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Towards Day 18 (Th, 11/6): Considering the Rocks Above...

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping: lots of business to transact....

* Marjorie selected our site: the common room of Merion Dormitory
(and will post about it, on the "meeting outside" page);
delighted @ this selection, since we're reading today (among other things) about
the design of "lounge areas," built to "allow conversations and ideas to spill over
into the dorm setting, creating an extracurricular scholarly space for women..."

and/but a correction: Merion (like Taylor Hall) was built out of Baltimore Gneiss:
you can see larger individual grains in the rock; it has "more things in it"--
quartz and feldspar (=decomposed mica)--vs. the Wissahickon Schist
that the Campus Center and Denbigh are made of....

* Nayanthi is on to select Tuesday's site

* Nayanthi and Selena:
need to re-schedule next week's
conferences: Tues between 4 & 6? (let's talk after class)

* handout re: English 125: Writing Workshop--
happy to discuss this individually: great add'l writing practice,
with three very good teachers...

* Reactions to Tuesday's class with Dr. Crawford?

What surprised you? What’d you learn?
What did you want to learn-but-didn't?
How did her talk-and-walk expand your sense of BMC--
and the environment more generally?

* your ninth 3-pp. web-event is due @ 5 p.m. tomorrow;
we'll discuss that in more detail in a few minutes...

* you have no posting due Monday night
; instead-->

* go to Elizabeth Kolbert's talk! 7:30 in Goodhart Theater!
* dessert after in TGH! don't forget to RSVP!

for Tuesday's class, read the Prologue and three chapters (1, 5, 13) in her book, The Sixth Extinction

* next Wednesday night, we will expect the week's posting,
reporting on your reading of two more chapters for Thursday's class

* pick those now, in groups of 2-3 (sign up on handout):
1) Chapter II: The Mastodon's Molars & Chapter III: The Original Penguin
2) Chapter IV: The Luck of the Ammonites & Chapter VI: The Sea Around Us
3) Chapter VII: Dropping Acid & Chapter VIII: The Forest and the Trees
4) Chapter IX: Islands on Dry Land & Chapter X: The New Pagaea
5) Chapter XI: The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound & Chapter XII: The Madness Gene

II. let's look @ the three poems we asked you to read for Tuesday's class,
to see how each of them used the environment to reflect on (individual? collective?) identity

these are poetic versions of what we're asking you to do for your paper due tomorrow:
comparing your experience (or your representation of your experience)
in the geological, botanical and architectural  environment of Bryn Mawr,
with one or more representations of the College's environment in the materials we have read.

To be clear: this is not returning to the completely experiential essays you wrote @ the
very beginning of the semester; it is not about making a personal claim ("I feel @ home
here, or these spaces were not built for me...."); it's about representing your experience,
and then "writing out" from there, comparing your representation (or that of Dr. Crawford's?
or your experience under her tutelage?) w/ that of one of our authors

your postings tell great stories of being in Morris Woods (7 of you,
and "I’m working on it" was working on it/also on the bench outside of Pem East);
Sydney was on the soccer pitch; Marjorie walking back from HC, 
Weilla along the path behind Wyndham, Grace on the campus paths/stone walls....

explore, with the large group, where a couple of these posts might go...

consider Rose's Into the Woods:
I went into the woods behind the English house around 3 pm today. I set off feeling full and happy from my birthday lunch. As I walked, I enjoyed the sound of the leaves beneath my feet. I had recently learned that the sound comes from the collapse of the dead cellulose cell walls of the leaves. The wind stirred the tops of the trees violently, churning their branches. The air was cool and dry on my face. The sun was lowering in the sky. Light filtered through the red and yellow and brown leaves and made them appear as if they were glowing. I came upon 3 beech trees, each one had its surface carved up with initials of friends and lovers. Some carvings were fresh and some had been there for quite some time. I paused to look at them. I imagined who these couples were, if they were still together. Moving on, I balanced on fallen tree trunks and pushed branches out of the way. Eventually I came upon a stone wall. I walked up to it and saw enclosed a small graveyard. Many of the markers were simple stones with no markings or markings that had been eroded over time. The dead leaves offered a reminder of what lay below my feet. One gravestone marking the site of a couple stood out as I remembered the many names of couples carved into the bark of a tree. Here were their names carved into a stone.

