Dearest Community!

Hello from afar! We hope you are safe and well, adjusting to the new world of social distancing, or as I’m calling it: distant socializing. In that spirit, we want to hear and see how your days are unfolding and being shaped in and by this global occurrence. This blog will have an ongoing project, the Quarantine Chronicles, where we will archive photos and short reflections or poems about your experience. We want to see where you’re having remote classes, or taking your daily outside time, hear about who you’re living with and how your relationships are affected and how you’re consuming media that makes your happy. Or not. We want to hear about small wins, see any stress baking/cooking, and of course keep a list of book/podcast/binge recommendations. You can message us on any of the social medias, or email us at humsoc@mmm.edu

intouch

We are sending all manner of positive vibes, and want to say how proud we are of the students and faculty that are continuing to learn and grow as a community, even while adjusting to new systems and routines. New normals. Be well, stay safe, and be kind.

missyou

Students in EWL 112: World Literature in Context produced creative projects in response to the novel The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips. The New York Times review describes the novel as “a riff on Wuthering Heights”, and themes include immigration and colonialism, family and patriarchy. The projects challenged students to go beyond a traditional written response. Check out the amazing and thought provoking responses below!

In addition to the visual responses there was also an audio response entitled Deliverence, by Jacob Rizzi. Listen below!

Cheers to final projects that think outside the box! Thanks for reading, Merry Everything & Happy Always, and be kind during any and all end of year/holiday shenanigans.

merryhappy

 

Prof M Sledge is teaching EWL 424: Studies in a Single Author, and has chosen Maxine Hong Kingston for this semester’s exploration. Hong Kingston is a Chinese-American writer, and Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. She’s received several national and prestigious awards including the National Book Award and the National Medal of Arts. Since graduating from Berkeley she’s written several acclaimed texts, essays, and collections of poetry, and continues to write from her home state of California.

15761

When asked why she chose this author at this moment, Prof Sledge first stated how much she personally likes Hong Kingston’s work. “I enjoy the themes that she plays with… and while those themes get explored in other classes this class makes them more direct.” She also noted that Hong Kingston isn’t often studied beyond her most famous text, The Woman Warrior.

In Tuesday’s class the students compared two of the author’s texts, The Woman Warrior and China Men, which the author thought of as companions. Students used visual representations such as timelines, family trees, and geographical maps to see how the texts overlap in time, space and theme. #checkitout

Prof Sledge noted that the themes of feminism, peace activism and writing as activism are all extremely relevant, making Hong Kinston a very timely choice for this moment. “Other authors can work in these themes successfully, but she is often over looked.” She especially noted how Hong Kingston fuses genres, melding myth, non-fiction and fiction, to write texts that aren’t quite novels or memoirs or fairy tales, but something overlapping.

UNIQUE

That’s all from the land of book lovers, activists and deep thinkers here at the 255. Enjoy the autumn chill in the air, or cling to summer, whichever floats your boat. Whatever vibe you’re choosing here in #libraseason and #officiallyautumn, be kind to yourself and all those you encounter on your journey.

35317-Charlie-Brown-Autumn-Gif

Today in Dr Peter Naccarato’s (#departmentchair) class, EWL 215, there will be a student presentation on the assigned chapter from Anthony Trollope’s book Australia, a first person narrative documenting colonial exploits in Australia.

aussiethumbsup

The account is rife with racist tropes and justifications that were common at the time. In today’s chapter the narrator speaks about the “problem” of the aborigines (the indigenous people of Australia) and the British colonists’ “duty” to civilize them as much as possible (acknowledging the “natural” limits on how much a black man can be civilized). Students encounter firsthand the racist discourse that informed and was used to justify Britain’s colonial ambitions.

kisamh

P Nac explains: “The overall goal of the course is to see how literature was used to both promote and challenge the ideology of Empire. Today’s readings show how British writers promoted ideas that supported/justified the colonial project, like those reflected in Trollope’s racist arguments in support of oppressing the indigenous people of Australia.”

ohword

We often think of writers and artists as rebels, creating and speaking out against the status quo. It’s important to remember that there are always ways that art, literature and news are co-opted by those in power, to undermine the masses and uphold their own status. And those who write or direct or dance/sculpt/paint are not immune to the ideologies of their time. Some don’t seek justice before beauty or profit, and some don’t think beyond what they were taught about how the world works. Nowadays we can sometimes take for granted that #thepersonalispolitical, but this hasn’t historically always been the case. Hell, it isn’t always the case currently #yikes. Question all sources, observe all points of privilege, and read carefully. #eyesup

eyesup

 

Readings listed below. Have a great day in class today, and remember to be kind to yourself and be kind to strangers #bekindrewind

Today’s readings:

·   George Otto Tevelyan, “An Indian Railway” and “The Gulf Between Us” from The Competition Wallah (3-15)

·   John Ruskin, “Conclusion to Inaugural Address” (16-20)

·   Anthony Trollope, “Aboriginals” (20-32)