Where My Love For Writing & Thinking Meet

Presentation on Harriet Jacob’s Autobiography
April 7, 2017, 11:44 am
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Incidents in the Life of of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs was originally published under the name of Linda Brent. Jacobs used a pseudonym to protect her family from harm given the things that she narrates. She also uses fake names in the story, but these are evidently people that played an important role in her life. Thus, it was easy to depict who is who. See below:

◦Linda is Harriet Jacobs

◦Dr.Flint is James Norcom

◦Mrs.Flint is Norcom’s wife

◦Mr.Sands is Samuel Tredwell Sawyer

◦Benny and Ellen are her children, Louisa and Joseph

◦Other characters are friends or relatives of Jacobs

These characters are crucially important to the plot. A lot of them play different roles in both her life and the book. Dr.Flint/James Norcom is our antagonist. Though the book follows Jacobs’s journey to freedom for herself and her kids, it is written for the white population who still supports slavery. She says she writes this text to shine light on how brutal slavery really is. She wanted to share her experience hopefully giving them insight that’d make them reconsider their stance. She writes, “I want to add my testimony to that of abler pens to convince the people of the Free States what slavery really is. Only by experience can any one realize how deep, and dark, and foul is that pit of abominations.” She wanted to share her story to shine light on how haunting, crippling slavery could be. Her text, written under the slave narrative genre, can be read as a text that speaks about race and gender issues.

I am going to use “Race and the Negro Writer” by Hugh M. Gloster on the exam to discuss this text in a historical context while also putting Gwendolyn Brooks in conversation with what he says (maybe even Ellison’s Invisible Man). Gloster argues that the “Negro experience handicaps the Negro writer.” Though written much later than Jacobs’s work, he makes this generalization of something that is still ongoing in the 1950s. I plan on picking a fight with this text because authors that write about the slave experience use different share different experiences, which Gloster fails to acknowledge. I will also use the reward ad sent out by James Norcom to further analyze the harassment Jacobs had to deal with.

Reader-Response Theory
March 28, 2017, 5:50 am
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So Robert Dale Parker is actually a professor himself. His take on the reader-response theory is very interesting. He argues that people’s different walks of lives cause them to have diverse readings of the same text, but how ultimately there can only be one meaning. I introduced an analogy in class during my presentation, which may have confused some and helped some. So take a spoon for example. When spoons were first discovered, nobody what to do with it. However, the standard became to use it as a utensil. Overtime, spoons have been modified like we have big spoons, small spoons, deep spoons, etc. The purpose of a spoon remains eternal despite the changes. Similarly, this is what Parker argues about reader-response.

Here are some notes and picture from my presentation to help you better understand this theory:

  • How an external source defines it: Reader-response criticism is a school of literary theory that focuses on the reader (audience) and their experience of a literary work rather than other school of theories that focus on the author, the content, and/or the form of the work.
  • How Parker defines it: Originally arising excitement in the late 1960s, reader-response theory/criticism speaks to our literary encounter as readers who are intensely aware of ourselves—> our reading of a text is directly to who we are and what we do

Strategy for Navigating Honors Exam
March 15, 2017, 12:51 am
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So the honors exam is divided in three sections: genre, historical context, and theory. I can use some secondary sources at hand to make “The Yellow Wallpaper” applicable to all categories, but I’m conflicted on which one I should use it for.

As of now, this is my strategy plan:

For genre, I plan on using “Bartleby the Scrivener.” As of now I cannot connect this to any other text on our honors exam reading list through a parable lens. I have started my research and have found plenty of sources that support my reading of Herman Melville’s text as a parable, some scholarly and respectable sources while others not so much. I think my main secondary source for this will be: Stempel, Daniel, and Bruce M. Stillians. “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Parable of Pessimism.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 27, no. 3, 1972, pp. 268–282., www.jstor.org/stable/2932890.

For historical context, I want to use more than one text to talk about slavery. I can do this through “Negro Hero” by Gwendolyn Brooks and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. For this section, I am not sure what kind of historical research to bring into conversation with my texts. I can obviously talk about slavery in America and the impact it had on the black community. On the other hand, I could talk about something more specific like marriage conditions for slaves or different forms of cruelty. Any suggestions? For this section, I was originally planning on A Midsummer Night’s Dream because there’s a lot of Greek mythology in that text that I can use as historical context to interpret that text, but I want to use more than one primary text in at least one section. I mean if anyone knows what other text I can use with Shakespeare’s text and have an actual historical connection, I would happily do this instead.

