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Towards Day 6 (Th, 9/17): "Slipping" into this Environment

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping
* Khadijah and Maryam--need to re-schedule
next Tuesday morning  conference
(for Wed? 9:30, 10, 3, 3:30, 4, 4:30?)
* now that sickness has taken hold (Akane, Grace)
a reminder of my requirement that you let me know if you need to miss class,
and that you do an extra posting about "what you would have said," had you been here...
* taking the "naming" test!
* pleasure in this week's papers--several extending Pratt's contact zone
into the inner world (where we meet, clash and grapple with ourselves),
and @ least one of them extending it beyond the social world, to
consider the power differential between us and the natural world...

* we’ve been thinking together this week/will talk today about “slippages,”
all those unpredictable, dark, and playful aspects of our unconscious…
For the next two weeks, we'll be exploring play, as a particular
mode of engaged in these less intended, less censored
aspects of our experience

By 5 p.m. Mon, 9/21: fourth short posting,
describing your childhood experience of play.

For Tuesday's class, read three short essays on-line:
Robin Henig, Taking Play Seriously,
Stuart Brown, "Play, Spirit, and Character," [you can listen to this one]
and Molly Knefel, "Kid Stuff."

II. We've got lots to talk about!
Let's start with a few minutes of silent writing:
What did you take away from Tuesday's tour?
What questions did it raise for you?
What responses do you have?
What else do you want to know?
What does this make you want to do?
WONDERFUL long comment (#36!) from Grace Pusey @
including a description of her "slippage" in responding to Maryam's query about why Perry House was taken offline;
in this new answer, it's about a history of "racial engineering" @ BMC....
also! she invites you all to the

Black at Bryn Mawr Fall Workshop, October 16-17, 2015 
Do you know the story of Enid Cook, Class of '31? How can we use Bryn Mawr's history to talk about racial power dynamics on campus? Join us for the Black at Bryn Mawr Fall Workshop, sponsored by The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women's Education and the Pensby Center, from October 16-17, 2015! For more information and to apply, visit
Please note: Participants must arrive on campus and be ready to begin the program by 12:00 noon on FridayOctober 16, 2015. The program concludes SaturdayOctober 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm. Meals will be provided. 

Up to 25 participants will be selected for this year's program. Applications will be read on a rolling basis, and we will inform all application of their final status by 5 pm EST TuesdaySeptember 29, 2015.

III. We were very grateful for your thoughtful responses to our essay:

Jacqueline Kuo:
I strongly agree with the argument you make here of the struggle, maybe even impossibility, of finding a middle ground between clashing cultures and ideals....I wonder whether it is even possible, through communication, for compromises to be made in a situation of any scale?

Creighton Ward:
This was an eye-opening piece to read....It challenged my perceptions of the normative values of the college and the way students are made to feel excluded. It brought up emotions and discomfort, too. The introduction of the idea of “slippage” ... challenges what I will be willing to accept as “diverse” and “inclusive.” Bryn Mawr may exist for some as a liberal stronghold and a progressive enclave, but for others, it can stifle and even asphyxiate identities.

Madison Cassidy:
The section of this chapter about being “welcomed” made me think of Parade Night, where the finale was the journey that the Class of 2019 made through a tunnel of singing upperclass-persons who shouted frequently “Welcome home!” Emily Ahmed wrote that “To be welcomed is to be positioned as the one who is not at home, which made me uncomfortable .... By this definition, if we are being welcomed, we are positioned as guests or strangers .... would it be better to let students assimilate into the culture and community than to celebrate that they are outsiders?...Our inclusions through time-honored traditions may...continue current exclusions in the tense world of higher education today.

Angela Zhang:
My favorite passages in this chapter are the description of “restoration” and how a happy and comfortable history never actually existed and “restoration” is therefore not possible.

Abigail Haa Kyung Lee:
“It takes most of our class time that day, but the students eventually arrive at a quantitative judgment: that one student’s pain outweighs the slight loss of pleasure experienced by the others.” This part is interesting to take note of. This is vice versa to Butler’s writing, in which people’s pleasure outweighed the pain of the little boy in the closet.

Sasha Moiseyev-Foster:
What I found the most striking out of this chapter is the idea of the gap that lies between teaching and what students learn. Everyone interprets information in ways unique to their personal experience, and it’s fascinating to see such a striking example of a situation in which a student took away a meaning that was entirely unintended from the teacher....However, I feel like we only ever hear about the instances where students misinterpret their teacher’s lessons when those alternate interpretations are hurtful, and end up inflicting is somewhat harmful for the only examples of misinterpretation of lessons to be negative.

