Stolen

I was walking around my beautiful streets looking at the greatness God provided for us, the palm trees, the alleys covered in graffiti. This night the whole block was going to have a barbecue. My whole block being my brother, his kids and a couple of other neighbors I grew up with. We had everything ready, the grill was sizzling with the crispy ribs. We had been planning this barbecue for quite a while, we had all been so busy working with not even a Sunday off. We were all sitting in our back-yard eating, catching up on all that we’ve missed. It was an amazing moment being surrounded by the people you love, watching the sun set, and seeing everyone’s smile. It quickly came to an end when the white Porsche drove into our alley, something we don’t see every day. The night only got stranger when four white men came out the car and started shooting. I saw them shoot my brother in the leg as he ran over to protect his kids. My brother had to witness his three-year-old daughter get shot. He crawled his way over to his little girl as she was bleeding from her abdomen. Tears running down all our faces, praying to God we would all be okay. There was so much confusion in the air, none of us understood what was going on. We didn’t know these men, we had done nothing to them. I was hiding under the table sitting still in shock only praying to god that nobody else would get hurt. Suddenly, I was grabbed from my legs and dragged into the car by two men while the other ones stood watch. I was shoved into the back seat of the car, I couldn’t understand why in God’s name they would do something as barbaric as shooting a three-year-old child. The shooting ended and the found men entered the car and drove away. These group of men had the audacity to hand me a glass of champagne, I was forced to drink it after refusing it. I kept asking them their reason behind all their actions and they just kept repeating “We’re helping you!”. We drove into a gated community in the Hollywood Hills and approached a mansion. They ordered me to get out the car and placed a crown on my head. The kept repeated “We saved you!”, I still didn’t understand what was happening but just prayed to God they would let me go soon. They lead me into the obnoxiously huge dining room, the kind you see in movies. They sat me down at the end of the table. They had the strangest set up, they had three spoon, two forks, and two knives, all in different sizes. They were forcing me to eat the lobster and Crème brûlée, their food was so strange but they insisted I needed to eat it. I was thinking of the things my family must be doing to find me knowing God will help me home.

 

Analysis

For the creative writing assignment, I wanted to make a parody of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. When originally thinking of ways to create the narrative I wanted to use the same approach of a white woman going into a different environment and making it relevant to today’s time. However, I wanted to add a comedic approach by switching the roles. I decided to make the narrator an unwealthy male being taken into the different environment of the rich Hollywood Hills. There were many elements used by Rowlandson that I wanted to incorporate into my creative assignment such as imagery and over dramatization. I wanted to provide imagery to set the environment, I attempted to do this with limited space by describing what was surrounding. I emphasized olfactory imagery in “the grill was sizzling with the crispy ribs” to help build the environment. Rowlandson used over dramatization in her description of when she was given water is the moment that stood out to me the most. I wanted to recreate this moment and use this same dramatization in my work creating the moment the narrator is given the champagne. Another big aspect of my work was to create this same theme of God. Rowlandson used God to justify everything that was happing to her. I decided to emphasis this theme as well because I believe today this is still something that resonates with many people. Although my approach to this narrative was a comedic one I still wanted to emphasis some serious topics. In particular I wanted to emphasis the disconnect there still is within certain groups. I decided not to give the narrator a race so the reader can almost put themselves in his shoes but emphasizing the disconnect any minority feel with the upper class.

-Alondra Morales Aguilar

Cook’s Journal. First Encounter.

Monday, 12th. Yesterday complaints were made to me by two customers that John and James, employees, had refused service to them because they were speaking Spanish, and they felt uncomfortable. When confronted, John and James were sent home and I had to call in the next shift an hour earlier than planned.

Tuesday, 13th. Small crowds throughout the entire morning, but business picked up around noon. HR paid us a visit for an incident to-day. I told him I will watch his back if he watches mine. I gave him manager’s discount.

Wednesday 14th. Sometime during my lunch, between 2 and 4 o’clock, there was a group of protesters outside the establishment chanting some stuff, I can see the customers inside the store were very upset. The protestors had lined up against the Wall of the establishment, and by that means was Visible from the inside. John, who was in today, said the group had started to lurk around until the group eventually got bigger and they aimed some signs at the establishment. As soon as John send me a text that more vehicles had started arriving and were parking outside, I walked out passed the violently angry mob with a bat and yelled at them to leave or I would break the windshield of their cars. Not that I would do such a savage thing. I had just about had it with these people. All I could think was: they need to leave my country. I don’t care if I am not politically correct. Now, I am not a monster. I wasn’t going to call the police. No, that would only make things worse. I don’t need reporters coming ‘round here and messing things up. But I could if I wanted to, they probably all would have been deported. And a Christian can’t sleep on that. No sir. Plus, if I bring the Law into this, then they might get the ACLU down here causing a Huge mess for my business. I didn’t call the cops, that wouldn’t help me nor them. When I told them my company’s policy gives me the Right to refuse service for anyone I choose, they did not respond very well. I tried spelling it out for them the best I could, but there is only so much I could do. They finally left. I am an American, I have Rights. I was able to start my own business in My country, they should do the same. Or just, go somewhere else. # goddammit.

