Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Katarina Berryhill: Normality is a Modern Fallacy

Katarina Berryhill
Professor Michael Benton
English 102
16 October 2019






Normality is a Modern Fallacy

“...if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal, if you are abnormal, then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing”
― Michel Foucault

Trying to define normal or normality, may seem a simple enough task. The Webster dictionary defines normal as “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern” or “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle” (“Normal”). However, upon further inspection of the word, it becomes clear just how vague this definition really is. That’s just speaking in terms of the dictionary definition of normal, but society also has a definition of what normal is. Picture the ideal American life; heterosexuality, college education, a neurotypical mind, able-bodied, marriage, Judeo Christianity, kids, a nine to five job, and most likely being white is thrown in there as well. Seems like this is the most often portrayal of normal, as proposed by the media and society at least. Then where does that leave everyone else, everyone else who for one reason or another doesn’t tick the box on one or maybe even all of these societal concepts of normal. In fact, the argument could be made that the vast majority of Americans, don’t fit this model of normal at all. Thus, causing the majority of people to be considered, in some way at least, abnormal. By that ideology then, what society presses as normal is actually abnormal, or so it would seem. To better understand normal though, it’s important to look at and understand where the concept itself truly comes from and how American society has come to perceive normal as it now does. In Peter Cryle and Elizabeth Stephens book Normality: A Critical Genealogy, the authors do just that, by exploring the origin of the term normal and its transformation from its initial emergence in society as a scientific term to what the modern-day conception of the term means and how it has come to be used. It is also important to understand just how harmful the idea of normal can be to the modern-day person. By examining where the term normal comes from, understanding that normal means something different for everyone, addressing the outdated use of the term normal and its negative effects on people, realizing that most people aren’t normal by society's standards, and showcasing that if people did not deviate from the norm we wouldn’t have a progression of society, then one can deduce how the concept of normality is a modern-day fallacy.

The history of the term normal, although not a very long history, is an interesting one. Though this is not the focus of the argument being presented, it is important to take a look at and to understand where exactly this term normal comes from. The origins of the term normal and it’s first emergence can be found in the mid-eighteenth century as a mathematical term used solely in geometry (Cryle and Stephens 3). It is important to remember, that this use of the word normal, has no connection to how the term is used in the modern-day. Even at this point, the term normal was only used as a not so common alternative expression for a perpendicular line (Cryle and Stephens 3). Somewhere around a hundred years after its initial emergence, the term normal begins to surface again, but this time in the world of science. This next place of emergence is seen around 1820 in French anatomy, around this time the term normal somewhat begins to take on its more modern-day meaning (Cryle and Stephens 3). Roughly ten years later the term normal begins to emerge in the field of physiology as well, and we see the use of the term normal state (Cryle and Stephens 26). It’s important to understand that, although the term normal is coming into use during this time, it is still not considered a commonplace term, it’s usage is very much confined to the scientific fields and not until 1848 is the term normal even added to the Oxford English Dictionary (Cryle and Stephens 4). As Cryle and Stephens further explore the history surrounding the term normal through the fields of science, a change begins to occur in how the term is used and its commonality. There comes an important moment in the history of normal where the shift from the use of normal, or normality, as a specifically scientific term makes its way into the social world. Francis Galton, the founder of the study of eugenics, used his statistical findings to apply the idea of normal, not only to the biological but also to the social (Mooney). This shift gave way to the more modern-day concept we have of what it means to be normal, as this, more socially focused concept of what it means to be normal came about in the twentieth century. Now that a brief history of where society even got its concept of normal has been touched on, the focus can now turn to the effects it has had on society.

Even as society began to cultivate its ideas about what it meant to be normal, there was still evidence that even those who may be perceived as normal, weren’t as normal as they seemed. As studies of human sexuality began to emerge and hold a place in society, it became very apparent that sexual deviance was more commonplace than many may have been willing to admit. Sigmund Freud highlighted this point in his research on sexology and even himself pointed out that it really wasn’t possible for anyone to be completely normal (Cryle and Stephens 275). “The Typical American: Male and Female” created by the artist Henry Kitson and Theodora Ruggles in 1893, based on taking the average measurements of physical dimensions from the general population thus generating this “ideal” male and female form (Cryle and Stephens 294). These statues which were meant to exemplify what the ideal human body should be wasn’t even universally accepted as ideal. Not to mention, these figures presented the ideal as a white male and female, excluding the very real and present demographic of Americans that were not white. This idea of excluding nonwhite Americans from the studies of what was normal isn’t a radical proposition and in fact, something that many twentieth-century cultural researchers purposefully excluded, as many researchers felt including nonwhite Americans would muddy the outcomes of their findings (Cryle and Stephens 306). It is apparent that even in its early stages of conceptual development, that the idea of normal can be argued against. There is no possible way that a society can hold an idea of normal for its population when the idea itself isn’t even achievable. When normality became the “ideal”, whether that be for the physical, mental, or social standard people were being held to, it seems society forgot that the ideal wasn’t anything humans were capable of achieving. These ideas of normal that began to sink their teeth into everyday life and arguably began to have lasting negative effects on those who did not conform to its ideals.

