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Sharaai's picture

Does Eva have a mode of address?

Mode of address is a concept based out of film and media studies, it is a way for filmmakers to think about who their audience is going to be, a form of analysis on the power relations between the audience and the subject of the film (Ellsworth, 1997, p. 1). It allows for the filmmaker to think about ideas of class, gender sexuality, race and much more while working on their product. This process allows for them to frame their stories so that the viewer can relate or interpret it in a way that plays off of the filmmaker’s assumptions. As analytical readers, we contemplate what the author is trying to tell us and what they want us to take out of their stories. As readers, we can take this concept of mode of address and analyze why we think characters make their decisions and what the author would like us to take out of it. We can interpret their choices, the relationships they are part of or the neighborhood they live in to figure them out. Through this process we, as readers, would be exploring Gayle Jones’ mode of address in context to Eva. We would be thinking about Eva’s choices, what they mean to her and what Jones could also mean by them.

Hummingbird's picture

Silence as an Empty Room

As someone who has grown up in a household of artists, I’ve always had a special reverence for people’s creations. Though my mother was highly critical of her own work, there was a general sense that destroying it was in some way not acceptable. I took that to heart. My sisters’ drawings have all been kept. Old storybooks I made have just resurfaced from basement boxes. Our childhood voices are kept alive through this reverence for creation and imagination. It was for this reason that I struggled to understand an experience Maxine Hong Kingston wrote about in her memoir Woman Warrior (1975).  For three years as a child, she painted over all of her artwork in black and covered up anything she wrote on the blackboard so that it couldn’t be read or seen. I struggled to understand her motives and also her complacency for what I read as a huge loss. Then I began to think of this action as a form of silence. Tillie Olsen touches on the different types of silences that exist in her essay “Silences” (1962) and these silences can be read into Hong Kingston’s blacking out.

HSBurke's picture

Web Event #4: Close the Gaps

Close the Gaps

Eva’s Man by Gayl Jones chronicles the hectic, fractured life of Eva Medina Canada, whose existence has been tormented by sexual and emotional violence since girlhood. In a haunting, tangible parallel to the chaos of Eva’s experience, the novel’s narrative becomes increasingly more broken as the story progresses – eventually unraveling into a continuous narrative stream with little distinction between memory and reality. Jones’ masterful mirroring of content with form serves to draw readers in and engage them in a psychological state of chaos and confusion, not dissimilar from that of Eva’s emotional turmoil. By creating this twin experience, Jones effectively closes the social gap between readers and the story’s protagonist thus sustaining the ability for a deeper, more generative connection with the novel and its presentation of the female experience.

As a connoisseur of crime-based reality television shows like Dateline and 20/20, it was not difficult to understand what drew me to Eva’s Man. Beyond just the enticing content, however, the novel’s structure allows for readers to truly feel as though they are within the story. My loss of direction and feeling of confusion were productive in that they served to parallel the downward spiral of Eva’s emotional state as witnessed through her hectic story-telling and grim outcome of incarceration. In this way, the act of reading Eva’s Man provided an experience that allowed me to engage more deeply with the content.

Sarah's picture

Close Reading of Eva’s Man through the Lens of Wendy Brown

            In reading Eva’s Man by Gayl Jones, it is interesting to note the paradox of a writer telling the story of a character marked by silence.  Eva often refuses to answer questions asked by many people in her life, and the narration of the story (which is from Eva’s perspective) often switches back and forth in time, leaving the reader often feeling confused and disoriented.  However, although we may label Eva’s character as silent/silenced, there are still 177 pages devoted to telling us her thoughts and memories.  How do we reconcile thinking about Eva as a silent/silenced character while acknowledging the book gives us an account of many parts of her life?  In critically examining Eva’s Man through the lens of Wendy Brown’s work about politicizing trauma, it is at times difficult to hold together Jones’ action of writing the novel and Eva’s action of choosing when to speak or stay silent. 

Sarah's picture

my thoughts for tomorrow (I will be absent)

I won’t be in class tomorrow (I saved myself $100 by taking an earlier bus home for Thanksgiving), but here are some questions and thoughts I have about Eva’s Man.  On page 169, there seems to be a conversation going on between Eva and her psychiatrist (who’s gender I am not sure was revealed, but I am assuming that he is male?)   The psychiatrist asks, “Why did you kill him?” and Eva replies, “I filled in the feelings”.  This short part seems to support a theory that we discussed last class: Eva killed Davis because he represented all the other men in her life.  She saw him and her relationship with him, and “filled in” all the other feelings of mistreatment/abuse she had received from men.  This is further supported on page 171 when she appears to be talking about many men that have been in her life, but only refers to them as “he”, making them seem like one entity. 

