November, 2016


For my project I’m thinking about using several different primary sources. One of the books I was considering using was Invisible Man by Ellison. The book focuses on a man that is considered invisible because he is black. I would also like to use another book named Between The World and Me by Coats. The book by Coats combats the idea of invisibleness proposed years before by Ellison in 1952. The questions I’m trying to focus on is how race and racism works in the brain. Both these books will help to get to a more definite answer to how race effects whites as well as blacks. I hope that this project will lead to answer my primary question of how race distinctions only exist in the mind and or brain and are not a physical characteristic of humans.

My primary secondary source will be Desmond, Matthew and Mustafa Emirbayer. 2016. Race in America. New York: WW Norton. This is a sociology textbook discussing how race functions in America and advantages and disadvantages associated with race. It also talks about how racist behaviors and actions began in America and how it is a continued phenomenon in a country that claims to be “color blind.” My other secondary source will be Bonilla­Silva, Eduardo. 2010. Racism Without Racists: Color­Blind Racism & Racial Inequality in Contemporary America. Third Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. This book poses questions related to race and racism in present day situations and offer real life answers by subjects from the study. With further research I hope to find sources that explain how conditioning works in the brain and brain-washing which will lead to a possible explanation of how racism works.

My motive for this project is to understand how racism is taught and not innate. My purpose is simple which is to add to the conservation of how racism is an ongoing phenomenon which needs to be removed in order to have true “equality.” There have been hundreds of books written in multiple styles to address the problem of how racism works in America, but I hope to add to the conversation by exploring how conditioned perspectives help to perpetuate racism in the twenty-first contrary.

Cultural and Social Factors in Sir Gawain

So, even after the discussion I’m still really confused about this work…not that the plot or what is going on is confusing but that I think that everything is pretty much as is and I kinda of take it at face value. I’m not sure how to read deeper into the story or really see things that aren’t there…usually that isn’t a problem but I think I just have a fear of Medieval texts…that being said I’m just going to talk about a part of the supplemental reading I found interesting.

“But that’s hardly the point; more important is that there is good late medieval evidence that sexual acts were fundamental to an individual subject’s sense of self and location in larger cultural structures” (Dinshaw 207).

This quote kind of stood out to me because it reminded me of this sociological study I was reading about. The study was basically that gay men, I think in the 60’s, would be married and have kids with women they didn’t really love or even want just so that they wouldn’t be a disgrace to their families or the larger social settings they were a part of. Now, this is a stretch but just hear me out, if Gawain was gay right and being gay was looked down upon, was he just entertaining Morgan for a fear of the larger cultural and social structures? I mean I get that there’s a huge gap in time between the two instances but would that then explain why he doesn’t really pursue Morgan? It would certainly explain the weird behavior of Gawain and Morgan, but it would also explain the underlying behaviors between Gawain and Bertilak.

I do have to ask the question though was this the intention of author? I always seem to take the authors choices and intent into consideration because after all, it is their creation….

Side Note:

After partnering with Krystal in class and listening to how woman are portrayed in the piece, it got me thinking about the time period…It would make sense for woman to be depicted this way because this was the general consensus of woman back then. Now that there are all these new theories and feminists perspectives out it makes thinking about the story different, but I also think it’s important to keep the text in its original context.

Depression: Then and Now

So, I’m going off topic here, but I think it’s still relevant to the class because the issue of depression is a neurological issue that we haven’t really talked about. Hopefully this makes sense, but I’m still working through my own thoughts about the readings, maybe someone can help.

The first time I was taught Bartleby I was taught that this story depicted a very American idea, after all written by a one of the greatest American writers. It’s supposed to show us that you could do everything you possibly can for someone and it still not be good enough, or so I was taught. It’s also supposed to be reminiscent of biblical references. Where the lawyer is sort of a God figure and Bartleby is just a regular person.

After reading through the story again with all the information I have from this class the story seemed to mean something completely different. Although I do think the story does reflect American life I saw differences in the characters themselves.

