Thought Piece on The Gaza Monologues

In Thoughts on May 15, 2011 by azybazy Tagged: , , ,

The aim of this thought piece is to unravel the authenticity that I witnessed during the enactment of the play ‘The Gaza Monologues’ produced by ‘Floating Space’ on the 6th of February 2011. In doing so, I shall attempt to highlight the ways in which authenticity is created through the use of space, the informality of the opening scene and the subversion incorporated in the title of the play. The concept of authenticity shall also be discussed in relation to the intent of the play and the collaborations the theatre group has with its stakeholders. I shall also draw upon aspects that Peter Brook conceptualizes in ‘The Empty Space’ in unearthing the characteristics of authenticity and honesty throughout the course of this essay.

‘To (capture the audiences’ attention and compel its belief) we must prove that there will be no trickery, nothing hidden. We must open our empty hands and show that really there is nothing up our sleeves. Only then can we begin’ Brook (1996).

This line partly captures the authenticity, which involves fidelity (Gaut et al, 2001) to the subject matter and the context of the subject matter that I look for when watching a theatrical performance. ‘The Gaza Monologues’ was one such performance that stayed true to the above ‘idea’ of not involving ‘trickery’ as it chose a space that was fidel to the context of the play. This was because the space alone was able to create the sensation of despair, which was one of the dominant themes of the performance. I agree with Brook’s statement that ‘a beautiful place may never bring the explosion of life, while a haphazard hall maybe a tremendous meeting place’ once I watched this production at the relatively large backroom of Park Street Mews. The fact that the walls of this venue were not artificially hidden by wall paint, which is used to symbolize a sense of sophistication and elegance, complimented the atmosphere of doom and misery to a great extent. I felt that the unpainted walls created a sense of fidelity to the actual situation in Palestine because it was able to symbolize destruction, as demolition of buildings are generally indicated through a pile of broken bricks. Therefore, the unpainted, bricked walls of the venue played a momentous role in capturing a consequence of war throughout the venue.

Also, I personally felt that the audience was made to witness the monologues of children affected by war in a surrounding that the children were familiar with. This was due to the ‘unpainted walls’ as mentioned previously, and due to the lack of fixed seats, as at traditional theatres. The fact that this venue had mats and plastic chairs provided an authentic air because it helped create the illusion that the production group, in their attempt to highlight the true conditions of the children, placed mats and chairs for the audience to witness their plight from a space that the victimized children were able to identify with. Indeed, credit must be given to the playwrights for their choice of venue as it implied the context and setting even before the play began. Brooks’ claim that ‘the most vital theatrical experiences occur outside the legitimate places constructed for the purpose’ stands true with my experience of ‘The Gaza Monologues’ at the backroom of Park Street Mews.

Interestingly, the content of the play is also very authentic as the narratives of the children in the play are a documentation of the individual experiences, hopes and fears of the youth in Palestine (Rerun of The Gaza Monologues, 2011). This authenticity within the content of the performance is also portrayed in the representation of it through the absence of a ‘stage’. The fact that the children enacted the narratives of the victims in Palestine on the floor of the backroom as opposed to a ‘stage’ is more effective and authentic, as it eliminated the illusion associated with the stage. I personally feel that the inclusion of  a ‘stage’ at a theatrical performance takes away the aspect of authenticity as it keeps me aware that this performance is a construct. Consequently, the lack of a ‘stage’ at the ‘The Gaza Monologues’ worked successfully as it symbolized the veracity of the narratives.

Moreover, the fact that the actors sat very close to the audience on the mat after their enactment of a narrative was also very significant. I personally feel that his close presence with the actors helped the audience understand their feelings because they appeared as children who were victimized as opposed to actors on stage performing a role that was given to them. It is also significant when Eraj Gunawardena, the child who speaks for Reem from Al- Saftawi Street, throws cards at the audiences who are seated on the map and occupy the first few rows for two reasons. Firstly, it highlights his feelings of hopelessness and depression as a result of his loss of childhood due to the war. Secondly, it creates an attachment to the plights of the children as the audience gets the feeling of despair effectively when there is symbolic ‘physical evidence’. Hence these instances clearly make the audience feel that they are witnessing a real event as opposed to a performance.

The discussion of the above characteristics witnessed at the production of ‘The Gaza Monologues’ conforms to Peter Brook’s conception of ‘The Rough Theater’. He mentions that Rough Theatre is ‘the theatre that’s not in a theatre, the theatre on carts, on wagons, on trestles, audiences standing…theatre in backrooms, upstairs rooms, barns…’. These aspects are certainly witnessed in ‘The Gaza Monologues’ along with its ‘close (ness) to the people’ in terms of the subject, which is similar to the consequences of war felt by the children of Sri Lanka, and certainly, by the characteristics mentioned above such as the use of space.

Initially, when I heard the title of the play, I assumed that this play would be a performance depicting important national leaders in official attire at a boardroom. Consequently, I was surprised by what I witnessed due to the clear subversion from my expectations of the play. However, I must admit that this subversion did impart a sense of authenticity to the play because it highlights the importance that we, as the audience and the international community, should place on the marginalized victims of war. The fact that the playwrights chose to voice out the conditions that the Palestine civilians face from children, who symbolize their condition through their torn and tattered clothing, clearly highlights the need to understand problems from those who do not belong to hegemonic power structures as well. Significantly, the choice of using children to inform the audience about the hardships is also effective as it would be easier for the audience to identify with those who have been directly affected by the war, as opposed to leaders who are not directly affected due to their inclusion within an elite circle.

Additionally, the depiction of a setting that symbolized death and decay as opposed to a board room with elegant furnishing and well equipped sound systems was also very successful. The inclusion of barbed wire within the setting was very symbolic of the Palestine context as it effectively highlighted the restrictions and limitations the civilians were forced to abide as a result of the war. A plush boardroom would never have been able to capture these emotional, physical and psychological traumas that the victims of war experience. Brook mentions that it is effective to have a setting that does not consist of too many props. According to him the reason for this efficacy is that a minimalistic setting has the potential to draw the attention of the audience to the character on stage as opposed to the fancy background. Therefore, the minimalistic setting in the performance of ‘The Gaza Monologues’ also paves way in drawing attention to the narratives due to its symbolic background that lacks artificial and expensive props.

