I thought you all might appreciate this. It’s called S.O.S. Stratification Object Series by Hannah Wilke. We learned about this piece of art in my art history class. Those little things on her body are tiny vulval sculptures out of bubblegum. It’s supposed to provide a juxtaposition of glamor and tribal scarification. She is making a statement about the value Americans place on feminine beauty with her saucy poses.
Did you guys hear about this?! I think this is outrageous. Does anyone know anything else about this? And yes, I did find out about the act through tumblr 🙂
and The Hours tag on tumblr is nicely bountiful.
The more I think about “Passing,” the more I think That Irene Redfield did have something to worry about where Clare and Brian are concerned. Not an affair. Clare is far too set on keeping her life to allow that. However, Clare and Brian are kindred spirits. They have a sense of mobility about them that Irene cannot achieve. Irene remains dedicated to her community and is solidly grounded to her home.
Clare, on the other hand, is constantly in motion. Her mobility within class and race is her main concern. She says to Irene, “But it’s true, ‘Rene. Can’t you realize that I’m not like you a bit? Why, to get the things I want badly enough, I’d do anything, hurt anybody, throw anything away. Really, ‘Rene, I’m not safe.” Here, she sets herself apart from Irene even though their connection had been tenuous since the start. Their only real connections were their childhood and passing.
Brian is defined by movement as much as Clare. His desire to leave America and move to Brazil is stated time and time again throughout the novel. However, he is stalled by Irene’s desire to stay in the community she has established herself in. He cannot move, just like Clare has difficulty moving around her when she is engaged in her race-related communities and around her family, who have a darker skin tone than she. Around them, Clare’s race becomes more apparent and passing becomes much harder.
However, just as they are defined by movement, Brian and Clare are perfect foils to each other. While Clare tries desperately to escape her race, Brian functions well within it. Clare is content to use the system of race against itself, while Brian would rather move to a country where it is not such a contentious subject. It is admirable that he wants to raise his children is a place where race is not such an issue. However, the way he confronts Irene about it is worrying. Larson used words like “growled” to describe the way he speaks when fighting with Irene over his dream of moving to Brazil.
What Irene needs to be worried about is not an affair, but that these two people she has invested so much in have their own trajectories, and they are moving steadily away from her. (Maybe it takes throwing Clare out of a window to stop her trajectory and ground her for good.)
My thoughts on my final Womb blog post were actually quite similar to Debby’s, so I had to rethink my approach a bit. I’ve been extremely interested in the evolution our narrators and main characters have taken throughout each text- their journey through self-identity, their digression into “madness”, and their ways of coping, or finding safe spaces in their lives. Thanks to all our awesome class presentations (!!) we’ve learned just how much of a struggle many of our authors experienced in their lives, both professionally and personally. It is in these struggles that they found inspiration for their art. The women of the Modernist period set a clear path for female artists to more fully express their sexuality and full spectrum of emotions within their work. Pulling from this theory of revolutionary artists in the Modernist period, I’d like to discuss the role of societally diagnosed madness in our texts.
From the very beginning of the great Gynomod adventure, we’ve been asked to consider what exactly allows a woman to be self -sustaining and mentally healthy. Virginia Woolf suggests that a woman needs a room of their own and a small sum of money on which to live to be able to live in peace. The woman will then be able to write if they wish, or simply escape from their ordinary existence in the household. As we continued to read, our characters interacted with different “rooms of their own”, or spaces where they expressed themselves, or collected their thoughts before returning to their social world. Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway has a physical room in which this manifests itself; she retreats to this room when she is overwhelmed, recollects herself and reenters the world around her. Our texts continue to form spaces where women can find/ form their actual self- usually a place apart from the normal world.
Some characters attempt to find this space in the relationships they participate in. For example, Janie in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God explores relationships with three different men before she enters into a place where she is striving for self-actualization and independence. H.D.’s Her Gart explores a relationship with George before she makes the decision to go to Europe to fulfill her own definition of happiness. Both of these women experience some sort of fracture in their relationship that causes them to break free and lead their own life. Both Janie and Her can and would have been considered crazy for leaving a comfortable situation and retreating to their own way of living (Her a bit more so than Janie). However, despite societal expectation, their “room” is apart from the influence of a man, at least for the time being.
Many of our authors explored the use of language in an original and creative way. I can only imagine the reaction of the public when Stein’s Tender Buttons was first published. She seems to be delusional, rambling for the sake of rambling. But in a concerted effort to understand Stein’s reasoning, we see that she is in fact dissecting language in an intellectual and original way. Similarly, Djuna Barne’s uses her characters to illustrate actual insanity, as Robin becomes animalistic and defiant at the end of the novel. These authors had a lot to say about the world around them, but chose to express it in a way that pushed the boundaries of literature. I feel that it is through their bravery and experimentation that women from Modernism forward are also able to find a “room of their own.”
And finally, I would like to add that GYNOMOD has truly been one of the best classes of my college career (which is almost over?!). I have appreciated each and every discussion we’ve had, and all the thoughtful & intelligent people in the Womb. Thank you for a safe & loving environment where we can embrace one another as well as all the elements that these texts have to offer! peace & love, ya’ll.
