fuckin whoops: 5 texts that are influencing my writing in 2018

I’m presenting these in no particular order, as it’s difficult for me to rationalize a hierarchical system to describe formativity.  This is by no means a complete list, and I provide by no means a complete explanation/summary for each text. The thing that started this entire post is that I really can’t include all of this information into a single media response (half of which I already turned into a Twessay omfg) for ANTH 497, and I needed to figure out a way to frame information in a way which would be useful for said project without going over the 1000-word limit. Thus as opposed to fully historicizing and explaining my thoughts and responses to these readings I’m instead wanting to provide a method of brevity for some of my papers (but the one in particular) coming up this semester.

Basically: I needed to figure out a way to cite myself.

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Self portrait of the blogger.

Pic unrelated, mostly.

Note: I use the term “ugly feelings” more than once to describe my own negative affects upon experiencing texts. This is a term that I know is from one of these readings, but for the life of me I can’t recall which one. Whoops!

On to the listicle:

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 2006. Touching feeling: affect, pedagogy, performativity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

I first read Eve Kosofky Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling around this time last year, and found the experience to be especially formative not only with respect to the way/s in which I choose to approach research but also the way/s in which I am capable of said approach. In “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay is About You” Sedgwick delineates (or, rather, attempts to delineate–the distinction is less a binary opposition and more a wibbly wobbly readerly eagerly) between paranoid and reparative methods of reading. Where the paranoid is “anticipatory […] reflexive and mimetic […] a strong theory […] a theory of negative affects […]” and that which “places its faith in exposure” (130) the reparative is that which allows one “to use one’s own resources to assemble or ‘repair’ the murderous part-objects into something like a whole” (128). As a queer and as someone who often experiences difficult or ugly feelings about texts the concept of the reparative reading is especially poignant for me as it offers the opportunity to take those negative affects and turn them into something positive (or, at the very least, into something more whole than shame). This is especially important and poignant to me as not only a queer reader but also a person who tends to find enjoyment in the reading of negative affects.

Allan, Jonathan A. 2016. Reading from Behind A Cultural Analysis of the Anus. The Exquisite Corpse. Regina: University of Regina.

I’m still in the process of reading this one, but I think it’s definitely going to remain influential over time. I struggle with being willing or able to express my love and enjoyment of texts which contain materials other people may find offensive or distasteful (ex. body horror), and more relevantly I struggle to put into words why I find enjoyment in some texts that others are unable or unwilling to. Even in explaining things in this way, however, I feel that I have fallen into a paranoid trap: “[t]he very idea of the reparative reading renders critics paranoid, anxious, worried. We apologize for it before we have even begun to do it” (16). Building on Sedgwick’s reparative reading Reading From Behind has thus far been a mix of emotions, but overall skewing to comfort. There is a comfort in knowing that there is a method by which my ugly feelings may be transformed. In the chapter “Spanking Colonialism” Allan writes that “[c]lose reading is a kind of erotic engagement with literary and visual texts that enables us to move slowly through the density of words or images” (117), and while I’m speeding through this first read-through of Reading From Behind I’m looking forward to sitting on my future responses as long as possible.

Fischer, Hal. 2015. Gay Semiotics: a photographic study of visual coding among homosexual men. Los Angeles, California: Cherry and Martin.

Gay Semiotics has been a foundational reading for me with respect to understanding semiotic coding as it relates to prestige and safety. While visual information is not capital-L-Language it still provides so much contextual information which is/may be important to the understanding of a given text. As semiotics plays so well with understanding the ways in which visual information is expressedly intertextual and intermedial Gay Semiotics provides so much information on the understanding of archetypal images and the ways in which these images may be used to parse further information from a specific set of visual information which we may not elsewise have done. While I think that most texts on semiotics fulfill the use-need I’m describing here because so many of my ugly feelings come from a place of seeing queer images where others may not choosing an explicitly queer (or, in this case, gay) text is important to me.

Brice, Mattie. 2017. “Play and Be Real about It: What Games Could Learn from Kink.” Essay. In Queer Game Studies, edited by Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw, 77–82. Minneapolis, Minesotta: University of Minesotta Press.

