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Notes Towards Day 13 (Tues, Feb. 28): "What rules govern travel through this space?"

Anne Dalke's picture

Borges' Library of Babel (= all possible books), and
Daniel Dennett's question: "what rules govern travel through this space?"
our goal today is to draw up a travel map and guidelines for the trip!

I. What's working: a lot!
I have come to value the open space that is created
for our learning ... multi-way discussions ... a collective group effort ...
an open platform for shared ideas ... a “gift economy” of mutual learning...

Ayla: Overall, I am enjoying the course very very much... having class
discussion on a range of topics ... I like to think about the underlying
questions  ... and if I don't get to say something in class, I can post it! 

leamirella: I really like that we're looking at evolving "genres" ...
rather than spending time ... attempting to explain and find definitions
... the material  ... is interesting and enjoyable... many of the topics
that we address are pertinent outside of this class

kobieta: I find the topics we discuss and the things we do very engaging
and though-provoking… I often find myself more confused and with a lot
more questions after class than before class … not necessarily a bad thing
… it  enables me to expand the conversation to the bigger community of
Bryn Mawr, instead of confining the topics within the walls of our Dalton
classroom.  I also enjoy the structure of class … I like having the freedom
to talk whenever I feel like it .... having the ability to talk without raising
my hand is AWESOME.

EGrumer: I'm really enjoying this course….I always get to
class unsure of where our talks will go, and leave with
questions to mull over.  I love the open discussions.

Alicia:  I have enjoyed the discussions we have had these past
couple of weeks. What I think works best for the benefit of the class
is using Serendip as a tool to establish discussion topics for
upcoming classes. In addition to that, I like the fact that Anne is
a part of our discussion and encourages us to come with additional
thoughts and questions to the next class.

KT:  I like that everyone is respectful of everyone else’s opinions
and we can disagree without controversy or hurt feelings.  I think it
makes for a welcoming environment for everyone to speak and share
openly. I’m also really glad that the content has been of the type that
I wouldn’t have pursued on my own outside of the class … this class
has been helpful to breakout of my genre mold …it’s fun to go on a
road-trip to places we’re not familiar with versus just going to Disney
all the time.

dglasser: This course is like playing a game of Risk, a never-ending
board game where strategies, alliances, differences, and connections
are all revealed, but you can never see how the game will end... I am
so thankful to be in this class because if the conversation never ends,
your opinions are never wrong, and you have more room to rearrange
your thoughts and change your mind as you are exposed to new
material and differing people. The collaboration in this class has been
extremely helpful. I shy away from anything science or math related,
but ...the passion of those who love the fields I fear ... has inspired me
to see that barriers in academia are thinner than I once knew.... the
class discussions so far that I have found most helpful  were those
surrounding mental differences and graphic novels....Controversy
pushes people to think in new ways and talk about issues that can
actually unite individuals. I am a big fan of controversy.

vspaeth: I like a lot of things about this course… I'm being forced
to stretch and mold my definition of genre nearly every day.  The
ideas we talk about in class are really universal.  I find myself
dwelling on them in my other classes, and in other aspects of
my daily life.  I actually love that we're not being lectured to...
each person connects things differently and I have more than
one way to see things.

froggies315: The readings are interesting, class discussions
make me think, and the writing assignments make me think even more. 
These are good things, so I hope we don’t change them up too much. 

[pause to celebrate/congratulate!]

II. What needs working on
I don't like working in small groups of two people ...
I like the exercises on the board about 51% of the time ...
only some people will expand on what they wrote.

EGrumer: I am less fond of writing on the board.  It makes
me feel on-the-spot, and I'm never sure that we've written
anything too radically different than what we've already put
forward orally.

KT: I don’t enjoy the exercises where we need to suddenly write
something on the board….I’m also not sure why I prefer discussion
versus writing.  Maybe it’s that writing seems more permanent and so
I like more time to think before I write?  I don’t know, but we all seem
to be fairly shy about it.

I also find that we’re not evenly distributed in our class participation
I’m always curious about what the people who do not speak as much
in class are thinking about.  Many times it’s the people who don’t talk as
often who can have the most interesting insights.  However, I don’t know
if there’s a way to encourage the less-talkative while still allowing everyone
feel comfortable.

leamirella: the first section about digital media ended much too abruptly ...
I also wish that we spent more time on Margaret Price's "Mad At School"
... because I think that it could also bring more insight into the ways
in which we are approaching this idea of "genre".

Alicia: What I would like to format from the course’s structure is the
amount of time we spend discussing a text, I think it would be best if
we reduce the amount of texts per week to analyze them further.
This format would allow us to re-read a text if necessary and give
room to multiple interpretations based on class discussions....
If I had the opportunity to go back and spend more time
discussing texts, I would like to read Margaret Price’s ”Mad at School”...

kobieta: One thing I don’t like is the lack of continuity in our blog posts.
I don’t have the time to look at everyone’s posts every week…or know
what everyone is talking about….The weekly blog posts just seem a
little too broken—bits and pieces of side conversations—that are hard
to keep up with and almost distracting.

dglasser: I feel that the class picked up the most steam when it
was just the class, in a room talking…I wish the guests had been
more spread out, allowing for the class to bond and run freer so we
could then take the guest speakers along with us, and allow
them to feed off of our energy, instead of relying on the guest
speaker to inspire aspect of the class that can
be made clearer is the connection between the topics we have
explored so far…. I appreciate the lack of conventionality … but I feel
I have to stretch to make the links connect... a graphic novel or psychology
book that connects mental difference and graphic novels, or
even plagiarism.