Throughout the history of the term normal and its eventual presence in modern culture, the negative effects it has had on people can be seen. As previously, discussed the erasure of nonwhite groups from cultural studies and presenting an ideal body that wasn’t even achievable are just a few instances of the ways these present ideas have harmed people. To understand that more, it’s necessary to look at the rise of Galton’s study of eugenics, of which the goal is to eradicate any abnormalities within the human race and ultimately create the ideal person. These ideas were targeted at anyone who was not mentally, physically or ethically sound by the standards of those who believed they knew what normal or the ideal really was (Cryle and Stephens 312). Now, this point is not meant to say that every person who believes in the idea of normality wants to do away with anyone who doesn’t fit this ideal person, but it is important to understand how it plays a role in what society believes to be normal. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, roughly 4.6 million adults in America lived with a form of mental illness in the year 2017 (“Mental Health”). That isn’t even factoring in the number of Americans that live with some form of a physical disability, which according to The United States Census Bureau, roughly 56.7 million people suffered from some form of disability in 2010 (US Census Bureau). That then brings up the idea of what it means to be ethically sound, or morally sound, in the context of eugenics this would most likely refer to an old belief that criminal traits are inherently biological and can be passed down genetically from parents to children (Cryle and Stephens 312). Roughly 2.3 million Americans are currently incarcerated in the United States and about 3.6 million are on probation according to Prison Policy (Sawyer and Wagner). When you add all the numbers up of the people who are mentally ill, physically disabled, and have "deviant" criminal behaviors that gives you roughly 67.2 million Americans that according to eugenics, are unfit for society and in a sense should be eradicated. It’s easy to see how damaging this idea of normal, as proposed by eugenics, has affected American society as a whole. In order to create the ideal race, people must be done away with or hidden in the shadows out of the public eye. In fact, it was in the 1920’s that the Supreme Court ruled to allow people to forcibly be sterilized against their will if they had been deemed unfit by either their caregivers or the institution they were held at, a ruling which to this day has not been overturned by the Supreme Court (Kielty et al). The argument can be made that some people do not have the capacity to take care of themselves and therefore do not have the capacity to take care of a child, and that argument has some standing in truth, however, what a slippery slope it is, because for some their fear isn’t that people are incapable, rather, it is a fear that if they procreate, it will bring more people like them into the world. It becomes clear how the introduction of eugenics into society has helped shape the idea of what we consider to be normal, and just how damaging and harmful that idea can be for the people who for one reason or another do not fit into the concept of normal.

While many eugenicists took their inspiration from Charles Darwin, who was Francis Galton’s cousin, it seems many of them missed one of Darwin’s major points in his "theory of evolution." That the beauty of humanity and human evolution lies within the variation of the species (Kielty et al). When society attempts to put everyone into a small confined box and exclude the people it doesn’t deem good enough, it begins eliminating the idea of variation. Imagine life if everyone you met was the exact same, no differentiation in physical appearance between male and female, all from the exact same background, no difference in sexuality and no difference in opinion or world view. Society at that point would be at a standstill, there would be no moving forward and no emergence of new ideas or thought processes. What a miserable existence that would be. Societal ideas of normality, even from their beginnings have been outdated and aren’t applicable to what humanity is truly made of.

Ultimately, this idea of normality that has become so commonplace in the day to day lives of many people in American society, isn’t even an idea that has much foundation to stand upon. From its initial conception in the realm of geometry to its progression into the realms of science and later into society, the concept of normal has been questioned and argued against. Being normal isn’t something humans were meant to be and its not even a thing we can achieve. By adopting these ideas of normal and accepting them as gospel truths, society starts out casting and alienating people from the one thing every human belongs to, humanity. Variety and abnormality are what gives people their humanness, and to presume that these are inherently wrong traits based on an essential made-up concept, does nothing to promote human evolution and growth. Maybe some people do fit into this idea, and that isn’t inherently wrong, but society must rewire the way it sees normality and begin to understand that there truly is no such thing as a normal person, even if someone may appear so on the outside. All of these points help to conclude that the idea of normality, is, in fact, a modern-day fallacy.





Works Cited

Cryle, Peter Maxwell, et al. Normality: A Critical Genealogy. The University of Chicago Press, 2017

Foucault, Michel, (2004) 'Je suis un artificier'. In Roger-Pol Droit (ed.), Michel Foucault, entretiens. Paris: Odile Jacob, p. 95. (Interview conducted in 1975. This passage trans. Clare O'Farrell).

Kielty, Matt, et al. “Radiolab.” Radiolab, WNYC Studios, 17 July 2019, https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/g-unfit.

“Mental Illness.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml.

Mooney, Jonathan. “How, Exactly, Did We Come Up with What Counts As 'Normal'?” Literary Hub, 12 Aug. 2019, https://lithub.com/how-exactly-did-we-come-up-with-what-counts-as-normal/.
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“Normal.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/normal.

Sawyer, Wendy, and Peter Wagner. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019.” Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019 | Prison Policy Initiative, 19 Mar. 2019, https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2019.html.

US Census Bureau Public Information Office. “Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S." U.S. Census Bureau, 19 May 2016: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 13, 2019

Anania, Billy. "The Cop-Attacking Chilean Dog Who Became a Worldwide Symbol of Protest." Hyperallergic (November 5, 2019) ["The recent uprising in Chile is full of references to the beloved Negro Matapacos, who accompanied protestors for many years. As his legend spreads, so too do images of the good boy."]

Gibson, Bradley. "Snowflake." Film Threat (January 24, 2019)

Howard, Ted and Marjorie Kelly.  "The Making of a Democratic Economy." Building Bridges (October 1, 2019) ["The Making of a Democratic Economy with Ted Howard, co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, and Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital, and Owning our Future have teamed up to co-author The Making of a Democratic Economy, a clarion call for a movement ready to get serious about transforming our economic system. The authors illuminate the principles of a democratic economy through the stories of on-the-ground community wealth builders and their unlikely accomplices in the halls of institutional power. Their book is a must read for everyone concerned with how we win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive."]

Teachout, Zephyr. "America's Lost Anti-Corruption History." On the Media (April 26, 2019) ["This week, the Treasury Department missed a second deadline to hand over the president’s tax returns to House Democrats. The White House directed its former head of personnel security to not adhere to a congressional subpoena to answer questions about the administration’s handling of security clearances. And on Monday the commander-in-chief sued his own accounting firm and Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, to block the committee from accessing his past financial records. As the Washington Post reported earlier this week, the lawsuit “amounts to Trump — the leader of the executive branch of government — asking the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from investigating his past.” But so much lies in Trump’s past, and the nation’s. According to Zephyr Teachout, author of Corruption in America, this was never what America's founders envisioned when they set out to fight corruption. In 2017, a few weeks after the inauguration, Brooke spoke with Teachout about the overwhelming passion for anti-corruption present at the founding of the nation, the "bright line" rules it inspired, and how we have drifted so far from our original understanding of the concept."]

