Northwestern Undergraduate Research Journal
Masthead vol. 13 | 2017-2018
Josh Shi FACULTY ADVISOR
Allen Taflove MANAGING EDITOR
Jenna Lee ART DIRECTOR
Florence Fu PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER
Lena Thompson OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Maria Kaufman EDITORS
Netta Keesom, Emily Suen DESIGNERS
Maggie Olson, Stephanie Shin PUBLIC RELATIONS ASSISTANT
Kiara Kajatt OUTREACH ASSISTANTS
Andrew Cao, Anthony Kang ILLUSTRATOR
Leslie Zhang PHOTOGRAPHER
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Letters Josh Shi and Allen Taflove
Erin Reitz Visiting Professor of Art History
Trauma-Informed Care: Re-contextualizing, Depoliticizing and De-pathologizing the Black Experience De’Sean Weber
Role of Child-Directed Speech Constructions in Early Language: An Analysis of the childes Corpus Jamie Klein
Creative Practice and Financial Crises in Contemporary America: Charging Bull and Occupy Wall Street
Identity Politics in 2 States: Contradiction between Tamils as the “Other” and “We are one India” Ibtesaam Moosa, NU-Q
COMMUNICATION SCIENCES AND DISORDERS
The Association among Media Exposure,Disruptive Behaviors and Language Ability in Young Children Katie Martini
Professor in the Department of Psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Science and in the Learning Sciences program in the School of Education and Social Policy
Payton Danner ENGLISH
Lost Histories: Limits of the Archive
Turning Silence: W.H. Auden’s “Rachel” from For the Time Being (1941–42)
Redressing Modernism: The Poetry of Grace Nichols 1984-2009 Ann Ho FEATURE
Michael Diamond Adjunct Lecturer, Global Health Studies
Students Prefer Courses and Professors with Better Evaluations Alex Gordon
L’importance de l’enseignement de la prononciation dans les cours de français au niveau universitaire et une piste proposée Rohan Prakash
Manijeh Razeghi Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Center for Quantum Devices
Witchcraft in Southwark: A Case Study of the London Suburb from 1568–1702 Anna Stevens
About the Contributors
From the Editor In the past few months, as I’ve begun to wrap my head around the fact that I will soon be, for the first time in my life, something other than a student, I’ve come to appreciate what being in school has meant for me. There’s something incredibly and uniquely selfish about being a student — your responsibilities are only to yourself, your learning only for yourself, all resources and mentorship only delivered onto you, never asked of you (besides, of course, your tuition). Of course, that isn’t to say that it’s easy. It certainly isn’t. But for me, being a student (especially being an undergraduate) is to occupy an incredible place of privilege when it comes to the access to knowledge and the guidance necessary to make sense of it. The theses you will read in this issue mark the height of undergraduate research and demonstrate the capacity of this university to train undergraduates to perform serious, critical inquiry through rigorous methods. The authors that we’ve published have been deemed the best in their respective departments, and the thoughtfulness of their work speaks for itself. We at the nurj have had the pleasure of reading and editing these theses for the past year. For those of you who have already completed your undergraduate education, we hope they serve as a reminder of your more selfish years. For those of you yet to graduate, we hope they inspire you to make the most of your time here. Happy reading,
Josh Shi Editor-in-Chief
From the Advisor The Northwestern Undergraduate Research Journal (nurj) is an annual student-produced print and web-based publication funded the Office of the President. We are very grateful for President Schapiro’s continuing generous support. New in Volume 13 (the 2017-18 issue), we are publishing: • 10 Best Senior Theses selected by nine academic departments, including one from NU-Qatar; • Four feature interviews of faculty members who have been advisers of undergraduate students engaged in significant research: Manijeh Razeghi, Michael Diamond, Erin Reitz and David Rapp. As in past years, nurj is freely available to students at newsstands at major campus locations. In addition, copies of nurj are distributed to Northwestern University Deans, Department Chairs and Program Chairs, as well as to academic, advising and research offices across campus. The current issue and all past issues are available online at thenurj.com. Now, enjoy learning about the marvelous research investigations of Northwestern’s top students! Best regards,
Allen Taflove, Professor, nurj Faculty Advisor Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science McCormick School of Engineering Northwestern University 007
+ Photo by John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress.
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Trauma-Informed Care: Re-contextualizing, Depoliticizing and De-pathologizing the Black Experience De’Sean Weber Peter Locke Faculty Advisor
BLACK AMERICANS ARE A POLITICALLY OPPRESSED PEOPLE, BURDENED BY THE CUMULATIVE, EVERYDAY TRAUMAS ASSOCIATED WITH LIVING IN A RACIST SOCIETY, RULED BY IDEOLOGIES OF WHITE SUPREMACY.¹,²,³ Black Americans often face housing segregation, healthcare disparities, unequal treatment under the law and discrimination in the job market and in education, each of which is a traumatic experience independent of the other. But Black Americans often do not face just one type of discriminatory act. They must navigate the racist society that compounds and perpetuates interconnected traumas. Historical trauma must also be considered — by virtue of history and their identification as black — scholars of topics ranging from epigenetics to critical race studies argue that Black Americans are subject to intergenerational trauma through complex mechanisms of biosocial inheritance. ⁴,⁵,⁶ » 009
o truly begin to understand the present trauma in the lives of Black Americans in Chicago, one must begin to examine the past that has shaped the present. Some of this past has been forgotten or repressed, but its effects are still palpable today. Governmental programs that created Chicago’s historic housing projects and the Black Belt have led to racially concentrated areas of poverty. Past modes of housing segregation have taken new forms through, for example, a transportation system that favors wealthy northern Chicagoans over predominately black and brown western and southern neighborhoods. The Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) racial biases are also nothing new, as I show in exploring its collaboration with J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. The CPD was involved in the FBI’s efforts to quash civil rights leaders, such as Fred Hampton and Martin Luther King Jr. But more recently the Department of Justice report on the CPD proves that these discriminatory practices are still in place today.⁷ The city of Chicago continues to close schools that primarily serve communities of color, while it pays settlements for the wrongful police killings of many people of color. These new forms of white supremacy mostly have the same effects as in the past. Donald Trump has endeavored to make sure that authorities continue to over-police communities of color, while his Attorney General hopes to reenergize the “War on Drugs” — which is coded language for “War on People of Color.”⁸ The United States was founded on institutionalized racism, genocide and colonialism. Remnants of the past permeate the lived experiences of many in society today. The consequences of past institutionalized racism have led to present lived traumas within the Black community. The past haunts and influences the present across all levels of power—from the municipal to the executive branch of the federal government. What I endeavor to do is explore the stakes, politics and potentialities of what I call— loosely inspired by the late philosopher Gilles Deleuze—“major” and “minor” narratives around trauma, inequality and care in the US today.⁹,¹⁰ The major narrative, as developed ¹ Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle. ² Bonilla-Silva, White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era. ³ Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. ⁴ Kuzawa and Sweet, “Epigenetics and the embodiments of race: Developmental origins of US racial disparities in cardiovascular health.” ⁵ Myers, “No One Ever Even Asked Me that Before:’ Autobiographical Power, Social Defeat, and Recovery among African Americans with Lived Experiences of Psychosis.” ⁶ Cheng, “The Melancholy of Race.”
“Donald Trump has endeavored to make sure that authorities continue to overpolice communities of color, while his Attorney General hopes to re-energize the ‘War on Drugs’— which is coded language for ‘War on People of Color.’” by mental health and biomedical disciplines, is apolitical and decontextualizing. From this perspective, trauma and post-traumatic stress are induced by a discrete, exceptional experience that has already passed. The minor narrative of trauma, by contrast, is a narrative that is political, contextualized, oriented toward social justice and potentially liberating in nature. BACKGROUND Traumatic events involve a threat to one’s physical or mental well-being through violence or threat of violence, which can become overwhelming to the extent that it interrupts daily function and personal interactions.¹¹ The concept of trauma has a long and tumultuous history, entangled in the politics of war, racism and sexism.¹² These historical perspectives on trauma lack almost any consideration of race and race-based oppression. Therefore, I argue that a new ⁷ Department of Justice. “2017 Report on Chicago” ⁸ Horwitz, “How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs.” ⁹ Deleuze, G and Guattari, F, Anti-Oedipus. ¹⁰ Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Félix and Brinkley, “What Is a Minor Literature?” ¹¹ Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence, from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. ¹² Fassin, D and Rechtman, R. The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. ¹³ Burstow, “Toward a Radical Understanding of Trauma and Trauma Work.”
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framework must be posed to understand the suffering of individuals subjected to institutional racism. For the purposes of this paper, I understand traumatic events to involve a threat to one’s physical or mental well-being. While each experience of trauma is subjective, the mere definition and categorization of trauma as a label can become limiting and fraught with controversy. In my analysis, I separate the concept of trauma from some of its most problematic historical forms and usages to link it more productively with the traumatic experiences of black Americans both in the past and present. How can the concept of trauma avoid the dangers of medicalizing social conditions to become liberating, contextualized and political? Critical social scientists have worked to contextualize and politicize the experiences of women who are traumatized, simply by having to live within sexist and patriarchal societies, and those of soldiers traumatized by fighting within the violent context of war.¹³ The three main historical perspectives on trauma are hysteria, shell shock and sexual and domestic violence, all of which center on gender-based or combat-based forms of psychic injury. In this paper, I attempt a critical re-appropriation of the trauma concept as a way of highlighting the cumulative injustices and forms of violence to which Black Americans have been subjected for generations, and the psychosocial consequences of these realities. Being Black in America is inherently traumatic in a way that challenges medicalized approaches to trauma. The claim that to be Black is to be, to some degree, “traumatized” is a call not simply for mental health care, but for restorative justice on behalf of black communities, both past and present. Psychological and social services that do not acknowledge this history of trauma in black communities, some have argued, can inadvertently reinforce harm if the proper accommodations are not made. Such accommodations include recognizing the historical and lived traumas of being black, and admitting to how biomedicine and psychiatry have played a part in the continuation of institutionalized racism.¹⁴,¹⁵,¹⁶ Furthermore, psychiatric practice often fails to help individuals conceptualize the meaning ¹⁴ Burstow, “Toward a Radical Understanding of Trauma and Trauma Work”, 1307 ¹⁵ Myers, “’No One Ever Even Asked Me that Before:’ Autobiographical Power, Social Defeat, and Recovery among African Americans with Lived Experiences of Psychosis.” ¹⁶ Hopper, E; Bassuk, E; Olivet, J. “Shelter from the Storm: Trauma-Informed Care in Homelessness Services Settings.” ¹⁷ Ibid, 1308. ¹⁸ Brandt, “Racism and Research: The case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Hastings Center Report.”
of their experience in social context—a failure that contributes directly to trajectories of confinement, overmedication and reinforced stigma.¹⁷ What then does this mean for the treatment of trauma—particularly considering the fraught history of black Americans in the biomedical sphere?¹⁸ I argue that the emerging paradigm of “traumainformed care” offers a promising first step toward modes of support for struggling black Americans that are sensitive to the weight of history, context and systemic racism.¹⁹,²⁰ Trauma-informed care requires an organized and interdisciplinary approach that often involves mental healthcare, substance abuse, primary care, criminal justice, homelessness and domestic violence agencies.²¹ Through an understanding of the multidimensional impact of trauma, traumainformed care has four key components per recent research: trauma awareness, emphasis on safety, opportunities to rebuild autobiographical renderings and use of a strengths-based approach.²² This approach creates a different narrative surrounding trauma and mental illness that may allow for greater empowerment of the individual and communities vis-à-vis those promising to help them. METHODS To examine this new paradigm of care, I focused on the Pathways Program at Heartland Alliance, a permanent housing program for individuals with a history of homelessness, serious mental illness and addiction. During my 12 weeks at Pathways, I conducted approximately 120 hours of conversational participant observation and various training sessions with staff members at Heartland Alliance. I also conducted three semistructured interviews with one staff member and two participants of the Pathways Program which lasted around eight hours. ETHNOGRAPHIC DATA Tasha, the first participant, looks up at me and says slowly and deliberately, “Tragedy. If there is a tragedy, like if someone get shot in the head— like my cousin got shot in the head last week. That really messed me up. There is always something.” ¹⁹ Myers, “’No One Ever Even Asked Me that Before:’ Autobiographical Power, Social Defeat, and Recovery among African Americans with Lived Experiences of Psychosis.” ²⁰ Myers, “Recovery stories: An anthropological exploration of moral agency in stories of mental health recovery.” ²¹ Ibid. ²² Hopper; Bassuk; Olivet, “Shelter from the Storm: Trauma-Informed Care in Homelessness Services Settings.” ²³ Alexander, New Jim Crow.
+ Figure 2. Southside historic housing. IMLS Digital Collections and Content, Wikimedia Commons.
Tasha is in her early 50s and comes from a large middle-class family on the South side of Chicago. Despite her upbringing, Tasha’s life was full of tragedies. “I had more than most of my friends. I didn’t know what a bad childhood was. I found out people dying and stuff. I just shut down. My kid’s father got car-jacked. He got shot in the head and died. He got shot in ‘98 and died in ‘04. The bullet traveled in his head. And, this is the same person who broke my heart but I stayed there for months. Changing him and teaching him how to talk right. Everything. He didn’t recognize nobody but me. I mean not even our kids. So that’s about it. Then my kid, my son got kidnapped. They put him in a truck, drugged him, beat him, raped him all that. He was 13. And, he never got over that. I never got over that. It has affected me tremendously.” “My history with drugs has never been about money. I found out I had money all the time. But if there is a tragedy, like if someone get shot in the head. Like my cousin got shot in the head last week. That really messed me up. There is always something. This will be the fifth or sixth funeral ²⁴ Glaude, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. ²⁵ Ibid. ²⁶ Street, Racial Oppression In The Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History. ²⁷ DuVernay, 13th.
in the last six months. One cousin hanged hisself and the other got shot in the head. And her son had just gotten killed by the Amtrak police. He got shot in the back for weed in his pocket, they shot him in the back while running. The family is suing and now his mother will be getting a settlement.” She ends the brief interview gloomily saying, “My sobriety goes up and down. As long as nothing happen, I’ll be alright.” She tells me she has to go run and grab dinner with her daughter in the city and abruptly leaves the interview with the recorder still going. At our first meeting, Tasha is lively and jokes around with many of the other residents, but when she recalls the stories of how she ended up here, she becomes somber and laconic. The second participant that I interview at Pathways is James, a man in his early 50s who also grew up in a small middle-class family on the west side of Chicago. He reflects on this and says, “I took a wrong turn somewhere. I left and came up North. I came up here in ‘85. I came up on this side of town in ‘85 and I came out here and made myself homeless. Started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Started drinking, started using drugs. From that point on it just spiraled out of control.” James tells me about his journey to Heartland Alliance. Because of a perceived
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“Their middle-class origins suggest that trauma is not just about poverty. The commonality underscores that racial inequalities, and the intersection of race and gender, are what made James and Tasha vulnerable.” lack of economic opportunity and his desire for a community, he joined the Vice Lords, a Chicago gang, to support himself. He went to prison after a robbery. He reflects fondly on his experience in prison but speaks of his abandonment by the gang, of whom he thought as family. After his release, he went to the north side of Chicago, but was unable to support himself and was homeless for over seven years. He speaks of the harassment suffered by police while on the streets. The police were “chasing the alcoholics and the people who are hooked on the crack? Chase the dope boys not the people who are doing it. They aren’t fucking with the dope boys up here. They are fucking with the people who are using. The judge throws those cases out, those aren’t the kinds of cases they want to see. So, every time something goes wrong, it’s our fault. It ain’t our fault. Go check the gang members.” After numerous encounters with the police, James finally got in contact with a caseworker who encouraged him to find housing with the Pathways Program. James has been at Heartland for six years and his intention is not to remain for the rest of his life. “I’m trying to move onto something different,” he says. “And from time to time, being in here, ya know, I’m going to stay here until I get my stuff together.” When explaining his experience at Pathways, James says that “staff
can only do so much. The participant has to do some of the footwork themselves. They have to do the footwork. You know. And I’m to the point, staff can do something for me, but I have to put the footwork into the rest of it. If it’s something that I have to do, I have to go out there and get it myself. It makes me feel better about myself.” James ended the conversation in almost the same way he started. “I had a pretty good life coming up, ya know?” He pauses and looks up at me. “It all just came to a halt. I think I have a pretty good life now, but it’s just not going the way I want it to go now. But it will get better, I’m doing a little bit better as far as I’m concerned. I’m not too angry anymore. I’m trying to control my anger.” DISCUSSION The stories of James and Tasha illustrate the traumas associated with being black in the United States. Historical and social forms of institutionalized racism led to a compounding of these traumas. Institutionalized racism contributed to limited access to good housing, education and employment for James and Tasha. James spoke about his inability to find economic and social opportunities outside of gangs, leading to his incarceration and a gunshot wound. Upon his release from prison, James found it challenging to find consistent housing and a full-time job because of his felony charge. His experience with homelessness led to traumas associated with his diabetes. The dearth of employment opportunities, an inability to attain social capital, brushes with gun violence, frequent interactions with the police and penal system and homelessness are all higher in black communities than in white.²³,²⁴ Tasha, also from a middle-class background, explicitly described the lived traumas she and her family experienced. After her grandmother died, she broke down and turned to drugs for comfort, a common path for many of the participants with whom I spoke. Each time a traumatic instance occurred—from the shooting of a former boyfriend, the police shooting her cousin, or her own son being brutally assaulted and raped—she used drugs to cope. These instances of trauma often occur within black communities due to structural violence and institutionalized racism. She struggles to find a job and housing, which she attributes to her felony status. Their middle-class origins suggest that trauma is not just about poverty. The commonality underscores that racial inequalities, and the intersection of race and gender, are what made James and Tasha vulnerable. Both stories index the cumulative and repetitive traumas of being Black. This
“Trauma-informed care is based on an appreciation of the ways historical injustices affect present communities and produce new forms of violence and traumatization.” trauma is not abnormal. It is the unfortunate norm of black lives that are shaped by a nearconstant vulnerability to violence perpetrated by institutionalized racism, structural violence and white supremacy. It is important to note that my research has been limited in time frame and scope, with two in-depth interviews conducted with participants and one with a staff member. During my 12 weeks at Pathways, I also conducted approximately 120 hours of conversational participant observation. I argue that this research can nevertheless elucidate core truths about the collective trauma associated with being black in America. Even with its narrow scope, the research clearly shows how experiences of racism impact livelihoods and care. What, then, do these two experiences mean for the care administered by Heartland? Trauma-informed care requires varied and unique forms of contextualized treatment for each participant. James attends every meeting he can, while Tasha avoids all meetings and most interactions with staff and participants. However, the underlying treatment attempts to empower participants to take control of their health and life, with varying amounts of support. James has been successful at Heartland, as the staff encourage him to attend sessions and to form a community. Tasha does not require as much support and primarily relies on staff to encourage her efforts to find classes and new housing. Based on my research and conversations with participants, I suggest
that caregivers continue to better understand and address the effects of institutionalized racism. This race-sensitive lens could be used to develop context-specific, individualized care that acknowledges structural violence. In this way, a contextualized and politicized perspective that understands the black experience as inherently traumatic can contribute to radically changing the structures that perpetuate trauma. CONCLUSION History is never quite past, just as trauma persists. Trauma is a deeply disturbing experience. However, it should not be thought of only in terms of discrete and exceptional events when examining the black experience. Rather, it should be understood as compound, cumulative and transgenerational trauma, with its roots in colonialism, racism, slavery, Jim Crow, housing discrimination and mass incarceration, among other techniques of exerting power. There is a cyclical nature to the experiences of black Americans, as the same traumas and touchstone historical moments recur, from Emmet Till to Trayvon Martin. Black communities feel each historical and contemporary instance of trauma with profound ramifications for their lived experience, aspirations and senses of belonging. By connecting trauma to the sociopolitical context of being black in the United States, the trauma concept can become liberating, highlighting systemic social injustice as its etiology, while illuminating paths toward effective care for traumatized blacks, including the promising new approaches captured by the term “trauma-informed care.” Trauma-informed care is based on an appreciation of the ways historical injustices affect present communities and produce new forms of violence and traumatization. But the institution providing care must be reflexive in understanding the role that healthcare has often played in perpetuating historical injustices for Black communities and actively work to make amends through contextsensitive forms of treatment. The traumainformed care provided at Heartland Alliance attempts to create justice and foster resilience through a multidisciplinary effort linking housing, care, economic opportunities and legal services. Ultimately, healthcare must endeavor to contribute to justice for those who are marginalized, and those affected by institutionalized racism. However, healthcare is only part of the equation for justice. But without consistently acknowledging its complicity with past and present evils, and seeking appropriate transformations in theory and practice, healthcare is unlikely to
nurj – vol. 13 significantly contribute to meaningful forms of justice, care and knowledge-production. Trauma-informed care within healthcare cannot radically change the structures in society that perpetuate black trauma. The approach must be a interdisciplinary effort, utilizing the trauma-informed approach. Politicians, educators, policy-makers and advocates must understand the link between institutionalized, interpersonal, and internalized racism and trauma. This understanding begins with contextualized experiences. The statistics
overwhelmingly show that black Americans live with fewer opportunities for social and economic advancement.²⁵,²⁶ The United States grew on principles of slavery, colonialism and genocide. We often view slavery in the past tense, disregarding the many effects that past crimes and abuses have on society today, such as slavery through mass incarceration.²⁷ Unless society moves toward changing its practices at various levels of power, being Black will continue to be traumatic.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Alexander, Michelle. (2012) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press. Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. (2001) White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Brandt, A. M. (1978). Racism and research: the case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Hastings Center Report, 8(6), 21-29. Burstow, B. (2003). “Toward a Radical Understanding of Trauma and Trauma Work. Violence Against Women”, 9(11), 1293-1317. doi:10.1177/107780120325555 Cheng, Anne Anlin. 2001. “The Melancholy of Race.” In The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-30. Davis, Angela. (2016) Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Chicago: Haymarket Books. Deleuze, G and Guattari, F. (1972). Anti-Oedipus. Trans. Hurley, R., Seem, M. and Lane, H. New York: Continuum. Deleuze, Gilles. (1997) Essays: Critical and Clinical. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Félix and
Brinkley, Robert (1983). “What Is a Minor Literature?” in Mississippi Review 11(3): 1333. Department of Justice. “2017 Report on Chicago” DuVernay, Ava. (2016) 13th. Kandoo Films. Fassin, D. and Rechtman, R. (2009). The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Press. Glaude, Eddie. (2016) Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York: Broadway Press. Herman, J. L. (2015). Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence, from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books. Hopper, E; Bassuk, E; Olivet, J. (2010) “Shelter from the Storm: Trauma-Informed Care in Homelessness Services Settings.” In The Open Health Services and Policy Journal 2: 131-151. Horwitz, Sari. (2017) “How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs.” Washington Post. Retrieved from https:// www.washingtonpost.com/ world/national-security/ how-jeff-sessions-wantsto-bring-back-the-war-ondrugs/2017/04/08/414ce6be132b-11e7-ada0 1489b735b3a3_story.html Kuzawa, Christopher W. and Elizabeth Sweet. 2008.
“Epigenetics and the embodiments of race: Developmental origins of US racial disparities in cardiovascular health.” Human Biology 21(1): 2-15. Myers, Neely. 2016. “’No One Ever Even Asked Me that Before:’ Autobiographical Power, Social Defeat and Recovery among African Americans with Lived Experiences of Psychosis.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30(3): 395–413. https://doi.org/10.1111/ maq.12288 Myers, N. A. L. (2016). Recovery stories: An anthropological exploration of moral agency in stories of mental health recovery. Transcultural Psychiatry, 53(4), 427–444. https://doi org/10.1177/ 1363461516663124 Ralph, Laurence. Forthcoming. “Becoming Aggrieved.” In Biehl, Joao and Peter Locke, eds., Unfinished: The Anthropology of Becoming. Durham: Duke University Press. Ralph, Laurence. (2013). Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Street, P. L. (2007). Racial oppression in the global metropolis: a living black Chicago history. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
+ Arturo Di Modica, Bund Bull, 2010. Bronze, 8.2 feet tall and 11 feet long. Shanghai, China. Photo by Claude Lauper.
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Creative Practice and Financial Crises in Contemporary America: Charging Bull and Occupy Wall Street Julia Poppy Rebecca Zorach Faculty Advisor
DESPITE ITS CONTINUED CULTURAL RESONANCE AND ITS ANOMALOUS STORY IN THE HISTORY OF PUBLIC ART, CHARGING BULL (1989) HAS ESCAPED IN-DEPTH ART HISTORICAL SCHOLARSHIP.
In this thesis, I examine the history of Charging Bull, from its origins in the 1980s through its interactions with Occupy Wall Street’s activist and visual culture in 2011. I ultimately consider how this sculpture became embedded in discussions about the relationship between art, politics and capitalism. This research relies on various transcriptions of history, most prominently in the form of historical accounts and newspapers. Furthermore, I have relied on the broader critical tradition of analyzing artworks and images within their specific economic and political frames. By examining the history of this sculpture, I argue that Charging Bull offers a staging ground for defining American capitalism through creative practice, and for asserting the role of art in such an economic system. »
ART PHILOSOPHY HISTORY
TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS: OCCUPYING THE SITE AND IMAGE OF CHARGING BULL
here is a strong similarity between Wall Street in the 1980s and the early 2000s. While the Internet had shifted the financial landscape in the 2000s, and new companies had come to the fore, the dominant culture of Wall Street still encouraged risky pursuit of short-term profit. A highly speculative exchange of commodities reinforced and expanded the global casino economy. An inanimate witness to this development, Charging Bull (Figure 1) served as a potent symbol of unrestrained capitalism — an image reminiscent of the wild ‘80s on Wall Street, and resonant with the unrestrained system in the early 2000s. While these historical moments displayed similarities, the respective financial crises of the late 1980s and 2008 led to varied creative responses within New York City’s financial district. When Wall Street’s practices led to another financial crisis in 2008, there was no Yuletide gift, as there had been in 1989. Rather, the district was greeted by a type of performance artwork: thousands of protesters camped in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011. This anti-capitalist movement was dubbed Occupy Wall Street (ows). During ows, “Charging Bull,” both the physical sculpture and its image, became a site of ideological action, articulation and conflict. While ows artists appropriated the image of a bull image for anti-capitalist aims, the sculpture’s physical location served to materialize the protection of Wall Street by the federal government. The 2008 financial crisis had its roots in the 1980s. The process of deregulation begun by the Reagan administration, and continued by subsequent administrations, spurred highly risky practices, the creation of banks deemed “too big to fail,” an assortment of crimes ranging from bribery to money-laundering, and the use of corporate credit cards to pay for prostitutes.1 The risky money-making practices of the 2000s was the securitization chain, in which predatory lenders signed people to subprime mortgages and loans, which were then sold to investment banks, ¹ Mary Williams Walsh, “J.P. Morgan Settles Alabama Bribery Case,” New York Times, November 4, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/ business/05derivatives.html; Matt Taibbi, “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Fail,” Rolling Stone, February 14, 2013, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/ gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214; Courtney Comstock, “Some of New York’s Wealthiest Might Get Charged in The Wall Street Prostitution Ring,” Business Insider, July 21, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com/brooklyn-damight-charge-clients-in-wall-street-prostitution-ring-2011-7; Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson (Representational Pictures, 2010.), Video.
“One of ows’s central tools of resistance was its artistic practice. Within the vibrant visual culture that ows developed, ‘Charging Bull’ served as a visual, physical and symbolic locus of action.” whose “financial engineers” would combine mortgages with other loans and credit card debt to make collateralized debt obligations (cdos). Rating agencies would then give these cdos artificially high ratings as a signal that they were as safe to buy as US Securities, allowing investment banks to sell these cdos to investors.2 This securities chain was full of exploitative and fraudulent practices. People with checkered credit histories received these subprime mortgages. They often did not have a sufficient income or assets to receive any loan, according to standard operating procedures. Neither lenders nor bankers took up this risk personally, so bankers gave out as many subprime mortgages as possible. The more they sold, the more they made.3 Rating agencies were also “far too generous in their assessments” of these cdos, a result of the fact that banks paid ratings agencies for these assessments. Ratings agencies also had to compete for the banks’ business.4 Thus, a aaa rating often belied the actual contents of a cdo. The practice of using subprime mortgages infiltrated many levels of investment. The proliferation of subprime loans also fostered a real estate boom. As ² Inside Job, Video, (Representational Pictures, 2010); “The origins of the financial crisis: Crash course,” The Economist, September 7, 2013, http://www.economist. com/news/schoolsbrief/21584534-effects-financial-crisis-are-still-being-felt-fiveyears-article. ³ Inside Job. ⁴ “The origins of the financial crisis: Crash course,” The Economist. ⁵ Peter Goodman, “This is the Sound of a Bubble Bursting,” New York Times, December 23, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/business/23house. html.
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+ Figure 1. Arturo Di Modica, Charging Bull, 1989. Bronze, 11 feet 2 inches tall and 16 feet 1 inch long. Bowling Green Park, New York, New York. Photo by Sebastian Alvarez.
one journalist put it, this “[c]reative finance lubricated the developing boom, making it easy for buyers to take on more mortgage debt than they could otherwise handle, driving prices skyward.”5 As a result of this perceived boom, the period of 2002-2007 earned a spot in the top six “bull markets” in the s&p 500’s history.6 This risky profit-driven system led to a financial disaster. Around 2008, the securitization chain imploded, leaving a global financial crisis in its wake.7 Once the housing market began to fall, defaults and foreclosures set off a chain reaction that tore through the financial system. This resulted in the collapse of many financial institutions, and a $700 billion government bailout.8 Due to the financial crisis, millions of people lost
their jobs, savings and homes.9 Many people were drowning in debt, and unemployment rose to 10 percent by October 2009—double what it had been in December 2007.10 The ramifications of this crisis, and the systematic inequalities that it revealed penetrated the cultural consciousness. Executives kept the obscene bonuses that they made off exploitative practices, while almost every other person seemed to lose something.11 The distrust in the financial system also led to a distrust in the government, which neither appointed a special prosecutor, nor charged financial executives at the banks deemed “too big to fail” for criminal activities before 2011.12 Out of this moment of disillusionment grew ows. ows took aim at the neoliberal system
⁶ Lu Wang, “The U.S. Is in the midst of a Historic Bull Market,” Bloomberg, April 27, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-28/obama-bullmarket-dodges-knock-out-blows-to-stagger-into-history. ⁷ Inside Job. ⁸ “The origins of the financial crisis: Crash course,” The Economist; Mike Collins, “The Big Bank Bailout,” Forbes, July 14, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ mikecollins/2015/07/14/the-big-bank-bailout/#463319fe3723. ⁹ Inside Job.
¹⁰ U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Spotlight on Statistics: The Recession of 2007-2009,” Last modified February 2012, http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2012/ recession/. ¹¹ Inside Job. For instance, the top five executives at Lehman Brothers kept the many millions of dollars they had each made off of an exploitative system. Michael Corkery, “Executive Pay and the Financial Crisis: A Refresher Course,” Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2009, http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2009/09/18/executivepay-and-the-financial-crisis-a-refresher-course/.
ART PHILOSOPHY HISTORY
and capitalist-validated ethos of greed. One of ows’s central tools of resistance was its artistic practice. Within the vibrant visual culture that ows developed, “Charging Bull” served as a visual, physical and symbolic locus of action. ows derived its name through a campaign from the Canadian counterculture magazine Adbusters.13 This original “Occupy Wall Street” campaign peaked when designers at Adbusters released the now iconic image of “Charging Bull,” accompanied by a ballerina inside their 97th issue, which hit newsstands in July 2011, and online as a meme (Figure 2).14 Within the rectangular frame of the meme, a foggy haze obscures the location. From this background emerges nondescript images of individuals wearing gas masks and brandishing unclear tools. Caught in the throes of movement, these figures lack identity, name, gender and race. Within the gray haze, two figures stand resolute: a ballerina, mid-arabesque atop a charging bull. The absurdity expressed in their placement within the dystopian setting disrupts the “Charging Bull’s” typical environment. “WHAT IS OUR ONE DEMAND?” is printed in red on the top of the poster. Below the bronze bull, white letters spell out: “#OCCUPYWALLSTREET/ SEPTEMBER 17TH./ BRING TENT.”15 In addition to the textual articulation of its aim, the meme visually expresses an abstract, militant energy and, quite literally, directs it at Wall Street as embodied by the charging bull. In its disruption of the Bull’s iconic paradigm, the meme crystallizes a moment of anti-capitalist sentiment. The Adbusters designers did not alter the bull’s appearance. Rather, they stitched together a realistic, yet absurd photomontage, and used the bull as a signifier. The placement of the comparably calm and lithe ballerina on the bulky bull redefines and “absurdifies” the sculpture and what it represents. In addition, the associations of a ballerina— artistry, deceptive strength and the deployment of the body as a medium for conceptual movement—the dancer atop the bull suggests a lively, artistic occupation of Wall Street. This symbolic occupation stands before the promise of a physical occupation. In the flyer’s background, the crowd looms as a physical occupation of Wall Street. In ¹² Inside Job; Chris Isidore, “35 bankers were sent to prison for financial crisis crimes,” CNN Money, April 28, 2016, http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/28/news/ companies/bankers-prison/; Jesse Eisinger, “Why Only One Top Banker Went to Jail for the Financial Crisis,” New York Times, April 30, 2014, http://www.nytimes. com/2014/05/04/magazine/only-one-top-banker-jail-financial-crisis.html?_r=0. A few smaller executives have been charged with crimes, however. A Credit Suisse executive was later charged. ¹³ Kalle Lasn, email message, March 13, 2017. ¹⁴ Lasn, email message, March 13, 2017.
