Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Taking It to the Old FB

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I decided to create a private message  board on Facebook where I could share my working thesis with friends who were English and Humanities majors, as well as a few who are studying film and music. The messages went something like this:

ME: Okay, friends-- so I'm supposed to share one of my theses for a research paper via social network and get my homies to comment on it. I'm so sorry for the imposition, but if you could just give one line (not like "good" or "bad," but a suggestion or source or something it reminds you of- any sort of helpful feedback- I would love you forever. It's also about two very specific books and this is just a working thesis, so I apologize for the weirdness of this task:

FRIEND: Hit me

FRIEND: I'm down.

ME:The Poisonwood Bible and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland both tell the stories of white females from ordered, conservative backgrounds who find themselves adrift in a foreign land and struggle to maintain their previous faith and sense of reality as the customs of the new land disorients and strips them of their basic foundation. Both of these texts feature aspects of post-colonialism and even reverse post-colonialism. Both texts also tell the stories of women who struggle against the didacticism of the patriarchy of their homeland. I would argue that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, though normally considered to be a Victorian text, has many aspects in common with post-modernist texts in the sense that it fights against didacticism. For those who don't know, The Poisonwood Bible is about a missionary family in the 1950's that go to the Congo to convert all the Africans, but everything goes wrong and it destroys their family.

FRIEND:So what sort of comment do you want from us again? And what's didacticism?

ME:Honestly, not exactly sure, but just whatever you got that goes beyond saying it's good or bad. Like, I'm supposed to share my research paper throughout the process so the feedback I get can help sculpt the paper. Didacticism is like moralizing. Like, Aesop's Fables are didactic because they teach a moral.

FRIEND:Gotcha. Ok well I like how you've introduced your subject in such a way that your argument description fits in really well. A great start for a working thesis but defining a couple of terms and show how you'll describe post modernist writings connecting to a traditional Victorian book. Idk if this helps at all or even makes sense but there ya go

ME:Thank you, that is perfect! Just a couple more peeps and I'll have this assignment in the bag! You guys are the best!!!

FRIEND:alright, im next! I liked it! I just didnt know where you were going with the thesis until the very end if that makes sense...I dont know if there is a way to connect the stuff in the first 2/3 of it to didacticism since thats the main comparison you are trying to make between the two??? Im not very helpful. its been a while since Ive had to write a real paper.

ME:Thanks, Ash! Super Helpful!

FRIEND:I think you've got a really neat essay, but I think it needs a "so what?" What does this mean for Lewis Carroll's novel or Victorian era literature or for our idea of literary history? Why is it important to see this connection and draw out the postmodernism of Alice in Wonderland? And by essay, I mean thesis idea.

FRIEND:Yeah, and did Alice choose the thug life, or did it choose Alice? I think that's the elephant in the room that nobody is mentioning.

ME:Haha, you guys are great ! Thanks for all the great comments!

FRIEND:I think your thesis is sound, though. Also, by "reverse post-colonialism", do you mean to suggest that it provides a solution to post-colonial problems, or just an inverse of the social dynamics created by colonalism?

ME:The colonists are the ones who are overcome and changed by the natives, despite the colonists intentions.

1 comment:

  1. You've got some willing and smart friends and I'm pleased you tried this method out, which I hadn't thought of before. Sounds like they are asking you to clarify terms, which is good. I liked the friend's comment about the "so what." He/she is right. Well done!