Review of Week 7 (October 3, 5) and Preview of Week 8
Review of Week 7
2:00 class by Erin Hollier
It’s the first week of October, and already things are beginning to pile on. After our text selections were due on Monday we began discussing facts, the subject, and subjectivity. We started class Monday on pg. 36 in the Theory Toolbox. Here is part of what we reviewed from that night’s readings on subjectivity:
-The self is pretty revered just like the individual in American culture. Competition is a fundamental value in our contemporary culture and that is what ensures success and that requires the individual self to stand out from others.
-Wherever we see a fact, an interpretation has been there first. Anytime you see a fact there has already been interpretation. We think of facts as unchanging.
-The self assumes and promotes autonomy (independence, make your own rules, you make your own choices, you are self-determining, not reliant, think back to Thoreau because he tried to exists solely on his own, sovereign) That is what we associate with self-hood. We see the self as coming before everything.
-Who we are is a product of our self; it comes first.
-The subject is always dependent on something else, it is in a relationship of dependence, your identity is not something you choose to display to the world but something you inhabit, like a space you are granted, like an offer you must accept.
-Interpretation vs. fact….general view is that science is factual. How do we draw the lines between what is and is not science is based on interpretation, and there are no facts that do not represent shared meaning. Self = individualized self (perceived to be by the person)
Continuing on to the top of page 39 in the Theory Toolbox:
–You keep your “self” by deciding how culture will affect you or not. The notion of the self that they are presenting here is one that people tend to not be fond of. How do you make yourself the subject or acknowledge the subject? Can you opt out of being a subject in this view in TT? –no, there is no way out “why do we worry so much about the self?” What do they mean when they say “a subject is defined by its place in relation to other things whereas the self is defined as being separate by other things?” Is this nature versus nurture? “the subject is what we think of as nurture and there isn’t a constant stable nature, if you think in terms of subjectivity there isn’t some sort of unchanging nature as such.” Signs have meaning within a system, and what we are arguing for here is that somehow a sign can have meaning outside of the system in which is participates.
-Texts are not selfs they are subjective.
Specific statement pg. 40 TT: “it does remind us that seemingly neutral…ideological lines” = Different ways in describing different races has changed over time, the categories are not natural, gender categories are not natural but are culturally constructed. So what does this do for us in English? It informs or helps us interpret more generously in ways that are more open and do not shut off other possibilities.
Bottom of page 40 in TT: “The meaning of a text…” our meaning is defined by the socially constructed ideas about race, gender, class…”Who you are is recognition of you by others”
Gender: usually defined as Male or Female, but there are other definitions of gender such as hermaphrodites or transgender sexes that are not simply Male or Female, but are ideas that have been newly formed from socially constructed norms that contrast with the idea of there being only two sexes.
-“A Fact is a mass agreed upon interpretation”-Joseph
-“If you put a cat in a box with dynamite, while it’s in the box it could either be dead or alive. Until you open the box and look you can’t know [if the cat is dead or alive] until you force an observation on it. The fact of whether or not the cat is dead or alive is ambiguous”-Zac
-“I never got the Barbie doll I wanted”-Blake
- “In science, a fact is a theory, but a theory is a well proven idea.”-Brandon
-“They are challenging what we think are known things, and what is worthy as news that is presented as fact”-Dr. Seaman.
-“Policeman example, hey, whatever you subject yourself”-Matt
-“Self and the subject; one is primary and one is secondary”-Brandon
-“Can you use the word transcendental there?”-Shaina
-How often have you been told that “this is a key figure” in a novel you have read?
-“Oh right this is a novel about the individual vs. society”-Dr. Seaman.
-“Self-hood and subjectivity can be defined by the individual by the choices they make”-Brandon.
Extra Extra Read All About It!!!
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Books: Includes more established and traditional writing that is durable.
Working Bibliography: Indicates the sources one uses for and continuously adds to a particular project that will help keep track of what one reads and keep information for one project in one place.
…Later on in the week everyone got together with Dr. Seaman to discuss their revisions for the formal writing assignments. In class, we talked about the upcoming English Department’s Open House that was to be held Thursday. Then we began class discussion on intellectual property and plagiarism. Here are some of the meaningful points addressed:
-Plagiarism is often thought of as “copy and paste,” however ideas can be copied as well as words from a page of text. Taking someone’s idea and reproducing it as one’s own idea is a form of plagiarism that excludes readers from a larger conversation. The inventor or creator of the idea is not important so much as how one would synthesize the idea within the context of what others are saying. Dr. Seaman told us that we can borrow an idea, but we must always indicate where we received the information.
