Big Books Filming Forum
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Filming Uncle Tom
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-02-05 08:03:16 :
Link to this Comment: 4408
Welcome back. This week we're watching The King and I; next week it will be Bill T. Jones' Last Supper @ Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Rodney King trial....
so post here your reactions to seeing "Uncle Tom" in various filmic forms.
|Simon of LeGree|
Date: //2003-02-05 19:38:45 :
Link to this Comment: 4427
|stowe's eternal frame|
Name: orah minde
Date: //2003-02-06 13:41:53 :
Link to this Comment: 4452
i really enjoyed reading nancy's posting though it is interesting how she portrayed stowe as 'scearming' out at the reader, while, i imagine her as an old woman giving a lecture to a mass of people. He lecture consists of two repeated sentances: "slavery is bad. beleive in christ. slavery is bad. beleive in christ. slavery is bad. believe in christ....."for the entire 90 minute session.
|Re-enacting Uncle Tom|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-02-07 10:27:59 :
Link to this Comment: 4472
The questions I was posing, after the shows ended (and pose again here) were about the limits of such enactments. Is the typology of the novel transferrable to contemporary events? What are the dangers and the limits of such re-figurings? Did our enactments make the novel seem more applicable, more understandable, more relevant to you? Or did they remind you of the need for a kind of historical specificity that Caren Kaplan (in her essay "Getting to Know You") claims, for instance, is blatantly ignored in the "Little House of Uncle Tom" scene in "The King and I"?
|the importance of performing Uncle Tom|
Name: Nicole Mar
Date: //2003-02-09 14:30:41 :
Link to this Comment: 4492
|Uncle Tom's Cabin|
Name: Monica Loc
Date: //2003-02-10 01:17:42 :
Link to this Comment: 4506
Date: //2003-02-10 20:39:13 :
Link to this Comment: 4520
|A psychological perspective|
Date: //2003-02-11 01:19:44 :
Link to this Comment: 4532
|In class discussion on The Last Supper...|
Date: //2003-02-13 12:34:42 :
Link to this Comment: 4571
2)when the discussion of paradise came up, i did not know what to say or think because although paradise appears a'"universal" term ... there is still a root, an attached context, culture, beliefs...etc.. when it is ask for us to imagine what our paradise is like... there seems to be an assumption that we all carry a "sense", an "idea" of paradise...it is already part of us ...and our task now is to imagine one that we prefer... there is also an indication of an embeded assumption that everyone (every culture) must carry a certain ideas that is similar to paradise... i on the other hand, cannot imagine such paradise...because of who i am, what my beliefa are, and way i was brought up... while it our effort to imagine a place, a paradise that possibly include all the people no matter who they are(as Bernadette was saying)... we also inevitably draw a boudary excluding others.
|Perspectives of Uncle Tom|
Date: //2003-02-13 12:56:32 :
Link to this Comment: 4572
|tuesday's class: representing each other|
Date: //2003-02-13 14:54:31 :
Link to this Comment: 4577
Another observation about representing other people: over half of the groups tried to say, "we talked about..." and in that context, say what their partner said. That way they did not have to start out with "Jane thinks that..." because that is more directly about the other person and not the mutual conversation that people had.
|From a distance|
Name: Barbara Sp
Date: //2003-02-13 14:57:34 :
Link to this Comment: 4578
Date: //2003-02-13 15:02:24 :
Link to this Comment: 4579
To add to what we were discussing at the end of class, about the nakedness in Jones' last act... I agree that the nakedness is probably symbolic of emotional vulnerability, stripping away the layers that hide us from each other, perhaps that prevent us from reaching 'the promised land' while on earth, etc. However, I think that because nudity in such an extreme and personal context is so risqué and sensational that it ends up distracting the audience from the message it is trying to convey.
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-02-14 10:02:32 :
Link to this Comment: 4598
...to me that my invitation to imagine the kingdom of heaven was NOT one that had universal resonance (see Ngoc's posting, above). I guess this loops us back again to our conversation, several weeks ago, about each word, each category, having an outside (and if the category is so large as to include everything, well...it's not much use to us, is it?)
