Post on Digitial Biography

 “Like our personal computers, phones are becoming so “smart” that they hold a great deal of sensitive, private information about our personalities and habits, information we would never have dreamed of carrying around in our pockets in the past. In a very real sense, these devices are biography machines.” (77)

I agree with the quote by Paul Longley Arthur since the phone contains important information about us. This quote shows how phone are getting more advanced and how they are becoming a form of autobiography. Before reading this passage, I would have never thought that we can use our cellphone as a form of auto/biography. I would have never thought of applying the word “biography” to a mechanical device such as a phone. I used to believe that genre of biography only comes in books, but this quote really changed my mind and gave me an opportunity to look through a different perspective. I use Facebook and post comments and write on my friends page, but at that time I never realized that those messages can be looked as a form of auto/biography. When we use our phone to text message our friends, it is also considered an expression that is autobiographical. As I mentioned earlier, that I had no idea that I can look at phone this way, but after reading this argument by Paul Longely Arthur, he did persuaded me by believing what he has written about phone being “biography machines.”

These days, the use of phone is so excessive that when a person forgot to bring their phone, they feel like something is missing. They really get attached and it becomes part of their lives. When people are bored they can use their phone to text message their friends and can do other things as well. In Digitial Biography, Arthur does present us with a perspective that phones are like “biography machines.” The reason I am saying this is because our phone are filled with our personal information that has the ability to display our personalities and tell others who we really are. It contains such personal information that can allow others to understand and know us better.

Another important fact that we all share is our addiction to our cellphones. No matter where we go, we will encounter people using their phone to talk to someone or probably texting their friends. These days we might even see young children with their cellphones. I have seen this everywhere, when I am in college, when I am in the bus and even when I am sitting at my own home. Also like cellphone, I also have a habit of using Facebook when I have free time, but at time, I had no idea that it can be seen as a representation of being an online auto/biography. Since I am not so social, I usually use phone and Facebook to express myself. Even people who are shy are using these forms autobiography since this way they get an oppertunity to express their feelings and to show their personality about who they really are. Other than that, the blog that I have for this seminar class, even though I wrote the posts as part of my assignments, but this can still be seen as autobiography. Facebook is something that we can all use to share our feelings and express our thoughts by writing comments or messages. Also when we comment on our friend’s picture, this can also be looked as a form of auto/biography. This article supports that usage of phone, texting, blogging, Facebook, all can be included as a form of “biography machines.”

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Last Post

 

Throughout the semester, I think I have come to understand what autobiography really is. Autobiography is a story which is dealing with a person, his/her life, experiences, good or bad. The protagonist of the story is the author itself. The writers are giving us the story about their lives using different forms of autobiography. From the different texts that we had to read, made me realize that autobiography is not just written in one form, but it can be in the form of autobiographical comics, confessional poetry, memoir, personal essays, travelogue, slave narrative, blogs, autobiographic novels, life-writing, religious autobiography and etc.

In of all these different forms, the stories are told by the writer, otherwise it won’t be an autobiography. Memoirs like Lucky by Alice Sebold and The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison, both writers have shared something that is so personal that you can’t even share with you loved ones. But they both decided to share with the people through writing a memoir. They both included lot of description which made us feel connected to them. It was so graphic and included details that really captures our attention. Also, I felt that Lucky is a memoir that was so descriptive about what really happened with Alice and she provided a lot of details. I think both of their writers shared something so personal with us, one telling us about rape while other telling us about her incestuous relationship with her father. Both of these memoirs really allows us to get to know the author in a more personal way, since hey are telling us somethings o personal that changed them forever. Both authors, Harrison and Sebold have used detail and very descriptive language to bring what the characters saw and felt during that particular moment that changed their lived forever. For Alie that moment I when she was raped and after that everything was not the same. While for Harrison, it was her incest relationship with her father. Also they way they have written these memoirs, we get to see everything through their eyes.

Before taking class, I had no idea that there are several ways to interpret the genre of autobiography. I think what really helped me to understand this is by doing the glossary project and having each person do a presentation on a particular term. By doing this, I learned about the different type of ways that can be used to express autobiography. In fact all the books that we have read, or essays, were related to those terms that we had to do presentation on. This helped me to gain much better understanding of what each text is saying in terms of the genre of autobiography.

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Post on the Similarities between Jamaica Kincaid’s “A Small Place” and Natasha Tretheweay’s “Native Guard.”

