Terence Cave is a professor at St. Johns in Oxford. He specializes in early modern French Literature and focuses on understanding how a cognitive approach can be used to interpret literature. Cave’s book, Thinking with Literature was published recently last year. One of Cave’s motives for writing is to invite the reader to understand that “the currently available intellectual environment in which we all operate -is changing perceptibly, there will inevitably, sooner or later, be a corresponding change in the terms in which we approach our own subject” (2). According to Cave our understanding and perspective is affected by the forms of communication we are exposed to, including both conversation and literature. Cave also focuses on how the cognitive environment affects our interactions with conversation and literature. He defines cognition as being “alert, attentive, responsive” and enforces that literary criticism must be as “alert, and attentive as any other cognitive activity we preform” (1). 

Cave references Michel de Montainge, “Shakespreare’s French contemporary, and his metaphor about a conversational exchange as a tennis game:

Speech belongs half to the speaker, half to the listener, who must prepare himself to receive it according to its trajectory. As in a game of tennis the defender takes up position and gets ready in response to his perception of the striker’s movements and the way she strikes the ball.” (2)

His metaphor about conversation being a game of tennis was an excellent representation of how conversations work. This is furthered when he explains that “what happens in conversations, the worst as well as the best, is that speaker’s seek to alter each other’s’ cognitive environment , to make some difference, however small, to the way they perceive and conceive the world” (5). This leads to his idea about affordances.

“The term ‘affordance’ was coined by James J. Gibson, an American psychologist best known for his cognitive theory of perception. . . Gibson defines the word as ‘what the environment offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill’. . . affordances are thus the potential uses an object or feature of the environment offers to a living creature (47-48). Different components of literature, including genre, theory, and form become the ecology that the writer inhabits.  Cave piggybacks off of Gibson and broadens the “definition to include not only the uses of an object but also the object viewed in the light of those uses” (48). According to Cave, this extended definition is advantageous because “it enables one to signal more consistently the shift of perspective the word carries with it” (48).

“An affordance is thus. . . underspecified, and its specification depends on relevance. It’s a thing that adumbrates [reports] a purpose or indefinite set of purposes.” Affordances are important to the adaptation and emergence of new modes of thinking and therefore also alters the experience one has with their surroundings. (Think of how the affordance of tools helped cavemen adapt and improve their way of living.)

Affordances in literature: “To regard genre as an affordance invites one to consider it within the perspective of cultural evolution. Stories, representations, poetic utterances, and the like vie in their various cultural contests for use value and audience preference. When a use-value begins to assert itself, it attracts other makers, who reinforce and also vary the model. In this way, a degree of invariance (or repeatability) provides an accepted platform that affords new potentialities.. . In this trajectory, there are of course moments when a collective consciousness of the category emerges; new generic categories are designated, or existing ones may shift, relocating the affordance template across a significantly different set of generic characteristics” (57-58).

Happy Snow Day to you all! I hope you all keep warm during the days to come. Now to talk about the beginning of my strategy for this exam.

Theory

For the theory section I’m still deciding on what my options are but I was interested in pursing Queer theory and how it connects to Fun Home. However, I’m still trying to figure out what other texts I can use with this because right not its not evident to me. I was also thinking about liminality and using Fun Home as well along with The Buried Giant. I did both my presentations on both works so I already have a sort of outline on how to use it for both works. If I need another work, I might also be able to use Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao because it also comments on the theme of identity and the difficulties of teenage years. I could be able to talk about how all three different characters (Bechdel, Edwin, and Oscar) deal with their liminal stages and how this affects their interaction with their environment and relationships with others.

Genre

I’m a little worried for the genre section because I want to reuse Fun Home. I don’t want to seem too repetitive but it could also work. I’m thinking about using Fun Home, “The Mark on the Wall,” and maybe Emily Dickinson’s “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain.” The genre of the elegy is evident in Fun Home but less so in the other two works. After doing the presentation with “The Mark on the Wall” as an elegy I realized that I could present a unique interpretation. I can definitely use Smythe’s work. I just have to be very careful to make sure my point are met. Dickinson’s poem could also be interpreted through the elegy. I will use Sack’s work to make my argument. Again, the elegiac form is not as evident in this poem as it in in Fun Home but there are still images, like the procession of mourners, and the lack of consolation that could comment on the genre. However, if it comes to it I could also use Milton’s Lycidas and maybe use it as a comparison to how the form of the elegy has transgressed and transformed.

