Today, Jarad is tackling the topic of diversity in literature, the canon, and what makes a book worthy of being canonized. What are the benefits of diverse reading and what can the publishing industry learn from that? We hope you enjoy his thoughts on the topic and happy reading!
I was reading an excerpt from an article in my Feminist Theory textbook last semester. In it, the author talked about how, in college, she only read male authors, and she felt that she was forced to alter her perspective and view the world through a warped perspective, and she didn’t much care for it. I have to admit, my first reaction when I read that was one of irritation. Are we not supposed to see the world in different ways through literature, and are we not supposed to look through another person’s eyes in a novel? Yes, we are, but upon further reflection I don’t think that was her point.
Politics and literature are undeniably intertwined, and always will be. Today, Jarad is sharing his thoughts on their connection, and their role in protest. He asks the question, "If you don’t like or agree with a particular piece of literature, you don’t have to read it, and ideas that challenge your beliefs and ideologies are in fact a good thing. If your truth can’t handle any dissent, is it true?"
Since January of 2016, we seem to be in a constant state of political uproar. It has been exhausting but necessary. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. Resistance to ideologies that you find abhorrent is always a part of politics, and arguably everyday life, but I can’t remember a time quite like this. Granted, I’m young, but it’s still jarring to see such events occurring in 2019, and to lose friends over politics. People are polarized, and some lament this fact and worry about a society that cannot abide differing opinions. On the other hand, sometimes there’s good reason for that. For example, in the case of the recent resurgence of Neo-Nazism, there’s no in between on that issue. You either abide them or you don’t. There are times when choices become stark.
Today Jarad is sharing his thoughts on the literary canon. Let us know your thoughts as well!
I went through a phase in 8th or 9th grade, where it was my mission to read all the “classic” books, something I later came to know as the literary canon. I got through quite a few- Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Salinger, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, I read them all. Was this a good or bad thing for me to do? I enjoyed some of them. I learned something. I was free to read other things while my classmates slogged through their assignments, at least when one of the ones I’d read showed up on the syllabus. But sometimes now I question why I did it.
Here is an essay I wrote on the movie Fire by Deepa Mehta
Fire is an Indian Film that I watched as part of my Feminist Theory class and I wanted to share some thoughts I had about it on the blog. I think it’s definitely worth a watch. Although there are certainly cultural differences, much of the underlying assessment of patriarchal power structures has global significance. The following is a paper that I wrote exploring the ideas in the movie - in case you’re wondering about the slightly more academic style than usual.
Ok. I realize many people think that grammar is a boring topic, but this is not an essay telling you the importance of the parts of speech or advocating for more grammar worksheets. This is adapted from an essay I wrote for a grammar and linguistics class talking about problems with grammar education and how to effectively teach it.
Grammar is something everyone is taught in school, but many people still struggle with. Think about your own experience in English class. Didn’t it seem like you spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about commas and trying to remember the difference between adverbs and adjectives? Maybe it just seems that way because it was so boring.
Here is a piece Mekayla wrote concerning the Yellow Wallpaper and its theme of postpartum depression.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is traditionally considered a feminist text, with scholars reading feminism in the way the narrator rips down the wallpaper that is symbolic of the heavy expectations on nineteenth century women. However, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s work also explores the experience of a mother suffering from what we now call postpartum depression; it reminds us that mental illness has always been a legitimate problem and it makes the story relatable even today. Gilman’s narrator experiences the pariah-hood that mothers experienced before the discovery of postpartum depression, and still often experience today.
By Sut Jhally
Review by Jarad Johnson
The film Dreamworld focuses on the role of women as accessories to male singers and illustrates the way in which women are used as interchangeable sexual objects and accessories to an infantilized dreamscape designed and curated for men. Undeniably, women in these videos are showcased as accessories to men, status symbols, like ornaments on a tree.
What is literature? If I had to define it, I would say nothing more or less than an examination and exploration of the human condition. Maybe that’s why I’m obsessed with reading story after story, digging through character’s psyches and contexts, trying to figure out life like everyone else. But, for me, stories aren’t always safely contained in books. There are real stories about real people out there too. The way we think about real human stories, the way we pass them on, the way we try to fit them into our own world views, those stories have real effects whether they are fiction, history or current events.
Ruminations on Gender and Subjugation in Ashputtle, or The Mother’s Ghost by Angela Carter- Jarad Johnson
Jarad reflects on this posthumously published story by Angela Carter
Gender and the ideologies surrounding are integral parts of our everyday lives. We see it in the way we dress ourselves, the different shampoos for men and women, what jobs are stereotypically done by men and women, and so on and so forth. The outward expression of gender, and thus the ideology of gender itself, is bombarding us every single minute of every day. It follows then, that if this gender ideology ingratiates itself in our lives, it’s also in our books, and appears everywhere in them. We use it to draw the line on what is male and what is female, leaving no room in between those two categories. However, once someone begins to study the concept of gender, then those categories become somewhat meaningless, and our understanding of gender is then challenged. But what then is the exact definition of gender? The answer is somewhat vague, as gender’s meaning and interpretation has become very ambiguous and multilayered, as such a complicated topic should be. However, it can be said without a doubt that gender and sex are not synonymous with each other, as many people often falsely conflate them together. Sex is usually used to refer to the biological aspects of a person, such as their reproductive organs. Gender occurs in the mind, and in the society.
I’m going to discuss a topic that at first glance might seem to be a poor fit for a blog where we discuss stories. But bear with me, I think it has more resonance with our narrative obsession than might be readily apparent.