BrainBlog

Qwriting and beyond

A Fine Bunch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 1:51 am on Monday, May 15, 2017

Thesis – done. Final exam – check. Honors Conference – yep. Two semesters of mixing it up with a class of smart, funny and caring people – priceless.

I remember our first class. Professor Tougaw was wearing his snappy plaid suit. We all found our places around the table, introduced ourselves and were off and running, about the workings of the mind, in theory, in science, in literature and in pop culture. There were moments when I felt I was in way over my head, and other times when I felt like I was swimming along nicely. Class was never dull, always filled with humor and personal insights, and always guided by the firm-yet-gentle hand of Professor Tougaw himself.

I was often in awe of my cohorts’ brilliance. Many times I would find myself smiling inwardly, thinking that wherever these fine people went, they would be points of light. Really, they already are.

Let your light so shine, my friends! I love you all!

Public Speaking in Plaid Pants

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 9:54 pm on Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I have done my share of public speaking over the years. I have given laity sermons at church and have participated in poetry nights where the audiences were made up of both poets and non-poets alike. When I was president of my local PTA, I spoke at elementary school graduations and school board meetings, sometimes with prepared remarks, and sometimes off the cuff. Once, as a PTA rep., I attended a week-long seminar at Columbia Teacher’s College, where I was chosen from among my peers to read an original story. Aside from the fact that I had chosen that day to wear what I now consider to be hideous plaid pants, I consider that experience to have been a great public speaking opportunity.

I am not saying I am great at it, but neither does the idea of getting up in front of people scare me. Speaking about my thesis at our conference will be fine, so long as I am able to successfully cull the most relevant points from my essay.

Thoughts on QC English Honors Graduate remarks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 12:33 am on Monday, April 24, 2017

I was immensely inspired by the testimonies of recent QC English Honors grads. Their range of experience and their admitted ties to QC  are what I want to hear, right about now. Their lives have taken them globally, and although I do not plan to travel quite as extensively as some, I do intend to take what I have learned here and share my knowledge and unique perspective with college students in the near future. I believe I have experience and a voice to share, and I already envision myself sharing both with classes of students who might welcome and benefit from my training and life experience.

I also believe my fellow English Honors Grads are equally ready to share their immense talents in whatever venue they decide. How lucky am I? How fortunate are we?

Nocturne

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 9:32 pm on Friday, April 14, 2017

When I can’t sleep, I remember it.

Nights long past, remain in mind refreshed

So that I can feel the setting summer sun slanted on my

pajamaed shoulders,

Permission granted after bath and brush to return to play

Outside

In the cool of the day.

It was a delicious feeling, to be out

After the sky’s plum had tempered to silvery grey,

The only witnesses to our clandestine romp were

the Big Dipper, “Look there!”

the North Star, yellow Venus, and Orion’s tri-notched belt

Monkey-in-the-Middle, Hide-and-Seek

Finally answering the whistle meant for me and my brother

To come inside.

Such a small remembering, really.

But one of those granted me to keep for

perhaps all my nights awake, whether inside
or out.

The Dream of the Rood – Historical Context

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 3:13 am on Thursday, April 6, 2017

(Sorry, everyone, for the long post. I don’t have time before the exam to take excerpts from my presentation, so you’re getting the whole thing.)

 

Anglo-Saxon exemplary Poetry of the Seventh Century C.E.

This is an example of Old English alliterative poetry (also considered an example of dream poetry).

There are three kinds of English!

1)     Old English or Anglo-Saxon (circa 450-1066 CE).

This is what The Dream of the Rood is written in.

2)    Middle English (circa 1066-1450 AD). (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

3)    Modern English from about the time of Shakespeare. (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

 

Although this poem was written a full seven hundred years before Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Langland’s Piers Plowman and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, (all from the Middle Ages, 1300s-ish, and all written in Middle English) it shares their alliterative poetry genre status.

