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Site Talks: Notes Towards Day 11 (Wed, Feb. 8)

Anne Dalke's picture

I. (2:00-2:10, Jody): coursekeeping
* for tomorrow: finish Douglass' Narrative
read with a particular attention to connections/disconnections
between the writing self and the self being written about:
watch for passages that call attention to the relationship between
the person doing the representing, and the person being represented;
come to class having marked a couple of  spots where you see
this relationship highlighted

* sign up for a writing conference w/ one of us for next week
(we'll switch this up on the next round)

* questions about prepping for conference/paper?
[broadly about “the politics of literacy” – is open to your passion/direction/questions--and we would like you to ground it in at least one of our shared texts/film. A process for beginning:  think about questions raised for you at this point in the course (look over both sets of your postings--often a great resource!); come to your writing conference with the question you're most engaged with, and a tentative plan for how you might pursue this.  What shared texts and/or additional readings, considerations from your site work and/or other experiences, freewriting, etc. might help you move toward this paper/“web event”?]

II. (2:10-2:45, Anne) discussing our site visits

* we've divided you into two talking groups,to be sure
that there are folks from each of our 3 sites in each discussion);
please re-assemble!
Amanda, Ana, Aubrey, Farida, Miciah, Sierra, Una;
Angela, Dani, Delilah, Helen, Martina, Matey

* we learned a lot about BTB last week; today we'll dig into the other two sites
turn to the large group; who will read aloud the first two postings about YASP?

Ang: Although the office didn't warm up much while we were there, we gradually became closer to R as she recounted her own personal and painful experience as a youth in an adult prison. It was a ridiculous story from start to finish, ridiculous in the sense that it was hard to believe, yet disappointingly unsurprising at the same time. As I sit here writing now, I continue to find myself thinking back to various details of her story that continue to anger and confound me. I have such a great admiration and respect for R, and a new found greater admiration for everyone who's ever been in her situation. Despite her extremely unfair and unfortunate situation, R studied hard while imprisonedn earning her GED and a certificate from Temple Law, all while fighting for her dignity and life in prison. 

While the others worked on their own projects, I found myself opening the folder of poetry submissions from youth in prisons. After reading two or three of them, I decided that I would like to work on and help with the poetry book they are trying to publish. While it was in quite a different setting, I have experience from my high school's literary magazine. This poetry book, however, will be infitely more different based on this difference in setting, or more specifically, the setting of the writers who have submitted their writing to us.

Mystical Mermaid:  When we arrived at the location we met another member of the leadership, "R." "R" introduced herself, gave us some of her background information, and told us how they found out about the organization. I would say that we felt very comfortable with "R" and that we got along with them very well. We also started doing work in the areas that we said we were interested in, the last time we visited. I am working on the "Communication and Outreach" part of the organization. Which means that I am in charge of the social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Basically what I did the whole time was look through their social media pages and then figure out what they needed to fix, add, and email "S" (the co-founder) any ideas that I had. These pages had barely been kept up with so they really needed my help in improving them. After I came up with about a page of ideas, questions, and comments, I emailed "S." By next Friday I'm going to continue this work and what ever else "S" wants me to do relating to communication and outreach.  

turn to your small group and discuss
turn back to full group: what's emerging @ YASP in week 2?
then read aloud to full group the two postings about RCF:

M r r: 
By the end of our first off-campus class meeting, every person shared a word they felt fit their outlook on the future meetings, and around half or more of the group mentioned being “excited.” Having read the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou aloud, I think a neat air space was created for people to discuss the poem’s contents and the poet’s intentions. The conversation flow didn’t waiver to a dull silence often, if ever, which is a pretty neat thing compared to some of the on-campus classes that I’ve been in. I think another way that our class differs from my previous classes is the ease that everyone was changing their perceptions of the poems. The discussion shifted from liking the poet viewing her as an independent and confident woman, to being critical of her overt obsession with herself, back to feeling more positive and even sympathizing with the woman’s insecurities that we believed might have been unveiled after a closer look inside the lines. In many of my previous English classes in high school, so many of my peers were not willing to shift their view of the poem’s tone or theme. Even after an hour of dissecting the same poem, I feel like a lot of my previous peers were too prideful to change their view once they voiced it aloud in the class. So, in this class space at the correctional facility, I often noticed the same  individuals bouncing around ideas, allowing conflicting ideas about the poem to arise and even allowing oneself to hold differing perceptions of the poem at odds with each other simultaneously. As our discussion grew, I kept imagining the tension between being in a very restricted institution and having very open discussions in our class, in the middle of this building meant to feel isolating and clinical. I wonder how so many of these women can stay so strong in a place meant to take away power of those inside it. 

droomes10:  While in class, I noticed how we weren't inclusive of all genders. Asking for preferred pronouns at the beginning of the class could have helped create a more welcoming space. At the beginning of the class, I felt a little off and hesitant to speak because the content of the class and the setting was centered around the experiences of women. I don't think centering the content around these experiences is necessarily wrong, but I think it could be harmful to assume that everyone in the room is connecting to the literature as a woman. I have personally heard correctional officers poke fun at and invalidate the experiences of transmen who are imprisoned at this correctional center. I think it would a good thing for our class to be an alternative space that's celebratory and inclusive of these identities.

repeat this exercise: turn to your small group and discuss
turn back to full group: what's emerging @ RCF in week 2?

III. (2:45-3:30, Jody): our discussion so far has been about content;
let's talk more about the process of doing reflective writing of this sort

hand out and read (aloud again?) a third set of posts,
those questioning/problematizing the very process of reflective writing:

WhoAmI:  Excited. Excited is how I felt this Friday while driving to our site. Excitement to be in a class where I have complete control on how I present myself and who I get to be without any judgment. Excited is How I felt at the end of the class after meeting 13 new women who were as eager as we are to start this new class and explore our identities through the different text. … It reminded me of why we need time, space and classes like the one we had on Friday and hopefully will continue to have. Space where we can just talk, read and analyze our reading without worrying about a participation grade or a general grade.  

This class also made me want to go back to our past discussion about praxis reflection and being transparent with our praxis partners. Understanding that while we are not necessarily intentionally spying on the organization we are partnered up with, reflecting about our site and sometimes criticizing them and considering not telling them the truth is deceiving. And considering that one of our sites is a class that is centered on identity, not being transparent, not being honest and open to the women, who have been through a system where people are not open and honest with them, is deceiving also. I think that we need create space for our inside class to discuss the idea of writing and collecting the written work. If we are to collect them women's writing are we to exclude our own writings written for the inside class? 

S…:  Of all the classes I attended over the past week, I think the identity-focused class was not only the most thoroughly enjoyable, but also the most productive. From my perspective, it felt that every person in the room was enthusiastically and "authentically" (to quote Goodman and Goodman) present. The zeal for learning and connecting through written words was palpable, and I found myself absorbed in the dialogue we all participated in. 

…I'm also sitting here writing this reflection for class credit and feeling icky. I don't know where I stant on the ethics of "fieldwork." This is all new to me, at least in the context of a University, and I'm iffy about what is and isn't right action. I don't have a conclusion...

a.rsr:  I'm still unsure how much of people's personal stories I should be sharing here. There's so much in them, but also they don't belong to me, or, they aren't for me to tell.

Why write reflections?  How do we do this given concerns and constraints?  Discuss.

Jody:  why I think reflecting (our own learning) and some kind of sharing our reflections with others (in world where respectful, thoughtful perspectives aren't always available) are important/worthwhile processes - worth struggling with, trying out different ways of doing...  If we don’t foreclose this, what kind of writing might be possible?

Anne: did a good job w/ this (no individuals described, only group dynamics....)

IV.  (3:30 - 3:45, Anne): Freewrite on issues talked about today - or not.  Won't ask you to share. Really is Free!