Thursday, 15th. We have been busy keeping out for more protestors. I asked John and James to text me if anything goes wrong. Next time, I will call the police. I’m starting to gather a group of some other business owners to try and make sure that our Rights remain protected. We are only doing what we think is right. We deserve protection, especially seeing how were confronted yesterday. I have high hopes that things will be looking up my way with My president in charge.

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

In Captain Cook’s Journal, First Voyage Round the World: Chapter 3: Tahiti, Captain James Cook is the narrator. Thus, Cook has the responsibility of reporting his new discoveries; and it sounds impossible to interrogate a primary source. However, Cook’s use of diction and capitalization of certain words reveals racist tendencies that speak to the larger project of colonialism. Cook’s visits to the Polynesian islands has a larger impact that ultimately leaves Polynesian people marginalized and voiceless. But during his visits, which we see accounts of in his journal, Cook is violent and racist towards Polynesian peoples. I wanted to capture that injustice by focusing on a passage from Chapter 3 of his journal. I utilize the same form: I begin each paragraph with the date and I use the same free-write prose that Cook utilizes. I also capitalize some words from the original work, like “Visible” and “[Lurk]” which are used to ultimately put a spotlight on the group being othered (in the case of the parody: Immigrants from Mexico in particular) and dehumanize them by using a word that can easily be associated with animalistic behavior. I also make sure my parody has capitalized words that really shape the tone of the piece: “Visible”, “Law”, and “Rights.” It really feeds to the nationalistic narrative that works to uplift only the White American experience by diminishing the experiences and life of people of color. I make the piece modern by focusing writing about an scenario that is very relevant in today’s society and that my community has to continue to endure.

-Israel Alonso

Harp of Ireland

Since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the harp became synonymous with Irishness, an association most notable today in the Guinness Beer Company’s trademark logo (est. 1759).  For next Friday (4/28), students will write a blog post on the symbolic significance of the Irish harp in ONE of the three assigned poems for that week: Thomas Moore, Sydney Owenson, or Henry Derozio.  How do these poets use the cultural history of the harp to convey their nationalist message?  Explain how their poems extend, rewrite, or complicate this history. To help you answer this question, I’ve inserted a link to a scholarly website that traces the long and complex history of the Irish harp in Britain:

 

 

The poem by Thomas Moore “Harp of my country” utilizes the Harp as a form of Nationalistic Pride. When there is darkness Moore states he found the harp and thats symbolic of the Irish that are now controlled by the English. And in a way Moore is expressing his reminiscent outlook on the drastic changes that have come about as well. The Harp is the pride and  Joy of the Irish and now he feels as though it has been tainted by the foreigners that don’t really appreciate it which he expresses when he states ” Til touch’d by some hand less unworthy than mine” . This extends history in that it is drawing attention to the changing of the times. Where once the Harp took on a message of freedom and joy it is now the thing that keeps the Irish people bound to the English as almost a form of slavery. It is not used to express freedom and Joy but to entertain the new foreigners diminishing the original feelings the Harp once brought.  The Harp is something that had been mastered and specialized by the Gaelic people for many generations and now it is being glorified in a sense for the wrong reasons. Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.10.32 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.10.21 AM.png

Iron Maiden and Coleridge: Transcending Genre

Samuel Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” has been cycled over the years as an epitome of the Romantic era, where the natural world and love was valued high as a response to the changing industrial world that seemed to dull these sensations. However, Coleridge’s poem seems to have appealed to a metal band like Iron Maiden as an important source of inspiration. Metal usually does not seem to be in the same category as romantic, but this is usually because the way metal is perceived, especially by those that are not familiar with metal. I am not so familiar with metal myself, so from my vantage point, I can see how the specific hard, fast-paced metal sound of Iron Maiden gives them the characteristic of industry—and anything but the valuing of the natural world. In the band’s song of the same name, there is a moment when the sound softens up for spoken lyrics to be said:

“One after one by the star dogged moon,
too quick for groan or sigh
each turned his face with a ghastly pang
and cursed me with his eye
four times fifty living men
(and I heard nor sigh nor groan)
with heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
they dropped down one by one.”