+ Figure 2. Isamu Noguchi, Red Cube, 1968, red painted steel, 28 feet tall. 140 Broadway, New York, New York. Photo by Michio Noguchi.
this new world that the meme knits, the bull tells the viewer that the occupation will take place on Wall Street, both the site and the idea. In its photorealism, the meme utilizes both the symbolic and physical connotations of “Charging Bull.” This meme also had practical implications. It gave individuals in New York City a name with which to identify themselves to others, and a place to meet. In contemporary life, Wall Street extends beyond the actual street. The phrase refers to an amorphous network of financial institutions. Thus, “Charging Bull” offered a location to meet that resonated with the broader financial system. A month after the meme’s release, a general assembly gathered at “Charging ¹⁵ This question was later posed by pundits and members of the public to the OWS. OWS and this interest in a single demand was even fictionalized in an episode (Season 2, Episode 1) of the television show The Newsroom that premiered in 2013. ¹⁶ Yates McKee, Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition (London and New York: Verso, 2016), 92. ¹⁷ McKee, Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy, 99. ¹⁸ Leslie Scrivener, “The Origins of an Occupation,” Toronto Star, November 5, 2011, accessed September 25, 2016, EBSCOhost.
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“The associations of a ballerina —artistry, deceptive strength and the deployment of the body as a medium for conceptual movement — the dancer atop the bull suggests a lively, artistic occupation of Wall Street.” Bull” to discuss how individuals might respond to Adbusters’ call to action. A small group formed behind the bull and began a conversation about how they could respond to the Adbusters meme. This dialogue “would evolve over the subsequent month into the full-fledged plan to set up camp a few blocks north of the bull at Zuccotti Park.”16 When ows officially began on September 17, 2011, thousands of protesters descended on “Charging Bull.” After the group met at the sculpture, which was barricaded by police, activists decided to go to “site number two,” Zuccotti Park, from a predetermined list that a tactical scouting team had created earlier.17 At Zuccotti Park, the group set up camp. Before their eviction from Zuccotti Park on November 15, ows implemented their utopian model of living within the symbolic heart of the global casino economy. As one protester said, “What’s new with this movement is that it’s not just protesting, but creating a small replica of what we want society to be.”18 During ows’s occupation, the movement used several tactics to make visible a culture standing against capitalism, and the inequality it breeds. First, general assemblies fostered a sense of community, and allowed individuals to share their stories. This horizontal system of governance gave rise to other occupations across the world within a month of ows’s residency in Zuccotti Park.19 Yates McKee has analyzed the movement as a performance artwork, outlining its socially engaged actions
that both reflected and generated artistic impulses.20 Second, occupation made this anti-capitalist protest visible by co-opting space, while generating some news coverage. Third, pithy slogans captured the anticapitalist ethos of the group. For example, the notion of the “99 percent” and the “1 percent” was arguably one of ows’s greatest successes. This language successfully penetrated the American vernacular as a way to talk about income inequality. Finally, artwork both propelled the movement— the Adbusters cover—and grew from the movement. Within the sea of images ows produced, including hand-crafted signs and memes, several artists appropriated the emblem of the dominant capitalist system. ows “took the bull by the horns,” so to speak, by dismantling the monument to capitalism that had been part of the movement since the beginning: “Charging Bull.” Revolutions often destroy the monuments of the system they overthrow, an act rich in both symbolism and catharsis. Iconoclasm has a long history, but there are various examples in recent record: the spectacle and controversy over the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad in 2003 demonstrates a political strategy behind these actions.21 Whether or not this action was staged by the United States government, it was nonetheless exploited toward public relations and propagandistic aims, revealing how symbolically resonant such iconoclastic
¹⁹ It spread to many places within the United States and then globally. Sources for such occupations are plentiful, but for an overview and images see Alan Taylor, “Occupy Wall Street Spreads World Wide,” The Atlantic, October 17, 2011, https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-spreadsworldwide/100171/. ²⁰ McKee, 100. ²¹ Peter Mass, “The Toppling,” The New Yorker, January 10, 2011, http://www. newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/10/the-toppling; Max Fisher, “The Truth About Iconic 2003 Saddam Statue-Toppling,” The Atlantic, January 3, 2011, https://www.
theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/the-truth-about-iconic-2003saddam-statue-toppling/342802/. ²² Mass, “The Toppling,” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/10/ the-toppling; Fisher, “The Truth About Iconic 2003 Saddam Statue-Toppling,” The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/the-truthabout-iconic-2003-saddam-statue-toppling/342802/. ²³ Clyde Haberman, “The Bull Tied to Occupy Wall Street,” New York Times, September 17, 2012, http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/the-bull-tiedto-occupy-wall-street/?_r=0.
ART PHILOSOPHY HISTORY
“This police occupation also performed economic value and cultural work. From the perspective of economic value, taxpayers’ money was exchanged for the protection of ‘Charging Bull.’”
moments can be.22 ows was not given the chance to physically destroy “Charging Bull” during its residence in Zuccotti Park. It turned instead to the virtual realm in order to enact symbolic intervention. In fact, during ows’s residence, the dominant capitalist system created its own occupation at the site of “Charging Bull.” In 2011, three occupations converged. After ows descended on the Financial District, police placed barricades around “Charging Bull.” During the first couple of months after September 17, protective gates surrounded the sculpture, and visitors could not access it, “except on a few occasions.”23 Police officers and an “ever-present police car” accompanied these barricades.24 This constant protection likely cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and remained for two and a half years, until it was removed on March 25, 2014.25 Thus, the occupation of “Charging Bull,” was protected by the occupation of police officers and barricades from ows. Governments often invest in protecting art. Paintings like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503) or Michelangelo’s Pietà (1499) are protected behind bullet proof glass, and are guarded at public expense. These are masterpieces of the Western canon, and sources of pride for their respective countries. Considering these examples, “Charging Bull,” an unsolicited gift by a relatively unknown artist, being protected by the state is both shocking, and a testament to the value of this specific piece ²⁴ Haberman, “The Bull Tied to Occupy Wall Street,” New York Times. ²⁵ Ibid. ²⁶ Arjun Appadurai, introduction to The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 4-5. ²⁷ I also have not found a precedent for the police barricading sculptures in recent New York City history. The NYPD did barricade Mark di Suvevo’s Joie de Vivre in Zuccotti Park after a man climbed the sculpture and then was brought down by the police on October 22, 2011. “Occupy Wall Street Asks Artist Mark di Suvero For
for New York City’s culture. The unusual police protection of “Charging Bull” negotiated the economic and cultural value of the sculpture through exchange. To mine such negotiations, I rely on three assumptions from Arjun Appadurai’s notion of exchange: (1) within an exchange, something is sacrificed to gain something else of perceived more importance, (2) exchanges create value, and (3) exchanges do cultural work.26 Before engaging with the economic and cultural implications of the police occupation, this protection of “Charging Bull” gains significance in light of what was not protected. “Charging Bull’s” protection was highly particular: barricades did not appear outside the neighboring Bowling Green, the fragile windows near the bull, or around other artworks in the Financial District.27 When the city feared property damage and riot by ows, the dominant state powers sacrificed the safety of other objects, and the fulfillment of other police duties, in order to protect Charging Bull from harm, thereby satisfying the first characteristic of exchange. This police occupation also performed economic value and cultural work. From the perspective of economic value, taxpayers’ money was exchanged for the protection of “Charging Bull.” If exchange creates monetary value, the sculpture’s protection indirectly established the artwork’s value at hundreds of thousands of dollars—the cost of maintaining the barricade. In terms of Support,” The Huffington Post, November 10, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost. com/2011/11/09/occupy-wall-street-asks-a_n_1085057.html; Al Baker, “Man Climbs ‘Joie de Vivre’ Sculpture in Zuccotti Park,” New York Times, October 22, 2011, http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/man-climbs-joie-de-vivresculpture-in-zuccotti-park/?_r=0. This police action is also very rich in art historical associations. The barricades used featured the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s signage, although the museum was unaware that barricades that used its name were being used for this purpose.
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+ Figure 3. Fritz Koenig, The Sphere, 1971, bronze, 25 feet high. Battery Park, New York, New York. Photo by Mark Lentz.
cultural work, to protect “Charging Bull,” is to validate what it represents: unrestrained capitalism. The police protection performed the state’s interest as a symbol of private enterprise, and echoed the government’s support of Wall Street previously exhibited in the decision not to prosecute crimes committed during the 2008 Financial Crisis. The police physically guarded a tool of private enterprise, and symbolically protected private enterprise from a group of anti-capitalist protesters. Through its physical occupation of “Charging Bull,” New York City reiterated its dedication to capitalism, both its practice, and its value as artistic symbol. In a twist of historical irony, roughly two decades after confiscating the sculpture, the nypd protected and affirmed the bull’s right to public space. However, the symbolic weight of “Charging Bull” had already turned against itself, through the work of proto-ows artists, and continued during the movement’s occupation. Josh MacPhee, an artist and activist, articulated his vision early in the movement, and relied on “Charging Bull” to do so. MacPhee founded the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative in 1998, a network of artists committed to social, environmental and political issues.28 MacPhee has produced a series of political projects, ranging from posters to a project called the Interference Archive.29 Mere weeks after ows began, on October 1, 2011, MacPhee published several digital posters featuring the “Bull” on ²⁸ “About,” Justseeds, accessed November 16, 2016, http://justseeds.org/about/. ²⁹ “Josh MacPhee,” Justseeds, accessed November 16, 2016, http://justseeds.org/ artist/joshmacphee/. ³⁰ Josh MacPhee, “Designs for Occupation,” Justseeds, October 1, 2011, http:// justseeds.org/designs-for-occupation/. ³¹ MacPhee, “Designs for Occupation,” Justseeds. ³² He is now selling 25 copies to pay off this debt for the 200 free prints. Josh MacPhee, “Money Talks Too Much,” Justseeds, January 2012, http://justseeds.org/ product/money-talks-too-much/.
Justseeds’ website, in a post tilted “Designs for Occupation.”30 On the Justseeds website, MacPhee explains that these ows artworks aim to “synthesize some of the ideas (and add some of my own) coming out of Occupy Wall Street here in New York City,” and “to create some better-designed messaging.” These works were not only exercises in artistic production, but also tools of communication. Considering the lack of a unified message from ows, MacPhee articulates his own: “Many of the signs at the occupation, and the Occupy Wall Street statement, reference a ‘THEY’ as an amorphous bad guy? Capitalism is an economic system, one in which we all participate to varying degree—and are all largely beholden to for survival—whether we are janitors, artists or ceos. When we start anthropomorphizing this system as a set of people, things get really slippery, and politically questionable, really fast… I ain’t going there.”31 His description reveals an interest in creating compelling signs or designs that do not target people, but rather the capitalist system. By removing people from his visual lexicon, MacPhee located ows’s message through words and symbols. As shown in five of the seven posters, MacPhee chose “Charging Bull” as a visual signifier of the destructive capitalist system. In comparison to the photorealism of the Adbusters meme, MacPhee’s appropriation of “Charging Bull” involves a potent unrealism. It features a bold, graphic and communicative artistic language. In MacPhee’s imagination, the sculpture becomes fragmented, vandalized and satirized. Recalling the rudimentary signs found in the ows protest, the images put forth a militant-style reclamation of the sculpture. One image features a red patterned over an image of the Bull’s smiling face (Figure 3). Mimicking
“Instead of using ropes, hands and sledgehammers as seen in the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, these artists used visual and virtual guerrilla tactics to remove the sculpture from its symbolic pedestal.” the vandalism in subways, yearbooks and billboards, MacPhee has sketchily drawn a crude bulls-eye, with an arrow hitting the bull’s forehead dead-center. Around the sculpture’s snout, MacPhee uses a similarly spontaneous style to draw a belt, muzzling the mouth. Written diagonally across the bull’s face reads, “MONEY TALKS…” and then placed under a diagonal line continues, “TOO MUCH.” At the bottom of the page, in the same handwritten style script reads a simple call to action: “OCCUPY!” The poster is at once playful and cogent. MacPhee’s images distort the image of “Charging Bull.” The sculpture no longer appears strong, but rather silly and absurd. Under the Sharpielike re-appropriation of the sculpture, “Charging Bull” becomes the image of a corrupt capitalist system confronted by ows’s pen. Other images of the Bull suggest a cheeky violence directed towards the sculpture’s infamous scrotum. In one image, MacPhee uses the same red pattern over a picture of “Charging Bull” from behind (Figure 4). The viewer gets a clear view of the sculpture’s hefty back legs, which stand apart to reveal the sculpture’s bulbous, gleaming scrotum. Across the picture, MacPhee superimposes a dotted line that begins with a partial image of a scissors, recalling instructions found on various items that instruct the viewer to “cut here.” MacPhee places this line right above the Bull’s scrotum, telling the viewer to cut it off. In its direct engagement with sex, the poster suggests a de-masculinization of the financial system. The poster also proposes violence to castrate the sculpture, which makes visual ows’s militant opposition to the capitalist system. Because touching the Bull’s scrotum is the sculpture’s main attraction for viewers, cutting off the scrotum also de-commodifies and de-
fetishizes the sculpture. In the top left corner reads “DIRECT DEMOCRACY/NOT DECEIT”; in the lower right corner reads a call to action: “#OCCUPYWALLST.” Again, the language affirms the image’s visual rhetoric: out with the old system. “Charging Bull’s” symbolic status made it an effective image of what ows targeted: capitalism, corruption and greed. MacPhee continues the anti-capitalist appropriation of “Charging Bull” initiated by Adbusters' seamless photomontage. He confronts the sculpture’s body to articulate a confrontation of the capitalist system. The “MONEY TALKS…TOO MUCH” image made by MacPhee was translated into a poster that people carried at an ows march.32 Thus, these images were an effective use of art for political means, because they were highly scalable, meaning they could be shared digitally, and used physically. Through digital and physical platforms, these artists launched a redetermination of the capitalist system. They did this through the appropriation of a symbol of capitalism, attempting to redefine the sculpture as an image of capitalist tyranny, rather than strength. Instead of using ropes, hands and sledgehammers as seen in the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, these artists used visual and virtual guerrilla tactics to remove the sculpture from its symbolic pedestal. Nevertheless, the state apparatus maintained the ideological status quo by protecting the “Charging Bull.” Thus, both the image of “Charging Bull” and its site were occupied for divergent aims. These opposing motivations affirmed the role of “Charging Bull” as site of conversation about capitalism in America, and art’s ability to serve as a tool for argument about and within such a system.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY “About.” Justseeds. Accessed November 16, 2016. http:// justseeds.org/about/. Appadurai, Arjun. Introduction to The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Edited by Arjun Appadurai, 3-18. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Baker, Al. “Man Climbs ‘Joie De Vivre’ Sculpture in Zuccotti Park.” New York Times, October 22, 2011. http:// cityroom.blogs.nytimes. com/2011/10/22/man-climbsjoie-de-vivre sculpture-inzuccotti-park/?_r=0. Collins, Mike. “The Big Bank Bailout.” Forbes, July 14, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ mikecollins/2015/07/14/ the-big-bank bailout/#463319fe3723. Corkery, Michael. “Executive Pay and the Financial Crisis: A Refresher Course.” Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2009. http://blogs.wsj.com/ deals/2009/09/18/executivepay-and-the-financial-crisis-arefresher-course/. Eisinger, Jesse. “Why Only One Top Banker Went to Jail for the Financial Crisis.” New York Times, April 30, 2014. http://www.nytimes. com/2014/05/04/magazine/ only-one-top-banker-jailfinancial-crisis.html?_r=0. Fisher, Max. “The Truth About Iconic 2003 Saddam StatueToppling.” The Atlantic, January 3, 2011. https://www. theatlantic.com/international/ archive/2011/01/the-truthabout-iconic-2003-saddam-
statue-toppling/342802/. Goodman, Peter. “This Is the Sound of a Bubble Bursting.” New York Times, December 23, 2007. http://www. nytimes.com/2007/12/23/ business/23house.html. Haberman, Clyde. “The Bull Tied to Occupy Wall Street.” New York Times, September 17, 2012. http://cityroom.blogs. nytimes.com/2012/09/17/ the-bull-tied-to-occupy-wallstreet/?_r=0. Inside Job. Directed by Charles Ferguson. Representational Pictures, 2010. Video. Isidore, Chris. “35 Bankers Were Sent to Prison for Financial Crisis Crimes.” CNN Money, April 28, 2016. http://money. cnn.com/2016/04/28/news/ companies/bankers-prison/. “Josh MacPhee.” Justseeds. Accessed November 16, 2016. http://justseeds.org/artist/ joshmacphee/. Lasn, Kalle. Email message. March 13, 2017. MacPhee, Josh. “Designs for Occupation.” Justseeds. October 1, 2011. http://justseeds.org/ designs-for-occupation/. MacPhee, Josh. “Money Talks to Much.” Justseeds. January 2012. http://justseeds.org/product/ money-talks-too-much/. Mass, Peter. “The Toppling.” The New Yorker, January 10, 2011. http://www.newyorker.com/ magazine/2011/01/10/thetoppling. McKee, Yates. Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the PostOccupy Condition. London and New York: Verso, 2016. “The Origins of the Financial Crisis:
Crash Course.” The Economist, September 7, 2013. http:// www.economist.com/news/ schoolsbrief/21584534-effectsfinancial-crisis-are-still-beingfelt-five-years-article. Scrivener, Leslie. “The Origins of an Occupation.” Toronto Star, November 5, 2011. Accessed September 25, 2016, EBSCOhost. Taibbi, Matt. “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Fail.” Rolling Stone, February 14, 2013. http://www.rollingstone. com/politics/news/ gangster-bankers-too-big-tojail-20130214. Taylor, Alan. “Occupy Wall Street Spreads World Wide.” The Atlantic, October 17, 2011. https://www.theatlantic. com/photo/2011/10/ occupy-wall-street-spreads worldwide/100171/. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Spotlight on Statistics: The Recession of 2007-2009.” Last modified February 2012. http://www.bls.gov/ spotlight/2012/recession/. Walsh, Mary W. “J.P. Morgan Settles Alabama Bribery Case.” New York Times, November 4, 2009. http://www. nytimes.com/2009/11/05/ business/05derivatives.html. Wang, Lu. “The U.S. Is in the Midst of a Historic Bull Market.” Bloomberg, April 27, 2016. http://www. bloomberg.com/news/ articles/2016-04-28/obamabull-market-dodges-knockout-blows-to-stagger-intohistory.
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BY Florence Fu
I first met Erin Reitz as a freshman taking my first art history class, Intro to Contemporary Art. She was a graduate student working as a teaching assistant, while conducting research for her dissertation. By the time we crossed paths again, she had completed her doctorate in art history and wrote her dissertation on the Black Panthers. Despite never having taken an art history class during her undergraduate career — she entered Northwestern as a philosophy major pursuing the pre-medicine track — today, she is a visiting professor in Northwestern’s art history department. She was always interested in radical politics and aesthetics. Her college friends joked that she studied “revolution,” so perhaps her career choice was somewhat inevitable. Most of her classes, whether in political theory, history, or the one art theory class she took, were either tangentially or directly related to radicalism. Through these academic awakenings, she created an ad-hoc major called “Modernity Studies,” giving her space and time to question the status quo, both politically and aesthetically. As a professor, she continues to put pressure on dominant narratives through her research and teaching. Her primary interests are in the intersection of art and politics, and she specializes in American and African diasporic art. In her eyes, there is always relationship between art and politics. Exploring these ideas is more than an academic pursuit for her — it is a daily act of thinking critically about the images around us. “If there are dominant ways of seeing and thinking in the world — of acting in the world, or making things in the world — then to make something is to position yourself in that field,” she said. When she entered graduate school, she wanted to continue exploring this relationship between radically political artists and their art-making practice, which ultimately led her to research the Black Panthers. Although much of the artistic discussion on the Panthers explores their use of iconic images and illustrations, Reitz was more interested in the Panthers’ understanding of their art as revolutionary and how they prompted audiences to view the world from a militant 027
perspective. She became interested in the media controversy over whether Fred Hampton had been killed in a Panther-instigated gun battle, or by the Chicago police, and how both sides mobilized narratives and counter-narratives through images. “I was excited to explore the films, photographs and dioramas that were mobilized by the city, the federal government and the FBI to present this case as if it was the Panthers’ fault, and how Panthers and other activists in Chicago, nationally and internationally, mobilized a counterargument,” she said. “They did that through posters, films, performances, so it was teasing out those questions and exploring that web of artworks that then inspired me to keep doing more work on the Panthers.” One of the courses she taught this year was titled “American Art: 1861-1968.” From its name, one might expect to study canonical artists like Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. But Reitz had a different pedagogical approach. Like her research on the Panthers, she wanted to unsettle the canonical narratives of American art, and offer alternative ways of understanding history. “There’s a tendency in art history to celebrate the originality or genius of an artist, to assert that something is a development in and of itself,” she said. However, teaching a century of art history allows her to rethink questions about form, politics and identity in new ways. Reitz wants to be a part of scholars who work on unsettling a dominant narrative of art history. A history that according to her “often only reckons with big names that are in history books and in museums because of institutional authorities recognizing their work as meriting space, but this is fraught with racist, sexist and exclusionary logics.” She is more interested in a history of art that takes account of both art and visual culture, since there is art being made that never gets shown in a museum, or has never been made without had an intention of being shown exhibited in a museum. “Imagining possibilities” is something that comes up over and over again whenever I talk with her, especially since the histories and images she researches can often leave viewers feeling powerless. While these histories and images are challenging to grapple with, she wants to create a space that challenges everyone, including herself.
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“To teach a class where you’re talking about white supremacy and institutional racism is to risk upsetting people. But hopefully in a way that might encourage them to rethink what they’re willing to acknowledge about the state of American politics, whether in 1865 or today.” She hopes to encourage people to have more empathy for other perspectives and experiences. This process of “unsettling” existing narratives, allows one to pose important questions and imagine possibilities to think, see and act in the world. Like the artists and artworks discussed in her lectures, Reitz’s work as a professor and scholar is also a form of activism. “To teach a class where you’re talking about white supremacy and institutional racism is to risk upsetting people. But hopefully in a way that might encourage them to rethink what they’re willing to acknowledge about the state of American politics, whether in 1865 or today,” she said. Sitting in her office today, I realize how much has changed since we met three years ago. I will be graduating, feeling fortunate to have spent my time learning from scholars in the art history department. Reitz will also begin a new chapter at Brown University as a Pembroke Center Postdoctoral Fellow after a long academic career at Northwestern. It has been a period of growth with new beginnings and endings, yet there is continuity between TA Erin and Professor Reitz. Both question the status quo and encourage students to challenge themselves to see, think and act consciously in the world. After her fellowship at Brown, Reitz will begin a tenure-track position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Wherever she goes, Reitz will continue to confront the histories that we so often take for granted. 029
Role of Child-Directed Speech Constructions in Early Language: An Analysis of the childes Corpus Jamie Klein Kenneth Forbus Principal Supervisor
THE THEORY OF CONSTRUCTION GRAMMAR IN LINGUISTICS — THAT FORM AND MEANING PAIRINGS ARE THE STRUCTURAL BASIS OF LANGUAGE — IS INCREASINGLY DISCUSSED IN THE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY. One of its main tenets includes the
notion that syntactic constructions provide semantic information, which is meaning that is generalized from the particular verbs with which the structures are commonly associated. In order to investigate the explanatory power of the theory, this research project focused on methods for annotating, organizing and analyzing large samples of child-directed speech for such constructions. Utilizing two resources, the childes corpus and the FrameNet project, over 10,000 lines of transcribed child-directed speech were analyzed and coded for target verbs appearing in ditransitive, caused-motion and intransitive motion constructions. Results of the corpus analysis show that the causedmotion and intransitive motion constructions do, in fact, exhibit higher frequency of certain verbs, as expected under a constructionist account. »
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he study of language acquisition and development is central to cognitive science. Over the past several decades, many theories have attempted to explain how children grasp something as complex as language skills. Chomsky (1968) and others have hypothesized that, given the complex and highly abstract principles of grammar, it must be the case that humans are born with an innate universal grammar. In contrast, usage-based theorists assert that humans have the ability, through powerful learning and development mechanisms, to gain language and communication skills (Tomasello, 2009). Proponents of the latter view argue that these general learning mechanisms are beneficial in the process of acquiring language. Because humans are not equipped with any innate language tools, they instead utilize their experience communicating to learn and perfect the craft. With this theory in mind, I conducted research regarding the patterns of speech that occur when adults speak directly to very young children. This research project attempts to uncover information about constructions, form and meaning pairings that are theorized to be the basis of all language and their potential ability to aid in child language learning (in the absence of a universal grammar) (Goldberg, 1995). REVIEW OF LITERATURE Considerable attention has been devoted to studying child language acquisition in the fields of cognitive science, linguistics and developmental psychology. Beginning in the 1960s and through the mid-1980s, traditional approaches to studying language-learning were generativist and proposed a universal grammar and a strict distinction between lexical and syntactic representations (Chomsky, 1981). Theories of this nature stressed the seemingly impossible task of acquiring not only the necessary vocabulary to communicate, but also the extremely complex lattice of grammatical structures necessary to develop language skills (Chomsky, 1968). Traditional views like these are still held in the field, but other theorists have hypothesized alternative usage-based theories of language acquisition. Tomasello, Goldberg and many others have posited that children’s language-learning abilities are strong enough that acquisition can occur simply through learning patterns in the grammar. Contemporary grammarians, studying sets of simple sentences, have found that certain constructions exist systematically, independent
“Thus, the constructionist theory of linguistics states that constructions themselves carry meaning, beyond the meaning of component words of the sentence, and that children can utilize these forms to learn meaning.” of the specific verbs and words included in given sentences. Thus, the constructionist theory of linguistics states that constructions themselves carry meaning, beyond the meaning of component words of the sentence, and that children can utilize these forms to learn meaning. “Constructions” have since been defined as a syntactic structure whose composition (form and/or meaning) does not originate from other existing constructions in the language. The formal definition is as follows: “Sentence C is a construction iffdₑf C is a form-meaning pair <Fi, Si> such that some aspect of Fi or some aspect of Si is not strictly predictable from C’s component parts or from other previously established constructions” (Goldberg, p. 4, 1995). Even traditionally, constructions in grammar were often referenced and utilized, not as a meaningful principle of language itself, but rather, as a byproduct of the language process. Generalizations across linguistic patterns were said to have come from other, more general principles (Chomsky, 1957). The Construction Grammar approach argues that constructions are themselves theoretical (and meaningful) entities, and thus deserve to be studied as such
(Fillmore, Kaye and O’Conner, 1988). This paper is specifically focused on argument structure constructions, a specific type of construction (Goldberg, 1995). The English argument structure constructions include the ditransitive, caused-motion, intransitive motion, conative, resultative and the “way” construction, to name a few. The properties of several of these argument structure constructions are as follows: Ditransitive: “X causes Y to receive Z” Subject Verb Object 1 Object 2 Caused Motion: “X causes Y to move to Z” - Subject Verb Object Oblique Resultative: “X causes Y to become Z” Subject Verb Object Clausal Comp Intrans. Motion: “X moves to Y” Subject Verb Oblique Conative: “X directs action at Y” Subject Verb Oblique[at] These varying syntactic structures, some of which will be explicated further below, can each be paired with the same verb, yet convey different meanings. This demonstrates that each be paired with the same verb, yet convey different meanings. This demonstrates that particular constructions express systematic semantic differences (Goldberg, 1995). Therefore, the collection of constructions in the language can be seen as a highly structured framework of interrelated linguistic information, from which learners of the language can draw. Each argument structure construction and its features will be explained briefly, in order to aid in understanding the importance of the theory. The ditransitive construction evokes a central sense of “transfer between a volitional agent and a willing recipient” (Goldberg, p. 141, 1995). Regardless of the particular lexical items identified in particular sentences, the semantic structure of the ditransitive construction is consistently related to “transfer.” A second construction that carries its own semantic sense is the caused-motion structure. This structure generally evokes a subject directly causing an object to move in a direction designated by an oblique phrase. In the case of the ditransitive, various extensions beyond this basic format exist for the caused-motion construction. However, all forms still maintain their semantic sense when the component lexical items shift, or seemingly break from the structural form into idiosyncrasy. The final common construction used in this analysis is the conative construction. This construction expresses a directed action along a path. In the conative case, the action must only be intended, not necessarily completed (Goldberg,
1995). This distinction is represented lexically by the oblique in the (Subject Verb Oblique) structure, as conative constructions always consist of the prepositional “at” in that position (Goldberg, 1995). The current hypothesis in the field is that the high frequency of particular verbs in certain constructions helps children attend to the correlation between the meaning of that certain verb in the structural pattern, and the structure itself (Goldberg, Casenhiser and Sethuraman, 2004). Additionally, past research suggests that pronoun frequency in child-directed speech significantly aids children’s acquisition. Therefore, it will be interesting to measure in the current study as an indicator of symbolic use of languageutilizing joint attention (Tomasello, 2009). Overall, children’s general powerful cognitive mechanisms, such as processing massive amounts of input, and joint attention abilities, coupled with construction semantics, summarize the construction grammar theory with regard to child language acquisition. METHODOLOGY In order to investigate the Construction Grammar theory regarding constructions’ frequency and meaning, I conducted a corpus analysis of the childes database from Carnegie Mellon University. The database is composed of over 130 different corpora of child-adult speech data (MacWhinney, 1996). Approximately 28 separate research teams have contributed transcript data to the English childes corpus. Each team’s contribution is browsable, and is easily viewed online. For the current study, I opted to use the work of Roger Brown and his students, who contributed English conversational data of three North American children: Adam, Eve and Sarah, and of their respective mothers. The advantage of the Brown corpus is that, in addition to being analyzed by the childes chat system, it has been tagged for parts of speech. I annotated and analyzed a total of 10,000 lines of childparent conversations from one transcript of both the “Adam” and “Eve” samples. The design of the annotation methodology began with the selection of particular verbs to record. Previous analysis by Alishahi and Stevenson (2008) found that the most frequently occurring relevant verbs in Brown’s corpus were: go, put, get, make, look, take, play, come, eat, fall, sit, see and give. In order to test the “learning from input” argument, I used these frequently occurring words as the target verbs. The analysis of the “Adam” and “Eve” transcripts in the childes corpus was conducted by searching for these target words in child-directed speech. When found, the
nurj – vol. 13 + Figure 1. Frequency of Frames
features of the sentences from which the verbs originated were then annotated.
The format of each annotation included the: • • •
exact text of the target sentence— verbatim copy of sentence text target verb observed—recording which of the thirteen target verbs was identified in the sentence FrameNet frame for that verb— searching the Berkeley FrameNet project Lexical Unit Index; the appropriate frame for target verb was identified part of speech tag for the sentence —the Brown childes transcript provided a part of speech tag for each line syntactic structure of the sentence—the sentence syntax was recorded, sometimes with the aid of the Stanford Natural Language Parser
FrameNet frame elements of each phrase/word in the sentence—the component words of each sentence were analyzed using FrameNet to identify relevant elements to the target verb sentence type—identified the sentence type as declarative, interrogative or imperative
(<source> Line # "Sentence" (target-verb <verb-root>) (frame <frame>) (pos-tag (<plist>)) (syntax (<syntax>)) (chunks (<chunks (pos "phrase" FNRole)>)) (stype <stype>))
The analysis of the 10,000 lines of child-directed speech data yielded 160 annotations of child-directed speech involving these verbs. The next step of the methodology
+ Figure 2 Construction Distribution
involved running the coded annotations through a simple lisp program to parse and compile the data. The annotations, originally in list form, were then organized into hash tables, from which a csv file could easily be created. The function that organized the information appropriately and succinctly began by defining a structure as a container with certain slots. The structure included the similar fields as in the annotations themselves, such as a verb field, frame field, syntax field (valence structure), text field, chunks field and sentence-type field. The chunk field was further structured as a list to include the three elements of the chunks line, part of speech, frame element role and text itself. The code could then read through the annotation list and associate the annotation element with the appropriate structural counterpart (including creating a data structure for each chunk). The code then produces a hash table of keys (syntactic patterns/frames) and values (counts), outputting various sets of data, in order to analyze frames by syntax, or syntax by frame. A short script outputs and formats this data into an Excel spreadsheet for convenient analysis. The value added from utilizing this digital method was extremely significant. The input-output efficiency of this method made chunking and checking the data simple. The next step was to statistically analyze the distribution of these various structures after accumulation. Using corpus analysis techniques, I investigated verb frequency, frame appearance, syntactic patterns and construction occurrences.
RESULTS Verb frequency was first investigated in the analysis stage. There were 160 total sentences in the study, and 13 verbs were investigated. Frequency of each verb within the data set ranged from two instances for “make” to 33 instances for “go.” Overall, 26 frames were represented by the 13 verbs over 160 sentences. This means that on average, each verb was expressed by two frames. The range of frames per verb was from 4-to1, with “play” being represented by four different frames, and several verbs only having one frame, including give, eat and fall. Two was the median number of frames per verb. The distribution of all 26 frames is shown in Figure 1. From the corpus data, the four argument structure constructions analyzed were the intransitive, caused-motion, ditransitive and conative constructions. Of the childdirected utterances collected, constructions were found in 82 of 160. Each construction appeared in the corpus with varying frequency, ranging from 36 instances (ditransitive) to only two instances (conative). A complete distribution is shown in Figure 2. Due to the low frequency of the conative construction in the data, which was expected, no specific analyses of this construction were conducted. The other three constructions were further analyzed for the particular verb patterns with which they appear. This is discussed later in the analysis. Beyond descriptive statistics for the data set, an analysis of pronoun frequency in the childdirected speech instances demonstrated a
nurj – vol. 13 + Figure 3 Frequency of Verbs in the Caused-Motion Construction
high frequency of pronoun use. Out of 160 sentences, 109 had a pronoun present, or a rate of 68.1 percent. Moreover, pronouns were the subject of the sentence 104 out of the 109 pronouns instances. 95.4 percent of the time that pronouns were featured, a pronoun was the subject of the sentence. These 104 instances of pronouns as subjects represented 65 percent of all cases (N = 160). There were also 14 sentences that featured both a pronoun as the subject, and object of the sentence. Sentences were also analyzed for the common English constructions of ditransitive, caused-motion, intransitive motion and conative. The distribution of each of these constructions in the data included the ditransitive appearing 36 times (22.5 percent), the caused-motion construction appearing 11 times (6.9 percent), the intransitive motion construction appearing 33 times (20.6 percent) and the conative construction appearing two times (1.3 percent). This leaves 78 sentences in the data set that were either incomplete, or did not conform to an analyzed construction (48.7 percent), often due to the informal and incomplete nature of mothers’ utterances to their children.