Historical Context

For me this is the hardest section because I’m not sure how to incorporate the history into my essays without sounding like I’m writing a history book. I have thought about working with   Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl mixed with The Invisible Man and talk about slavery and division of class and race. I found this article titled “Nineteenth-Century African American Women’s Autobiography as Social Discourse: The Example of Harriet Ann Jacobs” by Johnnie M. Stover that discusses the marginalization of the black woman in literature but society as well. I could talk about how women are also marginalized in Ellison’s work and the ways that their status in society affected the way they presented the female character. However, I feel like I might be venturing into a more feminist point of view that leads more to theory so I’m still trying to see what I can do to avoid that. As of now, I think this is my less developed and the one I have the most trouble writing.

 

Flexibility and Modularity

The book I have the most knowledge or confidence in is Fun Home because I did my thesis on it, but also because it’s a book that encompasses so many different genres, forms, and theories. I know I can already use it with different text for the genre and theory section. With each section, expect the historical context, I try to have three texts that I can work with in case the question wants me to do more than two. I also feel like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl can be used with theory and historical context, possibly also genre with the autobiography narrative. I have a lot more organization left to do but this is all a good start to get my ideas flowing, I hope.

 

Thank you for all and any feedback!

 

“The Mark on the Wall” is a short story written by Virginia Woolf. This short story employs the stream of consciousness, the same mode of narrative that Lodge’s Thinks . . . did. The story is told through the stream of consciousness of a female narrator who notices this strange mark on the wall and begins to question what it could have been caused by. We don’t find out what it actually is until the end of the story when the narrator’s stream of consciousness is interrupted by another person’s voice. Within a span of a couple years she watched her mom, half-sister, dad, and brother die. According to many scholars her work is often a reflection of her  depressed state. Woolf committed suicide at the age of 59. “The Mark on the Wall” is a short story written by Virginia Woolf. This short story employs the stream of consciousness, the same mode of narrative that Lodge’s Thinks . . . did. The story is told through the stream of consciousness of a female narrator who notices this strange mark on the wall and begins to question what it could have been caused by. We don’t find out what it actually is until the end of the story when the narrator’s stream of consciousness is interrupted by another person’s voice.

The genre of elegy is most known as a “poem about mourning and consolation” (Sacks 2). Peter Sacks outlines the conventions of the genre in his work, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre: From Spenser to Yeats as the following:

Pastoral Contextualization
Use of repetition and refrain
Reiterated questions
Procession of mourners
Traditional images of resurrection
Movement from grief to consolation
Elegists’s need to draw attention to, consolingly, to his own surviving powers

One of the most widely known elegies is Milton’s Lycidas. Karen Smythe’s Virginia Woolf’s Elegiac Enterprise explores how various works of Woolf, including “The Mark on the Wall” challenge the elegiac genre. Smythe coins the term “fiction-elegy” to describe Woolf’s choice to use the “novel form in [her] exploration and alteration of elegiac conventions (such as incantation) that originated in in poetic technique” (64). While Woolf does challenge the expected conventions, she also embraces the aspect of reflection that elegies strive for. As the speaker begins to reflect back on everything that changes in life, she reflects on the house and how it has changed as the owners change. She believes that the hole might have been caused by pictures that were hung by the previous owners and mentions that “one will never see them again, never know what happened next.” There is this idea of a fleeting moment that leaves and can never be returned again. However,Smythe fails to comment on how Woolf’s use of  “steam of consciousness” adds to the reflective element of the elegy. The form allows her to have multiple reflections and thought without interruption.

Woolf also uses pastoral setting widely in her writing. There are many references to various flowers and meadows, and a particular allusion to Greek mythology.

“Why, if one wants to compare life to anything, one must liken it to being blown through the Tube at fifty miles an hour-landing at the other end without a single hair pin in one’s hair! Shot out at the feet of God entirely naked! Tumbling head over heels in the asphodel meadows. . .Yes, that seems to express the rapidity of life, the perpetual waste and repair; all so casual, all so haphazard. . .”

