Author Archives: 2southgreen

Repression and Power in Sexuality

These readings have brought up many questions for me. I have a lot of little ones leading to a few big ones, but in general, I’d say take you pick, and we’ll see where the conversation leads us.


First, I’d like to examine sex as “intercourse”:

Foucault examines the relationship between sex and power/oppression, saying that now (which is to say, in the mid twentieth century) people were beginning to talk about sex in the context of rising up from oppression, as if it were a political cause.

I’m wondering to what extent we may have moved past this. To what extent is our perspective about sex and sexuality and our willingness to talk about it rebellious? To what extent do we still carry Victorian taboos? Since our generation is (for the most part) the children of the sexual revolution, are we still being rebellious when we have an open attitude about sex? Can sex be seen in an economic/political sense at all or, as Foucault suggests, must we look more to the “felicity” which is a part of its character? Do you suscribe to the “repressive hypothesis” in examining the history of sex, and, to what extent?

All of this is leading me to what I see as the big question: How do our changing attitudes about sex affect the way we read and write? What insight can it give us for literary interpretation? How might literature (or should literature) use what we know about sex to change common perspective?

Secondly, what about sex as “gender”?

Those of you who are men and reading this, to what extent do you notice gender stereotypes in which the woman is subordinate to the man in literature?  To those of you who are women, same question. What disparity, if any, do you anticipate?

While there is an “essential” difference between man and woman in a physical sense, do you believe there are certain non-physical qualities (character traits, etc.) that actually are much more representative of one gender than another. If this is the case, is literature simply presenting characters who represent the real world? Should authors strive to upset preconceived gender notions? Is that approach a more realistic reflection? To what extent is realistic reflection desirable? Where does authorial intent come into play, when the same work can be read as oppressing women pointing to the folly of a society which subjugates women?

Which brings me to my main question: How does our knowledge of gender roles affect the way we read and right? How might literature be a means of change? Should it be?


Finally, can we ever reach a point of understanding where questions of sex and gender are moot?

The Presidential Election and Literary Interpretation (unofficial post)

Our readings for Monday’s class and again for class tomorrow have focused largely on race, the way we conceptualize groups, and understand literature and, ultimately, humanity. In light of the historic presidential election results announced earlier tonight and our readings and discussions, what role do you think race, or, more accurately, our conceptualization of race, played in the election? I heard one of the reporters commenting that voters had acted as though they were “colorblind.” Is this accurate or even possible given the ways our brains organize? What further connections, if any, can you draw between the readings for Wednesday and ethnic identity in this election in particular and America in general?

Personally, I thought Gilroy’s early concepts of an ever-blending black culture and identity were relevant to the way Americans understood Barack Obama. Early in his campaign, members of the media and opponents sought to narrowly classify him as African or American or African-American; white, black or biracial; Muslim or Christian; a capitalist or a socialist; etc. While some of these claims aren’t grounded in fact, at least in terms of ethnicity and origin, Obama seems to be “both inside and outside the West” (972) as a result of his diverse background. For me, that very synthesis of cultural perspectives is at least some part of his appeal. (Of course, many of Gilroy’s other conclusions are based upon African-Americans reacting against the expectations of slavery (eg, focusing on creativity rather than labor), which one may argue don’t apply to Obama as he was not descended from slaves.)

What do you guys think about the perspectives of race we have read in relation to what we’ve witnessed in the past, what this election might imply, and where we hope to go in American racial/ethnic understanding?

How do y’all feel about the online format of the Golden Notebook?

So, I’ve read most of the first two sections of the Golden Notebook, and am now going back and trying to comment intelligently. Usually I’m the type to jot down whatever I think as I go, but the idea that my comments would not be kept “confidential” exactly, really weirded me out and made me hesitant to comment at all. I feel like in this format my thoughts have to be much more “polished” and insightful, since they’re not just for me. Honestly, I don’t like that at all. I’m trying to ignore my inhibitions and comment more naturally, but it’s difficult. Is anyone else reacting to this new style of reading similarly? Or does anyone like it a lot more? I guess I’m just the type who likes to mark up an actual book without worrying about what I’m thinking, just jotting it down… Are you guys able to tap into that more easily than I am in this new online format??