-Think about intellectual property in terms of authorship as well. On page 53 of the MLA handbook, there reads a history of cultural identity. One person in the class gave an example that made sense to everyone, that stealing intellectual property is like copying someone else’s hairstyle—when someone takes your ideas and presents them without your recognition then they are taking your identity and becoming you.
-So when is there a time when you do not need to document references? Answer: when what you are representing as an idea is already widely known or accepted (for example: the earth is a round planet that rotates around the sun). Another example would concern the history of Chaucer’s life that Beidler gives in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” The information is widely known among scholars and therefore need not be documented.
-What is most important when considering documentation is how you inform your reader of the information you know and have encountered by others.
The last half of Wednesday’s class was dedicated to workshops with classmates concerning our formal written summaries.
“Welcome to your jaded class.”-Blake
“If I was born in 14th century England, and, oh, somehow I’m got to be this independent strong willed person that I am today…I would probably not be the independent individualistic person that I am…It’s not that I am some totally different person…its very much a product of a different culture at a different time.” – Dr. Seaman
“Everything that is makes itself is a reaction to culture…my desire is the live in Japan but that is because I was born in Japan. If I lived in Japan my desire would be different.”-Abe
“You know what I am going to say, that I don’t think envy is essential to the human condition.”-Dr. Seaman
“The idea of love is culturally constructed.”-Abe
“Books: a mythical thing from our past!”-Blake
3:20 class by Victoria Boneberg
[October 3rd, 2011]
On Monday’s class, we read a chapter of the Theory Toolbox titled “Subjectivity.” In the chapter, the idea of subject versus self was discussed. In class, we talked mainly about the differences between subject and self. The main points is that, fundamentally, subject doesn’t allow for individuality (or self.) Essentially, everything is relative and dependant. That idea goes for words as well as people—nothing is relevant without other things to compare/relate to.
After establishing the meanings of self and subject, we looked at American culture and how America is a very individual-driven society. That is that we heavily believe in this value of uniqueness and expression of self. Because of this, as readers, we have a tendency to find individuality as a theme in all sorts of literature from different kinds of cultures.
With this, there is also the idea that all definitions of “fact” are unstable and merely agreed upon perceptions of things. An example would be race and gender—they are culturally constructed categories and perceptions. If you think about the definition of any word, especially words like gender, the more you think about it, the more blurred the perception of it becomes.
[October 5th, 2011]
The main focus of class on Wednesday was the research paper. We touched on an idea that is already familiar—plagiarism, but our main topic was about tools we can use to create a successful and thought-provoking research paper.
One of those tools was the use of a “working bibliography.” Basically, keep a log of everything that you read, even if it is not necessarily relevant or not something that you use in your paper—you might need to come back later because your thesis changed, or you can avoid mistakenly rereading it because you forgot that you had. Essentially, it is a time saver.
Another tool is to differentiate between “authoritative” sources and those that are not. That doesn’t mean disregard those that are not, but know that they aren’t and be able to address them as so. Basically, approach and introduce your sources accordingly.
“There is no meaning of self that exists temporarily before the law.” Page 40 in Theory Toolbox.
Subjectivity: reactive, secondary, relative.
Self: inner self—not culturally influenced self, essence, autonomous.
Plagiarism: literally the “kidnapping” of something—in our case, stealing intellectual property.
Preview of Week 8 (by Dr. Seaman)
On Monday, we will be visited by various professors (different ones in my different 299 sections) as part of English Studies Day. (Remember: it’s a national holiday.) I’ll look forward to hearing your reflections on that Wednesday in class, and also (I hope) in some of your blog posts this week.
Blog posts, by the way, will be graded later this week. I will be all caught up on that by Fall Break.
I’ll also be grading what you’re submitting this Wednesday, by 9am, your revisions of your summaries of Tompkins’ essay.
For Wednesday–and I’m pretty eager to see how discussion will go–you will read and closely analyze the example of Marxist criticism included in Beidler’s edition of the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale. This essay is likely to be challenging, and you’ll be assisted by the introduction to Marxist criticism provided by Ross C. Murfin on pages 155-166. Do bear in mind that this is a separate introduction to Marxist approaches to literary analysis. Then, you’ll find the sample Marxist essay, by Laurie Finke (called “‘All is for to selle’: Breeding Capital in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”). Work as hard as you did on your first reading of Tompkins’ essay to piece together Finke’s argument–her central claim(s), as well as those that she uses to support the central claim(s) and the kinds of examples she uses to support them. We will spend all of Wednesday on Finke’s essay and this type of critical approach. (Next week, after Fall Break it’ll be back to Theory Toolbox–and of course your response essay will be due that Wednesday morning, October 19, at 9 a.m.)