Not always a bad thing
At some point in our conversation last Thursday, we arrived at a discussion of whether or not texts should always be accessible to us. Now, I completely understand the frustration that comes with not understanding. I definitely felt shut out by Footfalls and Mark's comment that there really was no take away. Well then why are we watching it!? But, with that said, I can't help but think about how English departments around the country would be out of a job if students understood everything they read. So much of my learning, specifically in high school, revolved around making the inaccessible accessible, and our teachers provided the tools for us to do that. What is analysis if not breaking down a text and its literary elements to further your own understanding? And then you write an essay to share that understanding with others. As a writing center tutor, every day I come across people who struggle to understand their class texts. To work through this and try to find some meaning that is accessible and interesting to them, I see my tutees grasp on to a certain aspect of the text or a particular motif, whatever. Through further exploration of the little accessible piece that they pull out, the entire text starts to gain a deeper meaning for them. Rather than shutting down like I was tempted to, I also used this method during Mark and Catharine's performance. After it became painfully apparent to be that I wasn't going to "get it", I shifted my focus to something I could appreciate, which was Catharine's craft of her role through voice. I thought Catharine's voice change was just so striking and artful, so I chose to think about that instead of how much I didn't understand the piece as a whole. Thinking on it, I can't help but think how ingrained inaccessibility is into traditional academia. If we understood everything at face value, there wouldn't be much use for close readings or analytical essays or any of that. While it often makes us feel terrible, not understanding can act as a positive force as it pushes us to think deeper and in other directions.