232 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2018
    1. And if Poe were alive, he would not have to invent horror; horror would invent him.

      tragically beautiful last line

    2. From these items I drew my first political conclusions about Bigger: I felt that Bigger, an American product, a native son of this land, carried within him the potentialities of either Communism or Fascism. I don't mean to say that the Negro boy I depicted in Native Son is either a Communist or a Fascist. He is not either. But he is product of a dislocated society; he is a dispossessed and disinherited man; he is all of this, and he lives amid the greatest possible plenty on earth and he is looking and feeling for a way out.

      because he is being pushed out and ushered to the edges?

    3. come into possession of my own feelings

      as physical objects to be re-captured

    4. I'd better indicate more precisely the nature of the environment that produced these men, or the reader will be left with the impression that they were essentially and organically bad.

      Born of their environments. Who is the intended readership, I wonder?

    5. We never recovered our toys unless we flattered him and made him feel that he was superior to us. Then, perhaps, if he felt like it, he condescended, threw them at us and then gave each of us a swift kick in the bargain, just to make us feel his utter contempt.

      Microcosm of hegemonic society?

    6. So, at the outset, I say frankly that there are phases of Native Son which I shall make no attempt to account for. There are meanings in my book of which I was not aware until they literally spilled out upon the paper. I shall sketch the outline of how I consciously came into possession of the materials that went into Native Son, but there will be many things I shall omit, not because I want to, but simply because I don't know them.

      Paradoxically claiming and disowning his words/experiences

    7. It is at once something private and public by its very nature and texture.

      Much like the idea of a "readerly" text

    8. it is an intensely intimate expression on the part of a consciousness couched in terms of the most objective and commonly known events

      Interesting description

    1. Why, after all, should one not be born there as one is born here, helpless, speechless, unable to focus one’s eyesight, groping at the roots of the grass, at the toes of the Giants?

      as in death

  2. Mar 2018
    1. might become in his children’s children a glowing flame of sensibility, alive to every thrill of human happiness or human woe

      Echoes/Contrasting with Annie, the white woman sentiments

    2. but with a furtive disapproval which suggested to us a doubt in his own mind as to whether he had a right to think or to feel, and presented to us the curious psychological spectacle of a mind enslaved long after the shackles had been struck off from the limbs of its possessor.

      Moralistic / Mind was shackled as well.

    3. two women-servants


    4. I have reason to believe that ever since I had bought the place, and for many years before, Julius had been getting honey from this tree. The gray wolf’s haunt had doubtless proved useful in keeping off too inquisitive people, who might have interfered with his monopoly.

      Julius using story to get what he desires; language becomes a manipulative tool.

    5. your people will never rise in the world until they throw off these childish superstitions

      Echoes of how enslaved peoples were infantilized.

    6. She became the victim of a settled melancholy, attended with vague forebodings of impending misfortune.

      Emma Bovary-esque

  3. Feb 2018
    1. “If something is too mimetic, can it be art?”

      Or are the truest imitations art?

    2. “It seems almost as if we might as well give up, one time as well as another, the effort to make certain people understand that fiction is not ‘just telling things.’ So many well-intentioned people persist in making themselves ridiculous by their futile attempts to make fact into fiction”

      All writing is "just telling things' ; it just so happens that this particular reviewer didn't like the way Chestnutt was telling it.

    3. epistemic legerdemain subtend the aura of simplistic straight talk implied by the use of dialect. As

      language used as a tool of deception, perceived by John because he would undoubtedly have been "utilized" such language in the past to obfuscate the truth

    4. only “parroting” what they had heard suggested that while blacks could use knowledge, only whites could truly possess it

      Douglass and his copying for the bible

    5. whether or not imitativeness was an epistemic quality rooted in race.

      vs. originality

    6. writing fiction, his income largely came first as a freelance legal stenographer and then as the owner of his own successful stenography practice

      His existence is thus seeped completely in writing and inscription!

    1. “That story does not appeal to me, Uncle Julius, and is not up to your usual mark. It isn’t pathetic, it has no moral that I can discover, and I can’t see why you should tell it. In fact, it seems to me like nonsense.”

      Everything has to be done to please the white hegemony, despite the fact that slavery was "over"

    2. “Fac’ is,” continued the old man, in a serious tone, “I doan lack ter dribe a mule. I ‘s alluz afeared I mought be imposin’ on some human creetur; eve’y time I cuts a mule wid a hick’ry, ‘pears ter me mos’ lackly I’s cuttin’ some er my own relations, er somebody e’se w’at can’t he’p deyse’ves.”

      This is heartbreaking, and mirrors the way that a lot of enslaved peoples were treated/viewed as animals

    3. impossible career of the blonde heroine of a rudimentary novel.

      Distaste for both women and people of color?

    4. Yes, Julius,” said I, “that was powerful goopher. I am glad, too, that you told us the moral of the story; it might have escaped us otherwise. By the way, did you make that up all by yourself?”

      what a jerk

    5. “And they all lived happy ever after,” I said, as the old man reached a full stop. “Yas, suh,”

      The irony

    6. roots

      roots = magic, as seen in previous works

    7. ‘lowance fer nachul bawn laz’ness, ner sickness, ner trouble in de min’, ner nuffin; he wuz des gwine ter git so much wuk outer eve’y han’, er know de reason w’y.

      racist stereotypes from the production/usefulness mindset

    8. said he wuz n’ raisin’ niggers, but wuz raisin’ cotton.

      Humans equated to their usefulness and production. Marx would have a field day with this.

    9. monst’us

      I wonder if the term 'monstrous' is used in another texts as well.