The idea that kink could be used as a theoretical framing device literally never occurred to me prior to reading this, despite the fact that it makes so much sense. Queer Game Studies was a huge part of my ANTH 498 final study, and I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about the ways in which my own theory/praxis are influenced by kink and BDSM (heads up: it’s a lot of ways). Brice explains it this way: “Kink isn’t just a topical analogy […] it’s a good framework for challenging these contextless play experiences by reimagining the positions of the designer, player, and play, and what those positions mean” (78). In considering this through a lens of that reparative reading I’m (obviously) such a fan of this has opened up the possibilities for dealing with ugly thoughts and ugly responses I have to texts–by coming to information reparatively and spatially I’m better able to negate the shame and humiliation that I often experience as a reader because I am the reader. It’s a small consideration, but all too important, that “WE ARE ALWAYS PLAYING. WE ARE ALWAYS IN CONTEXTS. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING” (79). By considering our own positionality to a text we are better able to address our own values and ideologies as they influence our understanding/s.

Barthes, Roland. 1975. The Pleasure of the Text. Translated by Richard Miller. New York, New York: Hill and Wang.

While I tried to keep order out of this list as much as possible, it really is important to be ending with this quote: “No ‘thesis’ on the pleasure of the text is possible; barely an inspection (an introspection) that falls short” (34).

I hope this post ends up being useful to me moving forward, and I do recommend (perhaps obviously) that you check out each of these texts on your own time! Also it really isn’t lost on me that this list is incredibly white and incredibly male, so if you have any recommendations for texts you like that you think may help rectify that let me know!

Let me know your own reactions either here or on Twitter if you get a chance! I’m always curious about others’ perspectives!

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#ANTH421 w/ @sarahshulist: Considering the situated production of identity construction in individual Albertan injured workers

The following is a project summary for my final research project for #ANTH421: Language and Power at Macewan University with Dr. Sarah Shulist (@sarahshulist) during the Fall 2017 term.

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What were my methods?

In short: interview and cry.

In less-short: Knowing both of the people I would be interviewing (Anthony Hughes–herein “my dad,”–and Ralph Teed) I knew to only prepare 1 question per person (“Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”) as both my dad and Ralph tend to be very talkative. I also made sure to include both interviewees in the writing of the consent form, and it was decided that all parts of the interview and interview process would be made available for public access, save the consent form proper which would only be provided to my class professor/project supervisor Dr. Sarah Shulist.

In addition, as I knew going into the interview process that one of the primary concerns for both interviewees was lack of access to information I decided to print off all of the sources I used for this analysis (less the two bell hooks books, which I will be purchasing for them in January 2018) and provided a copy to my dad with the understanding that said sources would be made available to both Ralph Teed and Peter Samardzija at request. This is in following with individual fair-use laws, and I appreciate the contributions each author has provided to both my knowledge and the knowledges of my dad, Ralph, and Peter. I did not include citations in-text as I wanted to practice a reflexive close-reading method on the interview (shout-out to my English lit minor), and have instead provided a list of sources which have influenced my methods or understandings of the interview and project overall at the end of this post.

How did I come up with this project?

He let me know that he actually prefers the term contentious injured worker, which I found shocking because it wasn’t a term I recalled him using before.

I originally came up with the idea for this project while in the van with my dad on the way to school one day in October 2017. I remembered talking about identity formation in ANTH 421, and was telling him about how I usually identify him as an activist or lobbyist depending on the situation. He let me know that he actually prefers the term contentious injured worker, which I found shocking because it wasn’t a term I recalled him using before. As the child of an injured worker I am intimately aware of the effects of the labour my dad has put into his dealings with the Alberta Worker’s Compensation Board (herein “WCB”), and while the title of contentious injured worker is not something I was shocked by in itself I did find it shocking that it wasn’t something I had considered in the past. To me this term makes perfect sense considering the relationship between my dad and the WCB. Thus in designing my project I didn’t want to focus on the how my father had come into the title for himself, but rather why he has continued to use it for the past 20-odd years.