This is directly taken from the poem toward the end of part III, and it almost seems as if the band excuses themselves by choosing to include the poem section without the fast-paced music in the background. However, even so, when put in the context of a metal song, the dark sensory details and imagery have taken on another sensibility. Much like the ballads and the folklore of any society, reinterpretations are the lifeblood of having folkloric art. In this sense, the Iron Maiden song is another reinterpretation that has given the poem another genre altogether with the same material though. When the poem utilized the description of Death and Life-in-Death in the 10-11 stanzas of part III, the audience obviously will think spooky:

“Are those her ribs through which the Sun

Did peer, as through a grate?

And is that Woman all her crew?

Is that a DEATH? and are there two?

Is DEATH that woman’s mate?

 

Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The Night-mare Life-in-Death was she,

Who thicks man’s blood with cold.”

However, the poem gives it a more spectral tone while the song utilizes a lot of the same language but different delivery. As I mentioned earlier, the poem has transcended a different genre through the interpretation done by Iron Maiden. In Iron Maiden’s use of the death-related imagery, the audience is captivated more by the confrontational style of the song since it is basically yelled and aggressive in its delivery. The song however, bears the burden of illegitimacy since some could say it is a rip-off of the poem, but I believe the different characteristics of the song give it a different style, but still valid modernization of the material/language.

 

–Cesar R

“Out of Focus”

 

 

“How comes it that all the white men on board who can read and write, and observe the sun, and know all things, yet swear, lie, and get drunk, only excepting yourself?”(188).  This passage while a rational question to ask, implicitly exposes the contradiction and hypocrisy that an Indian chief’s son witnesses and points out to Equiano amidst the Englishmen.  The young man, though seen as a “poor heathen” -as described in Equiano’s words, appears not be fooled by the fog of Christian rhetoric that they use to control natives and slaves.The young man’s clear point of view is, essentially illustrated,  within Robert Cruickshank’s anti-abolitionist cartoon.

Being that Equiano had tried to Christianize the young man, even to refer to the English author John Fox’s work Book of Martyrs, the young man became extremely confused with was being preached to him versus the corruption that was being displayed before his eyes.  Cruickshank’s cartoon is, too, confusing and hypocritical.  The red herrings found within that cartoon were cleverly placed there as propaganda to deter people from seeing the ugly truth about slavery -to continue to nurture the ignorance that caused people to go with the status quo of pro-slavery, in the first place.

The biggest conflict and contradiction is Equiano’s sense of allegiance in believing he must help the young man’s disbelief of Christianity.  Just like Cruickshank has attempted to persuade the people from not believing that slavery is even happening, Equiano is doing the same toward the young man’s state of mind about corruption in religion.  

While Cruickshank’s behavior cannot be excused, the conclusion to his way of thinking can only be sheer ignorance.  Equiano’s, on the other hand, is reprehensible as he knows first hand the experience of being enslaved, as well, the act of his cries going unheard -or worse, ignored.  

Cruickshank has skewed the focus on the lens for the audience who he knew he could bamboozle, and Equiano tried to do same with the young man, but failed.  Still, it did not affect Equiano much as he carried on with more undertakings and more missions, all while taking on his own slaves to help build plantations he’d come to own.  Thus, there is not much of a difference between the lies that are placed in the cartoon to the lies Equiano lived.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

 

Cruinkshank and Equiano

The political cartoon by Robert Cruikshank “Clear View” is interesting because it seems to claim immorality on the part of the Quakers, who were typically abolitionist, to defend its pro-slavery anti-abolitionist views.

There are three men in the cartoon dressed as Quakers only two of which I will be discussing. The first to mention is the one who is holding a ‘picture of negro slavery’ in front of the telescope blinding the onlooker from seeing the dancing people in the land overseas, suggesting that the Quakers and abolitionist are liars in exaggerating the troubling state of African slavery. The second Quaker we see is standing with his back turned to the audience and standing on the left side to the man and child sitting to the front. The man and child are what appears to be beggars with a sign in front of them saying “Plase lo think on poor pat.”. Poor Pat refers to the Irish who were suffering from famine and were sometimes forced to immigrate due to the conditions at home. It was believed the British government was not doing enough to help them, view we can see portrayed here where Poor Pat is being neglected at the cause of everyone’s attention being centered on sugar and slavery. Interesting enough the Quaker standing next to them with a picket saying “Buy only East India Sugar Tis sinful to buy any other” has a East India Invoice in his pocket suggesting he has his own interest in the success of the East India Company’s sugar and that really his picketing is not so much to do with anything other than his own monetary gain. The man is a hypocrite, his avarice is what is driving him to oppose any other sugar company. The issue of morality and avarice is brought up by Equiano as well. He states