Erin's picture

Eva's man

          I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy this reading experience. I hesitate to say this because as an English learner, I ought to learn to read all kinds of literatures. But as a reader, I certainly would not choose this kind of book to read if I don’t have to. The story is depressing and fragmental storyline just make it harder for me to understand.

        In another piece which I normally would not read for fun, Sommer talked about the danger of readers wanting to know everything in the story and felt the sympathy while reading. Indeed, when I was reading this piece, the usual tendency to make connection and understand every detail failed because of the author’s special arrangement unique way of narrating Eva’s story. I was annoyed at first because the disconnected plots and disoriented timeline contradicted with the easy-following dialogues. During discussion, we talked about the reasons why the story is the way it is now. We thought that maybe Eva could not remember things clearly and thus unable to tell the story again. When I was reading the piece, I couldn’t cut my thoughts of thinking Eva’s experience as real-life as at least based on some proportion of real-life experience and kept thinking that I want to know more about the Eva’s story. Just as Sommer talked in her article, the tendency for reader to be greedy can be dangerous and jeopardize the reading experience. Well, I still have a ambivalent feelings about Sommer’s opinion, but she is definitely right this time.

HSBurke's picture

Silence vs. Metaphor: which do we choose?

Something that happened at the end of our class at the Cannery last week had me thinking about the connection between metaphors and silence. As one who's never quite grasped the meaning or function of metaphor, I was thankful for Howard’s straightforward description. He described metaphors as a tool to explain ideas that can't be put to words by using other objects or ideas as a medium of comparison. Metaphors give words to otherwise unexplainable ideas. What I took away from that explanation was the idea that metaphors provide a sense of agency to those who perhaps lack a broad vocabulary or just those for whom words don't suffice a way to express an experience or feeling. This tool then provides a sense of agency because, all too often, you rendered broken if you can't express yourself in a way that others can understand. In what I saw to be a distinct parallel, Anne explained mentioned at the end of Friday’s class that silence, too, is a strategy that can be used when words just don't work. And, as we've established many times in class, silence is understood as way to exert power and agency in assuring that you aren't misunderstood or your words misused. So, silence and metaphor are used in similar situations but result in vastly different outcomes. What does this say about the choice between using metaphors and choosing silence? Is one more effective than the other?

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Reflections On Eva's Man

I loved reading Eva's Man and really enjoyed trying to figure out the character, Eva. However, as I read, I found myself more amused, perhaps this is not the best word, with her story than feeling bad for her. I know pity was not the intention of the author, but I do think I should have felt something  for Eva. As I read the disturbing encounters Eva had with the men in the book, I couldn't help but sympathize with the guys, whether it was the nasty little boy with the dirty popsicle stick or the disturbed old man in the hallway. What were the stories of the males? What made them act this way? Who or what hurt them in the past that led them to act out their personal abuse?

I know in our class discussion we focused part of the conversation on Eva being the victim and, while that is true, I see all characters involved as victims in the sense that they all are apart of a cycle of abuse that goes on in cultures, communities, etc. Lets be real, I find it hard to believe that a young boy wakes up and goes, "I am going to fuck this girl with a popsicle stick today." Therefore, it is important to recognize that although Eva's Man is a great book, whole stories are not captured and, perhaps, can't be captured.

Dan's picture


Rosemarie Garland Thomson explores how staring can be a generative experience.


        She explained to us why we feel inclined to stare. Although there is a symbolic order to sight—our mothers teach us as children not to stare, and we are aware of how much eye contact is too much eye contact -- we stare when we are incredibly curious about something new/novel.  Our eyes linger or get stuck because we are desperate to make sense of a thing. We are looking for clues and explanations about why this sight – this person, does not conform to or appear the way we understand that people should. Thus, it’s a natural desire resulting from interest/desire to know.

Anne Dalke's picture

Dorm Rooms As Niches?

One of the students in my other class did some research on Erdman, and discovered that Louis Kahn, the architect who designed it, said, “A dormitory should not express a nostalgia for home, it is not a permanent place, but an interim place.” Can an interim place be a niche?

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