The world “asphodel” refers to an immortal flower. This immortal flower and the term “asphodel meadows” is a reference to Homer and the place”where the spirits of the dead dwell” (Reece 1). According to Steve Reece, a renowned professor and writer, the asphodel meadow has recognized “throughout Western literary” as a “pleasant and desirable place” (1). However, this pastoral setting does not provide comfort to the speaker. On the contrary, it makes the speaker uneasy about life. There are instances where the speaker comments that Nature is supposed to counsel and “comfort you” and that “if you can’t be comforted, if you must shatter this hour of peace, think of the mark on the wall”. The speaker can’t be comforted by nature because she keeps thinking about the mark on the wall herself. Her thoughts always go to the mark on the wall. The constant repetition of “the mark on the wall” and the rhetorical questions about what the mark can be that is widely used in elegies. However, Woolf challenges the convention by not finding consolation with the pain, instead she seems to be acquiring more. The repetition of “the mark on the wall” reminds the speaker and reader about the absence of what once was but no longer is and the trouble one has with letting the past go. Therefore, this becomes an elegy to mourn time and moments in life that are gone and vanish.

However, according to Smythe the image of the snail is “a living thing, but it figuratively ‘writes’; it is a mark that ‘marks’ and leads the speaker and reader toward consolation through meditations and questionings” (69). While it is true that the speaker finds consolation in knowing what the object was, the speaker and reader is not consoled because they are left with more profound questions than simply wondering what the mark on the wall is. Spoiler alert! The mark on the wall, as we learn from the voice that interrupts the speaker, is left from a snail. Ironically, the snail represents life and the speaker mourns how fast life passes by and the moments it takes with it. Just a couple of lines before the speaker insisted that “everything’s moving, falling, slipping, vanishing.” The speaker isn’t consoled by knowing that the mark is a snail because mourning the snail, she was mourning the rapidity of life, what once was and no longer is. Woolf’s short story transforms and embraces the form of the elegy.

Fun Home is described as a “family tragicomic” that explores the life of the author, Alison Bechdel, her family, and her father’s death. The form of this novel is a graphic novel and in many ways this work can be considered an elegy, an autobiography, and a memoir. If you decided to use this work you could use any of these to write about the different genres. Graphic forms allow the author to tell their work not only through words, but images as well while simultaneously telling another images through the words outside and inside the panels, as well as the blurbs. As it was pointed out, the form of the graphic novel could also be considered as queer because it does not follow the “normal” linear form of novels. It’s important to know how to read the graphic novel in order to understand the narrative. For my presentation I discussed Queer Theory and how Fun Home can be read through that literary lens.

Queer Theory began around the 1980’s. While it was influenced “by feminist criticism, [it] emerges from post-structurlist in fragmented, de-centered knowledge building (Nietzsche, Derrida, Foucault), language (the breakdown of sign-signifier), and psychoanalysis (Lacan)” (PurdueOWL). Queer theory also stems from the work of Michael Foucault (French philosopher), Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick (who used the term anti-homophobic inquiry to describe what would become queer theory) along with many others. It emerged to give voice to minorities including the LGBT community. The primary source I looked at to learn about Queer Theory was the work of Frederick L. Greene titled “Introducing Queer Theory into the Undergraduate Classroom: Abstractions and Practical Applications.

Before we begin to explore Queer Theory we must first clear up any misunderstandings of the word queer by reading the definition. Bechdel incorporates her own discovery of what the word means in one of her pages of Fun Home. This is found on page 57 in Fun Home. The definition of Queer is very important to understand because it is used very differently throughout the reading and in many contexts. This page is also a reflection of Bechdel’s own attempt to understand her own father and his strange behavior.

Queer theory, as explained by Greene, means at least three different things. Greene presents three different definitions of queer theory. However, it is important to note that queer theory refuses to have a fixed definition because they want to deviate from rigid structures. The first definitions states that “(1) ‘queer theory’ as a theory of the queer, the odd, the abnormal and a theory privileging that perspective or experience” (325). In other words, the normative or “correct” way of viewing or understanding is changed for a perspective or experience that prefers an otherwise more unusual one. Greene’s second definition”(2) ‘queer theory’ understood as a queer – different, atypical – kind of theory.” Queer theory is done because some people have no other means of representation. “Some of us – born ‘of color’ in a world in which white is the privileged pigmentation, female in a male dominated society, gay in a mostly heterosexual world. . . find that the official narratives do not explain our experience and most certainly do not justify (our) subordination, enslavement, persecution, or (our) privilege” (332). Queer theory rejects one correct definition that limits the voices that can participate within the already established binary structures of society. Lastly, “(3) ‘queer theory’ where ‘queer’ operates as an imperative to ‘queer’ or defamiliarize theory, making its assumptions and occlusions subject to analysis” (325). The theory spoils, diminishes the quality, of the established theories or perspectives that have closed off anything that doesn’t follow the accept”a dissatisfaction with the received descriptions and interpretations of social experience.” This theory becomes another outlet that encompasses more than what is considered acceptable and established. Queer theory also “investigates liminal phenomena that others cannot acknowledge or see” (326).