    10. “I’m sure he ought to be,” exclaimed my wife indignantly. “I think there is no worse sin and no more disgraceful thing than cruelty.” “I quite agree with you,” I assented.

      Oh, the irony.

    11. We found him useful in many ways and entertaining in others, and my wife and I took quite a fancy to him.


    12. unable to break off entirely the mental habits of a lifetime, but had attached himself to the old plantation, of which he seemed to consider himself an appurtenance.

      Object to object, so to speak. Something to be "cultivated"

    13. He was a marvelous hand in the management of horses and dogs, with whose mental processes he manifested a greater familiarity than mere use would seem to account for, though it was doubtless due to the simplicity of a life that had kept him close to nature.

      Very condescending, and the implication of Julius being more animalistic has not gone unnoticed.

    14. useful

      Would be interesting to see how often this word pops up.

    15. “What a system it was,” she exclaimed, when Julius had finished, “under which such things were possible!”


    16. would turn herse’f en Sandy ter foxes, er sump’n, so dey could run away en go some’rs whar dey could be free en lib lack w’ite folks.

      freedom = white

    17. Sandy wuz turnt back he had a little roun’ hole in his arm, des lack a sharp stick be’n stuck in it.

      As a 'human' he sustained the wounds he did as an object.

    18. I wisht I wuz a tree, er a stump, er a rock, er sump’n w’at could stay on de plantation fer a w’ile.’

      Objectification // plantation becoming home

    19. en ‘lowed he wuz monst’us sorry fer ter break up de fambly, but de spekilater had gin ‘im big boot, en times wuz hard en money skase, en so he wuz bleedst ter make de trade. Sandy tuk on some ’bout losin’ his wife, but he soon seed dey want no use cryin’ ober spilt merlasses; en bein’ ez he lacked de looks er de noo ‘oman, he tuk up wid her atter she’d be’n on de plantation a mont’ er so.

      The objectification and speculation of human bodies inherently lends itself to treating humans like trade and chattel

    20. monst’us good nigger, en could do so many things erbout a plantation

      Goodness and value tied to usefulness?

    21. poured freely into the sympathetic ear of a Northern-bred woman,

      Who chooses to do nothing about it?

    22. the Oriental cast of the negro’s imagination

      The exoticism / fetishizing of race is made doubly apparent here.

    23. who takes a deep interest in the stories of plantation life which she hears from the lips of the older colored people

      Sounds vaguely condescending.

    24. lugubrious

      Looking or sounding sad or dismal.

    25. We remained seated in the carriage, a few rods from the mill, and watched the leisurely movements of the mill-hands.

      So separate and above the cacophony; watching others work with a degree of separation. Those who work there are no longer people, but reduced to the duties that they perform. "Mill-hands." The body is once again divided and used.

    26. occult

      Interesting choice of words.

      • supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena.
    27. Its weatherbeaten sides revealed a virgin innocence of paint.

      This echoes the body as home//a house//property theme that we have seen in the past.

    1. while Heaven lends me ability, to use my voice, my pen, or my vote, to advocate the great and primary work of the universal and unconditional emancipation of my entire race.

      The possessive is vital here, marking the change from possessed to possessor.

    2. I was but nine years from slavery. In point of mental experience, I was but nine years old.

      The theme of timelessness and slavery being outside of time is echoed here.

    3. I took my stand on the high ground of human brotherhood, and spoke to Englishmen as men, in behalf of men. Slavery is a crime, not against Englishmen, but against God, and all the members of the human family; and it belongs to the whole human family to seek its suppression.

      in behalf of men in itself reclaims his own humanity and manhood. Not only is Douglass an ambassador of sorts for enslaved peoples, but also as an american, and as a man.

    4. To this, however, I could not consent. I felt that I had a duty to perform—and that was, to labor and suffer with the oppressed in my native land.

      The return to his 'roots'.

    5. “I don’t allow niggers in here!”

      The repetition of this line compounds its effect on the reader.

    6. America will not allow her children to love her.

      I love this line. Pertinent in 2018 as well.

    7. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery, and wrong; when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters; I am filled with unutterable loathing, and led to reproach myself that anything could fall from my lips in praise of such a land.

      The notion of the land being tainted and corrupted by slavery is fascinating, especially considering the treatment of Native Americans/colonization of both lands and peoples.

    8. securing me an audience

      Douglass thus has an audience for his own narrative/story!

    9. so that the idea of a HUMAN BEING, necessarily excludes the idea of PROPERTY IN THAT BEING.

      A human being thus being inherently separate and opposite of a possession/object.

    1. power of truth

      Truth being the primary tool against the deception used by slaveholders to control enslaved peoples.

    2. I seldom had much to say at the meetings, because what I wanted to say was said so much better by others.

      Funny, considering he became a master orator.

    3. I must leave unexplained, for the reasons before mentioned.

      By writing his own narrative and controlling his story, he is thus able to remove and exclude parts of his tale as he sees fit.

    4. I have never approved of the very public manner in which some of our western friends have conducted what they call the underground railroad, but which I think, by their open declarations, has been made most emphatically the upper-ground railroad.

      The publicizing of something innately private and secret for the sake of what? Their own ego? The prestige of supporting abolitionism?

    5. Their reason for this, as alleged, was, that if free colored carpenters were encouraged, they would soon take the trade into their own hands, and poor white men would be thrown out of employment.

      This echoes the fear that enslaved peoples will overturn the hegemony and enslave white people.

    6. They came because they wished to learn. Their minds had been starved by their cruel masters. They had been shut up in mental darkness.

      The need to learn/reason being the condition for humanity.

    7. So, when the holidays ended, we staggered up from the filth of our wallowing, took a long breath, and marched to the field,—feeling, upon the whole, rather glad to go, from what our master had deceived us into a belief was freedom, back to the arms of slavery.