I admire and have tremendous regard for the playwrights of this play as they not only chose to stage a performance based on a contemporary social issue, but they also stayed true to their intent of creating awareness of this phenomenon by involving themselves in real life initiatives that promote this issue on a global forum. The fact that ‘Floating Space contributed to ‘The Gaza Mono-Logues’ performance in New York at the General Assembly of the United Nations for its annual meeting on ‘The Question of Palestine’ (Rerun of The Gaza Monologues, 2011) clearly indicates the interest and initiative shown by the playwrights in social activism. Subsequently, the fact that ‘Floating Space believes that the process of children in Colombo working on the text and production – and the subsequent performance with the international cast – was an expression of solidarity with children in similar situations as experienced by children in Sri Lanka (Rerun of The Gaza Monologues, 2011) clearly highlights the playwrights intentions of providing a space and opportunity to the children in Sri Lanka in sympathizing and acknowledging the condition of other children affected by war around the world.

Therefore, I would like to conclude by stating that ‘The Gaza Monologues’ is a performance that needs to be applauded greatly due to its use as a tool for social activism. The fact that the playwrights, as mentioned above, managed to highlight the veracity of the narratives and the social conditions of the victims through the use of space, speeches and the subversion of the title clearly highlights the innovative nature of the playwrights. The innovative nature of this play is also brought out through the lack of a ‘stage’, which in my view symbolically enhanced the performance through its erasure of the illusion associated with a ‘stage’. Henceforth, ‘The Gaza Monologues’ is a play that would be remembered for its authenticity and innovative nature.


Vocabulary and Spelling on Facebook

In Serious fun stuff on May 14, 2011 by azybazy Tagged: , ,

Introduction and Literature Review

The aim of this research is to explore the ways in which the informal nature of conversations in the Digital Discourse of Facebook is having an effect on the use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling. This study shall analyze conversations that take place between friends on a personal level in order to identify the significance in the use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling due to the casual and electronically mediated nature of these conversations.

Davis and Brewer (1997) mention that the Digital Discourse is a relatively new form of discourse with certain peculiarities. They mention that language used in the Digital Discourse is similar to a conversation that presents a number of performance features such as repetition, direct address, disfluencies, and markers of personal involvement. Moreover, Crystal (2003) mentions that the electronic medium presents us with a channel which ‘facilitates and constrains our ability to communicate in ways that are fundamentally different from those found in other semiotic situations’. As a result it is evident that the Digital Discourse is changing the way in which individuals think and interact. Consequently, it is redefining the spatial and temporal parameters of the interaction it mediates which in effect is transforming the way individuals write in particular (Abdullah, 1998).

Tornow (1997) in his study mentions that the languages used in the Digital Discourse is blurring the past distinctions between writing and talking. He also describes the written interaction that occurs in electronic mail and on-line courses, for example, as a kind of “written talk,” while Davis and Brewer (1997) use the term “electronic discourse” to refer to written talk. Significantly, Tornow also shows the way in which language used in the Digital Discourse includes terms from different disciplines occurring as conversations across disciplines becomes more accessible through networking. I believe that this is a very important finding as it creates a distinction between the language used in a Digital Discourse from another form of discourse. Consequently, it is a feature of the digital medium that creates this distinction. Hence this study is also significant as it shows the way in which language is influenced by users according to the medium of communication.

Sims (1997) notes that the language used in the Digital Discourse of e-mail is deliberate in that the writer has the opportunity to plan and organize the discourse. Yet, it has some of the spontaneity of oral discourse in that most of the users reported spent livery short spans of time planning and revising electronic mail messages. Therefore, she states that it is spontaneity that leads to misspellings and the use of unconventional punctuation, diction, and capitalization in electronic discourse. I believe that this is also an interesting study as it highlights the factor of spontaneity as the cause for the type of language used on this particular Digital Discourse. I shall attempt to identify through this study whether it is only spontaneity that results in the patterns of spelling within the Digital Discourse of Facebook. Moreover, Crystal (2003) in his study introduces the concept of ‘Netspeak’ and displays features that are unique to the internet which are encountered in emails, chartrooms, web and virtual worlds.

As mentioned previously, the aim of my study is to explore the ways in which the informal nature of conversations in the Digital Discourse of Facebook is having an effect on the use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling. There has been one study conducted by an undergraduate named Russ on Facebook although there have not been seminal studies on this topic of research. Russ’s study examined lists of the most common words, frequency rates of various terms, message lengths and other similar topics related to the ‘Facebook walls’ according to College of Arts and Sciences website (2010). In his study he identified that the most common word was “I,” followed by “you,” “to,” “the,” “and,” then “a.” Additionally, he also found that Facebook conversations are relatively colloquial in tone and have a particularly large amount of neologisms, slang words and typos. I personally feel that this study is not of significant consequence although; it does provide a clear understanding about the type of language that is predominantly used on this social networking website.

Hence my study shall contribute to the cumulative research on Digital Discourses by analyzing the significance in the use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling used in the social network of Facebook. In doing so, it proposes to enhance the research already conducted on Facebook by highlighting the existence of words that emerged as a result of the nature of this social networking website. Consequently, this study could possibly be used as a foundation for future research in this area due to the lack of research on the language used on the Digital Discourse on Facebook in particular. Moreover, I believe that this topic of research has the potential to identify novel features that have not been pointed out in other linguistic studies. This is because the subject population of this study has not been analyzed much in comparison to the age group of this subject population in a first world country. Moreover, this study is also significant as it attempts to identify distinct patterns of spelling on Facebook that do not belong to the traditional conventions of spelling.

Subject population

This study is based on a corpus of informal conversations initiated by twenty Facebook users who reside in the Colombo district. This subject population belongs to the age group of twenty to twenty five. Furthermore, they consider English as their first language

This particular group of Facebook users was chosen to provide a relatively fair representation of the subject population to the best of my abilities. Furthermore, these particular individuals were also chosen due to the advantage of observing their use of language in their natural state as I am their friend on Facebook. Therefore, I have access to their personal accounts and the conversations they have with their friends whom I may not necessarily know. Consequently, this feature of accessibility shall contribute to this study greatly due to two reasons. Firstly; it shall pave way for the exploration on their use of language on several occasions. Secondly, the data that is collected is invariably authentic as they are conversations the individual in the subject population had with another.

The limitation of this subject population is that due to its inclusion of only twenty Facebook users, the research findings of this sample is not fairly representative of the Facebook users who live in the Colombo District. Furthermore, due to the time constraint on this assignment, it was hard to increase the number of Facebook users within this subject population.


The data on the language used on Facebook was collected by analyzing a corpus of forty Facebook status updates, forty Facebook photo comments and forty Facebook wall posts of the subject population. For purposes of proportion and fair representation, two Facebook status updates, two Facebook photo comments and two wall posts written by each Facebook user included in the subject population were included in the corpus of this study.

All posts were collected on the 25th of July from the profiles of the Facebook users who belong to this subject population. Data was collected on a particular day purposely, in order to eliminate the chances of only including posts that were unique and unconventional. Thus the data collected is reasonably representative of the language used on a frequent basis.