Queer theory is motivated by”a dissatisfaction with the received descriptions and interpretations of social experience.” This theory becomes another outlet that encompasses more than what is considered acceptable and established. Queer theory also “investigates liminal phenomena that others cannot acknowledge or see” (326). Remember Tuner and his ideas of liminality? Turner’s work on liminality and rites of passage can be found in the class website (its also important to add that this theory can be applied to The Buried Giant). Victor Turner concluded that “liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete.” The key word in the definition is ambiguity. Ambiguity is also important to Queer Theory because it looks to diminish the binaries that are present and urges readers to accept what can’t be placed into one established category. Instead it points to the “uncannily similar, the proximate but unavowable, the near but queer” (326). Queer theory doesn’t look to categorize, instead it accepts everything that is and is not, everything and anything in between has a voice.

There are 3 parts to the rites of passage that further liminality: 1. separation from a fixed point in the structure 2. margin where the characteristics are ambiguous 3. aggregation where the subject is at a stable state. Queer theory is concerned with the separation from the fixed point because it allows one to enter a world that doesn’t include binaries. This is because binaries ” impoverish our capacity to represent and understand the world.” These categories are dangerous to one’s understanding of their sexuality, gender, identity, and more.
Bechel’s father never reaches the final step of the rites of passage because of his failure to find a stable state. The

Judith Butler is a big influence on queer theory. She described “identity as an enacted cultural fantasy that can be best understood as a performance, role playing according to certain historically specific cultural assumptions and expectations” (328).Fun Home demonstrates this phenomena with the characters of young Bechdel and her father.oppressive views of his sexuality prevented him from separating himself with the fixed notions of his gender.t This can be represented on page 98 when Bechdel acknowledges how her father and her reflected in each other what they could be in society because of the binary representations of gender and sexuality.

Below are some important questions queer theorist ask when looking at a text seen through the literary lens:

1. How do queer bodies and representations put into question, denaturalize, or contradict such unexamined and ideologically saturated concepts of democracy, capitalism, manliness, heterosexuality, and the race system?
2. How is subjectivity represented?
3. Does the language work together with or in opposition to the representational level?
4. What is problematic or remarkable to use personally?

 

 

 

After reading the comments made regarding my paper and my own reflections I know I need to fix the following things:

1) Ensure my thesis is clear and evident.

2) Need to reference my thesis throughout

3) My Motivating Moves should be made clear throughout

4) Improve  my transitions from paragraph to paragraph

5) Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

6) Make my voice stronger and my stance more clear (this will also help if my motivating moves are made clear)

7) Make sure I stay on topic with the subheadings.

8) Improve my  use of Gaipa’s strategies, especially picking a fight.

9) Make sure my essay isn’t saturated with claims only.

10) Improve my own understanding of what my end goal is for this thesis.

11) Attempt to make and write a clear conclusion.

 

I felt very overwhelmed while writing my paper because I still didn’t think I knew what my main argument would be, I was still playing around with many ideas and I think that reflected in my draft. A lot of the feedback I received was about the clarity of my thesis and the organization of my thoughts throughout. I knew that would be the case because I myself was iffy about the direction my paper would take. After reading the comments I know that one of the major things I have to keep in mind when I revise is laying out a stronger foundation, and also getting my motives clear to the reader because I know that will help guide their understanding of my groundwork. Hayot explains that working with the “Uneven U structure” will help your writing so you, as the writer, will know “at any given moment where your prose is going and what it aims to do, and you will begin to vary your structure so that the reader follows a developmental rhythm and trajectory that communicates the overall goals of your work” (74) I know my paper has a lot going so far and its very important that I make sure my reader understands the points I am trying to make and the reasoning behind them. I will try to go back to that chapter about the Uneven U and see how I can incorporate some aspects of it into my writing to make sure I communicate with my reader well and improve my structure as well. Although I wouldn’t want to end up confusing myself even more with the Uneven U if it gets too complicated. I will also play around with my structure by adding visual elements throughout my piece, which will be beneficial because I am working with graphic novels. I also would like to attempt to add sections to my writing to organize my thoughts, I will use Hayot’s explanation of “chunking” to help me with this because I’ve never written anything I needed to break into sections. But first, I’ll take a week off and enjoy the holidays as was suggested. Thank you professor :). I’m still currently writing an essay and doing a final for another class and it’s “Christmas Eve” Eve so I think a break is very much needed after that’s over with. A new year will mean a new start in my writing. So until then, happy holidays! See you next year!

