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Week 14--Wrap-Up

Anne Dalke's picture

So: this week we wrap things up. For Tuesday, please read my Stranger in a Strange Land: Grokking in the Americas, and come with thoughts from the paper-you-will-just-have-written about this emerging genre? medium? we've been calling "the blog." For Thursday, come ready to perform for us all what you've learned...and have yet to think about. Please archive those scripts here.

And thanks. I've learned a ton.


One Student's picture


Though it's worth noting that the kind of blogging which the second article discusses seems to be a very traditional kind of diary writing - *I'm* not surprised that doing that kind of writing in a different medium has the same, already documented effect.

The previous article - I only read the first page - reveals the potential drawbacks of writing in that genre in the blogging medium. The difference between the two media is *audience*. Spilling your guts in public can bite you later in a lot of ways. I consider diary blogging to be a higher-risk and higher-return venture - I've made good friends online, for example, but in certain ways I am much more vulnerable. I have to keep my real name and my username/s separate, for one thing. The chances that anything disastrous and irreparable will happen because of my diary blogging is small, but there is still a set of risks which are not present for paper diaries.

Anne Dalke's picture


some relevant (if contradictory!) articles:

Exposed: Blog-Post Confidential (NYTimes Magazine, May 25, 2008) and

(courtesy of Jessy) from Scientific American, May 2008:
Blogging Is Good for You
--its therapeutic value becomes a focus of study.

Hannah Mueller's picture

Rewriting/Redrawing the Law of the Law of Genre

Final performance by Calderon and Hannah:


Here's how the game goes:
1. Everyone sits in a circle and gets a piece of blank paper. Across the top of the paper, everyone writes a sentence. It should have a subject and an action verb. For example, "A parakeet watches me while I sleep."
2. Hand the piece of paper to your left. Now you have a sentence in front of you. Draw a picture of what the sentence is saying. Don't use any words in your picture!
3. Fold the SENTENCE over, so that you can only see the PICTURE you just drew.
4. Hand the paper to the left. Now you will have a piece of paper with a picture on it. Don't look at the last sentence. Write another sentence below the picture describing what you see.
5. Fold the PICTURE over, so that you can only the see the SENTENCE you just wrote.
6. Hand the paper to your left and repeat the process until someone runs out of room on the paper.
7. Hand the paper to your left one more time. Now everyone has a folded-up piece of paper, which you can unroll.

Here's what emerged for us.

What do you see on the papers? When was there a big change? When was there not much change? What elements of the first sentence, if any, carried through the whole game? What went wrong immediately? Are there any repetitions?

Genres change and emerge in ways similar to how your sentences changed. The poem "The Law of the Law of Genre for Jacques Derrida and Derek Attridge" by M.T.C. Cronan helps us think about this idea.

The first line of the poem is "as soon as I was born I exceeded my mother". Every new person is part of a generation, a genre of people. Every time a new person is born, he or she has some qualities of the generation before, but because the person is new, they are necessarily different. In the same way, the code of genre is constantly being rewritten. Every rewriting is a stretching of the boundaries of the genre; that is, of the genre itself, since a genre is made up of boundaries.

The voice of the poem calls his or her own children "abhorrent possibilities". The new examples of a genre may seem strange at first, but they will eventually become natural because they are replacing the old.

The emergence of a genre is inevitable. Like living species, genres automatically evolve and change. This game depicts a change over time, too. Just by rewriting, change occurred. Every new example of the genre redefines the genre, and every new rewriting of the sentence redefined what the sentence was. The first and last sentences are part of the same genre.

egoodlett's picture

Gameshow Presentation Notes

Introduction: Hi, my name is Roger. I’m an aging, vengeful healer currently stalking my wife whilst befriending the man she had an illegitimate child with. In my spare time, I enjoy long walks through patches of Belladonna and slipping Poison Sumac into disrespectful young children’s salad. I also play golf.


Ideal Novel: Novels in general are a frivolous genre. The majority seem to have been written for bored young women to ruin their minds with during their copious amounts of free time (which they should be using to help their poor old parents with chores), or as long-winded tributes to the authors own meandering thoughts, with the bare bones of a plot concocted in order to hold these rambling discourses together thinly. Of course, there are a very few selection of pieces within the genre of the novel which are nearly “ideal,” comparatively, I suppose. These would be the novels with a real structure to them: a clear plot arch, rich with symbolic – but not sentimental – meaning, and a nice, classic lineup of characters, you know, the villain, the hero or heroine, the wicked witch, those sorts of things.


