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"Drinking Lemonade": Notes Towards Day 1 (Tues, Aug. 30)

Anne Dalke's picture

before class, watch Beyoncé, Lemonade: The Visual Album (2016):

on board:

I. welcome!
7 I don't know yet: Alliyah, Franny, 2 Hannahs, Kamara, Olivia, Swati

[in Jody's class you will already have done intros, identity markers....
and you will have been talking for the past 1 1/2 let's start
w/ some silent tasting and writing about lemonade (the drink):
my daughters warned me this was cheese-y, but!

--have a sip or a glass, savor it--what do you taste?
--try to describe this in writing: the sensation of drinking lemonade,
as minutely as you can; what are the sensory details of this moment?
try to be present here (we're doing a book later in the semester called
The Taste of Salt, which is, in part, about the difficulty of describing sensory
experiences in marks on the page...a challenge!; the whole course is
about the slipperiness of getting experiences into words...

--then (less hard?): what associations does the drink call up for you?
don’t be bound by “now,” but associate as freely as you can:
earlier experiences w/ lemonade,
phrases/metaphors you’ve heard, using the word?
[my associations: sugar cookies--pass those!]

II. go 'round: remind us of your name/any identity marker you prefer;
then say/read something you've written about lemonade
(write these on the board)

III. given those associations: what does this word/title suggest
about what Beyoncé might be doing in her music video?
what does “Lemonade” represent?
based on your associations with the word,
what did you think you were going to see-and-hear?
what does the title tell us about what Beyonce is doing?
what does it promise/evoke/signal/not?
given what you saw in the video: how (well) does the title work?

(for how many was it a first experience?)
who watches music videos/enjoys the genre?? why/how?

IV. in groups of three: share your first impressions of Lemonade, the video
what to share, emerging from your three-somes?
what do we want to look @ more closely on Thursday?

V. by classtime on Thursday, please watch Lemonade again (esp. if you've only seen it once;
evidently Beyonce stole the show @ the Music Video awards on Sunday night, when she
condensed several songs from Lemonade; there's now a 16-minue youtube of that if you'd like to see it.

Then read 3 short web essays responding to it:
bell hooks, "Moving Beyond Pain," May 9, 2016:
"Janet Monk's Facebook Page," May 9, 2016 (10:13 a.m.):
Spencer Kornhaber, "Beyoncé's Lemonade and the Sacredness of Sex," The Atlantic, April 26, 2016:
and one essay on Beyoncé's work more generally:
ashon crawley, "pleasure (but not) politics: on beyoncé,” December 20, 2013:
come to class w/ some notes of your own responses these four essays

what i'm trying to do in this initial week is hook you w/ some pop culture,
invite you to think where it came from, what it's history is, what canon lies behind it...

VI. [by 3:20]:  Overview of what will be happening this semester:
Our overfull "syllaship" is on-line @
You should bookmark this, and check it in preparation for every class;
it will change as the semester goes on, so be sure to "re-fresh" each time you go back.

You'll have reading (and this week some viewing) to do for each class;
for the next week, it's all available via active on-line links from the syllabus;
you should print it off and mark it up, or read it on-line using digital annotation tools;
DO NOT COME to class without an accessible text!
(on Friday we'll come to some cluster-wide agreements about using computers in class,
but for Thursday it's fine to bring and use them...)

In 10 days, we'll start Toni Morrison's big novel, Beloved;
you should also buy, check out, or plan to share five other book-length works--
The Truth About Stories,
Getting Mother's Body,
The Book of Salt,
Between the World and Me, and
all available from the Bryn Mawr Bookshop and on reserve in Canaday.
If you are buying the books, I'd urge you to use the bookshop: we want to keep it,
and the prices are often competitive, sometimes even better than, Amazon. Try it!

Besides talking w/ each other in person,
and handing in one piece of more formal writing each month,
and having conferences about your writing, we will be meeting
regular in an inbetween, virtual space: our on-line/cluster forum @

By 5 p.m. tomorrow evening, and then on
many Tuesdays @ midnight thereafter,

I will ask you to post a comment in that space,
reflecting on our discussion from the week before, or anticipating what's upcoming
(more deliberate than speaking in class, less formal than written work:
excellent place for showcasing revisionary thinking).
Jody and I will be alternating weeks in asking for postings;
Monique will be asking for a posting every week in response to our museum trips.

Learning to be a public intellectual, thinking out loud:
it's on the internet, not a closed space, so readable-by-the-world,
and discussable in class (starting point for most class meetings....).
There is a "private" option, which you may want to use occasionally,
but the default is a public one.

You all have been registered for a Serendip account, and so should be set to go...
you received an e-mail last Friday from the site administrator
(if you didn't, check "clutter," your spam filter).
The message you *should* have gotten included an assigned username and password.
Use those to log in to the course website.
There are "posting instructions" on the cluster homepage
(listed @ the top of the "group links" on the right:
/oneworld/poetics-and-politics-race/posting-instructions ).
Follow those to get started. You'll also see, under the text block, several "tags," including those for my course notes.
When you post for me, you should always tag it "English"; when you post for Jody, "Education"; and for Monique, "History of Art."

Give careful consideration to the matters of the username and avatar which will appear w/ each of your postings:
after logging in, you can click on "my account" and change your username to something of your choice; you should also select an avatar.
Think about whether you want your words associated w/ your (full/partial/symbolic/pseudo-) name, 
and also what image you want them associated with,
and whether you will want it so associated in 1, 2, 5 years....
the content will remain on-line long after you've left the College.

By 5 p.m. on Wed, Aug. 31: short posting #1, a description of your favorite drink,
speculating a bit about what it “represents” about yourself (nothing heavy here--
just a paragraph, a very little story, to practice getting on Serendip, finding your way around the website…
(I did one this morning about drinking mint juleps on my front porch in Virginia...)

This informal writing is background/preparation/warm-up/frequent source
for your more “formal” writing assignments, which will also
take the form, for me, of three 6-pp. "web events," due once/month
the first one due the first week of October; I'll want to have a conference w/ each of you beforehand.
There will also be a semester-long cluster-wide project, which Monique will explain tomorrow.

That's the basic pattern for our thinking-and-writing:
for each Tuesday and Thursday class,we'll have some new material to read and discuss together.
In a few weeks, I'll start to ask you to post a short comment in our on-line course forum
by midnight each Tuesday, either reflecting back on/for forwards toward our discussion.
[I know that this is going to push you, but there's no way I can use
what you post, unless I have time to review it before class!]

What is (probably) distinct about this class is the form of evaluation:
we will not grade any of your individual papers. At the end of the semester,
you will complete a portfolio of all your work, and evaluate yourself.
We'll prepare a checklist of our expectations and put it on-line
(this is not mysterious: be present in class and conferences,
contribute in-person and on-line, post your web events on time,
be responsive to instruction, engaged in the conversation...).

I will put up notes towards our class discussions; if you need to miss a class,
you should tell me ahead of time, and why; you should read over the notes,
and do an extra posting on "what you would have said," if you had been here.

N.B.: my belief in education as a collective endeavor,
our shared responsibility for each other's learning....
dialogic: making knowledge together,
challenging, testing what we think we know...

What else?

Questions about any of these details of "course-keeping"?

reminder that links to all these pages--on-line course forum,
syllabus, instructions for posting, a growing file of my "course notes"
--are available as links from our cluster home page @