Friday, March 21, 2014

Language is Power

Creative Commons License 2.0 / Horia Varlan
Here's a question or two for all you English/linguistic enthusiasts/normal people who speak some sort of language:

To what extent do you think that language actually controls thought? Does this bother you?

This is what my paper is about, and I want to know how relevant and interesting this subject is. I've written out an introduction and a little bit of sample analysis. It's still super rough and I haven't really revised it yet, but here's a sample of my basic ideas:

Language is the medium through which thoughts are formulated, and thought is often limited by the limitations of the language. This idea has been explored through literature throughout history; notably, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four comes to mind, in which the Party actively eradicates all excess words to make the vocabulary of the people smaller in order to reduce the chance of “thoughtcrime” (citation needed). But before Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in the year 1949, Ayn Rand’s Anthem (published in 1938) and Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (published in 1871) both explored the effects of language on someone’s thoughts, actions, or perception of reality. Anthem is a dystopia, with obvious social commentary about language, whereas Through the Looking Glass has a much more whimsical tone and uses language less oppressively, but despite their different genres and tones, each novel demonstrates how language can literally control people, and limitations in the language lead to limitations of thought.

Sara and Alice

"Is this the real life? Or is it just fantasy?"
Question: What do you make of the fantastical and wondrous occurrences in fictional novels? Are they just creative nonsense, or are they something more?

I have asked this particular questions--in different words--in my other post The Law of Attraction. I'm mentioning it again because my paper is centered around this question.

I'm still in the process of editing and adding to my paper, so it will be another day to put all my thoughts down on this draft.

As you follow along, if you're confused, it might be a good idea to go back to my Feedback and Publication or Miracle.

The Generation that Lost More than an Identity

As I progress with my thoughts and ideas on this assignment, I feel like I am faced with more and more questions. So, for this build I tried to put the basics into the paper. I thought of it as a Reader Response Paper and analyzed the basics of my argument. I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting closer. I think I'm going to edit what I have already before I submit my "build" for enthusiasts to read. Luckily, I have already found a few enthusiasts from which I could receive some very constructive feedback. The thought of having people read what I have is motivation enough for me to take this seriously. I have to step up my game, so to speak. I'm excited to see what I will learn in class today and from my enthusiast pals.

To Overcome Authority

This is a pretty naked overview of my aspirations for my paper. However, during the past couple of weeks, I have fallen in love with FEEDBACK! So, if anyone is willing, take the time to read the following mini-paper, I'd love to have a conversation about the ideas I'm presenting!

Question: What is the effect of ignorant parenting on children and can they overcome it?

Depriving Childhood Through Authority

In Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the Bundren children are dwindling in poverty, selfishness, and animosity. However, in each child’s narration of the story, there can be found deep insight into human nature, which contains more prudence and virtue than that of their parents. Still, they are at the mercy of their father and recently deceased mother. Similarly, Lewis Carroll’s character, Alice, journeys into Wonderland and finds herself succumbing to the whims of various adults. Just as Alice is ridiculously scorned, mislead, and reprimanded by the authority figures in her journey through Wonderland, the offspring of Addie Bundren represent the precarious condition of children that do not have reliable authority figures in their lives in the novel As I Lay Dying. Lewis Carroll and William Faulkner's works identify the damage caused to children by dysfunctional family environments and autocratic adults.

Women are not Conquerers

Women are not conquerors. We have rarely, if ever, been the ones to sail out and explore new lands, claiming and establishing them as our own, spreading our beliefs and practices and… seed. We tend to sit at home, caring for what has been left behind. I say this not to make a statement on gender stereotypes, but rather to make clear the trend for women throughout history.
Creative Commons Flickr
When the new world was discovered, women went with their men to seek their fortune in a strange new land. Colonialism and imperialism are implicitly masculine movements—not only colonizing and conquering new lands, but also figuratively conquering women themselves—but how does it play out when women are called upon to be the colonizers? Does feminism play a role in colonialism? In both The Poisonwood Bible and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, women are figured as colonists, though unsuccessful ones. They are not aggressively conquering the new lands they come in contact with, but are rather displaced females who are disoriented and confused by the shift from the values and doctrine of their patriarchal homeland and the things they have learned in the new world. 