      Depression and hypocrisy once again tools to reinforce the institution of slavery.

    8. The truth was, that he had not whipped me at all.

      The altering of truth to preserve the ego.

    9. O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute!

      The direct comparison of enslaved peoples to animals once again.

    10. breeder

      Like an animal.

    11. He seemed to think himself equal to deceiving the Almighty.

      Pointing out the hypocrisy of religion.

    12. He was under every tree, behind every stump, in every bush, and at every window, on the plantation.

      The traumatic stress of constantly being watched, being inscribed upon by a master's gaze.

    13. When we were at work in the cornfield, he would sometimes crawl on his hands and knees to avoid detection, and all at once he would rise nearly in our midst, and scream out,

      The joy of cruelty.

    14. breaking young slaves

      This "breaking" of young slaves, right after the mention of horses has to be intentional. Is this gross comparison of humans to horses, to animals, supposed to make the breaking of a person's will more palatable?

    15. he found religious sanction and support for his slaveholding cruelty. He made the greatest pretensions to piety. His house was the house of prayer. He prayed morning, noon, and night. He very soon distinguished himself among his brethren, and was soon made a class-leader and exhorter.

      The hypocrisy of religion and religious texts used to excuse and support the antithesis of its many teachings are thus made clear.

    16. The rule is, no matter how coarse the food, only let there be enough of it.

      The word 'coarse' appears here again, synonymous to slavery and enslavement.

    17. She stands—she sits—she staggers—she falls—she groans—she dies—and there are none of her children or grandchildren present, to wipe from her wrinkled brow the cold sweat of death, or to place beneath the sod her fallen remains

      The deliberate irony here between the grandmother's death and her former master's is tragic.

    18. she had peopled his plantation with slaves;

      bodies and people are thus equated to property

    19. Not a slave was left free. All remained slaves, from the youngest to the oldest.

      and all remained property

    20. I had known what it was to be kindly treated; they had known nothing of the kind.

      The notion that kindness can "spoil" or cause more damage than cruelty is striking.

    21. A single word from the white men was enough—against all our wishes, prayers, and entreaties—to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings.

      A single uttered word vs. a muted silence

    22. we had no more voice in that decision than the brutes among whom we were ranked.

      Lack of control over their own narrative

    23. I, however, remembered the place very well. I was only about five years old when I left it, to go and live with my old master on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation; so that I was now between ten and eleven years old.

      age based entirely upon the 'master'

    24. I then had to regret that I did not at least make the attempt to carry out my resolution to run away; for the chances of success are tenfold greater from the city than from the country.

      The blame upon the self.

    25. We were all ranked together at the valuation. Men and women, old and young, married and single, were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine.

      Like objects and animals, dehumanized and objectified.

    26. I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed.

      To be or not to be that is the question.

    27. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out.

      The double-edged sword. Reflects Du Bois's act of choosing to turn a curse into a gift and vice versa.

    28. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world.

      The hegemony's control over knowledge.

    29. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.

      Power corrupts.

    30. Narrative

      Narrative with a capital. His own story, his own tale.

    31. the freedom of the slaves, and the enslavement of the whites.

      Reminiscent of Trump's America and the term "reverse racism." There has been no reversal. If they fear being treated the way they treat another race, their guilt is clear.

    32. It is partly in consequence of such facts, that slaves, when inquired of as to their condition and the character of their masters, almost universally say they are contented, and that their masters are kind.

      The racist myth of the "kind master" and the "happy slave" is born.

    33. When he spoke, a slave must stand, listen, and tremble

      Dehumanized in the very literal sense, unable to respond/react.

    34. if the colonel only suspected any want of attention to his horses

      The colonel cares more for animals than his slaves.

    35. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears.

      Even when they sing songs that are supposedly happy.

    36. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains.

      A testimony and prayer that was echoed by those of enslaved peoples around them and heard by nobody else?

    37. They would compose and sing as they went along, consulting neither time nor tune

      Composing a community.

    38. coarse negro cloth

      "coarse nego cloth" I am curious about this description. Is the coarseness of the cloth, cheaper to make and more available perhaps inherently equated to the enslaved man due to a slave owner's unwillingness to spend more on cloth? Is this to set up a dichotomy wherein we are supposed to assume there be a "soft/fine white cloth"?

    39. bloody transaction

      Torturous economics, "blood transaction," an exchange of inscription and payment.

    40. for a man to sell his own children to human flesh-mongers, it is often the dictate of humanity for him to do so; for, unless he does this, he must not only whip them himself, but must stand by and see one white son tie up his brother, of but few shades darker complexion than himself, and ply the gory lash to his naked back; and if he lisp one word of disapproval, it is set down to his parental partiality, and only makes a bad matter worse, both for himself and the slave whom he would protect and defend.

      Du Bois's double consciousness is present here in the form of a literal bi-racial identity. This is its curse.

    41. and make a gratification of their wicked desires profitable as well as pleasurable;

      Reinforcing the hegemonic patriarchy, both as the executor of the peculiar institution and as a White man.

    42. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor

      Morrison's Beloved describes this. Sethe, a former slave, never knew her mother.

    43. I do not recollect of ever seeing my mother by the light of day.

      Forbidden, hidden in the night. Reminiscent of Du Bois's term "sons of night."

    44. to part children from their mothers at a very early age.

      Like chattel.

    45. The white children could tell their ages.

      They are individualized; their sense of time and their lives are framed only by themselves and no one else.

    46. They seldom come nearer to it than planting-time, harvest-time, cherry-time, spring-time, or fall-time.

      Their sense of time is framed entirely by the work that they are forced to do, by their masters' wants/needs. Their own sense of time (their birthday) is lost/overwritten.