froggies315:  I didn’t really like having guests come to our class
at the beginning of the semester.  Having new guests come every
week made made the beginning of the semester feel choppy. 
I also found it pretty difficult to read the blogs… I could have used
more direct instruction on how to access the material and clearer
guidelines on how much of each we were supposed to read....
I think a lot about this class outside of class--which is good, but it
means that I come to class with a clearly formed plan about what
I’m going to say and what I expect everyone else to say.  I think
this is not so good.  I want to figure out a way to have less of
an agenda when I come to class.  

vspaeth: one thing that doesn't work for me in the class as
much is the pace of our conversation….while completely
engaging, blasts by me and before I can even think of
something to comment on one idea we're on to the next one. 
I guess that's why I love Serendip though, because at the
end of the week my brain can fully unpack what I've taken
away from class that week.  Even though the pace doesn't
work for me, I wouldn't want to change it.  It's a good work
out for my brain.

let's focus on some of these forms-and-processes:
how much/how to "work on"

* in-class discussion
(no more guests? using the board?
slowing the pace? --of talking and/or reading?)
* clearer reading instructions?
* clearer connections among topics?
* lack of integration of Serendip postings?

III. That's how about the content?
Genres we might consider, going forward:

sterrab:variable fiction” (“modelized, crossmedia, interactive,
and massively cooperative": the French “3FOLD SPACE”);
frame tales (Arabian Nights, The Decameron, Canterbury Tales);

vspaeth: I really liked this idea of the, perhaps evolving,
genre of memoirs…. It could also be interesting to think of
works of fiction that model themselves after memoirs
(such as Memoirs of a Geisha)…a lot of …Historical Fiction
is written as a memoir of … a very realistic character. 

Something I find particularly intriguing is analyzing letters
as a genre …The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ...
about an exchange of letters ... a source of inspiration for
future literary works. Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine: The Trilogy
... allows readers to interact with the letters by taking them out of
envelopes etc., and reflect on interpretations by looking at pictures.

So I’d like to again explore something that is new to many of us…
the new face of non-fiction … a huge category … if this is an idea that
others like, then maybe we can decide on appropriate specifics together.

what should we do next, is easy… Science fiction
bridges genres, creating breaks in canons and controversy
among readers… Slaughter House 5 by Kurt Vonnegut,
Time and Again by Jack Finney, Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear,
and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro .. deal with real issues
of humanity, but blur the barrier between science fiction, fantasy,
fiction, and even historical fiction … to many science fiction is
viewed …as travel trash, but … I suggest we explore a genre
that bends our preconceived notions about literature, and
tests the limits of our imaginations.

EGrumer: I find myself draw to the blurred edges of "genres" …
that are evolving and garnering more academic analysis (like
romance, graphic novels, and speculative fiction) and genres
that seem to infringe on other genres … I would love to explore
these boundaries, how and where we decide that something
is one genre rather than another. I like dglasser's idea of looking
at science fiction.  I love speculative's a great example
of a blurred genre boundary.  What is science fiction, and what is
not? ...A Game of You, which we have coming up to read, fits well
with that plan of study.

froggies315:  I’d like to continue to explore different genre forms
(as opposed to different content genres)... I think it would be cool
if we could read the same type of story (content wise) in lots of
different forms...I’d pick books on tape, songs, and
shifting our focus from things that we look at to things that we
hear will help us develop new ways to understand stories.

Ayla: the conversion of books into movies-> actual conversion
into a screen play ... also movies turned into books

leamirella: more traditional "genre-fied" ... to explore the
differences and similarities ..."The Last Time I Saw Mother"
by Arlene J. Chai (a Filipina writer) ... deals with similar issues
that Persepolis does but takes on a more "traditional" form
... "Mythologies" by Roland Barthes... the piece that he wrote
about how we read clothing...might help in looking at texts that
include pictures ... it would open up our ideas about reading
symbols within images....I also think it might be interesting to look
at "Learning From Youtube" which is a "video-book" - another emerging
genre as a result of digital media... great as a compliment to
Re:Humanities in March where the author herself, Alex Juhasz
will be speaking... Michael Suen, a conference participant last year 
produced numerous videos that challenge the ways in which
movies or films convey information.

kobieta: The theme for the Posse Plus Retreat this past weekend was
gender and sexuality…I am asking that we explore this emerging genre...
it’s time, I feel, that we connect the topic of emerging genres back to the
individual. I knew the acronym LGBTQ, but I wasn’t aware that two more
letters—i and a—have now been added to the acronym. I think it’s quite
important to realize that we have covered a vast majority of people by
making this acronym, but obviously, it’s still emerging. As we people
change, the way we classify ourselves keep changing with us.
Gender and sexuality is a great example of this.

IV. any clear patterns/themes/foci emerging?

V. By 5 p.m. tomorrow/ Wednesday night, post again,
in response to these conversations (spend the time you
generally would spend doing your reading assignments
reading and reflecting, then proposing a syllabus (with
concrete reading suggestions, not just general "kinds") for

Day 19 (T, Mar. 27)
Day 20 (Th, Mar. 29)

March 29-30, 2011. The TriCo Re: Humanities Symposium, @ Swat, with keynotes by Katherine Harris (San Jose State University), a leading advocate for undergraduate research in the digital humanities, and Alexandra Juhasz (Pitzer College), who recently published Learning From Youtube (MIT Press).

Day 21 (T, Apr. 3)
Day 22 (Th, Apr. 5)

Day 23 (T, Apr. 10)
Day 24 (Th, Apr. 12)

Day 25 (T, Apr. 17)
Day 26 (Th, Apr. 19)

8 p.m. Fri, Apr. 13: third 4-pp. web event, exploring the evolution of a third genre

Day 27 (T, Apr. 24)
Day 28 (Th, Apr. 26): Final Performances