The core analysis of the research was to see which verbs, if any, generalize to these various argument structure constructions. Beginning with the intransitive motion construction, which has been found in the past to generalize from the verb “go,” results showed a significant co-occurrence with this verb in the sample data. While 10 instances of the “go” verb were found in the 33 intransitive motion construction instances, only three were found among the 36 ditransitive construction instances, and only one “go” appeared among the 11 causedmotion constructions. Additionally, within the sample of intransitive constructions from the data, the most frequently occurring verb was “go” with 10 instances. Other verbs that appeared often, but less so, were “sit” with eight instances, as well as “come” and “look” which each appeared four times. Using a chi-squared analysis technique, the trend of “go” appearing more frequently in the intransitive construction than other verbs was shown to be statistically significant at the P < 0.05 level (P (1) = 0.0401). Similar results were found for the causedmotion construction, where usage of the verb “put” was investigated. Out of the 11 instances of the caused-motion construction,
“Two argument structure constructions correlated with their appropriate verb generalizations: the intransitive motion construction with ‘go’ and the causedmotion construction with ‘put.’” six sentences featured the “put” case. Other verbs that appeared in the caused-motion construction were “see,” which appeared twice; and “take,” “go” and “give,” each of which appeared only once. Additionally, in the ditransitive construction, only two of the 36 sentences had “put.” Zero “put” cases appeared in the 33 intransitive motion cases. This pattern was also found to be statistically significant. A chi-squared test found the cooccurrence of the “put” verb used with the caused-motion construction to be significant at the P < 0.0001 level (P (1) < 0.0001). For the ditransitive construction, which historically has never been explicitly linked to a specific verb from which it generalizes, the data demonstrated no particular verb affinity (Goldberg, Casenhiser and Sethuraman, 2004). Ten different verbs (and 12 different frames) appeared in the 36 instances of the construction, indicating more variety than the other constructions studied. No particular verb’s frequency co-occurring with this construction was significant. Most notably of these was “get,” which had 10 instances (P (1) = 0.2602). Figure 3 shows the range in instances of each verb in this construction. Due to the low frequency of the conative construction, there were not enough instances to conduct a full analysis on this argument structure construction. Overall, significant results of the research proved to be the pronoun analysis, as well as the construction analysis, which showed that two argument structure constructions correlated with their appropriate verb generalizations: the intransitive motion construction with “go” and the causedmotion construction with “put.” DISCUSSION The results of this study highlight several interesting aspects. High rates of pronoun use confirmed work by Tomasello and Dodson
(1998), who have theorized in the past about the importance of pronouns in child language acquisition due to their symbolic properties (Tomasello, 2009). Pronouns’ inherent requirements of joint-attention demonstrates their use to children, and is a main reason they appear so frequently (75 percent of the time according to Tomasello, and 68.1 percent of the time in the current study) in child-directed speech. The high rate of pronouns as subjects is also interesting, as was hypothesized by Wells. In the current study, of the 109 instances of pronoun-use in child-directed speech sentences, 104 featured a pronominal subject (95.4 percent). In terms of the construction analysis, the data also supported the hypothesis, demonstrating significant verb generalization co-occurrences between the “go” verb and its intransitive motion construction counterpart, and the “put” case and its counterpart, the causedmotion construction. Existence of these co-occurrences provides further evidence that: a) argument structure constructions do, in fact, carry semantic information; b) the semantic information associated with these particular constructions becomes associated through heightened frequency in child-directed speech; and c) children then utilize this information to not only acquire structures, but also acquire syntactic forms in general. These results provide evidence that the strategies are consistent with those hypothesized in usage-based theories of language in general. The current research also aims to facilitate further future research, through accumulation of the novel annotated corpus of childdirected speech. Opportunities for different types of research have been created through this additional analysis (including FrameNet annotation) of the childes database, such as one current study at Northwestern University, which utilizes the annotations from my
nurj – vol. 13 research in order to investigate the role of analogical generalization in construction learning utilizing the sage computational model (McFate, Klein and Forbus, in press). The current study was limited in a number of ways. First, research was based on particular resources, like the childes corpus and FrameNet database. While these resources are generally beneficial and thorough, the analysis was subject to incorrect frames for certain words, or mislabeling. Additionally, given the manual nature of the annotation and analysis methods, and restricted time, the amount of data collected was limited to two children’s corpora. Though the data proved statistically powerful, analysis of the
conative construction (a lower frequency structure) was not possible. Had more data been collected and analyzed for the study, the conative construction may have been found frequently enough to investigate whether it generalized from a certain verb. With a broader set of data, potentially aided by automated methods of collection, a richer analysis could investigate other constructions, such as the conative or way-constructions. Additionally, research examining other types of speech could observe constructions other than those featured in the current study, such as the resultative, which does not appear as often in child-directed speech.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Alishahi, Afra and Suzanne Stevenson. “A Computational Model of Early Argument Structure Acquisition.” Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal 32, no. 5 (2008): 789-834. doi:10.1080/036402 10801929287. Barak, Libby, Afsaneh Fazly and Suzanne Stevenson. “Modeling the Emergence of an Exemplar Verb in Construction Learning.” Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 35, no. 35 (January 1, 2013): 1815-820. Bolinger, Dwight. “Entailment and the meaning of structures.” Glossa 2, no. 2 (1968): 119-127. Childers, Jane B. and Michael Tomasello. “The Role of Pronouns in Young Children’s Acquisition of the English Transitive Construction.” Developmental Psychology 37, no. 6 (2001): 73948. doi:10.1037//001216126.96.36.1999. Chomsky, Noam. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton, 1957. Chomsky, Noam. Language and Mind. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968. Chomsky, Noam. Lectures on Binding and Government. Dordrecht: Foris, 1981. Connor, Michael, Yael Gertner,
Cynthia Fisher and Dan Roth. “Baby SRL: Modeling early language acquisition.” Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, 2008, 81-88. doi:10.3115/1596324.1596339. Fillmore, Charles J., Paul Kay and Mary Catherine O’Connor. “Regularity and Idiomaticity in Grammatical Constructions: The Case of Let Alone.” Language 64, no. 3 (1988): 501-38. doi:10.2307/414531. Goldberg, Adele E. Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Goldberg, Adele E. “Constructions: A New Theoretical Approach to Language.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7, no. 5 (2003): 219-24. doi:10.1016/s13646613(03)00080-9. Goldberg, Adele E., Devin M. Casenhiser and Nitya Sethuraman. “Learning Argument Structure Generalizations.” Cognitive Linguistics 15, no. 3 (2004): 289-316. doi:10.1515/ cogl.2004.011. McFate, Clifton. “Analogical Generalization of Linguistic Constructions.” Proceedings of the Thirtieth AAAI Conference
on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI16): 4309-310. MacWhinney, Brian. The childes project: tools for analyzing talk. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. MacWhinney, Brian. “The CHILDES system.” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 5, no. 1 (February 1996): 5-14. Ninio, Anat. “Pathbreaking verbs in syntactic development and the question of prototypical transitivity.” Journal of Child Language 26, no. 3 (1999): 619-53. doi:10.1017/ s0305000999003931. Ruppenhofer, Josef, Michael Ellsworth, Miriam R. L. Petruck, Christopher R. Johnson and Jan Scheffczyk. FrameNet II: Extended Theory and Practice. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2010. Searle, John R. Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. Williams, Alexander. Arguments in Syntax and Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Identity Politics in 2 States: Contradiction between Tamils as the “Other” and “We are one India” Ibtesaam Moosa Pamela Krayenbuhl Faculty Advisor
2 STATES’ SIMPLE TITLE CONCISELY DESCRIBES THE FILM’S CENTRAL CONFLICT — THE CLASH BETWEEN TWO INDIAN STATES. Released in 2014,
this classic Bollywood modern-day love story of Ananya, a south Indian girl from the state of Tamil Nadu and Krish, a north Indian boy from Punjab. Not only are these states geographically separated, but their cultures, traditions and languages are as well. In India, it is commonly said that marriage is not only between two people, but between two families. Thus, Ananya and Krish decide to seek parental approval before getting married. Although this sounds like a straightforward task, the vastly different cultures make a marital union of individuals from these two states almost a miracle. » 038
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n my paper, I argue that the film’s ending of a “single Indian identity” contradicts the film’s treatment of the Tamils as the lesser “other.” At the same time, the happy ending can potentially be attributed to the rising Indian nationalist political environment during the 2014 national elections. I begin by examining how Bollywood treats Tamilians negatively in other films, and proceed to talk about how their “otherness” comes through in this film. 2 States portrays the Tamils as the “Other” through its dialogues in the narrative, and also with Ananya and her family’s constant compliance with Punjabi traditions and values. As an industry, Bollywood has strong north Indian roots, which may have further contributed to the otherness depicted in its films. This otherness is most prominent in the song “Iski Uski” (His Hers), where Ananya has to integrate into Krish’s identity at the expense of her Tamilian one, to be accepted by the Punjabis. However, there is a contradiction. Despite this construction of otherness, the overall message of the film is of unification and creation of a single Indian identity. The rising Indian nationalistic movement and the search for a single Indian identity during the elections in 2014 may provide a possible explanation for the film’s overall message. TAMILS AS THE “OTHER” 2 States portrays the Tamils as the “other” through its narrative dialogues, casting and song-dance sequence. This seems to be used to socialize Ananya in the Punjabi ways. For context, Tamils are from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Most Tamils are Hindus from the Brahmin caste, which is the highest caste. Tamil Nadu is one of the most literate states, as Tamils tend to value education highly, especially in medicine and engineering. However, their depiction in Bollywood films has been less than stellar. Due to their southern geographical location, most Tamilians, particularly the men, tend to have darker skin tone. The Bollywood’s obsession with whiteness often causes the films to ridicule Tamilians for their dark skin (Gehlawat 67). For example, in Chennai Express, Shah Rukh Khan plays a relatively fair-skinned modern Punjabi man who fights darker-skinned, “savagely” portrayed south Indian men. Moreover, Bollywood films often exaggerate Tamilians’ Hindi and English accent for comic effects. For instance, in Chennai Express, the female lead, Deepika Padukone, plays a Tamilian, but she speaks in a highly exaggerated Malayalam accent, a language from the south Indian state of
Kerala. These elements are also present in 2 States to construct the Tamilian identity as the “Other,” and to allow Ananya to integrate into the Punjabi lifestyle by shedding her Tamilian identity. The film is most explicit in isolating Ananya and her parents’ distinct Tamilian identity through the term Madrasi in the narrative. Madrasi is a derogatory term, commonly used to refer to linguistically and culturally diverse people from south India, not exclusive those from Chennai city, formerly called Madras. The film uses “madrasi” repeatedly to remind viewers of Ananya’s distinct identity, and how this identity poses a threat to the couples’ relationship. For example, during the graduation scene, the first thing Krish’s mom says when she sees Ananya’s parents is “Oh, they are Madrasi?” Krish corrects her and says “Tamilian,” to which she responds, “It’s the same thing.” The use of the term shows Krish’s mom’s ignorance about the ethnically and linguistically diverse south Indian region. Despite the fact that Krish tries to correct her, she continues to refer to them as “madrasi” later in the film. At this point, the use of the term goes beyond simple ignorance, and shows his mother’s disregard in acknowledging and respectfully identifying Ananya’s family as Tamilian. Her continuous use of the term also shows her displeasure with the relationship, and how she does not care enough to correct herself. In contrast, Ananya’s family do not have as clear and short a phrase to express their annoyance with the Punjabis. They are restricted to some facial expressions and dialogues in Tamil, often not audible or subtitled. Their exchanges in Tamil almost become part of the ambient sound, further emphasizing both their difference, and their lack of relevance or assertiveness. Hence, the term “madrasi” is used often to highlight Ananya’s Tamilian family’s otherness, especially because there is no parallel term for Krish’s Punjabi’s family. Ananya is also judged by Krish’s Punjabi family, which both diminishes her identity, and dehumanizes her to some degree. Right before the beginning of the song “Iski Uski,” Ananya is sitting next to elderly Punjabi women. Ananya is visibly uncomfortable and annoyed as the woman tell her “How can a Madrasi be so fair?” When the woman is corrected about the “Madrasi” term use, she exclaims, “It’s the same thing.” She reacts the same as Krish’s mom in disregarding Ananya’s Tamilian identity. She then questions Ananya’s right to be pretty. For this Punjabi woman, the right to be beautiful belongs only to the north Indians, and Ananya does not fit her stereotype of a south Indian. Hence, she is baffled, and tries to diminish Ananya’s
rights as a Tamilian. Later on, the Punjabi woman also says “For Madrasi standard, she is very pretty.” This again is problematic, as it is a back-handed compliment. Although she admits that Ananya is pretty, she also makes it clear that Ananya can never compete with Punjabi girls. Lastly, the woman makes fun of Ananya’s name and mispronounces it as if it is too exotic, further highlighting Ananya’s foreignness. Ananya and her Tamilian roots are a source of amusement for Punjabis, as they judge her from an ethnocentric point of view. Throughout the film, Ananya’s family was more compliant in adapting to the Punjabi needs. For the sake of their daughter, the family was more willing to adhere to Punjabi traditions of gift-giving, even offering a dowry, which is taboo among educated Tamilians. During a lunch in Mumbai, Ananya’s family brings two bags full of gifts for Krish’s mom. Krish’s mom had complained that it was culturally inappropriate that Ananya’s family did not bring a gift for her. In the same scene, an intense fight between Krish’s mom and Ananya’s parents is initiated by Krish’s mom. Even after angrily leaving the hotel, Ananya’s parents come back to sort out the problem, for their daughter’s sake. Despite the effort, Krish’s mom is still rude to them and is unwilling to compromise. Thus, Ananya’s family seems much more willing to sacrifice their Tamilian traditions and values for the Punjabi family’s satisfaction. The Punjabis make no attempt at adjusting to respect Tamilian culture, until the end of the film. This final, quiet compliance links to the patriarchal culture of north Indians, where the bride’s family is supposed to be submissive to the groom. Although south Indians have a relatively more equal power balance in their weddings, Ananya’s parents are willing to comply with Punjabi ways for Ananya’s happiness. As an industry, Bollywood productions represent north Indian customs more so than India as whole. In 2 States, Krish is played by Arjun Kapoor. His mother is played by Amrita Singh. Both are of Punjabi heritage. Even the producer, Karan Johar, has Punjabi heritage. Alia Bhatt was cast as Ananya. Bhatt is of Gujarati origins and had expressed how hard it was for her to speak Tamil, and to accurately portray a Tamilian character. Earlier, there had been news that Tamilian actress Asin Thottumkal, who understands the south Indian culture, would play Ananya. She was also more experienced, with several hit films in the south Indian film industry. Furthermore, the chosen actors belong to some of the most powerful family dynasties in north India: the Kapoors, Bhatts and Khans.
Therefore, even the production team and casting came to the story with a Punjabi focus, due to their respective cultural heritage. Throughout the film, the Tamils are constructed as the “other.” Although the film attempts to break stereotypes about Tamilians, it reinforces several stereotypes through its use of terms like “Madrasi,” and its commentary on beauty. The heavily Punjabi production team is reflected in the Punjabicentric narrative of the film. The cultural clash between Tamilians and Punjabis is also portrayed in a song-dance sequence called “Iski Uski.” The song showcases how Ananya has to integrate completely into the Punjabi culture by shedding her Tamilian identity. Thus, the film constructs the Tamils as the “Other.” ANALYSIS OF “ISKI USKI” – INTEGRATION OF ANANYA INTO THE PUNJABI CULTURE In my analysis of the song-dance sequence, I argue that the song functions to integrate Ananya into Krish’s Punjabi cultural identity, at the cost of her Tamilian identity. This supports the overall argument of Tamils as the “other.” Furthermore, the central clash of the film is directly addressed in this song-dance sequence, and predicts their later split due to Krish’s attempts to impose Punjabi customs over Ananya and her family. This claim can be supported by examining the mise-en-scene, song lyrics, dance styles and the narrative space of this song-dance sequence. Ananya’s distinct Tamilian identity in an overwhelmingly Punjabi atmosphere is established through the mise-en-scene — particularly the costumes and setting — of the song-dance sequence. The costume choices of both leads showcase their different regional identities. Ananya is wearing a konrad saree, an east Tamil Nadu specialty saree for marriages and other occasions, with simple jewelry. On the other hand, Krish is wearing a kurta and patiala pants, a traditional attire for Punjabi men. Ananya is not only differentiated from Krish, but also from other young Punjabi girls in the song-dance sequence, who are all wearing elaborately sequined lehengas or salwar-suit with heavy jewelry. The setting further highlights the overwhelming Punjabi influence and their custom of lavishness. For instance, when Ananya is introduced alone in a long-shot in her distinctively yellow saree surrounded by many people, there is a mansion with fountain behind her, and elaborate flower chandeliers over her. She looks at the exaggerated portraits of the groom and bride as emperor and empress respectively, and is visibly confused and amused. There are
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“The film uses ‘madrasi’ repeatedly to remind viewers of Ananya’s distinct identity, and how this identity poses a threat to the couples’ relationship.” professional bhangra dancers in costumes, large decorative pieces, such as elephants, and even a dance floor. This elaborate set embodies the custom of extravagance and excess in Punjabi culture, which contrasts to the relatively simplistic ways of Tamilians. In Tamilian weddings, women normally wear white- and gold-bordered sarees, rather than the many-colored sarees common to Punjabi weddings. Moreover, Tamilian weddings generally do not serve alcohol, whereas Punjabi weddings are considered incomplete without it. Thus, costumes and setting work together to showcase Ananya’s distinct regional identity, and the immense Punjabi influence around her. The song itself plays an integral role in showcasing Krish’s Punjabi masculinity and his openly vocal attempt at telling Ananya to completely become a part of his Punjabi culture. The lyrics sung by Krish describe a Punjabi man, who only wants “whisky, chicken, pretty faces,” and how he wants her to follow his way or get on the highway. Ananya’s lyrics include telling Krish not to show off his Punjabi heritage and questioning his commitment. Thus, through the Krish’s lyrics, there is a clear attempt to socialize Ananya with the ways of the manly Punjabi man, who is interested in only three things, and wants quiet, submissive compliance from women. The inclusion of lyrics such as “He’s king-like,” “lives carefreely” and “chills out in the farms” seems to socialize Ananya with Punjabi ways. On the contrary, Ananya vocally acknowledges the overwhelming Punjabi influence around her, and questions Krish’s commitment to their relationship. In addition, Ananya sings her part of the song in Punjabi as well. This may show that Ananya does not have the freedom to emote in her own language due to the Punjabi surrounding. Hence, the song, specifically the lyrics, glorify Krish’s Punjabi masculinity. The dance style in the song-dance sequence showcases two critical elements. The regional
difference in dance styles between Ananya’s feminine moves, and Krish’s overtly masculine moves and then Ananya’s eventual adoption of Krish’s dance styles. As Krish starts off the song, he pushes Ananya aside and performs Bhangra, a Punjabi dance form. Krish’s dance moves included several leg movements and “fist clenched” arm and chest movements. Moving on to Ananya, she initially tries to replicate Krish’s dance move but she stops and starts dancing Bharatanatyam alone, a dance originating in Tamil Nadu temples. By the end, she does the same dance-moves as Krish but is never framed as prominently or centrally as Krish is when he does the masculine dance moves. Eventually, as per the song’s lyrics, Krish is able to mold her into a Punjabi dame as she gets on “his highway” and starts to replicate his dance-moves. The song-dance sequence also contains a dowry related narrative sequence, which in addition to showing their contrasting reaction to a debatable social practice. In this narrative sequence, the bride’s side of the family hands a car key to the groom side as dowry and this “happy” moment is “photographed,” i.e., the frame is reduced into the borders of photopaper on a black background. On one level, the woman is equated with the car and in this instance the groom is given the keys to the car so he can put it in the “ignition.” On another level, the rigid boundaries of this photograph represents the obstructiveness and the confinement of the bride and her family to these centuries-old north Indian patriarchal traditions. Due to Ananya’s cultural background, she reacts negatively to this, as dowries are a socially condemned practice in the south. Krish, in contrast, is dismissive and casually accepts dowries as a common element in Punjabi weddings. Again, this contrasting reactions relate to their different cultural and regional backgrounds and upbringings. But the “photographed” aspect adds more, as it may highlight that this moment is not
“This seems to provide an overall message that Indian identity is more important than regional identities — that is, to be Indian is an easy fix to any other cultural clash.”
unique to this wedding. This moment is a common occurrence and will probably also occur in Ananya and Krish’s wedding, as Krish’s calm demeanor hints that it is unlikely that he will stop his family from demanding dowry, as well as it is a common cultural practice for him. This proves true, as later in the film, Ananya’s parents take Krish’s mom and aunt aside, and ask if they have any dowry demands. Although Krish sees this happening, he does not actively try to stop his mother but sarcastically ask “What did you ask for? Fridge? TV?” when his mother and aunt walk back to him. He may be against dowry, but did not take any active measures to stop his family. Hence, despite dowry being culturally uncommon for educated Tamilians, Ananya and her family have to comply with north Indian patriarchal tradition of dowry. There is some social commentary as this happy “photographed” moment is an unfortunate reality for a lot of Indian girls, and Krish’s nonchalant attitude is also common among North Indian men. The song-dance sequence visually depicts the central conflict of cultural and regional differences between Ananya and Krish. Most of the other songs document Ananya and Krish’s falling-in-love, or their separation. Although the cultural clash is present throughout the film, this is the only song-dance sequence where their cultural clash is depicted. In most instances in the narrative, the Krish’s Punjabi mom instigates a fight about culture, which is similar to this song, where the Punjabi forces are isolating and suppressing Ananya’s Tamilian identity. Furthermore, this song-dance sequence predicts their future separation, because Krish attempts to impose his Punjabi cultural identity on Ananya, as he does in this song-dance sequence. Thus, this song-dance sequence is integral, as it performs the function of repressing Ananya’s
Tamilian identity by integrating her into Krish’s cultural identity, as well as indicating their later split due to the same cultural clash. ABRUPT HAPPY ENDING? After an intense fight between the families in Mumbai, Ananya and Krish decide to split up. Ananya overhears Krish pacifying his mother by saying that they can control Ananya after marriage and mold her into a Punjabi dame. Previously, in the song “Iski Uski,” there is a musical depiction of how Ananya has to get on Krish’s and his family’s highway to be accepted by the Punjabis. During this fight, there is a direct assertion through dialogue by Krish and his mother about how they want Ananya to adapt to the Punjabi culture. Ananya is outraged and breaks up with Krish over this. Later on, Krish’s estranged father goes to Tamil Nadu to apologize to Ananya’s parents and to arrange Krish and Ananya’s wedding. This seems abrupt because up until this point, Krish’s father was portrayed as an abuser and drunkard, who takes out his anger on his wife. During the wedding scene, there are cuts between the wedding and Krish in the future in a therapist’s office with his kids. Here, it is indicated that the kids will be known as Indian rather than north or south Indian. This seems to provide an overall message that Indian identity is more important than regional identities — that is, to be Indian is an easy fix to any other cultural clash. This unifying and collectivist, almost abrupt, happy ending contradicts the film’s overall treatment of the Tamils. INDIAN POLITICAL CLIMATE IN 2014 There is evidence that the political environment of India influences the kind of
nurj – vol. 13 films being created in the country. During the Nehruvian socialism era, one of the central conflicts in films was between the rich and the poor, and the poor’s struggle in a corrupt world (Raghavendra 29). Furthermore, during India’s Kargil War with Pakistan, there was a rise in the jingoistic nationalism and antiPakistan sentiment, reflected in war films of the era (Raghavendra 29). Similarly, economic liberalization policies, which led to an influx of foreign products, created a culture of selfcare and metro-sexuality in India (Nitin 61). Thus, films made in Bollywood draw from the political climate of the country. In 2014, India was conducting its national elections. During this election cycle, Bharatiya Janata Party or Indian People’s Party (bjp) was extremely popular. Their nationalist ideology of a single Indian identity resonated with the people (Jaffrelot 152). The previously ruling government, and bjp’s main opponent, Indian National Congress (inc), was known for using dividing tactics to win elections. inc was viewed unfavorably because of corruption scandals, and thus their policies were also viewed negatively (Chadha & Guha 4397). However, bjp focused on creating a single Indian national identity through establishing policies like a uniform civil code, removing regional- and religious-specific laws, and making a common set of rules for every citizen (Habibullah 95). Thus, the political atmosphere centered on the notion of one Indian identity, and one India. The happy ending of a single Indian identity winning over regional differences seems to reconcile the nationalist environment of the country at the time. Initially, the film presents the cultural clash as the most significant
barrier in Krish and Ananya’s relationship. However, in the last 30 minutes of the film, the cultural conflicts abruptly disappear. The film’s message indicates that it is relatively easy to form a single Indian identity, without accounting for difficult cultural differences. The film seems to promote, or at least hint at, the bjp’s message of Indian nationalism and unification, despite the challenges posed to achieving this goal by India’s extremely diverse cultural and ethnic population. This message also resonates with the mood of the majority of Indian audiences, who were tired of the inc’s divisive politics. Although the happy ending may feel unexpected, it coheres with the political norms and emotional needs of the people at the time of its release. CONCLUSION Consistent with Bollywood’s trends, 2 States portrays Tamils as the “other.” The film’s happy ending, featuring a “single Indian identity” contradicts the film’s unfair treatment of the Tamils. The rising Indian nationalist political environment during the 2014 Indian national elections possibly explains the abrupt happy ending. This otherness is portrayed both in the narrative, and in the “Iski Uski” song-dance sequence. However, there is a contradiction in the film. Despite constructing Tamils’ otherness, the overall message is one of unification and the creation of a single Indian identity. The creation of a unified identity is extremely complicated, due to India’s diverse population. The illusion of nation unification is as brittle as the film’s abrupt happy ending.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 2 States. Directed by Abhishek Verma, performances by Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amrita Singh, 2014. Bhavsar, Rahil. “Iski Uski.” BollyNook, http://www. bollynook.com/en/ lyrics/14198/iski-uski/. Accessed 14 October 2017. Chadha, Kalyani. & Guha, Pallavi. 2016. “The Bharatiya Janata Party’s online campaign and citizen involvement in India’s 2014 election.” In International Journal of Communication 10. 4389-4406. Deckha, Nitin. 2007. “From Artist-as-Hero to the Creative Young Man: Bollywood and
the Aestheticization of Indian Masculinity.” In Once Upon a Time in Bollywood: The Global Swing in Hindi Cinema, Gurbir S. Jolly, Zenia B. Wadhwani, and Deborah Barretto, eds., 6169. Toronto Tsar Books. Gehlawat, Ajay. 2016. “The Gori in the story: The shifting dynamics of whiteness in Bollywood.” In Twenty First Century Bollywood. Routledge, New York. Habibullah, Wajahat. 2017. “A Uniform Civil Code for India?” In The Round Table 106(1), 95-96. DOI: 1080/00358533.2016.1272953 Jaffrelot, Christophe. 2015. “The
Modi-centric BJP 2014 election campaign: new techniques and old tactics.” In Contemporary South Asia. 23(2). 151-166. Raghavendra, M. K. “2: Mainstream Hindi Cinema and Brand Bollywood: The Transformation of a Cultural Artifact.” In The Magic of Bollywood: At Home and Abroad. Ed. Roy Anjali Gera. New Delhi, India: SAGE India, 2012, 27-42. Print. T-Series. “Iski Uski FULL Video Song | 2 States | Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt.” YouTube, 16 May 2014, https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=xQMMBANbcdQ
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The Association among Media Exposure, Disruptive Behaviors and Language Ability in Young Children Katie Martini Megan Roberts First Reader
Alexis Lauricella Second Reader
OBJECTIVE. IN RECENT YEARS, ACCESS AND EXPOSURE TO MEDIA, INCLUDING TELEVISION, TABLET DEVICES, PHONES AND RADIO, HAVE GROWN EXPONENTIALLY. Research on the
effects of media on child development has recently become a topic of exploration, but has proven to be complex. Much of the existing research is contradictory. The purpose of this study is to better understand how media impacts disruptive behaviors in young children and to understand how language ability may moderate the relationship between media and disruptive behaviors. Methods. Data were taken from the baseline time-point of a longitudinal language intervention study on 177 young children, 53 percent of whom received a language delay diagnosis. The remaining 47 percent were developing in a typical manner. Data on media use was collected using the Language Environment Analysis (lena) device and software. The Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (itsea) was used to measure disruptive behavior, specifically attention, hyperactivity and aggression. The Preschool Language Scale 4th Edition (pls) was used to determine language ability. Separate regressions were run for each disruptive behavior. Results. Increased daily exposure to media was associated with higher levels of hyperactivity in children regardless of their language ability. Media exposure was not associated with attention skills or with aggressive behavior. However, attention skills were correlated with language ability. 044
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Conclusions. Findings in this study indicate that media exposure is related to hyperactivity, but more research is necessary to determine directionality. In general, more research that clearly defines and accurately measures each disruptive behavior or disorder is necessary in order to understand the complex relationship between disruptive behaviors and media use. » n today’s world, technology and media are difficult to escape. Media, anything from phones, tablets, electronic gaming devices, to television and computers, has become a necessity in our culture. Research has shown that 35 percent of children live in a household where the television is always on in the background. One out of every five children has used a computer before turning two years old (Wartella, Vandewater and Rideout, 2005). This sudden increase in media exposure has led to debates over the effects of media on child development. One such area of child development is exhibitions of disruptive behavior. Disruptive behavior is a term that accounts for behaviors that interrupt or disrupt a child’s day-to-day life. Common examples of disruptive behaviors include: attention deficits, hyperactivity, impulsivity, temper tantrums, aggression and antisocial behavior. Studying these disruptive behaviors is important, as many are symptoms of behavior disorders, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (dsm). Although nearly every child exhibits these behaviors, research cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that it is possible to accurately assess which children are demonstrating disruptive behaviors at a level that qualifies for a diagnosis of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (adhd), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Conduct Disorder as early as preschool-age (Keenan & Wakschlag, 2002; Lahey, Pelham, Loney, Kipp, Ehrhardt, Lee, ... and Massetti, 2004). Because we can accurately identify atypical levels of disruptive behavior in young children, it is important to understand what may impact these behaviors to inform intervention strategies. Some evidence suggests that media use impacts disruptive behaviors, although the current research on the topic is often contradictory.