    47. it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant

      Same sentiment echoed by Du Bois with the "suicide of a race."

    48. as horses know of theirs

      Reflects how enslaved peoples were frequently compared to animals and beasts by slavers.

    1. there is no true American music but the wild sweet melodies of the Negro slave; the American fairy tales and folklore are Indian and African;

      The American Identity is innately Native American and black.

    2. behold the suicide of a race

      The ability to control the narrative is thereby a lifeline.

    3. Lo! we are diseased and dying, cried the dark hosts; we cannot write, our voting is vain; what need of education, since we must always cook and serve? And the Nation echoed and enforced this self-criticism, saying: Be content to be servants, and nothing more; what need of higher culture for half-men?

      Physical death and disease is paralleled to the lack of education, the inability to write and read. The bridled mind and illiteracy having the ability to maim and even kill.

    4. He began to have a dim feeling that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself, and not another.

      The Hero's Journey and the arc of isolation/catharsis is present here. In both a literal and metaphorical sense, Du Bois and other "sons of night" get to be the hero, the main character, the protagonist. By becoming the writer, the author, the inscriber, he has given himself a narrative.

    5. Freedom

      "Freedom" and "God" and "Emancipation" all capitals and all perhaps paralleled as well.

    6. manhood

      Manhood is specified here. Unclear where this left black women at the time, though I am aware that in the future, both the women's rights movement and the civil rights movement often left black women sorely lacking in representation and a voice.

      Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I woman" rings clear here.

    7. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder

      This is clear even today. In the term African American there is a clear drawing in the sand, a delineation of what an American "looks like."

    8. he Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.

      The words Du Bois utilizes here is seeped in mysticism. The magic of the "seventh son," the "gift" of the veil and "second-sight" not only sets him apart, othered,but also forces him to play act "normalcy" and to realize/recognize his own difference.

    9. tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above.

      The imagery is reminiscent of Milton's Paradise Lost, with the walls surrounding Eden.

    10. into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of everything white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry

      Images of an underworld arises here.

    11. I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows

      Echoes the notion of the veil dividing life and death, rights and freedoms vs. the lack of them.

    12. vast veil.

      The use of the word 'veil' summons up imagery of the thin fabric between life and death. By being turned away, he does so from the rights of living beings as well.

    13. And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,—peculiar even for one who has never been anything else

      For whom am I a problem? A problem for society, for the hegemony, or a problem for the innately racist and systematic peculiar institution?

    14. reduce the boiling to a simmer

      This analogy reminds me a lot of the discourse in a couple of years ago around microaggressions.

    1. his women

      Third or fourth mention of the Commandant's 'women.' Connection to 'Honour your superiors'? Objectification of marginalized groups.

    2. I usually kneel down at this point and observe the phenomenon.

      The fetishistic obsession with inscription is particularly disturbing here.

  4. Jan 2018
    1. Guilt is always beyond a doubt.


    2. “It would be useless to give him that information. He experiences it on his own body.

      But hasn't the Condemned Man already experienced this subjection and degradation in his body? (like a vandalized house) The inscription of it on his body simply embodies what has already been true.

    3. “That’s cotton wool?” asked the Traveler and bent down. “Yes, it is,” said the Officer smiling, “feel it for yourself.”

      Kafka keeps bringing our attention to the cotton, perhaps to ensure we recognize the historical implications?

    4. harrow

      Common term used in farming/planting.

    5. epaulettes

      According to Google, "an ornamental shoulder piece on an item of clothing, typically on the coat or jacket of a military uniform"

    6. the administration of the colony was so self-contained that even if his successor had a thousand new plans in mind, he would not be able to alter anything of the old plan, at least not for several years.


    7. vacant-looking man with a broad mouth and dilapidated hair and face

      The descriptors "Vacant-looking" and "dilapidated" summon up imagery of haunted houses and manors left in ruin rather than people. These terms are primarily used to describe things, not people.

      Why then is our "Condemned" an empty house? What has pushed him from subject to object in this way?

    8. Officer to the Traveler,

      Officer, Traveler, Condemned. Everyone is defined solely by the roles that they inhabit.

  5. Nov 2017
    1. think the “Dungeon Master” role is not workable in Ivanhoe but do wonder whether the instructor could play the role of “narrator” of the text, a positionality that would call attention in fruitful ways to the distinction between the “author” Melville and his third-person narrative, a

      Would have undoubtedly changed the way we made our "moves"!

    2. A player can initiate a “move”—a brief text written “in character,” so to speak—or respond to another player’s “move.”

      A "move" - very reminiscent of table-top games! It is no wonder I so enjoyed being able to inhabit another character's shoes.

    3. Ivanhoe concept invented by textual critics at the University of Virginia in 2000 and reconfigured as a theme for the WordPress blogging platformin 2015 by the Scholars’ Labat UVA(McGann).

      On a fun note, after taking part in Professor Allred's Digital Humanities course and having the opportunity to participate in "playing" Melville's Billy Budd, I found myself getting more involved and more interested in table-top gaming like DnD, Dread, etc. Interesting side effect, I think!

    4. having them think about literary research as a more lab-like, collaborative, and creative endeavo

      Tricking kids into eating their vegetables so to speak!

    5. they stretch and strain but fail to get there

      Altogether too familiar with this myself!

  6. Nov 2016
    1. Adam and Eve have "their seeds within themselves," and the pleasure of touch encourages them to "increase and multiply


  7. May 2016
    1. Authors seldom create links and lexias, nor do they in-sert visual images or sound effects into the narrative proper.

      Not true anymore.