Sample Blog Entry: Why yes, I would love to read a sample. Of course, keep in mind, writing is the lesser form of communication, but nonetheless, it is a necessary evil in the modern world, where distances between brilliant old colleagues can be so very far, and then writing becomes the only means by which one may communicate one’s latest ruminations… But yes, without further ado:

A Treatise on Vengeance


My esteemed peers in the universities I once frequented often held long and in-depth discourses on the subject of revenge, in all its forms. Those delicate, God-fearing ones among us held fast to their opinions that it was a vile practice, engaged in by men who allowed their baser, animal instincts to overwhelm them. Once upon a time, I agreed with them; nay, I argued forcible in their favor when confronted by our friends of differing views. Many of those friends were men whose depth of belief in the scientific order of the world led them to reject any such high morality; and normally I would have counted myself among that latter group, but for this one subject, the importance of which I simply could not comprehend.

My time in the forests of the world, however, has taught me very much otherwise. In order to prosper, man must take advantage of all that nature has to offer us – in the way of her various botanical bounties, her medicinal teachings, and above all, the tutelage of our wise animal brethren, who live out their simple, complete lives, much more simply than we struggle through our intricately complex daily tasks. Man is indeed the next step up from beast, but we should remember the lessons learned by our lesser kin, while we try to forge our way in the world. The topic of revenge is one such lesson we can learn.

In the distant coastal regions, women and children used to delight in swimming off-shore, because the cuttlefish, or squid in some areas, were bold enough to venture right up to a passing human, recognize us for friends, and swim alongside the Homo sapiens. They were even content to be touched, as many reports tell us.

But one day, man got it into his head to hunt these creatures. It was pitifully easy; they lined themselves up for the nets, thinking they were to receive a friendly pat, when instead they were hoisted from their watery homes, held away from their life-giving waters until they drowned in mid-air, and then taken home by victorious mankind to be boiled and eaten.

The survivors of this catastrophe – those cunning sea-dwellers who had not been ensnared by the nets, whether through an instinctual presentiment of danger or mere chance – did not stomach this insult easily. Indeed, many of them performed vengeance-driven acts of violence: an entire group of the creatures, who are small enough to be harmless on their own, would swarm an unsuspected human (out for his or her usual swim with the critters, not suspecting that the order of things had been disrupted by other animals of the bipedal type) and drag him or her underwater, overwhelming the person by their sheer numbers, and condemning the human to a watery grave.

Some call this the makings of a horror tale; myself, I say it is the natural way of things. If you take advantage of someone just because they may not physically be on par with you, then beware – for they may outmatch you intellectually.


Favorite Theorist: Derrida, because I heartily agree with his general conclusion, and would like to add – I see writing as a poor substitute for personal discussions betwixt two human beings of equal intelligence and wit. I find his texts as well-organized as a piece of writing, being naturally inferior, can possibly be and his conclusions both sound and comprehensible.

AF's picture

The End

So my video is posted. I said I would be back to write some more and here I am writing. I miss our class already. It has been such a growing experience for me (I know this is super corny. Deal with it). I've been working on my final paper and it is very evident that my interests, thoughts, and even my way of thinking has changed drastically since the beginning of the course. I feel that this class and all of you have helped me to grow so much as a person and I can't begin to think how to thank you all.

Alright. This is way to corny. Even for me. I'm sure I'll see you guys around. Maybe you'll even end up in Dalke's technology class in the spring with me. You know you want to.

Talk to you later...


Marina Gallo's picture

Last Day of Class

Hey Guys,

I just wanted to say the presentations are , in my opinion, the best part of the whole class! I learned a lot just through watching and participating in them and it would have been kind of interesting to do these more towards the middle of the semester. I thought they were all great, but my favorite was the word and drawing pictures one. I have a lot of fun drawing and I thought it was just a really creative exercise.

(I'm not sure if we are supposed to put this here, but...) My project was with Louisa, Al, and Christina. We decided to create a blog as if the characters in the novel were writing it and answering one of Professor Dalke's posts. We also responded with our own ideas about the post and some random people actually found our blog and participated too, which was something we had hoped for. In class we wanted to have people be characters from our blog and try to figure out who was saying what. There was not enough time, but we also wanted a discussion to occur about the topic (religion: a theme throughout all three novels) and blogging.  