LITERATURE REVIEW The existing literature on media’s effect on child behavior is inconclusive. Several studies support the idea that media exposure is a predictor of disruptive behaviors, while other studies find it has no effect. Still, other studies suggest that media exposure is a predictor of disruptive behaviors, but often demonstrate that the relationship between media exposure and child behavior is complex and depends on other variables. Disruptive Behaviors and Amount of Media Exposure. Many studies took into consideration the effect that media exposure has on child behavior. One such study found that the number of hours of television a child watches per day at ages one and three was significantly associated with attention problems later in life, specifically at age seven. This suggests that viewing time is also an important factor when examining this relationship (Christakis, Zimmerman, DiGuiseppe & McCarty, 2004). Researchers have also shown that high levels of television viewing in preschool children have been associated with higher ratings of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, as assessed by parents and teachers (Miller, Marks, Miller, Berwid, Kera, Santra & Halperin, 2007). These studies demonstrate a negative relationship between early television viewing and disruptive behaviors. Still, some studies suggest that there is no relationship between media exposure and disruptive behaviors. Stevens & Mulsow (2006) found that in a sample of 2,500 kindergarteners, exposure to television, as reported by parents, was not a significant predictor of adhd symptoms in children later in first grade. These conflicting results suggest that the relationship between child behavior and media exposure is complex. Therefore, many variables should be considered when analyzing this relationship. Media and Language Ability. The effect of media exposure on child language development is another controversial topic with conflicting research findings. Some suggest that it is beneficial to language
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development when parent-child interactions occur during media exposure, in order to supplement the information that the child is receiving from the media (Mendelsohn, Brockmeyer, Dreyer, Berkule-Silberman and Tomopoulos, 2010). Other studies suggest that there is no relationship between language development and media exposure in toddlers between 17 and 24 months (Zimmerman, Christakis & Meltzoff, 2007). Other studies have found that media exposure at six months was associated with lower language and cognitive skills at 14 months (Tomopoulos, Dreyer, Berkule, Fierman, Brockmeyer, & Mendelsohn, 2010). Much like the relationship between disruptive behaviors and media, the relationship between language ability and media is complex and findings are controversial. Disruptive Behaviors and Language Ability. Research has also shown that children with language delay watch more television, and begin to watch television at an earlier age than their typically developing peers (Chonchaiya, & Pruksananonda, 2008). It is important to consider how media may affect children both with language delay as well as those with language difficulties. Research has shown that diagnoses such as language delay and specific language impairment are associated with higher levels of disruptive behavior (Qi & Kaiser, 2004; McCabe, 2005). The aim of this study is to begin to understand how media exposure affects these behaviors in children when considering language ability. Measuring Media. Existing research on the effects of media exposure on disruptive behavior is not yet extensive enough to gather a complete picture. More research that utilizes better strategies to gather a more accurate understanding of the relationship is necessary. Nearly all existing studies about media and child development rely on parent reporting to measure children’s exposure to media. Today, new technology and new ways to engage with media present themselves regularly. Because of this, it has become increasingly difficult to fully capture a child’s exposure to media. Thus, parent reports that have been validated with the use of videotaped observational data are likely inaccurate in representing full media exposure. Recent studies have therefore focused primarily on television, while ignoring other types of media that may very well influence disruptive behavior in children as well. Future studies should incorporate a more comprehensive measure of media in their analyses. The existing literature on the effect of media exposure on disruptive behaviors is not conclusive, but has laid a solid foundation for future research. The first aim of this study
is to better understand how the amount of media exposure relates to disruptive behavior, specifically hyperactivity, attention and aggression. The second aim of this study is to understand whether language ability moderates the relationships between media and hyperactivity, attention and aggression, if these relationships do exist. METHODS Sampling. Existing data on a sample of 177 children, consisting of both typically developing children and children with language delay, was used to investigate the relationship between disruptive behaviors and media exposure. The sample consisted mostly of males. This is likely because language delays are more common in males than in females. The typically developing group of children was matched to the language delay population based on age and gender. Detailed information on the demographics of the participants can be found in Table 1. Measures: itsea: Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment. At baseline, parents filled out the Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (itsea), a parent questionnaire that measures social-emotional development, providing subscale scores that align with symptoms of behavior disorder diagnoses used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5th Edition (dsm-5). Scores on each subscale range from zero to two and represent the average endorsement of items by parents in that subscale. To measure hyperactivity, the “Activity/Impulsivity Subscale” was used. In this subscale, a high score indicates that the child exhibits more hyperactive behaviors, while a low score indicates that the child exhibits less hyperactive behaviors. The subscale consists of six items, such as if the child is restless, and if the child is “wound up,” or silly, when playing. To measure attention, the “Attention Subscale” was used. On this scale, a high score indicates exceptional attention skills, while a low score indicates poor attention skills. The subscale consists of five items, such as measuring if the child pays attention for a long time and if the child can sit for five minutes while the parent reads a story. To measure aggression, the “Aggression/ Defiance Subscale” was used. On this scale, a high score indicates more aggressive behavior while a low score indicates less aggressive behavior. The subscale consists of 12 measurement items, such as if the child is destructive and if the child is disobedient or defiant. lena: Language Environment Analysis. At
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+ Figure 1. The association between media exposure and hyperactivity. Graph depicts generated regression line demonstrating the moderate positive association between media exposure and hyperactivity. Data points correspond to the minimum, average and maximum percent daily media exposure in this dataset.
baseline, children were asked to wear a lena Pro recorder for a full day during the weekend. Parents were instructed to leave the lena in the child’s shirt for the entire day, taking it off when the child went to bed. The lena Pro device records up to 16 hours of natural audio environment and automatically analyzes the data, providing an estimate of the presence of linguistic variables such as the number of adult words and conversational turns as well as an estimate of media clips present in the recording. Data were processed using the lena software. The percentage of media exposure in the child’s day was used as a measure of daily media exposure. pls-4: Preschool Language Scale Fourth Edition. At baseline, clinicians administered the Preschool Language Scale, 4th Edition (pls-4), to measure each child’s language skills. The total language score, reflecting both expressive and receptive language skills, was used as a measure of language ability in this study. Analysis: A regression analysis was run to investigate the association between daily media exposure, as measured by the lena media
output code and disruptive behaviors, as measured by the itsea subscales, including an interaction term to assess whether the association between media exposure and disruptive behaviors differs by language ability. The resulting regression equation is given below: DisruptiveBehavior = β0 + β1Age + β2MediaExposure + β3LanguageAbility + β4MediaExposure × LanguageAbility. Separate regressions were run for each disruptive behavior. RESULTS Results from each regression are given below, including the standardized regression coefficient (β). Hyperactivity. Higher percentages of daily media exposure were significantly associated with more hyperactive behaviors, β = 0.327, t(177) = 3.45, p <0.001, a moderate effect size illustrated in Figure 1. Language ability was not associated with hyperactive behavior, β = 0.143, t(177) =1.466, p = 0.145. There was no interaction between language ability
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+ Figure 2. The association between language ability and attention. Graph depicts generated regression line demonstrating the positive association between language ability and attention. Data points correspond to the minimum, average and maximum PLS Total Language raw scores in this dataset.
and daily media exposure on hyperactivity levels, β = 0.098, t(177) = 1.070, p = 0.286, demonstrating that the association between media exposure and hyperactivity did not vary by language ability. Attention. Daily media exposure was not associated with attention skills, β = -0.091, t(177) = -1.017, p = 0.311. Higher scores on the pls-4, indicating a higher level of language ability, were associated with better attention skills, β = 0.419, t(177) = 4.862, p < 0.001, a moderate effect size illustrated in Figure 2. Aggression. There was no significant association between either daily media exposure, β = 0.164, t(177) = 1.669, p = 0.098, or language ability, β = 0.050, t(177) = 0.339, p = 0.596, with aggressive behaviors. A Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons was run. Both the associations between media exposure and hyperactivity and between language ability and attention remained significant. CONCLUSION Hyperactivity. For children in this sample,
the percentage of daily media exposure was significantly associated with higher levels of hyperactivity. This suggests that children who engage with more media have a higher likelihood of exhibiting hyperactive behaviors. There was no significant interaction between language ability and daily media exposure on hyperactive scores. This suggests that the relationship between daily media exposure and hyperactivity is independent of language ability. Therefore, the relationship holds true for both children who are typically developing, and children with language delay. Attention. There was no association between daily media exposure and attention skills. However, there is an association between language ability and attention skills. The data suggest that children with higher overall language skills are better at focusing on stimuli in their environment for longer. However, the amount of media with which a child engages in a day has no effect on his or her attention skills. Aggression. Neither daily media exposure nor language ability were associated with aggressive behaviors in the sample. This suggests that the amount of media exposure
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“For children in this sample, the percentage of daily media exposure was significantly associated with higher levels of hyperactivity. This suggests that children who engage with more media have a higher likelihood of exhibiting hyperactive behaviors.” does not impact aggressive behaviors. There is no difference in aggressive behaviors in children who interact with media for several hours as compared to children who only minimally interact with media. DISCUSSION Media, Hyperactivity and Attention. For children aged about 30 months, the amount of daily media exposure appears to be associated with hyperactive behaviors, but not with attention skills or aggression. The fact that there is no association between media exposure and attention but there is between media exposure and hyperactivity may shed light on the discrepancy in the literature. It is often difficult to gather information on attention that remains independent from information on hyperactivity and vice versa. Therefore, it is crucial to consider how each study measured these disruptive behaviors. Studies that look at the effect of media on symptoms of adhd as a whole may miss this distinction. Future research must focus on each individual behavior rather than grouping several together. Christakis et al. (2004) found that the number of hours of television-viewing at ages one and three was predictive of attention deficits at age seven. However, to measure attention, they used the hyperactive scale of the Behavior Problems Index (bpi), which includes measuring whether the child is impulsive or restless. These items measure hyperactive behaviors more so than attention, so they lump together information about attention and hyperactivity. This conflation inhibits the items’ ability to conclusively demonstrate an exclusive relationship between television
exposure and attention. In this study the itsea was used to measure hyperactivity and attention. No relationship between attention and media was found. The itsea makes a distinction between attention and hyperactivity, using two separate subscales for each. This allows for distinct analyses of the relationships between media and attention, and media and hyperactivity. Researchers analyzed the relationship between television exposure and several disruptive behaviors. They found significant relationships between amount of television-viewing and externalizing problems, as measured by the cbcl. The cbcl defines the combination of aggression and attention subscales as externalizing problems (Chonchaiya, Sirachairat, Vijakkhana, Wilaisakditipakorn & Pruksananonda, 2015). However, when looking only at the attention subscale — which excludes hyperactive behaviors and therefore can better represent attention exclusively — researchers found no relationship between the attention subscale and television exposure (Chonchaiya et al., 2015). It is important to distinguish between the relationship of media exposure and attention and hyperactivity. This distinction may shed light on underlying reasons for the relationship’s existence. Media, Language Ability and Attention. To begin investigating the causal relationship between media and disruptive behaviors, this study aimed to understand whether language ability plays a role in the underlying cause. There was no significant interaction found between media and language ability on hyperactive behaviors. This finding suggests that the relationship between media exposure and hyperactivity is independent of language
COMMUNICATION SCIENCES AND DISORDERS
“There is also a need for studies that analyze individual disruptive behaviors and provide clear definitions for each disruptive behavior or disorder.” ability. This indicates that the relationship between media exposure and hyperactivity holds true for children, regardless of their language skills. Previous literature has demonstrated that there are relationships between language ability and disruptive behaviors (Qi & Kaiser, 2004; McCabe, 2005). The current study also demonstrates a significant positive relationship between language ability and attention skills. Media and Aggression. No relationship between media exposure and aggression was found. This is inconsistent with previous research that demonstrated a relationship between media exposure and aggression (Verlinden, Tiemeier, Hudziak, Jaddoe, Raat, Guxens, ... & Jansen, 2012). The discrepancy in results could be due to the fact that the data analyzed by Verlinden et al. (2012) was longitudinal, while the data here focuses on children aged about 30 months. It is possible that 30-month-old children may demonstrate aggressive behaviors as a result of early media use later. The discrepancy between the finding in this study and that in Verlinden et al. (2012) may also have to do with the different methods of analyzing media. In this study, all media were considered. In the previous study, only television was considered. Media content and media type may be important in drawing conclusions on the relationship between aggression and media.
analyze individual disruptive behaviors and provide clear definitions for each disruptive behavior or disorder. Research of this nature is limited in that many disruptive behaviors are manifested in similar manners. Therefore, it is difficult to define each behavior independently. Overall, more research is necessary to fully understand how media impacts disruptive behaviors while considering a more holistic view of media, providing clear definitions, accurate measures of each behavior and exploring more reliable ways of measuring media exposure. The current study provides a foundational clarity in the distinction of the relationship between media exposure, hyperactivity and attention. However, future research is necessary to strengthen comprehension of this distinction. The current study also considered language ability’s relationship with media exposure and disruptive behaviors, illustrating that the relationship between hyperactivity and media exposure exists regardless of a child’s language skills. More research on language ability and other factors that may moderate the relationship between disruptive behaviors and media is necessary in order to understand the underlying reason behind these relationships.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
I would like to thank Dr. Megan Roberts, my first reader and mentor, whose guidance was crucial to the completion of this work. I would also like to thank Dr. Alexis Lauricella, my second reader, whose expertise on media was key to the development of this thesis. Dr. Elizabeth Norton’s guidance during the year was essential in ensuring accurate and timely completion of the study activities. I am grateful to Philip Curtis, who provided crucial statistical knowledge and constant guidance throughout the process. Finally, I would like to thank my peer, Bridgett Riverol, whose support and feedback were paramount to this research.
There is a clear need for future research to look more comprehensively at media. The current study only considered the percentage of daily media exposure. Future studies should incorporate media type and content, as well as the amount of media exposure, for a more holistic understanding of media’s impact on behavior. The current study is not longitudinal, so conclusions can only be drawn for children at about 30 months. Future research should be longitudinal to provide a clear picture of effects over time. There is also a need for studies that
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BIBLIOGRAPHY Chonchaiya, Weerasak and Chandhita Pruksananonda. “Television viewing associates with delayed language development.” Acta Paediatrica 97, no. 7 (2008): 977-82. doi:10.1111/j.16512227.2008.00831.x. Chonchaiya, Weerasak, Chalermpol Sirachairat, Nakul Vijakkhana, Tanaporn Wilaisakditipakorn and Chandhita Pruksananonda. “Elevated background TV exposure over time increases behavioural scores of 18-month-old toddlers.” Acta Paediatrica 104, no. 10 (2015): 1039-046. doi:10.1111/ apa.13067. Christakis, Dimitri A., Frederick J. Zimmerman, David L. Digiuseppe and Carolyn A. Mccarty. “Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children.” Pediatrics 113, no. 4 (2004): 708-13. doi:10.1542/ peds.113.4.708. Keenan, Kate and Lauren S. Wakschlag. “Can a Valid Diagnosis of Disruptive Behavior Disorder Be Made in Preschool Children?” American Journal of Psychiatry 159, no. 3 (2002): 351-58. doi:10.1176/ appi.ajp.159.3.351. Mendelsohn, Alan L., Carolyn A. Brockmeyer, Benard P. Dreyer, Arthur H. Fierman, Samantha
B. Berkule-Silberman and Suzy Tomopoulos. “Do verbal interactions with infants during electronic media exposure mitigate adverse impacts on their language development as toddlers?” Infant and Child Development 19, no. 6 (2010): 577-93. doi:10.1002/icd.711. Miller, Carlin J., David J. Marks, Scott R. Miller, Olga G. Berwid, Elizabeth C. Kera, Amita Santra and Jeffery M. Halperin. “Brief Report: Television Viewing and Risk for Attention Problems in Preschool Children.” Journal of Pediatric Psychology 32, no. 4 (2006): 448-52. doi:10.1093/ jpepsy/jsl035. Qi, Cathy Huaqing and Ann P. Kaiser. “Problem Behaviors of Low-Income Children With Language Delays.” Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 47, no. 3 (2004): 595. doi:10.1044/10924388(2004/046). Stevens, T. “There Is No Meaningful Relationship Between Television Exposure and Symptoms of AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Pediatrics 117, no. 3 (2006): 665-72. doi:10.1542/ peds.2005-0863. Tomopoulos, Suzy, Benard P. Dreyer, Samantha Berkule, Arthur H. Fierman, Carolyn
Brockmeyer and Alan L. Mendelsohn. “Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 164, no. 12 (2010). doi:10.1001/ archpediatrics.2010.235. Verlinden, Marina, Henning Tiemeier, James J. Hudziak, Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, Hein Raat, Mònica Guxens, Albert Hofman, Frank C. Verhulst and Pauline W. Jansen. “Television Viewing and Externalizing Problems in Preschool Children.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 166, no. 10 (2012): 919. doi:10.1001/ archpediatrics.2012.653. Zimmerman, Frederick J., Dimitri A. Christakis and Andrew N. Meltzoff. “Associations between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children Under Age 2 Years.” The Journal of Pediatrics 151, no. 4 (2007): 364-68. doi:10.1016/j. jpeds.2007.04.071. Wartella, Ellen A., Elizabeth A. Vandewater and Victoria J. Rideout. “Introduction: Electronic media use in the lives of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.” American Behavioral Scientist 48, no. 5 (2005): 501-04. doi:10.1177/00027642 04271511.
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BY Jenna Lee
Dr. Rapp is a professor in the School of Education and Social Policy and the Department of Psychology at Weinberg. His research focus in language and memory, as well as his background in both the educational and theoretical practice of psychology, suit him to the joint position connecting the two schools. Dr. Rapp also spends a lot of time with undergraduates as the Faculty Chair of Residential College of Community and Cultural Studies (CCS), if not in his labs that allow the students to develop their own research interests within memory and learning.
WHAT DREW YOU INTO THIS SPECIFIC AREA OF PSYCHOLOGY, MEMORY AND KNOWLEDGE REPRESENTATION?
MD: The stuff that got me really excited there were two things. You could characterize the nature of memory in very specific ways using research. I thought that was exciting because memory is such a broad area and there are people doing very specific things saying, ‘I’m studying short-term’ or long-term. The fact that people could study those components was really exciting to me. Because I thought memory is merely like, “okay, do I remember something?” During my graduate school, my advisor was really interested in memory for literature. For example, when people are reading stories, what kind of emotions do they have when they read these stories and how does that influence what they remember from them? What was exciting was, we could show that people created false memories. If I really care about Harry Potter, I am more likely to remember the good things Harry Potter did. They will make inferences and code them into memory. People tend to misremember more good things than bad things. I thought this is probably important for everyday life — what do people remember correctly and what do they misremember? This got me to start thinking about fake news. 053
HAS YOUR PATH DIVERTED SINCE?
DR: A lot of what I know from my past research experience, we still use, but because we’re interested in what happens when people encounter inaccurate information, whether it comes from expository source, like a newspaper or from fiction, or conversation, a list, an app, or a game — that really extends the way I think about it. We still look at some fictional stuff, but now we’re more interested in matters like, when you’re reading Twitter and you see a phrase that says something, how carefully do you evaluate it? If you don’t evaluate it, would do you misremember it to be more in line with what you want to think you saw? HOW DO YOU PLAN TO APPLY YOUR RESEARCH FOR PRACTICAL PURPOSES?
DR: The goal of our research is to see when are people going to make these mistakes and what can we do to strengthen them so that they fall victim to it less. How do we help college students become evaluative? What skills or tools can we give them in classes, to make them more skeptical of what they read, but appropriately skeptical? You don’t want to be skeptical when someone says “the Earth is round.” You need to know when to be skeptical and not and what tools you can apply to be skeptical in the right way — some people call that media literacy. I think that’s one of the areas we work in. How can we enhance people’s media literacy? Literacy is skills, language and understanding and media literacy is how you navigate media to figure out what’s right, what’s not, how you ascertain whether something’s true. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT UNDERGRADUATES IN YOUR LAB?
DR: I always have undergrads in the lab because it’s fun to collaborate with them, and they can get hands-on research. I wish when I was an undergrad, I would’ve done my own research projects. I worked in labs where people said ‘do this’ and I just 054
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“People tend to misremember more good things than bad things. I thought this is probably important for everyday life — what do people remember correctly, and what do they misremember? This got me to start thinking about fake news.”
did it. In my lab, usually people work for a quarter on one of my projects with my graduate students and me. The next year they’ll do their own thing. I help them figure out a project that answers a really interesting question, and we can think about going to a conference, writing a paper, or other activities that could contribute to the literature. One of my students is researching the effects of false balance and false equivalence. Imagine listening to a news report that’s talking about global warming, and it says global warming is a big concern to some people, and to other people, they’re not worried about it. If you interview a scientist who believes global warming is an issue, and another scientist that says it’s not an issue, it sounds like there’s an equivalent number of people who believe global warming is a problem and is not a problem. Reality is, there are way more scientists who believe it is a problem than not. So they set up this false equivalence. NPR does it all the time because they want to show both sides of the argument. She’s studying what happens when one is presented with false equivalence. Does it change what you think scientists really believe in? That’s pretty exciting. No one has studied that yet. 055
Lost Histories: Limits of the Archive Emma Montgomery Tristram Wolff Faculty Advisor
“Memory that yearns to join the centre, a limb remembering the body from which it has been severed, like those bamboo thights of the god.” —Derek Walcott¹ “Our entrance to the past is through memory. And water. It is happening always–repeating always, the repetition becoming a haunting.” —M. NourbeSe Philip² “Of course, the ultimate archive for me, is black memory. Of course.” —Robin Coste Lewis³
AS M.NOURBESE PHILIP’S QUOTE HIGHLIGHTS, OUR “ENTRANCE TO THE PAST” IS A CONSTANT PROCESS WHERE MEMORY OPENS THE DOOR TO EARLIER HISTORIES, BE THEY INDIVIDUAL, FAMILIAL, COLLECTIVE OR CULTURAL.
The relationship she suggests between memory and water both emphasizes the constant, fluid and wave-like patterns through which memory enters individual consciousness and grounds the particular memory she discusses in the ocean it inhabits. For Philip, that entrance is haunting; each wave that crashes ashore brings with it remnants of the last one. The repetition ensures throughout time and across generations, traces of the same memory are brought forth. This process is both metaphorical and literal; the particular memory at stake is Robin Coste Lewis’ “ultimate archive” — black memory. » ¹ Paula Burnett, Derek Walcott: Politics and Poetics, University Press of Florida, 2000. ² M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!, (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press), 2008: 203. ³ Robin Coste Lewis, “Robin Coste Lewis: ‘Black Joy is My Primary Aesthetic,'” Interview by Claire Schwartz, Literary Hub, November 14, 2016.
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ater is a key symbol in theory and literature of black and African Diaspora studies, where a primary aim is expanding and filling gaps in the existing archives. For Paul Gilroy, the slave ship is symbolic of the points connecting the black Atlantic diaspora.⁴ The present and history are linked to the ocean as both a site of pain, rupture and violent dislocation and of connection to an ancestral home. Lewis and Philip are both contemporary poets of the black Diaspora, whose writing calls to submerged histories by engaging with memory and archival silences. Their quotes suggest considering both water and black memory as an “archive,” challenging the prevailing definition of the archive and its limitations. Considerable academic research, across a wide range of disciplines, has explored the concept of the “archive” and its ability to shape our understanding of both the past and future. Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever is one of the dominant theorizations of the concept, and has contributed to widespread recognition and interrogation of the archive. Derrida traces the etymology of the word itself to the Greek root arkhē, meaning both “commencement,” according to nature and history, and “commandment,” according to law.⁵ Commencement refers to the physical or historical sense, which can be captured in the physicality of the archive as an “accumulation of memory on some substrate and in an exterior place.”⁶ Yet, still hidden in the double meaning is the reference to “commandment,” or the rule of law at work in the creation of the archive. This second meaning is traceable to the Greek arkheion, or the residence of “the superior magistrates, the archons, those who commanded.” This reveals the concept’s connections to political power.⁷ For Derrida, political power cannot exist without control of the archive, or even of memory itself.⁸ Memory and water, the poets’ entrances to the past, are thus separate from Derrida’s conception of the archive. Derrida’s archive requires an inscription onto an exterior, while both memory and water are fluid and intangible, in contrast to the supposed reliability and stability of the archive that is represented through the image of the arkheion. The question of the archive for Derrida is where this outside begins. The archive ⁴ Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 16. ⁵ Jacques Derrida, Archive fever: A Freudian impression. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 9. ⁶ Ibid, 15. ⁷ Ibid. ⁸ Ibid, 11.
as a place marks the “institutional passage from the private sphere to the public sphere.”⁹ In this passage, it takes on the nature of commandment, privileging certain information and losing the essence of commencement. What is left is not memory at its origin but a “vestige of origin.”¹⁰ For Derrida, the “archive takes place at the place of originary and structural breakdown of the said memory.”¹¹ He acknowledges that the archive will never be memory as an “alive and internal experience.”¹² Furthermore, no archive would exist at all if it weren’t for the possibility of forgetting or repressing. From this destructive nature emerges the passion or drive for an archive. Archive fever is a result of these tensions between conservation and destruction, with the added consideration that what is preserved through the archive is only ever a trace of what was, inherently linked to exclusionary powers. Derrida’s analysis implicitly maintains a highly Eurocentric conception of what is considered part of the “archive.” The means of printing and recording are linked to cultural institutions at the exclusion of oral transmissions of history or cultural records preserved in non-European languages. It is precisely this exclusionary archive, however, that becomes the basis of the poetic experimentation at the core of this paper. The exclusion is manifested countless times in the archive of the black Atlantic in the Middle Passage, where only traces of the original event are included, often deliberately represented to justify the slave trade and negate the existence and humanity of those captured. It is from these limitations of the archive, illuminated by Derrida’s Archive Fever, that M. NourbeSe Philip and Robin Coste Lewis create poetry that speaks to the silences and gaps in the historical record. In the process of reaching closer to the “origin,” or the original event before its recording, each poet gives voice to what— or who — is silenced in the institutional passage that leaves only a trace on the “exterior,” physical location of the archive. These silences are particularly evident in the history of the 1781 Zong Massacre of some 150 slaves aboard the Dutch ship of that name. This event is the basis of Philip’s 2008 book, Zong!. The existing archive of the massacre justifies the killing in legal terms, without witness or even record of the names ⁹ Robert Vosloo, “Archiving otherwise: some remarks on memory and historical responsibility,” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Oct/Okt 2005, Vol XXXI, No/Nr 2: 379-399. ¹⁰ Ibid. ¹¹ Derrida, Archive Fever, 14. ¹² Ibid.
+ The Slave Ship, J. M. W. Turner
of those thrown overboard. Philip includes a reflective essay section at the end of Zong!, in which she expresses her desire to “tell the story that cannot be told.”¹³ Philip stretches and dismantles the logic of the legal text that constitutes her archive, giving space and voice to the silences that result from erasure and violent censorship. Eventually she breaks language altogether, resulting in utterance, chant and song that “tell” what “cannot be told” by gesturing towards the voices of the drowned slaves. Lewis’ Voyage of the Sable Venus also attempts to tell “the story that can only be told by not telling,” particularly in its title poem, a narrative constructed from titles or descriptions of Western art objects, including the black female figure, tracing its course from 38,000 BCE to the present day. Each poet draws language from an institutional framework, engaging in the conceptual project of appropriation. For Philip, this framework is the law, where the particulars of legal texts contained the buried histories of the drowned bodies, masquerading in language of reason, property and “justice.” For Lewis, this framework is both visual culture, as well as the institutions that serve as gatekeepers of that ¹³ Philip, Zong!, 191. ¹⁴ Barbara Johnson, A World of Difference, JHU Press, 1988. ¹⁵ Marlene Manoff, “Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines,” portal: Libraries and the Academy 4.1 (2004): 18.
culture — both so often positions occupied by the most powerful. The artworks Lewis draws from are filled with great beauty and deep pain, while refusing to turn away from, or cover up, either. Both poets implicitly argue that poetry, as an expressive form, is uniquely suited to confront the archive’s limitations. Language, the mode of communication through which the archive is constructed, is tied to the same components of power and exclusion as the archive. As Barbara Johnson writes, “language is always also an articulation of power relations inscribed by, within or upon the speaker.”¹⁴ Poetry, then, can re-inscribe power relations by using language to subvert the assumed order. Although I have focused on Derrida’s concept of the archive, Michel Foucault proposed a more abstract concept in which the archive is a “system of discursivity” that dictates what can be said, focusing on the relationship between knowledge and power as it relates to the archive.¹⁵ Philip and Lewis each use material from Derrida’s archive, as both the legal case, and the art catalogs printed onto a material substrate. Yet, considering Foucault’s concept of the archive alongside Johnson’s discussion of power relations in language points to a larger ¹⁶ Another poetic strategy for resisting exclusionary language is creolization, which asserts a counter-hegemonic discourse. See Simon Gikandi’s Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature. ¹⁷ Erica Hunt, “Notes for an Oppositional Poetics,” The politics of poetic form: Poetry and public policy (1990): 197-212. ¹⁸ Ibid.
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“Historians such as Dominick LaCapara have suggested that the archive is only a substitute for a reality of the past that is already lost for the historian.” topic: that modes of discourse as archives are necessarily exclusionary. Though this paper does not focus specifically on language itself, as do many pieces of postcolonial and Caribbean poetry, it is worth calling attention to the dynamics of colonizing language at play in the African Diaspora’s literature, and in Philip’s and Lewis’ works in particular.¹⁶ In the rupture of the supposed order of the archive, each poet also invokes resistance to linguistic domination. The relationship to the archive that I trace in this paper is a piece of a larger project of “oppositional” poetics, a term Erica Hunt introduced in 1990. For Hunt, dominant modes of discourse bind and organize the oppressed and marginalized through “convention” and “label.”¹⁷ The limiting and silencing language of the archive is part of this dominant mode and those oppressed by the discourse are bearers of its containing codes.¹⁸ Both Philip and Lewis allow this tension to play out with innovative language that is both self-consciously restraining and painfully liberating. Both poets break with language and order, the restraining systems of the archive that silence the stories they wish to tell. Although Lewis and Philip use the language of the archive as a linguistic store for their poetry, the resulting works do not attempt to fill in, or fictionalize the record. Importantly, Derrida recognizes that the archive is always ¹⁹ Vosloo, “Archiving Otherwise.” ²⁰ Manoff, “Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines,” 14. ²¹ Ibid. ²² Ibid. ²³ Ibid. ²⁴ Gilroy, The Black Atlantic.
open to the possibilities of reinterpretation and reconfiguration. This suggests a futuredirected outlook, in addition to recalling the past. A vision of equality for all would include a more inclusive and complete archive, something historians and scholars of postcolonial and gender studies, among others, work towards. Despite its limitations, the archive does challenge oblivion and death. The work of a historian compiling the archive is also a work of mourning.¹⁹ Historians such as Dominick LaCapara have suggested that the archive is only a substitute for a reality of the past that is already lost for the historian.²⁰ It is only ever an attempted reconstruction, always assembled to point a certain way.²¹ By acknowledging that the archive is never raw, the silences and exclusions come to the forefront of its research. Indeed, historians “read for what is not there,” expanding our understanding of events by exploring precisely what was left out of their telling.²² Although Derrida maintains that the archive begins at memory’s destruction, he describes it as always open. Derrida argues that the gaps in the record are often filled by scholars. The historian, trained to read for these gaps, attempts to fill them in, completing the archive. How, then, do the poet and the historian differ? I propose that Philip and Lewis use poetry as a gesture towards the memory that is “already lost to the historian.”²³ The poet does not fill in the gaps with fiction or imagined memory, but rather looks beyond the archival tendency, toward order and meaning. Zong! and Voyage of the Sable Venus serve as exemplars of powerful “oppositional” poetics within the literature of the black Atlantic Diaspora, where disorder is a tactic that calls attention to the limitations of the concept of the archive, as well as to one that explores more complex, and often paradoxical forces of race, gender and diaspora. Each poet claims that language excludes, silences and buries. In both Philip’s Zong! and Lewis’ Voyage of the Sable Venus, poetic interventions are staged against a historical archive that was controlled by dominant powers. Poetic appropriation of the archival materials and formal constraints are employed to demonstrate the limits of the archive, and reach toward the memory that is lost. Writing backward from the contemporary moment, both poets assert a present and a future, against a past that negates the particular memory to which each work gives life through innovative poetic form. ²⁵ Ibid, 91. ²⁶ Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley, “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic-Queer imaginings of the middle passage,” GLQ-A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN AND GAY STUDIES 14.2-3 (2008): 191-215. ²⁷ Ibid, 194. ²⁸ Ibid, 199.
Beyond Philip’s and Lewis’ particular relationships to the concept of the archive, both poets write within a black diaspora tradition that is heavily influenced by collective history, fluidity and the rupture of oppressive systems of discourse. This tradition can be connected to Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic, where the ocean is a site of origin, in terms of the forceful dislocation that created a diaspora and the subsequent modernism that resulted from slave labor.²⁴ Without negating the developments and history of West African communities prior to the Atlantic slave trade, the ocean can be considered the point from which an archive emerged. This origin upheld the trade’s legality, and silenced the voices of captives. Although Gilroy acknowledges the Atlantic as an origin, the metaphor is not developed beyond its usefulness in integrating space and the “diaspora temporality and historicity, memory and narrativity” of black modernity.²⁵ Gilroy ultimately glosses over the significance of the ocean itself, using its image only as a metaphor for both the Middle Passage, and the concept of a black Atlantic diaspora. In response to Gilroy, Natasha Omise’eke Tinsley echoes Philip, proposing the ocean as a concrete historical presence.²⁶ For
Tinsley, as for Philip, the ocean waters are an archive to be plumbed, both materially and physically. The oceans hold the remnants and bodies from the Middle passage, and “convey the drowned, disremembered, ebbing and flowing histories of violence and healing in the African diaspora.”²⁷ For Tinsley, Gilroy’s black Atlantic has always been the queer Atlantic, where queer is a “praxis of resistance and a marking of disruption to the violence of normative order.”²⁸ This mix of violence and order is perhaps best exemplified in the concept of the archive. Both the Gregson vs. Gilbert case, and the descriptions of Western art violently control the black body through language. In Tinsley’s queer Atlantic, “erotic resistance” is one way that “fluid black bodies refused to accept that the liquidation of their social selves—the colonization of oceanic and body waters—meant the liquidation of their sentient selves.”²⁹ The “erotic resistance” begins to elucidate the relationship between ocean and body, and body and memory. If queer resistance marks a disruption to order aboard slave ships in the Middle Passage, the fundamentally queer project of reclaiming the black body continues, becoming a part of the resistance to archival exclusion.³⁰ In Zong! and Voyage, there is an intrinsic relationship between water and the body. In Zong!, the ocean holds the drowned bodies that contain the memory absent from the archive. Voyage evokes the journey across the Middle Passage through its title, while its content explicitly reclaims the body. In Hunt’s “oppositional poetics,” Johnson’s linguistic relations become a means of opposition. Yet, the poet is still the bearer of codes that inscribe power to contain the speaker. Each poet is constantly in dialogue with the language of the archive, both in terms of what it means or states logically—and for Philip, legally— as well as with what is not said. The poetic appropriation of the language of the archive becomes a tool by which both poets attempt to reclaim the body and memory. Philip accomplishes this through language that breaks with our understanding of syntax and thresholds of significance, in which syllables become utterances, and broken words become chant and song. For Lewis, it is the images and words describing the body itself that are re-appropriated to impart memory and subjectivity in descriptions that silenced and restrained. Any separation of body from memory is
²⁸ Ibid, 199. ²⁹ Ibid. ³⁰ Michelle Wright, personal communication, April 6th, 2017. ³¹ Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” Diacritics, vol. 17, no. 2, 1987, 67.
³² Ibid. ³³ Ibid. ³⁴ Ibid. ³⁵ Ibid. ³⁶ Burnett, Derek Walcott: politics and poetics.
“The separation appears in the black Atlantic diaspora, where gaping silences in the archive leave only traces and echoes of real people and events.” BEYOND THE ARCHIVE: “FLESH MEMORY” AS A FORM OF RESISTANCE
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+ Illustration by Isaac Cruikshank
a part of the “order” of the “New World,” as marked by the Middle Passage. This order was projected and maintained through institutions, including the law and museums. In her notable essay, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: an American Grammar Book,” Hortense Spillers identifies implications of the captive condition. For African and indigenous peoples, this so called “New World” order represents “a scene of actual mutilation, dismemberment, and exile.”³¹ The institutions that created the archive from which Philip and Lewis write justified the “theft of the body,” and reduced bodies to commodities. Derek Walcott’s opening quote connects memory back to the body. The splitting of the “captive body from motive, will and active desire” parallels a phantom limb.³² For Spillers, the Middle Passage’s crimes were against the flesh. She takes “flesh” as a primary narrative, noting its “seared, divided, ripped-apartness, riveted to the ship’s hold, fallen, or ‘escaped’ overboard.”³³ The drowning of captives aboard the Zong, and the images of mutilated, bound and fractured
³⁷ Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” 67. ³⁸ “In the Matter of Memory,” Fertile Ground: Memories & Visions, eds. Kalamu ya Salaam & Kysha N. Brown, Runngate Press, New Orleans.
bodies in Voyage constitute these crimes against the flesh, creating what Spillers deems “a kind of hieroglyphics of the flesh” whose disconnection is masked by skin color.³⁴ Philip’s and Lewis’ return to the original damage emphasizes the intergenerational longevity of this “hieroglyphics,” as well as its connection to memory. Spillers suggests that this “marking and branding actually ‘transfers’ from generation to another,” thereby relating the individual body back to the diaspora collective.³⁵ Walcott’s opening quote uses the body metaphorically to address the disconnected, rootless sense of the Caribbean people, as “memory that yearns to join the center.”³⁶ The separation appears in the black Atlantic diaspora, where gaping silences in the archive leave only traces and echoes of real people and events. However, by considering the metaphor as literal, the body is also the location of memory’s origin, before Derrida’s “trace” is recorded onto an archive. When the so-called “order” of the New World imposed a violent separation of flesh from active “will
³⁹ Laura Trantham Smith, “From rupture to remembering: flesh memory and the embodied experimentalism of Akilah Oliver,” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the US 35, no. 2 (2010): 104.
