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Visualizing Literary Kinds!

 

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Discovering Henrietta Lacks

For this webpaper, I have made an artistic rendition of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks", inspired by Kim Northrop's Neil Gaiman-inspired paintings. To accompany this, I have also played with my writing style. Once upon a time when I was in Year 10/11 (so the equivalent of high school freshman/sophomore), I did a GCSE course in fine art. We had to document our work, and I used this style to present the process that I used to create my piece. Within this style, however, I have used others, such as a letter format to communicate my ideas. With this documentation in the form of a "portfolio" of sorts, I hoped to parallel the method that Rebecca Skloot used to write her book. However, a lot of the things that I have written are ironic in the sense that I take the book as full "truth".  But, my final piece changes this a little bit as I use it to problematize Skloot's first line: "This is a work of non-fiction."

I've put images of the final piece and the pages from the "portfolio" here rather than embed them into Serendip as the image size was too big. Just click on the pictures and you'll see a bigger version of the piece!

 

 

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Adaptation

"It's not my story. It's my responsibility to Susan". -- Charlie

When I picked Adaptation up from the library, I knew that it was going to provoke a lot of rich discussion. Why? Because in a class where we've talked about the originality and authenticity of a text, it seemed really exciting when I saw Spike Jonze AND Charlie Kaufman as the filmmaker and the scriptwriter respectively. Watching the film, I started to see very purposeful and really, REALLY self-aware moments that seemed contradictory to the quote that I started this post with. 

Charlie attempts to stay true to Orlean but comes across so many personal barriers to meeting with her and finding out the truth. And this parallels the barriers to staying true to the book when you have so many huge personalities working on the same production. Is the final product "true" to Orlean? I'd say no. I'd actually argue that it fits in more with Spike Jonze's work as a director and with Charlie Kaufman (the "physical" one that isn't portrayed by Nicolas Cage!) as a screenwriter. 

Inevitably, it seems that there is no way of completely translating the book to a movie that stays true to the "original" writer. As Donald aptly puts it "We have to realize that we write in a genre. We have to find creativity in our genre." 

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"The pursuit of human knowledge has a shape."

In my computer science class, we have started to look at data visualizations and my professor showed us this one in class on Thursday:

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Re:Thinking Citation.

(Digital Humanist, Katherine D. Harris tweeting on Hema's and my citation method)

Since my collaborator, Hema Surendrenathan and I have already presented this (at Re:Humanities), I'm posting this up on Serendip with hopes that it helps solve some of the questions surrounding digital citation and citation of discourse. We have produced the barebones of a citation that allows for more freedom with citation yet still gives credit to an individual scholar. As we have discussed the problems with citation in class, I wanted to put this up as a solution to perhaps, some of our problems.

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He's my Homi! (Bhabha)

Okay, my title doesn't necessarily match the post that I'm about to write BUT it cracked me up at the Re:Humanities conference on Friday. But I disgress. This weekend, I attended and presented at two conferences: Re:Humanities at Swarthmore and the Mid Atlantic Writing Center Association (MAWCA) Conference at Shippensburg University. I got a glimpse of the digital tools that are being implemented at various institutions in terms of student projects and at writing centers across the country and this experience has really made me consider the questions that you should ask yourself when planning on using digital technology. In this post, I want to really gear these questions towards using digital tools in academic writing which this class really allows freedom for.

"With freedom comes great responsibility"

I hate to be really cliche but this is starting to crop up as a theme in terms of writing a digital "webevent" (To borrow Anne's language). I've questioned my postition as someone who is media literate and I've started to realize that to become media literate, you need to start asking the right questions otherwise you will end up with some not-so-great papers. (Check out the link and find some of my experiments gone wrong) So here are some of the things that I will be thinking about in terms of writing digital papers:

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Recreating Memories + Stories

I'm just going to post this before I lose this train of thought. I'm really interested in what we talked about in class today about the construction of all of our memories. This made me think of how we constantly mediate everything that surrounds us. I'm going to ground my thoughts in examples and what I'm looking at are class notes:

This is an image of my class notes from today. (Admittedly, they are not as comprehensive as my notes usually because I'm running on four hours of sleep.) If I wanted to tell someone what happened today in class, I could look at these class notes to prompt me. However, reconstructing from this data would be different from the "actual" discussion that we had today because I mediated the points that intrigued me personally. I also included other things that helped me understand the discussion. For example, I have references to other theorists that helped me think through the thoughts in my head. Therefore, if I were to reconstruct the "reality" that happened today, it would be near impossible to "tell the full story".

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Everything is non-fiction. Even Fiction itself.

I was having a conversation with a friend about "A Game of You" by Neil Gaiman and found myself having difficulty explaining the plot. Not because I hadn't read the text but rather, because it was just to bizzare. I had to preface everything with "oh God, okay, this is weird but....". (Especially when I had to talk about Thessaly cutting George's face off and nailing it to the wall.)

Although I didn't particularly find myself drawn right into Gaiman's world unlike others in the class, I do wonder how it is that Gaiman, among many other authors, construct this world that (some) readers can get fully engrossed in. Reason and logic are suspended as a reader encounters this fantasy world. While this is the nature of fiction, I can't help but wonder what the boundaries of fantasy are.

This made me think about the genres of "fiction" and "non-fiction". I looked up a definition that young children are taught which is akin to the definition that was laid out for me when I first started to read:

Fiction - The books that are made up by the author, or are not true, are fiction.

Non-Fiction - Books that are non-fiction, or true, are about real things, people, places, events.

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WAR OF THE WORLDS DOWNLOAD!

http://www.archive.org/details/OrsonWellesMrBruns

Rather than listen to the War of the Worlds in 7 parts over YouTube, I've provided the link above so that you can download it into an mp3 file. (I couldn't seem to get my copy up on Serendip...) You can either just stream it straight off the web (for the entire 59 minutes and 19 seconds) or download it and listen to it on the treadmill. (Which I did the first time I downloaded it ;) )

Hope this is helpful!

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Persepolis In Pictures

I found this review for the film, Persepolis and what really caught my attention was the section that says:

If “Persepolis” had been a conventional memoir rather than a graphic novel, Ms. Satrapi’s account of her youth in pre- and post-revolutionary Iran would not have been quite as moving or as marvelous. Similarly, if the movie version had been conventionally cast and acted, it would inevitably have seemed less magical as well as less real.

I can't help but wonder why the conventional memoir wouldn't be as moving as a graphic novel and why a conventional movie, rather than an animated one, would have seemed "less real". I've always equated images and animation with fantasy, rather than realism. But I also find myself agreeing with the point that Scott puts forth. 

I'm not even sure why that is but I wonder if anyone has a response? Is it because of the nature of the narrative? Or is it because Persepolis has already been written in the form of a graphic novel that conceiving it in any other way seems difficult?

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