, the first being "A Letter to the Editor" by David Rockwood in which he explains in close form thesis prose how wind power is "based on fantasay rather than fact" (Rockwood, pg.2).  In a way, this piece is so closed form in the author telling me exactly what to think, that I feel it was even more thought provoking than if it had posed both sides of this topic in a more open form.  I whole-heartedly disagree with his whole thesis of "wind power is unreliable", and I have first hand experience to say otherwise. His letter seemed not just written in closed form, but also seemed close-minded.   
     In the other piece, "A Festival of Rain" by Thomas Merton, also caught my attention, but in the opposite way.  Merton uses an open form narrative and personifies rain, saying "It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.  As long as it talks I am going to listen"  (Merton, pg.3). I agree with this way of thinking about nature, and I enjoyed where he took his readers in this story-like essay. Although it is loosely structured, we still understand the general thesis of  his belief certain parts of life being meaningful whether or not they are marketable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guinevere Whitford Homework #2

      As far as my own personal literacy, my mother recently told me that when I turned four, I made up my mind to read.  She thought it was too early to start the process, so she told me we would learn in time. Being stubborn from the get go, I went to the grocery store with her later that day, and as she was busy shopping, I got busy asking various customers what the letters were on the signs and items in the store.  Then I asked how they sounded, and finally my mom noticed my determination.  So we went home and she worked with me on reading everyday from then on.
     I liked how the writing student Janelle wrote of her literacy history describing her reasons for reading World War II novels to be on the same level as her mother, and I liked how this was described as a "self-translation" (Soliday 511, pg.65).
    In the excerpt from Terry Tempest Williams' "Why I Write", he says "I write to make peace with the things I cannot control".  This way of looking at the act of writing really spoke to me, and I feel like this "making peace" is why I put forth creative effort in various ways of my life as well.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blog #1 Amy Tan's Essay

     I believe the essay "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan is an open form prose.  It explores the author's incite into the differences in English by native and non-native speakers, and also the perceptions and reactions of others' treatment toward these different speaking types.  There is no particular thesis to which Tan is trying to arrive, rather she accounts her journey in understanding that her place in the English speaking realm is culturally different than someone whose family was originating from the United States. She uses a theme-based narrative, and writes in a story-like chronology of her childhood as experiences of growing up with a mother who immigrated from China, speaking English that was considered "limited".  She then discussed her experiences as a school girl, and later as a college student who majored in English. Lastly, she tells of her writing fiction as an adult.
     Tan writes to a general audience as her tone is informal and she does not assume any particular relationship to her readers. To define the "implied audience", I believe she is writing mainly to native English speakers who have not known the experience of having an immigrant family. In the beginning she says "I cannot give you much more than personal opinions on the English language and its variations in this country or others" (Tan 113).  She proceeds to continue in this way to her audience in talking about "all the Englishes I grew up with" (Tan 113).
     "Mother Tongue" is a personal essay as Amy Tan delves into her own backround, recounting what she has learned and how she has used this in her present day communication with her readers as well as with her mother.  Tan closes with the realization of her own personal success by her mother's verdict of Tan's writing as "So easy to read" (Tan 117).