In designing the project I didn’t want to focus solely on my dad’s experiences, as I know his history in inextricably wrapped with the histories and narratives of so many others (currently named “The Crew”–a group of people sharing similar histories of trauma related to their dealings with the WCB). With that in mind I decided to also approach Ralph through my dad to also be interviewed. Ralph is someone who has been a presence in my life on a regular basis for a significant portion of my life, and I am a intimately aware of his history with my dad if not with the WCB.

I did not ask to speak to Peter Samardzija, as I knew I would not have the time nor opportunity to speak to him at the same time as my dad and Ralph, and due to the radical openness of the interview I felt that interviewing Peter separately would hinder my understanding of the information provided. That said I knew that my dad was intimately aware of Peter’s history and that both my dad and Ralph were close friends with Peter and would speak to their understandings of his experiences. Given the opportunity to continue work on this project I would dedicate the time and space to interview Peter in tandem with my dad and Ralph.

Although Peter was not present in-person his presence was felt in spirit, and I’d like to take this opportunity to again thank my dad, Ralph, and Peter for their contributions to my schooling and understanding of their intertwining life narratives.

Interview Summary:

As the interview proper happened over a period of several hours I have decided to provide a short summary in lieu of analysis (“Beyond The Scope” and all that). Instead, I recommend readers of this blog post either listen to the entire interview or pick a random time code and pay specific attention to the intonation of the speakers. Moreso than any other factor I found that the intonation of both my dad and Ralph were the greatest indicators of both the choice of contentious and former as identificatory prefixes.

“Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”

In asking the question I did (reminder: “Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”) my dad responded that he calls himself a contentious injured worker due to his long and complex history of medical malpractice and quasi-judicial injustices. He also provided a short recounting of both his medical narrative and judicial narrative with respect to the WCB as justification of this title choice. The specifier of contentious in front of the title of injured worker speaks to these narratives, as even just the interview time can attest to. In taking the time he did to answer my question he showed that the anthropological maxim of “It’s More Complicated Than That” is alive and well in the world of personal identification. At a base level he feels that there is nowhere else to go, but in the words of Ralph “there’s a reason we’re here” which has led my dad to also begin using the term advocate to describe himself.

Prior to the interview it was my understanding that Ralph used the term activist to describe himself, and I was legitimately shocked to learn that he now refers to himself as a former activist. My memories of Ralph include (but are certainly not limited to) tent villages, chaining himself to doors, and going to the Alberta Legislator Building with protest signs. Ralph considers himself to be an action-oriented idealist (something I feel a kinship to), yet he feels that his current positionality within The Crew as more of a supporter than a doer has resulted in the loss of his activist status. This is reflected much as it was with my dad in that Ralph provided personal, medical, and judicial narratives in order to justify his title choice.

Overall there was a sense that there is something larger than themselves which is deciding the language they have access to (as in a structured structure–not necessarily a deity), and influencing their language choices. This is something I obviously agree with, and given the opportunity I would delve deeper into this specific aspect of the interview. Unfortunately due to course time constraints this type of analysis is beyond the scope of this blog post.

How has this project affected me and my knowledges?

I think the thing I appreciated most about having this opportunity was being able to learn more about the history of The Crew’s history both in relation to and independently of one another. The intertwining and interrelational aspects of not only their medical narratives, but also their interpersonal narratives was something I had some idea of prior to the interview however it was [literally I’m lost for words as I’m writing this, but] very powerful to consider in such a short amount of time. It’s one thing to experience something over a period of years, and entirely another to experience it over a period of hours. I found this especially poignant in considering the current legal landscape of The Crew’s lives with respect to the military police. As a child I witnessed a fair amount of legal work being done around the house but having had a break as an adult the uptick over the past year or so with respect to the involvement of the military police has been jarring, and even moreso with respect to the interview time.

The labour that’s involved in “””just”” printing is quite high, especially considering the embodiment of movement which is involved.”

