Published on March 10, 2014
CLASS 17 EWRT 1B
AGENDA Exam 3: Terms Discussion: QHQ M Butterfly QHQ Film “Defining the Trickster” and “Transformations of the Trickster” Introduction to Essay #4 Lecture: Tricksters and Trickster Tales In-class writing: Evaluating Song as a Trickster Character
EXAM 3: VOCAB AND TERMS Answer all 25 questions; there are questions on the back. Extra credit to anyone who can identify one or both of the authors of these two examples that I used to demonstrate figurative language. “All the world’s a stage” The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
M BUTTERFLY QHQ
GALLIMARD Q: Why is Gallimard so in love with this opera butterfly? Q: Why is Gallimard considering having an affair with Song? Q: How does Song get away with being a guy even after Song and Gallimard slept together? Q: Why did Gallimard commit suicide. Q: Why did Gallimard dream of his class mate Marc after meeting Song at the Chinese Opera House?
SONG Q: Did Song have feelings for M. Gallimard? Q: How did Song get pregnant? How did Song establish a reputation for herself as singer, and how did she target Mr. Gallimard? Does Comrade Chin believe Song’s behavior is just to get information? Q: Why did Song tell Gallimard that “we are revolted by the things hidden within us?” (Hwang 47)
QHQ: THE FILM: OSAMA Q: Why did Espandi help Osama? Q) Did Osama’s mother and grandmother make the correct decision of forcing Osama to pass? Q: Did Osama’s mother and grandmother know deep down that Osama would be eventually caught? Q: What happened to Osama’s mother and grandmother? Why does the man offer Osama the locks to choose?
QHQ: THE FILM: OSAMA Q: Most of the men in the film are depicted as the enemy, although a few such as Espandi and the hospital worker are not. How did their actions prove that not all men in that society were harmful? Q: Why did the milkman hire Osama knowing she was a girl? Q: How do the women protesting at the beginning at the movie symbolize social class inequality in the Middle East ? Q: Why didn’t the women rebel and join together after being forced to marry the Taliban man and kill him for what he had done? Q: What does the little girl symbolize while she is jumping the jump rope?
INTRODUCTION TO ESSAY #4: THE RESEARCH ESSAY.
INTRODUCTION TO ESSAY #4: THE RESEARCH ESSAY. Trickster characters have existed in stories from most cultures since the earliest times. The longlasting appeal of this archetype (a recurring symbol of a recurring model) emphasizes the cultural need to acknowledge that all is not what it seems to be, that we need to be on the lookout for those who would fool us. It is not hard to account for the appeal of tricksters—they are fun in their radical assault on the status quo, yet their trickery also strikes a deeper chord for most people.
As societies have evolved, the cultural function of the trickster has been reinvented: who or what are they in a modern society? When and why do they appear? Helen Lock, in her essay “Transformations of the Trickster,” writes, Contentious issues include the status of the archaic archetypal tricksters (were they mortal or divine? can a god be a trickster?), the relation of tricksters to gender and to ethnicity, and the vexed question of whether modern tricksters exist at all. In one sense it does seem entirely appropriate that these embodiments of ambiguity (no dispute there, at least) should remain so elusive. However, it is still important to address these tricky questions, because the trickster performs such fundamental cultural work: in understanding the trickster better, we better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior.
TOPIC: For this essay, consider trickster tales and trickster or trickster-like characters from our reading. Do they meet the criteria to be categorized as “tricksters”? Which measuring stick do we use to determine if they are or not? Who or what are they in a modern society? When and why do they appear? Is there a relationship between tricksters and gender and ethnicity? Do these modern tricksters, as Lock asserts, help us “better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior”? How? Or, do these trickster tales and trickster or trickster-like characters serve another purpose? Which?
ABOUT TRICKSTERS Southern slave trickster tales focus on outwitting the plantation masters; in this way, they deviously attacked the very system to which they were condemned: “They learned what justice was, and they learned, as slaves, they had none. But they were able to make up stories and even laugh in the face of their tragic predicament” (Hamilton, A Ring of Tricksters 9).
