Review of Week 11 (Oct 31, Nov 2) and Preview of Week 12
Monday (by Elizabeth Powell):
Monday’s class was all about discussing space and time. We began by noting one of the first key points in the section on time: that it is more social than natural. We all experience time in different ways; everyone has a different perception of it. For example, TT points out that “our experience of time is also heavily mediated by our access to material resources” (TT 110). One person’s commute to school or work could fly by for them if they have a car, while another person’s commute could seem to take forever if they have to wait for public transportation. This sort of goes along with the fact that we also experience time in idiosyncratic ways; each experience is individual to us.
We then discussed more industrialized views of time, going off the idea that time=money. This is essentially true for, let’s say, factory owners. The more the employees work, then more money gets made. But the workers get paid hardly anything. We see this today in a lot of third-world countries. There is also the notion of the inequalities of temporality in relation to racial time. For blacks in the Jim Crow south, all they did was wait. They waited for “health care, police protection, transportation, education, and a host of other provisions citizens are entitled to receive as citizens” (TT 113). This then influenced responses in the Civil Rights Movement to others’ urging them “to wait.” That held political significance.
Beginning our discussion of space, it was noted that time and space are essentially connected with each other and that “we experience space temporally and time is registered spacially” (TT 114). As Dr. Seaman pointed out, moving from one space to another will take some amount of time. It was said that certain spaces are ordered hierarchically, such as East vs. West where the West is considered advanced in terms of technology and industry and the East is basically the opposite. Other hierarchical spaces include: the suburbs vs. the city, and public vs. private.
TT says that our social order as of now is the way it is because of the meanings that we give to different spaces and times. “The degree to which you will feel safe or endangered, at home or out of place…has everything to do with the spaces you occupy” (TT 123). Our experiences are not measured by an objective meaning of time and space, but by a social one.
“[S]pace and time are deeply social as opposed to natural phenomena.” -TT 109
“Our experience of a time in a space or a place is going to be really different from the person who’s right there with us going through that experience.” -Dr. Seaman
“Without question, we experience time in individual , often idiosyncratic ways, but these experiences are also shaped by larger social processes.” -TT 110
“They talk about different senses of time that depend on your position in terms of the dominant culture.” -Dr. Seaman
“Being a student and trying to work and trying to have any sort of life outside that is becoming even more impossible.” -Brandon
“Moving through space takes different amounts of time.” -Dr. Seaman
Inequalities of temporality
Public vs. private
Wednesday (by Taylor Anthony)
Qe looked at history and historicism in the Bedford Glossary and the Theory Toolbox. We first looked at the difference between historicism and history, where historicism is examining the text in context of its historical background, and history is the actual events that occurred, and the concerns that happen when looking at historicism and those historiographers. We also looked at the four types of historicism, which are aesthetic, metaphysical, nationalistic and naturalistic (found on page 227 of the Bedford Glossary).
We continued into the Theory Toolbox’s chapter about History, which states in the beginning that history is less of a reconstruction as a construction. There are multiple truths of the past, and We thought that history is subjective, and, once we are able to recognize this, we can mold history to meet our needs. We also discuss how we will never be able to fully understand the complexity of history, even if we were able to travel back in time, since our current perceptions would alter our view of their time.
Thus, we discover the goal of historiography, in that they try to make connections among the different events in history.
“New historicist critics assume that literary works both influence and are influenced by historical reality, and they share a belief in referentiality, that is, a belief that literature both refers to and is referred to by things outside itself.”-Bedford Glossary
“History is not so much a reconstruction as a construction”-Myra Seaman
“History…can bind us or free us. It can destroy compassion by showing us the world through the eyes of the comfortable….It an oppress any resolve to act by mountains of trivia, by diverting us into intellectual games, by pretentious “interpretations” which spur contemplation rather than action, by limiting our vision to an endless story of disaster and thus promoting cynical withdrawal, by befogging us with the encyclopedic eclecticism of the standard textbook.” -Howard Zinn
3:20 class (by Casandra Fitzgerald)
This week we discussed the ideas of time, space, and history, as discussed in The Theory Toolbox. We talked about how we experience time “idiosyncratically,” or distinctively and unique to us individually. But then other, more social factors, contribute; time differs with: how enjoyable your current activity is (they gave the example of being on vacation vs. being in class), age, between men and women (“biological clock”), constraints surround free-time, material things (if you have a laptop, bike vs. car – items which may increase the amount of time it takes you to perform certain tasks), biology (energy levels), and how well you organize your time. The idea of space also differs; we talked about the example of urban vs. suburban space, which is considered “better” and why. The class pointed to the idea of controlling space and how in a suburban area people generally feel like they have more control of their space and therefore it is more preferable, somewhat in alignment with the “American dream” and white-picket fences. However, we also acknowledged that this differs regionally as well as culturally.
We also spoke about how “history” tends to be synonymous with the “past” to us and how most think of history as being a reconstruction, when in fact it is a construction. A reconstruction would be the thing itself made again, while a construction is something new. History must be a construction because it is full of influences such as: interpretations, found meanings, winners vs. losers (who’s writing history? It’s usually the “winners” or those who are dominant), selectivity (value judgments on what’s “important”), preceding history. We agreed that history is always taught to us a narrative or story; history is presented as progressive with connections to one another.