Possible authors: Cædmon (a 7th century Anglo-Saxon Monk) or Cynewulf (a 9th century Anglo-Saxon poet)

The poem was originally discovered in runic carvings on the Ruthwell Cross, an enormous 8th century stone cross in Scotland (or Northern England). Some experts consider it to be the oldest surviving Old English text.

The poem is divided into two parts — from lines 1 to 77, and then from 78 to 156. Only the first part is told within the runes of the Ruthwell Cross. Some experts believe that two authors were involved — one for the first half, and one for the second.

 

Fortunately during the centuries of of religious unrest, (the cross itself was broken to pieces at one point) the words in the runes were still recorded in the Vercelli Book, so called because the book is kept in the Italian city of Vercelli. The Vercelli Book, which can be dated to the 10th century, includes twenty-three homilies and six poems, one of which is The Dream of the Rood, in its entirety.

“It is possible that a ‘Vercelli poet’ has reworked an ‘earlier poem’ about the Crucifixion, in which case he has produced a larger poem of extraordinary thematic unity in which the earlier Crucifixion episode fits like Cinderella’s foot” (Fleming 1996).

 

Rood shows clearly the Germanic influences of seventh century Anglo-Saxon society, which itself was largely made up of a mix of Germanic and Celtic tribes. During this era, clans, kingdoms, and warring factions were a constant. (The Buried Giant)

In the poem everything is portrayed in terms of warfare, good versus evil, allies and enemies.

During this time in the 600s in England, the Germanic, or Teutonic mixed with the Celtic, and influence was great. This comes clear in the choice of imagery of the poet.

According to John V. Fleming, a Princeton literature professor and literary critic, the dreamer is an ascetic monk, who must take the dream as a directive to be self-denying, not only like Christ, but like the cross itself.

 

Secondary Source:

‘THE DREAM OF THE ROOD’ AND ANGLO-SAXON MONASTICISM Author(s): JOHN V. FLEMING Source: Traditio, Vol. 22 (1966), pp. 43-72 Published by: {fordham}

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27830806

 

Quotes from Fleming:

“The Dream of the Rood is . . . a product of the English Benedictinism which was the chief cultural institution of the Age of Bede, presenting a figurative statement of the main principles of early Benedictine asceticism and a typically monastic view of salvation.”

“The religious meaning of The Dream of the Rood lies only thinly veiled beneath the surface of the Old English poetic diction which its author was obliged to use. It is a diction to some extent archeological and ‘Germanic,’ the language of the high style of Old English Christian poetry, which gives it its peculiar and often misleading heroic and Teutonic ring. This Rood literally means ‘rod’ or ‘pole,’ in this case, the trunk of the tree from which Christ’s cross was hewn.”

 

Throughout this article I use the terms ‘ Benedictine ‘ and ‘Benedictinism’ in the very loose sense employed by monastic scholars since the time of Mabillon. They refer to the principal form of cenobitic monasticism in the West,

 

45 Christ’s retainer that the Cross’s frustration at being forbidden to strike back at its lord’s enemies becomes most poignant. Charlemagne in pious legend is supposed to have cried out, upon hearing the tale of the Crucifixion retold, 4 If I had only been there with my Franks !’

 

Of all the ‘Germanic’ elements in the poem, none has been more often commented upon than Christ’s description as a geong h lep and the heroic treatment of the Crucifixion generally. In fact, the regal and heroic attitude of Christ is perhaps the least convincing of the proposed Teutonic elements in the poem. As Rosemary Woolf says, the conception of a warrior Christ is ‘not peculiar to the Anglo-Saxon imagination.’

 

“The most ‘significant’ examples of the Germanization of the Church can be limited to three: (1) the maintenance of class distinction within the cloister; (2) the acceptance, within severe limitations of the Germanic prerogatives of revenge; and (3) the institution of the secular Emperor, by quasi-sacramental anointings, as protector of the Church.  The second of these concerns The Dream of the Rood tangentially, for it seems clear that its author is keenly aware of the brittle demands of Germanic revenge. His interest in them is ancillary to his principal matter, however, and the course he follows is not to Germanicize the Christian, but to Christianize the German.”