 

In A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid in A Small Place, and Natasha Trethewey in Native Guard display the sense of personal identity which is connected with the geographic locations/places of their past and present as well. Both of these authors use their native land; Kincaid talks about Antigua; Trethewey, focuses on Mississippi to illustrate their identities. In A Small Place, we see that Kincaid uses British colonizing Antigua to reveal how her history has been deprived from her and how it has changed her. Her being as Antiguan has a tremendous impact on her identity. Throughout the book we see that she writes about the Antigua that she used to know, the Antigua where she grew up, shows that she is proud that she belongs to Antigua, where she grew up, so when British colonizers were colonizing Antigua, we see that it has tremendously effected Kincaid. We see how she became a different person after the colonization process of Antigua when she says, “Even if I really came from people who were living in trees, it was better to be that than what happened to me, what I became after I met you” (37). Then she continues that she is an orphan with no motherland or fatherland or tongue. It becomes really important to include her native Antigua and colonized Antigua in order to provide explanation of her fragmented identity. Throughout the essay, Kincaid displays that the Antigua that she sees now is not the same Antigua that was before. Everything is changed after the British colonizers took over by imposing their culture. Through her writing, it shows that Kincaid sees herself as a person who won’t adjust herself into the new culture of Antigua since there are painful memories when the colonizers took away their original culture. For Jamaica Kincaid, Antigua is her home, therefore, she addresses herself as a true Antiguan and throughout the essay she tells how it has a tremedous impact on shapeing her identity.

On the other hand, Natasha Tretheway in the Native Guard, expresses her identity differently by using her land. Since she is the mixture of both races, she constantly gives examples that represent Mississippi, a place where she grew up. She tells us that she was born to parents of different races;mother, black, father, white. I noticed that in the poem “Blond,” Tretheway states if her hair were blond, she could have been passed easily as white, which was the superior race at that time. Also another poem which talks about her identity is “Providence” which shows the pieces of her past and her childhood as well. This poem shows that her memories of her past and family are still part of the house that was floating in the water. Her memories of her family and her past still remain a part of the house that was now floating on water in stead of being on the ground. From this poem, a relationship between her identity and her house is shown which can lead us to think that house is a symbol for her own representation of her personal identity. In the poem, “South,” Tretheweay reconnects in a sense with her roots, even though the Mississippi that she had known before while growing up was no longer the same. The importance of Mississippi is shown when Tretheweay says “where that old flag still hangs, I return to Mississippi, state that made a crime of me-mulatto, half-breed-native in my native land, this place they’ll bury me” (46). It displays that this place will always remain a part of her life and her identity as well. The place that she had memories of growing up is now where she is able to see death, pain, suffering. Like Jamaica Kincaid’s identify is connected with Antigua, Trethwweay also shares her identity with Mississippi where she grew up.

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post on A Small Place

 

In A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid represents the voices of Antigua and she uses personal experiences and history in this essay and the entire work shows her anger and intelligence. She brings attention to the conditions in Antigua which are worse with the achievement of independence and she communicates her frustration with the people and capitalism.

The effects of colonialism is the major theme in which Kincaid reveals her anger both at the Antiguans and at the colonists for failing to succeed in getting their independence. She feels that they failed to adopt the positive features of colonialism, for example, a good education system which could help the younger generation to improve their lives. She also talks about other major themes, including the influence of homeland on individuality, culture and desire for their independence.

The narrator gives us description from which we can observe the natural beauty of the island, while being structured by the harsher realities of the lives of those people who live there. The narrator gives her opinions of many events and difficulties that have occurred in Antigua and she points out the effects of colonization, not only from an Antiguan’s point of view, but also from an Antiguan who represents America’s point of view. The message that we get is that when tourists come to visit Antigua, they only see the beauty, but fail to see the harsh reality of people who are living there. I personally think Jamaica Kincaid was brave enough to write this essay which discuses the illegal things that are taking place in Antigua. From my point of view, Antigua is beautiful and gorgeous covered by the mud of their government.

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Post on Fun Home

 

In “Autographic Disclosures and Genealogies of Desire in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home,” Julia Watson’s main argument is that Fun Home is “a multimodal form different from both written life narrative and visual or photographic self-portraiture.” According to Julia Watson, Bechdel has used different visual representations, but at the same time, it is intertextual which requires the readers to read it differently. She also add that Fun Home attracts “hybrid form of autographics to explore complex formations of gender and sexuality in the modern family.”