“Flesh memory emphasizes the language and experience held in the flesh, activated in the body, and transmitted over generations.” and desire,” an attempt was made to sever memory from the body.³⁷ In Walcott’s image of phantom limb, the limb itself contains memory of a center, of a body to which it longs to be connected. The same can be applied across generations, where the body contains echoes of its ancestors and history. Despite the crimes enacted against “flesh,” Philip emphasizes that, “When the African came to the New World, she brought with her nothing but her body, and all the memory and history which that body could contain.”³⁸ Both Philip and Lewis reach for the memory held in the body—not by creating counter-archives, or even attempting to inject narrative into the archival gaps. Instead, each poet engages with its material and language, while turning away from its logic to express this memory through the bodily form in which it traveled across the Atlantic. This reconnection fits poet Akilah Oliver’s definition of “flesh memory”: flesh memory 1. a text, a language, a mythology, a truth, a reality, an invented as well as literal translation of everything that we’ve ever experienced or known, whether we know it directly or through some type of genetic memory, osmosis, or environment. 2. the body’s truths and realities. 3. the multiplicity of language and realities that the flesh holds. 4. the language activated in the body’s memory.³⁹
Flesh memory emphasizes the language and experience held in the flesh, activated in the body and transmitted over generations. By locating this language within the flesh, it is not merely a “trace,” recorded in the archive. Flesh memory recognizes the body as the site of “historical knowledge,” focusing the act of recording on the body/flesh and not in the archive.⁴⁰ For writers of the black ⁴⁰ Ibid, 109. ⁴¹ Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” 68. ⁴² Ibid.
diaspora, flesh memory also asserts itself against the capture of African bodies as a crime against flesh. While the slave trade reduced bodies to commodities, flesh memory can be seen as affirming wholeness and humanity. Although the term has not been explored extensively beyond Oliver’s own poetry, it provides a useful frame through which to view Philip’s and Lewis’ works, in their treatment of history that challenges the broken archive. Returning once more to Philip’s discussion of water as entrance to the past, the search for bodies lost to the ocean represents a struggle to create flesh memory. For Lewis, thousands of years of images form this “language, a mythology, a truth” of everything known through the representations of the black female body, particularly in the tendency to fall into certain limiting tropes. Lewis’ title alludes to a trope of the “Sable Venus” as well as to Sarah Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus” whose body, specifically her large buttocks, was exhibited in 19th century Europe. The exhibitionism indicates ways by which the European imagination constructed the black female figure and enacted both physical and symbolic acts of violence. The display of captive flesh severed the relation of human personality to the body’s anatomical features, and stripped cultural institutions of an ethical dimension.⁴¹ In Voyage, Lewis works within the constraints of this visual culture that marked a “total objectification,” adopting scientific terms for viewing the black female body as a “living laboratory.”⁴² Even after the 19th century and “liberation,” Spillers stresses that: “the ruling episteme that releases the dynamics of naming and valuation, remains grounded in the originating metaphors of captivity and mutilation so that it is as if neither time nor history, nor historiography and its topics, shows movement, as the ⁴³ Ibid. ⁴⁴ Ibid, 79.
nurj – vol. 13 human subject is “murdered” over and over again by the passions of a bloodless and anonymous anarchism, showing itself in endless disguise” ⁴³
Lewis’ Voyage illuminates this endless disguise, which also reverberates through Philip’s Zong! as the sense of order, and law that “underwrites enslavement” is broken apart. Liberation, for Spillers, can emerge from either the violent rupture of the very laws of behavior that make “such syntax possible,” or from the introduction of a “new semantic field” more appropriate to the historic movement. The behavior that makes such syntax possible is upheld by various institutions, and can be located in the archives left behind. The “order” of the archive “murders” the human subject over and over, by upholding the representations and problematic logic that “separates” flesh from active will and memory. Philip and Lewis engage in this rupture of language and order, creating a semantic field that resists the exclusionary syntax of the archive. This paper explores the particulars of this strategy of resistance by a close examination of Zong! and Voyage of the Sable Venus, situating both within a particular moment in contemporary poetry that marks a tension between race, politics and the experimental
movements associated with the avant-garde. This first section of this paper will explore how M. NourbeSe Philip draws from the archive of the Zong Massacre and imposes constraints on her use of the text, in order to create a formally innovative work that calls attention to silences and limitations, while giving voice to the drowned bodies. The next section will explore Robin Coste Lewis’ Voyage of The Sable Venus, where Lewis similarly imposes rules upon herself to create a narrative poem from text that has catalogued the black body in Western art over generations. In comparing the works, I hope to bring attention to the rich body of poetic work produced in recent years by black women that explores themes of history and identity formation while using experimental poetic strategies. Finally, I will conclude with a coda that traces the development of this research project from its initial stages, where it began with Harryette Mullen’s Muse and Drudge. This concluding section will situate Zong! and Voyage of the Sable Venus within a growing tradition of daring, innovative and lengthy works that challenge both our contemporary understanding of records of historical events as well as the often limiting constraints set upon poets of color by categorization and critical reception.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Burnett, Paula. Derek Walcott: politics and poetics. University Press of Florida, 2000. Derrida, Jacques. Archive fever: A Freudian impression. University of Chicago Press, 1996. Gikandi, Simon. Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature. (Cornell University Press.) 1992. Gilroy, Paul. The black Atlantic: Modernity and double consciousness. Harvard University Press, 1993. Hunt, Erica. “Notes for an Oppositional Poetics.” The politics of poetic form: Poetry and public policy (1990): 197-212. “In the Matter of Memory,” Fertile Ground: Memories & Visions, eds. Kalamu ya Salaam & Kysha N. Brown, Runngate Press, New Orleans. 1996.
Johnson, Barbara. A world of difference. JHU Press.1988. Lewis, Robin Coste.“Robin Coste Lewis: ‘Black Joy is My Primary Aesthetic.” Interview by Claire Schwartz. Literary Hub. November 14, 2016. Lewis, Robin Coste. “Voyage of the Sable Venus: And Other Poems.” New York: Alfred A. Knopf (2015). Manoff, Marlene. “Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 4.1 (2004): 9-25. Mullen, Harryette. Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge. Graywolf Press, 2006. Philip, Marlene Nourbese and Setaey Adamu Boateng. 2011. Zong! Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Smith, Laura Trantham. “From rupture to
remembering: flesh memory and the embodied experimentalism of Akilah Oliver.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the US 35, no. 2 (2010): 103-120. Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics, vol. 17, no. 2, 1987, pp. 65–81. Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha. “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic-Queer imaginings of the middle passage.” GLQ-A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN AND GAY STUDIES 14.2-3 (2008): 191-215. Vosloo, Robert. “Archiving otherwise: some remarks on memory and historical responsibility.” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae. Oct/ Okt 2005. Vol XXXI. No/Nr 2: 379-399.
Students Prefer Courses and Professors with Better Evaluations Alex Gordon Mark Witte Faculty Advisor
MANY COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES USE COURSE EVALUATION SYSTEMS THROUGH WHICH STUDENTS EVALUATE A COURSE WHILE OR AFTER ATTENDING IT.
The results of these evaluations are often provided to students in order to assist them in class selection. I use data from Northwestern University to determine the yearto-year elasticity of enrollment in professor-class pairings to a variety of student enrollment factors. This allows me to identify both the properties of class evaluations which predict, and perhaps motivate, student enrollment, and how class evaluation changes are intercorrelated. I make four conclusions: that changes in all course evaluation variables are highly positively correlated; increases in enrollment are highly predicted by improvements in reported course quality; reductions in intellectual challenge predict significant increases in enrollment for lower-level classes; and that changes in reported student time investment are not significant predictors of change in enrollment. Âť 064
nurj – vol. 13 TERMINOLOGY By “course,” I mean a topic which has a departmental number, and is offered as a class. For example, econ 311: Macroeconomics is a course. By “class,” I mean a specific instance of a particular course, taught by the same professor, during a quarter. Professor Adam Smith teaching econ 311: Macroeconomics during the Fall quarter of 2011 is a class. Students enroll in classes, not courses. Students evaluate classes, not courses. However, because the class will never be repeated in precisely the same way, the assumption is that the ctec evaluations shed light on properties of the course, professor, or professor/course pairing. Because of this paper’s publication in the Northwestern Undergraduate Research Journal, I have achieved some brevity by assuming the reader is familiar with some Northwesternspecific terminology and the layout of the ctec course evaluation interface. MODEL I analyze how enrollment shifts in response to evaluation shifts when course, professor and quarter are all held constant. I exploit the fact that many courses are frequently taught by the same professor in the same quarter. I focus on sets of three classes, where the years vary, but the professor, quarter and course are held constant. By holding all these variables constant, I can construct a model which yields robust results: Et /Et-1 = a1C1,t-1/C1,t-2 + ... + anCn,t-1/Cn,t-2 + i.year + i.quarter Where E is enrollment, Cn is the mean response for a given category of evaluation, and i.year and i.quarter represent fixed effects for year and quarter respectively. Each year is treated as a distinct time period. The significant problem with this model is that, by focusing on classes which exist in repetitive triplets, I necessarily skew and shrink the sample. Shrinking the sample is not a significant problem because so many classes are offered by the university. Thus, while the sample is significantly reduced, this does not prevent the discovery of significant correlations. In fact, most of the results to which I later refer as significant have a p-value well below 0.01. As for skewing the sample, this is a potential problem both regrettable and unavoidable. One especially difficult limitation in this type of analysis is survivorship bias. My results apply to classes that are repeated, and not to those that are canceled due to either unpopularity or the expectation of low enrollment. In theory, this survivorship bias would manifest
“I propose ways that students may perceive these potential correlations. If there were neither descriptive nor perceived descriptive values to any changes in course evaluations, they would not predict enrollment because students would not act in response to them.” itself in the form of a significant positive constant change in enrollment. However, no such significant positive constant change in enrollment is found in the regressions. Thus, the largest potentially sample-skewing phenomenon is not so strong as to invalidate the results by creating illusory trends. PREDICTIVE AND DESCRIPTIVE VALUE OF CLASS EVALUATIONS Throughout this paper, I allude to the “actual properties” of a class. This idea is best explained through an example. The average amount of time that students spend on a class outside of lecture and lab hours is a quantifiable, objective fact. However, there is no reason that this number must be close to the average amount of time that students report spending on that class outside of lecture and lab hours: students might have psychological incentives to over-report or under-report the number of hours they spend on the course. They may also be very poor estimators of the number of hours they spend on the course, and the students who fill out the course evaluation
+ Table 1. Outcome of Initial Regression for Enrollment-Shift Predictive Value of Course Evaluation Shifts
+ Graph 1. Correlations Between Evaluation Criteria Shifts
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“The significant correlation between enrollment shifts and predictive shifts in Quality shows that course evaluations measure something which is genuinely important to students.”
might represent a highly skewed sample of all students who take the class. Class evaluations might be inaccurate, and changes in class evaluations may not reflect actual changes in the student experience of a class. Until a study that proves otherwise is produced for each of the course evaluation properties engaged in this paper, I focus on changes in class evaluations as predictive rather than descriptive. One must avoid excessive speculation as to any potential correlation between changes in class evaluations, and changes in actual properties that they are meant to reflect. However, when backed by data, I propose ways that students may perceive these potential correlations. If there were neither descriptive nor perceived descriptive values to any changes in course evaluations, they would not predict enrollment because students would not act in response to them. CORRELATIONS BETWEEN COURSE EVALUATION SHIFTS Before studying the potential predictive value of shifts in course evaluation properties for shifts in enrollment, I examine the relationships between simultaneous shifts in course evaluation properties. I conduct 30 regressions by regressing each shift in evaluation means against each other, with year and quarter as control variables. Each of my regressions thus takes this form: Cx,t /Cx,t-1 = a0 + a1Cy,t/Cy,t-1 + i.year + i.quarter Where Cx,t is the mean response for one evaluative category in time t and Cy,t is the mean response for another evaluative category in time t. The major finding is that, with control variables, changes in every evaluation summary variable is positively correlated with changes in every other evaluation summary
variable with a significance at the 99 percent level. The correlation levels are shown in Table 1 and plotted in Graph 1. As the reader can observe, whenever one element of course evaluation increases, every other element of the course evaluation significantly increases as well. We can make some inferences as to why this is, which would be useful in seeking to understand how students respond to changes in these evaluation figures. One possibility is that changes in each of these factors represent highly similar, or highly related changes in the actual properties of the class. For example, it may be very unlikely that students learn more without the quality of instruction increasing, or that the time that students spend on the class increases without the class also becoming more intellectually challenging. This is the most intuitive result of these regressions, as it rests on the reasonable assumption that a more challenging course, requiring more time from students, might also teach them more, better command their interest and be looked upon fondly by the students. However, another possibility is that students treat each course evaluation question as an opportunity to remark upon not only the properties of the class specific to that question, but the overall qualities of the course. Put differently, a student might be so happy with a class that she gives it high scores for every category, even if it was not the most intellectually challenging or timedemanding class she has taken. This might also be because students are aware that professors can benefit from good teaching evaluations, and so they might wish to give professors overall “high marks” or “low marks.” It should also be noted that shifts in Time are not highly correlated with shifts in any other variable. This includes shifts which
one might reasonably expect to be correlated with shifts in the amount of time occupied by the course, including Challenge and Learning. This may indicate that changes in the Time variable correlate poorly with changes in the actual properties of the class. PREDICTIVITY OF EVALUATION SHIFTS I regress changes in enrollment against potentially predictive shifts in course evaluations. This is the core of the paper, as it identifies which course evaluation criteria are actually critical in affecting or predicting student decision-making. The results are shown in Table 2. According to the regression, when simultaneously analyzing all shifts in evaluation criteria, only a change in Quality is statistically meaningful in predicting changes in enrollment. This should not be confused with a result indicating that other shifts are statistically insignificant in their capacity to predict shifts in enrollment. Rather, this result shows that other shifts are insignificant if they are not accompanied by the corresponding increase in Quality, calculated in Table 1. Changes in Quality are the key predictors â€” and potentially the key drivers â€” of student enrollment. Changes in other evaluation criteria are important to the extent that they drive changes in Quality. This might be considered an intuitive consequence of having a course evaluation criterion simply to describe the quality of the course. Quality is the value that the course possesses to those who might potentially take it. Other evaluation criteria are useful only if different individuals experience quality differently enough that the single measure is insufficient for enough people. The effectiveness of Quality as a predictor, well above the predictive quality of other variables, is an indication that students who use course evaluations to consider taking a course generally agree on what constitutes the quality of a course. However, this does not indicate that the entire student body has a shared concept of course quality. Instead, it indicates that if a student is considering taking a class and determining whether or not a certain class will be of a high quality, she will have a similar conception of quality as others who are considering the class. The average student considering enrollment in Cost/Benefit Analysis for Banking and Investing may have a very different idea of course quality from the average student who is considering enrollment in Post-Decolonization Poetics and its Discontents. Quality is in the eye of the beholder. But for the average class, beholders
+ Table 2. Regression of Changes in Enrollment Against Predictive Evaluation Changes
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+ Graph 2. Elasticity of Enrollment to Predictive Challenge Shifts Among Class Level Subgroups
tend to agree on what quality means, and they take it seriously. This affirms a core assumption of those who implement course evaluations, which is that class quality is a measurable value which predicts and describes the average student's experience. Otherwise, there would be no value in asking students whether they were satisfied with the class because the answer would not provide insight to the instructor or the course. The significant correlation between enrollment shifts and predictive shifts in Quality shows that course evaluations measure something which is genuinely important to students. PREDICTIVE VALUE OF INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGE SHIFTS AND UPPER-LEVEL CLASS EFFECTS Before embarking on this project, I was assured by numerous students and faculty that there would likely be a negative correlation between changes in intellectual challenge and changes in enrollment, implying that students attempt to avoid enrolling in classes that would be difficult. However, as can be seen above, the data
does not fulfill those assurances; intellectual challenge shifts do not significantly predict enrollment shifts for the average class. I use this as an opportunity to examine how these elasticities vary based on the level of the class described. I run these regressions with an interaction dummy term for whether or not the course is of the 300 level. The results are shown in Table 3. One can observe two significant findings. The first is that enrollment is highly elastic to shifts in the intellectual difficulty of the course in the negative direction. However, some effect exists that significantly reduces this the elasticity for 300-level classes, such that changes in the reported intellectual difficulty of 300-level classes do not predict changes in enrollment. Graph 2 plots the elasticity of enrollment to Challenge based on class level, in order to further display the fact that 300-level classes exhibit a much less significant level of elasticity of enrollmentto-intellectual challenge. To speak plainly, students enroll in less difficult classes when enrolling in basic coursework. However, this pattern does not persist in more advanced coursework. As an
+ Graph 3. Shifts in Enrollment and Predictive Shifts in Students Reporting 0-7 Hours of Time Invested
economist, it is logical that students seek to avoid difficulty, including challenging courses. We can speculate as to why the aversion to intellectual challenge is dependent on class level. One notion is that students derive value from difficulty in 300-level classes which they do not from 100- and 200-level classes. This value could be associated with signaling theory. Students obtain a strong and valuable signal from succeeding in a difficult course relevant to their major, while even the most difficult low-level course provides very little signaling value for students. Another option is that the intellectual difficulty associated with 100- and 200-level classes is different in type from the intellectual difficulty associated with 300-level classes; for example, 100- and 200-level classes might mainly assess students through many short essays and tests, while 300-level classes assess students through fewer, but more difficult essays and tests. Students might prefer the latter type of intellectual challenge to the former. Students might also be content with difficult coursework that relates to their major, but struggle with difficult coursework in other fields; thus a student majoring in
mathematics taking 300-level classes to complete the requirements for the major, would accede to a 300-level math class, but avoid a difficult 200-level history class. This result appears to vindicate, at least in part, those who have predicted course evaluations enable students to enroll in easier courses. At the very least, it implies that students attempt to enroll in easier courses when selecting lower-level coursework. One might imagine that access to online course evaluations facilitates this goal. However, I do not have a data set for an institution without a course evaluation system. Therefore, I will avoid claiming to know with any certainty how students would choose classes at such an institution. Perhaps students mainly choose classes based on word-of-mouth about intellectual challenge, and course evaluations serve as a predictive, rather than a determinative role in enrollment. PREDICTIVE ELASTICITY OF TIME A particularly interesting and puzzling finding is that changes in time are simply not predictive of changes in enrollment. If anything, a change in Time is a positive predictor of changes in
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+ Table 3. Regression of Changes in Enrollment With 300-Level Interaction Effects
enrollment both by itself and because it is associated with increases in Quality. Given that students have limited time and many potential opportunities, one might expect students to avoid classes that require a large time investment. We can speculate some reasons as to why this is not the case. One potential explanation is that students do care about the time invested in coursework, but only to the extent that it makes the class difficult, so that regressions make it appear that students care solely about difficulty. However, this assumes that changes in difficulty are closely tied to changes in time. This is not the case, as shown in Table 1 and Graph 1. Changes in difficulty are as associated with changes in time as with changes in any other factor are associated with changes in time. Another possible explanation is that students use the time data in making enrollment decisions, but use some summary of the data other than the average. The fact that students are not provided with the average of reported time investments might encourage them to use alternative measurements. Here, I create a new variable that represents the percentage of students who responded in either of the two lowest time categories. I regress changes in enrollment against changes in the level of students who report spending zero to seven hours on the class every week. Changes in enrollment also do not correlate with potentially predictive changes in that percentage, as is shown in Graph 3 and Table 4, both of which depict the corresponding regression. Again, only Quality remains as a significant predictor of enrollment shifts. An alternative explanation is that students do not perceive a strong correlation between the times reported by other students and the time that they may personally invest in the class. In other words, while students actually place value on having a class that occupies less of their time, they do not believe that the course evaluation acts as an effective means of predicting time investment. Students may have reason to believe this due to the relatively low levels of correlation between Time evaluation shifts and shifts in any other evaluation. This may reflect that the Time evaluation does not significantly correlate with the actual properties of the class. As discussed above, shifts in Time may serve as such a weak signal of actual changes in the class that students ignore the variable altogether and focus instead on alternative measures of class difficulty such as Challenge. Yet another reason that students seemingly disregard the Time variable might be found in the literature related to the cognitive engagement of data. Tal and Wansink found that the inclusion of graphs increased the
persuasive power of claims, even when the graphs did not communicate or imply additional information (Tal & Wansink, 2014). In fact, the persuasive power of graphs was attributed to their perception as scientific, granting a scientific imprimatur to the corresponding claims. Thus, we might develop a list of potential reasons why the Time variable operates differently from other variables. All of these reasons are due solely to the way the variable is treated in this survey or displayed to students: 1.
Students are asked to answer the Time question by selecting an interval of hours, rather than a relative rating between 1 and 6. 2. Time is placed at the end of the survey results page. 3. The mean response is not provided for Time. Students choose not to calculate or use it. 4. A bar graph is not provided for Time, making the statistic seem less trustworthy. Analyzing the relative impact of each of these factors is not possible at this time, with the available data. However, administrative actions to alter the display of course evaluation data to students could address these concerns, either by standardizing the display of this variable or, better yet, by creating experiments through different display formats for different students. For this reason, I do not believe that student apathy toward the Time variable is a highly generalizable result, applying to other institutions. However, these findings show that student aversion to time-costly classes is not significant in all instances. CONCLUSIONS My results are consistent with the possibility that students never look at course evaluation surveys. Rather, they respond to class reputations reflected by the course evaluations. However, my findings are consistent with the possibility that students heavily incorporate course evaluation surveys into the course selection process, and consistent with any intermediate use of the course evaluation in selecting courses. All of these potential student behavior patterns would create data where changes in course evaluation surveys act as an effective proxy for changes in perception or reputation of a class. However, these findings demonstrate significant predictive value in course evaluations. This implies that changes in the reputation or perception of a class result in a change to its enrollment, and that changes
+ Table 4. Regression of Changes in Enrollment With Shifts in Evaluation Variables Including an Altered Time Variable
nurj – vol. 13 in course evaluation levels can predict enrollment shifts. As referenced earlier, this vindicates the course evaluation project, by showing that course evaluations measure generalizable and useful information about professor-class pairings. This also suggests that course evaluations may be more complex than they need to be, and could be reduced to two questions: one covering overall quality, and the other covering challenge. Course evaluations structured in this way would retrain predictive value for enrollment. The fact that students avoid lower-level classes predicted to be more challenging, but do not avoid more difficult upper-level classes, is also a key finding. The most obvious
implication is a further affirmation and clarification of signalling theory. Students benefit from signalling the ability to do very difficult work in their field of study, but not from signalling the ability to do somewhat difficult, but still introductory, work in other fields. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This work would not have been possible without the amazing support of Dr. Mark Witte throughout not only the thesis process but also the rest of my four years at Northwestern. I am indescribably thankful.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bergstrand, Kelly and Scott V. Savage. “The Chalkboard Versus the Avatar.” Teaching Sociology 41, no. 3 (2013): 294-306. doi:10.1177/0092055x 13479949. Bordon, Paola and Chao Fu. “College-Major Choice to College-Then-Major Choice.” The Review of Economic Studies 82, no. 4 (2015): 1247-288. doi:10.1093/ restud/rdv023. Figlio, David, Morton Schapiro and Kevin Soter. “Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?” The Review of Economics and Statistics 97, no. 4 (2013): 715-24. doi:10.3386/w19406. Fournier, Gary M. and Tim R. Sass. “Take My Course, ‘Please’: The Effects of the Principles Experience on Student Curriculum Choice.” The Journal of Economic Education 31, no. 4 (2000): 323-39. doi:10.2307/1183146. Hansen, W. Lee and Allen C. Kelley. “Political Economy of Course Evaluations.” The Journal of Economic Education
5, no. 1 (1973): 10-21. doi:10.2307/1182830. Heckman, James, John Eric Humphries, Paul Lafontaine and Pedro Rodriguez. “Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out.” Journal of Labor Economics 30, no. 4 ( July 2012): 495-520. doi:10.3386/ w14044. Vlieger, Pieter De, Brian Jacob and Kevin Stange. “Measuring Instructor Effectiveness in Higher Education.” Education Next, 2016, 68-74. doi:10.3386/ w22998. Manski, Charles F. and David A. Wise. “College Choice in America.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 3, no. 2 (December 1984): 221. doi:10.4159/ harvard.9780674422285.c9. Marsh, Herbert W., Jesse U. Overall and Steven P. Kesler. “Class Size, Students Evaluations, and Instructional Effectiveness.” American Educational Research Journal 16,
no. 1 (1979): 57-70. doi:10.2307/1162403. Mirus, Rolf. “Some Implications of Student Evaluation of Teachers.” The Journal of Economic Education 5, no. 1 (1973): 35-37. doi:10.2307/1182833. Tal, Aner and Brian Wansink. “Blinded with science: Trivial graphs and formulas increase ad persuasiveness and belief in product efficacy.” Public Understanding of Science 25, no. 1 (2014): 117-25. doi:10.1177/0963662 514549688. Weinbach, Robert W. “Manipulations of Student Evaluations: No Laughing Matter.” Journal of Social Work Education 24, no. 1 (1988): 27-34. doi:10.1080/1 0437797.1988.10672094. Weinberg, Bruce A., Belton M. Fleisher and Masanori Hashimoto. “Evaluating Teaching in Higher Education.” The Journal of Economic Education 40, no. 3 (2002): 227-61. doi:10.1080/13562510 252756424.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 074
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BY Josh Shi
Manijeh Razeghi is showing me a box. It’s a small box, fitting well within the palm of her hand and no more than a few inches in height. The transparent housing shows off the circuitry inside, including a row of AAA batteries which powers it. She points to a small node on the top of the box. “That is a light,” she told me. “When you are in the sun, on the beach, a part of the sun, that is UV, has very high energy and can create cancer.” She moves her hand in front of the sensor and the light fades out. She moves her hand away and it lights up again. “If you have the sun, the special light with the energy coming that can create cancer, it can tell you immediately. “That is the first in the world that we developed here: from the material to the design, physics, publication, everything is done here at Northwestern at [the Center for Quantum Devices]. With who? With all of the undergraduate students that started at 18, 19 years old.” It immediately becomes clear to me that Razeghi is very fond of undergraduates. Since the inception of the Center for Quantum Devices (CQD), she has mentored more than 80 of them who have published 70 papers in total. I know each of their names because she has prepared for me an 11-page document listing them and their publications. She begins leafing through the pages, stopping every so often to point out specific students and recall their achievements. There’s another document she’s prepared which she cross-references with the names of undergraduates: the proceedings for the Quantum Sensing and Nano Electronics and Photonics XV, a conference which she will be leaving for in a few weeks. This year’s event, put on by SPIE, a society for optics and photonics, will draw 23,000 attendees. The CQD is well-represented, and scattered throughout the sessions are current researchers (both PhD and undergraduates) and alumni of the center. After we finish looking at the proceedings, she comes back to the list of undergraduates. “Eighty-two undergraduates I educated,” Razeghi said. “Each of them without exception at this time are great scientists in industry or 075
at university, around not only the United States but around the world.” The more that I talk to her, the more I come to understand that Manijeh Razeghi speaks in facts: that when she says something like how her students are able to do whatever and go wherever they like after leaving her lab, it is not because she wants you to believe it; it is because it is true. It seems that the truth comes naturally to her, as it is often so flattering. Along with the list of undergraduates and the conference report, she has prepared a slew of other papers, documents which record her myriad accomplishments since her career at Northwestern began. There’s a letter from the vice president of the physics department at École Polytechnique, one of the most prestigious universities in France, congratulating her on the success and reputation of her center. There’s a similar email from the chief technologist at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Also included is a transcript of the acceptance speech she gave in 1995 when she was awarded the SWE Achievement Award by the Society of Women Engineers. But, again, these are just facts. Razeghi should be used to such facts by now. After all, this is the woman whom Northwestern spent two years and $6 million courting until they finally convinced her to join the university in 1991 to found the CQD, which she still directs today. When she tells me about the circumstances by which she came to Northwestern, she minces no words: “The dean [of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science] and the president at the time [Arnold R. Weber], they did everything in order to bring me at Northwestern to make this facility,” she said. And it wasn’t just the facility she developed. When Razeghi came, she also created both the undergraduate and graduate curricula for solid-state engineering and wrote a textbook, Fundamentals of Solid State Engineering. Her focus on pedagogy has been an essential part of her work at Northwestern since she arrived on campus. Her love of learning can similarly be traced as far back as she can remember: when Razeghi was a child in Iran, her father was so devoted to her education that by the time she started attending school she had already learned the material her teachers were going over. She tells me
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“I was always curious about learning, and it still is exactly the same thing. Because the best teacher is the best student, and the best student is the best teacher.” that one day at school, when she was around five or six years old, her teacher had to step out of the classroom. A child-sized Manijeh then stepped up and started explaining the material to her classmates. “I was always curious about learning,” Razeghi told me. “And it still is exactly the same thing. Because the best teacher is the best student, and the best student is the best teacher. At this time, I am a student because we are learning. The difference between the teacher and the student is only one thing: the teacher learns the day before, and the student after. And we are learning every day, why? Because more you know, that is the part the things that you know, and that is the things the you don't know. More you know, there are more you don't know.” It comes as no surprise, then, that she sees education first and foremost as a family matter. Yet while she has inherited her father’s dedication, she views her role as a mother as being especially formative one in the education of her children. “I was lucky, and from the first day it was to come to my mind, that is, that education is very important, especially for women,” she said. “Why especially for women? Because women are responsible to bring the child in this world. Women, they are responsible from the first day, for the formation of the child and education of the child.” After our conversation, I start to realize why she had prepared all these documents for our meeting. To know Manijeh Razeghi is to know her achievements: the founding of CQD, the education and mentorship of so many students, the continued contributions to the study of semiconductors and nanotechnology. When she assumes her roles — as scientist, teacher, and mother — she does so simultaneously simply because to her they are the same, and none can be done without doing the other. She is the one who gives things form, who shapes things. She is no stranger to making something out of nothing. 077
Turning Silence: W.H. Auden’s “Rachel” from For the Time Being (1941–42) Payton Danner Susannah Young-Ah Gottlieb Faculty Advisor
Harris Feinsod Honors Coordinator
“WHAT SHALL WE SAY THEN? SHALL WE CONTINUE IN SIN, THAT GRACE MAY ABOUND? GOD FORBID.”¹
With this epigraph from Romans 1:1 W.H. Auden begins his long poem For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio, written from 1941 to 1942. Auden’s “oratorio” recounts the story of the Nativity in modern diction. It stands as his only attempt — against his own critical opinions — to make Christianity the explicit subject matter of his poetry. For many of Auden’s critics, this work, along with “New Year Letter” (1940), provides a dividing line within Auden’s oeuvre, separating it in two distinct parts: the early, British, engagé, politically oriented Auden; and the later, Christian, “cozy” Auden, following his move to America in 1939.² However accurate this bifocal view of the poet may be, For the Time Being is regarded by many as a turning point in Auden’s career. For some, this is related to its supposedly disappointing qualities. When not met with indifference, the poem has been accused of being poetically uneven, conceptually flawed, or simply an aesthetic failure.³ While this study takes issue with such judgments, these very complaints nevertheless touch on a fundamental dimension of the poem itself –– some things are missing from Auden’s “Christmas Oratorio.” As the epigraph indicates, a certain speechlessness, an anxiety over what to say or an inability to speak articulately hovers over the poem from its first page. Paul’s questions, and the recognition of something vaguely “uneven” in the poem’s reception, therefore signal nothing so much as the absences and silences around which the oratorio is organized. »
nurj – vol. 13 For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio is a work of mourning. With a dedication to Auden’s deceased mother, the title page alone casts this long poem into an elegiac mood. The oratorio was never set to music, as the composer Benjamin Britten had promised. It omits any mention of the brutal annihilations organized while it was being written. Nowhere in all 53 pages can the redemptive child it announces be found. This is not meant to imply that it is predominantly sad — For the Time Being is occasionally raucous, outrageous, and very funny. But at the heart of the oratorio is one seemingly insignificant poem written out of sorrow: the small, peculiar, and critically neglected poem for Rachel, who mourns the innocent children whom Herod has murdered in Bethlehem. This study seeks to take account for the sources and consequences of the elegy that Auden writes for Rachel, a figure who is paradoxically revealed to be silent. This highly problematic poem tends toward speechlessness. “Her silence” is legible through several of Auden’s poetological concerns: voice, deixis, troping, versification, and memory. I argue that as Auden stunningly alters the function of Rachel’s appearance, this poem crystallizes a more accurate portrait of Auden’s evolving conception of the proper relation between poetry and religion in the early 1940s. Before going into formal analysis, I want to underline the historical context of this poem which poses its own set of interpretative problems. The exact time that Rachel’s verse was written is unknown. However, in view of the poem’s unexpected and paradoxical announcement of “her silence,” one would be justified to suspect that Auden wrote it only after he found out that Britten had declined to set it to music. According to a 1941 letter that Auden wrote to Theodore Spencer, he originally intended Rachel’s song to be set in “the richest Mahleresque style.”⁴ This, perhaps, places “Rachel” in 1943, when news of the Nazi extermination camps was first reaching the U.S. But this dating of the poem is by no
¹ The Bible, Romans 6:1-2, King James Version. Quoted in Auden, Wystan Hugh, “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio” in Collected Poems, ed. Edward Mendelson (New York: Vintage, 1991) 347. All following citations of Collected Poems will be parenthetical in the body of the text with the abbreviation Poems and relevant page numbers. ² See especially Edward Mendelson’s volumes Early Auden (1981) and Later Auden (1999) which have been recently compiled into a single-volume, two-part edition: Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017). The amount of scholarly works that have more or less conformed to Mendelson’s interpretation as a presupposition of Auden studies is too numerous to capture within the confines of a note. However, this idea of division cannot be fully to credited to Mendelson, Auden’s literary executor. Indeed, the violent criticism Auden received from the time he moved to America and onwards lends itself to this interpretation. Perhaps with these claims of betrayal in mind, Auden wrote to Stephen Spender in 1941: “...no one has a right to say that this place or that time is where intellectuals ought to be. [...] You are too old a hand to believe that History has a local habitation anymore.” Quoted in Susannah Young-Ah Gottlieb, “The Fallen Empire” in Auden at Work, ed. Galvin and Costello (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
“But at the heart of the oratorio is one seemingly insignificant poem written out of sorrow: the small, peculiar, and critically neglected poem for Rachel, who mourns the innocent children whom Herod has murdered in Bethlehem.”
means certain; it could be earlier. The so-called Wannsee Conference implementing the “Final Solution” was not held until January 1942. Prior to this, it is unclear how much Auden, or any American resident for that matter, knew about the operations of the Einsatzgruppen death squads, continuously active from 1939 to 1945 in the past. The poem never alludes to these atrocities. It does, however, generally allude to the modern world. One of the most distinctive features of For the Time Being is its modern diction, through which Auden adopts Kierkegaard’s doctrine of the contemporaneity of all believers.⁵ For example, Herod, the client king of Rome that is ordering mass infanticide, proclaims from his citadel: “Things are beginning to take shape. It is a long time since anyone stole the park benches, or murdered the swans” (Poems 391). Historical contemporaneity easily lends itself to this kind of parody. But it just as easily
³ These are the summarized opinions from many, but definitely not all, influential Auden scholars. See Mendelson, Early Auden, Later Auden, op. cit., esp. 499-51; and Arthur Kirsch, Auden and Christianity (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005) 42: “...though the poem remains a standard an compelling text for believing Christians, its literary quality is uneven.” ⁴ See John Fuller, W.H. Auden: A Commentary (Princeton University Press, 2000) 354.
lends itself to more disconcerting historical correspondences. Out of all the perplexities concerning this poem’s place in history, at least one thing is clear: when Auden’s oratorio finally left Random House in 1944, Rachel’s
“In this passage from Jeremiah, God hears Rachel weeping over the suffering of her descendants and offers hope to his people: all will be returned from exile and an age of peace will be ushered in.”
claiming that a messianic prophecy has been fulfilled: This commitment This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and great weeping, Rachel mourning for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”⁷
As the archetypal mother of the Israelites in the Hebrew Bible, Rachel’s story is told in Genesis.⁸ She belongs to Matthew’s narrative of the Nativity only anachronistically, and only according to specifically Christian messianic claims. In this passage from Jeremiah, God hears Rachel weeping over the suffering of her descendants and offers hope to his people: all will be returned from exile and an age of peace will be ushered in. The writer of Matthew later interprets Herod’s massacre and Jesus of Nazareth’s birth as the fulfillment of this verse. But Rachel herself, as Auden clearly demonstrates in The Enchafèd Flood, has no agency in validating Matthew’s claim. In both Jeremiah and Matthew, Rachel’s mourning is wordless. Thus the poetry Auden gives under the name “Rachel” at the end of “The Massacre of the Innocents” in For the Time Being comes from a strange nowhere land, where she cannot even say “I.” In contrast to the myriad of characters who speak in the first person throughout this dramatic work, the perspective of Rachel’s poem is hollowly omniscient: III. RACHEL
mourning for her children could hardly be read without the historical contemporaneity that the work as a whole seeks to expose. To my knowledge, Auden mentions the Biblical Rachel in his voluminous prose once, and only once: “[she who has] without understanding or choice become involved in the mystery as the innocents massacred by Herod were involved in the birth of Christ.”⁶ This quotation from The Enchafèd Flood, discussing Melville’s use of the name Rachel, says as much about Auden’s view of Matthew’s Gospel as it purports to say about Moby Dick. According to Gospel, when news of the Incarnation reaches Herod, the tyrant orders the massacre of children in Bethlehem, upon which Matthew, in one of his most puzzling passages, quotes from the Book of Jeremiah, ⁵ Kierkegaard’s idea consists in an extreme ahistoricism which contends that, from the perspective of Christian faith, nothing historically separates all believers in the Event from the Event itself. For the implications of this thought on For the Time Being, other poems, Auden’s meditations on history and the Roman Empire, see Gottlieb, “The Fallen Empire,” op. cit.