"We Need to Talk About Rape." Language: A Feminist Guide (October 25, 2019)

West, Stephen. "Dewey and Lippman on Democracy. Philosophize This #130 (May 23, 2019)

Wildridge, Cam. "The Dangers of Categorizing Trans Desire." Lady Science (September 25, 2019)











Sunday, November 10, 2019

Slurring Bee #29

Also need 15 absurd/quirky warm up questions

1st Round: warm-up question followed by a word
2nd Round: 3 words in succession for each contestant
3rd Round: Round-robin until we have a winner (keep track of last three - the order they come in)
3 mispelled words and a contestant is out

Pronouncer Information 1. Read carefully the Judges, Recorders, Spellers and Audiences information that is included in the Scripps pronouncers’ guide. 2. Familiarize yourself with all words on the confidential word list. Pronunciation is important. A meeting with the judges to insure pronunciation of words and procedures will be scheduled prior to the Bee beginning. 3. Speak clearly for contestants, judges and audience alike. Grant all requests to repeat a word until the judges agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the speller. You may request the speller to speak more clearly or louder. 4. “Pace” yourself. You need time to focus attention on the pronunciation of the new word and the judges need a few moments between each contestant to do their tasks.

Speller’s Information 1. Each speller needs to focus on the Pronouncer, to aid his or her hearing and understanding of the context of the word. A speller may ask for the word to be repeated, for its use in a sentence, for a definition, for the part of speech, and for the language of origin. 2. Each speller should pronounce the word before and after spelling it. If the speller fails to pronounce the word after spelling it, the judge may ask if they are finished. If they say yes, the judge will remind the speller to remember to repeat the word the next time. (No speller will be eliminated for failing to pronounce a word.) 3. When a speller is at the podium spelling, the next speller should be standing at a marked location ready to proceed to the podium.


609) gelato

610) undulate

611)  fraught

612)  aphorism

613)  oligarchy

614)  algorithm

615) morass

616)  conspicuous

617)  locus

618) 


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 6, 2019

Gatnarek, Heather and Zach Heiden. "Abortion Rights: A Tale of Two States." At Liberty #69 (October 17, 2019) ["While abortion restrictions have left six states with only a single clinic standing, other states are finding ways to expand access. We speak with Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Kentucky, who is helping fend off sustained attacks on what remains of reproductive care in that state. And we hear from Zach Heiden, legal director of the ACLU of Maine, where abortion was just made more affordable and accessible."]

Gladstone, Mariah. "Decades after forced sterilization, Native American women in the US still face rejection and retraumatization in healthcare." At Liberty (September 2019) ["Across the entire country, an estimated 25 percent of Native women of childbearing age were sterilized by 1976. While sterilization procedures should only have been presented as one of many contraceptive options, Native women were often coerced into signing forms or given incorrect information about their options. In one case, two 15-year-old Native girls on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana were admitted to the local clinic for tonsillectomies and released with tubal ligations. Another woman in Los Angeles was told her hysterectomy would be reversible, only to find out six years later that she had been lied to. Others still were given forms to sign for painkillers or appendectomies, finding out later that they had relinquished their ability to bear children. Unfortunately, the history of forced sterilizations in the US extends far beyond Native women. In 1973, African American sisters Minnie and Mary Relf, 12 and 14 years old at the time, were secretly sterilized by a federally funded clinic under the premise of giving the girls birth-control shots. Mexicans and their US-born descendants were described as “immigrants of an undesirable type,” and thousands of women were forcibly sterilized in California institutions from 1920 to 1950. The US is responsible for tens of thousands of state-sponsored non-consensual sterilization procedures, all done to control populations of people deemed inferior."]

Lazic, Manuela. "Alice Rohrwacher: ‘We imagine that a good man does good, but it’s an illusion'" Little White Lies #79 (March/April 2019) ["Happy as Lazzaro is an ethereal take on modern slavery and what it means to be happy. We meet its maker."]





Murray, Melissa. "Marriage as a Tool of White Supremacy." At Liberty #71 (October 31, 2019) ["The Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia, the landmark ACLU case decided in 1967. But the government‘s regulation of marriage and sex didn’t start with anti-miscegenation laws or end with Loving. Melissa Murray — an expert in family law, constitutional law, and reproductive rights and justice at the New York University School of Law — discusses why the institution looms so large in America's past and present. This episode was recorded live at the Brooklyn Public Library, as part of “‘Til Victory is Won,” an evening commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to America’s shores."]




Srihari, Prahlad. "The Report and Cinema's Changing Attitude to On-Screen Torture."  Little White Lies (October 27, 2019)
















Thursday, October 31, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 31, 2019

Bazelon, Emily. "How the Prosecutor Became the Most Powerful Person in the Justice System." On the Media (July 26, 2019) ["The trial. The judge. The jury. Certain images of the criminal justice system have imprinted themselves on our minds, aided and abetted by decades of procedural dramas from Perry Mason to Law and Order. As New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon writes in her book, Charged: The New Movement To Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, “The officer in uniform and the judge in robes are our indelible images of criminal justice. No one needs to explain the power they wield." And yet, she goes on, they fail to accurately reflect the justice system as it currently functions: "It is [the prosecutor] who today embodies the might and majesty of the state.” How did the prosecutor come to wield such outsized power over the fates of the millions who come into contact with the criminal justice system? Brooke speaks with Bazelon about how mandatory minimum sentences, the rise of the plea deal, and a lack of prosecutorial oversight have shaped this powerful role — and the movement to turn the DA's office into a weapon in the fight against mass incarceration."]

Bitar, Lara. "Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri Resigns, But Protests and Demands For a New Government Continue." Democracy Now (October 30, 2019) ["Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the resignation of his government on Tuesday following nearly two weeks of nationwide anti-government protests. In a televised address, al-Hariri said he had hit a “dead end” in resolving the crisis. Demonstrators “were congratulating each other while at the same time acknowledging that the struggle is very long,” says Lebanese journalist, Lara Bitar, who joins us from Beirut for an update. She says protesters have promised to stay in the streets until all of their demands are met, including the resignation of all top government officials, early parliamentary elections and the creation of a transitional cabinet of people unaffiliated with traditional political parties."]

Boudin, Chesa. "Son of 1960s Radicals, Runs for San Francisco DA on Criminal Justice Reform Platform." Dialogic Cinephilia (October 30, 2019) ["Chesa Boudin is running for San Francisco district attorney as the latest candidate in a wave of decarceral prosecutors running for office across the United States. Bernie Sanders and other leading progressives have endorsed Boudin, who is a public defender and the child of Weather Underground activists Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. His parents were imprisoned when Boudin was a toddler. These experiences have given him a first-hand view of “how broken our criminal justice system is,” he says. “My earliest memories are going through steel gates and metal detectors just to see my parents, just to give them a hug.” Boudin is running on a platform of ending cash bail and dismantling the War on Drugs, seeking to end “tough on crime” tactics and restore civil rights. Bay Area voters will cast their ballots Nov. 5."]

