alice.in.wonderland's blog

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"Poetry Is Not A Luxury:" Thoughts on Writing for Social Change

In my first post for this course, I mentioned my enthusiasm for interdisciplinarity in the context of wanting to “be able to better talk to my Biology-professor parents about my Anthropology major.” While I learned much in the science arenas of this course, the area I seem to have been craving the opportunity to link to gender studies even more was literary studies, as pointed out by Anne in a comment pointing out a correlation between my first two papers: “Am I seeing a pattern here? A month later you're reflecting on gay-themed children's literature, and so considering once again "the potential politics of such literary efforts -- the effects they can have on readers and audiences." In this essay, I hope to reframe the arguments I made about Shakespeare’s Richard III and the children’s book And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell in the context of this observation: What do each – or what do they together – tell us about the relationship of writing to social change, about the ways in which it is or is not possible to make our writing a call-to-action?

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Questioning Gender Through Dance

First of all, apologies for being antisocial and doing my teach-in so individually. I really liked the group participation that so many of the other ones provided and I'm sorry mine kind of lacked that dimension!

For my presentation, I wanted to showcase some of the instances in which the assumptions about gender that we've been questioning all semester get questioned variously embodied ways in four distinct dance worlds, suggesting that in its inherent playfulness and performativity, dance is an important outlet for the creative expression of gender, both normative and nonnormative.

(Before I go through them, here's a great TED talk, Dance vs powerpoint, that inspired me to think about how one might do a "teach-in" that incorporates dance. If I had more than 7 minutes, I would have been doing some movement myself -- and getting you all to move, too!)

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UNWomen - thoughts and questions...

So, some of these questions are answerable (and some aren't) -- I will seek the answers to the answerable ones, but given that this post is late + I have a lot of things to do before Thanksgiving, I'm just going to pose them for now and work on answering them more soon (and also working on continuing to read the report, I haven't finished)... If you guys have thoughts/info on this, please comment! I bet there are a lot of people who know more about these issues than I do (poli sci majors perhaps...?).

1. WHY did it take until 2011 for the United Nations to create an agency to promote women's empowerment and gender equality internationally (UNWomen)? It seems ridiculous that this is the first report of a nascent agency - women's issues didn't just start needing addressing this past year.

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Judith Butler (non)thoughts

As I sit and reflect on Judith Butler's opening lecture tonight, I find myself getting caught up in some tangential questions about the experience of seeing her speak. What does it mean to rally around a public intellectual with the fervor many in the audience(s) showed tonight? How did she convey authority through body language and actual language, and how did she try to connect with the audience on a less intellectual level occasionally (the Biblical joke in particular, coming early on, seemed to catch everyone off guard a bit). It has been/is/will be really interesting to see how people talk about and think about the person Judith Butler and the ideas of Judith Butler, and then transfer that into the experience of actually interacting with Judith Butler. I must admit that I ended up musing on these issues more than on the content of her lecture -- and while I was frustrated with myself for this partial inability to "rise to the occasion" and focus on the material, I think it has to do with the fact that I really have a hard time processing a lecture, especially one of that density, with no ability to take notes or even doodle while I listen.

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And Tango Makes Three: Making Sense of the "Gay Penguin" Controversy

Note: I ended up having trouble putting the thoughts I had about this assignment into the form of a block of text directed at a single audience, largely because, as you will see, I found that there was not any one side I wanted to definitively take on these rather complicated issues. In the end, I think my audience remains mostly (rather prosaically) the other members of our class, but pay attention to how parts of my essay are directed at others, including the authors of Tango, parent Steve Walden, and scholar Joan Roughgarden.

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This American Life on Testosterone

The button for inserting links deems to not be working at the moment (I can see it but I can't click on it...). I think I'm serendip-challenged. But anyway -- all these readings about testosterone reminded me of an episode of This American Life that deals with this topic.

Act 1 is about a guy who stops producing testosterone and explains how his life changed, Act 2 is about a transgender individual who is taking testosterone, Act 3 involves the staff of TAL all getting their personal testosterone levels checked and discussing what those numbers mean to them, and the final act is from a mother, talking about her son (reminded me of Kaye's assertion that raising 3 sons gives her some insights into this stuff!).

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Lady Gaga - Yoü And I

My pre-class song suggestion is Lady Gaga's "Yoü And I" because Gaga plays both the lead male and female romantic interest in the song, playing with gender identity. In addition, the male persona, named "Jo Calderone" is how she chose to attend/perform at the VMAs. Does this example of "gender play" speak to you? Do you feel like Gaga is doing something useful and thought-provoking here, or just attention-mongering? Does her performance lend support to or mock the many people for whom gender performance is a very real aspect of daily life?


Here's the music video.

Here's an article about her decision to "be" Jo Calderone at the VMAs.

And here's a link to the lyrics, which offer some interesting moments for gendered analysis as well, including: "There’s only three men that Imma serve my whole life/It’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ"

Finally, here's the wikipedia entry about the song, which explains more about the background (Gaga has said that it refers to her former relationship with Lüc Carl).

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Richard III thru Gen/Sex/Disability Lenses

I want to do more commenting on other people's posts soon (I am reading them all!), but since we are figuring out paper topics this week I wanted to start thinking through ideas I want to focus on for that.

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