So, hopefully you guys have a newer computer than the one on campus and can watch my beautiful presentation. I had visions of me reading Cather’s beautiful descriptions with real photos of the Nebraskan scenery in the background, but I guess the computer had a different vision. So, if you need a little study break, keep calm and check out these Nebraskan pictures.
Job interviewer: “So, tell me about your most memorable class?”
Me: “Well…it was about vaginas.”
Humor aside, the statement still stands. I don’t think I can necessary classify Gynomod as my all-time favorite course (mostly because I don’t think I could ever pick one all-time favorite course), but it is certainly the most memorable by any standards. In this post, I hope to highlight some of the more memorable moments of the class.
“I dabble in gynecology”
One of the best parts of this class was the way that words like “womb,” “vagina,” “gynecology,” “lesbians” and “bestiality” among others became household terms by the end. The open atmosphere took the class to a different dimension. Without this amount of openness, Nightwood would just be another senseless book with haphazard dog at the end. A love ‘quad-rangle’ (a word) between three women and one man all vying for each other’s affections would have just been awkward. Ashley would never have suggested that when Janie said she and Pheoby “had been kissin’ friends for twenty years” that might mean they were lesbian lovers (7). Children tumbling out of fruit caves would just be…a weird image that the author included. Apples, melons, pears, whatever fruit imagery all of the texts (including those for other courses) would’ve just meant the author forgot to eat breakfast…instead of being reproduction symbols. Sex, especially related to lesbianism, has been such an integral part of this course. Sex is already viewed as a taboo topic for most, and people seem to grow even more uncomfortable when it is lesbian sexuality. Courses like this work to make issues of sexuality of all kinds more mainstream, for an issue can only be mended when it becomes well-known. And unfortunately, lesbianism is not a conventional enough topic for great books like these to be widely read.
£500 and a room of one’s own
Independence has been a major theme of this course. I remember back to Brit lit that Lorentzen told us that any 19th century woman writer had had an unusual education, as typical female education of the time was not very helpful for writing. The women writers that we’ve encountered here also had unusual backgrounds (though often related to sexuality). But another unusual feature about most of our writers was something that Virginia Woolf reiterated: £500 and a room of one’s own, or in other words, they had independence. If Woolf had not been a part of the Bloomsbury Group rubbing shoulders with famous authors and artists in London, and if Stein had not been doing the same thing in the Salons of Paris, would they have written the kind of bold things they did? Men—the dominant group of the day—would not want women to write in the daring, explicit, and experimental style that they did for fear of undermining masculine power. If these women had been more dependant on men and did not have the means to support themselves or a place to write, they would have ended up like Woolf when she tried to walk across the grass at ‘Oxbridge’: denied, rejected, and punished.
Nonsense, No Sense, No Sins, Innocence, Since When?
Form. Where would we be without the eccentric forms we’ve encountered this semester? In Richards’ class, we are studying postmodernism and all the crazy things ways postmodern authors mess with your mind, and it is fascinating to read modernist texts that are slowly beginning to employ similar methods. What would Mrs Dalloway be like if it were written in traditional narration? If the sex and the suicide were also omitted, why then we’d have a Jane Austen novel. Not that there’s anything wrong with Austen—I love her, but, well, she’s not very progressive. Woolf’s stream of consciousness lets her experiment with passing thoughts, thoughts not usually put down on paper, darker more controversial thoughts. And then there was HERmoine. “I am Her, Her, Her” (1). “I am in the word TREE. I am TREE exactly” (73). Open the book to any given page and you are likely to see one of these two references because HD plays with repetition, stream of consciousness, surrealism. You don’t know what’s going on or who or why. And that’s okay. Nobody does.
And then there’s Gertrude. Despite her saying that nobody is ever ahead of her time, well, Stein was, and still is, ahead of her, and our, time. Her poegraphs are…meaningless? Or nonsensical? Brilliant or words-on-a-page? Nobody knows—and that’s part of the intrigue. Words have become paint, books have become canvases. Stein has become the female Picasso—on paper. She takes “experimentation” to a new level. “The change of color is likely and a difference a very little difference is prepared. Sugar is not a vegetable” (A Substance in a Cushion). Um, okay…thanks?
Matria Again…Will Must Be Talking
These are only some of the overarching themes from this class. Will’s favorite ‘matria,’ the inevitable cross-dressing, ‘passing’ races and genders, Beyonce warm-ups, Upma’s commercial breaks, every kind of sweet imaginable and plush womb rewards are just some other prevailing themes that have greatly impacted me throughout this course, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, namely, that I want to be strong and bold and confident and full of adventure like all of these new female idols. This course has made me think outside the box. It has made me question my preconceived notions about women and writing. It has made me see lesbianism and female desire everywhere. It has made me start acting like a feminist to the point where people have started to point this out to me. This class has a very special place in my heart and I won’t be forgetting its values and themes and ideas any time soon. This course…is sort of like matria. Yes?
So this is it. Done with college. Gynomod was a good way to go out strong. I actually feel much better prepared for the real world now! Sorry this was a long post… “I just have a lot of feelings!” One last Mean Girls reference.