Chemerinsky, Erwin and Nancy Northrup. "Get Ready for the Most Significant Supreme Court Term in a Decade: The justices are tackling abortion, guns, DACA, and LGBTQ rights." Amicus (October 5, 2019)

Denis, Claire and Robert Pattinson. "Talk High Life at NYFF 56." The Close-Up #224 (April 25, 2019) ["Claire Denis’s High Life was one of the most buzzed-about movies at last year’s New York Film Festival. Starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, the film is set aboard a spacecraft piloted by death row prisoners on a decades-long suicide mission to enter and harness the power of a black hole."]

Fuentes, Agustin. "The Evolution of Belief." Against the Grain (October 23, 2019) ["Belief conjures up political fanaticism and blind religiosity. But evolutionary anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that belief is also connected to our capacities to imagine, create, and change the world for the better. He reflects on why the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea is a central part of what makes us human."]

Galbraith, Peter. "The Betrayal of the Kurds." The New York Review of Books (November 21, 2019)  ["Following (Murray) Bookchin’s philosophy, northeast Syria’s many communities are represented in multilayered governmental structures. Legislative bodies—city councils or cantonal parliaments—include Kurds, Arabs, Christians, and Yazidis and are equally divided between male and female legislators. Each canton has a male and female co–prime minister, each municipality a female and male co-mayor, and male and female co-leaders of each political party. No more than 60 percent of civil servants can be from the same gender. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) sits atop these governmental structures. It has a Kurdish woman and an Arab man as its co-presidents."]

Karlan, Pamela and Laurence Tribe. "Impeachment Primer." Amicus (October 12, 2019) ["First, Laurence Tribe answers the questions Amicus listeners have been asking about the next steps in the impeachment process. Next, Pamela Karlan takes us inside the chamber for Tuesday’s oral arguments in a trio of Title VII cases at the high court."]

Serpell, Namwali. "Does Fiction Promote Empathy?" Against the Grain (October 22, 2019) ["Do fictional narratives, like those found in novels, plays, and films, promote empathy? Does emotion-based empathy spur people to alleviate suffering in the real world? Namwali Serpell calls into question much of the conventional thinking about empathy in relation to art. Drawing on thinkers like Arendt and Brecht, Serpell points to fiction’s capacity to enlarge our understanding to encompass the positions of others."]


How Lebanon’s Uprising Pushed PM to Resign in Just 13 Days from Rising Up With Sonali on Vimeo.



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 30, 2019

Costa, Robert and Philip Rucker. "‘It feels like a horror movie’: Republicans feel anxious and adrift defending Trump." The New York Times (October 28, 2019)




Irizarry, Vivian Vázquez and Gretchen Hildebran. "Who Burned the Bronx? PBS Film Decade of Fire Investigates 1970s Fires That Displaced Thousands." Democracy Now (October 30, 2019) ["The new documentary “Decade of Fire” looks back at the history of a crisis that unfolded in New York City in the 1970s, when the South Bronx faced a near-constant barrage of fires that displaced almost a quarter million people and devastated an entire community. Co-directors and producers Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran tell the story of the government mismanagement, landlord corruption and redlining that lit the Bronx ablaze. They also describe how the community fought back to save their neighborhoods. The film airs next week on PBS."]

Kelley, Ariel and Leah Stokes. "Fueled by Climate Change, California’s Raging Wildfires Are Threatening Vulnerable Communities First." Democracy Now (October 29, 2019) ["California is bracing for a day of strong winds as climate change-fueled wildfires continue to burn from Los Angeles to north of the Bay Area. After a chaotic weekend of mass evacuations and blackouts that left millions in the dark, firefighters in Sonoma, California, made headway Monday, containing 15% of the massive Kincade fire that has burned nearly 75,000 acres. But as high winds pick up again today, firefighters still face an uphill battle in combating the at least 10 blazes raging across the state, including the growing Getty fire, which erupted in one of Los Angeles’s most opulent communities Monday. Fires in California are typical this time of year, but the length and severity of the state’s fire season has grown due to climate change. We speak with Leah Stokes, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and researcher on climate and energy politics. We also speak with Ariel Kelley, the CEO of Corazón Healdsburg, a bilingual family resource center based in Northern Sonoma County."]

Krajeski, Jenna and Rapareen abd Elhameed Hasn. "The Rojava Revolution in Peril." On the Media (October 18, 2019) ["Rojava: it’s the three cantons at the top of Syria that comprise what’s more commonly referred to as “Kurdish Syria.” Each canton is governed independently but according to a shared social contract based on principles of local democracy, feminism and ecology. It’s a land that, until recently at least, had about two million people, mostly Kurdish but with ethnic and religious diversity. And its political experiment was mainly functioning — until the abrupt retreat of the United States from northern Syria. Now Rojava is being pummeled by the invading Turks — martyred to the impulses of an unmoored American president. And so it has been reported: a ruinous betrayal of an ally that has made unimaginable sacrifices in the Ameican wars against Sadaam Hussein and ISIS. But lost in that narrative is another story: the equally unimaginable sacrifice of an equitable model of governance in a region where other models have stifled freedom for centuries. First, Bob speaks with Jenna Krajeski, a journalist with the Fuller Project for International Reporting who has reported on the Kurds. Then, he speaks with Rapareen abd Elhameed Hasn, a 27-year-old activist and co-president of her local health authority in Rojava, about what it's been like on the ground."]

McDougall, Christopher. "Natural Born Heroes." Radio West (November 6, 2015) ["... our guest is journalist Christopher McDougall who wrote the book that kicked off the barefoot running movement. While he was writing, McDougall came across the story of a Greek foot messenger who accomplished remarkable athletic feats during World War II. It got him thinking about what makes a hero, and he learned it’s not chance and you don’t have to be superhuman. McDougall joins us to explore how normal people can develop their natural skills to be ready in a crisis."]