“Such a tendency has the slave-trade to debauch men’s minds, and harden them to every feeling to humanity! For I will not suppose that the dealers in slaves are born worse than other men- No; it is the fatality of this mistaken avarice, that it corrupts the milk and human kindness and turns it into gall. And, had the pursuits of those men been different, they might have been as generous as tender-hearted and just, as they are unfeeling, rapacious, and cruel. Surely this traffic cannot be good, which spreads like a pestilence, and taints what it touches!” p. 112-3

In this quote Equiano is referring to the inhuman way in which slave masters treat their slaves. To him it is immoral to treat slaves poorly and the whole of the slave-trade is to blame because it leads to a “mistaken avarice” that clouds any goodness in a person. Equiano understands immorality as inevitable because of the avarice that causes men to need slavery. Though it seems that this same logic of avarice causing bad is the logic used by the cartoonist to distract away from the issue of slavery and more toward the issue of famine ridden Poor Pat. It is interesting they should hold similar logic and lead to different conclusions. The notion they agree on is ‘people should be less avaricious and things will improve’ though more interesting is that they’re both hypocritical in nature. The notion that slavery is less of a problem than Poor Pat is hypocritical in that the slaves are not in fact having a party in Africa and Equiano’s later use of slaves and slave master tactics while believing he is a good master calls into question his abolitionist views.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

Read This Post About Evil Equiano

Yes, this book “was reprinted and widely read well into the nineteenth century.” But who was reading it? Olaudah Equiano even claimed that he doesn’t expect “immortality or literary reputation”, only the satisfaction to of his “numerous friends” (43). But, which friends?

The narrative is written for the English slave owner. In a narrative that describes the individual struggles of an African Slave man, it upsets me to say, he actually put up a barrier for other narratives to be heard. This narrative, while it speaks on the experiences of one African slave, decentralizes the conversation of African slavery. It does so by not welcoming new narratives. In the opening letter, Olaudah Equiano doesn’t only discredit himself by apologizing for his lack of literary merit, but he also discredits the “unlettered African” (41). Instead of “becoming an instrument towards the relief of his suffering countrymen” (41), it appears he is upholding white supremacy. Because his narrative, along with his clothing in the front cover, is heavily informed by English culture, Christianity, and economic interests.

The Robert Cruikshank’s cartoon also blurs the individual struggles of African slaves. In both pictures, African slaves are given very little space on the picture. However, it puts the white people in the foreground. I think every attempt to branch away from slavery and start talking about something else is a waste of time. Of course, when the goal is to talk about slavery. In response to the question “Are they anti-slavery or pro-slavery?” In this particular instance, by not talking about slavery, both cartoons are pro-slavery.

What about Equiano? I think Olaudah Equiano does a good job making the white reader pick up his narrative and actually finish it in it’s entirety. But his work refutes the cartoon. While his narrative focuses on Englishness and whiteness, the impact might have been different in the long run. In the end, the English slave owner who put the book down had a different idea of slavery, himself, and the people working for him for free against their will. They were moved, granted, in a different way that we were moved in.

But should we forgive Olaudah Equiano for discrediting African writers? Or can we say that his work began to move people to be more compassionate than yesterday?

-Israel Alonso

Thomson and the assigned close reading

On page 46 of the Gibbes, Hartley House reading assigned for this week there is a passage taken from a poem by James Thomson of no title and beginning with the phrase “Bear me, Pomona, to thy Citron groves!” (46). This passage is a rather famous one, being cited by Goethe and a number of more recent sources. It is used in the text to relate the narrator’s feeling when in Bengal and to encourage Arabella to visit Bengal (or merely to make her feel jealous or a number of alternate possibilities). The purpose of the inclusion is fairly obvious, the narrator says in reference to the poem that “…poetry, Arabella, is the natural language where all is loveliness, and magnificence, and power exhaustless as infinite,” (46) and that there is an “immensity of [her] subject” (47). This meaning that the poetry is intended to give a sense of the scope to Arabella. In other words, I have provided the specific function of the poem in the text.

