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Writing the World: Notes Towards Day 29 (Wed, Mar. 29)

Anne Dalke's picture

I. (2:00-2:05) course-keeping
* 7 p.m. this Thurs, in Mcpherson Auditorium, the Dept. of Political Science and LILAC-Civic Engagement Office
is sponsoring an information session with Fair Districts PA about gerrymandering and redistricting reform.

keep reading Americanah, Chapters 24-38, to p. 431, with an eye out to the contrast
Ifem develops between 3 different kinds of literacies: in blogging, in classes and in workshops.

* because we weren't able to do the writing workshop y'day,
we're pushing your next paper forward a week
(all changes on syllabus); hoping Olivia can join us tomorrow

II. (2:05-2:15) turning to activism
what did you take away from our session with
Kavita, Sandra and Julia from CADBI last Thursday?
we'll write and thank them; anything specific to say/share?

several of you reflected in your postings about
whether/how praxis is/not a site of activism for you:

One of you wrote,
Recently, there have been points of centering...
a single body in the middle of the page. That's activism.
And everything else is irrelevant....
Our relationships sustain us because, my god, there are bigger systems here.
Where do I center my activism?
Around the people. That is so clearly the answer. It is around the people, always.
Eradicate agenda. Use headspace and that bit of heart space to break out of the agenda
and go to what THE SPOKEN NEED is. Not the assumed need. Never the assumed need....

Another one of you wrote,
We've been focusing on activism in Unsettling Literacy lately, and I'm happy about that.
I want to incorporate more concrete actions into my daily life that actively oppose the
messy, violent, destructive aspects of the society I'm part of....There are definitely
broader systems that need to be adressed.

Yet another one of you wrote,
As of right now, I don't think what we are doing in our respective sites is activism.
But I do think our experiences could lead us to do, or connect us to, activism once we
leave this course, or outside of this course...I am curious to know what others think "counts,"
for lack of a better term, as activism....I really liked the idea that was developed this week
that activism is most importantly about people and "faces", as one of our guest speakers said:
connecting with people and centralizing around the needs of the most affected people.

II. (2:15-2:45): break into praxis site-specific groups to talk about these ideas,
specifically w/ regard to what's been happening @ our sites over the past two weeks:

--debrief what happened in the elevator two weeks ago,
and what happened this past Friday;
also to reflect on the past month overall--
where are we in relation our archiving the writing?
(i.e. final give-back/sharing, etc).
confirm also re: driving and materials for this Friday;
also ask re: other students joining us for one day?

--plan your workshop together
(what did it mean to go into the jail,
in terms of your understanding of the other work
you've been doing w/ YASP--like returning this
past week)?

--developments re: the book drive;
your own more recent experiences;
also write together a thank-you and some
reflection to Rebecca: re: her visit?

III. (2:45-3:00) Return to large group:
what do you want to share from the past two weeks:
what highlights/questions about your praxis work?

3:00-3:10 BREAK

IV. (3:10-4:00) Last week, stepping off from Una's comment about Elaine Barlett's use of make-up,
we invited you to start read Americanah as a story of Ifemelu's self-presentation; we looked particularly
@ how she presented herself in the hair salon. More largely, we're offering this novel not just as a study
in self-presentation, but as an extended example of how that self (in Paolo Freire's terms)
"reads and writes the world"--so we've structured the first part of today's class in two parts:
reading the world (as Adichie did in her channel 4 interview) and then
writing the world, as Ifem does in her blog. Let's begin w/ the interview:

Play Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Interview,
Channel 4 News
(Mar 11, 2017):

Jody: Let's do a barometer to find out what you're thinking about this interview;
we've taken passages from the two on-line articles we asked you to read:

[from Jen Richards, "What Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Got Right—And Really Wrong—About Trans Women And Male Privilege" (March 18, 2017): ]
the idea that [transwomen] benefit from male privilege is at best, meaningless, and offensively dismissive of their lived experience.

[from David Smith, "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Transgender Row: 'I have nothing to apologise for.'"
The Guardian (March 21, 2017): ]
“This is fundamentally about language orthodoxy....[it is not] helpful to insist that unless you want to use the exact language I want you to use, I will not listen to what you’re saying."

Adichie should have apologized --yes/no/why?

III. (3:30, Anne) Move into Americanah, Chapters 11-23, to p. 291:
Called out as a public intellectual/public feminist, Adichie says it's a problem with "language orthodoxy":
Ifemelu, who also becomes a public intellectual, as a bloggeralso has strong feelings about language use:
On p. 220 [Anne, pp. 180-181], Ifem says to Blaine, on their first meeting on the train,

"I'm worried I will leave grad school and no longer be able to speak English. I know this woman in grad school, a friend of a friend, and just listening to her talk is scary. The semiotic dialectics of intertexual modernity. Which makes no sense at all. Sometimes I feel that they live in a parallel universe of academia speaking academese instead of English and they don't really know wht's happening in the real world...." [Blaine replies that much of his classic spiel is bullshit:] "I hear you...I teach my classes and I wonder if any of it matters to the kids."

What is the use value of academic language?
Write about this for 5 minutes;
talk to a partner...
[if time: return to large group]

As you go on reading the novel for Wednesday, watch in particular
for descriptions of an alternate kind of "writing the world"--
not in academese, but in blogs--and not just Ifem's!