POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE
Welcome to the on-line conversation for Women in Walled Communities, a cluster of three courses in a new 360° @ Bryn Mawr College that focuses on the constraints and agency of individual actors in the institutional settings of women's colleges and prisons.
This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to. The first thing to keep in mind is that it's not a site for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking. The idea here is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.
Who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in our cluster. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about. We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared explorations. Feel free to comment on any post below, or to POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE.
I’ve been waving Rena Fraden's Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women @ y’all for a couple of weeks now, and thought I’d take the time to write out a little of what I find so compelling about the book. It is really making me feel dissatisfied with the sort of writing we are getting, and making me be more thoughtful about ways in which we might help folks dig deeper, be more truthful.
If you don’t know the story of Medea, read about it here—it’s all about betrayal, abandonment, anger, “too much love.”
“Jones finds theatrical ways to interrogate the personal, surrounding the contemporary with the mythical, providing more texts, and thus context, for these women, so that each individual’s story is not isolated but always seen in relation to others…autobiography alone neither guarantees new insights nor changes behavior. As Joan Scott has argued, experience is not transparent but is ‘at once always already an interpretation and something that needs to be interpreted’ (p. 21).
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
"Tambu, an adolescent living in colonial Rhodesia of the '60s, seizes the opportunity to leave her rural community to study at the missionary school run by her wealthy, British-educated uncle. With an uncanny and often critical self-awareness, Tambu narrates this skillful first novel by a Zimbabwe native. Like many heroes of the bildungsroman, Tambu, in addition to excelling at her curriculum, slowly reaches some painful conclusions--about her family, her proscribed role as a woman, and the inherent evils of colonization. Tambu often thinks of her mother, "who suffered from being female and poor and uneducated and black so stoically." Yet, she and her cousin, Nyasha, move increasingly farther away from their cultural heritage. At a funeral in her native village, Tambu admires the mourning of the women, "shrill, sharp, shiny, needles of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out." In many ways, this novel becomes Tambu's keening--a resonant, eloquent tribute to the women in her life, and to their losses."
this guy (robert fairbanks) is teaching in bmc's soc dept now!
--maybe we should ask him to come and talk w/ us???
sounds like he has some interesting ideas re: the "recovery model":
and on a more philosophical note...
alice lesnick just shared w/ our "internationalizing women's education" group a really wonderful essay
about "the right to research" which is focused on the needs and rights of poor global communities, but
which i think also has tremendous resonance for women inside. sara, it might go on the reading list
for your independent study, and sasha it might also help you w/ that thesis proposal!
Attached find two drafts: for our lesson plan and homework handout.
By Thursday, please send suggested changes.
p.s. now I've removed the drafts, attached the edited versions.
When you all finish typing up your portion of the women's stories about home, please send them to me (by Thursday, not too late...). I'll combine them into a single document with consistent formatting, and Sara will print off copies for y'all to bring in on Friday.
Since all the stories won't have attributions, it's not clear how Jody will create the record, for her "certificate" book, of who has done this work.
Also, one of you suggested that we needed a google doc, so that we can do the second round in this process--make the requested corrections in the women's stories. I have been tearing my hair out for the past hour, creating one, but here it is:
I've just "shared" it with you all, so you can make the corrections directly on that document, which is the one we'll hand out at the end of the semester.
Thanks in all directions. What a project it is, that we are engaged in here!
NEW HOMEWORK for 2/14/14 meeting of the Bryn Mawr Book Group
Read to p. 202 of The Glass Castle.
Write 3 pp. describing the kind of education you got outside of school.
This writing assignment steps off from our discussion about how Mom’s philosophy of schooling, in The Glass Castle, is like her philosophy of mothering: in both areas, she thought kids flourished best if they had no rules, no discipline, and lots of freedom….
We want you to think about the relationship between what you learned in school and what you learned outside of it. In giving you this assignment, we’re drawing on a book by Wendy Luttrell called Schoolsmart and Motherwise: Working-Class Women’s Identity and Schooling. It describes the difference between “book learning” and “commonsense knowledge,” and says that "real intelligence" can be attained outside school, from life experience.
Lesson Plan for Riverside, 2/7/31
Welcome! We’ve brought two more students with us…
we want to introduce them. Some of you may be new, too,
and we want to learn your names.
--everyone have a name tag?
--anyone need a copy of The Glass Castle?
Take a moment to find one sentence in The Glass Castle that stood out to you.
Go around, say your name, and read that sentence. Don’t comment on it,
What interests me most, in this opinionate blog, is the final line: "My mother had not been able to figure out how to keep up a correspondence with a man imprisoned for life. Thirty years later, neither could I." See
Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Meetings with a Murderer. January 29, 2014.
