Overlooking Spirituality: Wheatley

by Dr Davis on March 15, 2016

Speaker: Brianne Dayley, Texas Tech U

“Overlooking Spirituality: Negotiating Criticism and Content of Wheatley and Larsen”

critics are not primarily concerned with their writing and race/gender and literary tradition
INSTEAD with the tradition and how they write and whether it matches

Wheatley = First published African-American and woman.
Questioning literary quality
Grouping mostly:
1. exploration of work as classical tradition, John Shields “subversive message that she and her black brothers must be free”—but said she doesn’t work as well as could
2. historical, social participation and critique

figure who uses classical and Christian styles:
but perpetuates idea that she reproduces what had already been done

others say race/gender limited her accomplishments

thematic significance is lost by biographical/historical critics

Wheatley’s work shows complex negotiation
conflates boundaries between classical and Christian
tropes of traditions
ambiguous—narratives (classical or Christian), which are favored/preferred/prioritized
Christ sends muses…
Vocabulary—capital letters, emphasis of abstract ideas in order to personify
Not just classical (grace= muse or God’s grace)
Heavenly Art (artistic expression or art/hand of God)
She negotiated places that critics now separate.

Critics have dismissed the religious exploration and used it to explain the unfinished/under-developed (as they understand it) investigation of gender and race.

Notes from CCTE 2016: Literature 3: Post-Colonial

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CCTE 2016: Carmen Tafoya

by Dr Davis on March 10, 2016

Carmen Tafoya spoke on the exclusion of students from learning from her own experience.

Teacher couldn’t say her name. Finally, “Carmen Tortilla”

didn’t fit what standard textbooks
didn’t include us
We were invisible.
Cops were scared to go into. City Council said we didn’t need a library, because we didn’t even read English.
We were searched everyday—and at lunch—for knives.

Loved literature. Loved books. Loved reading. Loved anything that had to do with story.
Where was I going to get books to read?
Finally got a library on our side of town. (Buena Vista Street)
My mom said she’d take me once a week. 2 mile walk both ways.
Got my five books. Read them all. Couldn’t go back till the next Tuesday.
Learned (by reading the boring pages) that all books come from New York.

Wanted to be a writer. If books are from NY, I need to write about NY.
So I wrote about New York… I had no clue what it looked like or what you could do there. I was stuck.

I had nothing to write about, because our stories weren’t published.

When students say “have to read for class,” they haven’t read the right book yet.

We were hungry for our culture, for a reflection that looked like us.
Mirror of society—don’t see themselves on television or in books.
We grew up so hungry for something that had to do with us.

I made good use of the library. Looked for Mexican-American. Nothing. Looked for stuff on Mexico. Haciendas… Read about Spain. Then France, because next door to Spain. Took French, because it was related.
I kept reading and reading and searching and searching until I found it.

The traditional canon was not made for us.
… made for a very small percentage of the world’s people.
… lied. It told us that we were all separate.

Poem that people can see themselves joining in it.
“This River Here”
full of me and mine, you and yours
right here, or maybe a little farther down
my great-grandmother washed the dirt
my grampa washed the sins out of his congregation’s souls
“I see Indians! I see Indians!” he threw pebbles at her. One day she got mad and threw them back. … After they got married…
right here we pour out picnics
weeping lady haunting the river—“I need my children.” ??
stories haunt us… scrapes in different places… married you and I …
It was right here and right here we stand. …or maybe a little farther down.

All from one skin
All from one little country
95% male
women props to be added when needed

Women have been keeping us alive.
Even the act of feeding someone becomes a statement of culture and civilization.

What is the canon?

Canon = teaching people how to stay alive
Survival instructions
How to deal with depression and loss
How to saunter sassy

Traditional canon beautiful.

Tell the stories of men in difficult situations.
Rich. Brilliant.
Excluded works.
World literature in our canon.

Her writings include
“Feeding You”
“Tortilleria”

I purchased one of her books and enjoy it immensely.

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Body Language Blunders

by Dr Davis on March 7, 2016

Things for business writing students to think about–from Forbes.

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Video Games are Good for You

by Dr Davis on February 29, 2016

If you are a word person, go to “Gaming is Good for You” on themetapicture.com for more on this:

Gaming is good for you metapicture

If you are a video person, go to “Your Brain on Video Games” on TED.com.

The class is working on a paper on the effect of technology on your brain.

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English Over Time

by Dr Davis on February 8, 2016

English 1000 years Psalm 23

I read the Middle English with a Scots accent.

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Liberal Arts Degree = Hot Ticket

by Dr Davis on February 3, 2016

“The ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket” from Forbes says:

“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.”

And then there is this:
“Add up the jobs held by people who majored in psychology, history, gender studies and the like, and they quickly surpass the totals for engineering and computer science.”

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Marketing English Majors

by Dr Davis on February 2, 2016

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article called “Feeding English Majors in the 21st Century.”

Not taking skills for granted became a mantra for the course, spurred in part by Katharine Brooks’s guide, You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path From Chaos to Career. Former English majors gave talks — through class visits or via Skype — on their careers, which helped associate the major with a narrative of professional plenitude rather than scarcity.

We had real-world examples in class, too. The director of a local nonprofit health foundation talked about the challenges of getting social-service agencies to collaborate, and credited her literary training with teaching her to locate seemingly “disparate, unrelated stories within a larger story.”

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What College Students are Reading

by Dr Davis on February 1, 2016

Quartz has an article about the Open Syllabus Project that uses online syllabi to examine what we are assigning in university.

Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Aristotle overwhelmingly dominate lists in the US, particularly at the top schools.

In the US, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein is the most taught work of fiction, with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales a close second. In history titles, George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi’s textbook, America: A Narrative History, is No. 1, with Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi, a memoir about life as an African-American woman in Jim Crow America, at No. 2. The Communist Manifesto is the third most taught in history, and is the top title in sociology.

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Literature Helps with Mental Health

by Dr Davis on January 30, 2016

The Independent.uk has a story about how literature can help with mental health problems.

Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen and Melvyn Bragg have each given deeply personal interviews to academics as part of a free online course which considers how poems, plays and novels can help us to understand and cope with deep emotional distress.

The trio discuss their experiences of some of the six themes – stress, heartbreak, bereavement, trauma, depression and bipolar, ageing and dementia – that make up “Literature and mental health: Reading for wellbeing”. Each man also describes how the work of literary greats such as Shakespeare, WH Auden and Philip Larkin have helped them during troubled times.

Related posts:
Mental Health and Comics
Health/Illness Writing
19th C Psychology Texts
The Art of Madness

Related materials:
Teaching the Taboo: Reading Mental Health and Mental Illness in American Literature

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Age of Fairy Tales

by Dr Davis on January 20, 2016

I know that fairy tales are older than the fifteenth century, as some were written down before then.

However, an article from the BBC says they are thousands of years old: “Fairy Tale Origins.”

Dr Tehrani explained: “We used a toolkit that we borrowed from evolutionary biology called phylogenetic comparative methods. This enables you to reconstruct the past in the absence of physical evidence.
“We’ve excavated information about our story-telling history, using information that’s been preserved through the mechanism of inheritance, so in that sense they embody their own history.
“By comparing the folk tales that we find in different cultures and knowing something about the historical relationships among those cultures, we can make inferences about the stories that would have been told by their common ancestors,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

fairy tale red in bed with wolf

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