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Reporting from the Bahamas--and Serendip: Notes Towards Day 2 (Thurs, Sept. 1)

Changing Our Story 2016 Tags

Anne to print off avatars
also put writing conference times on the board

I. Meet together in Jody's classroom, Taylor G
welcome back!

did everyone come back? (let's find out!)
our avatars are oblique/evocative “representations” of ourselves,
not what you will see in the class photos on BiONic, for example,
and worth exploring for a few minutes, so...

Play “picture bingo”—
get up, with a pen or pencil, go 'round and
identify your classmates by their avatars...
what are you learning about them thereby?
take a moment to get (@ least some! of)
the stories behind the pictures
(this is less a contest of how many you can identify,
than an opportunity to have a few introductory conversations
w/ your classmates..)

II. Anne's group peels off, heads back to Taylor F
settling down in our own circle:
what did we learn? any surprises?
was everyone recognizable?
(needing back stories, more explanations?)

take a moment to look over the images as a group,
and think about how you might categorize them:
What sorts of pictures have we used?
How many are photographs of selves?
How “whole”/partial?
In what environments?
How present is the environment in our self-representations?
What is the relation between the organism and the environment?
How “ecological” are these images?
How much “connection” do you see?
Or: what do they say (what are we saying?!)
about how we see ourselves in the world?

We were interrupted on Thursday by Jody's class,
just as I asked you the question Bruno Latour asks in that quote we were reading:
"How do we tell our common geostory, one in which the
ticklish goddess, Gaia, is an agent of history?"
What form do you think a revised "common geostory" take??
Do any of our avatars do this? Do they all foreground ourselves?

III. shifting from the philosophical to the pragmatic-->
some coursekeeping:

* checking in re: setting up your Serendip accounts
Morine & Zilu needing a hand up w/ the process?
any feedback on the process?
questions/obstacles/successes to report?
(we are constantly re-creating the site, so want your feedback...)

and now you get to really use it!
you will have a 3-pp. writing assignment
due by 5 p.m. every Friday this semester;
the first one is due this Sunday;
we hope that this time limitation will help you not to fret
about it too much, not to worry about its perfection/preciousness....
just to get you writing, and to get your writing "out there."

You will post this paper (or "web event") exactly
the same way that you posted your description of your avatar last night:
log in to our on-line conversation, scroll down to "create something!" and "post."
If you have created it in Word, post it by using the "W" icon;
otherwise you may end up displaying lots of wierd formatting.

We made a point, on Tuesday, about Serendip being on the world wide web, readable to all;
though I noticed that 8 people in the two sections selected the "private" option last night
(this is in the pull-down menu before the text box).

This is not the default; our preference is for you to post so that all can read; and/but we also  recognize
that, in a course on identity, there very well may/should! be some postings that you prefer to keep "private"
(this means that everyone in our group, but no one outside it, can read what you have written).
We want to hear what you have to say, so if selecting "private" enables you to do that, select it!

Posting on-line enables anyone cruising the web, who has an interest in "identity & the environment"
to use your paper as a window to look through and learn from...More locally, it will enable
all your classmates to read what you have written, and learn from it; in a week or so, we might
also begin asking you to respond to those papers in some way or another.

In the meantime, we also ask, once you have posted your paper on Serendip,
that you also send a copy of it as a word document to us...
this will allow us to respond not just to your ideas, but also to the way you are writing...
to make suggestions about organization or grammar,
style or diction that are probably of less interest to the world than they are to you...!
We recognize that this is a little klutzy, but do you get it:
why we need both a public and a private version?

Because we want you to write this first essay in response to June Jordan,
I'm going to wait and talk about the details of that project,
until after we have talked about her essay...
but promise to do so before class is over.

* You have one other piece of homework before we meet again on Tuesday:
read Mary Louise Pratt's 1991 essay, Arts of the Contact Zone.
--and watch two short videos (that we offer as examples of what she is talking about).
Attenborough: the amazing lyrebird sings like a chainsaw!
Israeli attacks on Palestinean olive trees

Pratt's essay is 3x as long as Jordan's (the one we read for today),
and more than 3x as complicated.
It includes a couple of family stories, but cuts away from them pretty quickly,
to describe a 17th century manuscript, written in a mixture of Quechua and Spanish,
by an unknown man, living in the Andes, in Peru; it was addressed to King Philip Ill of Spain,
but never delivered, and discovered by a scholar, 350 years later,
in the Danish Royal Archive in Copenhagen.