Noble, Safiya. "Writing human bias into the code that runs our lives (Algorithms)." Best of the Left #1266 (April 19, 2019) ["Today we take a look at the racism, sexism and classism that is permeating the algorithmic systems that are directing more and more of our online and offline lives."]

Taylor, Astra, et al. "What is Democracy?" Against the Grain (October 15, 2019) ["Democracy is one of the most contradictory terms in political discourse today. On the one hand, it evokes rule by the people. On of the other, it’s used relentlessly by elites to mask where power truly resides in our society. Is it still a word worth fighting for? That’s one of the questions posed by radical filmmaker Astra Taylor in her latest documentary “What is Democracy?”"]










Monday, October 28, 2019

Dexter Walters - Surviving the Slaughterhouse: Vonnegut’s Coping Mechanism

Dexter Walters
Professor M. Benton
ENG 102: Writing II
October 16, 2019

Surviving the Slaughterhouse: Vonnegut’s Coping Mechanism

My goal for this paper is to argue against the views of Lawrence Broer, author of Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia In the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut who believes that schizophrenia influenced many of the themes in Vonnegut’s novels (Broer). In my teenage years, I read many of Vonnegut’s novels. At the time I read Vonnegut’s novels, I was very alone, alienated by choices of my family. It’s my belief that Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse Five and survivor of the bombing of Dresden was experiencing loneliness himself. Vonnegut was a man that survived the improbable and his writing reflects said fact. Vonnegut’s writing also reflect his beliefs. Slaughterhouse Five was Vonnegut’s first commercial success, and cast his novels into the spotlight to enjoy today. Vonnegut famously went on to state that the only person who benefitted from the bombing of Dresden was himself, and that his book made about $2 - $3 per person who died in Dresden. This loneliness and capitalization of death would also be enough to cause mental illness, specifically schizophrenia, which is exactly what Lawrence Broer, the author of Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia In the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut believes (Broer). In addition, many themes in Slaughterhouse Five would support the presence of mental illness. However, I believe that the events of Dresden affected Kurt Vonnegut, but didn’t cause any mental illness, or that if they did, the mental illness didn’t affect Vonnegut’s writing to the drastic degree that Broer believes it did (Broer). On the contrary, I believe that the events in Dresden gave Vonnegut’s writing its edge, direction, and intelligence it carries.

The first proposed indicator of mental illness in Vonnegut, is the fragmented timeline throughout Slaughterhouse Five. Throughout Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim doesn’t experience time in a sequential manner, nor does the reader experience Slaughterhouse Five sequentially. Instead, Slaughterhouse Five seems to come to a middle, punctuated by the constant presence and dismissal of life and death with the book’s signature phrase, “So it goes.” Vonnegut seems to write about three timelines throughout Slaughterhouse Five. The first being Billy Pilgrim’s life before World War II, and the bombing of Dresden. The pre-war timeline seems to be the least detailed of them all, often only being introduced to provide comic relief or a sudden change of tone. It makes sense that The pre-war timeline isn’t very detailed. There’s not much for Pilgrim to share about his time before World War II, since Slaughterhouse Five’s main theme is anti-war. The second timeline detailed in Slaughterhouse Five is Pilgrim’s time in war. The war timeline is the most flushed out and detailed of the timelines, as Slaughterhouse Five is centered around anti-war themes, and the consequences of warfare. The last timeline is the post-war timeline, which is easily the most disjointed and confusing of all three timelines, due to its heavy focus on Tralfamadorians, the fictional alien race featured in Slaughterhouse Five. In addition, the post-war timeline isn’t the centerpiece of Slaughterhouse Five, the war timeline is. However, the post-war timeline is used intermittently in the war timeline to sometime provide comic relief. In addition, the normal everyday run-of-the-mill events of the post-war timeline are also used contrast the strong war themes throughout Slaughterhosue Five.

The second proposed indication of mental illness in Vonnegut would be the prominence of aliens in a story that is supposed to be somewhat historical fiction. Throughout the story, the involvement of aliens constantly interferes with the life of Billy Pilgrim, the story’s main protagonist. Due to time being free-flowing for Pilgrim, he often knows of or predicts events that have yet to happen. The first big major example of this in Slaughterhouse Five takes place right before Pilgrim is about to get captured by the Tralfamadorians, when Pilgrim restlessly wakes up from sleep, and awaits his capture from the aliens. In a weird turn of events, Pilgrim knows about his capture, but doesn’t nothing to avoid or escape it. At this point in the story, Pilgrim acts very much like the Tralfamadorians that he’s consistently contrasted to. It’d be easy to mark down the aliens in Slaughterhouse Five as nothing but schizophrenia fueled delusions, but I believe that they’re something more. As stated in the into, at one point or another, you’ve felt alone due to the experiences you’ve been though, which had changed the way Vonnegut viewed the world, causing everyone else to seem like aliens to Vonnegut. Which is what I believe the role of the Tralfamadorians is in Slaughterhouse Five. They’re a placeholder for other humans, humans whose existence is based off of blissful ignorance. In one line from Slaughterhouse Five itself, a Tralfamadorian says, “Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones” (Vonnegut 150). Billy Pilgrim could only respond with, “Um” (Vonnegut 150). This is further supported by how wildly the Tralfamadorian’s views are to those of Pilgrim. This again, can be related to the beliefs of Vonnegut versus the beliefs of what Vonnegut considers common people.