JEAN HARDY PROVIDES THIS DEFINITION OF THIS ARCHETYPE: The archetype of the Trickster…is the existence of the unexpected as it appears in every human society, sometimes fully acknowledged, sometimes feared and hidden. He is the opposite of order – but then he is opposite of everything: he can turn into a she…He is the Green Man, the Jester, the clown, the witch or the wizard, Mercury, a shape shifter … the Fool with the potential at times for becoming a Savior. He upsets normality and hierarchic order…He can change the expected world, and therefore be an agent of transformation. (1)
POSSIBLE TRAITS OF THE TRICKSTER • Deceitful: The trickster uses trickery to bring about change. • Self-Serving: The trickster often feels that he or she has been wronged and is therefore justified in taking action to bring about change and/or to defeat “the enemy.” • Shape Shifter: The trickster may change forms, sex, and so forth as an element of surprise to his victim. The change may also be psychological instead of (or in addition to) a visual change.
Cultural Hero: The trickster may be idealized as a cultural hero when, as the agent of transformation, he or she overturns a cruel or unfair leader or political/social system or reverses the fortunes of the more powerful party. According to Helen Lock, this characteristic separates the fool from the trickster. “The true trickster’s trickery calls into question fundamental assumptions about the way the world is organized, and reveals the possibility of transforming them (even if for ignoble [shameful] ends)” (Lock 6). Michael J. Carroll includes cultural hero as an attribute as well; he characterizes the trickster as “a transformer who makes the world habitable for humans by ridding it of monsters or who provides those things [such as fire] that make human society possible (“Levi-Strauss, Freud, and the Trickster” 305). Hardy characterizes the trickster as the source of unexpected changes in a world where change is not always comfortable and as a symbol of the uncertain world in which we live.
• Solitary creature: Many tricksters are solitary animals (or humans), working alone rather than with a partner or within a group – to undertake change. Michael P. Carroll notes that “Ravens are usually sighted singly or at most in pairs; coyotes forage independently…; hares have long been noted for their solitariness…Spiders generally associate with members of their own species on only two occasions: when they are born and when they mate” (“Trickster as Selfish Buffoon” 115). • Physically, intellectually, or socially weak creature: The trickster is often portrayed as a much weaker character than his prey, and yet through cleverness and trickery, he is able to overcome all obstacles and prevail. In some cases the trickster may appear to be weaker physically in order to confuse his prey (false frailty).
• Special tools: The trickster may have special tools or abilities that enable him to perform his acts. Often these tools include magic and/or supernatural powers. An example would be the Chinese Monkey who keeps a needle behind his ear; when he removes the needle and recites a request, the needle may turn into any tool or implement that is required for a particular story. • Teacher: The trickster is a purveyor of life lessons through the stories, from manners to ethics. The teacher often forces the reader to examine the status quo and often, “to break out of old stereotypes, whether they’ve been imposed by ourselves, our families, our culture, or circumstances (“The Trickster” 3).
DEFINING THE TRICKSTER
IN CLASS WRITING: SONG AS A TRICKSTER CHARACTER: How can we envision Song as a Trickster character? Which of the definitions does she fit? What are her goals as a trickster? How many people and how many ways is she fooling people? What is her motivation? What are the outcomes? Does Song help us “better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior”? How? Or does she/he serve another purpose? Which?
• Which, from our reading, are trickster or trickster-like characters? Which are trickster tales? What characteristics make them tricksters? How do we know? • We have a sense of the what a trickster tale/character is from the reading we have done in the last couple of days, but to get a better idea of both that and ways to approach a paper on the topic, we will visit the library to start our research. There, we will be looking for information about conventional definitions that we can connect to (or disconnect from) the passing characters we have been reading about. Then, you can do some research to find an interesting angle to use: outlaw tricksters, gender tricksters, female tricksters.
HOMEWORK Reading: Review primary texts you might use in your essay. Post #24: Discuss one character in terms of one of the traits we discussed in class today. For example, Jess Goldberg as a “shape shifter” or “cultural hero”; Grandison as “intellectually weak”; or Song as “physically weak”; maybe even the Iowans as “teachers.” Any of them might be discussed as “agents of change.” Or discuss “Grandison,” “Recitatif,” and “Who’s Passing as Who” as Trickster tales in the African American tradition. Next Class: We will meet in Library Lobby for a library orientation and an opportunity to do research for your paper. EWRT 1B: Tuesday, March 11, 11:00am-1:15pm EWRT 1B: Wednesday, March 12, 8:30-10:45
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