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A Well-Seasoned Meal: Identity in The Book of Salt

In The Book of Salt, Monique Truong uses both the structure of the novel and the use of food, salt in particular, to look at the identity of both her characters and her art form. Through The Book of Salt, she facilitates approachability, highlights intersectional identities, and, inevitably, critiques the very accuracy of reproduced images, including that of her own work.

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No Access Beyond This Point: Mumbling the Words of Revolution

Mainstream feminist dialogues, including our own Serendipian dialogue, are exclusionary. Alternative exclusionary dialogues often form within marginalized communities, addressing gender-based discrimination and other experience-based conversations that present uniquely in certain groups. Marginal groups can protect themselves from the lack of inclusion within dominant dialogues. Feminism is often defined as community based and inclusive as possible, but advocating for the protection of multiple groups, especially those who are marginalized by dominant dialogues and existing power structures, necessities inaccessibility of conversation.

Dialogue within marginalized groups is inherently exclusionary. It allows individuals within a group to build on the foundations of shared experience to build community (instead of trying to make descriptions of those experiences accessible to the dominant group). The barriers keeping nonmembers out of the discussion form a protection that creates a safe space. The barriers that protect the conversation within marginalized groups from the violence of the dominant group are formed from an enforced silence of the marginalized group toward those outside of it. Access is limited to the few in languages of identity that the oppressors do not understand, by intentionally obfuscating language in code, and by referencing experience that outsiders do not have access to.

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Great Expectations for a Feminist Workplace

I went to Heidi Hartmann's lecture after class last Tuesday, and she made some similar arguments to the ones she makes in Family First about women in the workplace, advocating for paid family leave, subsidized childcare, and greater work flexibility, for example. These are ideas are as radical as she got. They advocate for very different changes to the current structures of most jobs (and, certainly, expectations of jobs) in the U.S., but Hartmann is still supporting the same structure that is currently in place. Really, most of the changes she proposes are some tweaks that will raise the U.S. up to the same standard as, say, the U.K. in terms of work.

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Listening to the Silence and the People Who Fill It

We talk about talking, but never listening. (Do we ever even listen about listening? Lectures on the virtues of listening are still yet more talking, and not listening. This regretably, is yet another one of those, though it will, hopefully, make me shut up at some point and listen to y'all, instead of filling silence because I need to fill it.) The problems we have with class discussion are usually put at the doorstep of talking, not really at the lack of listening.

Likewise, much of the dialogue surrounding the silence in Eva's Man has been about Eva's refusal to speak. We talked about possible reactions to what she could have said on Tuesday. I wasn't in class on Thursday, so maybe you did talk about her audience's refusal to listen. I hope so, because hypothosizing about why someone isn't making themselves vulnerable is fine, but unpacking who is making them vulnerable and why is important, too.

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Sharing Space: Neurodiversity in the Classrooms of Bryn Mawr College

College academic life involves taking up space. We fill the silence with spoken “participation,” disrupt blank pages with written words, place our bodies into classrooms, and fill professors’ desks with blue books. At Bryn Mawr, we are, at the end of the day (no matter how much we refuse to talk about it), graded in a way that reflects the space we take up and judged by faculty, staff, and fellow enrolled students that reflects the space we take up. The methods of assessing the space students take up vary, but the tools of judgment that the administration and professors wield bear lasting impact on us. These expectations often do not seem to take into account the complex identities of students, especially erasing the intersection of our academic lives with the other aspects of our lives, like mental disability (Brooke, 141).

Mental disability at Bryn Mawr, when officially marked down as such, goes through Access Services. Accommodations can sometimes be made when everything goes right with the bureaucracy of filing what the college calls an “…impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or has been regarded as having an impairment,” a definition that echoes the one found in The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but puts the stress in its definition on personal “impairment” and leads, through this definition, following explanation, and unwritten standards, to the necessitation of the medicalization of disability to validate both the “impairment” and any disability that is related to it.

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I like textile art, my mom really likes quilts, and they're something I look for whenever I got art museums. They're also something that a lot of people have, and that are often passed down through generations.

A fairly famous example of quilt making in action is the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I, admittedly, don't know a lot about it, but what I do know is pretty interesting. The project was developed in the wake of AIDS to memorialize people who'd died of it and consists of quilt blocks commemorating them, often made by family and friends. In "Queer Temporality," Halberstam talks queer temporality being shaped, in part, by the effect AIDS had (and still has) on the queer community, often referencing a fragility it produced. The quilt that references this temporality also has a long-lasting fragility--it takes a lot to conserve the quilt. It's also still around--it was created in 1987 and now we can still see it.

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Figuring It Out: Web Event 1

Trigger warning: sexual assault

In Neil Gaiman’s The Doll House, women are cats. Women are a lot of things in this graphic novel: protagonists, foils, stupid, smart, slut-shamed, and presented as tropes. Amongst the same old nonsense, though, Gaiman uses metonymy to describe women, while I, reading the book, was also using something to symbolize something about myself, also a woman.

Throughout The Doll House, Gaiman has a lot of people “playing” with women. The book is scattered with references to women as things that someone can play with; toying with them like playing with a cat. The women are props in his book to play out a larger story, and within the big, sweeping narrative of dreaming and waking, the women are played with even more. They are made into sex objects to be manipulated with like they are as inhuman as cats (pausing only to make the connection between “pussies” and “cats”). When serial killers in Part V of the novel meet and talk about their experiences, one goes on about starting off with “pussies” and cutting off their heads—a description that could easily reference cats or vulvas.

Gaiman draws on symbolism to make his novel more detailed on the micro-level. It fleshes out dialogue and character interaction with a running pun that references patriarchal oppression and modern day conflict. Gaiman, the author, uses symbolism in his writing. I, a student, signal sometimes explicit details about myself.

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Grandmothers' Struggles with Google

This is a new username. It's still someone who's in the class, but it's not attached to a lot of very identifiable information (as opposed to my old one). Anne and I agreed that writing about my (maybe) queerness would be a more interesting topic than the one I initially proposed, but it's a little more clandestine than a literary analysis of The Dollhouse. I'm just starting to come out at Bryn Mawr, and people back home don't know I'm queer yet--I really don't want my grandmother to find out about this because someone in the family thinks it would be fun to teach her how to use Google, so broadcasting my name no longer seemed like such a good idea.

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