 

“It remains possible, of course, to see in The Dream of the Rood a response to the Christological debates of the fifth century, but by the same token it would be possible to argue that virtually every treatment of the Crucifixion for half a thousand years is such a response.”

 

“The Dreamer is a monastic, a spiritual exile and a solitary. He is one of the Anglo-Saxon monks who rejoiced in the name of crucicolae, ‘worshippers of the cross.”

*** (this can go with “the Buried Giant” where the monks let themselves be pecked by birds as penance.)

 

*****(shares alliterative poetry genre with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

“The idea that martyrdom is a state of spiritual readiness to die for the faith, that is, to make a final act of self-denial, whether or not it actually culminates in physical death, is implicit in pre-Benedictine monastic life.” (Like the masochistic monks in The Buried Giant).

In this poem there are three main characters — the dreamer (possibly an ascetic monk) Christ and the Cross itself.

In his dream (we assume it is a man’s voice) the nameless narrator says he meets this Rood (or tree, or cross) which speaks to him of the experience of being the vehicle of Christ’s death.

 

The “Heroic Cross” of the Anglo Saxon Age gives way to the latter part of the Middle Ages when the Renaissance offers the “Pathetic Cross, “where Jesus, in visible torment, is no longer the conquering warrior hero, but a skinny gentle soul who looks far more helpless than the Teutonic Christ of The Dream of the Rood.

Useful Quotes from The Dream of the Rood:

 

“Wondrous was that victor-tree, and I was stained with sin and wounded with my wickedness.”

(This quote shows the germanic influences by way of references to the crucifixion as warfare between good and evil.)

 

“Then I beheld the Lord of men hasting with mighty, steadfast heart, for He would fain ascend upon me.”

 

“The Hero young — He was Almighty God — did off his raiment, steadfast, stout of heart With valour, in the sight of many men, He mounted up upon the lofty gallows, when He would fain redeem mankind.”

(These two quotes highlight the Anglo-Saxon warrior “Heroic Christ” who feels neither fear nor pain.)

 

Yet weeping unto God we kept our station for a time.”

(this quote describes the cross believing it is just one more of Christ’s disciples, standing vigil after his death. It is interesting to note the phrase “kept our station” not only a military phrase, but a Christian one. The Stations of the Cross are an important part of Catholic tradition. This tradition, of retracing Christ’s steps elsewhere besides the actual streets of Jerusalem was thought to have started around the 5th century.)

 

“Before that host he shall demand where is the man, who for his Lord’s sake would drink of bitter death, as He did on the cross aforetime.”

(This quote, spoken by the Cross itself, tells of the Last Judgement, when all people will stand before Christ. Those who were willing to suffer and die in his name would have automatic entrée into heaven. This supports the historic belief that the narrator is a monk, whose whole life is dedicated to self-denial, prayer and self-imposed penance, often in torturous ways. Cross reference the monks in The Buried Giant here.)

Exam Plans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 9:08 pm on Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sorry this is late. I have been under the weather for a few days.

For the final exam, I will most surely be prepared to talk about the following Main Texts (in no particular order):

Incidents In the Life of a Slave Girl (Jacobs)

How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move? (Mukhopadhyay)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Yellow Wallpaper (Gilman)

Fun Home (Bechdel)

The God of Small Things (Roy)

The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde)

The Tell-Tale Heart (Poe)

The Buried Giant (Ishiguro)

Bartleby the Scrivener (Melville)

Leaves From the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian (Sui Sin Far)

Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems

Supplemental Reading Possibilities:

Theory: The Souls of Black Folk (DuBois) — for Incidents in the Life . . .

Theory: Liminality and Communitas (Turner) — for Fun Home

Theory: How To Interpret Literature (Parker) — For a number of books

Genre: Comics and Sequential Art (Eisner) — For Fun Home

Historical Context: Reflecting Violence in the Warpland: Gwendolyn Brooks’s “Riot” (Debo)

Historical Context: Some of Arundhati Roy’s non-fiction essays — for The God of Small Things

Historical Context/Genre: I’m looking for essays about Arthurian literature and how There is often a “Christ” representation. This would relate to The Dream of the Rood, Sir Gawain and The Buried Giant.