Writing this paper has been a struggle. I honestly do feel very passionate with my primary sources because I feel so close to the characters and their narratives. The form of the graphic novel is unique because of the addition of the visuals, the concept of a parallel story within the panels and the gutters, and the purposeful layout of every page. I find myself really interested in all these elements that make up the graphic novel. My second sources are credible and informative too but I find myself reading them over and over again trying to find how to organize all the ideas and thoughts. All my sources have a lot of credible information and I want to make sure I use it correctly in order to improve my own argument. Walk’s “Motivating Moves” have helped me organize my thoughts and guide my writing. I go back to my motivating moves and remember what my purpose for writing is, then I think about how my writing will reflect my motivating moves and what else I need to do to ensure my motivating moves come across to the reader. Also, I’m really interested in the subject of liminality but I’m not sure if it should be my main focus when writing about Fun Home and Persepolis or if it should just be one idea I present briefly. I don’t want to seem like a broken cassette if I only talk about liminality, but on the other hand maybe I should because there have not been a lot of sources that view these two works through that particular lens, and if I do it then I will definitely be adding something new to the conversation. I want to write as much as I can to be able to get a really good start on next semester but my organization right now is not helping me.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Bechdel’s Fun Home is a graphic novel that follows Bechdel, her deceased father, and family through various stages of her life and the suicide of her father. I’m interested in this graphic novel because of the way it not only uses words to tell two stories with the words in the gutters and panels but it also uses a lot of literary references and art to say more than what words can describe. It’s a book that keeps her father alive through the literary devices. For example by beginning with the reference to Icarus and his father and ending with a rhetorical question that concerns both of these literary characters again. The book also makes a full circle from the beginning and end through the drawing of Bechdel’s father holding his arms up waiting for her as she opens up her hands to dive into his protection. This will be one of my two primary sources that I will use to explore this book as more than a graphic novel but a graphic literacy narrative and the way Bechdel tries to understand her father and herself through the use of literary references, art, and language.

Malek, Amy. “Memoir as Iranian Exile Cultural Production: A Case Study of Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’ Series.” Iranian Studies, vol. 39, no. 3, 2006, pp. 353–380. www.jstor.org/stable/4311834.

Malek is a sociocultural anthropologists who studied and is interested in “diaspora and transnationalism, ethnicity. . .with a particular emphasis on Iranian and Middle Eastern communities in North America and Europe.” Her knowledge on Iran and the tie between culture and self will help me better understand the themes in Persepolis. This source is unique because it introduces the concept of liminality, a topic I discussed in my presentation on Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. She uses the work of another scholar, Hamid Naficy, and his contribution to the work of liminality and exile. Nacify proposed that people who are exiled experience liminality because they are in between their culture/birthplace and the new society they will emigrate to. Malek argues how Persepolis exhibits the traits of liminality that is explained by Naficy because Satrapi used the “Western genre of comic and memoir” to tell her childhood story, but aslo the history of Iran.An interesting concept that I do see in Persepolis. I want to add to this idea and explore how liminality exists even within the culture Satrapi is already a part of and her struggle with religion and politics. There is a specific visual where her image of God and the image of Marx is reflected, it becomes hard for her to assimilate both concepts. She is in between the two. I will use strategy #2: Ass Kissing and strategy #3: Piggybacking.

Mikkonen, Kai. “Graphic Narratives as a Challenge to Transmedial Narratology: The Question of Focalization.” Amerikastudien / American Studies, vol. 56, no. 4, 2011, pp. 637–652. www.jstor.org/stable/23509433.

