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)