Isabell Gerbig:
Nia’s observation reminds me of our discussion in class about how Bryn Mawr is more concerned with making this campus a “safe zone” and to avoid confrontation...It can in fact make us less tolerant of those who don’t share the same views as us.

Paola Salas:
where is the hope? This “safe house” that Bryn Mawr strives to be is still not safe. Bryn Mawr isn’t having the difficult conversations (of a contact zone) in hopes of not triggering anger on campus, but it is ignoring the issues of people of color on campus that it prides to have….This situation demonstrates how it feels to be wanted to fit a statistic and ridiculed by desensitizing our violent history… “individual empowerment is valued less than communal harmony”….We need to be “friendly trouble makers” and challenge our community toward progress

Caiwei Shao: Taking my wellness class this afternoon...we were having conversations about the interesting, surprising ... things that we saw in Bryn Mawr. In a number of comments, there was one sentence attracted me: “ There are so many Chinese people in campus"....what does that mean? Does this observation indicate that we, including me, have already grouped people when we first saw them....? I started reflecting that if I divided people to groups including “I want to talk to them more” and  "I’m a little afraid to talk to them” from the first moment I met them....The school wants to create an environment with diversity....However...equality ...includes how intimate do you want to be with him/her, and what do you think about a person based on the first impression....Thus discrimination could happen...neither intended nor vicious... just the ideas that deep-seated in our mind.

Akane Hirose
: In my home country Japan, almost all people have same kind of appearance, speak same language, don’t have strong obsession to peculiar religion....Japan is rather a homogeneous I’m not used to diversity....when the times come to live in US...everyday I’m confronting cultural differences and surprised at how narrow my view is. Even now, I was surprised at myself that I couldn’t come up with an idea that there are people who feel unpleasant to celebrate Christmas.

Yuri Hamashima: Although Brynmawr has the students from all over the world, I noticed that the students tend to be with someone in same race… In the dining hall, for instance, it is obvious. There were table of African- American, White, Chinese, Indian, and I guess Middle-East. Also, LGBT people were sitting together. I thought it was kind of sad. I wander I will still feel safer with Asian people than with American even after gaining confidence in my English?...I am more interested in non- Asian people because I am not familiar with their culture. I want to know more about them. But I admit that I feel invisible borders between different races, which I eager to destroy.

Your responses take this conversation well beyond "Black @ Bryn Mawr...." Where shall we go from here?

IV. your third 3-pp. web-event is due @ 5 p.m. tomorrow:
using the notion of “slippage” from "Slipping into Something More (Un)Comfortable” to go back and re-read one of the earlier texts we’ve discussed, or the tour we’ve just taken: how can you re-interpret Jordan, Pratt, LeGuin, Butler OR Pusey & Mercado’s history of Bryn Mawr [choose just one of these!] through the lens of this new concept? You may want to begin with a description of your understanding of what “slippage” is.

Count off into groups of three to discuss what the focus might be of your upcoming web-event, and where you might go with this...

Reading Notes from “Crafting the Educational Environment”:
Dorm life and culture were characterized by a tension between allowance for individualism, and a strong sense of group unity and governance. Until the construction of Rockefeller in 1904, each dormitory was named for a Welsh county, a scheme that overlaid a geographical and governmental model of society onto college life….

Despite the emphasis on bold intellectual innovation, women scholars were still highly supervised in their social and extracurricular environments…. dormitories both permitted freedom and created boundaries….

lounge areas allowed conversations and ideas to spill over into the dorm setting, creating an extracurricular scholarly space for women…. The result of this set-up was that women scholars, for the first time, enjoyed the same privileges and space to be imaginative and productive.

This system also necessitated that wardens, maids, and porters adopt the domestic work…. [but there was an] incredible lack of documentation of the maids and porters…

Social protocol surrounding dining was explicitly outlined…Students were expected to participate in communal meals….

Having one's own scholarly space was a novelty both financially and culturally….Yet… there was still a diversity of wealth and privilege among the members of the student body…. within the Bryn Mawr community there were varied degrees of access…. anxiety about her participation in her community and the correlation to her finances….unanticipated or silent contributions are a means of cultural capital and become identifying spaces within the community.