On the Left are grinning dogs, peering down into a solitude too deep to fill with roses. On the Right are sensible sheep, gazing up at a pride where no dream can grow. Somewhere in these unending wastes of delirium is a lost child, speaking of Long Ago in the language of wounds. Tomorrow, perhaps, he will come to himself in heaven. But here, Grief turns her silence, neither in this direction, nor in that, nor for any reason. And her coldness now is on the earth forever. (Poems 396)
So runs Auden’s largely overlooked poem for Rachel from For the Time Being.⁹ As Auden ⁶ See Auden, The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose III, 1949-1955, ed. Mendelson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008) 42. ⁷ Jeremiah 31:15 and Matthew 2:18. ⁸ The story of Rachel can be found in Genesis: 29-48.
nurj – vol. 13 translates the appearance of Rachel into his oratorio — from an English translation of Matthew’s Greek translation of Jeremiah’s Hebrew — there arises one decisive issue with the poem’s omniscience: the source-text is God’s voice. Any recreation of Matthew 2:18, written in any similarly external voice, categorically risks self-divinization. Auden avoids this danger by making no claim to hearing Rachel’s voice: she is silent. The only direct trace left of Matthew 2:18 is the subject of Rachel’s introduction, a personified “Grief,” which remains ambiguously distinct from Rachel herself. As predicates modify subjects, Auden’s predicate depicting her speechlessness — “turns her silence” — modifies the “Grief” evoked in scripture. In this tricky, but decisive, phrase (I will later return to the problem of “turning”), Auden manages to place profound sorrow at the heart of the poem, without adopting the perspective of a heavenly being that can hear Rachel’s voice, and justify the suffering of others with a divine plan. In addition to the Biblical tradition, Auden also inserts this poem into the English literary tradition. One rather well-known poet who alluded to hearing Rachel’s voice was, of course, Thomas Stearns Eliot in the final section of The Waste Land: “What is that sound high in the air / Murmur of maternal lamentation.”¹⁰ These famous lines form an important literary context to Auden’s “Rachel,” which, unsurprisingly, reaches its climax at “unending wastes of delirium.” Another poem by Eliot concerning a figure named Rachel is also worth quoting here for context. The 1920 “Sweeney Among the Nightingales” contains the following explicitly anti-Semitic lines: “Rachel née Rabinovitch / Tears at the grapes with murderous paws / She and the lady in the cape / Are suspect, thought to be in league.”¹¹ In addition to one less subtle allusion in For the
⁹ To my knowledge, Rachel’s poem has not been the subject of any sustained interpretative efforts. Besides the critics who overlook the poem entirely, no scholar has offered more than a one-sentence reading: Monroe K. Spears calls it a “speech of great power and restraint” in Spears, The Poetry of W.H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963) 215. Edward Mendelson overlooks the poem entirely in his comprehensive tome, Later Auden (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999). Fuller opaquely reads into the first two lines: “Auden again uses dogs and sheep as symbols of the self-absorption of flesh and intellect…” See John Fuller, W.H. Auden: A Commentary (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000) 354. Anthony Hecht offers a broad contextualization of the poem, discussing the historical significance of Rachel mourning her children, who, symbolizing the Israelites, represent the victims of Nazi terror. However, in Hecht’s reading of this “surprising” speaker, Rachel remains ironically silent: Hecht does not quote from one line of this “brief, solemn, and deeply moving speech.” See Hecht, The Hidden Law: The Poetry of W.H. Auden (Harvard University Press, 1993) 286-287. Arthur Kirsch inexplicably and incorrectly glosses the progression of the oratorio, writing that Section II of “The Massacre of the Innocents” for Herod’s soldiers progresses directly into “The Flight into Egypt”—as if to suggest Rachel is invisible; see Kirsch, Auden and Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005) 55. The strange critical apparatus surrounding Rachel’s song can be understood in at least three ways: evidence of her spectral quality in the story of the Nativity, her consistently denied speech, and the unfortunate tendency in too much Auden criticism to gloss some of his most complex poems perfunctorily.
Time Being to Eliot’s Jew-hatred, demonstrated by the Narrator’s mention of “restrictions / Upon aliens and free-thinking Jews” (Poems 373), as Eliot outlined them in After Strange Gods,¹² Auden’s “Rachel” can be understood
“The only direct trace left of Matthew 2:18 is the subject of Rachel’s introduction, a personified ‘Grief,’ which remains ambiguously distinct from Rachel herself.” as a response to, if not an outright repudiation of, his predecessor’s treatments of Rachel. But this response consists of more than a nudge at Eliot’s elevated voice in The Wasteland and the anti-Semitic tendency of his early writings: Auden composes for Rachel a song — a song which was meant to be the richest in the musical work it never became. Auden’s expression signaling her inaudibility, “turns her silence,” also informs several formal aspects of the poem. Upon inspection, the only legible metrical pattern occurs in the last line with heavy trochees: “Ānd her cōldness nōw is ōn the ēarth forēver.” This strong closing pattern invites a reinterpretation of the poem as a whole. The closest line prosodically to the last is doubtless the first, opening with clear trochees — “Ōn
¹⁰ See T.S. Eliot, ed. Valerie Eliot, The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound (New York: Harvest, Harcourt, 1971) 145. ¹¹ See Eliot, Collected Poems: 1909-1962 (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) 49. ¹² Quoted in Christopher Ricks, T.S. Eliot and Prejudice (London: Faber & Faber, 1994) 41.
the Lēft are grīnning dōgs” — which are followed by imperfect wisps of them. Through the affinity between the beginning and closing lines, Auden draws upon the etymology of “trochaic,” the ancient Greek trokhós, originally meaning “wheel.” Auden’s trochees here can be understood spatially as a turning wheel, whose last line arrives again at the pattern with which the first began. However, this is an imperfect revolution. When the trochees return in Rachel’s last line, they are cut precisely in half: while the first contains 12 feet, the last has six. Therefore, the moment trochaic meter again takes over, and the wheel has, so to speak, gone full circle, six small feet — one might say, children’s feet, after the massacre — are missing. In effect, the silent six feet suggested by the trochaic structure create a sort of doubly end-stopped silence. It is as if Auden wanted the only explicit absence over which Rachel mourns to be this abyss in the shape of the poem itself. This chasm constitutes the singular silence around which all the other silences of For the Time Being are organized. The other spatial dynamics in Auden’s depiction of Rachel arrive at a similar kind of silence. Auden heavily employs the linguistic phenomenon of deixis, or “pointer words,” in Rachel’s verse, which is first introduced by the spatial relationships inherent in the “Left,” “Right,” “up” and “down” of the first two lines. Deixis is fundamentally implicated in a distinguishable origin: the here, now and I from which deictic speech can occur. But the inarticulate Rachel has no such origin from which to speak in this context. The final two lines could not be any clearer in this respect: when the voice of the poem says “here” and “now,” it is met with both Rachel’s silence and coldness. Moreover, the exact center of the poem, in terms of word count, is silent, because it lies somewhere in the middle of these two words: “child, speaking.” These two words, which signify Rachel’s most devastating losses, surround the silent origin from which all of the deictic language attempts to speak. In November 1939, Auden wrote another poem in service of Christmas titled “Blessed Event” which curiously contains a parallel deictic formulation: On the Left they remember difficult childhoods, On the Right they have forgotten why they were so happy, Above sit the best decisive people, Below they must kneel all day so as to not be governed. (Poems 305)
For all the critical attention paid to Auden’s notorious habit of revising and removing some of his most beloved poems, far less
“The final two lines could not be any clearer in this respect: when the voice of the poem says ‘here’ and ‘now,’ it is met with both Rachel’s silence and coldness.”
attention has been paid to instances like this one, where phrases are transported into an entirely different context. The deictic center of “Blessed Event” is announced in the title: the miraculous birth of the Incarnation. But in Rachel’s verse, where the same exact cardinal points are addressed, the implicit deictic center and event are occupied by a monstrous vision. Whatever else may be said about the earlier poem, including its political satire, the revision signals Auden’s growing concern with the conditions which rob one of a deictic center, and thus a meaningful stance from which to speak. Precisely after this partial self-quotation, the poem turns towards an unidentifiable “Somewhere,” nowhere land where nothing articulate — only a “language of wounds” — can be heard. Just as the only aural experience described by the poem is a “language of wounds,” so the versification of the poem itself is, in a certain sense, wounded. Strangely, Rachel’s poem does not employ enjambment. This is especially apparent in the way that most lines seem to spill over themselves. The syntax never stretches over — or “strides over,” enjambe — a line break. In this respect, Auden creates in Rachel’s verse a powerful resistance to a widely accepted definition of poetry itself — the possibility of enjambment. This formal perplexity, however, would not be solved by categorizing the poem into a modernist genre of “free verse.” About this latter genre of poetry, Auden writes, with a bit of sarcasm, “So often, when reading “free” verse, I can see no
nurj – vol. 13 reason why a line ends where it does; why the poet did not write it out as a prose-poem.”¹³ Here, Auden touches on the possibility of a reason for line-endings, consonant at the very least with the “possibility of enjambment,” as an insuperable necessity for poetry. Giorgio Agamben’s recent definition of enjambment is instructive in this regard: “the opposition of a metrical limit to a syntactical limit, or a prosodic pause to a semantic pause.”¹⁴ As Agamben argues in The End of the Poem, the result of such limits and pauses is a “schism [scissione] of sound and sense” (a rephrasing of Valéry’s definition of poetry: “hesitation prolongée entre le sons et le sens [a prolonged hesitation between sound and sense]).”¹⁵ Yet Rachel’s verse, strictly speaking, lacks this schism. Her “possibility of enjambment” remains a sheer possibility, suspended in the silence after each end-stop. The point is that what paradoxically holds the poem together qua poetry — why, in Auden’s own words, he did not “write it out as a prose-poem”¹⁶ — is precisely Rachel’s silence. Agamben’s poetological reflections in The End of the Poem (1996) illuminate one further aspect of Auden’s work. The phenomenon to which Agamben is principally drawn is, of course, “the end of the poem” in its most literal sense — the final line. The simple, and “trivial fact” for the philosopher is that the final line of a poem cannot be enjambed. Drawing upon Mallarmé, without naming him, Agamben shows how the last line enters into a “crise de vers [crisis of verse].” Because the possibility of enjambment ceases, a final line of a poem paradoxically cannot be called poetry. This “poetic emergency,” Agamben argues, explains the inner necessity of inherited poetic conventions like the envoi. Auden, who, after all, knew how to read poetry, is clearly aware of this paradox. After Rachel’s silence — the life force of the poem — cannot be turned “in this direction, nor in that,” the last line falls short, recalling nothing so much as Rachel’s own death: “her coldness now is on the Earth forever.” When Agamben describes what follows a crise de vers as a “collapse into silence,” it is almost as if he were freely drawing upon Auden’s “Rachel.” This is, of course, unlikely. However emphasizing their occasionally uncanny similarities is not to suppose a direct influence. Rather, it to show how vital “turning” is to the poetic experience. Turns are the central preoccupations of
¹³ Auden, “On Rhythm” in The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose VI, 1969-1973, ed. Mendelson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015) 725. ¹⁴ Giorgio Agamben, The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics, trans. Daniel HellerRoazen (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999) 109. ¹⁵ Ibid.
“The point is that what paradoxically holds the poem together qua poetry — why, in Auden’s own words, he did not ‘write out as a prose-poem’ — is precisely Rachel’s silence.” the poem, but none of them quite work. The trochaic wheel does not fully turn around, the turns of enjambment do not occur, and the inability of “Grief” to turn in any direction, or for any reason, describes a crisis of mourning. As Peter Sacks describes in his authoritative study on the Western elegiac tradition, “It is this substitutive turn or act of troping that any mourner must perform.”¹⁷ The etymological origins of “trope” (Greek: trópos), and “verse” (Latin: verto) both mean “to turn.” Following lines of thought introduced earlier, Auden and Agamben both revivify the ancient analogy between the turning of verses in poetry and the ¹⁶ It may be interesting to note that Simeon—the only character who is a poet, having created the Nunc dimittis—is given prose. In the initial drafts of For the Time Being, Auden attempted to write poetry for Simeon, the poet, “just and devout man,” and paradigmatic convert. See Luke 2:25. Simeon’s opening lines of verse—“To-day has been one of those perfect winter days, cold, brilliant, and utterly still...”—now reside, however, in the opening section of the preposterous prose monologue spoken by Herod, administrator of mass murder. See Edward Mendelson, “Revision and Power: The Example of W.H. Auden” Yale French Studies, no. 89 (1996): 103-112. Simeon famously sings the Nunc dimittis, and thus becomes a poet, at the moment he holds the infant Jesus of Nazareth in his arms. In 1928, Eliot wrote a first-person monologue in verse for Simeon entitled “A Song for Simeon” which, in many ways, reflects his own “conversion” to AngloCatholicism the year prior. Eliot’s poem was doubtless on Auden’s mind when his own verses for Simeon were written—and then given over to Herod. Auden’s decision to cast Simeon’s text in prose signals something to which Eliot was obliviously unaware: a poem for a paradigmatic poet, “devout” convert and “just” man written by a modern-day poet, who also may be converting to Christianity himself (or herself), cannot fail to be read as a self-glorification of this very latterday poet—as if he, too, had held Christ in his arms. Auden’s clear avoidance of this issue is fundamentally related to the absence of a redemptive child in For the Time Being. This constellation of resonances with Eliot in Auden’s oratorio, only some of which are assembled here, testify to something like an “anxiety of influence.” This would be a fitting topic for another study.
turning of plows in fields. Agamben mentions this farming analogy in a philologically suspect aside.¹⁸ Auden expressed it with very great beauty in his famous 1939 elegy for W.B. Yeats: With the farming of a verse, Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In a rapture of distress. (Poems 249)
Despite its centrality in the Yeats elegy — one of the most consequential poems of its genre in the 20th century — Auden’s allusion to “the farming of a verse” has gone unremarked upon. Susan Stewart’s explication of the same phenomenon summarizes its significance in the history of poetics with acumen: “This deep analogy between the turning [strophé] that opens the earth to the sky and the turning that inscribes the page with a record of human movement is carried forward in the notion of verse as a series of turns and in the circling recursivity of all lyric forms.”¹⁹ Rachel’s lines are insistently concerned with the relationship between “earth” and “heaven,” the “circling recursivity” of her form, and, above all, “verse as a series of turns.” It is no accident that Auden wrote “farming a verse” in an elegy. Turning also describes consolatory troping, that is, finding a substitutive object-relation that accompanies the process of grief itself. Part of the initial opacity of “Rachel” derives from the way in which it speaks tropologically. What Auden gives as Rachel’s response to catastrophe is literally a kata strophein, a “down turn” into the abyss of “solitude” which no amount of roses, as tropes for love, could ever fill. The danger imposed upon “sensible sheep” by “grinning dogs” — tropes for the Israelites and their enemies, respectively — is obvious. However, the kind of person who is supposed to save sheep from vicious dogs, a shepherd, the trope for a Messiah, is missing from the scene. Rachel’s poem emphatically does not signal or call attention to the arrival of a divine child, which goes against the grain of Matthew’s Gospel. Auden instead directs the attention toward the monstrous “wastes of delirium” left by Herod’s soldiers, where a helpless and lost child’s life is in danger. He will perhaps — ¹⁷ See Peter Sacks, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985) 5. ¹⁸ Agamben states that the word versure used to mean “the point at which the plow turns around at the end of the furrow.” See Agamben, ibid., 111. This term, “versure,” may indeed be the vocative masculine singular form of the Latin participle versurus, but it cannot be a noun, as he clearly suggests. In any case, the definition he cites cannot be found in any standard dictionaries. It would be more precise to state that the Latin verb for turning could be understood metaphorically in the context of both agriculture and poetry, as the etymology of “verse” proves.
“What Auden gives as Rachel’s response to catastrophe is literally a kata strophein, a ‘down turn’ into the abyss of ‘solitude’ which no amount of roses, as tropes for love, could ever fill.” but only perhaps — be in Heaven tomorrow. The poem is concerned not with the child who escaped to Egypt, but with the child who was left in the carnage, and whose life is threatened. In that crucial “perhaps,” the poem makes no claims to knowing the status of the child’s soul. The accompanying imagery echoes this. The sky is cast as a “pride where no dream can grow.” Auden does not occupy the perspective of a being in the sky who can hear Rachel, for this would be pride. Nor does he promote gazing into the sky for another world (“dream”) beyond this one. The latter, however, is precisely what Rachel does in the Christian theological tradition. Known for the beauty of her eyes as she gazed into heaven, Rachel came to be identified with monasticism. Auden makes this identification quite plain: Rachel’s name, in Hebrew, means “ewe.” Yet Auden’s poem so thoroughly resists otherworldliness, either in visions of salvation, or private worlds of “solitude.” The poem is entirely absorbed by what is ¹⁹ Susan Stewart, “Sound” in Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002) 85. Stewart’s analysis of boustrophēdon occurs in the context of a discussion on Wallace Stevens’ similar interest in the ancient connotations of writing.
nurj – vol. 13 “on the earth.” Most importantly, there is a lost child somewhere who needs to be taken care of. Finally, by emphasizing Rachel’s silence, distinct from her life of prayer, Auden astonishingly recreates one of the most essential features of her importance in Jewish, but not Christian, mysticism. Rachel’s silence when her sister Leah was given to Jacob for marriage, even though Jacob and Rachel were in love. The midrash famously says that, later in the story, God gives Rachel the gift of natality after being barren for so long because “He remembered that she was silent when Leah was placed in her stead.” Auden remembers her silence, but he does not give her the miracle of childbirth in For
the Time Being. Rachel turns “cold,” just as when she herself died in childbirth. Thus, the oratorio as a whole, which is supposed to be about the time of redemption, collapses at the exact point where gestures toward a coming child should be the strongest. For Auden, the only miraculous child is the one who survived the slaughter, and might live to tell the story. If there is one narrow place in which Auden’s “Rachel” approaches transcendence, it seems to lie here: Auden often notes that the mother of the muses was Mnēmosynē. In line with this, Auden remembers Rachel’s silence, and turns this remembrance into the memory and memorability of poetry.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Agamben, Giorgio. The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics. trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999. Auden, Wystan Hugh. Another Time. London: Faber and Faber, 1940. —. Collected Poems. ed. Edward Mendelson. New York: Vintage, 1991. —. The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose II, 1939-1948. ed. Mendelson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002. —. The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose IV, 1956-1962. ed. Mendelson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. —. The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose V, 1963-1968. ed. Mendelson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. —. The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose VI, 1969-1973. ed. Mendelson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. —. Holograph Oversized Notebook. Undated. Manuscript Box. W.H.
Auden. Collection of Papers 1927-1973. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library. New York, NY. Carpenter, Humphrey. W.H. Auden: A Biography. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1981. Dresner, Samuel. “Rachel and Leah” in Judaism 38(2) 1989. 151-159. Eliot, Thomas Stearns. ed. Valerie Eliot. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound. New York: Harvest, Harcourt, 1971. —. Collected Poems: 1909-1962. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Gottlieb, Susannah Young-Ah. Ed. Galvin and Costello. “The Fallen Empire” in Auden at Work. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. —. Regions of Sorrow: Anxiety and Messianism in Hannah Arendt and W.H. Auden. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003. Fuller, John. W.H. Auden: A Commentary. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 2000. Hecht, Anthony. The Hidden Law: The Poetry of W.H. Auden. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. Kirsch, Arthur. Auden and Christianity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005. Mendelson, Edward. Later Auden. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999. Rabow, Jerry. The Lost Matriarch: Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2014. Ricks, Christopher. T.S. Eliot and Prejudice. London: Faber & Faber, 1994. Sacks, Peter. The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Spears, Monroe K. The Poetry of W.H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963. Stewart, Susan. Poetry and the Fate of the Senses. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002.
Redressing Modernism: The Poetry of Grace Nichols 1984-2009 Ann Ho Evan Mwangi Faculty Advisor
Harris Feinsod Honors Coordinator
+ Photo by Paul Townsend, British Police History, 1981 Brixton Riots.
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THE JAN. 26, 1986 EDITION OF THE SUNDAY TIMES ANNOUNCED THE COMPLETED INSTALLATION OF POEMS ON THE UNDERGROUND. It reconfigured the world’s oldest underground
transport system, one that had sheltered people during the Blitz, as an unexpected cultural vehicle that circulated poetry on its carriage walls.¹ The inaugural installation curated works by Robert Burns, Seamus Heaney, Grace Nichols and William Carlos Williams.² Placing Guyanese-British poet Grace Nichols’ work alongside Burns’ vernacular Scottish romanticism, Williams’ American modernism, and Heaney’s Irish formalism, speaks to her merited position among canonical Anglophone poets. Indeed, from her earliest books in the 1980s, to Picasso, I Want My Face Back (2009), written during her residency at the Tate Gallery, Nichols has reconstructed the poetics of canonical modernism, typified by writers and artists from T.S. Eliot to Pablo Picasso. Her modernist revaluations emerge concurrently with her participation in municipal functions, ranging from civic life of the commute to museum residency. Through her poetry, Nichols articulates the daily experience of black Britons in the space that Stuart Hall describes as “the land which they are in but not of, the country of estrangement, dispossession and brutality.”³ Nichols’ Poems contribution “Like a Beacon,” thereby adds a cosmopolitan dimension to the installation, and addresses London as both the traditional seat of imperial power, and the setting for postcolonial mobility. Accordingly, this essay will posit selections of Nichols’ poetry as such a link between 1980s black British poetry, and several previous generations of modernist literary and artistic representation. As such, Nichols’s poetic oeuvre spans beyond its current inclusion in the postcolonial canon of the Greater Caribbean. Her engagements with T.S. Eliot’s representations of London’s social underclasses form a systematic redress of a previously colonizing literary form. Nichols subsumes these earlier models into the creation of a uniquely gendered and racialized modernism.⁴ Through this new, “Nicholsian” rendering of modernist language and themes, Nichols writes herself into the configuration known as “global modernism.” » ¹ Fred Hill, “The Tension and the Glory of Subway Poetry,” The Architectural Leagues’s Urban Omnibus: The Culture of Citymaking, March 23, 2016, http://urbanomnibus.net/2016/03/the-tension-and-glory-of-subway-poetry. ² Anne Boston, “Poetry in Motion,” The Sunday Times (London, UK), Jan. 26, 1986. ³ Stuart Hall, Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1978), 357.
n the mid-twentieth century, writers and literary scholars alike began retreating from Eurocentric representations of modernity, criticizing the illiberal and politically irresponsive works of canonical modernisms. As Mark Wollaeger states in his introduction to The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, “By the 1980s, the study of modernism had become relatively suspect, especially on political grounds.”⁵ Cultural production of that decade began to reflect the need to articulate the multiple imbrications of identity, which a fairly monolithic discourse of white British modernism had before excluded. Beginning with the Caribbean Artist Movement in the 1960s, black British writers orchestrated identities of blackness to create innovative modernist forms. In the moment and setting where modernism has fallen into scholarly disrepute and illogic — 1980s London — Nichols unexpectedly redefines modernism as a form that interrogates, rather than conforms to, prevailing modernist depictions of British social order. As a postcolonial writer, Nichols’ writings and subject matter are informed and influenced by her subjectivity. Her poetry, per Jahan Ramazani, “[…] gives expression and shape to a cross-geographic experience, enjambed between the (post)colonies and the Western metropole.”⁶ Nichols was born in Georgetown, British Guiana in 1950 and moved to the United Kingdom in 1977. The transnationality of her work results from her lived experience through the 1966 decolonization of British Guiana, its transformation into an independent state and her subsequent immigration to Great Britain shortly before the socio-political unrest of 1981.⁷ Global modernism emerges out of a discourse-wide recognition of modernism’s formation from global and transnational cultural forms. In his New World Modernisms, Charles Pollard attributes the rise of modernism to the influx of non-European, artistic and ideological imports: There is, of course, a rich irony in this reshaping of modernism by postcolonial writers, for European modernism itself develops, at least in part, in response to the influence and demise of European colonial empires.⁸
⁵ Mark Wollaeger, “Introduction,” in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 3-25.
“Through this new, ‘Nicholsian’ rendering of modernist language and themes, Nichols writes herself into the configuration known as ‘global modernism.’” Nichols plays a significant role in the radical “reshaping of modernism by postcolonial writers,” to say the least. The irony of this revanchist project, as suggested by Pollard, lies in the acknowledgement of European modernism as a colonizing form—how can the postcolonial writer conceive of a decolonized modernism, or employ modernism as her aesthetic form? In his Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said anticipates precisely this emergent discourse of global modernism: “There is a huge and remarkable adjustment in perspective and understanding is required, to take account of the contribution of modernism to decolonization, resistance culture, and the literature of opposition to imperialism.”⁹ It is my objective to consider Grace Nichols’ work under Said’s formulations of global modernism. Through her literary reconceptualization and reconstruction of classical modernist forms, Nichols expresses a British post-colonial subjectivity and engages in the socio-cultural discourses of her day. FROM RACE TO RIOTS: CHILDREN’S MODERNISM AS SOCIAL CRITIQUE The site in which Nichols directly critiques
⁶ Jahan Ramazani, A Transnational Poetics (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2009), 163-64.
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+ Photo by Stefan Schubert, Cats.
Eliot’s work, and pushes poetic language into the new dimensions of hip-hop takes place, surprisingly, in a children’s poem. Nichols wrote the deceptively simple “CatRap” in the mid-1980s. In it, she critiques both T.S. Eliot’s elitist, “white-face” depiction of London’s most economically disadvantaged communities in his Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and Andrew Lloyd Webber in his musical, Cats. Nichols’ allusion is brief —Macavity, the knavish cat of Eliot’s children’s book, appears only once in the thoughts of Nichols’ feline speaker. However, the context provided by the historical period during which Nichols writes drastically alters one’s reading of “Cat-Rap.” Amidst a heated political climate and discordant discussions of urban crime, several major events necessitate a redress of classical modernist representation. The violent Brixton Riots erupt in April 1981, as frictions between an urban, multiracial class and discriminatory policing practices reach their zenith. Just one month later, Webber’s
⁷ Maria Helena Lima, “Politics of Teaching Black And British,” in Black British Writing, ed. Victoria Arana and Lauri Ramey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 34. ⁸ Charles W. Pollard, New World Modernisms: T.S. Eliot, Derek Walcott, and Kamau Braithwaite (Charlottesville: U of Virginia Press, 2004), 25.
Cats opens in the West End, and showcases a colorful, but de-racialized phantasmagoria of London’s lower-class population, with Eliot’s cat-burglar, Macavity, in center stage. Margaret Thatcher’s sweeping economic reform policies in the 1980s defunded systems of welfare, affecting the most economically vulnerable populations, particularly the multiethnic and immigrant classes of London. Indeed, Nichols’ little-known children’s poem is, in fact, a complex triangulation of the revivals of classical modernist representations in the 1980s, political riots occurring in underdeveloped London boroughs, and the changing registers of poetic language through forms of postcolonial children’s literature, and an emerging hiphop modernism. The magnitude of Nichols’ intervention is fascinatingly masked by the fanciful, faux-naivete of “Cat-Rap.” Through close-reading at a historicist register, I posit that Nichols voices her stance through an indiscreet children’s feline character to directly parallel the ways in which postcolonial political and literary voices found traction in what Nichols calls the “street-sound galaxy,” or an emergent hiphop discourse. This section will feature Eliot and Webber as interlocutors of a classical modernism, Lord Leslie Scarman and Stuart Hall as economic and racial commentators in Nichols’ contemporary moment, and Nichols as a distinct black British cultural critic in the 1980s. What I hope to achieve is an illustration of the ways by which Nichols gave voice to the Black British experience amid the dissenting cultural cacophony of the 1980s. A cat-lover, T.S. Eliot wrote “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” for his godchildren’s amusement in the early 1930s. The poem was published alongside 14 others in 1938 in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Andrew Lloyd Webber later adapted it into the hit musical Cats in 1981. Eliot’s Macavity poems whimsically explore feline consciousness, while also expressing the breakdown of metropolitan social order. In Eliot’s poem, Macavity’s crimes baffle the nation’s premier institutions of social order: the Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad¹⁰, the Foreign Office and the Secret Service. With a penchant for committing high-profile robberies, Macavity embodies a “fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity,” and satirizes lawbreakers’ ability
⁹ Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993), 242. ¹⁰ “Flying Squad,” in Brewer’s Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable, ed. Adrian Room and Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (London: Cassell & Co., 2009).