For theory, I am going to use Robert Parker’s reader-response chapter because it is the one I understand best so I will be able to talk about it in the course of 700+ words. I guess I’ll use “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman for this section. I know we can bring in one primary text of our own so I was thinking of bringing in Arlene Sardine, which is a children’s book that I used in my senior thesis. For Gilman’s work, I can use the secondary source that I used when I gave my presentation while connecting that to Parker’s chapter. For Arlene Sardine I can use Karen Coats’s “Teaching Fish Stories,” which discusses multiple readings done by a variety of readers as well and then tie that back to Parker. Sounds solid, no?

Flexibility and Modularity: I think for this section, one text that I can be really flexible with is “The Yellow Wallpaper.” However, I feel like if I’m going to bring in other texts and be flexible with them, they have to have some sort of connection with the texts at hand, but as of now I don’t think there are any other texts that correlate with this pool of works. However, I am open to suggestions that’ll help me to see some texts other ways and work with multiple texts.

How We Can Use Jürgen Wolter’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper”: The Ambivalence of Changing Discourses on The Honors Exam to Analyze This Reading
March 11, 2017, 6:31 am
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I apologize for not promptly putting up my blog post on my presentation from last week. I had to type up my notes onto the PowerPoint and export it as a PDF to attach to this post. I have not been able to do the latter because I’m not tech savvy. Apparently, I can’t make attachments on the post, and I do not know how to access the link to a PowerPoint PDF from a Mac. I will add all the notes from my slides below, as well as explain how we can use this source.

On one of my slides, I spoke briefly about our author’s history: Her name is Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but she was formerly known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson. She was born in Harford, Connecticut on July 3, 1860 and died in California on August 17, 1935. In her early 70s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which presumably caused her to commit suicide 3 years later. She was a well-known American sociologist, novelist, and feminist. She came from an influential background, but her family was poor. Her father abandoned her family when she was 4. She met Charles Stetson at the age of 23, and had a baby early on in their marriage. After birth, she sunk into a deep depression that lasted several years. She went to a well-known doctor at the time who prescribed her the rest cure. He told her not to touch a brush, pen, or pencil as long as she lived. This almost mentally ruined her, so she wrote this story to save people from being crazy. (Source: Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper)

Then I summarized the plot of the story and its emphasis on setting. Since our unnamed narrator kept referring back to the yellow wallpaper in the room she was residing in, I drew an association to gothic literature. Through the use of the Bedford Glossary, I defined gothic literature and its elements while applying them to “The Yellow Wallpaper.” For example, we have a mysterious narrator. She remains unnamed (this is controversial because some argues her name is Jane). Gothic literature also is big on setting, which is prevalent in our short story. Another correlation that could be drawn from gothic literature to our short story is the supernatural element, which arguably exists within the wallpaper when our narrator starts to see a woman or sometimes women.

I briefly also discussed the characters: Our unnamed character is currently living in a colonial mansion, more specifically a nursery room. Her place is currently undergoing renovations, and she has a baby. From the first sentence of the short story, we learn that our narrator is from the middle class, has a husband, and is a woman. John, her husband, is a physician and can be depicted as an overcaring or neglectful husband. Jennie, John’s sister, resides with our narrator and John as a maid figure. According to our narrator, she occasionally spies on her.

On the other hand, Wolter’s text analyzes the change in the use of the wallpaper’s interior decoration, debate on the color yellow, and effects on intellectual activity on the health of females. The last section of this work can be used to analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a feminist text. This source was shared by the professor and in the last few pages under the last heading before the conclusion, we can see how Wolter construes this text to show how our narrator’s gender is ironically used. Wolter also notes how her husband, John, faints by the end of the short story, which was something that was commonly used to describe the sensitivity of females in Victorian era. Our narrator who is confined as a female in her society breaks through by the end as she tears away the yellow wallpaper itself. There are many other important connections Wolter makes throughout the last section of his argument that prove this text is a feministic reading.

I know this was a lot of information, but feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I apologize for not being able to upload the PowerPoint, but I’ve summarized everything here so you’re not missing anything but the visuals.

Revisions, Take 2
February 14, 2017, 1:27 am
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I think moving forward I have to start having a critical conversation throughout my work. For the most part, I’ve already made claims, provided evidence, and analyzed. I think I do this well, but I don’t meet the page limit and my feedback leads me to think that there is still a lot of work to be done. To start off this process, I will need to find scholarly sources that speak about dark themes and children’s literature. After I find sources that engage in that conversation, I’m going to have to come up with a way to incorporate it into the argument I am trying to make. I’m a little afraid to do this because I don’t want to over-analyze one scene or sound repetitive. I will tackle this hurdle by looking into possibly diving my paper into headings and/or subheadings. I think this will also help me gain organization in my paper, which will help stitch everything together. So here’s list debriefing everything I need to do (may change overtime):

-Find scholarly sources that discuss children’s literature and dark themes like negative messages, death, etc.