Oddly enough in printing the articles I gained a greater respect for the labour that my dad does. Using an Epson home printer is not something I’m used to doing, as I do the majority of my printing at the Macewan University library where there are quick-printing industrial printers. The labour that’s involved in “””just”” printing is quite high, especially considering the embodiment of movement which is involved. As someone with chronic pain the act of standing next to the printer and flipping pages flared up my pain, and I found myself needing to do regular stretches in even the half-hour or so I spent printing. Considering this in comparison to the type of printing my dad does (sometimes for days at a time, using multiple printers at a time) I can only begin to imagine the effect of that movement on his body, and it adds to my understanding of his use of the “contentious” prefix.

Working with people who I’ve either known my entire life (my dad), and people I’ve known for the majority or near-majority of my life (Ralph and Peter) has been an experience that even a month away from the interview I’m still struggling to put into words. While there was so much I was capable of expecting, there was even more that I wasn’t able to expect. I didn’t know, for example, that my dad had set a date for medically assisted dying and it forced me to confront that information in a way I wasn’t entirely prepared for (though I have since taken the time to talk to my dad about his wishes, and support him fully in his future decisions). In my previous experience with interviewing this seems to be a running theme, however, and moving forward I believe my pre-interview statement to myself will have to include “Expect The Unexpected.”


Sources

Bezo, Brent, and Stefania Maggi. 2017. “Intergenerational perceptions of mass trauma’s impact on physical health and well-Being.” Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, Advance Online Publication (June 5).

Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. “On Symbolic Power”. From Language & Symbolic Power.

Bucholtz, Mary, and Kira Hall. 2005. “Identity and interaction: sociocultural linguistic approach.” Discourse Studies, 4-5, 7: 585–614.

Caretta, Martina Angela. 2015. “Situated knowledge in cross-Cultural, cross-Language research: a collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities.” Qualitative Research, 4, 15: 489–505.

hooks, bell, Feminism Is for Everybody (Taylor and Francis, 2014), <http://www.myilibrary.com.ezproxy.macewan.ca?ID=650569> (15 December 2017)

hooks, bell, Writing Beyond Race (Routledge, 2012), <http://www.myilibrary.com.ezproxy.macewan.ca?ID=415870> (15 December 2017)

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret M. Lock. “The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New Series, 1, no. 1 (1987): 6-41. http://www.jstor.org/stable/648769.

Sherwood, Juanita. “Intergenerational trauma isn’t just another determinant of indigenous peoples’ health.” Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 9, (2014): 1-7.

Zhao, Yan. 2016. “Exploring the interactive space of the ‘outsider within’: Practicing feminist situated knowledge in studying transnational adoption.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2, 23: 140–54.

#ENGL391 Foucault QA for @mdanielmartin

Prompt: Create and answer 2 questions relating to some aspect of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.

Me: Docile Bodies are an aspect of Discipline and Punish, right? I’m just gonna focus on that entirely. Fuck breadth, etc.


What is it about modern, contemporary life that renders us docile? What gets us to behave and act in “normal,” “healthy” ways? How are my own habits influenced by this? How do I reproduce these behaviors in others?

[cw: unhealthy body image, self-fatphobia, etc]

Gonna start off with a blockquote for this one:

“By the late eighteenth century, the soldier has become something that can be made; out of a formless clay, an inapt body, the machine required can be constructed; poster is gradually corrected; a calculated constraint runs slowly through each part of the body, mastering it, making it pliable, ready at all time, turning silently into the automatism of habit […]” (135).

Students are numbers and seats; monetary resources to be reproduced through discourse. As this discourse is reproduced either by the majority or via a very vocal minority it becomes the line by which all other action is compared–who goes to high school? finishes? moves forward with their education? etc are all questions which are considered only with relation to comparisons to the “ideal” student. And this is but one example within our neroliberal world.

 

 

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I’ve always been fat, and I’ve always accepted that I’m fat. That said: I have been varying degrees of “””fat””””” throughout my life.

I found the middle two images (the shirtless ones) on my phone while I was cleaning it out awhile ago. I took them when I was especially unhappy with the way my body was looking, and decided to take them in an effort to shame myself into losing weight.

Protip: That’s A Terrible Idea.