+ Photo by Kim Aldis, 1981 Brixton Riots.
to evade blundering social institutions. Nichols evokes this commentary when she first pens “Cat-Rap” in order to convey racial and civil unrest against the police serving London’s lowest economic stratum, which had the highest rates of theft and robbery during the 1980s. Webber’s popular musical depicts the scourge of impoverished conditions in London’s lower classes. Performed without any scene changes, the musical takes place in an exotic and colorful junk yard. The original cast of Cats was predominately white, and further whitened by cat-face makeup. This visually conveyed a demographic fiction to audiences. Webber’s white-washed, campy, staged poverty hardly represented the realities of 1980s Brixton — the locale of the very first influx of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, and the site receiving what Stuart Hall calls the “looming spectre of the Thatcherite assault on the structures of welfare support.”¹¹ A soaring unemployment rate and stagnant housing development led to a rise in urban petty crimes, especially theft. The Brixton Riots of April 1981 occurred in the central part of the London borough of Lambeth. The area had a multicultural demographic. Many of its inhabitants were of
Afro-Caribbean descent. Between 1976 and 1980, the Brixton Division was responsible for a third of overall crimes in the Lambeth borough, but nearly 50 percent of all robbery and violent theft offences.¹² The events of the Brixton riot unfolded over the course of two days following highly sensationalized reports of police intervening in the hospitalization of an injured black youth. Metropolitan police met with protesters in the streets, resulting in hundreds of injuries. Lord Leslie Scarman, a Law Lord of London, and political authority at the time, published the summary of his inquiries into the Brixton riots in the December 1981 issue of Police magazine. Scarman championed reform in police training for multiracial communities. However, his other observations were, when decontextualized, easily made into arguments for retaining the status quo: “There was a strong racial element in the disorders; but they were not a race riot. The riots were essentially an outburst of anger and resentment by young black people against the police.”¹³ These statements were popularly skewed as Scarman’s dismissing institutional racism as a cause of the violent outbreak, and affixing a pro-Thatcherite agenda — decreasing Brixton’s more formidable and
¹¹ Stuart Hall, “From Scarman to Stephen Lawrence,” in History Workshop Journal 48 (1999), 187-97. ¹² Richard Blom-Cooper. British Journal of Criminology, Delinquency and Deviant Social Behaviour; London 22.2 (Apr 1, 1982): 184.
¹³ Lord Leslie George Scarman, “Judgement of Scarman: Brixton stood firm against anarchy,” in Police: Monthly Magazine of the Police Federation of England and Wales (Sussex, England), December 1981.
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“With one foot in the critique of high modernist representations, and the other in the inchoate beginnings of hip-hop modernism, Nichols gives name and characterization to a post-Thatcherite, metropolitan experience of language, voice, and the embodied Black British experience.”
urgent blight: the “disadvantages” of black youth that spawned spirited disruptions of society. Thus, Scarman’s published report left only soft recommendations to policing law, and contributed to deracializing the civil struggles plaguing the multiethnic compositions of the British underclasses. His arguments, though progressive in many aspects as they concern a Britain’s problematic policing system,and locating the source of unrest to social and economic insecurity, demonstrate what Stuart Hall calls the “pervasive disavowal and doubletalk which across the years has covered over the yawning gaps between policy and practice in [police] institutions.” Amidst the disquieting clamor of social discussion by politicians and scholars, flummoxed by the malapropos, and widely popular release, of Cats, Nichols puts forth her own response to Eliot and Webber’s whitened portrayals and “multicultural” fantasies of urban crime and race. The beginning lines of “Cat-Rap” depict Nichols’ speaker-cat lounging on a sofa with a “furryfuzzy head” full of metrical conceits. Nichols uses this description of cat fur in the subtle racialization of her speaker. A “furry-fuzzy head” connotes the image of kinky, fuzzy hair, a major symbol of black identity.
Questions of racial visibility and representation arise between Nichols’ and Eliot’s contending cat poems. Nichols’ cat rapper, unlike Eliot or Webber’s Macavity, does not embody the same invincibility or legendary abilities to evade the police. Rather, Nichols’s feline speaker envisions death before such comparisons can be made: “When I get to heaven / gonna rap with Macavity” and more hauntingly, “Well, they say that we cats / are killed by curiosity.”¹⁴ An image of a racially black cat, as opposed to Eliot’s “invisible” Macavity, discriminately provokes lethal policing methods. As such, Nichols voices the demands of Brixton’s protesters for reforms in racial bias in policing. She critiques the children’s modernism in Eliot’s Macavity and Webber’s Cats as whitened reactions to the new composition of the British underclasses. Likewise, she critiques their deracialized portrayals of urban crime, while hinting at the pessimism of the black community’s expectations of systemic policing reform. Macavity, an ostentatious and whitened figure of urban crime, remains a “heaven”-like, ill-fitting emblem of the populace. The cat rapper’s wish to rap alongside Macavity is a subconscious desire to be
¹⁴ Grace Nichols, “Cat-Rap,” in I Have Crossed an Ocean: Selected Poems (Newcastle Upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books Ltd., 1988), 170. ¹⁵ Ibid., 170.
¹⁶ David E. Chinitz, T.S. Eliot and the Cultural Divide (Chicago: UChicago Press, 2003), 179.
heard. The racialized voice of Nichols’s poetic cat fails to find a place in the marginalizing (and criminalizing) theatres of Eliot’s and Webber’s high modernism. Instead, she discovers alternative spaces of cultural dissemination by rapping in a “street-sound galaxy.”¹⁵ Here, Nichols begins to develop spaces for black British voices and expression. Through moments such as her revolutionary inclusion among white canonical poets in Poems on the Underground, Nichols paves the way in replenishing outlets through which marginalized voices can freely speak. These spaces, developed by Nichols, take form in various subterranean, urban venues, such as the street and the Tube, which later became critical arenas for the development of hiphop, protest poetry and graffiti. The emerging art forms of the 1980s concern themselves with the politics of systemic racism and injustice. Nichols critiques the utopian language and image of the multicultural lower classes, seen in both Eliot’s Macavity poems, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats musical through her “Cat-Rap.” What sets Nichols’ modernist engagement apart from other Caribbean renderings and critiques of Eliot’s work is her specific literary confrontation with his Cats poems. In his T.S. Eliot and the Cultural Divide, David E. Chinitz asserts that “Eliot’s lighter poems inspired only indifference or impatience in most of his critics… Even today, and despite the Lloyd Webber musical, references to the Cats poems are exceedingly rare in the criticism.”¹⁶ Without a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the era in which Eliot’s Cats poems resurface in popular culture, Chinitz greatly curtails the poems’ racist and derogatory representations of London’s social underclass, obscuring those elements under the “lightness” and frivolity commonly associated with children’s literary form. The re-emergent popularity of the Eliot Cats poems, in the wake of violent civil unrest, inspired Nichols to much more than “indifference” or “impatience.” Nichols’s “Cat-Rap” stands as a brilliantly complex triangulation and redress of modernist representations, fiery discourses on policing measures, and the effects of Thatcherite reform on the urban populace, masked under the fanciful tone and voice of children’s literature.
CONCLUSION Primarily understood as part of the black British postcolonial canon, Grace Nichols has largely been excluded from the broader discourse on global modernity. It is extraordinary then, that her links to canonical modernist writers occur specifically in scenes of daily urban life. From her contributions to the inaugural Poems on the Underground as the only female, postcolonial writer, to an unsuspecting children’s rap in the style of Eliot’s “Macavity,” Nichols’ poetry finds voice and traction in these various “streblaet-sound galaxies” — the spaces where prevailing, white-washed, modernist representations are being remodeled into the informal headquarters of an incoming intersectional, transnational, “hip-hop” discourse. The purpose of this analysis has been to show how Grace Nichols attempts, amid contending evocations of a white-washed, British modernity, to articulate a specific and deliberate politics of the contemporary black British experience through her redress of modernist literary forms. Following other black British innovators, such as the Windrush Generation writers, Nichols becomes a third-generation interlocutor of modernism. With one foot in the critique of high modernist representations, and the other in the inchoate beginnings of hiphop modernism, Nichols gives name and characterization to a post-Thatcherite, metropolitan experience of language, voice and the embodied black British experience. Her poetry is a confluence of emerging forms of cultural expression, resistance and intersectional feminist thought for black people living in the British metropole. From her early work in the 1980s, to 2009’s Picasso, I Want My Face Back, Nichols has both ushered in a reimagined black British literary modernism through experimentation with Afro-Caribbean literary forms, and redressed notions of racialized and gendered postcolonial identity. What unites these various endeavors were Nichols’ attempts to uncover and disseminate the cultural memory of London’s urban classes, and put forward a reconfigured past that can be employed in the construction of a black British identity.
nurj – vol. 13 BIBLIOGRAPHY “Flying Squad.” In Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable, edited by Adrian Room and Ebenezer Cobham Brewer. London: Cassell & Co., 2009. Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness.” In Heart of Darkness, edited by Robert Kimbrough. London: W. W Norton and Co., 1988. Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands: La Frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987. Bhopal, Raj. “Glossary of terms relating to ethnicity and race: for reflection and debate.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2004): 58. Blom-Cooper, Richard. British Journal of Criminology, Delinquency and Deviant Social Behaviour 22 (April 1, 1982): 184. Boston, Anne. “Poetry in Motion.” The Sunday Times, Jan. 26, 1986. Braithwaite, Edward Kamau. History of the Voice: Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry. London: New Beacon Books Ltd., 1984. Chinitz, David E. T.S. Eliot and the Cultural Divide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. Dawson, Ashley. “The 2000s.” In A Companion to the English Novel, edited by Stephen Arata, Madigan Haley, J. Paul Hunter and Jennifer Wicke, 73-76. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. Eliot, Thomas Stearns. “Macavity the Mystery Cat.” In Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, 37-41. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1982. Gikandi, Simon. “Picasso, Africa, and the Schemata of Difference.” Modernism/ modernity (2003): 455-480. Glissant, Édouard. Caribbean
Discourse: Selected Essays, translated by J. Michael Dash. Charlottesville: U of Virginia Press, 1999. Gordon, Lyndall. Eliot’s New Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Hall, Stuart. “From Scarman to Stephen Lawrence.” History Workshop Journal 48 (1999): 187-97. —. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1978. Heller, Ben. “Landscape, Femininity, and Caribbean Discourse.” MLN 11 (1996): 407. Hill, Fred Hill, “The Tension and the Glory of Subway Poetry.” The Architectural League’s Urban Omnibus: The Culture of Citymaking, March 23, 2016. Accessed February 28, 2016. http://urbanomnibus. net/2016/03/the-tensionand-glory-of-subwaypoetry. Homi Bhabha. “Unsatisfied: notes on vernacular cosmopolitanism.” In Text and Nation: CrossDisciplinary Essays on Cultural and National Identities, edited by Laura Garcia-Moreno and Peter C. Pfeiffer, 191-207. Columbia: Camden House, 1996. Johnson, Linton Kwesi. “Di Great Insohreckshan.” In Selected Poems. London: Penguin Books, 2006. Kalliney, Peter. Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Lima, Maria Helena. “Politics of Teaching Black And British.” In Black British Writing, edited by Victoria Arana and Lauri Ramey, 47-62. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Narain, Denise deCaires. “Gender, the Pastoral, and the Postcolonial Caribbean.”
In Teaching Anglophone Caribbean Literature, edited by Supriya Nair, 421-31. New York: MLA, 2012. Nichols, Grace. “Like a Beacon,” Poems on the Underground: 30 Years, 1986-2016, 30 Poems London: British Arts Council, 2016. —. “Weeping Woman.” In Picasso, I Want My Face Back, 9-20. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books Ltd., 2009. —. I Have Crossed an Ocean. London: Bloodaxe Books Ltd., 2009. —. The Fat Black Woman’s Poems. London: Virago, 1984. Pakenham, Thomas. The Scramble for Africa: 18761912. London: Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1991. Paul, Lissa. “Feminism revisited.” In Understanding Children's Literature, edited by Peter Hunt, 114-26. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2006. Picasso, Pablo. Weeping Woman, 1937. Oil on canvas. 61 cm. x 51 cm. Tate Modern, London. Pollard, Charles W. New World Modernisms: T.S. Eliot, Derek Walcott, and Kamau Braithwaite. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004. Ramazani, Jahan. A Transnational Poetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf, 1993. Scarman, Leslie George. “Judgement of Scarman: Brixton stood firm against anarchy.” Police: Monthly Magazine of the Police Federation of England and Wales (December 1981). Wollaeger, Mark. Introduction to The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, 3-24. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Global Health 094
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BY Maria Kaufman Michael Diamond is an Adjunct Lecturer in Global Health Studies. His research interests include sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, health disparities and medical anthropology. He is the President of World Resources Chicago, which helps businesses respond to global challenges. Formerly, he managed the Rotary International’s PolioPlus program, which was dedicated to eradicating polio.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF RESEARCH IN PUBLIC AND GLOBAL HEALTH INITIATIVES?
MD: I have noticed in my work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is that they’re run by very well-intentioned professionals. Their desire to do something is great, but it is rarer to actually evaluate the impact of their program. So, there tends to be a difference between the researchers, who study problems from an academic perspective, and the NGOs, who do the work. I have always been interested in putting these two pieces together. Anthropology is probably best designed for this, because it doesn’t just examine metrics — like, for example, blood pressure or number of children immunized — it emphasizes qualitative changes as well. Because of this, I really fell in love with a mixed methods approach. The methodology of anthropology has been very important, not only in doing research from my perspective, but also in collaborating with NGOs to set up criteria that they are interested in measuring. For example, I was working with the Chicago Department of Public Health, and we were evaluating a community education program. The chair of the team asked, “How will we evaluate the success of the program?” I suggested administering a pre-test and the a post-test after training, to see what the impact was. She thought this was too complicated — why not just count how many people show up at the training? While that’s an interesting idea, there are other incentives, such as free food at the trainings, which may bias participation. Also, just because people show up doesn’t 095
mean that they were impacted. You need to measure real impact, like what information they have learned and how that may change their lives. COULD AN OVER-EMPHASIS ON METRICS ACTUALLY BE A POTENTIAL DETRIMENT TO PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVES AND RESEARCH?
MD: Absolutely. One of my concerns, especially with some philanthropic organizations, is that they are trying to do what we call vertical interventions. They are so specific about what their funding is used for, precisely because it’s easier to measure the impact of a specific initiative. But people are more complex than this. I’m a big fan of institutions, but oftentimes when these philanthropists give money to an NGO to focus on one specific problem, it takes resources away from the organization to evaluate that particular program. In many cases, the donor organization does not support the institution — so I call this the tail wagging the dog problem. And some NGOs are so desperate for funding that they’ll just take on this money, knowing they’ll have to do all this additional research. So there’s a need to change how donors think. One project that I’ve worked on, the Chicago Global Donors Network, tries to bring donors together to determine different ways of sharing experiences and how they can use their funds more collectively and more in support of these NGOs, rather than their own personal interests. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF CULTURAL COMPETENCY AND CULTURAL RELATIVISM IN ANTHROPOLOGY RESEARCH?
MD: Oftentimes, I think mistakenly, people think that just because another culture has certain practices, and they are not a member of that culture, that they are not in a position to criticize that practice or to encourage those people to change. For example, there may be domestic violence or other kinds of harm that’s perpetrated on, say, minority members of a community, and that might be culturally acceptable to them. Many people that I’ve 096
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“What I want students to understand is what their values are, and what they think is right and wrong. The question then is — what can you do about it?” come across will say, “Well, who am I to say that’s right or wrong? That’s just how their culture is.” My concern is that you may not be able to change their culture, but it doesn’t mean that you have to agree with that practice. What I want students to understand is what their values are, and what they think is right and wrong. The question then is — what can you do about it? For example, in a country like India, how can we help with social issues? I’m not an Indian, so I cannot go there and tell them to change — but I can support Indian groups working to change the policies and practices in their own community. Cultural relativism is a challenging concept, because even though you may not have the right to change other people in their cultures, there are other ways to act on these issues by supporting local groups working towards those goals. Cultural humility also teaches us that my way isn’t always the right way, and that I want to be open to other ways of doing things. What I like most about anthropology is that, rather than teaching what is right or wrong, it taught me to ask questions about the values of other cultures. For example, when conducting research on sexual health, you may ask someone about their sexual orientation and they may tell you that they’re a lesbian. However, you should ask what that person’s definition of lesbianism is; that’s where cultural humility comes in. Don’t assume that you understand — ask. You need to be very specific. Now, you don’t need to know the specific attributes of hundreds of cultures, and there is a huge range of beliefs and behaviors in each community. But to be culturally competent means that you need to at least ask other people to explain their behaviors and perspectives, and not assume that you understand. 097
L’importance de l’enseignement de la prononciation dans les cours de français au niveau universitaire et une piste proposée Rohan Prakash Patricia Scarampi Conseillère
1. INTRODUCTION: PRÉSENTATION DE LA PROBLÉMATIQUE DANS L’ENSEIGNEMENT DU FRANÇAIS COMME LANGUE ÉTRANGÈRE DANS LES ÉCOLES ET LES UNIVERSITÉS AMÉRICAINES, NOUS REMARQUONS UN MANQUE D’EMPHASE SUR LA PRONONCIATION. Ceci est évident en voyant le trajet des
méthodes et des approches de l’enseignement de langue étrangère depuis la méthode grammaire-traduction jusqu’à l’approche communicative. Les cours de français produisent des étudiants qui, dans la plupart des cas, sont capables de communiquer en français à un certain niveau qui est compréhensible pour un locuteur natif, mais n’atteignent pas celui d’un locuteur natif. Les connaissances grammaticales, lexicales et culturelles prennent un rôle important dans l’enseignement selon l’approche communicative et la prononciation ne devient importante que si elle constitue un obstacle à la compréhension. En effet, les étudiants n’apprennent pas les intonations dans la langue français dès le début et donc ils ont de la difficulté à produire ces sons. »
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ous voulons identifier précisément les raisons pour lesquelles il n’y a pas une importance accordée à la prononciation dans les cours de langues aujourd’hui et trouver un moyen d’intégrer l’enseignement de la prononciation et la phonétique du français d’une manière simple et en dehors de la classe. Nous pensons qu’il y a plusieurs raisons qui contribuent à ce manque d’emphase sur la prononciation. D’une part, du point de vue de l’enseignant, en utilisant l’approche communicative, on est satisfait avec une prononciation compréhensible. Alors, la grammaire et le vocabulaire sont beaucoup plus valorisés. D’autre part, la connaissance de la phonétique française n’a pas de place importante dans la formation des professeurs, et donc ceux-ci ne savent pas toujours comment expliquer l’articulation des sons aux apprenants d’une façon théorique ni pratique. Enfin, du point de vue de l’étudiant, apprendre la prononciation pourrait être un processus difficile, et on peut se sentir ridicule quand nous pratiquons ces nouveaux sons. Donc les étudiants se concentrent plus sur la grammaire et le vocabulaire au début et ils ne se rendent compte de l’importance de la prononciation dans la communication que plus tard. Pour remédier à cela, il faudrait trouver un moyen d’éviter ces difficultés en donnant dès le départ aux apprenants l’opportunité d’atteindre une prononciation native. Nous proposons un enseignement explicite de la prononciation et pour y aboutir, en raison des contraintes identifiées precédément, nous avons voulu créer un site web disponible aux étudiants de français dans lequel se trouvent des explications et des exercices pour améliorer la prononciation. Le format d’un site web présente plusieurs intérêts. Il constitue une ressource riche à la disposition des étudiants tout en permettant aux enseignants de ne pas devoir utiliser du temps de cours pour l’enseigner et aux étudiants de pratiquer en privé, sans se mettre dans l’embarras et selon leurs besoins particuliers. Pour mieux situer ce problème et la solution proposée, nous commencerons par expliquer pourquoi la prononciation représente en effet une partie importante dans l’enseignement d’une langue. Ensuite, nous ferons un résumé des méthodologies de l’enseignement de langue, en regardant l’évolution du rôle de la prononciation dans ces approches et méthodes. Ceci nous donne le contexte historique qui nous permet de comprendre pourquoi elle n’est pas explicitement enseignée. Nous examinerons aussi l’importance de l’enseignement
«En effet, les étudiants n’apprennent pas les intonations dans la langue français dès le début et donc ils ont de la difficulté à produire ces sons.» explicite de la phonétique, ce que propose cette thèse. Ce parcours nous mène au rôle de la prononciation dans l’enseignement du fle aujourd’hui. Pour examiner cette situation, nous l’avons approchée sous trois angles. D’abord, nous avons analysé des manuels souvent utilisés dans des cours de français dans les universités américaines pour voir comment ils traitent la prononciation. Ensuite, nous avons distribué une enquête aux étudiants de Northwestern dans des cours de français pour en savoir plus sur leur attitude envers la prononciation dans leurs cours. Enfin, nous avons donné une autre enquête aux professeurs de français à Northwestern pour connaître leur avis sur comment la prononciation doit être enseignée et la façon dont ils l’enseignent dans leurs cours. Toute cette recherche nous a amené à proposer un site web qui présente des explications et des exercices de phonétique pour des étudiants de différents cours de langue à explorer indépendamment ou comme partie intégrante de leur cours. 2. LA PRONONCIATION DANS L’HISTOIRE DE L’ENSEIGNEMENT DU FLE En examinant la chronologie des méthodes utilisées pour enseigner le français comme langue étrangère, nous remarquons une progression vers une augmentation de l’importance de la communication. Or, même dans les méthodes plutôt communicatives,
l’emphase sur la prononciation est diminuée jusqu’au cas où l’étudiant n’est plus compréhensible. Comme la prononciation n’est pas véritablement et clairement traitée dans ces méthodes, nous ne savons pas beaucoup sur l’enseignement de la prononciation. Il semble que la plupart de cet enseignement se passe implicitement. En effet, les capacités de compréhension et d’expression orales semblent englober la prononciation dans les modèles aujourd’hui, ce qui cause un problème parmi les étudiants qui ne distinguent pas entre savoir parler et savoir prononcer. Cela nous mène à la question de l’importance d’un enseignement explicite de la prononciation. Selon les méthodes actuelles, à moins que la prononciation n’empêche la compréhension, elle n’est pas corrigée. Il n’y a pas d’explications détaillées de l’articulation des différents sons du français. 3. L’IMPORTANCE DE L’ENSEIGNEMENT EXPLICITE DE LA PHONÉTIQUE La communication orale du point de vue phonétique repose sur des aspects segmentaux (des sons) et des aspects suprasegmentaux (l’intonation et l’accentuation). Au niveau segmental, il est important d’avoir une bonne articulation et de distinguer entre les mots eux-mêmes. Parfois, le sens d’une phrase peut changer à cause d’une mauvaise articulation segmentale. Par exemple, la différence entre « Tu vas bien. » et « Tout va bien. » est subtile où il n’y a qu’une voyelle qui est différente ([y] dans « tu » et [u] dans « tout ») mais le sens de cette phrase change. Notons d’ailleurs que la distinction entre le [y] et [u] est un problème commun des apprenants anglophones. La seule différence de prononciation entre ces deux voyelles est que l’un est antérieur et l’autre est postérieur. Au niveau suprasegmental, qui inclut l’intonation et l’accentuation, nous pouvons considérer la phrase affirmative « Tu viens avec nous. » et la phrase interrogative « Tu viens avec nous ? » Dans cet exemple, le sens change selon l’intonation. Bien sûr, comme ces confusions ne vont pas souvent se présenter dans un contexte de communication quotidien, ignorer ces règles ne constituera pas un malentendu, pourtant ces règles peuvent aider les interlocuteurs à comprendre plus facilement et plus ¹ Kathleen Y. Ensz, “French Attitudes toward Typical Speech Errors of American Speakers of French.” The Modern Language Journal 66.2 (1982): 133-39. Web. ² Jun Deng, Amy Holtby, Lori Howden-Weaver, Lesli Nessim, Bonnie Nicholas, Kathleen Nickle, Christine Pannekoek, Sabine Stephan, and Miao Sun. “English Pronunciation Research: The Neglected Orphan of Second Language Acquisition Studies?” PMC Working Paper Series (2009). Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta. Web.
rapidement ce que le locuteur veut dire. Selon une étude de Kathleen Ensz qui a analysé les réactions des francophones aux erreurs grammaticales et phonétiques dans le discours des apprenants anglophones du français, on a trouvé que tandis que les erreurs grammaticales sont les plus intolérables pour les francophones, il y a tout de même une préférence signifiante pour le discours plus proche d’un locuteur natif, même si l’approche communicative soutient que la prononciation ne doit pas être corrigée, sauf si elle devient un obstacle à la communication.¹ La recherche dans l’enseignement de la phonétique n’est pas très étendue, même dans l’enseignement de l’anglais.² Face à cette limitation, nous utilisons aussi des résultats des études de l’enseignement de l’anglais. Cristina Aliaga-Garcia de l’Université de Barcelone a démontré dans son étude que l’enseignement explicite de la phonétique pour des apprenants de l’anglais pendant une courte période de temps a produit des effets importants à court terme chez les étudiants. De plus, elle montre que la prononciation n’est pas automatiquement apprise par des méthodes implicites.³ Similairement, Deborah Artega soutient que l’enseignement explicite de la prononciation dans la classe est très important (par rapport à l’absence de cet enseignement ou à l’enseignement qui se trouve uniquement dans les cahiers d’exercices des manuels).⁴ 4. LA PRONONCIATION DANS L’ENSEIGNEMENT DU FLE AUJOURD’HUI 4.1 Analyse des manuels Nous avons d’abord analysé des manuels communs utilisés dans les universités américaines pour savoir comment la prononciation est traitée. Les questions pertinentes que nous avons examinées sont si une section de prononciation existe, si la section fait partie de la séquence d’apprentissage, si elle apparait comme une section dans la table des matières, si les exercices visent une pratique de la prononciation (le travail des sons difficiles) ou bien simplement une pratique de l’oral (répétition de phrases), si on travaille des sons pertinents pour les apprenants (les sons difficiles pour les anglophones, ³ Cristina Aliaga-García, “The Role of Phonetic Training in L2 Speech Training.” University of Barcelona. Web. ⁴ Deborah L. Arteaga, “Articulatory Phonetics in the First-Year Spanish Classroom.” The Modern Language Journal 84.3 (2000): 339-54. Web. ⁵ Diane M. Dansereau, Savoir Dire: Cours De Phonétique Et De Prononciation. 2nd ed. N.p.: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Imprimée.
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«Bien sûr, comme ces confusions ne vont pas souvent se présenter dans un contexte de communication quotidien, ignorer ces règles ne constituera pas un malentendu, pourtant ces règles peuvent aider les interlocuteurs à comprendre plus facilement et plus rapidement ce que le locuteur veut dire.» par exemple), si on travaille la prosodie (l’intonation, l’accent tonique, etc.) et quelle méthodologie est utilisée (des exercices d’écoute, des explications phonétiques, des exercices de discrimination, etc.). Parmi ces manuels, il semble qu’Alter-Ego, Espaces et Contacts contiennent les programmes les plus extensifs qui couvrent une grande partie des aspects de la phonétique. Cela ne veut pas dire qu’il s’agit d’un bon choix pédagogique car nous pensons qu’il vaut mieux se concentrer sur des sons difficiles pour des anglophones, surtout dans un cours pour des débutants. Cependant, Alter-Ego ne contient pas d’explications pour les sujets qu’il traite. Dans cette optique, Espaces peut être considéré comme meilleur puisqu’il y a un choix plus précis de sujets par rapport à Contacts. Espaces et Contacts malheureusement ne donnent que des exercices de répétition, tandis qu’Alter-Ego propose des exercices variés. L’enseignement de la phonétique avec Espaces et Contacts est plutôt passif sauf si l’enseignant décide de le faire autrement et d’y ajouter des exercices de discrimination ou des enregistrements. En même temps, l’enseignement avec Alter-Ego nécessite plus de travail de la part de l’enseignant pour ajouter des explications aux sujets. Du point de vue des exercices, Vis-à-Vis et Motifs ont l’avantage. Ils présentent des exercices avec les explications qui manquent dans Alter-Ego. De plus, les sujets dans Vis-à-Vis sont mis en contexte avec ce que les étudiants apprennent dans le chapitre où se trouve la leçon de prononciation et les difficultés pour les anglophones sont traitées.
4.2 Opinion des étudiants et des enseignants Nous avons aussi créé deux enquêtes, une pour des étudiants de français dans les cours de 111, 115, 121, 125, 202 et 305 pour connaître l’avis des étudiants de tous les niveaux de français, et une pour des professeurs qui enseignent ces cours de langue à Northwestern. Les résultats de l’enquête donnée aux étudiants ont confirmé nos hypothèses. Les étudiants pensent qu’il faut mettre plus d’emphase sur la prononciation. De plus, il est encourageant que les étudiants euxmêmes veulent qu’il y ait plus d’emphase. Nos hypothèses se confirment complètement aussi dans l’idée d’un site web qui pourrait aider les étudiants à améliorer leur prononciation. La plupart des étudiants utiliseraient un site web s’il était offert. De plus, les résultats de l’enquête donnée aux professeurs ont confirmé que les professeurs utiliseraient ce site web dans leurs cours aussi. Globalement, il semble que les enseignants et les étudiants sont en accord sur l’importance de la prononciation et les obstacles qui les empêchent d’y travailler plus dans les cours, comme le manque de temps et la peur de faire des erreurs en classe. Cette enquête auprès des enseignants nous aide à corroborer ce que les étudiants ont dit et confirment notre hypothèse que la prononciation n’est pas assez travaillée et qu’un site web que les étudiants pourraient utiliser chez eux indépendamment est une solution possible. 5. DÉVELOPPEMENT DU SITE WEB Toutes nos recherches nous amènent à la proposition d’un site web contenant des leçons sur la prononciation que les
«L’intention est de créer un outil qu’un étudiant peut utiliser comme supplément de son apprentissage de la langue dans le cours.»
dans la production des consonnes françaises que celle de leurs équivalentes en anglais. Il y a aussi une absence d’aspiration initiale, surtout dans les occlusives sourdes qui sont normalement aspirées en anglais. Le lieu d’articulation est aussi plus antérieur en français. Dansereau observe également une détente finale en français pour des consonnes prononcées à la fin des mots isolés ou des groupes rythmiques, « on doit rompre le contact articulatoire et rouvrir la bouche. » Par contre en anglais, nous avons tendance à laisser la bouche fermée après ces consonnes.⁵ Avec ces sujets qui causent des problèmes pour les anglophones, nous avons créé des leçons dans une progression à partir du niveau A1 au début du niveau B1. Ceci est aligné avec les principes de l’approche communicative où la prononciation doit être assez claire pour que l’interlocuteur puisse comprendre. 6. CONCLUSION
apprenants peuvent utiliser en complément de leurs cours. Nous voulons que l’apprenant soit conscient des caractéristiques du système phonologique. À travers le programme, comme nous nous concentrons sur les parties de la phonétique française qui sont les plus difficiles pour des apprenants anglophones, nous voulons éliminer au moins les plus grandes fautes commises par les apprenants pour qu’ils soient suffisamment clairs dans leur communication. Ce site web ne constituera pas un cours complet de phonétique. L’intention est de créer un outil qu’un étudiant peut utiliser comme supplément de son apprentissage de la langue dans le cours. Nous aimerions que les professeurs intègrent ces modules dans leurs cours peut-être comme un supplément pour les devoirs. Quant au parcours pédagogique, nous valorisons les sujets qui posent des problèmes pour les anglophones. La plupart des sons, à l’exception des sons /i/, /u/, /ɔ/, /ɛ/ et /ɑ/ sont différents dans chaque langue sans équivalence évidente. Nous voyons aussi une tendance des anglophones à diphtonguer les voyelles comme cela se fait en anglais. Par conséquent, les apprenants anglophones ont tendance à prononcer le son français /e/ comme la diphtongue anglaise /ei/. Dans l’autre sens, il y a aussi plusieurs sons qui n’existent pas en anglais, ce qui est le cas des voyelles nasales françaises et des sons /y/, /œ/ et /ø/. De plus, il y a quelques différences dans l’articulation des consonnes. Selon Dansereau, il y a plus de tension musculaire
Nos hypothèses pour ce projet étaient que la prononciation est une partie de l’enseignement du français langue étrangère qui n’est pas mise en valeur, à cause de l’évolution des méthodes d’enseignement qui ne se concentrent pas sur la prononciation à moins que l’apprenant ne soit incompréhensible, et à cause d’un manque de ressources et de temps chez le professeur et l’apprenant pour se consacrer plus à la prononciation, alors que la grammaire et le vocabulaire prédominent. Nous avons pu tracer ce manque de valeur par le parcours des méthodes d’enseignement de langue étrangère qui était passé d’une méthode grammaticale et écrite à une méthode qui se concentre sur la conversation et puis la communication mais avec moins d’emphase sur la prononciation. Les méthodes au début du vingtième siècle se préoccupaient plus de l’utilisation de la langue écrite, et même quand l’oral était intégré dans les méthodes, l’emphase était sur la communication et pas sur la bonne prononciation. Nous avons administré une enquête aux étudiants de français et aux professeurs de langue française à Northwestern pour solliciter leur avis sur la prononciation dans leurs cours de langue. Nous n’avons pas trouvé un manque de considération pour l’apprentissage chez les étudiants et les professeurs de français à Northwestern à qui nous avons donné l’enquête. Cependant, une majorité des participants ont indiqué qu’il n’y avait pas assez de temps ou de ressources dans le cours et chez eux pour pratiquer la prononciation. Nous avons aussi examiné plusieurs manuels de français pour analyser le contenu qu’ils offrent sur la prononciation. Nous avons
identifié quelques manuels, Alter-Ego, Espaces et Contacts, qui présentent des programmes extensifs et utiles pour la prononciation. Nous savons donc qu’il y existe une ressource pour pratiquer la prononciation disponible aux étudiants et aux professeurs qui utilisent ces manuels. Pour ajouter une autre ressource pour tous, nous avons proposé un site web comme solution, dans le but d’être toujours accessible avec des modules que les étudiants peuvent utiliser pour pratiquer la prononciation quand ils le souhaitent. Les professeurs ne doivent pas utiliser de temps pendant les séances de leurs cours pour enseigner la prononciation, mais ils peuvent toujours montrer le site web aux étudiants comme ressource supplémentaire. Pour mieux construire le site web, il fallait d’abord préciser les points de prononciation importants et difficiles pour des apprenants anglophones et les buts pédagogiques des activités. D’abord nous avons comparé les deux schémas des sons dans chaque langue pour voir où se trouvent les grandes différences. Nous avons pu identifier des sons comme [y], [r], [œ], [ø] et les nasales comme les plus exigeants pour un apprenant anglophone, mais nous rajoutons aussi des aspects prosodiques uniques à la langue
française comme l’intonation, l’élision, la liaison et l’enchaînement et le rythme. Ensemble, ces points forment des modules pour notre site web. Comme but pédagogique, le site vise à rendre les apprenants au moins plus conscients de ces différences phonétiques et prosodiques entre l’anglais et le français et de reconnaître ces différences dans leur usage de la langue. L’intention n’est pas de créer un cours intégral de phonétique française, mais plutôt une introduction à la phonétique pour mieux former la base pour un apprenant qui pourrait continuer son apprentissage de la phonétique française dans un cours dédié à ce sujet. Nous croyons que le site web proposé pourrait être utile pour tous les apprenants de français dans un cours de langue. Ce site aidera un étudiant à améliorer sa perception des sons français pour mieux reconnaître l’articulation des sons ainsi que les distinctions entre les sons français et les sons anglais. Ceci peut mettre les étudiants sur la bonne voie pour la prononciation dans leur apprentissage du français, et nous pensons que c’est un élément nécessaire et un complément utile de tout programme de langue.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIE Aliaga-García, Cristina. “The Role of Phonetic Training in L2 Speech Training.” University of Barcelona. Web. Arteaga, Deborah L. “Articulatory Phonetics in the First-Year Spanish Classroom.” The Modern Language Journal 84.3 (2000): 339-54. Web. Dansereau, Diane M. Savoir. Dire: Cours De Phonétique
Et De Prononciation. 2nd ed. N.p.: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Imprimée. Deng, Jun, Amy Holtby, Lori Howden-Weaver, Lesli Nessim, Bonnie Nicholas, Kathleen Nickle, Christine Pannekoek, Sabine Stephan and Miao Sun. “English Pronunciation Research: The Neglected Orphan of Second Language Acquisition
Studies?” PMC Working Paper Series (2009). Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta. Web. Ensz, Kathleen Y. “French Attitudes toward Typical Speech Errors of American Speakers of French.” The Modern Language Journal 66.2 (1982): 133-39. Web.