I also agree with Julia Watson that cartoon representation does enhance the verbal representation. I think what is difficult is to accept autographics as autobiography since it involves cartoons. Also the good thing is that autographic autobiographies are visual and verbal texts so it becomes really important for us to understand them in a different way.

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Post on The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison

After reading Kathryn Harrison’s memoir, The Kiss, I do feel sad for Harrison, but I don’t see her as a victim since she could’ve protect herself. When she met her father, he kissed her and that’s where their relationship began. I understand that Kathryn didn’t have father in her life and when her father kissed her, she was confused if this is the way father show their love to their daughter. Some people may view her as naïve and therefore, she didn’t know that if it was right to have sexual relationship with her father. Some will also think that father took advantage of her since she was longing for father’s love throughout her whole life.

I personally don’t believe that her father manipulated her into this relationship because she wasn’t a helpless child. Therefore, I don’t think she comes across as a victim since she was a mature person and she knew what was right and what was wrong. She was 20 years old, and therefore, she could make her own choices at that point, since it also involved long distance meetings.   She was that mature to understand that sleeping with her father is wrong. It comes across as she was guilty of something since we do see that she wanted to take revenge from her mother who abandoned her. Harrison portrays that she is drawn in part because she longs for father’ s love and also since she hated her mother who is also in love with Kathryn’s father. Kathryn shows that she was seduced by her father when she was very emotional, but I still think she could have just said “No” to him. She should have known that sleeping with her own father is wrong since she wasn’t a child anymore, but an adult. If she was a child at that time when this relationship began, she would appear as a victim because she was very young at that time. But since she was old enough to say no, she could have easily gotten away from this. I still think that Kathryn could have protected herself by telling someone who was close to her and they would have helped her out. She let it happen because she didn’t know what else to do.

  Harrison depicted herself as she was manipulated by her father and she couldn’t help herself and therefore gave herself entirely to her father. She wanted father who would adore and love her like most girls want. But in this case, the father figure was absent from her life and her father knew that she was hungry for father’s love and therefore, took advantage. She was hungry for love and her father turned it sexual instead of giving her father’s love. I feel sad for Kathryn since she wanted father’s love and it turned sexual, but I think that she could have protected herself by refusing him, but she just let it happen. I also think that she should know that it is morally wrong to have a sexual relationship with the father. I know that the father was not present in her life, but she should have still felt that this type of relationship between father and daughter is not accepted by the society or the religion. I think we should blame the father more who comes across as a sick person. I also find this ironic that the father appears as a religious person and he still gets involved in sexual relationship with his daughter. Didn’t his religion taught him that having sexual relationship with his own daughter is morally wrong?

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Anne Sexton-To Bedlam & Part Way Back

 

Death is a prominent theme in Anne Sexton’s work since we constantly see throughout her poems. I chose two poems to talk about which deal with death, “The Double Image” and “The Moss of His Skin.”

“The Double Image” is addressed to Anne’s younger daughter, Joyce. It talks about Sexton’s life that she was hospitalized, attempted to commit suicide, her mother was extremely ill and fighting for her life. In this poem, Sexton used portrait to give us representation of death. The death is suicidal here which affects the whole family tremendously. This poem started with Anne’s mother who didn’t appreciate Anne’s attempt of committing suicide. Instead of forgiving Anne, her mother decided to make her portrait done which will hold her memories before death. There is also portrait of the Anne’s mother which represents sickness therefore shows the feelings of lifelessness. The mother was sick and she also chose to get her portrait done. I think it is interesting that the relationship between three generations are being told through the portraits of the mother, Anne and her daughter, Joyce. The portraits are giving us portrayal of life before death separated them. It is fascinating that Anne connected together the birth of her daughter with her attempt to commit suicide and on the other hand, giving birth to new relationship with her daughter with the dying relationship of her mother. I find this ironic that on one hand Sexton started the relationship with her daughter while on the other hand, the relationship with her mother is “dead.” Maybe Sexton was trying to say that in order for someone to live, someone has to die so therefore the mother had to die to make the granddaughter live.

The other poem that deals with death is “The Moss of His Skin.”As I was reading this poem, I discovered that there is a note which mentions that Arabic girls were buried alive with their dead fathers. From this note, we can also assume that that this poem will also deal with a young girl who is buried with her dead father. This poem is is showing us the perspective of the girl who was buried alive. We see the description of Sexton’s relationship with her father when she describes that she was holding her father’s body like “an old stone tree”(24). From, this we know that the Sexton was lying next to her dead father and holding his body close to her which was icy cold.

