Don’t forget to come only for assigned time on 4/27

On Monday 4/27, we will be peer reviewing final projects. Bring 5 pages minimum of your draft, either in the form of a hard copy print out (2 copies), a draft webpage which you can display on a laptop, or a draft script for a narrated slide show.  We will be talking about the organization of your ideas, source use, and layout for your final project, as well as how to set up a final pecha kucha presentation. Your assigned times are posted below, as well as on the MU Commons course schedule. Thanks!
9:30 Roya, Michael, Holly, Cheyanne, Jessica, April
10:15 Janae, Carolyn, Tihairra, Kat, Gevonna, Fatima, Maggie
11:00 Rebecca, Meg, Robert, Delaney, Nazma, Morgan

Posting ideas for Warm Bodies (movie) and “Monstro”

After the critical articles are posted on Blackboard on 4/1, I will add another prompt that connects the critical articles to the readings as well.
1. In what ways does “Monstro” fit the conventions of either post-apocalyptic literature, as described by Stanton Garner in your 2/23 reading on Angles in America? How does the zombie disease in Monstro parallel notions of the postmodern apocalyptic in literature?

2. Choose 2 key scenes from Warm Bodies the novel that are cut from the film, and explain the impact of these lost scenes on the narrative. Does the film try to convey the values from these cut scenes in other ways? If so, how so?

3. How do either “Monstro” or “Warm Bodies” (the film) challenge or support the models of zombie literature discussed in earlier readings by Pokonowrski and Boluk/Lenz? Use specific scenes to make your case.

Conferences for Final Projects

Don’t forget to sign up to meet with me before April 20th about your final project. Here’s the conference schedule so far:

Tuesday, 3/31
11:45 Robert
(open appointments 11, and 12)

Tuesday 4/7
2:00 Janae
2:15 Tihairra
3:00 Carolyn
3:15 Holly
3:30 Morgan

Wednesday 4/8
11:15 Fatima
11:30 April

Thursday 4/9
11 Rebecca
11:15 Roya
11:30 Delaney

Friday 4/10
11 Gevonna

Monday, 4/13
12:30 Jessica G
12:45 Cheyanne
1:00 Nazma

Monday 4/20
12:30 Kat
12:45 Mike
1:00 Meg

2 Postings for 3/28

Don’t forget you have 2 postings due for this week.

1.) A short, approximately 100 word posting on a possible final research project for the course. Remember to think about starting with a “traingulation” a critical theory or term from the readings applied to 2 different performances. That will give you a good base of keywords from which to conduct your research.

2.) An overall response to the Mental Illness Unit readings (Marbles, American Splendor, and perhaps Warm Bodies if you want to explore it metaphorically. This Unit reflection should be a bit longer than a routine weekly posting–around 1000 words. Here are some ideas to consider for your response.
– Why might graphic novels in particular be helpful for exploring issues of mental illness?  For example, are there specific moments in Marbles and American Splendor that work better narratively specifically because they can illustrate multiple images, or words next to images?
– El Refaie extensively discusses the power of graphic novel to speak autobiographically. Taking some of her key terms, discuss where you see her concepts at work in Marbles, even though she doesn’t specifically address this graphic novel.

-In Amy Gall’s review of Forney’s work, she says Forney poses the question of whether bipolar diagnosis is a gift or a curse. Can you apply this question to American Splendor as well, and analyze specific scenes in which mental illness could be seen as a gift? What problems do you see this provoking in terms of the metaphors of illness we’ve discussed relative to cancer, Ebola, and AIDS? Discuss specific frames or scenes where the curse/gift dichotomy is explored in these texts.

Ideas for responding to “Warm Bodies” (the novel)

Here are some thoughts about possible approaches to your posting for Warm Bodies, and for approaching zombie literature as disease literature more generally.

1. Warm Bodies, like most vampire, zombie or other horror literature, can often be read as an allegory (a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one).  Discuss how a specific scene of this novel speaks in allegory about themes that connect other readings we have done on contagion.

2. Steven Pokonowrski argues that zombie films are often metaphors of heavily policed medical, military identities that are driven by conformist mainstream ideology. Pick a passage of Warm Bodies and argue how it supports or challenges Pokonowrski’s argument.

3.Boluk and Lenz also trace narrative patterns, but see zombie literature as part of an overall thread in Early Modern (post-Renaissance) “plague literature” that connects infection and capitalism. Based on your reading of a single scene,  how does Warm Bodies connect capitalist expansion and plague?

4. Look at the two epigraphs that open Warm Bodies, both connecting to Gilgamesh. One is a traditionally articulate lyric quotation from perhaps the oldest text created; the other is a quote of mere ellipses from the same text.  Why do you think Isaac Marion opens his story with these two quotations?

Ideas for posting on American Splendor

Read any of the 3 articles posted on Blackboard and use them to post on one of the following topics after watching the film American Splendor (this film is on Amazon instant video and on reserve at the library as well).

1.) How do graphic novels represent first-person experience vividly, and why do you think artists like Forney and Pekar are drawn to this medium to tell their stories of illness in particular? El Rafaie’s article should be particularly helpful for this approach.

2.) How do images of depression in Pekar’s life differ from those in Forney’s life? Do you consider this a representation of depression on film, although Pekar never fully claims this status?  (Fulford’s article might help here).

