Free-writing exercise and discussion: What can we learn about a text we don’t like?
– Analyzing critically: emotions get in the way of people intellectually critiquing.
– Self-reflection and self-awareness: whether we enjoy or dislike a work, we ask ourselves why.
– We are forced to see an opposing view.
Discussion: Why does the majority of the class dislike Woman at the Edge of Time?
– Chris: Don’t like Connie as a character, no development at all. Also Connie is a bigot (towards the future family structure, upbringing style, etc).
– Andrew: The way the story is written, not engaging, too much back-story and exposition.
– Randy: Introduces elements and does not develop them, or they are solved simplistically.
– Aaron: Too many characters, overload. Becomes confusing.
– Joel: Connie’s life story is depressing.
– Donovan: There seems to be no point/purpose to the narrative.
– Danny: Progression of the story is very slow.
– Eugene: Brings up themes of race, gender, social disparity, yet nothing is done about them.
– Surge: Undeveloped themes.
– Jonathan: Confusing explanations.
Prof. Belli response:
– In utopian literature, typically if the message of the narrative is relevant, the characterization is underdeveloped. The main character becomes an “outsider”, a proxy for the reader. The other characters then proceed to explain.
– Historically, utopias are didactic in nature, whereas in dystopias the world is already made and the reader is thrust into the action (ex. Brave New World).
A look at excerpts from Woman at the Edge of Time blog posts:
– Talk about inverting chapters 1 and 2. Discontinuous narrative.
– Connie’s identity linguistically, socially and sexually.
– Lewis vs. Luis: aspirations to another identity.
– Connie’s three identities: Consuelo, Connie and Conchita.
Group Exercise: Identifying all of Connie’s characterizations and the individuals or entities that view her as those characters.
Results: throughout the book Connie is perceived by herself and by others as: mother, woman, very poor, impoverished, receptive, depressed, proud (as a woman), Chicana/Latina, secretary/mistress, survivor, pickpocket, maid/cleaning lady, mentally unstable and unfit for being a mother.
Righteous Indignation – being mad/angry in a condescending & superior way.
Didactic – preachy, educating in an annoying/pompous manner.
Extraneous – additional information that is not needed.
FOR NEXT WEEK
– Quiz on the book
– Catch up on readings
– Read Science Fiction: A Short Introduction (chapter 4: “Utopias and dystopias” & chapter 5: “Fictions of time”)
– Individual conferences over the course of the week, one-on-one with Prof. Belli to discuss: progress in class, essay #1, midterm, ideas based on free-writing and beginning of project #2.
If you were absent this week, contact Prof. Belli to schedule an appointment during office hours before next class. If you don’t show up it counts as an absence.
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