The mental state of Bartleby seems to be shaky. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say if it’s depression or anxiety or whatever the case is. But the fact that he keeps repeating, “I would prefer not to” appears to be a repetitive phase like “I’m okay” or something bordering “good” mental health. Bartleby this time around appeared to be infantilized. He doesn’t complete the tasks asked of him and his response to everything is “I would prefer not to.” He kind of sounds like a teenager and not an adult.

In “The back of my own head” by Alberto Rios also seems to have the essence of depression perpetuated throughout the short story—a topic we haven’t really discussed—but is also a neurological phenomenon. The story is about a woman who’s husband was taken away from her or “stolen” as the story states. She goes into a serious state of depression which we can tell when she says, “I have been without energy, have been robbed not just of my husband, but of myself as well” (Rios 62).

The same essence of depression is noted in Bartleby as well, but probably more subtle because it is an older text. When asked to examine his work the lawyer says, “Will you not speak? Answer! ‘I prefer not to,’he replied in a flute-like tone.” This seems to me that Bartleby lost any ambition he once had. The lawyer is obvious angry and demands an explanation but Bartleby always replies the same “I would prefer not to.”

Can we really be mad?

The review by By MICHIKO KAKUTANI seems to be complete and utter crap. I’m sorry but there is no educated way to say that….

He seems to be upset at the fact that the book lacks love, romance, conflict, pretty much anything we’re typically used to seeing in a book. He says, “In choosing to make Christopher his narrator, Mr. Haddon has deliberately created a story defined and limited by his hero’s very logical, literal-minded point of view. The result is a minimalistic narrative.” Really? In choosing the make Christopher his narrator Haddon allows a perspective to be explored that we hear such little from. We’re too consumed with the 50 shades and the twilight saga to wrap our heads around other types of writing.

“Christopher’s inability to lie about the events he is recounting and his inability to sentimentalize his actions or the actions of others lend the story a visceral, stripped-down power, an understated precision that enables the author to talk about the big issues of love and mortality and loss without sounding maudlin or trite.”

I thought this was disgusting to read from his review as well… “his inability to lie about the events he is recounting…” Uhm okay? I think that’s what makes Christopher’s character so unique. When he’s being questioned by the police in the beginning, although they bagger him with questions, his first instinct isn’t to lie because he knows what it looks like isn’t what it looks like…he’s consistently honest and allows us to deem him a reliable narrator.

Personally this guys review doesn’t even make me fear not getting a job anymore. But anywayssss…..

The second review I’m looking at is “When Popular Novels Perpetuate Negative Stereotypes: Mark Haddon, Asperger’s and Irresponsible Fiction”

It kind of bothered me… especially since we discussed in our last class that Autism isn’t a universal thing—meaning different people show different symptoms. “When you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism” if i remember correctly. But it bothered me because of this one particular line, “I’ve come to see what an inaccurate picture of Asperger’s Curious Incident paints.” It seems to me that even if this was a non-fiction instead of a fiction —which i think the author of this review seems not to realize—the reviewer dismisses the symptoms that Christopher demonstrates. You can’t just simply say the depiction is inaccurate especially because no two cases are the same.

Furthermore, I think the other reviewers claims

“Stereotyped, inaccurate, horribly offensive… this isn’t how it is.” “Haddon does not understand Asperger.” “Stereotypical view of an autistic child.” “I find it hard to believe that Mark Haddon is an autism expert, because Christopher Boone isn’t like any other child with Asperger’s that I’ve ever met.” “A major disservice to the Autistic Community.” “An excellent portrayal of autism…NOT!”

are more upset at the fact that they think Haddon makes this novel out to be an over exaggeration of what Autism is. With such a delicate—and new topic—such as Autism there just isn’t a “right” way to talk about it.

By Haddon’s own admission he didn’t do any research on the topic, however, this is a fiction so imagination is free to run its course here. Because the subject is a touchy one writing a fiction on it maybe wasn’t the best choice, but I mean can we really say anything?

The author of this review makes a good point though, whether or not he knows anything about the subject really doesn’t matter at this point because now people will believe what they will about the subject because of his book. It kind of teeters on a fine line here and I’m not sure whether I’m mad at him for the stereotypes now associated with Autism or if I don’t blame the guy because the book is a fiction.

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