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Notes Towards Day 11 (Tuesday, 10/8): Playing with Zadie Smith

mlord's picture

I. 11:25-11:35: check in/report out re: third trip to Philly--
how was it negotiating the R-100 and Market St El?
[Claire: "I was anything but @ ease in an environment my mother always warned me to avoid."]
what surprised you? what'd you learn that you hadn't sought out?
what'd you learn about what you set out to pursue?
what might we say about the dance between the two?

instructions about late papers: avoid them!
but, if you canNOT: send an e-mail to explain why/when:
deadlines are not punitive, but pragmatic (= papers are read on Mondays,
if they aren't in by then they may not get read til the week after by your profs,
and perhaps not @ all by your writing partners...)

II. 11:35-11:55: pick up on the conversation about
play/critical play, which was interrupted last Tuesday:

is it still play(ful), if it has a goal? (Tessa)
(cf. NYTimes article about "Taking Play Seriously"-->
how it prunes our synapses, makes us smarter, more agile?)
can it have a goal that we don't know about? (ie,
cf. conscious/unconscious/intended and unintentional action....)
might we split apart unstructured play from later reflection on it? (Frindle)

how might mosaics (making a whole out of broken parts) differ
from absurdist art like Dadism (which breaks a whole into parts)?
how deep does the breaking go? (Agatha)
how possible is re-assemblage/repair?
("yes" w/in "no"? "no" w/in "yes"?)

cf. assaultive early 20th c. material of Dadaists/Surrealists w/ (more?)
21st c. work of Mary Flanagan and Jane McGonigal (via Tomahawk)-->
epic wins in video games inspire collaboration in solving the world's problems
(induce urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, epic meaning-->
a belief we can change virtual worlds...); we now use games to escape,
but we can use them to model the real world, to make it more like gaming:
"we can make any future we can imagine, and we can play any games we want"

III. 11:55-12:30: looking @ how Zadie Smith plays
we'd ask you to "taste" her writing by
listening to a short teaser of her reading the opening to NW
watching four video tours of NW: KilburnWillesden LaneCamden Lock, and 37 Ridley Ave
reading both an interview in The New Yorker (July 23, 2012) and
Permission to Enter (short story excerpted from the end of NW)

we're going to begin our discussion of her work-and-play by
digging into the first paragraph of NW: project/read aloud.
then...add a paragraph or two to see more context?

Write for five minutes:
1) what is happening in this first paragraph?
2) what is happening in you when you read it? what's your experience?
3) what "work" is Zadie Smith doing?
(what "work" are you doing, in response?)
4) how is she "playing"? (what "games" or "strategies" does she employ?)
(how are you "playing," in response?)

Read around, aloud: what have you written? is she (and how are we) working-and-playing?
What distinguishes one activity from the other?
How might we push against the division?
Playing harder, in a more work(wo)man-like way?
Working in a more playful way?
[Trying this out, reading a very long book over your fall vacation?!]

How does Smith represent the city in this opening passage?
How does London (so far) seem "like"/unlike Philly?
How much play is visible there?
(Not just in her writing, but in what is being represented,
in how folks conduct themselves and relate to one another?)

Conclude: write down 2 questions you'd like to ask her tomorrow night.

IV. 12:30-12:45: join both classes
a) form yourselves into your third set of writing groups-->
no one you've partnered with before (either in writing groups or on city jaunts??)

b) homework for Wednesday night uses the same 4 questions we just used to
analyze Zadie Smith's writing, to analyze the writing of your classmates:
post on-line, in response to the first paragraph of both your partners' essays,
your answers to these questions:
1) what is happening in the first paragraph?
2) what is happening in you when you read it? what's your experience?
3) what "work" is your classmate doing? (what "work" are you doing, in response?)
4) how is she "playing"?  (how are you "playing," in response?)

c) in planning the remainder of our trips, we're seeking some guidance from you all:
do you want to go as one large group (to Eastern State, a museum?)
would you prefer to self-organize (to some sites we will select, others which will be open)?
what are the advantages/disadvantages of both arrangements?
now: go on-line and vote!