Mikkonnen’s work establishes how the elements of a graphic novel work together to create and complicate the focal points of the graphic novel. One of Mikkonnen’s main focuses is how the reader interprets the narrative and the perception they have of the relationship that exists within the “verbal and visual elements’ of the novel. The perception of the reader and what they perceive is ultimately what allows them to understand the work as a whole. This understanding is guided by the way the author consciously decides to work with the visual and verbal elements as well as the space that surrounds and encloses them. Mikkonnen’s work helps establish background knowledge on how graphic novels are read and how the elements of the novel affect the experience the reader has with the narrative. Most importantly he writes about how the experience reading narratives is therefore challenged by the genre of graphic novels. His information will help me better understand how graphic novels challenge traditional narratives and expose me to the theories of focalization that are important in the interpretation and understanding of graphic narratives that I can use as a lense when expanding and adding new ideas in my writing. Therefore, as I use some of the focalization theories Mikkonen presents I will also be using Gaipa’s strategy #3: Piggybacking and #8:Crossbreeding with Something New, as the latter deals with theories.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon, 2003. Print.

I will also look at Persepolis as a literacy narrative and engage in art and language as well but I will also like to explore the element of politics. Satrapi retells the story of her childhood and much of her childhood and identity was influenced by the politics that surrounded her life as a young girl living in a “cultural revolution.” The image of that little girl is reflected at every turn. I want to explore how the emotion and identity of all those found within the pages of this book is felt through the visuals, the contrast of black and white (maybe a reflection of peace contrasted with war), and the silence that breaks the boundaries of the panels that don’t have any words or language but raw depictions of the events she remembers. I want to explore how the reader’s experience and engagement with the story of Satrapi’s childhood would have been different if it was a traditional literacy narrative instead of a graphic one because of all these elements combined.

Stroud, Scott R. “Simulation, Subjective Knowledge, and the Cognitive Value of Literary Narrative.” Journal of Aesthetic Education, vol. 42, no. 3, 2008, pp. 19–41. www.jstor.org/stable/25160288.

This week in class when discussing Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant we read an article that asked us to think about why we care about literary characters. The question presented by Vermeule was really interesting to explore because not all of us care for certain literary characters, we all have our own thoughts and perceptions about them but they differ because we experience and interact and respond to the text and the characters in different ways. Nonetheless literary characters do evoke various emotions within us. Stroud’s work seemed to be doing something very similar as he ask the reader to ponder the question of “what exactly is the value of literature?” (19) and how literary narratives “holds the power to move individuals to thought, reflection, action, and belief” (19). In order to attempt to address these two key points Stroud argues for the importance of the “Subjective Knowledge Theory” that attempts to explain the impact the “subjective perspectives or experiences” of the reader have on their experience with the work of literary narratives. The reader is exposed to the narrative and life of the author but they are also able to experience and feel the emotions, inner and outer conflicts of the narrator through the simulation they experience by reading the words. This simulation allows the reader to identity with “values, beliefs, and/or behaviors” that they would otherwise know nothing about. Stroud’s uses this theory in order to attempt to “show how literature holds value in itself and in relation to the reader’s oral activities/judgements” (20). The reader gains more than he can image from reading the narratives of the authors. Stroud also provides his readers with important definitions of a narrative and the elements of a narrative in order to establish a common understanding that can help expand my own knowledge on this genre.I will use the information in Stroud’s reading to outline the elements of the traditional narrative in an attempt to analyze how graphic novel attempts to respond to the question of the importance of literature. Given that this too deals with a theory I will use Gaipa’s strategy #8:Crossbreeding with Something New, as the latter deals with theories along with strategy #3: Piggybacking, and #2: Ass Kissing.