    1. . Is art about making up new things or about transforming the raw material that's out there? Cutting, pasting, sampling, remixing and mashing up have become mainstream modes of cultural expression, and fan fiction is part of that. It challenges just about everything we thought we knew about art and creativity.

      Not really. Art has always been about reacting (in some part) to the works that have come before it.

    1. This is an ebook on a collection of popular culture journals online in book form with literal page flipping and no option to highlight the text. Why.

    1. Well, the obvious topic is "fan fiction," but as you can tell just from scanning the subject index, we've branched out a bit - columns on fannish politics, columns that focus more on the show itself, columns on writing, etc.  Bottom line: is it going to be of interest to fanfic writers and readers?

      This is bad ass.

    1. Fan fiction alludes to universes which resemble those of the source text but which are also transformed in accordance with the writer's creative impulses and with reference to generic conventions and interpretive conventions of the fan community.

      ** Best description.

    2. This transportation may be so complete that they respond emotionally to the events portrayed as if they were situations involving real-life people rather than characters--that they become, in other words, emotionally immersed

      Couldn't this be said about anything and anyone?

    3. Fans approach fan fiction with highly detailed schemata in mind: of the characters, for example. If writers of fan fiction simply described the primary text, readers would no longer have the challenge of imagining something new and such texts would be too boring to be immersive. In effect, fans tend to value fics the most when they both adhere to canon and diverge from it

      * Important.

    4. Abigail Derecho argues that fan writers add artifacts to an archive surrounding the source text and "all texts related to it" (63-65) and Juli J. Parrish insists that fan writers "reimagine the preserve itself" (67-68).

      "Hypotext" and "hypertext"

    5. Several scholars have emphasized that fan writers are no slaves to their source text.

      Great sentence.

    6. Fan fiction studies have typically respected this framework by either taking an ethnographic approach to the subject or considering the motivations, interpretations, and metatexts of fans (Busse and Hellekson 17-24).

      So fascinating how "metatexts" themselves are considered fanwork. Reminiscent of the Symposium, a collection of essays about fandom by its members that ran from 1999-2006. http://www.trickster.org/symposium/colyear.html#1999

    1. such as solve literary conundrums

      For now!

    2. that it is the combination of data mining and visualization (distant reading) with the ability to read and contextualize one’s results (close reading) that generated many of the most productive studies

      There has been an extreme academic focus on close reading, as we have spoken about at length before, and it is interesting to see the other approaches to Literature, such as crafting infographics and data mining, that can also be utilized to analyze a text. Too often, it seems like there is only a singular way to approach a text, and utilizing quantified data, while not altogether replacing close reading but instead supplementing it, is simply another method with which one can tear apart and interact with a text.

    3. The third step is to use the data-mining algorithm to apply that mapping to new documents to find similar patterns or behaviors.

      Be it in a single novel or an entire genre! I saw a series of brilliant infographics done on the gothic novel genre a while back here.

    4. Using tools to facilitate differential reading practices can facilitate self-reflective or self-conscious critical practices by helping us interpret the patterns we see in texts and in how others have read texts.

      And therefore, also how we write!

    5. The graph also makes visible the fact that the low number of unique words (or words that are used at least once in each text) and the high average frequency of words in The Making of Americans are almost exactly the inverse of the numbers for Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

      Once again, the use of data and statistics allows for two pieces to be directly contrasted. While one may have had to battle context in so far as comparing the two works, with data and graphics, one is able to deal almost solely with crunching numbers (words) and quantify the work itself while also comparing it to others.

    1. The challenge is to understand how the information visualization creates an argument and then make use of the graphical format whose features serve your purpose.

      Interesting how this might be able to be used in literary research papers, an area where I previously assumed to be entirely separate from the realm of data and statistics.

  8. Apr 2016
    1. game space is not an infinite virtual reality, never an island of disembodied consciousness, but is instead a possibility space in multiple di-mensions, one whose objects are deliberately marked up or metatagged by human intelli-gence,

      I really like this particular description of a game. It's not an unformed, empty, space, but a promise of possibilities of sorts between current modes of thought; universes within human intelligence.

    2. A text, according to this theory, is a switch or node in the network of these forces, the place where meanings are dynamically generated.

      This is much like Barthes's notion of Text. Barthes explains the way that a work can be transformed into a Text based almost entirely upon the way it is interacted with.

    3. you necessarily remain at all times both in the world and out of it, controlling what happens by way of interface conventions

      Much like the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels.

    1. Playable media” also encompasses a body of work that I want to consider—including the examples above, as well as many other products of the commercial game industry, and also the body of what might be called “playable art.” By “playable art” I primarily mean projects from the digital art community such as Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv’s Text Rain (fi g. 5), which invite and structure play

      Speaks to not only interaction but a directed type of interaction that functions in an open space, allowing "players" to not only freely interpret, but also dissect, to poke and prod and see what they find!

    2. open-ended game-like experiences such as Sim City,

      Where players can not only control the characters themselves, but the weather, natural disasters, etc. The God-like omniscience is even stronger here, interestingly enough.

    3. “THISISNOT” and “AGAME” appear in red near the center of the fi rst and second still, respectively.

      Reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project and how the initial movie's promotional trailers were done entirely through the internet, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

    1. Gamification offers this exactly. No thinking is required, just simple, absentminded iteration and the promise of empty metrics to prove its value. Like having a website or a social media strategy, "gamification" allows organizations to tick the games box without fuss. Just add badges! Just add leaderboards!

      "Don't forget to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat!" Brands and companies have been reaching out to their fans much more often as of late, not only to reach more individuals but to also further push their products upon a greater number of people.

      Here are some "epic company twitter fails" for your enjoyment.

