Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Notes Towards Day 24: Thinking about How We Write

Notes Towards Day 24 of
Critical Feminist Studies:
Thinking with Jessy Brody
About How We Write

I. Relevant tales from your travels?

Response to Hilary's essay on Sex Tourism:
As a man, I get tired of reading "feminist" views, that all seem to entirely depend on the notion that all prostitutes are somehow forced into the life....Really ladies, is sex with strangers all that terrible? Do you think all these men want to hurt the women? Do violence against them? No, the vast majority simply want to give and receive pleasure. We want a girlfriend without all the emotional baggage and committment.

My reading for Humanities Theory Seminar:
David Eng, "The End(s) of Race," PMLA 123, 5 (2008): 1479-1493. Binh's dim presence...invokes Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's caveat that "the subaltern is necessarily the absolute limit of the place where history is narrativized into logic." Yet The Book of Salt is less an instance of the subaltern writing back than an exploration of the limits of such writing for the politics of history....Binh's queer desires...draw insistent attention to who and what must be forgotten so that the high modernism exemplified by Stein and Toklas might come to be affirmed....Truong...focuses on the politics of our lack of knowledge....Binh and Lattmore's a private without a public...the history of Ho Chi Minh wil come to be a public without a archive of traces for a...dialectic of affirmation (of freedom) and forgetting (of race).

Teacher ed certification meeting last night:
on (external) assessment and evaluation: "does this count?"
on the certitude of h.s. boys, the self-doubt of girls

II. Coursekeeping
Leftover from last week:
portfolio instructions for those not here then
For Thursday: Born into Brothels
(revised plan: 2 copies on reserve here; 2 to pass around)
For Friday: 5 pp. paper due (along w/ both old ones...)
discuss possible group extension til 9 a.m. on Monday, 8th?
(need time to review them in time for our final conferences:
on Friday, 12th & Monday, 15th)

III. jzarate's "Circuits + Feminism":

Feminist Circuit

IV. Introducing Jessy, via her
"This is Not a Performance:
Critique of a ?Genre?" (final performance)


27 minutes later:
I really liked...the paradox of her needing something concrete in order to smash it, and become the best version of herself....It is by leaning on concrete surfaces that new forms are created.

V. Your questions & responses
I would be interested in knowing how Stryker's essay was therapeutic for you. What exactly in the text resonated with you? helped you? comforted you?

jzarate: It seems that you have experimented with your style of writing quite a bit. I was wondering how this experimentation has developed your personal identity, your public persona, and your identity as a "feminist"? Also, your writing seems very personal. Where do you think the boundary of public/private should be in academic writing? Is it possible to write for one's self when inherently there is an audience?


jlustick: I was curious about the statement that "I made a few entries in my Serendip blog last semester which I wouldn't make now." Why is this? What has changed about you/your beliefs? How important do you think it is that your writing be accessible to the audience? How does labyrinthlanguage make your writing more/less accessible? Why do you think there is a tendency to separate the personal and academic? What are the consequences of separating them? Of not separating them?

lrperry: You write "youcantseeme", but then immediately ask "Are you listening to me!?!?" Is there something better, or more necessary, about listening? Is seeing an act of judgment or objectifying...while listening is about communication? Should we have read your texts out loud instead, or is the act of representing and then us reading already too far gone? Is that why you instruct, in Part Two, "Don't imagine a book"?

rchauhan: Why do you think...personal and academic styles should merge? Should there be a separate genre for this?

kscire: All of the online conversations...devalue face-to-face human interaction. How intimate is a person being with you sharing their ideas on some virtual plane? There's a sort of sacredness about ideas that is unable to be expressed without the face-to-face interaction.

mpottash: Does the inability of language to represent certain feelings or situations arise from the inadequacy of the words themselves, or from the fact that academic writing usually occurs at a distance from the author?....Why do we need a distinction between academic blogging and personal blogging? What do you see as the relationship between blogging and feminism? Does the fact that we use Serendip help the class to be more "feminist"?

