Tag Archive | Literature

My IAC Dean’s Research Internship

june 1939 coverThis year, I was given the opportunity to do research through the IAC’s Dean Research Internship program! This internship pairs first year liberal arts students with a professor of their major and field of interest in order to learn the ropes of conducting research. In this program each student could either work on their own project with guidance from their professor, or they could help their professor with whatever they were working on. I chose to do the latter.

My professor (Dr. Jay Telotte, an LMC professor and expert in science fiction and animation) and I explored the relationship between science fiction pulp magazines and movies from 1920-1950. We wanted to know if movie companies used print platforms to advertise their films and, if so, how. My only previous experience with the subject was Star Wars, but I was immediately interested by movies and magazines and the way they advertised different subject matter.

tumblr_ooq9bgjk3n1rve49co6_540Both mediums have similar fan bases, so we were surprised to find that there actually were very few traditional movie advertisements present. Instead, there were tons of reviews, pictures of cameras, stories about Hollywood…basically everything but big full-page ads with headlines screaming about War of the Worlds or Star Trek.

So, the separate worlds did converge, and over time, these interactions became more and more frequent, just not in the way we expected. It was really interesting to learn about; it was almost like I was experiencing these shifts over time too.

Last week, we had a research internship exhibition where all of the Dean’s Research Interns shared their work with both faculty and each other. It was exciting to see what everyone else had been working on all year. It was also a really good chance to practice IMG_8649giving presentations to strangers in a more professional setting—something ya girl is not used to or totally comfortable with, but that I was happy to practice.

Thank you so much again to the Dean, Dr. Telotte, and Elizabeth Miller for this amazing opportunity, all of the help you’ve given me, and for the innumerable lessons and skills that I have learned! My freshman year has been wonderful, and I am so grateful for this invaluable experience.

If you are interested in learning more about what we found, the subject matter, my experience and what I learned, or the internship program itself, check out the website I made! ~ https://spacebarinvaders.wordpress.com/

Talking As Fast I Can Book Review

So as you know I’m obsessed with Gilmore girls. (HA, understatement of the year.)

As you may also know (thanks to my Instagram that I much more faithfully update than this poor pretty little child blog of mine), when I found out that Lauren Graham was writing a book about her experiences as Lorelai on the old and new Gilmore sets, I completely freaked out.

Like, I don’t think I’ve as ever impulsively bought a book as I did when I clicked “preorder” on Amazon in September. (That’s a lie, I’ve grabbed off of the shelves at Goodwill faster than you could read the last sentence.)

When it arrived a while back, all pretty and shiny and new, I was ecstatic. It came out around when the miniseries reboot aired, and I had little time to touch it thanks to school and being completely preoccupied with the living breathing characters and Stars Hollow on screen.

When school ended for the winter break, and after I finished the show (*sniff*), I picked up my dear friend’s memoir and dove right in. I ate it up in a solid two days.

As a fan, I loved it. Lauren talked about her past, how her career began, where she started. I feel like all actors or comedians who write biographies throw this in there somewhere. (I also know that this is, in fact, what makes them biographies. It’s also a huge part of their story and who they are as people. As Lauren would say, “medical, medical.”) So I enjoyed learning about her past jobs and childhood, but I couldn’t help but keep thinking, “when does Gilmore Girls come in,” so I probably breezed through it a bit.

Other times, there were sections that were completely and interestingly insightful. The part about Old Lady Jackson and looking up every once in a while? Loved and bookmarked it. The writing advice she’d learned? Noted it and plan on using it. There were so many other brief little messages here and there that truly made me stop to think. I had been so hyped up that I wasn’t really expecting to find nuggets of wisdom, but they’re there—and plentiful.

Finally, the long awaited Gilmore Girls sections. First, Lauren described the process, what it was like originally. She had never seen all of the series herself (which I thought was odd at first but now totally understand), and so she literally watched it all and made notes about everything from what was going on behind the scenes to what was up with her hair at that point in her life. Oh, and she pointed out every time a technology was out-of-date, which was amusing.

Next (or actually, after several more sections and closer to the end of the book, which is fitting since so much time has passed and all of this is so recent), Lauren describes the reboot process. She describes it like a dream, and said she cried throughout the whole year in the life. So did I Lauren. So did I.

She kept a journal from the set of the set of the reboot, complete with pictures and the story of the things she stole from set. Alexis stole a Yale banner from the wall in Rory’s room, and when I read this I almost started crying. And the fact that every time Lauren mentioned how “cliffhanger-y” the ending was, Amy just smiled? Again in the words of Lauren Graham, “Hmmm.”