Data Presentation and Analysis

The collected data indicates significant use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling on Facebook. Moreover, the information from a linguistic perspective highlights that the language used in this social networking website is mostly colloquial, informal and is vested with unconventional use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling.

This study identifies five types of vocabulary usage on Facebook. The data collected indicates that slang words are used to a great extent for purposes of communication and informality. Interestingly, the slang words that are used are not only restricted to the English language alone but also to Sinhala and Tamil. The slang words that are used mostly in English include ‘buddy’, ‘fuzzy’, ‘chilling’, ‘hungry jacks’, ‘sappy tearjerker hits’, ‘shopaholic’, ‘sexy stud muffin’, ‘darn’,  and ‘chuddered’. Sinhala slang words include ‘aiyo’, ‘aney’, ‘kiyanna ko’ , ‘ado’ while the Tamil word ‘appa’ was used at the end of the phrase ‘what appa’. Interestingly, the use of an English and Sinhala word together such as ‘godey shit’ also highlights an interesting phenomenon within the Digital Discourse of Facebook.

Words such as ‘hungry jacks’, ‘sexy stud muffin’ and ‘darn’ are not commonly used in Sri Lanka although Sri Lankans do use English slang words in their conversations. These words that are commonly used in America are perhaps used within this subject population due to the global presence of Facebook and its feature of enabling to have friends from different nations. In effect, it is evident that cultural transformation is taking place with regard to the use of vocabulary due to the above features of Facebook. Henceforth, I argue that the vocabulary used in this networking website helps individuals from different nations share a common ground.

The above feature can also be attributed to the use of abbreviations in place of words for purposes of communication in Facebook posts. Abbreviations such as ‘lol’, ‘omg’, ‘ttyl’ and  ‘gbu’ were very common in most of the posts that were analyzed. Interestingly, Driscoll (year unknown) in his study that analyses the language used by players of Action Quake II also mentions that ‘lol’ and ‘rofl’ is commonly used in the digital discourse of gaming as well. Henceforth it is evident that the vocabulary used in the Digital Discourse promotes a sense of solidarity through the use of vocabulary. Although the abbreviations can be considered as a form of a ‘dialect’ of the online community, the use of slang specific to nations is a phenomenon that highlights the interconnected nature of Facebook users due to its medium. Thus I argue that the vocabulary used in Facebook is not contextualized only to a specific region and therefore assists in creating a ‘global community’.

Thirdly, this study also highlights the way in which vocabulary is used to reflect actions and sounds that usually take place in a spoken discourse. For example ‘*happy dance*’, ‘*squishes*’, ‘*big sloppy kiss*’, ‘*sigh*’, ‘*rolls eyes*’  clearly indicate that these words function as a form of ‘written talk’ as pointed out by Tornow. This is because they attempt to bridge the gap between the written and spoken discourse. Furthermore, words that denote sound such as ‘eeeek’, ‘grrrrrr’, ‘hmmm’, ‘eeeya’, ‘mwa’, ‘ouch’, ‘sheesh’ also function in the same way. I believe that this is a very significant factor about Facebook as it attempts to incorporate characteristics of both written and spoken discourse within a Digital Discourse.

Fourthly, this study identified two words that were specific to Facebook alone. The word ‘epic facebook rape’ indicates the concept of a Facebook account being hacked whilst the word ‘facebook whore’ indicates a person who monitors every message, photo upload and status updates of another. I felt that it was very interesting to note that both the words that relate to concepts in particular to Facebook is metaphoric and related to sexuality. I feel that linguists have the potential to identify many words specific to Facebook alone if they research on this topic of furthermore.

Moreover, the data collected indicates that there in an interesting trend of adding suffixes to certain words within this subject population. For example certain posts included the words ‘soonly’, ‘cuteness’ and ‘awesomeness’. This is a fascinating finding as it contradicts the notion of language used in Digital Discourses attempting to always shorten words for purposes of speed. Henceforth, I argue that language used in Facebook experiments with words not only to save time but also to showcase one’s individual preferences and creativity.

This study has identified seven types of distinct trends with relation to the patterns of spelling. Firstly, collected data indicates that there are many instances in which the word spelled highlights the stress levels in pronunciation. For example the spelling of words such as ‘freeeeezing’ , ‘haapppppppy birthdaaaaaay’, ‘mee tooo’, ‘ missssssssssssss’, ‘aaallllllwaaaaaaaaayz’,  I believe clearly highlight the writer’s intention of showing the emotion or excitement that he/she feels. As pointed out before, this is another instance in which language used in Digital Discourse attempts to bridge the gap between the spoken and written discourse.

Secondly, certain words were not only spelled by the usage of the alphabet but also with the use of numbers. I term words of this nature ‘numlang’ as they incorporate both numbers and alphabets to produce meaning. Examples include ‘2mrw’, ‘gr8’ and ‘l8’. I believe that this is an interesting phenomenon that shows the way in which the users of the Digital Discourse of Facebook are attempting to ‘innovate’ language in a way to save time and effort as well.

Thirdly, the absence of adjectives was another pattern of spelling that was identified through this study. For example the word ‘about’ is spelled as ‘abt’, ‘work’ as ‘wrk’, ‘people’ as ‘ppl’, ‘how’ as ‘hw’ to name a few examples. Therefore, this finding indicates that the spelling that takes place in Facebook is not always random but it does follow a system at times. Fourthly, there were also instances in which the subject population used the conventional form of spelling. For example existence of phrases such as ‘ A lot of jumping going on’ and ‘At home these days’ clearly show that conventional forms of spelling also takes place. Moreover, certain words were indicated through letters alone. For example the letter ‘x’ denoted kisses, ‘o’ denoted hugs, ‘k’ denoted ‘okay’ and ‘r’ denoted ‘are’.

Another interesting phenomenon was the existence of patterns of spelling that indicated the pronunciation of a foreign accent. For example individuals in the subject population spelled the word ‘dog’ as ‘dawg’ and the word ‘boy’ as ‘boi’ indicating the pronunciation of these words in an American accent’. Additionally, the word ‘yeverybody’ is spelled as ‘everybody’ at a particular instance indicating the pronunciation of the word in an Indian accent. I believe that this clearly shows the way in which the individuals are again attempting to bridge the gap between the spoken and written discourse. Moreover, this pattern of spelling also indicates that the Facebook users are entertaining themselves and others by creating amusement through the experimentation of spelling. This is rather significant as it shows the way in which the informal nature of Facebook is creating an opportunity for its users to indulge in merriment through spelling.