As you can see from the above images, though, I have steadily gained weight since leaving high school, and it has become something I am validly self-conscious about. Why would I denote “validly” there? Because this is a perfect example of how my own habits and thoughts have been shaped by The Discourse. There is no health reason for me to be concerned about my weight (right now, but I will admit I’m on the cusp and have been speaking to my doctor about that), but because I’m not the ideal “soldier” (135) or the ideal docile body “that may be subjected, used, transformed, and improved” (137) I feel shame for that. This is reproduced in the way I interact with others about my weight (ex. choosing to use the word fat to describe myself, wearing loose clothing, etc), and although it is not my want I am showing others that the way I interact with my body is also a line by which they can and should interact with theirs.

PS – It’s something I’m working on being more confident with, but even if I gain that internal confidence we are all still markers by which others judge their own behaviors. Hopefully I can increase the positive impact of that, but in a world of docile bodies we’re all still going to be judged by The Discourse regardless. #nihilistmoments


Why do we divide and partition bodies by ranks of experience? How is this shown to occur in Stranger Things? How is it subverted? Is it? Where are the functional sites? How are these functional sites defined?

[Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking about the use of space and place of the Byer’s residence in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler-free, but if you haven’t yet seen the second season you have been warned!]

Going with another introductory blockquote:

“[T]he place one occupies in a classification, the point at which a line and a column intersect, the interval in a series of intervals that one may traverse one after the other. Discipline is an art of rank, a technique for the transformation of arrangements. It individualized bodies by a location that does not give them a fixed position, but distributes them and circulates them in a network of relations” (145-6).

Dividing, partitioning bodies by ranks of experiences is something which happens in every show (and frankly in every life). Each friend group is going to have norms which are considered to be private, and within those friend groups there will be norms between individuals.

In Stranger Things the friend group of Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair hold one another as approximate equals with regard to their rank, however with the loss of Will and the addition of Eleven these ranks are challenged. No longer are all four on equal footing, but Mike and Eleven partition themselves into a specific relationship while Dustin and Lucas partition themselves into another, with Dustin acting a mediator. People outside of their group, such as older siblings and associated relationships (ex. Nancy Wheeler, Steve Henderson, etc) are partitioned from the group by virtue of age and experience.

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In the second season, however, as the characters have undergone a liminal experience through the traversal of the Upside Down and the battle with the demagorgons they are re-ranked to be more equal with one another. Thus while the the Byers house was previously only a place for specific characters, it becomes a functional site within which everyone who has undergone the same liminal experience may access at varying times. It becomes this way not only due to its location (the buck end of nowhere), but also through Will Byers acting as a locus of relations between the characters.

tl;dr Stranger Things is great, and everyone should watch it if for no other reasons than it works well for Foucaultian analysis. ((also it’s great.))

 

 

 

#ENGL391 Freud QA for @mdanielmartin

Prompt: Create and answer 2 questions relating to some aspect of Freud’s The Uncanny.

Me: *sees the uncanny every. dang. where.*


How does the narrative of “Dorian Gray” act as an allegory for contemporary body modification experiences? In what ways is this allegory broken, or incomplete? Is this allegory supported with consideration of Freud’s The Uncanny? Why or why not?

I’m not here to say that people (such as myself) who modify their bodies are as Dorian Gray is in his vapidity, Rather, I believe that both Dorian Gray and contemporary body modification experiences connect in the realm of the uncanny. This is shown in the way in which Dorian adorns his home, and the way people adorn their bodies. Where both are representative of the familiar through the visible, social body, they are also representative of the unfamiliar through the invisible, personal Self.

 

 

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[Images from Dorian Gray (2009) 1) showing a full house at the unveiling of the portrait complete with furniture, people, etc, compared to 2) Dorian preparing to sell all of his belongings; portrait removed.]

For example in Chapter 11 of Dorian Gray we are met with mere descriptions of things. These things with which Dorian fills his home have no value to him beyond the aesthetic, yet they are a part of the social body by which he is present within the world. His self, by comparison, lies rotting away in the attic for it experiences and thinks of nothing of consequence. This comparison also harkens to the collection of or returning to the modified self. Dorian repeatedly returns to the portrait in order to confirm its status, and people with modified bodies are forced to maintain a vigilant eye upon their modifications not only for health reasons, but also for aesthetic enjoyment.