Ann Kassen. Motifs. 6th ed. N.p.: Cengage, 2014. Imprimée. Mitschke, Cherie and Cheryl Tano. Espaces: Rendez-vous Avec Le Monde Francophone. 2nd ed. N.p.: Vista Higher Learning, 2011. Imprimée. Siskin, Jay, Ann Williams and Thomas Field. Debuts: An Introduction to French. 2nd ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill
Education, 2007. Imprimée. Valdman, Albert, Cathy Pons, Mary E. Scullen and Sarah Jourdain. Chez Nous: Branché Sur Le Monde Francophone. 2nd ed. N.p.: Prentice Hall, 2002. Imprimée. Valette, Jean-Paul and Rebecca M. Valette. Contacts: Langue Et Culture Françaises. 9th ed. N.p.: Cengage, 2014. Imprimée.
MANUELS Amon, Evelyne, Judith A. Muyskens and Alice C. Omaggio Hadley. Vis-à-vis: Beginning French. 6th ed. N.p.: McGraw Hill Education, 2014. Imprimée. Berthet, Annie, Catherine Hugot and Veronique M. Kizirian. Alter Ego A2: Méthode De Français 2. N.p.: Hachette, 2006. Imprimée. Jansma, Kimberly and Margaret
Witchcraft in Southwark: A Case Study of the London Suburb from 1568â€“1702 Anna Stevens Edward Muir Faculty Advisor
THE SUBJECT OF WITCHCRAFT HAS ATTRACTED MORBID OBSESSION FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS. Behind the
modern stereotype of pointy hats, warts and broomsticks, lies a sinister history of accusations, persecution and loss of innocent life. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a frenzy of witchcraft trials occurred in Europe in which tens of thousands of accused persons were sentenced to death. The horrors of witchcraft persecution during this period have long attracted the attention of historians. Cultural fascination with witchcraft has been an enduring trend ever since the invention of the printing press facilitated the wide circulation of stories. England provides a fruitful area of study in large part because of the immense amount of contemporary literature produced, primarily in the form of pamphlets. Âť 104
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espite intense scholarly attention, a question consistently neglected is why English witchcraft trials were an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon. Witchcraft beliefs were not confined to the ignorant and uneducated rural masses. Belief in the occult permeated every level of early modern English society, right up to the monarch. Despite the popular conception that London was a “rational city” — a force of modernization and social change in the early modern period — many urban dwellers shared many of the same superstitions their rural counterparts held well into the 17th century. Why, then, did urban communities experience such a relatively small number of prosecutions compared to the rest of the nation? The vast majority of accusations arose in the countryside, accounting for the primarily rural image of English witchcraft. Nonetheless, during the 16th and 17th centuries, a small number of cases arose in the most urbanized settings in England. Despite the fact that approximately 80 percent of England’s population lived in rural villages and hamlets, urban areas’ virtual immunity to witch persecution is conspicuous. This thesis investigates witchcraft beliefs and accusations between 1568 and 1702 in Southwark, a suburb of London south of the River Thames. Southwark provides an accessible and valuable point of investigation of urban witchcraft for several reasons. First, the borough unquestionably qualifies as “urban” in the early modern period. By 1600, 10 percent of the population of the City of London lived in Southwark, making it the second largest urban area in England. Second, Southwark provides a realistic area of study because of its legal treatment of witchcraft prosecution. Southwark’s records are accessible because felony crime in the borough fell under the jurisdiction of the Justices of the Peace of Surrey rather than under the Corporation of the City of London. The idiosyncratic criminal justice system and the limited court records from London at the time make legal investigation immensely more difficult in the capital. Outside of London and Middlesex, England was divided into six judicial circuits, or courts of assize. As a felony charge, witchcraft trials took place in the courts of assize, which met twice a year during Lent and summer and moved among the main towns in each county. Unfortunately, of the six judicial circuits, only ¹ Bernd Roeck, “Urban Witch Trials,” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 4, no. 1 (2009): 83, accessed December 5, 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/mrw.0.0124.
+ Looking west toward the Bankside from atop St. Saviour’s church, Wenceslaus Hollar’s perspective view of London in 1647, showing the Beargarden and the Globe Theater. Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Daily Life in Stuart England (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), 124.
records from the Home Circuit (made up of the counties of Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Kent and Hertfordshire) survive in any significant and useful quantity from the period in question. The Home Circuit records allow for a unique comparison between Southwark, an urban area, and rural Surrey. In almost 150 years, between 1568 and 1701, the legal records show that just eight women were prosecuted for witchcraft in Southwark, compared to 51 in the rest of Surrey county. The relative dearth of formal prosecutions in Southwark confirms the idea that urbanites were liberated from the ignorant, traditional beliefs of their rural counterparts. However, further investigation suggests the rational character of urban dwellers has been overexaggerated. It would be premature to infer from these numbers that urban dwellers were free of supernatural beliefs held by their rural neighbors. Witchcraft pamphlets and other written sources contain a great deal more information than the brief, limited indictments. They reveal the functionality of witchcraft belief and the social, cultural and spiritual worlds in which this mindset made sense. An examination of the print sources indicates that witchcraft belief remained strong in Southwark at the turn of the 17th century. It is extremely difficult to conceptualize ² Boulton, Neighborhood and Society, 21. ³ Gregory Durston, Witchcraft and Witch Trials (Chichester: Barry Rose Law Publishers, 2000), 193.
+ William Morgan’s Map of the Whole of London in 1682. Morgan, William. Morgan's Map of the Whole of London in 1682. London: 1682. From British History Online.
and reconstruct the mental landscape of early modern Englishmen. Religion offered people an explanation for human existence and a promise of a future afterlife. Magical beliefs, including witchcraft, provided respite for earthly problems. The insecure environment during this period caused a “preoccupation with the explanation and relief of human misfortune.” Magical and religious belief systems mitigated the harshness of daily life and helped Tudor and Stuart Englishmen understand pain, poverty, hunger, sudden sickness and death. The written sources that survive — primarily pamphlets — offer a glimpse into the social world and mindset of early modern society and the cultural climate that made accusations possible. There are just nine sources showing magical activity in Southwark. The pamphlets date from 1564 to 1704 and, although few in number, provide evidence that popular interest in witchcraft and supernatural activity was strong, and did not correlate with a lack of prosecutions. That stories of sorcery, supernatural activity, possession and cursing were printed in the first place implies that they were topics of great interest to the community. The small quantity of
Southwark pamphlets is logical when one takes into consideration the fact that nearly all witchcraft pamphlets in England dealt with convicted witches. None of the accused witches in Southwark were found guilty. Most exonerated witches received little or no coverage, to the dismay of the witchcraft historian. Fortunately, there is one exception to the rule, which occurred in Southwark at the turn of the 17th century. Three written sources relating to the high-profile case of Richard Hathaway and the falsely accused Sarah Morduck illustrate how entrenched beliefs in witchcraft were in the suburb as late as 1700. By the turn of the 17th century, witchcraft prosecutions were few and far between throughout England. The period of decline began at the beginning of the century, rising only once in the 1640s, when the centralized court system failed to contain the religious fervor roused by the Civil War. Judges became increasingly reluctant to prosecute witchcraft cases as the 17th century progressed. The English judiciary did not take much initiative in the prosecution of witches. Local actors drove criminal proceedings, but it was the judiciary who made the Witchcraft Act
nurj – vol. 13 inoperative long before it was repealed. Although the judges presiding over this period of growing skepticism did not necessarily deny the existence of witchcraft, they came to realize that most of the accused were innocent of any criminal charges. After 1668, only 27 out of the total 513 women indicted for witchcraft in the Home Counties faced indictment. The last certain execution of a witch in England occurred in Exeter in 1682. This climate of skepticism makes it all the more surprising that the most notorious witchcraft case in Southwark occurred at the very end of the period of formal witchcraft prosecution in England. Richard Hathaway, a blacksmith’s apprentice from Southwark, accused Sarah Morduck, the wife of a Thames boatman, of bewitching him. Morduck endured great abuse from the community as a result of Hathaway’s accusation. Churches took up collections in Hathaway’s name, and posted bills imploring their congregants to pray for the afflicted apprentice. An angry mob attacked Morduck in the street one day. Morduck fled to London, only to be pursued by Hathaway and his followers, who broke into her lodgings. Morduck was taken before a London alderman who ordered Morduck be searched for teats and other “marks,” and allowed Hathaway to scratch her, a common test at the time. Lane then committed Morduck to prison to await trial. Morduck stood trial on July 28, 1701 at the Surrey summer assize sessions in Guildford for having “bewitched Richard Hathaway, who was wasted, consumed, etc.” 17 people — 11 men and six women — endorsed her indictment. Despite being cleared at the assizes, Hathaway successfully mobilized people and influenced public sentiment in Southwark against his alleged bewitcher. The assize records only provide the barest facts. However, knowledge of the case’s background is remarkably detailed due to the survival of three contemporary sources, including two pamphlets, and one very unusual source: a State Trial report of Hathaway’s trial for being a cheat and imposter. The record from the Surrey assize notes that, after Morduck’s acquittal in July, Hathaway was jailed under suspicion of fraud. He faced trial on March 25 of the next year. The trial report, which survives in several forms, is a verbatim account of the legal
proceedings at Hathaway’s trial. Witness testimonies for both the prosecution and the defense support the impression that beliefs in witchcraft were widespread in Southwark. In total, 29 people, including those who signed their names to Morduck’s indictment, sided with Hathaway in the trial. The record makes several mentions of public interest in the case, and the involvement of various authoritative members of the community, including neighbors, clergy, constables and magistrates. The fact that the Crown prosecuted Hathaway for imposture suggests his alleged bewitchment incited significant public fervor. By 1700, the English judiciary had played an active role in the decline of witchcraft prosecution for decades, resulting in many acquittals. However, accusers rarely faced prosecution themselves. The highprofile case of Sarah Morduck demanded a strong official response. The Hathaway case offers proof that beliefs in witchcraft endured, even in periods of lowlevel prosecution. The case also illustrates the uneasy coexistence of judicial skepticism and popular superstitions in urban areas. In Southwark, no witchcraft cases were brought to the assizes between 1587 and 1647. Another half-century passed before Sarah Morduck’s trial in 1701. Formal accusations may not have been an important aspect of urban life, but this did not mean superstitions disappeared, or even significantly declined. The Hathaway documents demonstrate the complexity of each accusation. Despite the survival of a nearly 30-page trial report, Hathaway’s motivations remain unclear. Was he motivated by economic insecurity? Mental instability? Or perhaps straightforward personal animosity? Historians may never know. The value of the surviving pamphlets and trial report is in the vivid illustration of three important themes: continuity of beliefs in witchcraft, rising skepticism and shifting conceptions of neighborliness. The case exemplifies how witchcraft accusations increasingly divided public opinion during the 17th century. In 1701, the climate of public opinion was such that, given the right triggers, accusations and hostility could erupt in the urban suburb. The assaults on Morduck expose how deeply ingrained were fears of malicious magic. On the other hand, the almost unprecedented prosecution of Morduck’s accuser illustrates an increasing
⁴ Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971),5. ⁵ Barbara Singleton, “Witchcraft in Middlesex” (MPhil diss. , University of Reading, 1996), 102. ⁶ Brian P. Levack, “Introduction,” in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America, Oxford Handbooks Online, August 10, 2016, 438.
⁷ Levack, The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft, 459. ⁸ Ibid., 441. ⁹ Cecil Henry l’Estrange Ewen, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials: The Indictments of Witchcraft from the Records of 1373 Assizes Held for the Home Circuit, 15591736 A.D. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929), 99.
+ Map of Southwark Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Daily Life in Stuart England (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), 126.
skepticism. Rarely were those accused of witchcraft granted recourse, as Morduck was. Hathaway’s conviction also represents a greater shift in the idea of neighborliness. As the rate of acquittals in witch trials rose, it became increasingly apparent that many innocent, vulnerable women had been falsely accused. The torture of accused witches, rather than the witches themselves, became the symbol for un-neighborliness. Hathaway’s prosecution for disrupting public order and inciting unrest in Southwark characterizes a wider shift in the ideal of neighborliness. Educated opinion towards witchcraft undoubtedly became more skeptical later in the 17th century, especially in the courts. However, the Hathaway case suggests that popular attitudes did not make transform in the same way. If belief in witchcraft continued to be pervasive in Southwark as late as the early 18th century, the question remains: why were more cases not prosecuted in the early modern period? Historians of witchcraft must confront a problem: how to seriously consider that whose very existence they reject. Witchcraft, with all its associated absurdities — nailvomiting, human flying, apparitions, teats and so on — provides a fascinating challenge. It is both easy and comforting to view the unsavory aspects of the past as categorical mistakes, a surrender to irrationality. The concept of the “Rational City” fits neatly
¹⁰ James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in England 1550-1750 (London; New York: Hamish Hamilton; Penguin, 1996), 228.
into this narrative. Viewing cities as bastions of enlightenment, however, obscures the realities of life in the early modern city as most inhabitants experienced it. While educated skepticism became increasingly vocal and persuasive in 17th-century England, popular opinion was still vulnerable to witchcraft accusations. Witchcraft existed as part of a culturally embedded belief system in the early modern period. Magical thinking was not an antiquated deviation from mainstream thought. Rather, it was intrinsic to the early modern world. Along with religion and astrology, magic offered society a way to understand human misfortune and acted as a system of social control. The eight Southwark cases show that urban Englishmen were not immediately relieved of their superstitions and folk traditions upon arrival to the metropolis. Where details are found, the Southwark cases conform to the pattern of accusations in rural Surrey. The nature of the cases does not differ greatly. Maleficium was the primary offense in most rural indictments, and in all of the Southwark indictments. The only great difference is the absence of agriculture-related accusations in Southwark. Maleficium charges concerned with the death or illness of livestock represent a significant proportion of rural charges. Historian Jeremy Boulton found evidence that larger communities resembling tightknit village structures existed in Southwark in the 17th century, despite staggering population growth. The continuity — not only in beliefs, but also in structures — between rural agrarian society and urban society help explain the eight accusations in the suburb. It is, however, far easier to explain why accusations arose in Southwark than it is to explain why they did not. Searching for simple cause and effect in the investigation of witchcraft prosecution is useless. The spark to ignite accusations could come from a variety of underlying fears and causes. A range of emotions might lie behind accusations: fear and anger, certainly, but also envy, intimidation and resentment. It is challenging — often impossible — to discern the reasons why some hostilities resulted in accusations, while others did not. In the context of urban Southwark, explaining the scarcity of accusations requires an approach from many angles. Just as there were elements of continuity in tradition, there were factors that distinguished life in the urban suburb from traditional
¹¹ Cecil Henry l’Estrange Ewen, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials: The Indictments of Witchcraft from the Records of 1373 Assizes Held for the Home Circuit, 15591736 A.D. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929), Ewen, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials, 265.
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“Witchcraft, with all its associated absurdities — nail-vomiting, human flying, apparitions, teats and so on — provides a fascinating challenge.” agrarian England. The massive increase in Southwark’s population likely also played an important role in declining accusations of witchcraft, especially as the 17th century progressed. Accusations often resulted from years of growing tension and hostility, as well as the accusers’ assurance that their community would support them. High levels of migration to the suburb likely disrupted the communities enough to impair the processes that gave rise to formal accusations. The development of better urban poorrelief schemes also provides another compelling explanation for the decrease in Southwark’s witchcraft accusations. As the population of London grew, there was an increase in poorer residents. City authorities confronted corresponding social and criminal challenges. Between 1514 and 1524, the capital and its suburbs adopted various regulations against vagrants and beggars. These included banning ablebodied vagrants from begging and forbidding citizens from giving to unlicensed beggars. The parish became the sole administrator of poor-relief for its own residents. Individual almsgiving was banned, and collections were to be placed in a common box. Due to the influx of working poor, the provision of relief funds was eventually undertaken by the government. Out of necessity, London became the first secular authority to organize poor-relief for the public. The four parishes of Southwark possessed the normal parochial apparatus of poorrelief. Overseers of the Poor, as well as permanent charitable institutions like the College of the Poor and St. Thomas’ Hospital, was responsible for the charity programs. The influx of vagrants to the metropolitan area necessitated the expansion of the system of poor-relief in Southwark, beyond measures prescribed in the national 1601 Poor Law. Urban centralization occurred rapidly. By the 1620s, poor relief in the Boroughside had become a three-tiered structure: the
Overseers of the Poor were accountable to Surrey justices; the Warden of the General Poor and the Warden of the College Almshouse to the vestry of St. Saviour’s. Each body was responsible for providing income to different categories of poor. Despite the apparent comprehensive nature of the poor-relief apparatus in Southwark, payments provided by the Overseers of the Poor did not go beyond supplementing income. The typical pension in Southwark was seven to nine dollars a week, roughly half of the 14 a week that a laborer might make. Such sums were not enough to support the recipient. However, residents of Southwark had access to many different types of alternative income. Many individuals, particularly poor residents, did not rely on one occupation for their entire income. For the poorer resident, there were ways to survive without having to beg neighbors for alms. Pawn-broking provided a means of short-term relief for periods of economic hardship. The elderly, poor and infirm could find employment in minor parish or manorial offices. Some households kept livestock to supplement their income. Others took in or nursed abandoned children who could supplement household income. Lodging was a particularly important means of increasing income in an ever-expanding London. Well-off homeowners could invest in a rental property, but homeowners of any class could take in lodgers. The influx of migrants and travelers meant that accommodation was always in demand. The dynamic local economy of metropolitan Southwark, including its superior poor-relief system, provided flexibility for its inhabitants — especially the more vulnerable segment of the population — than did a rural economy. Was English witchcraft a rural phenomenon? Simply put, no. Improvements in controlling the environment in urban Southwark contributed to the gradual decline of prosecutions. Urban society provided
“Over the course of the 16th and 17th
centuries, urbanites slowly and unconsciously developed a confidence in their agency, thus weakening the need to explain worldly occurrences through magic and witchcraft.”
both superior poor relief and more ways for vulnerable residents to earn income. These developments improved social security and control while alleviating some types of insecurities that could spur accusations in village communities. Most importantly, urban living and the mitigation of such instability facilitated a shift in mentality as much as it did structural change. Over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, urbanites slowly and unconsciously developed a confidence in their agency, thus weakening the need to explain worldly occurrences through magic and witchcraft. Modernization is a process — an incorporation of new ideas and technologies that transform the way people live.
Modernity, in contrast, is an experience. The world in which we live can change in the blink of an eye, but changes in the human psyche are mysterious and more difficult to track. There are few easy answers and still a great deal to understand about the witchcraft phenomenon. The study of witchcraft in Southwark shows that belief systems transform gradually. The modernization that took place in the “rational cities” of early modern England does not indicate a quick or total dismissal of traditional beliefs. However, it did nudge popular thought and discourse away from magical customs and practices towards a culture of critical reasoning characteristic of a modern worldview.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Boulton, Jeremy Neighbourhood and Society: A London Suburb in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Durston, Gregory. Witchcraft and Witch Trials: A History of English Witchcraft and Its Legal Perspectives, 1542 to 1736. Chichester: Barry Rose Law Publishers, 2000. Ewen, C. L’Estrange. Witch Hunting and Witch Trials: The Indictments for Witchcraft from the Records of 1373 Assizes Held for the Home Circuit A.
D. 1559-1736. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1929. Leonard, E. M. The Early History of English Poor Relief. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1900. Forgeng, Jeffrey L. , Daily Life in Stuart England (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007). Levack, Brian P. “Introduction.” In The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America. Oxford Handbooks Online. Accessed August
10, 2016. http://www. oxfordhandbooks.com. turing.library.northwestern. edu/view/10.1093/ oxfordhb/978019957 8160.001.0001/oxfordhb9780199578160-e-1. Roeck, Bernd, “Urban Witch Trials,” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 4, no. 1 (2009): 83, accessed December 5, 2017, http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi. org/10.1353/mrw.0.0124. Singleton, Barbara, “Witchcraft in Middlesex” (MPhil diss., University of Reading, 1996).
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About the Contributors
De’Sean Weber Julia Poppy Jamie Klein Ibtesaam Moosa Katie Martini Emma Montgomery Alex Gordon Payton Danner Ann Ho Rohan Prakash Anna Stevens 111
De’Sean Weber— Trauma-Informed Care: Re-contextualizing, Depoliticizing and De-pathologizing the Black Experience De’Sean Weber studied anthropology and global health at Northwestern University. De’Sean was president of Phi Delta Epsilon Pre-Medical Fraternity and Mixed Race Coalition and a general member of NU Community Health Corps. He was selected as a Bill Emerson National Hunger fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center. He is with the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services, researching poverty and hunger in communities to better inform national policy. What is your research, in a nutshell? My research examines how Chicago-based health and social services ngo Heartland Alliance addresses the impact of mental illness, addiction and homelessness among low-income black beneficiaries through trauma-informed care.
How did you come to your research topic? In 2016, I conducted a literature review on gun violence and mental health in Chicago. Dr. Evan Lyon with Heartland Alliance encouraged me to examine his organization’s efforts to provide traumainformed care. I joined the Pathways Program as a volunteer and researcher to examine the organization’s traumainformed approach to mental health treatment. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? Anthropology must sustain, deepen and defend its critical stance toward institutions and discourses of power, rather than reinforce them. I believe more research is needed to examine the ways other ngos and governmental agencies initiate systemic change with traumainformed programming and policy change.
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Julia Poppy— Creative Practice and Financial Crises in Contemporary America: Charging Bull and Occupy Wall Street Julia Poppy studied art history at Northwestern University. Julia completed individual research projects and was a docent at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum. Since graduation, Julia has been finishing the curation of her exhibition on Purvis Young at the Block Museum. Julia will begin a Master’s program at the Courtauld Institute of Art, studying 1960s art, and will continue to research the relationship between art, politics and culture.
How did you come to your research topic?
What is your research, in a nutshell?
Where do you see the future direction of this work leading?
My research addresses how contemporary creative practices negotiate art’s role in America and the relationship between art and capitalism. I focus on how “Charging Bull” has been appropriated to redefine art in these conversations.
I finished my thesis when the “Fearless Girl” statue appeared. There is more to mine in the gender politics of “Charging Bull”’s history — during the 1980s, within the context of Occupy Wall Street, and beside Fearless Girl.
I became interested in public art, its relationship to democracy and the right to occupy public space working with Prof. Rebecca Zorach. After seeing that no serious art historical attention was paid to “Charging Bull,” I thought it important to study how the sculpture facilitates conversations about these topics.
Jamie Kleinâ€” Role of Child-Directed Speech Constructions in Early Language: An Analysis of the childes Corpus Jamie Klein graduated from Northwestern University in 2017. After studying cognitive science, film and marketing communications, he pursued an honors thesis in linguistics and child development. Jamie has since moved to New York City. He plans to work in the technology industry, applying his work in consumer behavior and psychology. What is your research, in a nutshell? My research focuses on the theory of Construction Grammar â€” the idea that the structural basis of language is form and meaning pairings. In order to investigate this theory, I annotated, organized and analyzed over 10,000 lines of transcribed child-directed speech.
How did you come to your research topic? Upon joining the Qualitative Research Group Lab, led by Dr. Kenneth Forbus, I was able to learn about many exciting opportunities. I have always been interested in child research, so applying my cognitive science and linguistics background to child development was a great opportunity. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? Using a broader set of data, potentially aided by automated methods of collection, and a richer analysis could investigate other syntactic constructions, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of child language learning.
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Ibtesaam Moosa— Identity Politics in 2 States, Contradiction between Tamils as the “Other” and “We are one India” Ibtesaam is a senior majoring in communication and pursuing a certificate in strategic marketing and communication. She has been Vice-President of the student union and part of the nu-q Ambassador program. She received a Weinberg research grant through which she went to Malaysia to study how Rohingya refugees integrate. After graduation, she plans to pursue a doctorate in communication research. What is your research, in a nutshell? My topic is poetic engagement. In this paper, I argue that the happy ending of a ‘single Indian identity’ contradicts the film’s treatment of the Tamils ethnic community, as the lesser ‘Other.’ The happy ending can potentially be attributed to the rising nationalism and the political environment during the 2014 Indian national elections.
How did you come to your research topic? As a nu-q student, I was interested in film analysis and theory and how films influence society but I never looked at Bollywood through an academic lens. I began to look at Bollywood as more than entertainment, but as a socialization agent that functions within the political and social environment in which they are produced. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? I realized that there were few academic papers on Bollywood. Most that existed were written by Indians in the Diaspora. I could not find any authors that wrote about contemporary Bollywood and issues like feminism or globalization. Bollywood is an integral entertainment form for over a billion people, so it is important to understand how it influences a culture’s mindset. I have analyzed only one film but there are so many more that can provide a glimpse into the relationships between Bollywood and the Indian society.
Katie Martiniâ€” The Association among Media Exposure, Disruptive Behaviors and Language Ability in Young Children
Katie Martini studied communication sciences and disorders and psychology. She is pursuing a Masterâ€™s degree in speech language pathology at the University of Maryland. She plans to work as a speech pathologist, specializing in early intervention to gain clinical experience. She hopes to pursue a PhD and research intervention strategies for child language disorders.
How did you come to your research topic?
What is your research, in a nutshell?
Where do you see the future direction of this work leading?
My research focuses on understanding if and how exposure to media impacts attention, hyperactivity and aggression in young children, and how language ability may impact these relationships.
Future research should look at the effects of media on child behavior holistically, taking into consideration media content and media type in addition to media exposure. Future research should also continue to look at how media impacts individual disruptive behaviors, which will help create intervention strategies for behavior disorders.
While working with Dr. Megan Roberts, I became interested how language impacts child development. Dr. Roberts and I decided it would be a good idea to explore how language, media exposure and disruptive behaviors relate.
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Emma Montgomery— Lost Histories: Limits of the Archive Emma Montgomery is from Riverside, Connecticut and majored in psychology and comparative literature. Today, she is teaching English through a literature course in Barranquilla, Colombia on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award (eta). What is your research, in a nutshell? My topic is the poetic engagement and recycling of archival material in contemporary poetry, specifically by women of the black Atlantic diaspora. I explore innovative use of language from historical records, as well as the theory of “the archive” itself, beginning with Derrida’s “Archive Fever.”
How did you come to your research topic? I was interested in the poetry of Harryette Mullen, specifically “Muse and Drudge”. I received a grant the summer before my senior year, and began reading anthologies and criticism of African-American poetry and became interested in the tendency to categorize innovative works by women of color as either experimental or identitybased. I later decided to focus on the relationship of Zong! to “the archive” in contemporary experimental works and diaspora studies. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? I see the work building on a field of scholarship focused on the generative possibilities of language and bringing experimental works by women of color to the forefront of critical discussion.
Alex Gordonâ€” Students Prefer Courses and Professors with Better Evaluations Alex Gordon graduated in 2017 with a degree in economics, mathematics and higher education. He now writes for a law firm in Chicago, where he works with immigrant researchers to prepare letters of support for visa petitions. What is your research, in a nutshell? I examine how course evaluations influence the classes students choose to take and what these evaluations indicate about the priorities students have in selecting classes. How did you come to your research topic? As a student, I always wondered how my peers used course evaluations and how
students choose classes. While many issues in the philosophy of education are not empirically verifiable, this issue was. It turns out that students really do select easier classes, at least in certain contexts. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? Minimal research has been conducted in how teaching evaluations impact student enrollment. In this thesis, I explored the most basic possible analysis of this topic, but I hope this enables others to further investigate the evaluations in different subsections of students, or based on the race or sex of the professor. Furthermore, I would like to see work analyzing whether professors tailor classes in response to student evaluations.
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Payton Danner— Turning Silence: W.H. Auden’s “Rachel” from For the Time Being (1941–42) Payton Danner graduated in 2017 with a degree in English literature and music, concentrating in classical saxophone performance. He is interested in poetry and poetics, continental philosophy and political theory. He is pursuing a Master's degree in literary studies at the University of Cambridge. What is your research, in a nutshell? This paper examines Auden's complicated commitment to Christianity through a little-known poem he wrote for the Biblical Rachel in his “Christmas oratorio,” For the Time Being (1941-1942). Rachel's poem mourning her children is organized around a poetics of silence and troping. Auden adapts her scriptural appearance to reveal why the child is not found in the text.
How did you come to your research topic? I first came to Auden from reading Susannah Gottlieb’s book. After a summer research grant studying Auden's voluminous works, I became interested in his poetry of mourning and how strands of religious thought could undergo radical transfigurations in the 20th century. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? I hope that my work on Auden's neglected poem for Rachel and its theoretical concerns can lead to more accurate discussions of Auden’s interest in religion generally.
Ann Ho— Redressing Modernism: The Poetry of Grace Nichols 1984–2009 Ann Ho graduated in 2017 with a major in English and a minor in Slavic literature and languages. Post-graduation, she is working in the nonprofit sector and realizing her dream of becoming an amateur oil painter before applying to doctorate programs in English literature. What is your research, in a nutshell? My topic investigates the relationship between postcolonial literature and modernist experimentation through historicist and formalist readings of the poems of a well-known, albeit understudied, black British poet, Grace Nichols. How did you come to your research topic? My academic mentor, Prof. Evan Mwangi, taught a class in which we read a children's
poem by Grace Nichols called “Cat-Rap.” My close reading assignment became an inquiry into black British modernity, looking at Nichols’ contributions to modernist poetics. Harris Feinsod, my thesis adviser, introduced me to Global Modernism and its scholars, which became the theoretical backbone of my thesis. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? In future studies, I wish to make a substantive inquiry into contemporaryLondon’s postcolonial literary scene and migrant communities. I want to examine how UK’s systems of social welfare affects the most vulnerable communities of black and brown Britons and how those experiences are transcribed into literary form by writers and artists of a new transnational modernism.
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Rohan Prakash— L’importance de l’enseignement de la prononciation dans les cours de français au niveau universitaire et une piste proposée Rohan Prakash graduated in 2017 with a degree in education and social policy, focusing on secondary math education and French. He is interested in researching and implementing new pedagogical techniques to develop stronger understanding of underlying concepts in both math and French. Today, he is a math teacher at Homestead High School in Cupertino, California. What is your research, in a nutshell? My topic focuses on the obstacles faced by educators of French as a second language at a university level with regards to pronunciation. Pronouncing new sounds can be embarrassing situations for a beginner student. I propose a website with different modules specifically targeting problematic pronunciation areas for English speakers as an extra resource for students.
How did you come to your research topic? I’ve always been passionate about languages and linguistics. I took the French department’s course on phonetics and wondered why it wasn’t taught earlier. After discussing this with the professor, who was also my thesis advisor, I pursed this topic that was both within my career goals and could be a practical tool for education. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? This is just a starting point for establishing more pronunciation resources. Future research should look at using more sophisticated instruction methodologies, integrating technology such as speech recognition software to enhance the field.
Anna Stevens— Witchcraft in Southwark: A Case Study of the London Suburb from 1568–1702 Anna Stevens graduated from Northwestern University in June 2017, majoring history and minoring in political science. Her specific academic interests include Tudor and Stuart history and the American Revolution. Anna is currently undertaking a yearlong masters course in publishing at University College London. What is your research, in a nutshell? My thesis is a case study of witchcraft in the Southwark, a suburb of London, during 16th and 17th centuries. English witchcraft has primarily been studied from a rural perspective so my research focused on an urban setting.
How did you come to your research topic? While studying abroad at King’s College London, one of my classes included a lecture on English witchcraft to which I was immediately hooked. Back at Northwestern, I wrote a paper for a history seminar concerning the link between the transformation in the treatment of poverty in England after the Reformation and witchcraft accusations. I received a grant to conduct archival research in London over the next summer and my thesis topic developed out of that. Where do you see the future direction of this work leading? There remains much to be understood about witchcraft in urban settings. I hope that someone will eventually undertake a systematic investigation of the surviving legal records from the City of London during the early modern period.
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