It is also fascinating to note that the characteristics of vocabulary and patterns of spelling identified in this study resonate with the findings of language used in other forms of Digital Discourses. Paolillo (2001) mentions that e-chats are typical arenas for the emergence of online communities and informal e-chat interaction which frequently rotates around flirt, small talk, and playful communication. Moreover, he mentions that these situational factors favor the extensive use of vernacular speech in e-chat conversations in German, as well as in other languages. According to Paolillo a typical vernacular feature includes colloquial and slang vocabulary. Moreover Driscoll (year unknown) in his study that focuses on the morphology of a dialect of a specific Internet group of gamers states that the word ‘people’ is spelled as ‘ppl’, the word ‘message’ is spelled out as ‘msg’ and that the letter ‘k’ denotes to the word ‘okay’. He furthermore, mentions that abbreviations are used frequently and also that gamers too use words that are specific to their Digital Discourse of online gaming. Driscoll mentions that they use words such as  ‘uber’ to denote the meaning of being large  and ‘phat’ to indicate something that is trendy.

Additionally, Rafi (year unknown) in his study of ‘SMS Text Analysis: Language, Gender and Current Practices’ mentions that most SMS’s are not in the form of standard written discourse. However, he mentions that the users are very effective in describing written sounds what they want their readers to perceive in their messages. Through the new written conventions of SMS, those who message via a mobile phone have developed a written form of sounds that replaces the ability to hear spoken utterances. He also mentions that language used in text messaging has developed its own unique style as have email and chat-room languages.

The above studies conducted on the use of language on other forms of Digital Discourses clearly indicate that the trend identified within the use of vocabulary and patterns of spelling in Facebook are very similar. The fact that many of the features identified in this study such as use of slang, vocabulary denoting sounds and actions, abbreviations, spelling that indicates the stress levels in pronunciation. However, this study is significant due to four distinct reasons. Firstly, it highlights features that were unique only to Facebook such ‘epic facebook rape’ and ‘facebook whore’. Secondly, it highlighted the concept of ‘numlang’ which includes numbers along with the alphabet to denote meaning. Thirdly, it identified that not all patterns of spelling used in Facebook is unsystematic and unruly. This was achieved by highlighting the pattern of leaving adjectives in the process of spelling. Fourthly, it highlights that words used in Facebook does not necessarily always shorten its spelling but also increases the letters for purposes of creativity and amusement. This was brought out through the example of words such as ‘awesomeness’ and ‘dawg’. Henceforth, I argue that language used in Facebook experiments with words not only to save time but also to showcase one’s individual preferences and creativity


Therefore, it is evident that although Sims highlights that spontaneity is what leads to misspellings and the use of unconventional punctuation, diction, and capitalization in electronic discourse of email, it is not the case with Facebook posts due to the following reasons. Firstly, as ‘status updates’, ‘photo comments’ and ‘wall posts’ are written on a voluntary basis. Secondly, the individual takes his/ her own time when writing these messages. So with regard to the social network of Facebook, I believe that various forms of spelling takes place for purposes of speed, creativity and incorporating characteristics of the spoken discourse. Moreover, the type of vocabulary used on Facebook also facilitates the user to incorporate characteristics of the spoken discourse as highlighted in the section where vocabulary relating to action was brought to light.


Lady Gaga’s Social Agenda

In Serious fun stuff on May 12, 2011 by azybazy Tagged: , , , ,

The aim of this article is to highlight the social agenda behind the ‘spectacle’ that Lady Gaga constructs in her performance. I believe that Lady Gaga questions and critiques the process of Othering and racial stereotypes through ‘spectacle’ although it may appear to function as a publicity stunt or a form of brand equity. In doing so, I feel that she emulates Caliban, Shakespeare’s ‘Monster’ in The Tempest to create a sense of identification with the Other through her body, movement, make up and attire. Thereafter, I shall attempt to highlight the way in which Lady Gaga strategically creates a space for the valorization of the Other in her music videos.

Firstly, I will situate this topic of research within the theoretical framework of Othering and the politics of the body. Secondly, I will discuss various enactments of Shakespeare’s Caliban with particular focus on the Georgia Southwestern State University’s (GSSU) production of The Tempest at the Rylander Theatre and Centre Stage’s performance of Caliban’s Rebellion at the Punchi Theatre. The analysis of the above performances is aimed at highlighting Lady Gaga’s emulation of the Other. In doing so, I shall highlight the way in which Lady Gaga appears to draw from different performances of Shakespeare’s Caliban. The different performances of Caliban shall be divided into two sections based on the interpretation of the Other by the playwrights. Thereafter, I shall highlight the way in which Lady Gaga, strategically appears to adopt aspects of the Other highlighted in the performances of Caliban for two reasons.Firstly, to create a sense of identification and secondly, to create a space for the valorization of the Other in the music videos ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Born this way’, from her album ‘The Fame Monster’. Finally, this paper shall highlight the way in which Lady Gaga assumes the role of a social critique through her musical performances.

Theoretical Framework

The concept of the Other has been developed predominantly in relation to women (de Beauvoir, 1949) and in relation to anthropological representations of race and ethnicity (Said, 1978). Gates (1986) points out that race acts as “a unifying, and forceful sign of difference in the service of the Other”. de Beauvoir (1949) mentions that no group ever sets itself up as the ‘one’ without at once setting up the Other over against itself…to the native of a country all who inhabit other countries are ‘foreigners’ and aborigines are ‘natives’ for colonists. However, it is evident that in creating the Other, a process of hierarchy is involved in order to establish distinctions between the two groups. Said (1978) elaborates on this creation of the Other through Orientalism, the framework that is used to understand the ‘unfamiliar’ and the ‘strange’ by the west.

Said (1978) mentions that Balfour and Cromer describe the Oriental as irrational, depraved and childlike. He also states that in Balfour and Cromer’s language, the Orient is depicted as something one judges (as in court of law), something one studies (as in a curriculam), something one disciplines (as in school or prison) and as something one illustrates (as in a zoological manual) However, Said contradicts this view of the Oriental by stating that the identity and intelligibility of the Orient results not of his own efforts, but due to the complex series of knowledgeable manipulations by which the Orient was identified by the west. Wilkinson et al (1996) mentions that Otherness, according to Winzeler, that headhunting, cannibalism, human sacrifice and culturally sanctioned sexual promiscuity are among the best known instances of ‘ethnographic exotica’ in anthropology which symbolize savagery. Henceforth, it is evident that the idea of Otherness, which is constituted through characteristics of savagery, has been used to justify imperial expansion, warfare, Christian Evangelism, colonial control, slavery and appropriation of aboriginal lands. As a result, Said (1978) mentions that these Orientalist notions influenced the people who were called the Orientals as well as those called the Occidental Europeans or westerners. In short, Said believes that Orientalism is better grasped as a set of constraints upon and limitations of thought.