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Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography

 

Topic:

How Lucky by Alice Sebold and Speak by Laurie Anderson demonstrate that the victims were able to find their self-identity through trauma.

Texts:

Lucky by Alice Sebold

Speak by Laurie Anderson

Prospectus:

My topic is on exploring how the characters find their self-identity through trauma. In order to support this, first, I will start with what trauma means to Lacan and Fred and how they use it in their work. After we get an in-depth understanding of what trauma is, then we can use Lucky and Speak to explore how characters come of growth and discover their identity through experiences that are very traumatic. Both texts give us an excellent portrayal of representing the crime of rape. In both books, the main characters, Melinda and Alice were raped and how it affected their lives which eventually led them to discover their inner voice through such traumatic even as rape. I will be also using feminist views on rape since rape or sexual assault is a feminist issue. To support my topic, I will be using feminist perspective to explore what the they say about this whether it is good or bad that negative experiences helped discover the character’s identity. As we all know, normally people find something good that has happened to them which helps them to discover their self-identity.

I would like to explore this claim since this is what they both have in common. It is interesting that such negative experience can turn out a positive influence in helping the development of self. I would like to do more research on how these books talk about how it shapes their identity after going through such traumatic event. The memoir Lucky by Alice Sebold is an example of trauma where Alice seeks to find her “selfhood.” I will be focusing on how the characters of Melinda and Alice developed through negative experiences such as rape. Even though, they both were raped, they were still able to rise and were able to find their inner voice which helped them tremendously in their character’s development. I will also try to answer the question that why some people are able to move on with their lives with sense of growth while others get stuck and remain angry for a long period of time.

Annotated Bibliography

Chamallas, Martha. “Lucky The Sequel.” Ohio State university Moritz College Of Law Working Paper Series. 2005. Print.

Martha Chamallas writes that a person can explore their identity through traumatic experiences that Alice Sebold went through herself. Alice was able to find her identity through her writing process about rape and by telling us about what happened to her as a way to escape. This article shows us that after Alice was raped, she began to see the world through the eyes of victim. She categorized places, situations and people as “safe or unsafe” in order to protect herself from any kind of danger. As Chamalla writes that “Sebold’s life associated with rape as constituting a change in her identity.”

Bal Mieke, Crewe Jonathon and Spitzer Leo. Acts of Memory: cultural recall in the present. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England Bardenstein, Carol. 1999. Print.

This anthology is collection of essays which focuses on how difficult it is for trauma survivors to reconstruct their own identity. If they try to remember or tell others about their incident, this will make them relive that pain and suffering that they had to go through duting that event. In order for survivors to construct their identity through writing about their experience, audience job is to listen and to understand what they are trying to tell them. According to Bal, Crewe and Spitzer, “this aspect of remaking a self in aftermath of trauma highlights the dependency of the self on others and helps to explain why it is so difficult for survivors to recover when others are unwilling to listen to what they endured.”

Bussey Marian and Wise Judith. Trauma Transformed:an empowerment response. New York: Columbia University Press. 2007. Print.

It includes personal narratives during the survivor’s traumatic experiences such as war veteran, childhood abuse or sexual trauma which is tied together to give us an effective presentation. This book talks about transformation which is a “change hat involves being strengthened rather than destroyed by, trauma.” In this book, the question that has been raised various times is that, why some people who faced traumatic event, were able to move on and and live their life with sense of growth while others get stuck and remain angry through a long period of time? This book contains various different stories that includes variety of traumas and therefore, hearing the stories of others who have faced and survived will help other people to cope with their traumatic experiences to help them in finding their “identity.”

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Research topic

 

I will start with what trauma means to Lacan and Freud and how they use it in their work. I will be also looking at feminist views on rape since rape and any kind of sexual assault is a feminist issue. I will talk about feminist movement and how it defines rape and its effects on the victims. I will be using two texts, Alice Sebold’s Lucky and Speak by Laurie Anderson. Both texts give us portrayal of representing the crime of rape. In both books, the main characters, Melinda and Alice were raped, how it effected their lives and how they were able to find their inner voice through this traumatic event that changed their lives. Both texts demonstrate that the victims were able to find their self-identity through trauma and I will like to explore this using these texts.

References:

Cultural Studies and Literature:Trauma in Freud and in Lacan.

