Link to What's New This Week. Issue for Week of October 13, 2003

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Current Issue:
Volume 18, No. 8, Week of October 13, 2003

jeanne's schedule - Susan's Class Page Archive NEW
Pat's schedule - About Us - Class Materials - Open Access
Previous Issue: Volume 18, No. 7, Week of October 6, 2003
Mirror Sites: CSUDH - Habermas - UWP
KIDS, Etc. - ARCHIVES - Daily Site Additions - Academic Resources - TUTORING HELP


California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan, Transcend Art and Peace
Latest Update: October 13, 2003

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Dwayne trying to fit into one of our classroom chairs.

Monologic Nonanswerability and the Body

Topic of the Week:
Hypotheticals? What if . . .we noticed the results of our unstated assumptions???

Friday, October 10, 2003: The unstated assumption to which I refer here is that we all come in roughly the same size. I will never be able to erase this picture of Dwayne Sanders trying to fit his frame into the inadequate space of a classroom seat for three hours of serious discussion. I figure this counts right up there with putting corsets on women. I sometimes have trouble fitting into these contraptions. Has anyone ever thought of making them conform to real bodies?

Notice that this is a little harder to see as an answerability issue because, after all, the seats are same for all: equality. No perpetrator. No intent. No fit. Structural violence. Structural violence is harm that occurs to another, not as the direct result of one Person meaning to hurt one Other, but simply because the rules that have grown up in an insensitive bureaucracy result in harm all by themselves. When I eat in the school cafeteria, the table comes up to just below my chin. I'll bet that's more comfortable for Dwayne. But when Dwayne tries to sit in the classroom desk, there is no way to do so comfortably. Here the rules, the unstated assumptions harm any of us that don't fit into the normative expectation for size.

I use to tear the seatbelt off in my car and tuck it under my arm because I choked on it if I didn't do that. This year, finally, the new car has an adjustment so the seat belt can be lowered not to choke me. Of course, I keep trying to make it one notch lower because I shrank a little as I got older, but that was too far beyond the normative expectation for size.

Lots of our normative expectations, and the unstated assumptions on which they are based, are about the body. Only recently have we really begun to pay attention to the body, and its needs, and stop trying to stuff into a corset or a classroom seat. jeanne

  • On Monday, October 13, Shannon Giddings wrote:
    "Hello, jeanne...
    I just finished going over the topic of the week and it hit home for me. Dwayne is a very tall man who struggles to find comfort in those restricted desks. I can identify with him although for me, I'm a full figured woman, and sitting in those desks is uncomfortable for me. Yes, they were designed with equality in mind, but if you ask me, it's equality of the thin person. Why not create something with all body types in mind? We always think we're doing something that benefits others, but when you really think about it, someone, somewhere is ALWAYS going to be inconvenienced in someway, shape or form....


    True, Shannon, but it might behoove us to think in terms of bodies in today's world. The academy is said to be 50 years behind current technology and research, but 50 years behind what fits our bodies is pretty uncomfortable for a learning environment. jeanne

  • On Monday, October 13, 2003, Malinda Willis, CSUDH, wrote:
    "Jeanne, I am so glad that you have chosen to speak on this topic that I could just faint! Because the first year that I attended Cal State Dominguez, in the fall of 2001, I wrote a formal letter of complaint about my discomfort in sitting in the chairs and how it was affecting my learning in class. . . . I have yet to receive an answer from that particular office (the president's office). However, at the beginning of the fall 2003 school year, I made an additional complaint in person. The secretary appeared to be concerned about my complaint. She and I agreed that I had a valid comlaint, so I assumed that we were on a dialogic answerability type level with the intent to meet my need. However, in all vivo I am still experiencing monologic answerablity with no perceptible intent to even respond to my complaint."

    Malinda, I have trouble sitting in our classroom chairs, and I'm small. I sympathize with all of us. Perhaps there is an office to whom we should turn other than the President's office. Let's consider that in our agencies class. jeanne

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    Research Projects in Progress:

    Sunday, September 21, 2003. Research and Conferences: Visual Essay Project Proposal: Fall 2003 This project is open to both UWP and CSUDH students. If you're interested, please let jeanne or Susan know as soon as possible. E-mail will do. This is the initial proposal, and I want all of you to be able to share in the planning. No particular visual skill is required. We will use photos, video, collage, drawings, paintings, sculptures of whatever is at hand. And we will work in groups so that no one has to do it all. But the groups will be amorphous; you may come and go as life happens; and you may turn in your own work separately if that proves best. Join the fun!