Flexibility and Modularity Plans:

  1. I can definitely combine Buried Giant and Sir Gawain for obvious reasons. Historical context.
  2. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl could be combined with The Yellow Wallpaper, as both contain a repressed female protagonist. Theory.
  3. Incidents can also be combined with Invisible Man and Gwendolyn Brooks poems. Historical context.
  4. The Tell-Tale Heart and The Yellow Wallpaper on madness. Genre/Theory.
  5. Sui Sin Far’s short story  and Roy’s God of Small Things because the protagonists are young girls finding a balance between eastern and western cultures. This could be Genre (fiction about Asian girls) or used for historical context, since both present glimpses into real worlds. Amy Tan would fit nicely here too.
  6. Fun Home and The Importance of Being Earnest. This would be Theory. Both speak of sexual identity and identity repression. I wonder If I could reference the sexual identities of both authors, and, if so, how?

Bhabha Theory and Harriet Jacobs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 5:12 pm on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This was the written notes for my Theory presentation on Homi Bhabha’s essay. I chose the Jacobs book from our exam list as my example of his theories.

 

Theory Presentation: Using The Introduction to Homi Bhabha’s Essay

as a Lens for Interpreting Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

 

Homi Bhabha reiterates that in human global culture, especially post-modern, post-colonial culture, the tendency to polarize and create cultural binaries, or boundaries abound. He suggests that these manufactured borders, rather than being walls, or end zones, are actually starting lines of new Hybrid cultures. He says, “The boundary becomes the place from which something begins its presence” (Bhabha 7).

The word “hybrid” is important to Bhabha. In his book How to Interpret Literature, Robert Dale Parker tells his reader that Bhabha uses it to mean “cultural multiplicity” (Parker 297). It could also be defined as the overlap of social borders.

Here are some examples of the binaries Bhabha resists:

Black/White                                  Black — White

Male/Female                                 Male — Female

Master/Slave                                  Master — Slave

Urban/Rural                                   Urban — Rural

North/South                                      North — South

Good/Evil                                             Good — Evil

 

Rather than see these social strictures this way, Bhabha symbolically changes the slashes to dashes (/ to –), creating bridges rather than boundaries. He believes the convergence of cultures creates new cultures, and that this happens globally throughout history.

This cross-pollination of cultures happens throughout Harriet Jacobs’ 1861 autobiographical book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Here is a list of the ways Jacobs’ book illustrates Bhabha’s theories (and his citations of Renée Green) of post-colonial hybridization:

  1. Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs) lives in two attics for over seven years. The first is a secret bedroom in a white female sympathizer’s house, and the other, more dramatic one was the cramped attic space over a shed. All the while her slave masters and children live below at street level. This is like Renee Green’s architecture analogy of attics and and basements, and stairways as liminal space. Rather than attic/downstairs, it becomes attic — downstairs with emphasis on the STAIRS part, as they are the conduit for Linda’s protectors to bring her food and news of her family’s well-being. Green states “I use architecture literally as a reference, using the attic, the boiler room, and the stairwell to make associations between certain binary division such as higher and lower and heaven and hell” (Sites of Genealogy).

    2)     Linda has a white name and a white pseudonym.

   3)    Linda is biracial. Her maternal grandfather was a white slaveholder who had sex

 

                     With her slave grandmother. Black/White becomes “a light shade of brownish

                      yellow” (Jacobs 8).

4)      Male/Female becomes one as Linda’s symbiotic feelings of suffering with her

         brother William arise, she in her attic cell, he in jail for keeping her secret. (85)

5)       Linda’s mother and her white mistress were both nursed by Linda’s grandmother.

          Linda herself chooses to have two children by a white man, hoping this may be her

        ticket to freedom. They are further evidence of Linda’s hope for (what Franz Fanon

         would call, “reciprocal recognitions” (Bhabha). Linda, who is fully slave, yet has

        so much white in her genes, tries to assimilate and blend the two. It is the white

        culture that wants no part of this hybrid, not the black culture.