    2. because games are systems, they offer a fundamentally different way of characterizing ideas.

      Systems that undermine other systems.

    3. They realize that commercial games are big and shiny and cost millions or tens of millions of dollars.

      Interestingly enough, with the growth of free and open source resources online, and the establishment of game platforms like Steam and Origin, indie games have become their own genre!

    4. People know that there's something magical about games. They don't always express that opinion positively, but even condemnations of video games acknowledge that they contain special power, power to captivate us and draw us in, power to encourage us to repeat things we've seemingly done before, power to get us to spend money on things that seem not to exist, and so forth.

      Power to draw us into a story's narrative.

  9. Mar 2016
    1. Bucephalus

      "Bucephalus was the horse of Alexander the Great, and one of the most famous actual horses of antiquity"

    2. barbaric good humor

      Reminiscent of Melville's descriptions of people of color in both Moby Dick and Benito Cereno.

    1. improve bibliographical and research skills

      Particularly helpful.

    2. IVANHOE promotes curricular dependence on creative, synthetic practices and engagement with primary materials that have traditionally been inaccessible in classrooms.

      I've always thought of literary analysis papers as creative writing with a need for evidence. The ability to formulate ideas and critical analyses from a text itself (and others' interpretations of the text) is absolutely invaluable, and a skill that needs to continue to be honed!

    3. For example, when many Victorian readers complained about Scott's decision to marry Ivanhoe to Rowena and not Rebecca, they were clearly responding to one of the book's underdeveloped possibilities.

      It's fascinating to see how an author's work can become adopted entirely by their readers (Barthes would be proud), so much so that they steal some of that world-building authority from the author. Especially with the rise of the digital and fandom age, with fandom and twitter, the fourth wall no longer has to exist, and there are many different versions of the same world out there for one to explore. #TeamRowena vs. #TeamRebecca

    1. Each player makes a “move,” describing an action or decision their character makes, and the next player makes a move in response

      Am surprised no one's brought up roleplaying yet. It's popular in fandom, and is basically like writing collective fan fiction (which is sometimes then published for other people to read as a work in and on itself! Work into Text much?).

    2. Minecraft

      I've never played, but I hear good things! Reminiscent of the Sims games, that has grown into a sandbox world (think adult dolls?) wherein the developers have very cleverly begun to promote and incorporate fan made "custom content" to the game. The Sims Resource is one such place that hosts a wide array of custom content. http://www.thesimsresource.com/ Fascinating to see the developers themselves promote these fan made works.

    3. students create knowledge rather than merely absorb or duplicate knowledge

      I like this. We don't often have that freedom to get creative with a text, but I do so love when we're given the imaginative space to do so.

    4. Serious pedagogy is a high stakes pedagogy, high stakes which may in fact limit creative problem-solving.

      After so many years in an education system that emphasizes the need to follow instructions and do exactly as we're told(specifically, high school more so than college, funnily enough), I find myself floundering a bit when we get assignments form professors now that simply go: Do your thing, go nuts. It's a terrifying but amazing feeling.

    5. Playful pedagogy strives to infuse learning with the excitement and unpredictability of children’s play.

      The same space where people learn the best! I remember learning Mandarin in Singapore and memorizing the characters best when we did it as a game, rather than with stone cold memorization.

    6. It is hard.


    7. simultaneously more or less dependent upon make-believe

      Someone elses's or your own? As I've gotten older it feels like I've almost gotten more dependent upon other people's imaginations for entertainment, for play (video games, TV, movies). I suppose that's why I am so drawn to creative writing, because it does allow me to tap into that imagination of old.

    1. which means that more than 700 could still be extant somewhere, waiting for scholars to find them.

      Imagine opening up an old book and seeing Melville's annotations! (and adding your own to them as well?).

    2. "Melville was extraordinarily dependent on the writings of other men," says Mr. Otter. "He has an incorporative imagination."

      Benjamin would argue that this is the very basis of storytelling, novel or not, and that storytelling is inherently built upon the backs of stories from the past.

    3. someone already had erased Melville's check marks, underlinings, and scribbles.

      Aw, come on.

    4. "The name died before the man,"

      But the stories never did. Benjamin would be quite proud.

    5. old-fashioned textual scholarship with new digital technology to track the writer's creative process,

      Fascinating when one considers the many scholars of Literary Theory who believe that the author is entirely separate from the work, for example, Barthes and Foucault.

    1. Upon gaining a less remote view, the ship, when made signally visible on the verge of the leaden-hued swells, with the shreds of fog here and there raggedly furring her, appeared like a white-washed monastery after a thunder-storm, seen perched upon some dun cliff among the Pyrenees.

      This play on light and dark is extremely fascinating, particularly if one considers Melville's use of the color white in Moby Dick. While the color white is often used to symbolize purity and goodness, Melville inverts this idea entirely. Ishmael ponders over what Moby Dick's whiteness means - is it evil? And if so, is black then, good? Or is the color white the combination of both evil and good, or perhaps the absence of both altogether?

      The whiteness of the whale is a topic that Melville frequently ponders. For example he states, "[i]s it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation? . . . Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color . . . is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows . . . ?" This can be found here.

      Melville may be playing with these ideas again in "Benito Cereno," as he likens the whiteness of the ship to religious motifs of the monastery and the monks, and yet he also fills that very same ship with shadows. If so, what implications does this have for race relations in "Benito Cereno" ?

    2. As master and man stood before him, the black upholding the white, Captain Delano could not but bethink him of the beauty of that relationship which could present such a spectacle of fidelity on the one hand and confidence on the other.