sarahk: I, too, have a personal online journal...a strange mix of personal and academic writings....Who do you think is your audience, and what would you like your audience to be? What is your objective(s) in having a livejournal? For me, Serendip is...less controversial and less vibrant than personal journals. It doesn't allow itself to get to the nitty gritty honesty of our...real dynamics....Do you agree...?

dhathaway: Were you writing for a particular audience, and if so, for whom? Also, what made you choose the particular style of writing that you used?

egleichm: In what ways does a blurred, or not-so-blurred, line between academic and personal blogging interfere or gel with your definition of feminism, and in what ways does your insistence on rules on your blog do the same? Who is your audience, for the most part?

aaclh: Why not have a closed forum just for the class? Is it more feminist for everyone to be able to know everyone else's ideas? Would the erasure of elitism mean the erasure of all private life? The erasure of all exclusive groups?

sarina: Anne wants us to think about presenting our ideas to an audience that may not be looking to hear them, perhaps to someone who stumbles upon Serendipity by a Google search. I wonder where it falls in the magic Google algorithm. How feminist is an search engine algorithm?

anorton: "There aren't any words for what I am, not real words, that just anyone would understand"...seems to capture the trouble we've been having in trying to define "feminism": We can't say the word in ...a context of "just anyone"—and expect that it carries the same connotations for our listeners as it does for us.

ebock: So I'm just wondering where you're at now at "bridging the gap." What seems like the best way that you've seen so far to be a "scholar and the object of study?"

kgbrown: I [wonder] what the role of language (and naming and reclaiming) has to do with the way in which we define ourselves as individuals and in groups. 

VI. "Notes towards a Politics of Location"
Adrienne Rich (1984):
the need to begin with the...body--our own--was locating the grounds from which to speak with authority....Not to transcend this body, but to reclaim it. To reconnect our thinking and speaking with the body of this particular living human individual....
Begin, we said, with the material...Pick up again the long struggle against lofty and privileged abstraction....Theory--the seeing of patterns...can be a dew that rises from the earth and collects in the rain cloud and returns to earth over and over. But if it doesn't smell of the earth, it isn't good for the earth.

Cf.  Jessy, "The Practice of Blogging": There is a...dishonesty to academic writing, because it tries to hide the place from which the scholar is speaking.

The Big Switch --about "cloud computing", aka
users accessing technology-enabled services from the Internet
("in the cloud") without knowledge of,  expertise with, or
control over the technology infrastructure that supports them:

Queries from Ann Dixon
(her "social location":
English major alum and Serendip's guru):
Where is the Google data farm that runs a search which you request?
Or think of social networking sites like facebook and twitter.
Will it not matter at all where our bodies are located for relationships?

A challenge to the requirement to locate ourselves?
A contrast of the claims of feminism vs the technology
we know and use (and develop ourselves?).

Cf. also Maureen Dowd's
"Penny for my Thoughts":
The newspaper business is not only crumpling up, James Macpherson informed me here, it is probably holding “a one-way ticket to Bangalore"....He pioneered “glocal” news — outsourcing Pasadena coverage to India at Pasadena Now, his daily online “newspaperless"
...."I have essentially been five years ahead of the world for a long time, and that’s a horrible address at which to live."

Cf. also the performance that is Susan Stryker's
"Words to Victor Frankenstein..."

Reading Notes:
transsexual body is an unnatural body;
product of medical science/technolgoical construction
destabilizes foundational presupposition of fixed genders
"mutation": a cleverly manipulated exterior/war with nature/"monster"
investigate your nature: discover seams and sutures in self
narrative strategy: tension between visual orientated epistemology
and approach that privileges verbal linguisticality
knowing by seeing and knowing by speaking/hearing are gendered
inability of language to represent transgendered subject's
movement between stably gendered positions
genealogy of sex reassignment techniques: metaphysical quest to create life/cultural politics aligned with conservative attempt
to stabilize gendered identity
unassimilable, antagonistic, queer relationship to Nature
Nature exerts such a hegemonic oppression
transgender rage: subjective experience of being compelled to transgress regulatory schemata:
disindentification with compulsorily assigned subject positions
rage @ non-consensuality of baby's gendering:
compulsory gender attribution