According to these arguments, colonialism has not involved simply the use of physical force and military might, it has also involved the construction of representations or discourses of the oppressed which serve to justify the legitimate oppressor. Said (1978) mentions that Europe came to terms with its colonies in the Orient by inventing a discourse of Otherness which involved the re-creation of the people’s history by those ‘outside’ of it, and in doing so established hierarchies of knowledge and power. Therefore, Said’s central argument is that the concept of the Other, which is the acquisition of knowledge about people by virtue of the color of their skin, is not innocent or objective. However, it is the end result of a process that reflects certain interests that are highly motivated.

Another theoretical framework that I will be using to analyze Lady Gaga’s performance is the theory on the politics of the body. Martin (1990) mentions that ‘The body as it is revealed through performance stands as a source of political activity which responds to a particular history’. This concept is very pertinent in understanding the body of Lady Gaga as I believe that it cannot be reduced to a mere reflection of what it opposes about the concept of the Other. I believe that Lady Gaga’s body can be interpreted as taking the shape of the Other not only to critique the concept of the Other. However, to also valorize the experience of being different in a cultural and social hegemony The arguments put forward by the critics with regard to the conceptualization of the Other will be highlighted through the discussion about the theatrical performances of Shakespeare’s Caliban.

Enactments of Shakespeare’s Caliban

The character of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest can be interpreted as the Other due to the following reasons. Firstly, Caliban is presented as the son of a witch named Sycorax, who is an Other in Oriental terms and are considered to be the natives of the island. Secondly, he is presented as a grotesque being that is ‘dark’. Interestingly, the color of Caliban’s skin can be interpreted as an allusion to the element of race, which is predominantly used to create the Other according to Said. Moreover, Caliban is also described as being ‘deformed’ and “like / A thing most brutish” (I.ii.359–360) who needed “human care” (I.ii.349). Also, the fact that Prospero refers to him as a “devil, a born devil’ (IV.i.188) and Stephano’s perception of Caliban as “the most ridiculous monster” (II.ii.157) clearly indicates the derogatory stature given to him due to his position as the Other.

Therefore, this section of the research paper shall discuss the ways in which playwrights’ interpreted the role of the Other in their performances of Caliban. Trevor (1983) mentions that prior to the nineteenth century, critical responses to Caliban were dominated by the interest in ‘preternatural beings’ which exercised most notably Dryden, Rowe, Warton, Johnson, and Mrs Montagu. He also states that in the nineteenth-century theatre, interpretations of Caliban gradually came to reflect broadly colonial and republican themes with Caliban appearing as an ‘underdeveloped native’, a Darwinian missing link and as an oppressed minority.

Trevor mentions that when the actor Benson first played Caliban in the I89Os, he was the first performer who consciously played the part ‘as a sort of missing link’. Benson took his missing-link conception seriously enough to spend ‘many hours watching monkeys and baboons in the zoo, in order to get the movements in keeping with his make-up’. The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News according to Trevor mentioned that Caliban was performed as a kind of man-monkey engaging in various acrobatic feats, and passing through a series of grotesque antics, grimacing and gesticulating, grinning and chattering and making a series of discordant, inarticulate noises.

Trevore mentions that George Foss, who directed the play at the Old Vic in I918, portrayed Caliban as someone ‘slow moving and walrus-like’. He was also presented as possessing ‘a fish-like body, with green scales and a most dejected green face’ that was ‘amply repulsive and beast-like in his half-man, half-animal creation’. In Foss’s version of The Tempest, Caliban adopted a particularly gruesome make-up, with an ape’s face, ‘but more hideous, with deadly eyes, a monstrous flat nose, long, thick protruding lips, and two prongs of teeth projecting’, long ‘steel’ nails on each finger and toe, and a ‘sickly yellowish green’ skin covered with long hair to provide the terrifying side of Caliban.

Geogia Southwestern State University’s production of The Tempest also portrays Caliban in animalistic terms as the video clip indicates in four distinct ways. Firstly, the posture of Caliban resembles an animal as he appears to be ‘crouched’ like a four legged animal while the placing of the hands appear to be functioning as paws. Secondly, his green makeup and skimpy white attire resembles an animal or sea creature as opposed to a human. Thirdly, the fact that he produces animalistic sound as opposed to language when he gets the cramp and his positioning of the body during the cramps indicates the director’s interpretation of Caliban as a monster. The portrayal of Caliban in the performances discussed so far clearly highlights implication of the director imbibing the portrayal of the Other through the framework of Orientalism.

The justification for presenting a detailed analysis of the interpretation of the Other is in order to highlight the way in which Lady Gaga draws form these characteristics to create a sense of identification with the figure of the Other. Therefore, in assuming the role of the Other, I believe that Lady Gaga’s motive is not to essentialize the traditional portrayal of the Other in Oriental terms. However, to create a sense of recognition with the depiction of the monster which traditionally alludes to the concept of the Other.

Brief Introduction to Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, is an American pop singer/songwriter. Heos (2011) mentions that she began performing in the rock music scene of New York City’s Lower East Side in 2003 and enrolled at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Lady Gaga is popularly known for her unconventional and exotic attire that attracts the attention of the whole world. Recently, she wore a dress made out of meat for an award show which sparked a great deal of debate, controversy and criticisms. The two songs titled ‘Bad Romance’ (Lady Gaga, 2009) and ‘Born this way’ (Lady Gaga, 2011) are taken from her second album The Fame Monster which consists a collection of eight songs. The first single from this album ‘Bad Romance’ topped the charts in eighteen countries, while reaching the top-two in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. In the US, Gaga became the first artist in digital history to have three singles (along with “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”) to pass the four million mark in digital sales. The song won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance while its accompanying music video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. Heos mentions that Gaga’s second studio album and third major release was ‘Born This Way’. The day the single ‘Born This Way’ was released, a tweet by Gaga described the single as “a marriage of electronic music with major […] metal or rock ‘n’ roll, pop, anti-thematic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats”. Lady Gaga’s Emulation of Caliban in her Music Videos The title of the album from which ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Born this way’ is taken is rather significant in two ways. Firstly, I felt that the title ‘The Fame Monster’ invokes the concept of the Other literally through the use of the image of a ‘monster’. Secondly, it also indicates Lady Gaga’s larger project, which is critique and to valorize the monster, which traditionally alludes to the Other, through her music videos.

