October 28th, 2007

Totes Me!

Outline: Greenblatt vs. hooks

Some background:

Greenblatt is writing about medieval Renaissance self-fashioning. The article I have by him really only is the first chapter of his work... there's not much to go on except with his methodology and justification for his choices. According to him, the writers he chose to work with all in some form fashioned their own image, drawing on the social/cultural codes of their time and carefully considering how to present themselves in text.

bell hooks is a feminist, political thinker, cultural critic, and her topics span from race, class, gender, patriarchal oppression and sexuality. I find her work extremely polemical, and it's very leftist. The article we were given was possibly the most extreme one I've ever read, only by language, though. The message is strikingly clear. Her more recent works call for community spirit and literacy, which I think are the best ways to overcome any sort of societal oppression.

I'm to compare and contrast these two articles, identify the main arguments, and after some research, establish which position are more prevalent... "in the same area". I don't even know what that "area" is. Is it medieval Renaissance studies? Gender in medieval literature? Post-modern theory? Greenblatt doesn't even deal with gender per se, but self-fashioning does, in a sense.

I've been having a lot of difficulty as a result of these questions because although I DO have five articles (one of which was discarded), I'm still not sure in what regards I'm to qualify them as.

Not only that, I feel that I'm simplifying these theories, arguments and discussions too much. Simplification is generally how I break down my writing in order to make it easier to work with, but I fear that I'd be twisting my reading to suit my thesis.

No time for fear, I guess. I've got this so far.

Greenblatt's Main Argument:
Self-fashion in literature is a manifestation of the authour, expressing and reflecting upon the codes that shaped the authour.

hooks' Main Argument:
Patriarchy is a manifestation of social codes that negate the self-expression and self-reflection in individuals.


Similarities:
*Both critical theories are about the shaping of the individual.

* There is a defined heirarchy in place to shape individuals within.

* Both systems of individual shaping require a form of opposition.

* The individual is undermined in some form or manner.


Differences:
GB: The individual is usually mobile socially & economically in order to be able to fashion the self.
bh: the patriarchal system's shaping process encompasses all individuals that intend to exist within the social sphere.

GB: The individual submits to a higher authourity as a point of reference.
bh: The individual submits to social codes in order to avoid disapproval and learn how to function smoothly.

GB: The individual sets itself up against some concept of an Other which is threatening and must be destroyed, thus defending the point of reference.
bh: The system selfs itself up against individual deviance that must be destroyed, outcast, or made to conform.

GB: Point of reference (ie, the higher authourity) and the concept of the Other can be replaced.
bh: When any attempt to replace (or challenge) patriarchy is made, the system components (ie, its individual participants) feel threatened as a result and respond negatively.

GB: Self-fashioning occurs mostly in tezts as a method of self-expression / reflection.
bh: The system of patriarchy manifests itself through the actions and attitudes of individuals.

GB: Self-fashioning involves some effacement or underming of self so as not to threaten higher authourity.
bh: The system undermines the individual in order to impose its authourity and values.
Totes Me!

Meatloaf!! ... I think.

So back home, my dad likes to buy minced pork. We'd buy just enough to fill a metal plate, and when we were cooking the rice, we'd put this plate in the ricepot as well, to cook alongside the rice. Sometimes we'd put in some salted fish for extra flavour. I can't remember if we did anything else.

Anyway, when I came here, I was disappointed to find no equivalent... except for meatloaf, and there's a ton of junk in meatloaf and it actually does look like a loaf so it's not quite the same...

Today, I decided to bring down the lean minced beef from my freezer and cook it. I also found some potatoes and decided to try making mashed potatoes too.

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I also made rice for the rest of the week. I personally enjoy fresh rice, and this jasmine rice from Compliments (cheapo brand) is actually pretty good stuff. I mixed in some chicken stock powder too. You can, you know, along with other stuff... that's how chicken rice stall owners get their rice flavoured the way it is. Mmhmm.
Totes Me!

Outline / Draft: Shakespeare's Strong Women

So, as usual, I began reviewing my topic by asking myself a series of questions:

1. How do we define a strong woman?

2. Does a strong woman function within the male-dominated society or outside of it?

3. Who are the strong women of Shakespeare's world?

4. How does love affect the strong woman, seeing as these are comedies?

5. What confrontations do strong women face that proves their strength?


So I tried answering question 1: The Definition of a Strong Woman: What's she like?
Based on my readings of the four plays I'm looking at, I came up with this list:
- brave when confronted
- never cowed unless she was meek to start with (we forget that meekness is a virtue)
- a smidgen rebellious (a smidgen, you hear... only a smidgen. When ANYBODY gets too rebellious, they're not "strong", they're just fucking annoying.)
- in love (well, these ARE Shakespeare's comedies. And let's admit it, love DOES make the world go round.)
- patient / forgiving (if they're not patient, then they forgive).

The next question was: How does a strong woman function in Shakespeare's world?
Usually, she functions within the given parameters - if not, then she's usually disguising herself.
She also usually ends up married or reconciled to her lover (remember, these are comedies... they're rife with happy endings).

I liked very much this angle I took in discussing the topic of strong women. Rather than focus on three separate characters, I can now focus on three scales of attributes:

- brave <----> meek
- a touch rebellious (giving them impetus to do stuff strong women like to do) <-----> in control
- patient <-------> forgiving


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I want to speak more on their being in love, too. I wanted to say something like, these attributes are enhanced when they're in love, or how they're driven by love, or something corny like that, because it's true. "We love these characters because they love" is a line that'll probably go into the conclusion.

At any rate, I have eight characters to look at in each category:

Never cowed: Beatrice, Viola, Hermia, Titania, Portia
unless meek: Hero, Helena
Exception being Olivia who's never in a position to be confronted, but she's no cow either.

A touch rebellious: Beatrice, Hermina, Helena, Viola
Or in control: Olivia, Portia
Exception being Titania who's somewhere in between, and Hero, who is neither

Patient: Helena, Hermia, Hero
Or forgiving: Titania, Beatrice, Portia
Exceptions being Viola because she's both, and Olivia because she's not patient (look how she goes after Cesario, yeow!) nor forgiving (she doesn't really suffer fools much, re: Orsino, yeow!)

Will return to this sometime tomorrow.