M. Gallagher's picture

Script-- de Eva

Because I meant to post this here a bit ago:

Host Lines:

HOST: Hello one and all- welcome to Find the FakerTM , where the audience identifies the impostor from our line-up. Today we have three panelists: Ishmael, little Eva St. Clare, and Roger Chillingworth representing their novels. Throughout the show, audience, if you could circle- on your ballots- which of the three novels you think is NOT actually a novel, we'll tally them at the end to see if YOU CAN FIND THE FAKERTM!

HOST: So, panelists, why don't you tell us a little about yourselves?

[wait for responses from the three panelists]

HOST: Nice to meet you. Let's get to know you a little better: onto the first question! How would you describe your ideal novel?

[wait for responses from the three panelists]

HOST: So, I understand all three of you have blogs. Would you three please read us one of your most recent entries?

[wait for responses from the three panelists]

HOST: We all know how much sadder we'd be without a little theory in our lives; so, who's your favorite theorist... and why?

[wait for responses from the three panelists]

HOST: We've come to the point in the show where we open the floor up to the audience for questions-so, audience, ask away! In the meantime, if you could just hand in your ballots...

[we'll prompt you to move onto the next bit]

HOST: So, folks, what were the results?

[Pause to read the tallied results from the board]

HOST: If the panelists could kindly reveal themselves...

[wait for cue: {insert line from Claire which finishes off the exchange among the panelists}]

HOST: So long, and thanks for watching. We'll see you next time on Find the FakerTM!


My (Eva's) lines:

Introduction: Hello, my name is Evangeline St. Clare, but everyone calls me Eva. I believe in the equality and purity of the human soul and the power of forgiveness if you truly love each other. Every day I go to church with my mamma and aunty- which is less often now that I've taken ill- I thank God for all those around me that I have to love and who love me in return.


Q1: Ideal novel: Oh, it would most certainly be sentimental and full of love and understanding one another! First of all, it's very important that all characters in the novel eventually know that they are equal and good in the eyes of God, even if others have not treated them well in the past. The moral would be that if one does right for another, they will do right in return. Also, it is the way of things that the truly righteous must be martyred and return to God so that the novel can help people to better love each other in their absence.


Q2: Titled: ("All You Need is Love")

I'm so glad Papa got me this computer. It is so much easier to type the words than it is to write them- and everyone is learning to read and write so much more quickly. Mamma doesn't seem to mind as much because she doesn't have to deal with all of the scraps of paper lying around.

I wish my friends could comment on my entries here because I feel, but they're learning. And soon, they'll all have blogs of their own, even if Mamma doesn't understand why they need them. She says they aren't necessary for people like Mammy. I told her it lets me say things that I have trouble saying in words, but she said that Mammy can always say whatever she wants, and mamma would never mind because she takes endless sass from her already. But all the same, I certainly wouldn't want to keep this precious gift to myself.

Topsy takes to it far better than any of the others. She helped me set up my own blog, without ever having used the computer before. She really is a good soul, even if she thinks she's wicked. The little dear is setting one of these up too, which will be lovely when she has to go back to the North with aunty Ophelia- we'll be able to keep talking and remember each other.

I wonder if I can write one of these from where I'm going? Then, I wouldn't have to pain Papa and the others by leaving them.


Q3: I love all the theorists because all of their different voices deserve to be heard and treated as equally valid, even if some of them go against my views. Eventually they will change their ways if they're harming anyone. In this mindset, my favorite theorist would have to be James Baldwin because while he protests sentiment and love, but still can ask important questions and highlights how awfully some humans are treated for characteristics that have nothing to do with their souls. I feel that if I were to talk to him, he could see how important love for one another actually is. I would certainly give him a lock of my hair.


Claire Ceriani's picture

Oh, forgot to post mine...

Oh, forgot to post mine...


Ishmael's responses--

Intro: Well actually, I prefer to remain an enigma.  Suffice it to say, I am a sailor with some whaling experience, though I’m interested in many different things, art and science in particular, and I’m something of a memoirist.  You can call me Ishmael.


Q1: My ideal novel would be in the first-person, because really, how can you truly understand a story without understanding the mind telling it?  And it should offer something to the reader, philosophically, intellectually, artistically.  Plot is nothing without the intellectual offerings of the narrator.  In fact, I would not read a novel if the narrator didn’t show off his intelligence now and then.  I always try to do that when I write, I think my readers appreciate it.