      Nathaniel Parker Willis's "Night Funeral of a Slave" is reminiscent here, wherein a slave owner mourns the death of his slave. In the piece, there is a deliberate emphasis by the owner that his slave is also his friend, his most trusted companion. However, that manipulation can be seen blatantly throughout the text as ownership and possession are hidden in the guise of friendship, through the use of extremely racial rhetoric, specifically, the emphasis on color.

      The text presents the slave owner in mourning as he proclaims, “I lost this morning the truest and most reliable friend I had in the world” (333). Despite the forced and deliberate change from slave to “reliable friend,” the ownership of the dead slave continues to seep throughout the text. In Willis’s desire to convey the slave owner’s friendship with his dead slave, he serves only to highlight his blatant ownership of the slave – the antithesis of the equality and freedom that a friendship implies. “I have a hundred others,” the slave owner continues, “many of them faithful and true, but his loss is irreparable” (333). While his speech is supposed to highlight the slave owner’s affection for his slave, it serves only to emphasize how, to him, this “lost” slave is merely one of many. The traits that the slave owner chooses to commend them on; “faithful” and “true” speaks most directly to his objectification of his slaves into mere tools that serve his purpose as well.

      This type of manipulation, or perception perhaps, can be seen often in Benito Cereno, particularly in Delano's perception of Babo, particularly when he is so awed by the latter's loyalty that he offers to buy him. By commending Babo on his loyalty and companionship, this serves only to push the Pro-slavery agenda (much like Willis's intention) for it insidiously praises traits in the slaves that are directly beneficial to their own enslavers.

      The narrator's tone here could perhaps also be called into question. A decidedly unreliable narrator, one must wonder if he is speaking to the flaws in this perception, or if he is standing by and supporting this manipulation.

      Willis, Nathaniel P. “The Night Funeral of a Slave.” Littell’s Living Age Vol. XXI 1 Jan. 1849: 333-334. Web.

    3. Benito Cereno, borne on the bier, did, indeed, follow his leader.

      In The life of Toussaint L'Ouverture by J.R. Beard published in 1853, the three heads of the rebellion, Dessalines, Christophe, and Clervaux, penned a proclamation entitled, "In the name of the Blacks, and the Men of Colour" (Beard 287). Within the proclamation, there states:

      "[a]s to those who, possessed by senseless pride, interested slaves of guilty pretension, are blind enough to think themselves the essence of human nature, and declare that heaven made them to be our masters and our tyrants–let them never approach the land of Saint Domingo; if they come hither, they will find chains and banishment" (288).

      This role reversal of "master" and "slave" is particularly interesting as it undoubtedly reflects the very nature of "Benito Cereno." Just as Delano is disillusioned by Cereno's appearance of power, the real power rested in the hands of Babo. Delano's inability to notice the real power in Babo echoes the power that the three heads of the rebellion had as well.

      Not only were the men instituting their claim upon Saint Domingo with their proclamation, but their threat to individuals who supported the slave trade likewise flipped the institution on its head. Pro-slavery individuals were not threatened with death, but with "chains and banishment," sufferings that were undoubtedly inflicted upon countless of slaves.

    4. “SAN DOMINICK,”

      As previous comments have pointed out, Melville's alteration of the ship's name to San Dominick points to the Haitian Revolution in the French colony of Saint Domingue that began in 1791. The rebellion was a nation-wide slave revolt against the French, and while L'Ouverture was undoubtedly the leader of the revolution, there were, according to The life of Toussaint L'Ouverture by J.R. Beard published in 1853, three other heads of the rebellion included Dessalines, Christophe, and Clervaux, who penned a proclamation entitled, "In the name of the Blacks, and the Men of Colour" (Beard 287).

      In it, they state, "[t]he independence of Saint Domingo is proclaimed. Restored to our primitive dignity, we have secured our rights; we swear never to cede them to any power in the world" (Beard 287). This section is absolutely reminiscent of the curious question found in "Benito Cereno," wherein the reader wonders what exactly the motivations are for Babo and his men.

      While the obvious answer would be freedom, Melville curiously tells the reader that Babo, in fact, was a slave back in his homeland as well. Why then, would their ultimate destiny be home? The proclamation from the Haitian Revolution, undoubtedly gives the reader some insight to this question.

      This "primitive dignity" that they speak of may allude to one's innate freedom to choose for oneself, to decide on one's destiny. Applied to "Benito Cereno," the proclamation appears slightly paradoxical. On one hand, one's ability to choose frees Babo from his enslavement on the ship, on the other, it also delivers him back to enslavement in his homeland, the antithesis of refusing to "cede" his regained power.

      However, there may be an interesting resolution to such a conflict. Should the narrator be trusted and Babo was indeed a slave back in his homeland as well, perhaps this "primitive dignity," and their motivation for overthrowing Cereno, was merely to regain the illusion of choice in a world where they were frequently robbed of them.

    5. “You are saved,” cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; “you are saved: what has cast such a shadow upon you?” “The negro.”

      As mentioned previously in class, this quotation (excluding the final line, "[t]he negro") is used as an epigraph in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Interestingly enough, the entirety of the novel is available online (much in the fashion of "Benito Cereno" on Project Gutenberg) by DePaul University's e-portfolio site. The epigraph page can be found here. It is fascinating not only to see the texts that may have influenced Melville's writing of "Benito Cereno," but also the works that may have been in turn influenced by Melville.

      The exclusion of the final line, "[t]he negro," particularly in a work like Invisible man, where Ellison's primary focus revolves around an examination of African Americans and their visibility in American society in the 1930s, raises interesting questions about Melville's work as well.

      Ellison's question of visibility, for example, speaks greatly to Melville's "Benito Cereno" as Delano is entirely incapable of truly seeing the situation for as it was. So blinded by the politics of the era, and the pervading notion that Africans were not to be in power, Babo and his power are literally rendered invisible to the Captain.