More secretarial details included the following:
The final exam is listed at the wrong time; it will take place December 12th from 12:00-3:00 pm. We will be recording our presentations of our findings from our ‘big’ project as Professor Seaman will not be able to attend in person.
Due next week are our preliminary bibliography (due on OAKS Tuesday the 8th by 9:00 am) as well as our annotated sample (due on OAKS Thursday the 10th by 9:00 am.)
On time: “Yet, on closer inspection, space and time are deeply social as opposed to a natural phenomena” (Nealon 109).
“Without question, we experience time in individual, often idiosyncratic ways, but these experiences are also shaped by larger social processes” (Nealon 110).
“…it is crucial to recognize that implicit in such power is the capacity to control one’sown as well as other peoples’ time or location in space. An obvious example of this is the centuries-long, ongoing battle between labor management – organized primarily around time” (Nealon 111).
“…the government legislated an increase in the working day for laborers recently arrived in the city. The idea was that the state imposition of time-discipline would keep the newly dispossessed and unruly masses in check and out of trouble…But such battles, we should note, were fought on the terms – the timetables- established by their employers” (Nealon 111).
“…Hanchard notes three conceptual facets to racial time: waiting, time appropriation, and the ethical relationship between temporality and progress…To be black in the United States under Jim Crow meant waiting for pretty much everything: health care, police protection, transportation, education, and a host of other provisions citizens are entitled to receive as citizens…Thus King recast waiting as procrastination and patience as immorality time appropriation, conversely, involves challenging the temporal dimensions of inequality associated with segregation – ‘seizing another’s time and making it one’s own’- as captured in Black Panther Bobby Seale’s exhortation to ‘seize the time’” (Nealon 112-113).
On space: “Like time, the spaces we occupy- geographic regions, nations, cities, hospitals, prisons home, our bodies, not to mention those mental spaces and maps we sometimes inhabit- provide a framework for our experiences, as we learn who and what we are in society, our ‘proper place’” (Nealon 114).
“The categories of West and East, suburban and urban, for example, carry with them, however silently, certain racial designations. But such significations don’t simply mark spaces racially, they also order them hieracrchically” (Nealon 114).
“Harvey’s point, of course, was to draw attention to how changes in travel time inaugurated new perceptions of global space” (Nealon 117).
“Critiquing the ad campaigns run by multinational corporations such as Nike, LA Gear, and Reebok, which romanticize the deteriorating urban spaces in which black and Latino youth must play, Kelley ironically notes that such corporations have made huge profits from the postindustrial decline they inaugurated. Not only have they moved factories from urban centers in the United States to ‘developing’ countries in search of cheap, nonunion labor, they have also created a vast market for overpriced sneakers (some going for $200 a pair) among young black males who have nothing to do but play” (Nealon 121).
“In other words, the economic restructuring we associate with globalization has mean permanent unemployment for some populations and hence the declining infrastructures of urban spaces; shrinking social services; the flight of middle-class residents to the suburbs; and the deterioration f public schools, play areas, and parks” (Nealon 122).
“Accordingly, we tend to think of history as a reconstruction of actual events as they unfolded in time, as distinct from a poet’s or novelists’ construction of a historical past, which may refer to real events and lives but is free to ignore or transgress available historiographic evidence in its pursuit of ‘higher truths.’” (Nealon 95).
“All of which is to say that histories are narrated from a point of view; ‘important’ events are chosen according to certain criteria; and those events are explained in terms of certain paradigms that promote particular visions of the past, present, and future. Because factual accounts of the past involve this process of selection and emphasis, they turn out to be interpretations, or constructions, of history rather than objective reconstructions of past realities” (Nealon 97).
Also, our attention was directed to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle on Nealon’s page 101, which had to us random events which were of little importance. We hypothesized what we would write now and included things such as natural disasters, political deaths, etc.
Historicism: Forms of literary criticism that examine the relationship between a literary work and its historical milieu. Historicist analyses consider the cultural and social factors that influenced and are revealed through the text. (BG 226-227).
Preview of Week 12 (by Dr. Seaman)
It’s a busy week, in terms of your work toward the Big Project: you’ll turn in your Preliminary Bibliography by Tuesday at 9am, and then your Sample Annotation by Thursday at 9am. I’m at work grading your revisions of your Response essay and will have those to you soon.
In class, we’ll be discussing Lee Patterson’s sample New Historicist essay in the Beidler Wife of Bath book on Monday, and then the big “Posts” chapter in Theory Toolbox on Wednesday. It will be fun to get back to some literary analysis on Monday, and back to the Wife. As you read about New Historicism and then Patterson’s essay on the Wife, bear in mind how this approach seems to differ from more familiar Historicist approaches, and what it offers that other approaches might not. What, given the priorities of Patterson’s approach, do we see differently than we have thus far?
The topics in “Posts” for Wednesday are (a) rather complex and (b) capacious, so that the chapter is chock full of a range of concepts (whereas History, for instance, was really focused on a single topic). Give yourself enough time to process them before coming to class for discussion. These lie at the heart of what the Humanities (and to a large extent the Social Sciences) has been concerned with for years now.
Be sure to allot time, as well, for reading and considering the various terms I’ve assigned you to look up in the Bedford glossary, too. See how these supplement, complement, and sometimes challenge the way the issues are presented in the Theory Toolbox.