The third proposed indication of mental illness starts with the beginning of Slaughterhouse Five, specifically, as Billy Pilgrim is estranged behind German lines avoiding capture. Pilgrim was accompanied by two scouts and an anti-tank gunner. Throughout his trek behind enemy lines, Pilgrim constantly expresses his will to be left behind to his companions. Pilgrim also goes as far to put himself in harm’s way, once putting himself into the sights of an enemy sniper, attempting to let the sniper shoot him. Pilgrim is even quoted to say, “You guys go on without me (Vonnegut 43).” Later, when Pilgrim and his companions are captured by the Germans, they were loaded into boxcars stationed on railroads. During his journey, Pilgrim more emphatically expressed his will to die. To make matters worse, Pilgrim was unable to sleep for most of his time in the boxcar. Willingness to die and inability to sleep also seem like excellent signifiers of mental illness. On the contrary, I interpret Pilgrim’s whole situation as a reflection of Vonnegut’s journey back to a normal life.  Vonnegut witnessed atrocities in Dresden, dug up bodies, and was one of the few survivors of the Dresden bombing. Lack of sleep is to be expected, but it’s also safe to say that Vonnegut could’ve been experiencing some form of survivor’s guilt, caused by being one out of thousands to survive a bombing that destroyed a peaceful and artistic city. Here’s the closest I get to understanding Broer’s belief that Vonnegut is suffering from schizophrenia. It is believable that schizophrenia could be caused by survivor’s guilt and the constant presence of death. But, keeping consistent with my central message, I still believe that Vonnegut uses Slaughterhouse Five as a coping method to work through his experiences in Dresden. In addition, there’s the school of thought that putting your problems down on paper helps people to work through their problems. This is supported by the personal experience of working through past problems by putting my troubled thoughts on paper, which served as a medium to express frustrations that I felt I couldn’t confide in anyone else. Slaughterhouse Five server as Vonnegut’s medium of expressing his troubled thoughts. But instead of hiding those thoughts on a bookshelf in his room, Vonnegut shared his thoughts with the world.

The last proposed indication of mental illness in Slaughterhouse Five is Vonnegut’s morbid fascination with death, torture, and suffering throughout Slaughterhouse Five, punctuated with the consistent appearance and dismissal of death, often presented un-impactful and practically meaningless, with character deaths often being presented, detailed, and then dismissed without a second thought.  The best example of this takes place in story of Edgar Derby, a character who was introduced to take care of Billy Pilgrim after Pilgrim had a mental break. Edgar Derby was presented as an intelligent and caring character, selflessly volunteering his time to look after Pilgrim. However, the introduction of Derby is finished by stating,

“…Edgar Derby, the high school teacher who would be shot to death in Dresden. So it goes (Vonnegut 125).”

Derby’s death is developed further later in the book, when it’s stated that Derby was shot to death by a firing squad. From a reader’s standpoint Derby’s death is awful, but un-impactful.  We as the reader never made the connection with the character that was Edgar Derby, and any attempt to do so would be meaningless since Derby’s death was introduced just after the character was introduced. Vonnegut made sure that there was no connection to be had, just as he likely avoided making connections with people during his service. The imminence of death, torture, and suffering made it very costly to get attached to people. Care was a commodity in World War II, and Vonnegut wanted to waste none of it, for his own sanity. Vonnegut isn’t stating that he doesn’t care about people in warfare, but instead, he’s stating that he cares too much to get involved. Vonnegut is showing that everyone is a victim of war, whether it’s the citizens of Dresden, soldiers on the battlefield, or high school teacher looking after a mentally broken soldier. This idea is expanded upon when Billy Pilgrim details the death of Edgar Derby to his then wife, Valencia Merble. When Pilgrim is recalling the story, he’s reluctant to tell the story, reflecting how Vonnegut feels about the deaths of his friends throughout the war. Again, Vonnegut is contrasted to the typical person through Pilgrim and Merble. Pilgrim views the World War II as an awful tragedy that he barely survived, while Merble views World War II in an almost romanticized manner, eagerly pressing Pilgrim for more events and details (Vonnegut 155). This concept is further supported by the preceding sexual intercourse Pilgrim and Merble engaged in, furthering the concept that death, torture, and suffering is romanticized by the general public, in Vonnegut’s opinion.

I hope that I’ve shown enough evidence to show that Kurt Vonnegut’s writing doesn’t originate out of mental illness, but instead out of intelligence honed and sharpened by his life’s experiences. At the end of the day, Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war book at its core, not a pleading for help. Vonnegut writes to make points, challenge views, share his beliefs, and to share his absurd sense of humor based on his life. If anything, Slaughterhouse Five is not a call for help, it’s a coping mechanism. Vonnegut’s novel is one of the most honest and truest experiences and retellings of a warfare experience. It’s even more fortunate that we as the readers are able to experience such an honest and true retelling of warfare. Lastly, the most fortunate thing is that Vonnegut rose to his stardom when he did, allowing readers around the world to experience warfare in a new light, one where the main character isn’t a killing machine that regrets what he’s done, but instead, an unwilling advocate to death. In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut also expresses his fear of never being discovered through another one of his characters, Kilgore Trout. In Vonnegut’s novel, Kilgore Trout is said to have great novel ideas, but terrible prose and execution, which is exactly any writer would fear for their own works. One of the opening lines of Slaughterhouse Five states, “I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time” (Vonnegut 2), implying that Vonnegut worked through his experiences in Dresden through writing Slaughterhouse Five.

Works Cited

Broer, Lawrence R.. Sanity Plea : Schizophrenia In the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut, University of Alabama Press, 1994. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bluegrasskctcs-ebooks/detail.action?docID=547634.

Klinkowitz, J. (2004). The Vonnegut effect. Columbia: University of South Carolina P

Tally, R. (2013). Kurt Vonnegut. Ipswich, Mass: Salem Press.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. New York: Dial Press Trade Paperback, 1999. Print.


Carly Healander - Shakesqueers Genderfuck: A Look at Shakespeare Through the Queer Eye