Dorian Gray is one of those narratives I find myself returning to, always trying to make sense of what it is I’m reading. This allegory I’m suggesting is but one in a long string of very disjointed Feels I have about the narrative, and I’m not sure if I personally buy into it or not. That said, I definitely buy into it enough to hope to explore it further given another opportunity!


Is the feeding of People to the FBI team by Hannibal in Hannibal (2013) uncanny or abject? Can it be both? Where would the differentiation lie? Are there any specific examples of each?

[cw for cannibalism, vomiting, gross… ness…]

Starting off with a bang:

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That’s not where ears go.

The above gif’d episode (Savoureux) acts as the ultimate unraveling of Will’s psyche through a series of traumatic and uncanny events. In addition to the scene gif’d above, it is found that Will’s fishing lures contain human hair for example. The uncanny is shown through both the affect of the characters in their reactions to the ear!vomiting, and in the effect of act of the vomiting.

Freud defines the uncanny as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar” (1-2, PDF Source). Spitting up a fucking ear is terrifying, and returns us to something which is known in the physical embodiment of the ear itself.

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While Will does not immediately recall how or when the ear was eaten, it is eventually revealed that Hannibal fed Will the ear using a feeding tube in a later episode (Kaiseki). This returning of the ear to the body–to be again of the body–is uncanny in that the ear is removed from its original context of being on a head, to being in the (incorrect, perverse, uncanny) context of within the body itself.

Additionally the disjointed recollection of events is uncanny in that the memories (much like the ear proper) are perverted and removed from their original context. This results in a situation where although the recalling is familiar in that Will is literally returning to the source of the trauma, it is unfamiliar in that this is still new information for him.


While both of my examples look at the uncanny as it exists in media as opposed to as it exists in real life (a task I’m not sure I’d be personally capable of) the way/s in which the uncanny exists outside of media mirrors in-media examples pretty well.

With the example of Dorian Gray I myself have things like tattoos and piercings, and return to them on a regular basis for aesthetic appreciation and to make sure they remain healthy. That said they are obviously of and not-of my self in that they’re something which I possess of my self, but which I was (obviously) not born with.

With the example of Hannibal I also experience moments of dissociation which can be disorienting and result in uncanny experiences. While Will experiences dissociation as a symptom of an encephalopathy, and I as a symptom of PTSD the resulting uncanny trauma is similar in a number of ways (not the least of which being difficulties with memory recollection).

#ANTH421 w/ @sarahshulist Exam!

While the exam instructions asked for 3 separate essays due to the fact that this course has been formatted in the way it has (wherein each reading overlaps in some way with the readings both before and after it) I found it difficult to keep my thought separated. With that in mind I’ve written a single essay to express my ideas, and have provided my drafting notes in lieu of citation (though in-text citations are provided using Chicago Author-Date) so that each reading and topic may be clearly associated with one another despite the formatting. In deciding to take risks with my writing in producing reflective responses to each of the questions I figured taking a risk with the formatting would also be appropriate. This semester has been a gift, and I feel so lucky that the exam was created as an overview.

None of these have introductions or conclusions because that’s really just how I roll.

pnAgSTC


How can we see metalinguistic power in this course (either in readings or in class discussions/assignments)?

(Week 3) Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language. In Language and Symbolic Power. Chapter 1.

(Week 7) Mufwene Salikoko S. 2015. “Colonization, indigenization, and the differential evolution of English: Some ecological perspectives”. World Englishes 34(1):6-21.

(Week 10) Paja Faudree. Singing for the Dead

  • Legitimacy
  • Standardization
  • Research methods and writing practice

Within academia there are certain forms of language and communicative practices which are seen to be more legitimate than others: publishing via peer review is more legitimate than keeping a blog, speaking at an academic conference is more legitimate than speaking at an industry conference, and writing an essay is more legitimate than Tweeting (amongst so many other examples).