Q2: (blog entitled "Indefinite Shore Leave")

I have of late taken to following funeral processions in the street again, and so I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.  The last widow was particularly annoyed by my presence and only seemed to become more upset when I told her how much I liked the coffin she’d picked out.  As I mentioned in my previous post about the inaccuracies seen in whale-shaped door knockers, I find the salt of the sea to be the balm of the aching soul.  And this is no secret discovery of my own.  Observe the crowds, and you will see for yourself that water draws people to it as honey draws flies.  Every wave of the ocean pulls people closer to it.  Because we know that to be lost at sea is to lose oneself and all the troubles one carries.  All men believe this, even if they do not realize it.

My neighbor’s back porch, overlooking the sea.Enter neighbor.

My soul grows heavy and my eyes weary of the same faces, day after day.  Oh, to escape to the sea.  To lose sight of the land and all that sits upon her, all the troubles and responsibilities that plague a man.  Perhaps it would do me well to glide across the bottomless depths of the sea with its secrets hidden beyond my caring.  I shall ask Ishmael to lend me a book on nautical science to better acquaint myself with the art of sailing.

And then he came over and asked for a book, and I said, “Well, you still haven’t returned my copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?, so why should I trust you with any more of my library?” and then he accused me of never returning his garlic press even though I did, and things sort of ended there.  I was going to ask him to embark on a voyage with me, but I think I shall be better off going back to the Spouter-Inn and letting Fate set me up with another oddly-named stranger with his own harpoon.

Q3: I really like Bakhtin, because language is, afterall, the basis of any story.  It is the window in the thoughts of the narrator, and without an understanding of the language he uses, how can you possibly understand him and his story?

Ending: Wait a minute, what's the point of trying to classify ourselves if we're all using different criteria?  I mean, you can't define A just as "not B," and B as "not A," when you don't know what A and B are in the first place.  It's not as clear-cut as novel and not-novel, you can't just draw the line arbitrarily and say for sure that one of us isn't a novel.  That's a pointless exercise... Um, do I still get paid for being on the show?

AF's picture

My video

Hello all! Here's the link to my video. I'll post again later when I have something I want to say. For now I just want to post my video before I forget. 

akeefe's picture

27 minutes later...

Okay, so I know class ended about 5 minutes ago, but I was thinking about something all through class that might be interesting to think about. I really liked Jessey's not-performance, and the paradox of her needing something concrete in order to smash it, and become the best version of herself.

This reminded me a lot of a story I was told about an acting workshop in which a teacher broke the class up into groups so that they could improve using two items. One girl in the group asked the professor if they could use both items, or just one? The teacher replied, "Do you really want to ask me that?" She said "of course, I ask I want an answer," The Teacher said, "Consider it, really consider it. Do you want to ask this question?" The class tried to convince her not to, but she wouldn't listen. She needed to know the answer. So the teacher said, "well since you asked, you may only use one item."

The moral of the story as presented to me by a director, was that the best work is often possible when the rules are ambiguous enough to bend. Sometimes in order to create an interesting product, we need to leave some stones unturned. What stuck me today, was that our discussion seemed to be saying the exact opposite. It is by leaning on concrete surfaces that new forms are created. I think it puts an interesting turn on the story. Something to think about as summer fast approaches, and I will be directing myself. Choosing how hard to press against my actor in order to get the best show possible. I thank this class and the people in it for giving me some new ways of approaching my work.

One Student's picture

the emerging self

I'm glad you liked my anti-performance : ) I think the way you phrase it - that I need "something concrete in order to smash it" so that I can"become the best version" of myself - is really interesting. What would I do without the 'something concrete'? I suppose I would be immobile.

I do take issue with the "becoming the best version of myself". I think this implies that my various potential selves are just lying around waiting to be found. But I don't think in terms of finding myself ... perhaps more in terms of inventing myself. Or better yet, finding interesting images and ideas and words, and adding those on to what is already there, and forgetting others that no longer interest me or have a place or fit well. And periodically it becomes clear that I have emerged as someone different.

Regarding the moralizing tale you share above:

What I would have done is just gone ahead and used one object, if I had an idea that only needed one or was best served with just one. And I might have been daring enough to use three, if I thought it necessary. I would not have asked. Sometimes, you* have to make the rules ambiguous.

And sometimes, you have to bear in mind that authority figures are just people, and that the rules may not make sense all the time, or ever at all. That can help you get what you need.


*I'm using the general second-person here.

egoodlett's picture

presentations (just an aside)

Is anyone else still looking for someone to work with on the final presentation? I'd rather work with someone or in a group, but I'm not sure if everyone has their groups figured out already or not...