I was reminded of this chain of thoughts last night, as I was reading my current light bed-time book, James Morrow's Towing Jehovah, in which one of the characters, a Jesuit priest, thinks that
"the New York subway system offered a foretaste of the Kingdom: Asians rubbing shoulders with Africans, Hispanics with Arabs, Gentiles with Jews, all boundaries gone, all demarcations erased, all men appended to the Universal and Invisible Church, the Mystical Body of Christ--though...there was no Kingdom, no Mystical body, God and HIs various dimensions being dead....
"He turned right onto Second Avenue...climbed the steps of a mottled brownstone...He scanned the names (Goldstein, Smith, Delgado, Spinelli, Chen: more New York pluralism, another intimation of the Kingdom)...."
Name: Eric Seide
Date: //2003-02-14 10:57:33 :
Link to this Comment: 4600
|generalization = imagination?|
Date: //2003-02-14 11:37:51 :
Link to this Comment: 4601
|"52 Handsome Male Nudes"|
Date: //2003-02-14 14:33:49 :
Link to this Comment: 4603
Until reading Murphy's article on Uncle Tom and Bill T. Jones, I was still having a hard time grasping the relevancy of Stowe's novel in the twenty-first century. I realized and recognized the themes of oppression, but the ways in which Stowe presented them have become so cliche in our society today that I wasn't able to recieve them without being cynical. Viewing the clips of the Bill T. Jones video really helped me to see how this novel can be translated into our day and time.
I think that I agree with Anne's statement made in class on how she didn't believe that Jones' "Eliza on the Ice" had anything to do with women or Eliza, but in fact dealt with gay men in today's society by comparing them to this heroine of yore. However, I believe that over all Jones' creation is dealing with something much larger and universal than male homosexuality.
The original title of the last scene of Jones' piece was "52 Handsome Male Nudes", but they weren't all men! Women were on that stage too! I think that the original title was not just an oversight or change of plans on Jones' part. I think that the title was meant to imply that there would only be men when in fact there were going to be both men and women. The way this problem is working itself out in my mind is that by calling all of the people on the stage "male" Jones is attempting to tear down another one of the barriers that prevents this world from being "Paradise." Like clothes, like labels, like masks, like gender. I don't mean to say that gender isn't a crucial part of our lives, I think it is very important (!), but I think that in this Paradise that Jones visualizes differences in gender shouldn't be detrimental, just as he tries to illustrate to us that differences in sexual orientation shouldn't be detrimental, and just as Stowe (disputably) tries to show us that differences in race shouldn't be detrimental. Wow! That's a pretty big jump from this world to the next. I know that several members of the class stated that they wouldn't want to be "naked" in an academic setting, and that's great. However, I think that it's important for all of us to find someplace where we where are willing to be naked; a safe place where no barriers are needed.
|Bill T. Jones|
Date: //2003-02-14 17:25:57 :
Link to this Comment: 4606
Name: Taka Kawan
Date: //2003-02-14 23:09:35 :
Link to this Comment: 4609
|Reclaiming Uncle Tom|
Date: //2003-02-15 14:56:38 :
Link to this Comment: 4611
|some of my weekend reading...|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-02-15 17:01:09 :
Link to this Comment: 4613
...has put me in mind of our discussions of the legacy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The first is Margo Jefferson's "On Writers and Writing" column in The New York Times Book Review (2/16/03), in which she muses on what Richard Rodriguez has done in his new book, Brown: The Last Discovery of America:
"Brown," for Rodriguez, stands for everything in American life that resists fixed categories. An abstract synonym is "hybridity"; Rodriguez's willfully concrete term is "impurity." He writes, "Brown forms at the border of contradiction (the ability of langauge to express two or several things at once, the ability of bodies to experience two or several things at once.)"