Turner, Victor, “Liminality and Communitas,” The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, pp. 94-113, 125-30. http://www.sjsu.edu/people/annapurna.pandey/courses/MSR122/s0/Victor-Turner-Liminality-and-Communitas.pdf

After reading Malek’s work and her incorporation of Naficy and liminality I thought about the work I discussed for my presentation. Turner’s work, like Naficy, focuses on the theory of liminality and build on van Gennep’s theory of rites of passage that involves the journey through this stage of being in between two positions. Turner mentions that liminality is “often likened to death, being in the womb, invisibility, to darkness, or bisexuality” (359). Much of the ideas associated with liminality are found within Bechdel’s Fun Home as well as Satrapi’s Persepolis. Bechdel’s main reason for writing Fun Home was to explore the suicide and life of her father as a gay man. I could even argue, possibly, that her father never entered the third stage of the rites of passage, because according to Turner the third stage happens when the “passage is consummated” and the “ritual subject is in a relatively stable state once more” (359). Or it could also be argued that the only way for him to feel stable was through death, thus fulfilling the three stages of rites of passage. I have to work out which way I want to go still. This theory of liminality and rites of passage that Turner explores in his work will help me view Fun Home through the lens of this theory. I will use strategy #8: crossbreeding with Something New, strategy #3: piggybacking, any maybe strategy #7 to explore how the issue is society’s acceptance of sexual preferences and not the person’s sexual preference. Although this might be more complicated because Bechdel’s sexual preference was more specifically younger boys and that’s frowned upon on another level.

Warhol, Robyn, and Robyn Warhol-Down. “The Space Between: A Narrative Approach to Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home.’” College Literature, vol. 38, no. 3, 2011, pp. 1–20. www.jstor.org/stable/41302870.

This is a source that works with my primary source and the genre of literacy narrative. It exposes other secondary sources that I would like to pick a fight with (Strategy #1) by ass kissing both authors (strategy #2) and at the same time piggybacking (strategy #3) from the author’s ideas and adding things I thought they did not address in this source. This source begins by defining very important keywords like “memoir,” autobiography,” and “tragicomic” that provides me with the background knowledge about these words and how to use and apply them correctly when I talk about Fun Home. The author also focuses on the binaries that are present in the graphic novel, words and images, and agrees and presents a third addition “the pictures: the avatars of Alison, her family, and their friends.” I would add to the binary of “reality” and “fiction” as Bechdel tries to understand her reality through the understanding of reading works of fiction. Warhol also introduces two verbal layers that include the voice over narration and the voices inside the panels. However I want to add to this that there is a voice in the use of the words Bechdel tries to define because it is through her act of defining those words that we as the reader are engaged with her attempt to understand and think these words can speak for things we cannot put into words. There is also a lot of attention Warhol places on the depiction on the body and how these depictions through the visuals add to the graphic novel a depth and dimension not found in traditional narratives that is very interesting.

 

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My Ballroom:

I made my ballroom more into a comic strip in an attempt to make it really fit the genre of my primary sources. In the middle of the comic strip I included Bechdel and Satrapi who talk about the transformation of literacy narratives by adding drawings and adding another layer of language through the text within the graphic panels. Bechdel addresses other elements she uses to retell and understand her past wile Satrapi does the same. Mikkonen is in the discussion of how authors of graphic novels purposely arrange their forms and pictures to guide the perception of the reader. Stroud argues that it is the reader who simulates the experience of the authors creates by bringing to the reader their own identity and interactions. Warhol argues that the reader realizes their own embodiment through the visuals and their layout the author has created, going along with Mikkonen. Malek argues that Satrapi as an exile has embodied the genre that was created by Westerners and not her home of Iran because Satrapi still experiences liminality. While Turner explains that the goal is to get out of this liminal stage and consummate the rites of passage to achieve a stable state and not be trapped in the middle. I realized I didn’t put myself in the ballroom which is a big no no. I would say I’m around the border of th rectangles walking around, stepping into the words and graphics, and not agreeing as much with Mikkonen because I myself made this graphic without guiding the reader on where to start and finish. I purposely made Tuner not finish the race because I want to explore his middle stages of rites of passage while challenging Malek’s critique of Satrapi being westernized. My motives are still #1, 5, & 6.

All my primary sources so far, are autobiographical narratives that use various forms of language to unveil the relationship between their identity and the works they write. In her graphic novel, Persepolis, Satrapi uses the language of art and politics to revisit her childhood self in an attempt to understand the impact of the Islamic Revolution she was a part of. Satrapi recreates moments of her childhood during this period of civil war through her drawings, the language in the gutters and in the panels, as well as the dialogue that occurs inside the panels. She made a conscious decision to tell her childhood story through the form of a graphic novel and I’m excited to explore this form and its contents mainly because I want to investigate how politics as a language can be understood by those of a young age, like Satrapi, with all its complexities and struggles. Also how can this form help the reader engage in the perspective of the writer through the pictures and personal events the writer describes? Fun Home is another graphic novel that explores how art and language come together to understand the death of a father. Bechdel uses literary traditions to understand the life and death of a father who lived a life of secrets. This makes me pose the question of how can literary texts allow the writer to uncover emotions or truths that they were not conscious of or did not understand at the moment? The retelling of a story could be an attempt to understand death and war, this reminds me of PTSD. I’m also thinking of writing about The Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez.