-Tie above into paper

-Consider revising paper into headings and subheadings

-Work on transitions

Where Did January Go?
February 1, 2017, 8:41 am
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Hello fellow peers! I honestly still am in denial that we’re back in school. I cannot even begin to express how time flies. The spring semester has officially started whether we’re ready or not. Our drafts are due next week, and I think this post will be a useful reflection for me as I continue to edit my paper for the seminar.

My draft, as many, was a really rough first draft. The comments I received and my own reflection of it as well makes me conclude that I did way too much reflecting on my primary texts, and still have yet to dive deeply into my secondary texts. I also think I begin to talk about a lot of difficult topics discussed in the primary children books I’m using, but brush over that as well. I also realize I’m going to have to make sure going forth that each paragraph has a different purpose (as discussed from the checklist in class). Other comments from my first draft also entail quoting authors more and finding better structure and voice.

Let’s hope by the time Tuesday rolls around again, I have taken care of these things that’ll really tie my paper together.

Annotated Bibliography
December 5, 2016, 11:22 am
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Adams, Rachel. Enabling Differences: New Work in Disability Studies., Volume XXXVII, Issue 2: Disability, Art, and Culture (Part One), Spring 1998.

This source talks about how disability rights activist have lobbied for more positive images of the disabled. It also looks into the public conservation going on as well as the current social and legal issues regarding disability. I can tie this into my paper through the argument I will make for Me Before You and possibly pull in the article that discusses how that book made her feel that it was okay for her to want to end her life since she’s stuck in a wheelchair.


Garland Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. Print.

The excerpt of the text that I’ve read so far makes a valuable statement about the future of disability studies as it argues that literary and cultural critics have neglected studying how disabled people are being shown in texts. I feel that this will also be a relevant text to my one of my primary sources, Me Before You. In her work, Garland Thomson toys with this term normate which is everything William Traynor (one of the main characters) is probably not. Once I get more in depth with this, I can determine if this is applicable to the other novel as well.


Hacking, Ian. “Autism Fiction: A Mirror of an Internet Decade?” University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 79 no. 2, 2010. Project MUSE.

This source speaks about how our understanding of autism has changed over time, and I think it will be interesting to tie this into my research because I can discuss when and how it became okay for authors to show these characters the way they do. It also looks into both nonfiction and fiction, and I hope to draw some genre elements from this moving forward.


Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2004. Print.

This will serve as one of my  primary sources because it reads as a story about a boy, Christopher, who is diagnosed with autism and is on the spectrum. To many, this novel was a misrepresentation of those who have Asperger’s so it is ideal to use this text. It arises a sensitive discussion that I would like to have in my paper through leapfrogging and piggybacking off of my other sources.


Moyes, Jojo. Me Before You. London: Penguin, 2012. Print.
This is another primary source that will serve as a foundation to my paper. This is a book about a man who becomes paralyzed and chooses to end his life through the use of assisted suicide. The representation in this novel is extremely inappropriate as it leads many to think that it is acceptable to end your life because you’re physically disabled. Through the use piggybacking off of my other secondary sources, I will decipher the inappropriateness of this novel that is being overlooked at an initial glance.


Silberman, Steve. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity., 2015. Print.

This text studies the history of autism from the clinicians that discovered it to those who have tried to mislead society about those on the spectrum.  I believe this is a great text for me to use as it briefly mentions how Mark Haddon’s child detective is a misrepresentation for many. It also draws light to how must map “a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.” I may be able to put this in conversation with another source to emphasize that despite what kind of disability one has, everyone should be given an equal chance.


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I for the life of me cannot figure out how to rotate my ballroom image. Basically I am in the middle of the ballroom losing my mind because of how disability is represented in fiction. By my sides I have both of my primary sources, Me Before You and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Then I have two secondary sources that I can weave into each of my primary sources. Garland Thomson and Adam’s work do not directly address Me Before You, but they discuss the point I’m trying to make in relation to it. I will be leapfrogging a lot throughout my research paper because these texts kind of discuss some similar issues and are relevant to one another. Silberman and Harding’s work discusses autism specifically, but also briefly mention my primary sources. I hope to be able to able to draw into that by doing a close-reading and taking a stance on what’s being said. As of right now, I am torn because I feel as if my research project is headed in a different direction then I intended. However, the motivating moves that I’m drawing upon from Gaipa still remain the same. I believe doing my research on this will help unveil:

  • the truth isn’t what one would expect it to be, or what it might appear to be on a first reading
  • the knowledge on the topic has heretofore been limited