Therefore, the aim of this article is to identify the ways in which she identifies with Caliban, the Other, and critique the concept of the Other through her music videos. Lady Gaga in her music video ‘Bad Romance’ takes on the role of Caliban in numerous ways. Her body resembles the body of a monster rather than a conventional female pop artist. Her eyes are made up in such a way that it appears to be too large in proportion to the size of her face. This invariably produces an effect of horror amongst the audience (refer appendix 1). Moreover, Lady Gaga’s body is presented in a curvy position in many instances in the video which I believe draws from the ‘crouched’ position of Caliban as witnessed in the performance of Georgia Southwestern State University’s (GSSU) production of The Tempest. I felt that this was a rather symbolic as it is possible to interpret this crouched position as Lady Gaga’s way of symbolizing the characteristics such as incompetency, inadequacy and savagery, which are traditionally associated with the Other through movement. Therefore, it is possible to draw parallels between this posture of Lady Gaga’s body to the posture associated with Caliban. Moreover, the movement of her hands during the dance in the music video is shaped similarly to the paw of an animal, which interestingly is reminiscent of the hands of Caliban in GSSU’s production of The Tempest. Furthermore, towards the end of the video Lady Gaga wears a white dress that is made of fur which is attached with the face of polar bear at the back (refer appendix picture 2). I felt that this was reminiscent of Caliban’s depiction as ‘amply repulsive and beast-like in his half-man, half-animal creation’ as mentioned by Trevor. Moreover, in that very scene, there are two monument of a deer attached to the wall which furthermore emphasizes the animalistic nature that she embodies and represents. Significantly, I was also able to see a parallel between the similarity between the type of sound produced by Lady Gaga and Benson’s performance of Caliban. Trevor, as previously mentioned, states that Benson produced ‘a series of discordant, inarticulate noises’. The chorus of ‘Bad Romance’ also consists of such noise and sounds such as ‘Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah /Roma, roma, ma ma/ Gaga, ooh, la, la’ which is repeated six times through out the video. I felt that this was rather indicative of one of the primary characteristic of Caliban, which is his possession of his native language.

Significantly, at the beginning of the music video of ‘Born this way’ there appears an exotic looking woman with blue eyes who is giving birth to a child. I was able to draw a parallel between this woman and Sycorax due to two reasons. Firstly, she has blue eyes and therefore is similar to Sycorax who is described as ‘the/ blue eyed hag’ (1.ii.272). Secondly, she gives birth to a child who can be interpreted as Caliban, as Lady Gaga is presented as half animal and half human in the video (refer appendix picture 3) . Lady Gaga embodies the half human half monster image through make up and attire. Her make up draws from animalistic features that resemble a cat with whiskers and black nose whilst her attire conforms to one worn by humans, which is a tuxedo. These instances clearly highlight Lady Gaga’s emulation of Caliban, the figure of the Other to a great extent in her music videos. As mentioned previously, these aspects that Lady Gaga has borrowed from the performance of Caliban belong to the depiction of the Other in its traditional sense of being ‘the missing link’. However, I believe that Lady Gaga provides a space where the Other is critiqued valorized in her music videos. In order to highlight this, I shall draw parallels between Jehan Aloysius’s Caliban in Caliban’s Rebellion and Lady Gaga in her music videos of ‘Bad Romance’, and ‘Born this way’.

Parallels between Lady Gaga and Aloysius’s Caliban in Caliban’s Rebellion I was told by my superiors and peers that Jehan Aloysius interpretation of Caliban subverted the characteristics that were traditionally placed on the Other. As I did not watch this play, a guided interview with Jehan Aloysius was conducted to gain a comprehensive understanding of the character portrayal of his Caliban. My intention for interviewing the director was to firstly identify the way in which he subverted Shakespeare’s Caliban through the character portrayal of his Caliban. Secondly, to identify whether Aloysius’s ‘subverted’ Caliban shares similarities with Lady Gaga. Interestingly, during the process of the interview it was evident that his character portrayal of Caliban was not confined to the characteristics traditionally placed on the Other. In fact Aloysius’s Caliban possessed agentive and subversive qualities that questioned and critiqued the concept of the Other.

Jehan Aloysius mentioned that his Caliban was not as animalistic as Shakespeare’s appeared to be. He mentioned that he provided a humanistic element to Caliban by making him fall in love, play musical instruments and provide the ability to share a cordial relationship with Miranda. Furthermore, Caliban was projected as the hero of the play as he was a good looking, muscular and rebellious individual who was larger in size than Prospero, Ariel, Ferdinand and the rest of the characters. Aloysius mentioned a few interesting ways in which he differentiated his interpretation of Caliban from Shakespeare’s Caliban. He firstly mentioned that he shows a progression in character through the posture of Caliban. Aloysius mentioned that during the initial stages of the play the posture of Caliban was rather ‘crouched’. However, as the play progressed he gradually started to straighten up. Consequently, when Caliban confronts Prospero, he is presented as more of a human that an animal who is vertical in posture and is also larger and muscular than Prospero. Secondly, a sub narrative of Caliban is presented on stage with the appearance of Sycorax and the history of his birth. Thirdly, his native language is valorized when it is given significance through a chant Caliban recites to conjure the dark arts. Fourthly, Caliban attempts to teach his native language to Stephano and Trinculo, which I thought was rather interesting as it is given a sense of recognition as opposed to being considered as ‘animalistic’ noise in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The above interpretations of Jehan Aloysius about Caliban contests the notion of the Other while creating a sense of significance to characteristics that is considered to be unique to a particular kind. The fact that he present Caliban, rebelling against Propero, the figure who is a part of the powerful white hegemonic structure, is very significant due to two reasons. Firstly, he highlights Caliban as possesing the potential to fight against a powerful white leader. Secondly, Caliban is presented as more physically able and larger than the leader of the hegemonic power structure in the play. These second instance in particular, clearly highlights the way in which the traditional depiction of a larger body of the Other is used to valorize strength of the Other. Therefore, it is evident that Jehan has used the body to contest the traditional conceptualization behind the Other.

Interestingly, Martin (1990) mentions that the body is poised to produce physical expressions. It does not lie passive as an object, but has the capacity to act. In particular, the performing arts permit the study of the production of desire as defined. They provide the laboratory that isolates the body’s practice from its submerged status in everyday life and thereby provides the model that displays the body’s capacity as the agent of activity. Therefore, theories of politics, which are full of ideas, goes nowhere without bodily movement (Martin.1998). As a result, the body and its movements are the means and ends of mobilizing political theory. I shall use this theoretical framework of the execution of political ideologies through the body and bodily movement to highlight the way in which Lady Gaga uses her body movements to critique the concept of the Other.