3.) How does the medium of film integrate graphic images into its narrative differently than a “straight” graphic novel like Forney’s? How do the moments of graphic novelization affect the overall telling of Pekar’s story in this film?  (Meyer’s article might help with this)


Ideas for Ellen Forney “Marbles” posting

Use these ideas, or choose another approach, for this week’s posting on Ellen Forney’s “Marbles.”

1.) Forney talks a fair amount in her interview with Lambda Literary about why she chose the graphic novel and memoir forms to tell her story. Choose a quote from her interview, and apply it to a specific set of frames from the book to explain why you find the graphic novel and memoir formats to combine well (or poorly) to tell her story.

2.) We’ve talked a fair amount about literary realism and how an author might distort medical reality in order to tell a story well. Forney goes to great lengths to make her story medically informative as well as personally expressive. Find a set of frames where Forney is either very true to medical realities  without losing a sense of personal reality (you might compare her version of instability with that of Harper in Angels, for example).

3.) To what extent does Forney position mental illness as not entirely an illness? That is to say, what frames show her doing things better due to her “disability,” and when/how does she balance her desire to conform to societal norms with her own desire for expressive individuality? Choose a set of frames that show her struggling with this issue and explain how they impact you as a reader.

Ideas for HBO Angels in America posting

Whichever approach you choose, I would suggest you focus in on a single scene of the epic film Angels in America and apply a concept from one of the readings for this week to that scene.  Some examples are below, although you should feel free to take another approach if that works for you.

1.) Stigma & sexual behavior: Choose a scene in which sex and stigma intersect, either in practice or in idea. How is stigma portrayed as affecting a character or characters? Does this portrayal match what we’ve seen in clinical studies of stigma as it operates culturally? How or how not?

2.) Metaphors of Contagion, Stigma & Illness: How does progression of time make stigma into a reality–that is Sontag suggests that the time that lapses between suspicion of disease and diagnosis creates feelings of dread, shame, and judgement (whether by oneself or others) that impose stigma. Do you see this process in Angels, or do you see its defiance or reversal?

3.) John Donne pops up in Sontag’s article, but in a very different context from W;t. What do you make of this metaphysical poet’s appearance in two such very different works about illness?

4.) Apocalyptic moments: Find a moment that fits Garner’s concept of the apocalyptic and explain how Kushner either embraces or refutes a millennial anxiety over apocalypse as either a cultural or individual experience.

Angels in America response prompts

You might consider some of these issues in your discussion prompts for this week:

1.)”Death before Dying” studies the way stigma can affect a community’s reaction to AIDS and thus affect treatment and outcome. In what way is Prior “dead before dying”? In what ways does his community react similarly or differently to AIDS than the South African community discussed in the article?

2.) Solomon argues that some images of Judaism dovetail with images of homosexuality in Angels in America. Do you find this to be true, and if so, what scenes seem to compare these images of religion and sexuality? What are some scenes in which other images of non-Jewish religions and sexuality intersect, and how do these convergences of the sacred and the physical affect the reader?

3.) In “Identity and Conversion” Kruger argues that characters in Angels in American undergo messy, violent identity transitions, but that in these “conversions” the “prior self is not left behind–commitments remain, desiring continues, the history of the self travels with us” (166).  Choose one character and talk about a conversion moment that makes clear the the prior self remains after the “conversion.”


MU Commons Postings for Saturday, 2/7

This week you will write two postings of approximately 750-1000 words. Since we are ending our Cancer unit, and starting our contagious disease/AIDS unit, you will post one short essay reflecting on the cancer unit, and another responding to this week’s viewing (And the Band Played On) and readings (see Blackboard).  If you like, you can post the cancer reflection anytime before class on Monday, 2/9, but get the reading response up by 2/7.

Your unit reflection must take two of the performance pieces we studied (Notaro’s “Live” set, W;t, The Fault in Our Stars, or the Cancer blog you located) and compare or contrast how cancer appeared in these two performances relative to some of the ideas about how cancer should appear according to authors we have read in this unit.  Some approaches might include:
-Optimism and survival in W;t and The Fault in Our Stars (or the blog you located).-How Wit and Fault in Our Stars (or the blog you located) challenge military metaphors as described by Lorde and Khalid
-Adult or Young Adult: differences in audience pitch in The Fault in Our Stars and Tig Notaro Live.
-Audience and healing: performance as a coping strategy
You’ll need to cite specific quotes & paraphrases and include a Works Cited list in MLA format at the end of this entry. End of unit entries are a bit more formal than reading responses, although they aren’t any longer.  I would strongly suggest working in a word processing document with a grammar and spell check function, then cutting & pasting your essay into MU Commons.

Reading response ideas for And the Band Played On:
-How does Shilts’ And the Band Played On convey the passage of time in a two-dimensional visual medium? In other words, how does the film make you “see” time and space on the screen, and why is this particularly important for his narrative?
And the Band Played On is part fiction and part journalism. What structural choices does Director Robert Spottiswoode make that blur the boundaires between reality and fiction?
-Ebola is a central image in this film–how is it used to convey our understanding of AIDS? How is this understanding changed by events since 1993? (Blackboard readings will help here)