I want to set against Rodriguez's use of "brown" to engage in category-refusal an excerpt from another essay which insists that we acknowledge the historical importance of the category "black." In "Race-Sensitive Admissions: Back to Basics," in The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/7/03), William Bowen and Neil Rudenstein argue that
"racial classifications were used in this country for more than 300 years in the most odious ways to deprive people of their basic rights. The fact that overt discimination has now been outlawed should not lead us to believe that race no longer matters. As the legal scholar Ronald Dworkin has put it, 'The worst of the stereotypes, suspicious, fears, and hatreds that still poison Amerca are color-coded....' The aftereffects of this long history continue to place racial minorities (and especially African-Americans) in situations in which embedded perceptions and stereotypes limit opportunities and create divides that demean us all. This social reality, described with searing precision by the economist Glenn C. Loury in The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, explains why persistence is required in efforts to overcome, day by day, the vestiges of our country's 'unlovely racial history.' We believe that it would be perverse in the extreme if, after many generations when race was used in the service of blatant discrimination, college and universities were now to be prevented from considering race at all...."
Finally, I want to issue an invitation to you to either use the categories available to you--or think outside the known categories--about the current U.S. position regarding war w/ Iraq. On Feb. 12, 2003, Senator Robert Byrd made a speech on the floor of the Senate, saying, in part,
"Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time."
"This is no time to be sleepwalking. Everyone needs to speak up, to share what they see, to contribute to the evolution of a national policy which, whatever role we play or fail to play in it, will be carried out in our names." You can join in the conversation @ The Place of the U.S. in the World Community ; you can also access that site directly from our course home page.
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-02-18 14:40:54 :
Link to this Comment: 4656
Well, I had a FINE finale planned for Uncle Tom's Cabin, but seems that the universe had other plans for us today. Hoping you're enjoying the snow—
We will just cut our losses and move on. For Thursday's class, you should read the opening portions of Moby-Dick (Chapters 1-40) or The Scarlet Letter (Chapters 1-9), depending on which group you've signed up for. Sebastian and Phil, Taka and Monica please send out e-mails to the class before today ends, with a heads up about where our discussion(s) on Thursday might be heading/how we might best prepare to participate in them...
I'm adding two new forums to our course home page, where you are invited, nay URGED, to post your initial reactions to those novels.
Find also below my meticulous notes for what might (in an alternative universe) have happened today, had the blizzard not struck us all...
I admit that this is a little peculiar, archiving what did NOT happen, but I guess I'm feeling the need to get credit somewhere/somehow!
See you Thursday,
Teaching Notes For What Was Not Taught,
(But Might Have Been), 2/18/03
I. Cf. Levinthal's book on Blackface w/ Alan Iverson Bobblehead:
is this Blackface? (not exaggerated ...but: not unrelated? stereotypical?)
II. Linda Williams "Playing the Race Card:
Melodramas of Black&White from UT to OJSimpson"
how we talk to ourselves about race: using the genre of melodrama:
a structure that moves us emotionally/ideology of moral certainty
characters divided/Manichean good/evil
tears as visceral ethics (powerlessness or hope?)
fueled by nostalgia for a good home:
key quality/inherently conservative iconic space of innocence/virtuous victims
homey family values of UT'sC/quintessentially American
calls for more realism won't overturn deep racial stereotypes that
serve melodramatic imagination (fairy tale quality)
organizes difference in visceral, affective, morally explanatory terms
what I'm getting @ here/gauntlet on table:
is that UT'C uses a structure of melodrama that we still buy into,
if not in this novel, then in other contemporary venues—that have a long history
per Williams: melodrama of the courtroom/trial structure:
adjudicate between opposed stories, aim for least doubtable, not true or innocent
evidence of demeanor/ritual of trauma
beaten black man in Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials
iconic chase scenes (fugitive slave)
SHOW 15 min. clip from video of Rodney King trial
reactions? see the structure?
other experiences of melodrama? binary exaggerations?
any links to UT'sC? any revisions of that tale?