The Gilmore Girls tidbits were brief, but sweet. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into this side of not only Stars Hollow, but the world of acting and life of such a wonderful, quick-witted, and introspective actor as Lauren Graham. I only wish that this lovely little book had been longer because, like Gilmore Girls in all of its many forms, I hated to see it end.

Rating: 4/5

Shakespeare and Law and Papermaking, Oh My!

My favorite class this summer was—surprise!—my English 1102 class. It was a class about Shakespeare and Law. My teacher, Dr. Higinbotham, was absolutely amazing. I highly recommend her. She was so enthusiastic, supportive, and kind. (She’s also brilliant, but I guess that part is a given.) We had so many thought-provoking discussions, both in class and after. She encouraged people to challenge and argue with her. One on one, we talked about ideas and fairytales and research and Jane Austen. And she was as eager to do so as I was.

Anyway, I could fangirl over her for a while. One thing that she really emphasized in this course, however, was Shakespeare’s first folio. Dr. Higinbotham made sure that we all knew the year that it was published (1623). She made sure we knew how big of a deal it was. Because it was. Making books was hard back then! Actually, forget the entire book, making the paper itself was a feat.

This was something that she wanted us to experience and understand first hand. So, instead of having a regular class on June 28th, we trekked on our own to Georgia Tech’s own Paper Museum on West Campus. We passed the West Campus dorms, reached the paper museum, met our class, and were immediately immersed in the process itself.

We had to fill the tubs with cloth-based pulp and use the wooden screens to catch it. We took turns, struggling to flip it at the proper speed. We added things that we had been collecting over the past several days to our sheets.

I added flowers that I had unceremoniously yanked from a tree on Freshman Hill earlier that day. Being the Pride and Prejudice freak that I am, I had also printed out Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth to add. My English professor loved this.

Some people just added pictures of their dogs.

After we added these various things to our small sheets of paper, we got in line to make large pieces. Like, folio-sized pieces. They were maybe 12×16? Pretty large, and very cumbersome to flip. It took two people just about to collect the pulp and sift the water out. It was difficult, but it was really cool.

We got to watch as the paper was pressed, as the water drained and the sheets stretched and thinned. We had to wait a day or two for it to dry, but we got to keep the paper we had made. I still have it, and have used it to both write and paint on so far. It’s pretty, and handmade.

There’s something special about handmade things. I appreciate both the paper and Shakespeare’s folio so much more after taking part in this process—just as I have a greater understanding for Law and Shakespeare himself.

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We walked through West Campus and it basically looked like the Pit from Parks and Rec. I half expected Andy to be down there somewhere.

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We were able to put different materials into our paper. These are flowers from the trees on Freshman Hill.

 

Lol

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Before and After

Finally Finding Fanny (And The Voice of Women Throughout History)

(I wrote this essay for an independent novels assignment in my AP Literature class. We had to choose a literary criticism and use it to analyze any book we wished. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and feminism? DUH. I’m the poster fan child for both. Anyway, this was really fun to write, and it won the Young Georgia Authors writing contest for 12th grade at my school! I’m so genuinely happy that my uber feminist argument and analysis could be shared on this scale!)

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Throughout history, women have always struggled to be heard. They’ve fought for the right to vote, the right to own and inherit property, the right to speak out for both themselves and others. They have been treated as inferior to men with horrid frequency. They have been simplified and subjugated as housewives, child-bearers, and accessories.

During the eighteen hundreds, this problem was largely ignored – even by women. Many women felt as though, by fulfilling this inferior societal position, they were simply doing their duty. They were content in the “noble” aims with which their gender roles provided them.

Many feminist novel writers, however, were not satisfied with their lots in life. It was difficult to speak out without being silenced, difficult to tell their stories and be heard. So they wrote them down instead. They created characters ensnared in similar settings as they. They spoke through them to reveal the truths about the realities they faced. At least, this is what Jane Austen did.

In Mansfield Park, Austen explores the doubly confining role that her heroine, Fanny Price, plays as a lower class woman; Austen exposes and combats the treatment that both she and Fanny experienced in the hopes that these injustices would finally be understood, their voices finally be heard.

In the very beginning of the novel, a young Fanny is thrust into a world apart from that to which she was born and accustomed. Her mother marries a poor man, despite the wishes and rank of her family. It is from this choice that stems much of Fanny’s fate. For when her mother “marries down,” she takes the social status of her husband. This was always the case for women during this time period. They were completely reliant upon their husbands for both income and social status.