Now although we have the specific function since our narrator just told us what it was, the prompt did ask for a close reading, so I think it is worthwhile to go back and do one. In the poem itself there is slight mysticism or personification of various elements of nature (the breeze fanning, the fruit fever-cooling, the berries being in ‘humble station and unboastful worth’, and the ‘pride of vegetable life’). This adds to the mystery of the place being described. There is allusion to Jove (roman god) and Pomona (character in paradise lost), who everyone reading the poem is likely to be familiar with and be able to tie in their understanding. Furthermore there is slant rhyme in some of the couplets coat // jove, wave // shade, etc which is either coincidence or intended to bring attention to those parts of the poem (one is mid-way through and the other is at the end so this is likely). This seems to add to the text a certain amount of mythology (literally) and a more displaced sense of mysticism. Thus we have a close reading done of this poem.

As to why Sofia Goldborne ‘obsessively’ quotes English literary works it appears that the works are used to reinforce ideas within the text in a clean-cut way. In this specific passage I would say it does a good job of adding reinforcement, she describes “its fever-cooling fruit : deep in the night the massy locust sheds quench my hot limbs” (46) as “glowing descriptions of a climate and its characteristics” (46-47) which in turn are applied to Bengal. It doesn’t get much more straightforward in application than that. The choice of words on this question make me think I am being led to say that Goldborne is in some way trussing up her references in an attempt to make it more academic or hard to read but I don’t get that impression at all. Perhaps we should recognize that author’s considered these works as important to their own, or that since the audience should have prior knowledge then they should be able to reference them (references are, of course, a literary tradition going much further back than the 1700s). This paragraph addresses the last two questions of the prompt.

Joshua Jolly

Sophia the First

Sophia Goldborne finally had a chance at an exciting life when she was able to travel to Calcutta. Girls didn’t have many opportunities in the 18th century to have anything but an ordinary life even though they were given minimal education advances. It is quite evident that in her letters she has a condescending tone towards her supposed friend Arabella and is snarky when relaying her experience. Throughout all her letters there is a myriad of literature allusions and they get a bit tiresome, as she will through them in frequently. But if we look at the formal education young women were allowed to receive in the 18th century, English literature was high on the list as opposed to other subjects like politics. In many of her letters she doesn’t utter anything political or if she does it is just a surface remark, although she is in the midst of political tension in Calcutta at the time, which is odd. Perhaps that is why she fills her letters with literature references because that is all she knows. It can account for a plethora of things, like how many 16-year-old girls probably just aren’t interested in political agendas.

Did these English literary references even add anything to the letters? In discussion class on March 8th we close read an excerpt from Letter II in which Sophia belittles herself to Arabella’s level in order to describe the house. She remarks, “I will begin with the circumstances of my first arrival, and so contrive to temper, though I cannot, like Mr. Apollo, lay aside my rays, that your optics shall be enabled to contemplate, however brilliant, the dazzling objects I gradually open on your view” (7). She mentions Apollo, and formally adds a Mr. in front of his name as if she is on a first name basis with him, just to compare herself that she isn’t as humble as Apollo, even though most Greek gods were chaotic and solved problems emotionally rather than logically. We can’t assume the kind of education Arabella has received but if she is Sophia’s friend we can hope they have the same education, which means Sophia knows Arabella understands her references but must find other ways in order to show that she is superior to Arabella for specific reasons. It shows that although Sophia may be well educated in literature but she might just have nothing else going for her and no other education for her to flounce about. This is why Sophia uses so many references; perhaps she has a limited repertoire of skills to show how high class she is.

— Alison Vining

English the Language

Language is a very convoluted subject as it is already because it is the way in which people communicate with one another. However there are many different languages that scatter the world already that help to send a sort of miscommunications with others who cannot understand the same language. English for starters was thought to be the universal language back in the day, the superior race was to “educate” those who are unable to speak it. The thought of English being a tool of suppression for others has never really occurred to me. I though that it was a means to communicate and expel thoughts but by expelling thoughts, where do these thoughts go to? Do they just become stuck in someone else head or do they become a threat to the mind in which they are being placed in? The English language is a priority as it was then, it is now. When students go to school here in the United States, instruction is always given in English and never in the language of a foreigner say Spanish or Chinese or other. People are expected to know the English language because they are from this place where the norm is English. Any other form just becomes disregarded by the fact that they are . Although the idea was not bad in thye sense that they wanted people to be able to communicate with each other without there being a miscommunication, the miscommunication still happened. They used force and violence in order to “educate” and slowly stripped others of their individualism.

-Alexis Blanco