Lady Gaga also appears to use the technique Jehan Aloysius uses to highlight the gradual development of the Other through posture. For example in the music video of ‘Bad Romance’, she initially comes out of a white closet that is laid on the ground with the label that says ‘monster’. The label does not only signify Lady Gaga as a monster, but it also symbolically highlights the way in which the Other is traditionally viewed in relation to the lower stage of development of a human being (the concept of Darwin’s ‘missing link’). Interestingly, she comes out of the closet in a ‘crouched’ position like Aloysius’s Caliban. However, she gradually straightens up to a vertical position. As mentioned previously, I believe that this change n posture critiques the backward nature traditionally placed within the concept of the Other. Interestingly, as mentioned previously, Lady Gaga wears a dress that is made of fur and has the face of a polar bear which indicates her half human and half animal body. However, I believe that Lady Gaga is making a very bold and political statement when she burns this dress with the face of a polar bear. I believe that through the erasure of the animalistic dimension on her body, she is claiming the fact that the Other doe not possess characteristics that are associated with animals such as being primitive, savage and inadequate in terms of knowledge and physical development.

Therefore, there appears to be a sequence of character development from the ‘crouched’ figure that comes out of the closet to the human body that remains at the end of the video. Consequently, the in-depth analysis that has been put into this character development is one similar to those in narratives such as in Aloysius’s Caliban’s Rebellion. Hence, I believe that the music videos of Lady Gaga contain a political ideology that is generally presented in narratives and academic discourse. Significantly, Vernallis (2004) mentions that of the other existing narrative music videos, only a handful are developed. He justifies this observation by stating that if the intent of the music video imagery is to draw attention to the song, an in depth analysis of the imagery will take away the concentration of the audience from the song. Therefore, the fact that Lady Gaga’s videos draw the attention of the audience through body, movement and attire cleanly highlights the fact that it is not only aiming at producing musical entertainment, but also ideological critiques and debates that contest social discourses.

Moreover, in the video of ‘Born this way’, Lady Gaga gives recognition to Sycorax, as Aloysius does in Caliban’s Rebellion, who is also represented as the Other, marginalized by both race and gender in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Although she is not given a narrative or a sense of presence in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Lady Gaga gives her a narrative of her own and places her as the source of inspiration behind the creation of the song. The music video begins with the words ’This is the manifesto of mother monster’. The fact that the lyrics also say ‘My mama told me when I was young / We’re all born superstars /She rolled my hair, put my lipstick on / In the glass of her boudoir / There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin who you are/ She said, Cause He made you perfect, babe”. Therefore, it is evident that the Other, Sycorax is not only given recognition but is highlighted as the oracle that provides inspiration to Lady Gaga, the body that mobilizes political ideology in the music video. The mobilization of the political ideology is brought out through the lyrics of the song. Vernallis (2004) mentions that there are different aspects of a single topic in a music video. He says that the verse may lay out the situation, while the bridge presents a solution to the problem and the chorus a crystallization of it. Therefore, when a musical and visual section repeats in a music video, we are made to focus on the interest of the performer.

Significantly, the chorus of the song mobilizes the political ideology through words and movement.Therefore, we can come to the conclusion that the chorus ‘I’m beautiful in my way/ ‘Cause God makes no mistakes / I’m on the right track, baby / I was born this way /Don’t hide yourself in regret / Just love yourself and you’re set / I’m on the right track, baby /I was born this way’, which is repeated six times, mobilizes political ideology as it motivates individuals to be proud of who they are in expression through words and dance, a source that inspires energy to drive an individual to achieve goals. Therefore, I believe that these lines valorize the concept of the Other. The fact that music video begins by stating that this is ‘a birth of magnificent and magical proportions’ furthermore emphasizes the theme of the song, which is the valorization of the Other. Also the lines ‘Don’t be a drag, just be a queen /Whether you’re broke or evergreen /You’re black, white, beige, chola descent / You’re Lebanese, you’re orient / Whether life’s disabilities /Left you outcast, bullied or teased / Rejoice and love yourself today /’Cause baby, you were born this way No matter gay, straight or bi /lesbian, transgendered life /I’m on the right track, baby /I was born to survive’ furthermore illustrates the contemporary way in which the Other is perceived in terms of nationality, sexual orientation, physical capability.

Therefore, the fact that Lady Gaga gives recognition to all types of ‘Others’ in a contemporary context besides gender and race as mentioned by Said, clearly highlights two interesting facts. Firstly, she is giving recognition to all types of Other. Secondly, she is also creating a space to valorize their difference in a hegemony by stating that they were ‘born to survive’ and not be intimidates by those claim power due to their inclusion in hegemonic power structures. Therefore, I believe that the spectacle Lady Gaga creates through her body, attire, make up and movement are not to merely create a brand in the music industry that consists of numerous pop artists, but due to her intention of making her audience aware about the type of social discourses we unquestioningly imbibe. The fact that she provides a space in her music video to understand the process by the way in which the Other has been constructed, she is making her audience question concepts such as Said’s Orientalism through the body, attire, make up and movements. Moreover, she also provides a space for the valorization of the Other, in order to give recognition to those who are marginalized. Henceforth I would like to conclude this research paper by stating that Lady Gaga is indeed ‘meta- pop’ as she exceed the expectations of a conventional pop artist by not only providing entertaining musical performances, but also a critical space to question and critique concepts of the Other.



In Thoughts on December 27, 2010 by azybazy

This a surreal black comedy animation called Cat Soup. In fact it is an award winning cartoon that was released in the early 90’s . Do watch all three parts and let me know your thoughts and response to this cartoon. Believe me, watching this will be quite an experience regardless of your level of liking towards it!Moreover, in my next post I shall discuss why exactly those of you who did not like it feel so, from an Aristotlean perspective.

Cat Soup 1 (10minutes)

Cat Soup 2 (10 minutes)

Cat Soup 3 (10 minutes)


Lord of the Nation

In Political Essays, Watch Out on December 27, 2010 by azybazy Tagged: , ,

I am going to play the role of the Devil’s advocate so I am going to start off with a ‘bang’ by scandalizing chapter 7 and 8 of the Sri Lankan constitution that deals with the Executive President – the Lord of the nation. I say the president is the lord of the nation because frankly,he is the be all and the end all in a practical sense. Let me get to the facts that I feel are significant to unravel the supreme powers of the lord of Sri Lanka.

Clause 43 (2) in Chapter 8 of the Sri Lankan constitution states that “The President shall be a member of the Cabinet of Ministers, and shall be the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers”. Ahem ahem – This clause seems to be rather fishy to me, I can almost sense the stench! Due to the ‘fishiness’ of this clause the present president of the nation enjoys the priviledge of also being the Minister of Highways , Defence, Ports Authority and Aviation, and Finance and planning. I believe I do not need to explain the importance of these ministries in forming and implementing social policies on a developing nation now don’t I?

I personally feel that this clause needs to be eradicated from the constitution as it invests too much of power on the executive and provides a platform to be the soul decision maker of social,political and economic strategies of the nation! That is ceratinly a scary thought for a nation that defines itself as a democracy.