I’ve never been an especially great essayist. Other people seem to like my work, but it’s difficult for me to find pleasure in either the act of writing or in the act of rereading my own work (ie. I have great skills for if/when I decide to do research). The essay form is confining, and exerts structure upon thoughts and ideas which may or may not themselves be structure. While this is useful in a number of contexts, it inherently results in a loss-of-context for the materials. To that end I’ve spent a significant amount of time this semester trying to find ways in which I can transmit the absolute clusterfuck of my thoughts into something others can understand.

This has resulted in a number of Twitter essays (Twessays?), which although still not the idealized form for how I believe I can best portray my thoughts definitely come closer than a traditional essay. By allowing me to present information in this way the production of what is legitimate in the academy becomes skewed: no longer am I an undergraduate student slogging out another essay to be read by no one but myself and my professor, but I am a person speaking in public on a topic I am passionate about who also happens to be getting graded for their efforts. Mufwene uses Kachru’s circles of English to describe economic language practices, but the idea of “circles” as a method by which context-specific language may be recognized. Within the inner circle there is typical expressions of academic language such as essays, within the outer circle things such as academic poster presentations, and within the expanding circle things such as blog posts. While all of these represent academic language use, the economic legitimacy of only the inner circle is recognized.

Bourdieu explains that the above described “inner circle” is a “state language” in “The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language”: “[t]his state language becomes the theoretical norm against which all linguistic practices are subjectively measured” (Bourdieu 1980, 45). This subversion of standardized methods comes with specific boons (ex. reaching a wider audience, showcasing use for course knowledge outside of course confines, etc) but also some specific drawbacks. By subverting academic convention in this way the legitimacy of the research may come under question not only on behalf of the student conducting research and sharing their findings, but also on behalf of the professor who is teaching said student their research and writing skills.

While criticisms of public engagement are often easily dealt with, there does come a question of ethical practice. At what point is not sharing resources the more ethical decision? This is something which Paja Faudree struggles with regard to precarious housing due to assumed economic sharing, for example (Faudree 2013, 186-187). When it comes to physical items in the field it is well understood that physical resources such as cell phone or laptop access can be seen as preferential and should be avoided. So why then is communication of ideas different? The “open-access” is an ideology that is obviously not shared by all, and moving forward in my studies this is something I know I will have to ask myself repeatedly as someone who appreciates sharing so much of themself online. In this increasingly connected information landscape it is always important to consider the ways in which information affects others.


Describe the difference between micro & macro level enactments of power in/on language.

(Week 3) Alim, H. Samy 2011. Global Ill-literacies: Hip hop cultures, youth identities, and the politics of literacy. Review of Research in Education 35 “Youth Cultures, Language, and Literacy 120-146.

(Week 3) Chun, Elaine W. 2013 Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States. Language and Communication 33:500-514.

(Week 5) Mertz, Elizabeth (2007). Law, Language and the Law School Classroom. Chapter 2 of The Language of Law School.

  • Micro/macro
  • State Power
  • Colonization

As with my previous two short essays I’m going to be drawing on some personal experiences here. While not everyone is a fan of reflexivity, I know that I’m a very reflexive person and playing to my strong suits just honestly makes sense.

Summer before last I worked as the Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI) Office Administrative Assistant. As part of this position within the University of Alberta I worked closely on a macro-level with the departments of Linguistics, Native Studies, and Early Childhood Education in addition to students on a micro-level. Full-disclosure: I loved this job, and would absolutely work in this position again given the chance. That said: as a language revitalization effort CILLDI showcases many of the problems and concerns facing language revitalization practices today.

There is a specific language involved in working with or within a university system. As part of the CILLDI process students must be registered within the University of Alberta Open Studies program before they can be registered in CILLDI classes. As CILLDI is intended for community members who wish to initiate or work within language revitalization projects not all of the students who are appropriate candidates for the Community Linguist Certificate (CLC) there are a number of CILLDI students who do not fulfill the standard expectations of what “an undergraduate student in Edmonton” means. While many students do have degrees in various areas, most CILLDI students are first-time university applicants who rarely enter large cities and as such do not have the same academic-language (ie. the language of academia; explored further within a specifically law-school example in Mertz 2007, and within a hip-hop culture example in Alim 2011) skills as someone who, for example, has parents who are academics and who has lived in a city for their entire life. This barrier to CILLDI access is a major one, as it exists on the front line of the program. While many people do and are able to do language revitalization work without academic recognition this recognition provides support elsewise inaccessible and (ideally) eases the process of language revitalization by providing people with the skills they need in order to undertake revitalization work.