The point of this story is for you to figure out.
So: prepare for class on Tuesday the same way you prepared for today:
read the text slowly, enjoy the details, mark the passages that puzzle or engage you;
and then come to class w/ the one passage marked that has the most "heat/energy" for you--
agree with, want to argue with, need help understanding: where you'd like us to focus--
and also mark a second passage (or write a sentence of your own)
that seems to summarize Pratt's argument.

summary of what you need to do (for us) before we meet again:
post on Serendip, then e-mail me a 3-pp. paper, by 5 p.m. Sunday;
read Pratt's essay, marking both a point of "energy," and what the argument is,
by classtime on Tuesday.

questions about any of this?

IV. let's try to put together our writing conference schedule [20 options on board]:
Week A
Tues, Sept. 6, 20, Oct. 4, 25, Nov. 8, 29: 10, 10:30
Wed, Sept. 7, 21, Oct 5, 26, Nov. 9, 30: 10, 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12, 12:30
Thurs, Sept. 8, 22, Oct. 6, 27, Nov. 10, Dec. 1: 10, 10:30

Week B
Tues, Sept. 13, 27, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, 15, Dec. 6: 10, 10:30
Wed, Sept. 14, 28, Oct. 19, Nov. 2, 16, Dec. 7: 10, 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12, 12:30
Thurs, Sept. 15, 29, Oct. 20, Nov. 3, 17, Dec. 8: 10, 10:30

[No conferences this week, week of Fall Break or Thanksgiving]

* also indicate on the board if you have a conflict for our field trip,
3-7 p.m. on Tues, Oct. 25 (and what that conflict is...)

* last piece of course-keeping: sheet going around for you to write down your Serendip username,
nickname if you'd like us to call you something other than what's highlighted on the sheet

V. For today, we asked you to look @ June Jordan's "Report from the Bahamas, 1982"
and asked you to come to class having written out what you think Jordan's argument was.
Take out the text, look over your markings, remember your experience of reading it...
let's enter first on the story level:
what was engaging to you in this essay?
What puzzled you?
How does it "fit" (or fail to...) w/ what you know....?
How do these passages intersect with your own experiences?
Do they describe what you know?
Do you have experiences that back up or challenge Jordan's claims?

Let's go around now, reading a passage from the text,
or your own sentence, stating what Jordan's argument is.
What is her claim? (if you are reading her sentence, tell us what page)

Discuss: where/how/why do our claims about the claim diverge?
What to do with/how to handle those differences??

VI. (by 12:40):  your 3 pp. writing assignment, due by 5 p.m. on Sunday, asks you reflecting on your identity in relationship to others'. Start by thinking about Jordan's description of the surprising connections and disconnections among us, about where self ends and others begin. Then tell a story about an encounter you had with someone else, which taught you something about who you are, either because you noticed your differences, your similarities, or some interesting combination of both. Then, bring into your paper a quote from Jordan--some passage from her essay that is evocative, resonant, or challenging in terms of the story you have told; in other words, put her story into "dialogue" with your own. How does Jordan's essay help you understand your own story? Or complicate it, make it not so easily understandable?

Post this essay the same way you posted your introduction last night, but also tag it "web paper or special event"
(this will help Serendip assemble your portfolio, separate out your short postings from these longer ones...) And then send a copy to me. Have fun!

Anne's reading notes from Jordan's essay:
Neither this…nor the…nor the...nor the...belong here, of course.
this is my consciousness of race …
this is my consciousness of class…
This is my consciousness of race and class and gender identity…
his job: pretending himself a servile ancillary
humble themselves to our careless games
harmlessly killing time
I notice the fixed relations….we are parties to a transaction designed to set us against each other.
Whose rights? Whose freedom? Whose desire?
and why should she give a shit about mine unless I do something, for real, about hers?
For these reasons of difference, the students and I had moved away from each other, even while we continued to talk.
she even has the luxury to deny the power of the privileges that paralyze her life…
most of the women of the world persist far from the heart of the usual Women’s Studies syllabus.
Similarly, the typical Black History course will slide by the majority experience it pretends to represent.
I can’t think how I should lessen the offense of my appetite.
How would "Olive" rate me?
the skin on my body has changed and so has my mind
the usual race and class concepts of connection, or gender assumptions of unity, do not apply very well. I doubt that they ever did.
race and class and gender remain as real as the weather. But what they must mean about the contact between two individuals is less obvious and, like the weather, not predictable,…
partnership in misery does not necessarily provide for partnership for change: When we get the monsters off our backs all of us may want to run in very different directions.
I am reaching for the words to describe the difference between a common identity that has been imposed and the individual identity any one of us will choose, once she gains that chance.
What happens beyond the idea of that enemy and beyond the consequences of that enemy?
It is… what we can do for each other that will determine the connection
One quandary I have set myself to explore with my students is the one of taking responsibility without power,
I must make the connection real between me and these strangers everywhere….