Here’s To Researching Something Passionately With Genuine Interest
November 24, 2016, 8:49 am
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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon are novels that illustrate the lives of people living with disabilities. Mark Haddon’s protagonist, Christopher John Francis Boone, displays insight to how one’s mind functions when diagnosed with autism on the spectrum. One of the main characters in Moyes’s text deals with a different kind of disability. Will Traynor’s life was turned upside down when he became paralyzed (physically disabled). As a quadriplegic man, Will decided life was no longer worth living and turned to assisted suicide. Both works project negativity on disability and raise question to the responsibility of the author when their writing impacts such a large population. Does genre play a role to whether or not they should be held accountable? Should the authors consider how their creative rhetoric may affect diagnosed individuals?

Moving towards the research process of this paper, I anticipate on finding several sources that speak to the frustration of how credible and accountable an author should be. I also look forward to reading reviews from individuals who are diagnosed with these disabilities to see their input. Furthermore, I would like to look into scholarly secondary sources that discuss how realistic fiction and mystery influence the role of the author and the reader- where do we draw the line? And does that vary from genre to genre? I hope to find some insight myself throughout the sources I find.

Having read these novels, I know the account of the behaviors that the characters display is very limiting. I also know that disability can sometimes be a sensitive subject for some, but to turn an eye or not acknowledge what the work is doing here, can (and has) harm the lives of those living with such a reality. Doing my paper on this not only gives me an opportunity to become more educated on how words can really impact someone, but also allows me to get involved in a complicated conversation that several scholars are already having. It is important to consider what texts like Me Before You and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time do outside their realms.


Side Note: I almost titled this “The Next Great Paper”

Also as of now I’m working with motives 1 & 2 (but that could totally change)

Reading Past The Lines
November 16, 2016, 5:14 pm
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Researching the history of a time period in which the text you’re reading is written can provide a deeper understanding (is it just me or is this a funky sentence?). Reading Bolen’s “Face-Work and Ambiguous Feats in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” I was able to conduct a close reading. Bolen’s research highlights the importance of body language and what it may symbolize in the reading for this week.

Through Bolen’s text and my own interpretation, I analyzed the scene where the green knight comes into the King Arthur’s court. We all know that Gawain intervenes and saves the honor of the King. Even before reading Bolen’s work, one can jump to the conclusion that this was an intense moment in the text. It’s as if there’s so  much riding on the line, since there is so much tension. And Bolen brings light to this same account by making the reader observe the body language of the King. For example, King Arthur strokes his beard and that can mean many things. At first, I thought this was him displaying nervousness or maybe he just wanted to itch or fix his beard. Reading Bolen’s work made me think that maybe this was a sign that he was preparing to attack/fight the green knight.

It’s interesting how researching something so small can give you a completely different reading 🙂

Mark Haddon: Rhetorically Bold or Inconsiderate?
October 31, 2016, 4:12 am
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I enjoyed reading Haddon’s novel.. But definitely not as much as I enjoyed reading the reviews. I personally love reading reviews after I’ve finished a book because this way I’m given the opportunity to shape my own raw and personal judgement on the text before I also get to see what others take away and how/why they feel the way they do towards a text. It’s always interesting to me that so many people always have so many different things they take away from the same book, and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is no exception to that.

I’d like to start off with Greg Olear’s review titled When Popular Novels Perpetuate Negative Stereotypes: Mark Haddon, Asperger’s and Irresponsible Fiction. Written by a father who has an autistic son that has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, I can understand why Olear is so frustrated. However, with that frustration, one must also acknowledge that some sort of biasedness also comes into play. I feel as if Olear dismisses the protagonist being an ‘aspie’ because he thinks that the behavior is too extreme; he feels as if Christopher does not meet the high-functioning standard of those diagnosed with Asperger’s. Therefore, I think he is disappointed and claims the novel because is a gimmick because it portrays those diagnosed with Asperger’s negatively. Though I understand his frustration, I am also a little annoyed with his claim because there may be individuals that are diagnosed Asperger’s and are not as high-functioning as his son or others. So to dismiss or not even take into account that population because of how others may view it is extremely upsetting.

I then went on to read a review from William Schofield who is actually a member of the Asperger’s community. Despite his own personal experience and diagnosis, he as a student writes, A Journey To Shock and Enlighten, which actually appreciates Haddon’s book. Though he says one should not diagnose a fictional character, he compares himself to Christopher and finds a lot of similarities. He is not offended by this text. Instead he is intrigued by it, and I think that’s the beauty of it: to find and appreciate the beauty of a text even if (or especially if) it doesn’t fit one’s schema.

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