While typing up the poetry (what an experience!) I felt compelled to write my own short piece. I'm sure you'll notice my influence:
While they are locked up I
It is so FUCKED UP
The yellow papers scream
I try to answer back
Flying fingers on white keyboard
The only language I speak.
NOTE: I fixed some clear typos but mostly left as-is. I was also unsure about one or two of the names.
[rest of us welcome late-comers, get chairs, etc.]
Home work was to read Chapter 1 of
Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle.
Read two opening paragraphs aloud together, and then discuss:
What is going on here? What do you see? (ex: “Mom,” not “my mother”)
focus in on p.o.v.—>
can we re-tell this from the mother’s p.o.v.?
what would this story look like then?
what would be brought to the foreground/what pushed to the background?
Your writing assignment for today was to do the same
thing Walls did in the opening pages of her memoir--
to write three pages describing your own mother:
what does she look like on the outside?
What does she feel like on the inside?
We asked you to be as concrete and specific as Walls is, in her first chapter…
to think about who is doing the talking: whose voice is speaking?
Or: who are you, looking @ her? What are your surroundings?
And who is she, looking back @ you and talking to you?
What are her surroundings?
Barb is talking right now about restorative justice on the rise....
some notes made while listening:
The program began by describing the “extraordinary contribution,” of the “amazing” Barb Toews, to work that attends to the relation between environmental design and behavior. Barb kicked off the program by talking about “changing the metaphor” from criminal justice as a “boxing match,” to imagining “restorative justice as a mountain lodge, a room in which you need to face the harm you had caused, and become accountable to victims…” so that in workshops she might ask, “are you sitting in the boxing ring right now? Then go to the ‘do no harm’ room…”
we'll meet tues, jan. 21, @ 4 p.m. in the english house lounge--
and have to settle then on whether we will be offering classes every friday,
or on alternate weeks (this depends on you, sasha...).
i'm attaching the four handouts i've drafted for our session on jan. 24 --
all to be discussed, of course.
So I was remembering back to one of our earlier conversation about how we can carry on our work financially and have money to buy books, transportation, etc. I think Sara brought up the idea of a website like kickstarter or indiegogo. I've looked into both and Indiegogo seems best (kickstarter is mostly for art-related ventures). For fun, I also started the process of creating our page. But as I got further into it and started answering some tougher questions, I realized that this may be better done as a group with all of us providing input. Maybe we can schedule an extra meeting sometime to work on this? I know how important the money part is to us being able to sustain this work, so I'm thinking sooner rather than later..
Rather than just updating you on this progress, I also wanted to get everyone's feedback on how me might use something like this internet platform to our advantage. Obviously we could share the link through Facebook and email to our friends, colleagues and family to solicit donations, but what else?
sasha, sara, and hayley,
Here are some thoughts about our upcoming semester at rcf:
We’ve talked about running the book group (reading and writing group?) every fri., 1-3 pm, from jan. 24 to may 2. Anne and jody would be there alternate Fridays, and the other Fridays Hayley (if you’re staying with this-?), sara, and sasha would teach the class. BUT I just realized in an exchange with Anne that if sara takes our 360, you won’t be available on those alternative Fridays either--? And this might be a reason to get a (strong!) student from Multicultural Ed…
“Taking Control of Our Lives: Reading, Writing, Transforming”
Proposal for the Bryn Mawr Book Group, Riverside Correctional Facility, Spring 2014
“In Pedagogy of Freedom Freire states, ‘I like being human because I know that . . . my destiny is not given but something that needs to be constructed and for which I must assume responsibility.’ We assume responsibility for our crimes. We believe that we are the products of our decisions and actions, and we recognize ourselves as such. This represents the transformation of the prison system from within….education in prison is the vehicle through which we meditate, analyze, and transform ourselves and, ultimately, society from the inside-out” (from Anke Pinkert and students, “The Transformative Power of Holocaust Education in Prison: A Teacher and Student Account.” Radical Teacher 95, Spring 2013).
In this workshop, we will use reading and writing as pleasurable, necessary and meaningful tools for understanding and change. We will read different kinds of writing by women, and use our own writing as a tool both for reflecting on the reading and for understanding our own lives. Reading and re-reading, writing and re-writing stories offer the opportunity to work on literacy skills and critical problem solving, and can empower us to reclaim and reimagine ourselves.
So, after shouting for months that we should talk about the essays in Radical Teacher, I finally found the time, betwixt semesters, to spend a morning reading through them. Sad, heartening, discouraging, inspirational….I want to include some of my reading notes here, and also some thoughts about next steps. And I want to invite y’all to think w/ me about what our “course” of action might be this spring. I’m ready to be more ambitious!