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Current Issue: Volume 23, No. 3. Week of February 6, 2005

Discovering Different Narratives

jeanne's first version of Discovering Different Narratives
Our Stories Are Complex

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: February 6, 2005
Latest Update: February 26, 2005

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Topic of the Week:

Discovering Different Narratives

I'm sorry it took so long to get back to this version of Kiki Smith's Nest and Trees. Things were happening so fast I was having trouble coping. And this is RETIREMENT?

Frist, I wanted to point out that Kiki Smith's Nest and Trees reminded me of the dilemmas we face in our everyday lives as shit happens. Sometimes the trees are bare. But somewhere around there's a nest. Sometimes the narrative isn't clear. What is that stuff in my version of Kiki Smith's nest and trees? Is that a nest? Why is it all broken up and turned around and sometimes repeated? 'Cause that's how life happens. Narratives don't come in neat simple packages. Our stories are as complex and human as we are. That's what I was trying to say.

I think Kiki Smith's photomontage says it better. But playing with it, thinking about it, made it mine. I added color. Play with the color. Try fauve coloring. Try soothing landscape tones. Play with it. That is how we come to own it. jeanne

NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Discussion Topics:

Syllabus for Independent Study: Religion as a Present Social Issue January 30, 2005.

Learning Records from Spring 2005 Just started, on the basis of transform_dom discussions. This will take a while. Patience, please.

  • Most recent list of Learning Records from Fall 2004

  • Instructions page for joining transform_dom and transspan

    Famous People We Should Have Heard Of, But Didn't.

    Proposed by Shaheen Brown, originally as part of Black History Awareness. But as we followed it, we realized there was lots more we needed to cover, and I changed it to Famous People.

      Want you to look at Jack Johnson as a Black athlete we should know.

      Shaheen Brown has suggested a project for next semester's Naked Space Exhibit on Famous Blacks We Should Have Heard of, But Didn't. I'd like to suggest that that would make a great group project to which lots of us could contribute bits and pieces about those whom we do know, including some local people whose names we ought to recognize, and probably don't. I'd also like to suggest that we have the very same problem with Hispanic culture being revised right out of our local histories. Good idea, Shaheen. See Messge No. 2499.

      Want you to look at Kiki Smith as a woman, as an artist, as someone who had learning disabilities in reading. Photo montage, painting, painting collage, poem, discussion questions, and suggestions for proejcts.

    Jeanne's Lectures for Spring 2005

    • Fall 2004 Lectures in Chronological Order
    • Winter Break 2005 Lectures in Chronological Order
    • Spring 2005 Lectures in Chronological Order

    • Suggested titles for discussion group, so they'll come up in the archive search, which I am the first to admit I don't fully understand. But anyway, on Michael Jackson's case and the train wreck could we try:

      • See Message 2887 of tranform_dom.
      • Juries and celebrity - Subtopic. (like Michael Jackson or train wreck) Sort name of poster (like Jristen)
      • Juries and mental competence - Subtopic. (like Michael Jackson or train wreck) Short name of poster - (like Jason)
      • Juries and college education - Subtopic. (like Michael Jackson or train wreck) Short name of poster (like Taneisha)

    • Corrections and Celebrity Only the article up so far. Will get up lecture on how our values are reflected in cultural response over and above the formal criminal justice system. I'd like to tie this back to our sense of values, what's wrong, what's right, and how those values are translated into the culture that is inter-related to the formal system of justice. Anti-heroes will come up. jeanne February 3, 2005.

    • Sunni and Shiite Fundamentalism in the Middle East Interactive Graphic on Middle Eastern situation. New York Times. January 30, 2005.

    • Homecoming: Aftern the Tsunami Photo Essay from the New York Times Week in Review. Does the photo essay help make the event more real for you? Could you imagine a piece of art or music that might have a similar effect? January 30, 2005.

    • Faith-Based Work: Learning to Work Together Lecture and Discussion Questions based on New York Times article on Faith Based Activities at the NFL Super Bowl. January 30, 2005.

    • Notes on Armstrong's Introduction to Battle for God Added some material.

    • Professional Activities with Students, Fall 2004 This version had to go in quickly. Some of you may want to help me develop it further by giving me brief summaries of where you fit in these activities. Reports are important, and we can make copies, so you can have one. jeanne

    • Ellen Gallagher in her SoHo studio with her new work, "DeLuxe." Backup of Edward Lewine article in the NY Times on Ellen Gallagher, a black woman artist who has a new show at the Whitney and whose subject matter is the portrayal of the black woman. This goes to body image and race and the visual component of our understanding of race and gender. Lecture up soon. jeanne

    • Never Retire William Safire's columnn on his retirement from the NY Times. Lecture up soon. Topic: What is retirement? Where does it fit into our script for life? And that will include race, gender, and aging. jeanne

    • Lies and Mercenaries? What Lies? Don't You Believe in Freedom? Pulls together a number of reactions to the Inaugural Speech in terms of social construction of concepts like freedom, and the conflict between premodern and modern positions of fear and threat. Discussion questions up later. January 23, 2005.

    • Lies and Mercenaries First lecture for Spring, trying to tie together disagreements with what was said at and about the inauguration's presentation of concepts and the reaction of many who disagree. Conceptual link to our religious beliefs, to agape, or the altruistic love of humans for themselves and Others, and the reality of some of the facts that are out there, on the Internet, but that do not appear in our media.Discussion Questions included. January 22, 2005.

    Visual Sociology:

    • Learning by Looking: Witches, Catholicism, and Buddhist Art Kiki Smith. PBS Website.

      Nest and Trees, 1997. Kiki Smith (American, born 1954). Iris print; 20 x 22 in. (50.8 x 55.9 cm). Stewart S. MacDermott Fund, 1999 (1999.64) Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York.
      Nest and Trees, 1997
      By Kiki Smith.

      So, what story could Kiki Smith be telling with Nest and Trees?

      Kiki Smith: "Catholicism and art have gone well together because both believe in the physical manifestation of the spiritual world, that itís through the physical world that you have spiritual life, that you have to be here physically in a body." What do you think of that? Does spirituality require a physical body? In all religions?

      Kiki Smith: " Itís also about storytelling in that sense, about reiterating over and over and over again these mythological stories about saints and other deities that can come and intervene for you on your behalf. All the saints have attributes that are attached to them and you recognize them through their iconography. And itís about transcendence and transmigration, something moving always from one state to another." What about that? Does iconography help make sense of our stories? Can we tell the whole story through iconography?

    Art and the Community

    Making Art Speak By Hugh Eakin "Three museum directors discuss the challenges, thrills, frustrations, and future of their profession." ArtNews Online, February 2, 2005.

    Academic Support

    Using Academic Language Effectively

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    and Careers

    • Resumes:

    • Letters of Recommendation:

      • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
      • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

    That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

    Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've every come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs:

    Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.

    You can also send an email to the Who to Take Site:

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