Furthermore, as  a result of the immense involvement of the president in key areas of the social system in the nation, the legislative and other authorities do not have the discretion or power to question the initiatives of the president due to the total immunity that he enjoys within his presidental term – which introduces the second major flaw in the constitution!

Clause (60) in chapter 7 mentions tha fact that “Any proceedings of whatever nature shall not be instituted on any grounds whatsoever or continued against the President in any court, tribunal or institution in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by the President in the official capacity of the President”. Yes, this is exactly what I was talking about – immense concentration of privileges to the executive so much so that he is above the law. Consequently, this clause in the constitution leads to corruption and fraud within the political system which in effect impinge on the functioning of a just social system if the president does not have genuine patriotic and selfless concerns. Point to ponder – don’t you think? Lets face it – what is the probability of finding selfless and flawless politicians?

Additionally, I also have a problem with clause (58) in chapter 7 with particular reference to the following. Firstly, (d) to appoint the Prime Minister, other Ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Governors of Regions .Secondly,(e) to receive and recognize, appoint and accredit, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Plenipotentiaries and other diplomatic agents. The main issue I have with these clauses is the fact that ‘checks and balances’ have taken a ride to far far away land as Shrek would put it! In this sense I really admire the constitution of the US as it requires the approval of the senate even when the ambassadors and diplomatic agents are appointed by the president. This way the president cannot be biased and recruit his ‘homies’ and ‘machangs’!

Therefore, in conclusion my main issue with the chapters that deal with the Executive Presidency in the Sri Lankan constitution is the fact that it lacks checks and balances with the other branches of legislature and judiciary which in effect makes the executive president the supreme lord of the nation. This is certainly a threat to the principles of democracy.


Met Share Museum’s American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.

In Watch Out on December 26, 2010 by azybazy

I chose to write on this particular topic because I felt that I needed to acknowledge the hardwork put into creating this section at the Metshare Mueseum in New York. I was amazed by the detail and elegance and therefore I thought that it would be insightful for everyone to have a look at this historical work of art. The aim of this essay is to critically asses the piece of exhibition review on “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” at the Met share Mueseum.Firstly, this piece shall discuss the comprehensive nature of this review. Secondly, it shall discuss its credibility in highlighting the critical factor that determines the emancipation of women creatively. Thirdly, this post shall discuss the exclusive nature of the American Woman’s identity and it shall further discuss the consequences of this portrayal.

Firstly, it is evident that this piece of exhibition review is very comprehensive as it highlights the important factors the audience need to know about the exhibition. The fact that it mentions ‘It explores developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940’ effectively addresses the queries of the audience as to what the aim of this exhibition is going to be. Furthermore, the examples of the Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” and “Screen Sirens,” also provide a better understanding about this particular time period for those who are not aware about the historical context. In that sense, this piece of review is rather efficient in conveying its features in a concise and clear manner.

Secondly, this piece of review is perceptive as it highlights the main tool that is used to differentiate the diverse types of national identites of the American woman. The line ‘Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress’ is very significant as it prepares the audience to focus on the different styles of dressing within the exhibition to understand the varying values and convention of the times for the identity of an American woman. Therefore, this review is effective in informing the audience what to analyze before they visit the place for a comprehensive understanding of national identities for American women.

Although the examples of the “Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” and “Screen Sirens,” provide a comprehensive picture of the type of identities it shall discuss, it has the potential to disgust and discriminate the American women of the African descent as they are not included in this discussion about forming a national identity. This is because the above examples reflect the ideals for women of the European decent rather than the African. Consequently, this  makes the Metshare Museum appear rather racial and exclusive as they do not make an attempt to include the African American women who were greatly marginalized during the historical period they explore. The consequences of this can be rather damaging as it creates an inferior status to African American women. This is rather paradoxical because the aim of this exhibition is to celebrate American women but invariably, it marginalizes a group of women who were citizens of America at that time by negating the value placed on their identity.

In conclusion, it is apparent that this exhibition review has credible factors and drawbacks. Therefore, the draw back, as discussed above, needs to be addressed in order to create a universal national identity for the American woman by incorporating elements that were significant to the women who belonged to the African descent as well.


To those of you who think an English degree is crap.

In Watch Out on December 26, 2010 by azybazy

I am so sick of listening to one track minded people questioning me as to why I am reading a degree in English Literature and Language when it only discusses novels, drama and poetry!So I dedicate this post to those who really want to know the reasons and also to provide them some form of INSIGHT into the skills that the nature of this subject builds within an individual.

All right then, Firstly let me start by saying that I chose to specialize in English Literature primarily because I found it as a subject that enhances one’s analytical and critical skills. This is because as undergraduates we are made to understand that we are ingrained with ‘discursive knowledge’ or rather knowledge that is learnt through social codes, customs and communities. As a result, we are trained to identify these factors that contribute to one’s actions and unravel the consequences it results in. Due to exercises of this nature students of English Literature are made aware of social prejudices and the types of social constructs that are created merely for the advancement of a hegemonic power structure such as patriarchy, oriental-ism, colonization etc.

For instance if you read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness you will realize that the discourse of oriental-ism has completely influenced the way in which the Africans have been described. You may question me and ask why is that relevant in today’s context? well, it is still relevant because it guides us to the way in which these stereotypes were created and the motives behind these creations. So i believe that through the study of English Literature we are made to question and understand every concept and thought behind every statement to such an extent that we not only learn about the social sciences but also able to develop the skill of critical examination which is vital to any field of study or work. For example, in even in Policy Planning one is expected to posses this skill in order to create fruitful and strategic decisions.

Secondly, students of English Literature are always expected to provide their own meaning to events and actions becuase as Barthes says ‘the author is dead’. This I believe is a really great opportunity for students because it compels them to create their own unique take which invariably trains them to always create a competitive advantage in all their endaveour as they are trained to think ‘out of the box’. So it is pretty evident that the results invented in the  process of creating meaning is indeed a skill that can be transformed to many other fields of study and also work.

Moreover, due to the vast number of themes discussed in written literature students are exposed to not a wide variety of subjects such as history, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropolgy etc. This invariably enhances the so called ‘worldy knowledge ‘ of students. As a result, students of English Literature also have the possibility to get into the humanitarian sector, policy planning committes and also sectors related to international relations. So in that sense I beleive that English Literature widens the scope of a student’s career opportunities due to its diverse nature.

I can go on and on about the beneifts that can be gained as a result of learning English Literature. However, I want to stop now so that I do not sound a bore. Nevertheless,if you have further questions or need more conviction – state it in the comment box. So basically, the point I want to make is that English Literature is a great skill developer. It not only inculcates knowledge, but also facilitates one to enter into any field of his or her choice due to the solid grounding it has created for learning.