Gender Differences Associated With Adolescent Substance Abuse: Comparisons and Implications for Treatment. Tamina Toray, Chris Coughlin, Samuel Vuchinich and Peter Pateicelli. JSTPR. Web.

The Role of Normative Development in Adolescent Abuse and Neglect by Howard J. Doueck, Anthony H. Ishiaka, and K. Diane Greenaway, JSTOR. Web.

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rough draft on glossary project

 

Topic: Life Writing

Definition:

Life-writing is form of autobiographical writing. According to Wikipedia, “life-writing is a fluid term used to describe the recording of selves, memories and experiences whether one’s own or another’s.” Life-writing is very personal writing about your life or another person’s life. It is non-fictional writing which is done on the basis of observation and personal experience. There are different types of life-writing such as:personal essays, interviews, testimony, diary, letters, blogging, emailing, autobiography, biography, journal writing, memoirs and etc. It is made up of different texts which includes fictional and non-fictional which are connected by a common theme: “self” or “life.” Almost everything is life-writing since it is combination of different genre into one. Most of all, life-writing has proved to be such powerful tool since it has ability to increases the development and growth of a person.

Critical Debate:

In the book, Essays on Life-writing:from genre to critical practice, written by Marlene Kadar, discusses life-writing in depth. She describes life-writing “as genre of documents or fragments of documents written out of life, or unabashedly out of personal experience of the writer” (29). It comprises texts which are fictional and non-fictional which are linked by “a thematic concern of life or self” (29). This book also talks about that this genre is related to gender because of “reconstruction of women’s lives” (29). Kadar provides us explanation which talks abouts about life-writing as a genre which is mostly practiced by women who are interested in women’s life or way of life(31). Hermione Lee who is a biographer and Critics, has written a lot about life-writing. She gives justification that the term life-writing not only gives one way to tell the life of a writer but in different ways to tell their story through memoir, personal essay, autobiography, biography, diary, journalism,letters, blogs and even fiction. She believed that the purpose of life-writing is “when the distinction between biography and autobiography is being deliberately blurred.” Critics use the word auto/biography to talk about both genres, autobiography and biography together. It was the period of Romanticism when this perspective started to emerge that all the writing include dimension of autobiography. Therefore, the distinction between autobiography and other forms of writing, autobiography has always been blurred. In Life-Writing, Cultural Memory, and Literary Studies by Max Saunders, he reacted to Hermione Lee’s quote by saying that “the two senses distinguished by Lee are then not distinct as they might have seemed. A memoir of someone else by virtue of the fact that you are writing about them because they are important in your life, will be part of your autobiography.” He continues that scholars are also immersing their lives in biographies of other in order to tell us something about their own biography. Their writings are displaced and therefore it became the mixture of “fictionality.”

Examples of Life-writing:

     

 

  

  

  

  • St. Augustine’s autobiographical work
  • Anne Frank’s Diary
  • Lucky by Alice Sebold
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • A long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • The Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
  • Body Parts: Essays on Life-writing by Hermione Lee

Contemporary trends:

Contemporary trends among life-writing include political autobiographies, celebrities biography, and survivor memoir. We see the trends of life-writing not only in the texts, but also on television and internet as well through myspace, blog and facebook. It is also popular because of reality shows that basically involves life-writing. Some of the examples include: America’s Funniest Home Videos, America’s Top Model, Tyra Banks and Oprah which are personal and at the same time, they are dealing with someone’s life. Life-writing is popular also because since it has many benefits. In 1975, psychologist Ira Progoff noticed that there are positive effects of life writing such as journal writing since it can enhance personal growth and learning. It also has ability to enhance individual’s thinking, develops their feelings and also helps to bring confidence especially with people who have low self-esteem. Also, by recording our memories, we can lower our risks of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer. Life-writing enables family information as well as emotions and feelings about history to be remembered. For example, through life writing we are given opportunity to pass down our family traditions. This can also be the reason that people are more interested in life-writing. In 2005-2006, we see famous life-writing examples such as The Glass Castle:A Memoir by Jeanette Walls, Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s autobiography and Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light – The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta by Brian Kolodiejchuk. Life-writing has become very popular among today’s generation. Life-writing has emerged to describe this field as whole. Within the genre of life-writing, there are sub genres that can be recognized. The reason that this genre had gained popularity is because it has been broken down into different sub-genres which also include diary, interview, personal essays, memoirs, autobiography, biography, blogging and etc. Because of this mixture of different texts, everything is almost life-writing. It has taken over the genre of autobiography, since this is more read by today’s society.

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