6)    Linda’s style of writing is white. There are a number of critics who do not believe a

       mulatto slave woman in 1861 could write such a book. But write it she did,

       becoming an excellent example of Bhabha’s “borderline work of culture” (9). This

     work he writes, “demands an encounter with ‘newness’ that is not part of the

    continuum of past and present. It creates a sense of the new as an insurgent act of

   cultural translation” (9).

Bhabha mentions Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a story of “an affective, historic memory of an emergent public sphere of men and women alike” (7). This same can be said for Jacobs’ book. Linda is like Morrison’s Sethe, and her daughter Ellen, although still alive and well at the end of the book, can be compared to Sethe’s Beloved. Bhabha continues, “Through the death and return of Beloved, precisely such a reclamation takes place: the slave mother regaining through the presence of the child, the property of her own person” (19).

 

Useful Quotes from Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

 

“In complexion my parents were a light shade of brownish-yellow, and were termed mulattoes” (8).

 

“My father, by his nature, as well as by the habit of transacting business as a skilful mechanic, had more of the feelings of a freeman than is common among slaves” (11).

 

“I once saw two beautiful children playing together. One was a fair white child; the other was her slave, and also her sister. When I saw them embracing each other, and heard their joyous laughter, I turned sadly away from that lovely sight” (28).

 

“The garret was only nine feet long and seven wide. The highest part was three feet high and sloped down abruptly” (96).

 

“In the midst of these meditations, I heard footsteps on the stairs. The door opened, and my uncle Phillip came, leading Ellen by the hand. I put my arms round her, and said, ‘Ellen, my dear child, I am your mother’” (115).

 

“I had never seen so large a city, or been in contact with so many people in the streets. It seemed to me as if those who passed looked at us with an expression of curiosity. My face was so blistered and peeled, by sitting on deck, in wind and sunshine, that I thought they could not easily decide to what nation I belonged” (132).

 

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Ed. Joslyn T. Pine. Dover Thrift Editions.

2001.

I Feel a Draft

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 10:48 pm on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This is my checklist (not in any particular order) for what I am working on to improve and expand my essay:

  1. Critiquing Grandin’s writing/speaking style, since this paper is meant to be (at least in part) a literary critique.
  2. Adding voices that counter what Grandin and others like her have to say on the subject of autism/animal connections. This will largely come from the neuroscience arena.
  3. Give an intro to the history of diagnosed autism, i.e. Kanner, Asperger et. al. Use Lennard Straus,
  4. Reference those who believe autism is not a disability, but an “other” type of mind. I will include Lucy Blackman, and maybe Tito Mukhopadhay.
  5. Spend a portion speaking about novels that deal with autism and animal/human connections like the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Dogs of Babel and perhaps The Jungle Book.
  6. Using Smith and Watson’s Reading Autobiography, as a guide, hone my writing to be more literarily correct.
  7. Use Steve Silberman’s book NeuroTribes. (Should come in the mail tomorrow)
  8. I want to find graphics for the essay in preparation for the final oral presentation.

I may want to link the autism history with the history of ethology as a single portion. I am looking elsewhere to find smooth links to segue from one section to the next. Asheka suggested I refrain from ending paragraphs with quotes, a rule I learned in English 170W. And Caitlyn suggested I use my own voice more, rather than rely so heavily on quotes from others. Thanks guys!

The God of Small Things presentation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 10:57 pm on Friday, February 10, 2017

This was my oral presentation. I know it’s a lot, but it was a dense book, and I figure that if anyone wants to reference this book on the final exam and are unsure which road to take (historic, genre, etc.) the material might help.I have posted the links to three articles I used as secondary sources. These might prove helpful for the exam! 