(Trigger warning: use of the word queer(never used negatively), discussion of a slur)
Shakesqueers Genderfuck: A Look at Shakespeare Through the Queer Eye
English 102 M/W 2:00-3:15
Carly Healander
            “All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women are merely players” (2.7.146-73) (Moway, 1997). A classic Shakespeare line but a complex one. Often, the way we play on this stage is in the circles of gender, man or woman, male or female. Although we become dictated by these circles in theatre or life, Shakespeare engages in a different play by turning the concept of gender on its head; executing complex ideas with brilliant prose in such a way that he was writing transgender narratives before the vocabulary to describe this experience was fully defined. By viewing the text with a Queer lens, the meaning behind the words are enriched, deepened by the voices of the lgbtq+ community, and provides diverse casting options, retellings and analyses when performing a Shakespearean piece. In this essay we will be unlearning gender, unlearning Shakespeare and relearning our sense of play. But first, a few terms to take into account when Queering the text:
            The language of gender in the lgbtq+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and others) continues to grow and develop just like our understanding of Shakespeare. Although this is the vocabulary we have now, the community may find more ways to identify or may not be using these terms and labels at all in the coming years as the humans that belong in it further their search on what it means to be human. Here are some terms that will be discussed: Gender Expression is how a person chooses to express our gender outwardly in ways of clothing, voice, haircut, physicality, behavior, etc. Gender Identity is a person’s personal sense of what gender is. How a person views gender, how it applies to that person personally, what aspects of gender is that person comfortable or uncomfortable with, etc. Gender Presentation is how the outside world views a person’s gender (Trevor, 2016). Inside these terms are multiple identity terms such as transgender. This is when the person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Transmasculine or a transman is a person who was born female but identifies as male. Transfeminine or a transwomen is a person who was born male but identifies as a woman. Nonbinary is a person who doesn’t identify with either gender. Genderqueer is a person who identifies with both. Cisgender is a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned as (Woodstock, 2018). These words are more complex than their definitions and the people who identify with them are more complex than the definitions, but these words can provide community and a guide for any person exploring their gender identity. Using a Queer eye, a reader of Shakespeare can see how these experiences are shown in the text.
In the theatre, specifically Shakespeare, there are terms connecting the text, the actor and gender. Cross-dressing, a term commonly used in the theatre, is when an actor/character crosses from one gender to another. This term relates mostly to gender performance, when an actor is performing as another gender. Trans-dressing, is more than an actor/character ‘crossing’ between genders, but embodying them. Feeling a deep connection with the gender they are presenting as (Power, 2018). This gives a more in depth look into the stories and a way to bring queerness to the light in the classical theatre.
Now that these terms have been established, take a look at Viola’s monologue from Twelfth Night through the queer lens. In this monologue Viola is presenting as Cesario(her male identity). She has just been given a ring from the countess Oliva, who has proclaimed her love for Cesario, not knowing Viola’s birth gender. Viola is also stuck with the fact that she is in love with Orsino, a duke, who is unaware of her and Cesario being one of the same. Orsino, is in love with the countess Olivia but later falls in love with Viola/Cesario, which is unknown to Viola at first.  Essentially, she is dealing with one big love triangle.
I left no ring with her. What means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her.
She made good view of me; indeed, so much
That, as methought, her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
She loves me sure; the cunning of her passion
Invites me in this churlish messenger.
None of my lord's ring? Why, he sent her none.
I am the man. If it be so, as 'tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.1
Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper false
In women's waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made of, such we be.2
How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly;
And I (poor monster)3 fond as much on him;
And she (mistaken) seems to dote on me.
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master's love.
As I am woman (now alas the day!),
What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe?4
O Time, thou must untangle this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me t' untie.
1 Transman: This can be read starting off with a sense of confidence in a male identity. Viola is excited by Olivia falling in love with him, excited his male identity is seen. Then is struck by a lack of confidence, Viola feels as though if he were to reveal this part of himself, the outside world would view him as a liar.
Transwomen: This can be read in the opposite way as a transmasculine person. Viola is frustrated that the outside world views her as a man and is placed in this identity but inside she knows she feels female, so it all feels like a trick.
2 Queer/Trans: In the end of this section, regardless of how the director decides Viola identifies, this line can be read as finding solace in the self. That even though Viola may be rejected by society, as long as she knows herself and lives honestly she is okay with that. For such as we are made, if such we be. There is nothing wrong with who you are, it is just how you are made.
3 Nonbinary/Genderqueer: It is important to regard the use of ‘monster’ in this monologue, used as a slur, but also interesting to view in regards of its definition. ‘Monster’, was a term during Shakespeare's time used for a person identifying with both sides of the binary gender, a man/women (Folger, 1993) which we now know to be a very natural experience and use the words nonbinary or genderqueer to describe it. Aside the cruel phrasing, it is proof that nonbinary people have been explored in history. This line could also be read as Viola does not feel she can love Orsino as a man or a nonbinary person because of the numerous social pressures.
4 Nonbinary/Genderqueer: As I am man, as I am women. In both cases Viola still has this major crush on Orsino. Oliva, in a sense, can represent the outside world criticizing Viola on their emotions and forcing Viola to be one or the other.
In each of these examples from the text, Viola's character uses a lot of aspects of trans-dressing. From the queer eye perspective, she not only expresses gender but feels a connection with each presentation. Throughout the play this is explored further in dialogue between characters, relationships and the overall plot, especially toward the end. Orsino, the guy Viola has a major crush on, proposes to her right after she reveals her assigned gender. There are no questions only a statement that shows Orsino still sees Viola’s, as a person between and beyond gender and recognizes her personhood and loves her all the same (Elise, 2019).
“And since you called me “master” for so long,
Here is my hand. You shall from this time be
Your master’s mistress” (5.1.339-340)…
“—Cesario, come,
 For so you shall be while you are a man.
But when in other habits you are seen,
Orsino’s mistress, and his fancy’s queen” (5.1.408-411).
Throughout all the many ways to Queer Twelfth Night, one message is clear: good love speaks not with the body but with the heart. A message many need to hear.
It can be seen that this Shakespearean tale would be beneficial for a young queer audience with the Queer eye in mind. Not only to show them that they can love who they wish, but are free to explore their gender outside of what the binary tells them to be stuck in. The show displays the complexity of being human and human questioning their gender but remaining the same at heart. Casting transgender actors in Shakespeare told from a queer eye, would not only improve work for transgender/queer actors and show authentic experiences, but diversify the Shakespearean world for audiences and actors to come.
Fionn Shea, a transmasculine actor, writer and musician from New Hampshire, found solace in another trans-dressing character from As You Like It, Rosalind. He explained in an interview with the New Hampshire Public Radio, that he came to terms with his gender identity in the middle of performing one of Rosalind's lines in As You Like It.  Fionn said,
[In regards to the line]
"Were it not better [...] That I did suit me all points like a man?" 
And all of a sudden, I sort of understood what she was talking about and had this
realization and complete certainty of just how much that felt like it applied.
            This realization lead Fionn to establish a deeper understanding of Rosalind and himself for the rest of the production and into life. (Biello, 2019).
            Another Shakespearean play Fionn said he identified with and saw as a story that could be told through the Queer eye, was Richard III. Which another playwright saw as a way to explore the transgender journey as well.
Terri Power, an actor, artist, scholar and educator, constructed a play in which she combined Richard III with the transgender experience and ally of a transgender person’s experience. Drag King Richard III, switches between the narration of ‘Lady Femme’ the ally, and the Shakespearean text of Richard the III, regarding her friend Lawrence’s experience with being transgender. The play draws clear connections to Lawrence’s life to the text, Queering it in the most authentic way possible. The play itself is full of heart and heartbreak and at its core, the struggles of being human. (Power, 2016).
These stories brings up the question of how many trans people Shakespeare could help find their truest selves or feel visible in a world where trans visibility is so rare. And to cisgender audiences, to become more exposed to an experience they may be unfamiliar with. Using Shakespeare in a Queer eye normalizes the experience while being in a genre most people are fairly familiar with. Hopefully, theatre companies will begin to see the importance of this and begin to apply it to productions so maybe a young queer kid will see them self onstage in a place where they never thought they could. In the big picture, regardless of gender or how these characters are read, these genderfucking characters and people are human as a human can be. In the words of Dugald Bruce-Lockhart  “And whether that character is a grandfather, an uncle, a daughter, a son, it’s a character in a story and that's it.” (Power, 2018). Off or on stage, there’s some real truth in that.