There are barriers to access on the micro-level as well. If the act of being in a classroom is traumatic on a micro-level, where can we look to find the cause? Macro-level forces are too often ignored in the construction of traumatization and re-traumatization, and within language revitalization situations this leads to fewer supports available to those affected. In situations where people have experienced language-related trauma due to residential schooling, for example, the macro space of the university can exert micro-level retraumatization for students (to return to The Mindful Body this can be thought of as the body politic exerting stress upon the self). This results in student difficulties with regard to even “simply” being on-campus, but also more specifically in difficulties with executing and handing in assignments, speaking to professors, and generally reaching out for help. Are efforts to mitigate these concerns merely “performative,” as is the case with Chun in “ Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States” wherein regardless of how someone states the pledge it is still regarded as valid? Are we merely repeating the same aphorisms of reconciliation in order to remain regarded as valid?


So… Identity?

(Week 2) Johnstone, Barbara 2014. ‘100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity. In Indexing Authenticity: Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Véronique Lacoste (ed). Berlin: DeGruyer.

(Week 4) Mehan, Hugh (1996) The Construction of an LD Student: A Case Study in the Politics of Representation. In Natural Histories of Discourse (ed. Michael Silverstein and Greg Urban). pp. 253-276.

(Week 4) Sif Karreback, Martha 2013. ‘Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism. Journal of Sociolinguistcs 17(3):355-375

  • Authenticity
  • Entextualization
  • Stigmatization

As someone who hits a fairly large constellation of aspects to my identity the ways in which I use language to describe my experiences can become complex. To that effect I tend to view myself (and others, honestly) as existing through multiple bodies: the self, the social body, and the body politic. This type of analysis is something which has been explored by a number of people, but for the purposes of this essay I’m basing my analysis on The Mindful Body. Using this contextual frame allows to better showcase the types of stigmatization of identity occur, and when.

Mehan denotes four specific aspects of identity I’ll be focusing on: “intelligence, deviance, health, illness” (Mehan 1996, 255). One aspect of my own identity which is easily viewable through my expression of self within the social body and body politic and which also touches on each of the aspects outlined above is my transness. What are the obvious “multiple and competing” (Mehan 1996,254) interpretations? Who decides the titles people use regarding my transness? When are these titles contextually bound? Sif Karreback explores this concept of language and spoiled language in “’Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism” with regard to the enforcing of language use. “Who watches the Watchmen”?

While technically everything about language and expression of self through language is highly contextual the thing about my personal expression of transness though language which tends to require the most context for understanding is the fact that as a assigned female at birth person who expresses themself as a queer non-binary person why I would choose to continue to have my family continue to call me “Auntie.” While not really confusing for most people who have had the opportunity to glimpse aspects of my self within the social body, those who exist closer to the body politic (doctors, aquaintences from volunteering, etc) tend to express the most confusion. To return to Mehan’s language my use of “Auntie” is deviant in the everyday now that I have begun to take testosterone and express myself more masculinely, and retains even further potential for deviancy if/when I become more commonly marked as male, however in considering the fact that this is a term which my nieces have grown up using and which only utter with respect to their love for me it is the most intelligent choice to allow them to continue to express their love in the way in which they feel most comfortable (there is something to be said for family members expressing “love” versus love here, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay).

The value of my identity as an authentic article is also questioned when the term “Auntie” is used while I am being read as a masculine person. This happens both within contexts of queer conversation and within contexts of non-queer conversation. To compare to Johnstone’s “’100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity” I am perpetually read as the non-authentic “Pittsburgh” as I deviate from the norms prescribed to queerness by both the in-group and the out-group by prescribing to both queer and cisheteronormative use of terms of endearment.