GodofSmallThingsPresentation

Roy articles:

https://www.countercurrents.org/us-roy020903.htm

http://www.thehindu.com/2004/04/25/stories/2004042500041600.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/02/pankaj-mishra-arundhati-roy-hindu-nationalists-silence-writers-india

Project Progress

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Patterson Lay at 1:00 am on Saturday, December 17, 2016
  • lisa-and-murray-on-trail“You can’t get anything past a cow” — Temple Grandin in Animals in Translation

First Draft:

Seeing Inside the Animal Mind Through an Autistic Lens

“The problem with normal people is they’re too cerebral. I call it being abstractified” (Grandin 27). This is the opening paragraph of chapter two of Dr. Temple Grandin’s book Animals in Translation. She later elaborates: “That’s the big difference between animals and people, and also between autistic people and nonautistic people. Animals and autistic people don’t see their ideas of things; they see the actual things themselves. We see the details that make up the world, while normal people blur all those details together into their general concept of the world” (30).

For animals, these details are everything. Most dog owners marvel at their pet’s ability to differentiate between the putting on of one’s coat to go to work and the same action to go for a dog walk. The owner sees only the same scenario repeated, while the dog notices subtle differences. The owner may glance at his watch before heading off to work, or may pat the dog’s head before preparing for a walk. He may just sigh or frown when heading to work and smile for the dog walk. Some people believe people even give off slightly different scents depending on their mood and intention, something their dog’s keen nose may pick up.

Grandin claims it took her thirty years of intense animal study to understand this focus on detail. “The first small detail I saw spook a cow,” she writes, was shadows on the ground. Cattle will balk at the sight of a shadow” (31).

“Novelty is a huge problem for all animals, all autistic people, all children–and just about all normal grown-ups, too, though normal adults can handle novelty better than animals, autistic people, or kids. Fear of the unknown is universal” (45).

(Dr. Grandin would make a great CSI investigator. She uses all her senses to find clues as to why animals behave as they do. She literally and mentally gets down on the floor and sees, hears, smells and feels what they feel. Her attention to detail, devoid of expected result allows her to notice what other “normal” people may not notice.)

Note: The preceding paragraphs are my basic attempt at getting my balloon off the ground.

I plan to start my project with Dr. Grandin’s basic philosophy of the animal brain and why autistic people have unique insight into it. Based on the material I have gathered thusfar (I am continuing to find other books and essays) I think I plan to structure my paper loosely on the Ballroom idea, where I will zoom in on each corner and listen in on varying conversations from people who approach the animal/autistic connect from different angles. Then I will zoom to the next, while keeping a thread of the last. I may re-visit Grandin’s side of the room between each other corner. Or not. For instance, after taking about Grandin and her work with livestock, I can then go to Karen Davis, the Poultry expert who has a different, critical view of chickens and how they think. Then back to Grandin and her affinity with dogs, including her belief that pets are good for autistic kids (she has no kids of her own), then swing over to Pavlides, Carlisle and other parents and child autism experts who speak about pets for autistic kids from their perspective. Then over to Zimmer, (he has a lot to say!) etcetera.

I have a few other ideas right now that I need advice on. I have experience as a dog trainer, especially of shelter dogs. I worked at The North Shore Animal League in their Animal Behavior Unit (we worked with the most difficult dogs) and I volunteered for a number of years at the North Hempstead Animal Shelter where I both trained the dogs and greeted prospective adopters, using my knowledge to make good family match-ups. Should I use personal experience in this project? Should I leave my own voice out of it? I can also interview the woman who trained me — she was a K-9 cop for many years. Definitely understood and could communicate with dogs. Should I do this?

Chani lent me an interesting novel called The Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst, about a man who tries to teach his dog to talk in order to get important first-hand information from her. It is as much about human inter-relationships as it is about canine-human ones, and might be useful here.

I do want to beef up my children-with-autism angle. There is much info on this, including some great children’s books, like “Ian’s Walk.” Here, again, I know parents personally who have raised kids on the autism spectrum — from mild Asperger’s to severe non-verbal autism. I could contact them and see if they might add to my story.

 

 

 

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I am attaching some personal photos for possible visuals.

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