how does she represent her experience? (what is the relationship between humans and the natural world?
what are the humans doing? how do the trees act as a record/reflect this activity?)
cf. her representation with that of the Bryn Mawr College Tree Tour-->
how does the brochure represent this relationship?
what do you think about/how can you explain the gap?

do this again w/ Weilla's melt in the fall:
I took a walk down on the path behind Wyndham on a super windy, lovely Sunday. I would have enjoyed the view better if the wind was not that strong. Other than that, everything is super beautiful. When I was walking down on the path, I can feel the sunshine, its not like summer sun which is hot and dazzling, but warm and gentle. The sun shined down on the leaves that reflect a clean, bright green mixed with yellow. The scene as a whole made me just want to lie down on the ground and mingle myself with the leaves and dirt (again, IF without the wind). I used to hate Fall, because I thought everything is dieing and the weather is getting cold. Staring at the tree gave me a new view about Fall---the season changing is just a fashion show for the trees, he leaves are not dying but changing into a new coat. The sky is so blue and high, giving me a fresh, relax feeling. At this point, even the wind could fit in the wonderfulness.
cf. this with the Bi-Co News article on Morris Woods ("a unique ecology," "far from pirstine...
much of the land here is highly disturbed...likely to find invasive species...
the point of going to Morris Woods is to have a conversation about sustainability...
to learn to interact in a mutually beneficial way")
use the same questions:
how do you see each text representing the human-environmental relationship?

III. sit in 3’s to talk about how you might do this--
Rose/Rina/ Sydney
Allie/Weilla/ Selena
what is going on in your posting? which of our texts might make
an interesting/productive comparison w/ what you've represented?

IV. today we focus on the rocks above ground on campus--the architecture of our buildings.
Helen Horowitz's Alma Mater: Design and Experience  in the Women’s Colleges,
& Crafting the Educational Environment: A New Architecture.
what surprised you in these representations?
what did you learn about BMC that you didn’t know before?
what would you say back to the designers of the college,
speaking from your experience of contemporary BMC,?
what would Dr. Crawford say/add to this material?
what’s absent from it?
(consider point of view/orientation/training?)
as you read on, also ask how Elizabeth Kolbert might respond to this material...
how her work expands/challenges/complexifies our focus so far...

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.

from Alma Mater:
107: "It is a great advantage to a college to have its traditions, its social and literary influcences created exclusively by those who are prepared for its culture."
110: sited...on high ground, the surrounding a good view from the railroad
Because of Taylor's commitment to "the higher and more refined classes of Society," from the beginning Bryn mawr paid greater attention to privacy...
114: as 'the principle" governing "all other matters of hte studetn's lives," economic inequality created n unnatural distinctions..."It made no social difference"...
115: the highest standards of university training available in the United States...what she had been denied
116: a new architectural setting as an appropriate symbol of the life within
117: belief in the power of the physical environment to shape communal spirit and individual character
identificaiton with contemporary thought and life--not adherence to Quaker traditions--made hte college a powerful force in the higher education of women.
118: Carey Thomas held no belief in a separate women's culture. The curriculum of Bryn Mawr made no genufletions to women's special nature or domestic future.
119: The life of the mind was neuter...the sacred groves of scholarship...had no gender.
Nothing about Bryn Mawr suggested a home....domesticity in all its forms was anathema to Carey Thomas.
121: Ruskinian beliefs that buildings expressed the life of the community, that they had the power to shape that life
Carey Thomas was no Quaker...loved the theater
122: All of thomas' energies, including her sexual ones, focused on women.
123: an arboreal barrier to the surrounding neighborhood...
124:walls that enclosed...walled off the campus...formed a wall that...enclosed it....
127: she dismissed the notion that students' economic background shaped college social structure because she identified with the affluent students....
always hoped to attract the daughters of wealth.
130: monastic renunciation that Thomas associated with the life of the mind...
materialism and sensualism...unleashed