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Sept112012 S2: Movement & Voice

ishin's picture

After reading Elizabeth Ellsworth's introduction, I got stuck on how much the word and concept of movement seems to be a recurring theme in the readings we've been doing.  

To bring up the comparison between Smith and Ellsworth, Smith's Fires in the Mirror argues that identities and people have the propensity and should be encouraged to move.  Doing so can give people the change to make tensions productive by allowing the opposing sides to experience the other in some form and to, perhaps, "[build] bridges between places." (xxxix).  What's more, Ellsworth, borrowing terms commonly used within film studies, often speaks of how 'fixed' the education system is in one particular way of understanding learning.  Instead, she tries to "...make possible and thinkable questions that I believe can set into motion ways of thinking and teaching that have otherwise become rigis, solidified, stuck, and sloganized.  What both then advocate for is to understand individuals as dynamic, not static beings, and if this is the case, we must engage them in a way that complies and takes advantage of this facet of human beings, and by extension, we must choose to view them in a variety of lenses and modes of address.  

I think we would be hard-pressed to find someone who genuinely disagreed with the idea that humans are creatures who are stagnant, singularly dimensioned, etc.  So I want to bring these two readings back into the context of our class and our focus of voice and merely emphasize how much we now tend to metaphorically understand voice to be a dynamic force rather than one that is flat.  In other words, voice in whatever form has the power to "moves you", voice can take on a variety of forms that have different paces and rhythms to them, voice is in a way, motion itself.

The more I write, I admittedly still don't know why I find this to be such a compelling or important aspect of people's voice.  Perhaps it pertains to how we should keep in mind that someone voicing something should not mean the "be-all-end-all" of who they are--rather, we should keep in mind they are dynamic and allowed to move in different directions and can voice different things.  Perhaps there might be something missing or problematic in saying that humans and their voices are always moving.

I've lost steam.



sara.gladwin's picture

Movement as a possibilty

I think this is definitely relevant to our conversations as we move forward. The most interesting part for me about movement as you describe is not that things must be moving at all times. More aptly, it is that we have been allowed to imagine the possibility of movement. It would be more problematic if you had suggested movement as the only possibility for voice, but you use it instead as a frame; a way to envision identity and voice as a changeable aspect. Not that identity must change, but that it can change. With this lens, I feel there is more freedom to explore the dimensions of voice and identity without the fear that one would “lose” some essential “me-ness” about them as their voice adapts and changes. As we move, we carry those identities and voices along. A word that really stuck out to me while reading Pratt was her usage of imagination. She describes language as a way of creating an “imagined community” where the language itself helps to forge the way people envision and identify themselves (Pratt 180). Certain language establishes the boundaries of people’s imagination; teaches people that their identities must remain within a set of definable terms. I think people often internalize this to mean that their identities should not involve movement, or at least movement that strays outside the limits of our collective imagination.  I really like the concept of movement as it applies to voice, silence and vision because I think it can allow us to think outside our own imagination; while simultaneously allowing us the freedom to move back inside as well. Thinking about the general education system, I think movement outside the standard curriculum is really important. Rigidity in coursework limits the possibilities for students to move outside what they are expected to learn. I’d like to imagine the classroom experience as one that fosters movement; whether that means a more interdisciplinary style of learning or a classroom that allows culture and passion to flourish. This reminded me of Ellsworth’s description of how her childhood classes fell short; in her words “…Nothing, not a thing that I remember in my public school experience, ever addressed the part of me that was passionate about learning” (Ellsworth 6). I think choosing movement as a lens can free up the imagination to envision a more inclusive school experience, one in which students can participate by bringing in their culture and passions.