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Towards Day 2 (Thurs, 9/4): Reporting from the Bahamas--and Serendip

Changing Our Story Tags

I. Both sections meet up in Jody's classroom (Taylor D) and circle the chairs

welcome back! (did everyone come back? let's find out!
our avatars are much more 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...

Go ‘round and play “picture bingo”—
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

settle down as a full group for a few minutes:
what did you learn? any surprises?
was everyone recognizable?
(needing back stories, more explanations?)

also 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?

checking in re: setting up your Serendip accounts--how'd it go?
did everyone sign up/in?  and was able to post?
who needs a hand up w/ this process?
any feedback on it...? questions/obstacles/successes to report?

weekend plans:
You will have a 3-pp. writing assignment due by 5 p.m. every Friday this semester;
the first one is due tomorrow (to get you writing straight off....
we realize that time is short; in the future, we will always talk through, on Tuesdays,
the writing that is due on Friday.
(You can also read ahead on the syllabus, and get a preview...)
This time, you will only have 24 hours to do the writing.
We actually 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 introduction last night:
log in, go to "create content" in the left hand side bar, 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;
and/but you may also note, when you go to post, that we also offer a "private" option
(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 matters,"
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 either Anne or Jody...
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 which are probably of less interest to the world than it is 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?

The essay that June Jordan wrote is a model for what we want you all to do by tomorrow @ 5;
we're 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 two other pieces of homework before we meet again on Tuesday:
1) By 5 p.m. on Monday,  do a second short posting, describing a "contact" you've had with someone "other" than yourself.
Just a paragraph, a very short story, describing the encounter: how were you different, and what happened in your exchange?
To do this, don't select "post," but "webby post"--this will enable you to place your story in relationship to the stories
that others have put up before you; it will invite you to think about the "argument" that your story is making.

Log in first--then you might want to go straight to a 'visualization' of what's happened so far:
Or you could look @ the webby posts 'roadmap':
In either case, once you've read around in the posts that others have done, formulate
your contribution to the conversation that's evolving, and create a webby post:
Be sure to tag which post you're responding to, and the relation of your post to that one.

The "webby post" is an experimental form that we developed this summer:
1) to provide training wheels/tools to model e-discussions so that they are more like in-person classroom discussions, and
2) be able to have a meta-level discussion about discussions, by making concepts (types like clarifying) explicit, and
3) in the process, have more equality among posters, rather than post/comments, and
4) have fun :-)
We're curious to see if this format will help you
1) be more engaged with each other's posts
2) if/how meta-level thinking affects our discussion in specific ways
3) how well the concepts/types fit
4) how well the navigational tools --graph, table, date-sorted list of posts on the group page--help particular ones of us
5) what suggestions you all have for improvements ...

2) By classtime on Tuesday, read Mary Louise Pratt's 1991 essay, Arts of the Contact Zone.
--and also watch with two short videos (that we are thinking of usual examples of what she is talking about).
Attenborough: the amazing lyrebird sings like a chainsaw!
Israeli attacks on Palestinean olive trees

This essay is 3x as long as Jordan's, and more than 3x as complicated.
It includes a couple of familial 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.
What the point of this story is is for you to figure out.
So: prepare for class on Tuesday the same way you prepared for today:
read the story 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 another passage (or write a sentence of your own) that seems to summarize Pratt's argument.

summary of what you need to do (for us) this weekend:
3-pp. paper posted AND e-mailed to your prof by 5 p.m. tomorrow;
1-paragraph "webby post," describing an experience of "contact," by 5 p.m. on Monday;
read Pratt's essay, marking what has "heat" for you, AND what the argument is, by classtime on Tuesday.

questions about any of this?

III. Anne's group peels off....
--to put together our writing conference schedule

--any after-thoughts from Tuesday: re what we talked about, or how we talk?
gone [is] … the very notion of objectivity ... totally subverted by the
presence of humans in the phenomena to be described
what's your reaction to this claim, that objectivity is not possible? because of us?

IV. For today, we asked you to look @ June Jordan's "Report from the Bahamas, 1982"
and asked you to come to class having underlined passages that had some sort of energy for you--
told you the truth/raised some question/nudged you in some way...
we asked you, second, to think about how this essay speaks to your experience,
whether your own experience affirms-or-questions what she says;
and we asked you, third, to write out what you think Jordan's argument was.
Take a moment to review what you've done, to assemble these three things...

So: what we're going to focus on today:
first--what the text says;
second--how it "fits" (or fails to...) w/ what we know;
third--what it "argues."

Let's go around, first reading just the passage that has some "energy" for you.
This is called a "text rendering": no explanation, no commentary--
just read the passage straight from the text--and listen really hard
to what we are saying, collectively: what dimensions of the essay are we foregrounding?

What did you hear?

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 again, reading the passage from the text,
or your own sentence,  stating what Jordan's argument is.
What is her claim?

Discuss: where/how/why do our claims about the claim diverge?

IV. (by 12:40):  your writing assignment, due by 5 p.m. tomorrow:
3 pp. reflecting on your identity, and its relationship to others'.
Think about Jordan's description of the surprising connections and disconnections amongst us,
about where self ends and others begin. You could start this exploration by saying some more about/
interpreting your own avatar: how dependent/independent is the self you figure there?

Whether you use your avatar or not, we want you to start off this essay with an image:
something that “figures” your relation to yourself/others.
This can be a photograph you have taken yourself; it can be one that you find using Google Image
(but then BE SURE TO CITE its source/URL).

You can use whatever form you want for this paper:
it can be a personal meditation, a dialogue with Jordan,
a response to something that someone said in class today;
you can write it as a more formal essay, citing other readings…
whatever format allows you best to say what you have to say.

By 5 p.m. tomorrow: log on to Serendip, go to our course forum, upload your image, and
then the essay explaining it, the same way you posted your introduction last night--
with one additional bit of instruction: tag this essay "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 me7
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….