Unlike many, however, Fanny’s mother is eventually pitied by her relatives. They decide to do something that they deem charitable for her: relieve her of one of her children. Children were a heavy burden. They could not yet contribute to society and were another mouth to feed. Therefore, Fanny Price, the oldest daughter, is easily spared. She is sent away to Mansfield Park, where she is to live with her wealthy, arrogant, and oftentimes neglectful relatives, the Bertrams.

The Bertrams are “neglectful” in that they oftentimes overlook Fanny – everyone except Edmund, anyway. They view her as a charity case, a pet project. Fanny is of the lower class, and though they take her in and raise her, their goal is never to erase and reshape her identity. They never attempt to teach her the skills of a refined lady; she does not learn to paint or speak French like her cousins had years before. Her social class and gender define her, establish expectations for her. And this is made painfully obvious through Fanny’s immersion into her relative’s household.

As Fanny grows up, her position in the world is continuously reinforced by those around her. During this time period, women were expected to “come out” – that is, formally be introduced into society, to become an eligible wife. Until a woman had come out, she was expected to be quiet, demure. Afterwards, she should be the life of the party, a flirt, friendly to all, until she was married. Women were expected to change and act differently in order to “catch” a respectable husband. There was no such initiation for men. And while both of Fanny’s cousins partook in this ceremonious rebirth, Fanny herself did not, simply because she was poor. Mary Crawford struggled and failed to understand this, could not imagine how Fanny was so different and inexplicably herself. Once again, Fanny was subject to not only her femininity, but her socioeconomic status as well.

Another instance within this novel that the disparities between the genders is revealed is when Mary discusses men writing letters. This is an activity that all real men avoid, she says; they view it as a task and only share the most crucial and occasional news through their correspondence. Women on the other hand, were encouraged, taught, and expected to write lengthy letters, letters of frivolity and passion and gossip. Men could not be trifled with such matters – they had more important things to tend to. They were responsible for business, be it in the city, the park, or abroad. Women were to take care of domestic matters, and those that were wealthy had servants to oversee their homes, meals, and children for them. In fact, for an upper class woman such as Fanny’s aunt, it was perfectly normal for her to sit at home, lounging about, and doing absolutely nothing. And because Fanny is seen as her relatives’ subordinate, it often falls to her to look after her aunt. She travels less, does not have her own horse, and never speaks up. This last quality, in fact, is why Fanny Price is so misjudged, so irritating, and so admirable throughout the novel.

Fanny is completely silent. She is such a passive character for much of the book that oftentimes the reader will find him or herself completely infuriated by her lack of confidence, involvement, and voice. The reader is shown more of the supporting characters and their actions than Fanny’s own. The novel instead follows her observations of them. She lends her opinion and thoughts to much, but says very little. Therefore, she seems very shallow, very weak. But she isn’t.

In reality, Fanny is headstrong and opinionated. She knows right from wrong, which is evidenced when she refuses to participate in the play that her cousins wish to perform. She knows where she stands and, because she is so observant, she knows where others stand too. Moreover, she knows who she is, what she loves – whether or not she will admit it to herself.

Fanny is a feminist icon, and yet she does not voice these qualities to the outside world. She does not agree with her station, but neither does she oppose it. She longs for fairer treatment from her relatives, but she does not seek or expect it. This is because, once again, Fanny knows her place. Or at least, what society has decided is her place based on both her gender and social status. There is nothing she feels that she can do about it. And what could she truly do, when her cousins have done so much for her? Supposedly, anyway.

Austen uses Fanny’s silence to emphasize the many injustices that she as a character and woman faces. Had Fanny opposed them, combatted her treatment and oppressors in some way, she would appear stronger, certainly. However, this is and was not done. This was not how women of this time and position would have faced them. Fanny’s behavior reveals just how real discrimination based on gender and class were during the eighteen hundreds.

It is hard to believe that a family would treat their cousin like the Bertrams treated Fanny, but they did, for it was customary, proper. Not only have classes come so much farther, but women have also overcome so many obstacles stacked against them since this time period. Women are still discriminated against, still treated differently than men, but hopefully in the future they will fully gain their independence and equality. Hopefully every woman will have the opportunity to overcome the confines of her small attic bedroom, to find true love, happiness, and a chance to finally, after years upon years of remaining quiet for the sake of propriety, speak her mind, just as Fanny Price did in Jane Austen’s infamous Mansfield Park.