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Let's start with the basics...

Hummingbird's picture

My name is Sophia and I have a somewhat unique experience in that I came from one of New York City's "Specialized High Schools." For those who are less familiar, the "Specialized High Schools" are a group of nine New York City public schools which restrict admission based on the sores of a single exam (the Specialized High School Admissions Test, or SHSAT). My school was larger than Bryn Mawr – with about 730 students in my class alone, and over three thousand students total. Of these, most students were focused on Math, Science, or Technology – as that's what the school itself emphasizes. In this, I was a bit of a black sheep. Instead, I focused on my interests in the humanities and my love of reading, writing, and history grew. 

Yesterday's class brought back some nostalgia for me, because we read "Girl," by Annie John – something I read for my freshman year English class in high school. And because my English teacher last year related much of what we read back to passages by Borges, I was certainly excited to see the reference to him in Foucault's writing. What excited me even more, though, was the conversation we had. Starting class off with categorizations of ourselves set my mind whirring to what our classifications said about us. I found it particularly interesting that we all avoided physical classifications for as long as possible, and it wasn't until Ray suggested the classification "Female" that the floor began to open up to less abstract concepts of self. I saw Foucault's retelling of Borges' Chinese encyclopedia as a kind of wake up call. Wasn't the classification of the animals as "(f) fabulous" the same way we gave ourselves categories? Sam mentioned that the difference between classifying animals and classifying ourselves was that an outside force was responsible for the classification. I definitely agree, but I'm still unsure of how we can avoid more physical classifications when categorizing others – or if we should be avoiding them.