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Anne Dalke's picture

Breakfast with Rosemarie Garland-Thomson

We will be having breakfast with Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, the author of Staring: How We Look,
9-10 a.m. this Friday morning, Nov. 16, in the Bryn Mawr campus center;
we will order coffee, scones and fruit.

jhunter's picture

Women and Honor (Julia posting through Esty's account)

As stated in the title line, this is Julia posting from Esty's account (which she kindly lent to me until my own is restored). 

I've probably made clear in one or many classes that I consider Adrienne Rich to be my favorite poet and perhaps even writer of all time.  The first poem of hers I ever read was "Diving Into the Wreck."  Here is a link to the poem from  The poem ends:

We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera a book of myths in which our names do not appear.

I found myself thinking continuously about this poem when reading "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying."  The phrase that grabs me the most is, "by cowardice or courage."  Rich mentions both throughout her piece on honor, but I don't think she discusses either enough. 

Our truths are often created for us.  They can be conditions that we do not choose but that we often must choose to disclose.  I wonder how important the distinction between cowardice and courage are.  Is one always lying and the other always honesty?  If I find myself in the wreck, does it matter if it is cowardice or courage that caused me to arrive there? 

Michaela's picture

Silent Niches

I wondered, after visiting the Cannery on Friday and discussing the level of privacy (or lack thereof) that the women feel there in terms of where they can find a silent moment for themselves. On the Bryn Mawr side, we discussed having semi-chaotic shared spaces, where roommates and friends keep us from having constant silence--which is often a good thing! But I do know that I often appreciate a little time to myself, a niche, if you will, where I can be silent and on my own, without those outside forces and people (which I usually enjoy and appreciate) coming into my space. I wonder how the women of the Cannery feel about this--would they like more "me" time, where they could be silent and alone? Is sacrificing that privilege just par for the course with being in prison? Of course, my "me" time doesn't take into account the time that I enjoy being silent with other people, so is that something of a substitute for alone time in the walls of a prison? Do group quiet activities like reading or praying take the place of a silent, solitary niche?

sara.gladwin's picture

Adrienne Rich’s “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying”

I was very interested in a particular allusion that seemed too often invoked in the conversation to be coincidental: the discussion revolving around “the void.” It is described as “not something created by patriarchy, or racism, or capitalism…. It is beyond personality; beyond who loves us or hates us” (191). The conversation creates the feeling of something not quite describable or fully explainable; something that lies just beyond and outside of words.

Owl's picture


In silence class this past week, my group seemed to be lured by the passage in Mazine H. Kingston's reading which read: "I remember telling the Hawaiian teacher, 'we Chinese can't sing 'land where our fathers died.' She argued with me about politics, while I meant because of curses. But how can I have that memory when I couldn't talk? My mother says that we, like ghosts, have no memories" (194). We discussed the possible meanings of ghosts and what they symbolize in terms of Kingston's personal silence as a female child of Chinese heritage. Our conversation reminded of a concept we read in Reading is my Window, that Sweeney described as silences in the home. Kingston was constantly being silenced or told to be silent by her mother. What continues to perplex me the most about the passage, however,is the disconnect and the silence that emerged thereof between the teacher and the student's understanding of Kingston's reluctance to sing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee". I think that it is in this interaction that another meaning of ghost is highlighted, for it is in the ghost like space, that is, the silent and dark space between cultures, where silence occurs. What's more, the lack of cultural understanding and the inability of Kingston to speak prevents that understanding from coming to light. How do we reconcile silence in the home and silence in the outside world?

Sarah's picture

What is Silence? Wendy Brown Reading

When I saw that we were reading Wendy Brown, after we had read some of her quotes in Sweeney’s book, I was prepared to feel negatively about her.  I’m not sure if I understood correctly, but when reading “Reading is my Window” I understood that Sweeney was often arguing against Brown’s words and I often find myself taking the authors side.  So it was interesting to begin reading Brown feeling like I was going to question everything she said (when normally I tend to go along with the authors words), and this was more complicated by the fact that I had to read slowly to understand.  I tried to read critical, and even though I thought I would be against a lot of what she wrote, what I understood mostly made sense to me, but was also complicated by the fact that a lot of it seemed paradoxical.  Examples of some paradoxes I stumbled across were:

Uninhibited's picture


I really enjoyed reading Wendy Brown's essay on Freedom Silences, especially because that it's a text that can be used as a frame to read other texts, events and experiences. I also think that a big part of why I enjoyed he text so much is because I did the kind of close reading that we did in Anne's class last week. I was particularly by the way in which breaks down the traditional ways in which we think of silence and oppression as standing in contradiction with freedom and voice. This helped me recall my experience abroad last semester in which I equated having power and feeling "free" or valued with "schooling", as I called it, people's statements that posed immigrants, people of color, Muslims, the poor as inferior. In my mind, this "voice" was freeing and I needed to speak out and get angry every time I encountered such statements. Soon enough, however, it became exhausting and I no longer felt free. It's as if all of a sudden I was back in jail that I had created for myself in feeling the need to fight every battle, get upset, and then realize that the person's point of view had not changed.

Anne Dalke's picture

Giving a "tour" of Bryn Mawr

As you go about your week, take a photo or two that you would like to share with the women @ the Cannery, so they can have a "tour" of Bryn Mawr. Please post your photos here by Wednesday at 5:00, so Barb can compile them into a form that we can use in class. To keep things manageable, we suggest one or two photos per person (it can be more, if not everyone submits a photo). We hope some of you are interested in taking up this idea!

Hummingbird's picture

Women's Labor and Being Silenced

When reading Olsen's "Silences," I was particularly interested by what she said about female writers and the silencing they've experienced for so long in the literary world. I think even now, it's very difficult for female writers to be taken seriously in "literature" even though they make up a large proportion of the writers in more specialized genres (such as romance novels, young adult novels, children's books, and popular fiction). In my senior year of high school, I took an english class called "Great Books." Of the twelve books we read, only two were written by women. I think, in general, women are simply taken less seriously in the literary world. S.E. Hinton, for example, wrote under that name because she hoped readers would assume she was a man if they only saw her initials. 

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