    A Range of Sources on Global Events

    Left/Right Perspectives - Cursor - New York Times
    Arts and Letters Daily - The Economist - The Guardian
    Wall Street Journal -The Weekly Standard - The Nation
    Los Angeles Times - Chicago Tribune - The Washington Post
    Cursor's Al Jazeera Archive - Ha'aretz - Palestine Monitor

    Indymedia - Mother Jones - BBC News - New Profile
    Progressive Sociologists Network

    Using Academic Language Effectively:

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    Dictionary of Critical Sociology
    Maintained by Robert E. Mazur, Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Sociology.

    Words of Art: Front Page
    Wonderful Fine Arts dictionary at Okanagan University College in Canada.
    Will cover many of the terms social theory shares with literary theory.

    Today's Word: From the Word.A.Day Site

    Social Theory across Disciplines:

    Peace and Social Justice

    Advanced Theory:

    Announcing Mid Terms

    Mid Terms are jeanne's way of consolidating each class and of locating the 50 or so field mice I now have running around not attending class and not in touch with me. If you are a field mouse, you might need the grade the mid term can generate. If you are not a field mouse, you may choose whether to accept a grade for the mid term. But these are class projects necessitated by the fact that so few of you do have books. I had to find a different process that would guarantee some substantive learning. So, yes, you have to do the mid term. No, you don't have to have a grade on it, unless you have no other grades. jeanne

    • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Changing Cultures, Changing Lives Based on a commentary by Hao Tran from the Graduate Theory class. Dea;s with issues of diversity. Lecture and some discussion questions already up. If you want to choose this topic for Statistics, you'll need to talk to me and Hao Tran about how to get data. jeanne

    • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Breaking Normative Expectations Feels Uncomfortable Based on student drawing. This topic also might serve well for a midterm topic, but I will have to get up essay questions later. jeanne

    • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Answerability and the Nobel Prize Based onthe October 8, 2003, announcement of the Nobel prize for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Especially for the class on sociology of knowingness this is an excellent example of the extent to which we cannot "know," and the harm we do in the arrogance of believing that we do know. There is considerable and extensive information up here, and you may wish to use this as an alternative midterm topic. jeanne
    • An additional note to the MRI issue: Measuring Social Pain with MRI What we think is not related to sociology today is related to sociology tomorrow. Let us be cautious about "what we know." Discussion questions included.
    • Monday, October 6, 2003. Mid Term Material: Race and Answerability Based on Dwayne Sanders' commentary on the Rush Limbaugh affair on ESPN, this piece is detailed and covers quite a bit of our theory discussions. It will serve as a basis for a mid-term in a few weeks for the graduate theory class. jeanne

    • Tuesday, October 7, 2003. Mid Term Material: Answerability and Differences Based on Dwayne Sanders commentary on prison term length and rehabilitation. This piece will serve as a basis for a mid-term in a few weeks for the Sociology of Knowingness class. jeanne

    • Tuesday, October 7, 2003. Mid Term Material: Mid Term for Statistics Class will be a Report of the Survey on the California Recall, complete with an oral defense of that report before a community professional.

    • Tuesday, October 7, 2003. Mid Term Material: Mid Term for Agencies class will be a class project demonstrating the class' collective ability to display leadership in helping ordnary folks find the help they need. The class will determine over the next week what form the aesthetic product will take. The product must take into account administrative law and leadership in a traditional environment.

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    Commentaries on Issues

    Index of Commentaries I'll transfer older commentaries to this index next week. jeanne

    Lived Experience:

    Emancipatory Narratives

    • Thursday, October 16, 2003. I Can Do This: I CAN Do This! Student tells of living through this experience of grades without tests. So putting this up this morning is my birthday present to all of you, especially field mice who need guidance so I won't cut off their tales with a carving knife. Maybe it will inspire you. And maybe it will inspire the student to send me her/his name. jeanne

    • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Changing Cultures, Changing Lives An amazingly inspiring commentary by Hao Tran, CSUDH, on answerability across cultural change. This issue seems to provide enough opportunity for discussion that I have included it as a midterm alternative. jeanne

    Kids, Etc.: Stuff to Share with Others

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    Art Shenanigans