      Is Ellison attempting to answer Melville's question with his novel? In that even the invisible African is able to cast a shadow upon society? Further, what does this say about "Benito Cereno" as a whole? Perhaps this too, depends entirely on what we do and do not see.

    1. A millennium and a half later, Frederick Douglass recalled in his autobiography how he learned to write by copying the letters between the lines of his young master’s copybook.1

      Marginalia eventually leads to text, one way or another.

    2. The margin can become the site of contested liter-ary authority, a place for scholarly, archival, and critical interpretation.

      A literary battle zone between the text and its reader perhaps.

    3. he annotations I explore, by contrast, are sometimes barely legible, tan-talizingly irrelevant to the texts before them, evasive, duplicitous, or just plain weird.

      Reminds me of stream of consciousness writing, a genre in and on itself, that is sprinkled with equal parts ridiculousness and genius. See: Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, "my mother is a fish."

    1. The literal space of the book thus serves as a field of possibilities, waiting to be "intervened" by a reader.

      Communal reading! The relationship between storyteller and listener! Rubery! Benjamin! The interaction between the reader and text that we have been seeing over and over in different readings for Digital Humanities is reinvented here with the term "intervened." The use of this term is interesting, and implies more of an active role on the part of the reader that physically changes the outcome of the text.

    2. This would be an understanding based less on a formal grasp of layout, graphic, and physical features and more of an analysis of how those format features effect the functional operation and actual work done by a traditional book.

      Fascinating. The evolution from one form to another allows an observer to pick out the function of the original. E-readers with backlights and commenting functions for example, speak to people's desire to increase the time spent reading, and also the time at which they read. Further, the commenting function speaks to the way people tend to like marking up their books and thereby make them their own.

    1. between the man who writes the book (author), the man whose attitudes shape the book (implied author), and the man who communicates directly with the reader (narrator)

      and the women who are getting extremely sick of being excluded from this realm of reading (author, implied author, narrator - all). Benjamin's exclusion of women from the realm of storytelling is not unlike this one. Both authors are so intrigued by the way writing and reading facilitates with an exchange of ideas and ideologies that they forget different ideas stem from different types of people.

      I am reminded of Gilbert and Gubar's "anxiety of authorship" where women are forced not to face the struggles of their predecessor's past achievements, but the notion that they are incapable of creating at all.

    2. shaped by the dialogue that the author wishes to conduct with his reader.

      The interesting shift from Benjamin's storyteller and lister to the author and the reader. Interaction is possible, but it does take new forms! The breaking of the Fourth wall with Twitter speaks to this social interaction with the author/creator even further. JK Rowling, for example, is still tweeting replies to fans about the world of Harry Potter, adding to its universe despite having "finished" it. As Benjamin hoped, the stories continue.

    1. The most interesting entrant in this field is hypothes.is.

      I've found myself using hypothes.is to improve my private note taking as well, on articles and pdfs, that I later use to improve my participation in class. It is fascinating that while annotations themselves may not be social, that they can thereby increase social interaction with the text later on.

    2. product reviews on Amazon
    3. we’re not annotating something

      Papers and essays for literature classes seem to be entire annotations in and on themselves, where students structure their work around their initial annotations of a text and begin to build off them.

    1. real-time commentary happening in the core of the thing being commented upon

      Reminds me of "live tweeting," where people tweet their reactions at the very moment the thought is born. This is specifically done in response to movies, books, tv shows, fan fiction, etc. Live tweeting itself has become a kind of entertainment genre that many people follow religiously. For example, Muggle Hustle was incredibly popular a couple of years ago on Twitter, so much so that the guy responsible managed to create a whole brand out of it, including merchandise, etc. Muggle Hustle basically follows the live tweets of an adult man reading the Harry Potter series for the first time. It's great.


    2. Bridle argues that in a world in which we’ll no longer own books as discrete physical objects, the only really meaningful thing we’ll own will be the reading experience itself.

      Fascinating idea, yet couldn't one say the same about any type of reading, through the physical copy of a text or otherwise? What seems to matter more than anything else is act of marking up a text, making a mass-produced object unique. If one fails to mark up the text, the "really meaningful thing" remains in the reading process, rather than its products (marginalia).

    3. Yet books are curious objects: their strength is to be both intensely private and intensely social — and marginalia is a natural bridge between these two states.

      Great sentence.

    4. a way to not just passively read but to fully enter a text, to collaborate with it, to mingle with an author on some kind of primary textual plane.

      Woah, interaction with the text! The definition of Digital Humanities, the evolution of Benjamin's storyteller and listener relationship into the novel and the reader(/writer). Fascinating stuff.

    5. jotting important page numbers inside of back covers.

      This is so helpful! I've found myself doing this less and less however, as I begin reading on electronic devices more and more. Ctrl + F is the new bookmark.

    6. The author argued that you didn’t truly own a book (spiritually, intellectually) until you had marked it up.

      I am consistently curious about the difference between marking up a book and marking up a textbook. I've heard it all my life, the importance of choosing a limited number of lines worthy of marking up - "you're not coloring!" teachers would tell me as I took a highlighter to a textbook. I genuinely cannot imagine anyone saying that to me about a book. Why is that, I wonder? Is it because there is this perception that there is more room for the reader within the margins of a book vs. a textbook (and maybe there is)?

  10. www.jstor.org.proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu www.jstor.org.proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu
    1. What we call the works ofAristotle,for example, are thought to be mostly composed from student notes.

      Would it be accurate to say that we have read Aristotle, then? Or to completely attribute these ideas to a singular author?