III. questions of truth, "reality,"
"fatal handicap" of not having experience of slavery, of being black in this country;
interest, last week, in what black students have said about the novel....
how that intersects w/ melodramatic imagination....
cf. perspective of actual slave/ book Bernadette mentioned on Day 1:
Linda Brent, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
when I taught the book, conversation was always about
whether we could trust Jacobs,
wondering whether her tale was sincere, authentic account of her experience,
or whether it was so artful, so calculated for effect that we couldn't trust it
I was questioning, on Thursday, your assumptions that personal testimony
is somehow authoritative: that if someone tells a story abt. their experience,
it constitutes uncontested, incontestable, privileged knowledge,
which the rest of us have to accept as truth
Sandra Harding, "Reinventing Ourselves As Other,"
says relying on personal experience encourages
what she calls experiential foundationalism
belief that knowledge rooted in personal exp. is unassailable:
used as a trump card which puts an end to argument
incompatible w/ dialogical, dialectical model of education
personal testimony can end in identity politics,
claims to exclusive, privileged identities that preclude effective political action,
& eliminate the possibility of cooperation across differences
most famous critique of the reliance on personal testimony is a classic essay
by feminist historian Joan Scott, "Experience," who argues, more like a literary critic,
that it is mistaken to accept the testimony of personal experience as authoritative
because experience is not ever an account of brute facts,
but always an interpretation of reality
when we tell about our experiences,
we draw them together into a meaningful pattern, a coherent narrative--
we make them into stories; we shape them; basically, we interpret them
Linda Kauffman, "Against Personal Testimony,"
Am Fem'st Thought At Century's End
problematizes privileging of personal experience
--as encouraging you to give in
to the flattering temptation to talk solely to and about yourselves;
--& encouraging you to give in to a certain bourgeois myth
abt. the power & autonomy of the ind'l psyche
[at a time when our civil liberties are more eroded than ever];
--most impt'ly (worst!)
reinforcing the belief that we are all intrinsically interesting & unique,
& that social justice work is about our happiness.
telling stories about our lives
can have the effect of turning us away from the work of social transformation
that it can allure us, fatally and falsely,
w/ the so-called authenticity and sincerity of personal testimony,
& encourage us to be satisfied w/ that.
most illuminating part of Kauffman's argument: in encouraging personal testimony,
we are effectively muzzling dissent, stopping real engaged conversation
This is experience as a conversation-stopper.
The real problem is that we tend to treat experience as somehow privileged:
if I say, as a poor white trash, growing up south of the mason-dixon line, I think...
you will see my testimony on class issues, possibly racial issues,
as uncontested, incontestable
sincerity, authenticity of experience appears to give me an authority
that a number of feminist theorists have questioned
Kauffman, Harding and Scott are saying that all experience is narratively shaped;
that what counts as experience is never self-evident nor straightforward,
and should always be contested, questioned
experience, in short, is narrative all the way down;
we must find ways of assessing experience : historicize it, look for consistency,
juxtapose experiences w/ each other, do contra puntal readings of competing appeals
experience as the beginning, not the end of deliberation
calls us to attend to the particularities of the case,
all the plots that might be constructed
experience is mediated socially, and we often need to look critically at it
bodily exps. may be culturally constructed, but we can get a critical distance on that
Harding on traitorous readings of our own assumptions
on strategy of "infidelity": one's own argument may become inadequate
perpetual need to expose, undermine the construction of knowledge, as we go about it
Sharon Ullman & Madhavi Kale teach history the same way,
as narratives, as plots, always constructed, and always needing to be contested
that means that one way we can think about the narrative of H Jacobs' life, &UTC
is in terms how they told them, constructed them, in terms of the plots available to them,
HJ manipulated, revised those stock plots
her Incidents are usually read as an uneasy alliance between two plots:
that of the slave narrative and that of the sentimental novel
and the conflicting ideologies of femininity that each one represents:
colonized body of the slave girl, the virtuous life of the young maiden
Jacobs draws on both to construct an alternative plot that melds the two,
figuring out what her life means, as she writes the script of her life, AND
always conscious that her audience is conscious of the archetypal/
stereotypical narratives she is revising
in its melding of two stereotypical plots, the book works to confound stereotypes,
to bring them into question...
and how she manipulated, revised those stock plots:
do any of you know the conv'l plot of the 18th c. sentimental novel?
anybody read Samuel Richardson's Pamela or Clarissa w/ Peter Briggs?
simplified: choice is virtue or death!
