It’s election season again…get out your tums, aspirin, and a bottle of your favorite flavored brandy – your election survival kit, as we like to call it here at Sacred Chickens. The other thing we do here to keep calm and decide how to vote is read. No surprise.
Here’s a list of some of the books we find intriguing. Some of these books bring insight to current events, some we ingested long ago, and they have become part of our internal political microbiome. All of them illuminate some aspect of political life we think you’ll find helpful or at least interesting. What books are you going to read this election season?
Julie - I’ve read quite a few books over the last decade or so that have influenced my thought processes on politics. A couple that I read nearly ten years ago stuck with me and I still refer to them. Even though these books are not new releases, they still resonate. In fact, in a way, I think they’re even more interesting now than they were then because they provide some insight into the underpinnings of our current political landscape. I don’t mind skipping around in time a little. (On my current reading list I have a couple books, one much older, Chaos and Community, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and one extremely current, Why We’re Polarized, by Ezra Klein.) But the time period represented by the two books I’ve chosen is one in which I was changing, and these books gave me a lot of insight into the systems that molded me.
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
2010 (new edition released in 2020)
Written by a civil rights attorney and legal scholar, the book explores the racist underpinnings of the American justice system with fact after fact, statistic after statistic. Her clear, rational prose leaves no room for escape. The system is broken, broken on purpose, and it damages us all. This book makes a compelling case for change based on a heart-rending exploration of the past and present foundations of incarceration in this country. Whatever you think you know about the justice system, you will be surprised at what Alexander turns up in this thoughtful and harrowing book.
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.
Part 1: Literary Heroes
“The written word endures.” Neil Postman.
Words can make and unmake worlds. Sometimes we forget how powerful they are, but every once in a while, it’s important to remember what people can do with words, from revival to revolution. From time to time here at Sacred Chickens, we like to remember those who use words effect change or call out evil, perhaps inspiring a new generation to do the same.
Today, we remember and honor the leader and icon of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King. Although not without his flaws, Dr. King serves as an inspiration and a reminder that we are all created equal and deserve equal rights. and that injustice still pervades our society. We should also acknowledge that his Dream, which he famously spoke about in Washington, has still not been fully realized. Given that, we have decided to post a portion of his Letter from Birmingham Jail, with a link to the full piece.
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"
16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.