So far two of my primary sources are graphic novels, so I have started looking for secondary sources that give me more background on how they work in the literary stage. My first source is Graphic Narratives as a Challenge to Transmedial Narratology: The Question of Focalization by Kai Mikkonen. This will help me understand the elements of the graphic novel and how it transforms the traditional way of storytelling. As I hope to add more of my perspectives on how this form is necessary in a system that can be very rigid. My next source is Simulation, Subjective Knowledge, and the Cognitive Value of Literary Narrative by Scott R. Stroud. This source will help me analyze how Literary Narrative allows the reader to experience a different reality and in doing so help the reader try and answer the same questions as the writer but can see it through a different perspective. I also found a source by Donald Polkinghorne title Explorations of Narrative Identity. I hope to find more sources that deal with narratives and the effect it has on the identities of not only the writers but the readers as well. As well as how the different perspectives shape the experience and response they have to the narratives.

I am really interested in the relationship between identity and language and the different forms that both can take. I’m interested in this relationship because I feel like in society in general it is really hard for others to step into the shoes of those who are different from them. I believe that literacy narratives are a gateway to converging different perspectives in order to understand one another better. In literature, literacy narratives may just be one form of writing but I think they can have a greater importance in society and in the lives of the readers. Literacy narratives allow us to explore smaller real life stories in order to understand and maybe even accept and challenge the much larger accepted norms.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to diverge a little from this week’s blog options to discuss how Bagg’s video “In My Language” helped my reading of Bartleby and Rio’s “The Back of My Own Head in a Crowd.” We have discussed in these couple of weeks the process of “othering” and the problems it causes in society and how we perceive those around us who can be considered as “other.” Bartleby was placed in this category as soon as we were introduced to him by the speaker, who made the point to say “[he] waive[s] the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener the strangest I ever saw or heard of.” The reader is already given information that there is something peculiar and strange about him and his strangeness will be described to us by the speaker. After the video we saw last week where Amanda Baggs’ discussed how she communicates with her environment through her own language I wasn’t so inclined to think Bartleby was as strange as everyone around him was. For example there were numerous times in the short story where the author made it a point to acknowledge Bartleby’s actions, “his steadiness, his freedom from all dissipation, his incessant industry (except when he chose to throw himself into a standing revery behind his screen), his great stillness, his unalterableness of demeanor under all circumstances, made him a valuable acquisition.” (line 84-87) I related his “incessant industry” and “stillness” to the way Baggs communicated with her environment, the motions she made with her body, how she would stand still and look outside her window. I can’t say for a fact that Bartleby had the same form of communication with his environment but Baggs’s form of communication resonated with me and made me question how I perceive the world.  There could honestly be a spectrum for anything because there are so many people that perceive, feel, and act very differently from one another. Bartleby acted differently because his mode of communication was different but different shouldn’t mean strange. Murray also mentioned Baggs’ video and its “discussion of a wider autistic self hood, especially the ways in which that self is judged by others.” Bartleby was judged by his coworkers, then the strangers that moved into the building, and even at the end by the prisoner. Bartleby never preferred to change his self hood to satisfy the needs of others, even if he was judged until his death for it.

“The Back of My Own Head in a Crowd” reminded me of Bagg’s video because of all the sensory details and information that was digested by the speaker. Everything she touched aroused not only a physical feeling but also an emotional one. The speaker also reflects a crucial part of Baggs’ video that Murray presents, where Baggs becomes the “subject of her wider political statement. . . It is her own pleasures, preferences, and modes of communication that become the source of her articulation of what autistic subjectivity might be” (34). The speaker in the short story  mentions that because she has “been in so much of this kitchen, so much of it as well is in me. I feel the heat of the toaster, and the sticky sting of the ice” (61). The environment that surrounds her has transformed to become a part of her. She did not transform her self hood to fit the commodities of the outside world, similar to Bartleby’s preference to not do as society expected of him.

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