--Jacobs chooses neither, constructs an alternative plot,
but always conscious that her audience is conscious of the narrative she is revising
Jacobs ends w/ the freedom required as the conclusion of the slave narrative,
rather than the marriage expected as the culmination of the sentimental novel;
but it is an equivocal freedom, one that someone else,
a white woman, has to buy for her
she has had, from the first, a vexed relation w/ the female slaveholders of the south,
and white women employers of the north, who shelter her
this all comes to a head at the end of her autobiography,
when Mrs.Willis offers to buy her freedom:
Harriet Jacobs at first refuses, because, of course,
the good intentions of her white friend only serve to remind her
that she is, legally, just merchandise
this is an unavoidable conflict, in 1860, between comrades of different races
how can any bond between black and white women be sustained when
the black woman is dependent on the white one
for the autonomy that she claims is hers by right?
when the generosity of the white woman is dispensed by her buying the black one?
the next-to-last paragraph: "love, duty, gratitude bind me to her side":
I hear in that unwanted bondage, being kept in service by the pull of obligation
how can she repay her white friend, who has bought her freedom?
there's lots of latent racial discomfort and inequality within these transracial bonds
lots of inequality that plays out elsewhere in and outside the text:
for ex, Jacobs first offered her life to Harriet Beecher Stowe to write up
(also her daughter, as a companion on a trip to London);
Stowe refused both, but used a short, Gothic, romantic version
of Jacobs' 7-yr-confinement in The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin
Jacobs then wrote her life story herself, but had difficulty marketing it;
eventually, a firm agreed to publish the text,
on the condition that the well-known white abolitionist Lydia Maria Child
"authorize" it, by writing a preface;
the publishers also solicited two appendices, two more validations by white abolitionists
this was common practice for slave narratives;
Frederick Douglas was similarly "authorized"
her "authorizers" testify to Jacobs' "virtue,"
which of course the narrative has shown to be dissemblance, a fiction, a lie
this vexed collaboration between black and white is played out also
in the problematics of a delicate white readership
listening to the story of a black sexual victim
and perhaps in this class as well?
the increased attention paid to Incidents in the academy during the past 10 years
has provoked considerable debate between
female African American and female white scholars,
by the proliferation of white women guardians and mentors, like myself,
presenting the text to classes which, like this one, are majority white in composition;
to what degree is this just another replay
of the vexed transracial "sisterhood" of the abolitionist movement?
okay, so what final words do we have to say about UT'sC?
what have you learned about the novel? genre of melodrama? use of archtypes?
thoughts about how best to tell stories of race in this country?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-02-20 17:47:08 :
Link to this Comment: 4713
Heidi Latsky Dance
Friday, Feb. 21, 2003
Heidi Latsky, formerly a dancer with Bill T.Jones/Arnie Zane Company, is
known for her punchy, quick and ferocious dancing. Her company of 12 dancers
offers a palette of all shapes and sizes -- theatrical moments and intense,
dynamic dancing. Just Watch! premiered one month after the tragic events of
Sept. 11, 2001, and speaks to this time in our history. The dance company
becomes a metaphor for the world at large, capturing the senses of isolation
and community devotion in ways both sorrowful and uplifting. An exploration
of the phenomenon of being a part of and apart from a community, the
performance is an evening of pathos, humor and exuberant physicality.
Heidi Latsky all but sets fire to wherever she treads...The balance between
full-throttle dancing and control is astonishing.Ever heard of immaculate
--The Village Voice
Tickets: Tri-CO Students: $5.00 - Tri-Co Staff and Faculty: $12.50
- General Admission: $15.00 - Seniors: $12.50
For Tix and Information Call 610-526-5210
|King and I|
Date: //2003-03-06 16:53:33 :
Link to this Comment: 4977
Date: //2003-03-18 04:20:48 :
Link to this Comment: 5048
Date: //2003-05-15 12:21:56 :
Link to this Comment: 5680
Date: //2003-05-16 08:42:35 :
Link to this Comment: 5695