Sources
Belsey, C. (2009) Twelfth night: A modern perspective New York: Simon & Schuster

Biello, P. (2019, March 29) The Bookshelf: Coming out as trans, with help from shakespeare. [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.nhpr.org/post/bookshelf-coming-out-trans-help-shakespeare#stream/0

Elise. (2019, May 12) Love me for who I am: An essay on william shakespeare’s twelfth night. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thebookishactress.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/love-me-for-who-i-am-an-essay-on-william-shakespeares-twelfth-night/

Moway, B., Shakespeare, W., Werstine, P. (1993) Twelfth night: Folger shakespeare library. New York: Simon & Schuster

Moway, B., Shakespeare, W., Werstine, P. (1997) As you like it: Folger shakespeare library. New York: Simon & Schuster

Power, T. (2016) Shakespeare and gender in practice. New York: Red Globe Press

The Trevor Project. Trans and gender identity. (2017, September 2) Retrieved from https://www.thetrevorproject.org/trvr_support_center/trans-gender-identity/

Woodstock, M. (2018, January 8) Gender reveal: Gender 101 [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from https://gender.libsyn.com/episode-1-gender-101






Dialogic Cinephilia - October 28, 2019

Beals, Emma, Juan Cole and Rami Khouri. "The Death of al-Baghdadi: ISIS Grew Out of U.S. Invasion of Iraq. What Will Happen Next?" Democracy Now (October 28, 2019) ["President Trump announced Sunday that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. special forces raid on his compound in northwestern Syria. According to Trump, al-Baghdadi detonated an explosive vest he was wearing, killing himself and three of his children. The raid began early Sunday when eight U.S. military helicopters flew from a base near Erbil, Iraq, to northwestern Syria over airspace controlled by Syria and Russia. Baghdadi had led ISIS since 2010. In 2014, he proclaimed the creation of an Islamic State or caliphate during a speech in Mosul. At its peak, ISIS controlled a large swath of land across Syria and Iraq and maintained a force of tens of thousands of fighters recruited from more than 100 countries. The group also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks across five continents. We speak with three guests: Juan Cole, author and professor of history at the University of Michigan; Emma Beals, award-winning investigative journalist and researcher who has covered the Syrian conflict since 2012; and Rami Khouri, senior public policy fellow and journalist-in-residence at the American University of Beirut, and a columnist at The New Arab."]

Ezie, Chinyere and Dean Spade. "Brick by Brick - 50 Years after Stonewall." Activist Files #15 (June 20, 2019) ["Staff Attorney Chinyere Ezie and Dean Spade, author, activist, and law professor at Seattle University School of Law, discuss the state of the queer and trans rights movement in the U.S. today, 50 years after the Stonewall uprising. Chinyere and Dean reflect on the formal progress that queer and trans communities have seen in the past half century, as well as the many more struggles that their marginalized members are still fighting today. They explain the phenomenon of pinkwashing and show how the mantle of “gay rights” has been co-opted by right-wing actors, while highlighting the need for an alternative vision of queer and trans liberation that resists a monolithic narrative of integration into conservative institutions, including marriage and the military, and relies on a message of “sameness,” while erasing ongoing struggles for immigrants' rights, police accountability, prison abolition, and other issues that impact and are led by queer and trans people. Chinyere and Dean also address the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans women of color and articulate their hopes for the future of this work, including continuing to challenge laws that create what Chinyere calls a “discrimination-to-incarceration pipeline,” providing mutual aid, and thinking creatively about how queer communities will be impacted by – and have to collectively organize around – future threats, such as climate change. For more on Dean Spade’s work, check out the Queer Trans War Ban Toolkit."]

"Fight Club (1999)." Hammer & Camera (September 19, 2019)

Gerard, Lydia, Sharon Lavigne and Pam Spees. "Combating Corporate Contamination in Cancer Alley." The Activist Files #14 (May 9, 2019) ["Senior Staff Attorney Pam Spees talks with Lydia Gerard and Sharon Lavigne, two of the brave Women of Cancer Alley leading the resistance to the toxic petrochemical industry in Louisiana. Cancer Alley is an 85-mile stretch of land with a high concentration of petrochemical companies. It also is populated by primarily Black communities with high rates of health problems, including respiratory problems, the highest risk of cancer in the country, and even unexplained health problems. Both women share their personal stories--the difficulties Sharon's grandchildren have had breathing, Lydia's loss of her husband to kidney cancer--and the way those experiences fueled their fight in the face of indifferent corporations and lackluster government action. Later this month, many of those involved in this struggle will participate in a March for Justice, demanding government action--including the reduction of emissions, a moratorium on new plants, and the closer of certain existing plants. Give the episode a listen, and spread the word about this important fight for racial and environmental justice."]

Oliver, John, et al. "Confronting the Legacy of the Confederacy." Best of the Left #1186 (May 29, 2018) ["Today we take a look at the legacy of the Confederacy, the monuments and white supremacy it left behind and the racial terror institutionalized in America based on upholding its values."]

Podcasts/Videocasts Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Staal, Jonas. Propaganda Art: From the 20th to the 21st Century. (Dissertation: University of Amsterdam, 2018)