A Thousand Splendid Pseudonyms

Photo credit Krista Edwards 2013.
I begin my essay with a simple question:
Why do male writers seem to dominate the literary world?  Even Joanne Rowling, famed author of the Harry Potter series, took on two male pseudonyms to publish her work: J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith.  In this essay, I explore why male writers have more success with feminist issues than female writers, especially in Middle Eastern literature.

            Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two Afghani women in 1980’s Afghanistan to present-day Afghanistan.  Khaled Hosseini had previously published The Kite Runner, a novel about the relationship between fathers and sons, something that would appeal to a Middle Eastern male audience.  After becoming a worldwide best-selling authors, he publishes A Thousand Splendid Suns, which tackles more serious topics such as how the law in the Islamic countries (that follow Shari’a law) treat women.  Hosseini does this because he knows that he is one of the few people in the world with the power to bring this to the world’s attention.  In Islamic countries that currently practice Shari’a law, women have no power.  For example, in Iran, a fourteen year old girl named Malala Yoosuf was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting women’s education.  Khaled Hosseini is perfectly aware of the problems surrounding women if they speak out; it is why he, as a feminist, feels it is necessary to write for the feminist cause.


Confession: My greatest fear is drowning.  

Though I’ve never actually experienced anything close to drowning, the event  haunts my dreams.  It starts with the last gasp and gulp of air, and you give all your exertion to kicking and flailing; trying to propel yourself back to the surface.  Fatigue quickly sets in, leaving your body’s alarms screaming.  You must get out!  You must find a way to resurface!  But there is so much bringing you down… fatigue, pressure, not even knowing which way is up any more… And then there is the pause, the silence… and you know it’s coming.  The last watery breath, and then… I wake up from the dream.

At this point I have yet to wake up.  
I am flailing and my mind, body, lungs, everything is screaming of air!  
For reprieve from the floundering.

The more I dive into my topic, the more things jump out and me and beg me for attention.  With every new drop of information pooling together I hadn’t realized that I had been creating my own demise.  
I feel that the surface is close, but I don’t know what direction to orient myself to get there.  

I have two competing thoughts.  One I feel is more practical, the other more intriguing… and I hate to admit it, but I think it’s about time that practicality wins.  

I have been switching between a feministic approach of my two books and more generally defining what a good book is generationally speaking.

This was my thesis and opening paragraphand this is what it might be (most likely) changed to.  (still a rough draft...) 

I’m asking for honest, direct and constructive feedback! 
Between two exams, another paper and wedding planning I’m trying not to drown.  I’ve been trying to rely on my own strength to resurface, but now it’s time to reach for a life- preserver… if anyone is willing to throw one out to me.  

Complete Chaos

Creative Commons 2.0
All of my thoughts about this paper are swirling around in my head with no sense of order. It's complete chaos in there. So, in an attempt to create order here are some questions and a mini-draft of my paper to circulate to others in order to get some more feedback.

Questions: Can I compare Death from The Book Thief and the death themes in Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by using past representations of death? Would it work? Would it make sense? Is this even a good idea? Are there better ways to do this? Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Dancing In The Dark

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.
This is my working thesis and a two page draft of my thoughts up to this point. It's much less of a draft and more of my pre-write. I like to think of it as my thoughts and outline in paragraph form, which has made it very easy to start conceptualizing my paper. These ideas are all incomplete and are to be fleshed out in greater detail, but they should provide enough direction to know where I'm going with my topic. That being said, I'd like to get some more direction and feedback. I have a lot of good comparison to make, but does my paper really offer anything to the academic community? To find the answer to that question, I want ask a couple more.

1. What other direction/angle could I take in addition to the biographical approach?

2. How can I present the literary comparison based on biographical background in such a way as to make it interesting to my audience and provide real stakes of argumentation?

The Quest for Greater Depth

For a long time I have felt that the topic of my paper is too shallow.

Too shallow?
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As I've already explained, I love The Phantom Tollbooth because it is an adventure story with certain character archetypes, plot elements, and so forth which are found in epics and other Hero's Journeys. But I feel that if I simply make a checklist of these monomyth-elements and go through the book, marking off each item, the paper will be rather bland and pointless. I might as well create a graph or an Excel document rather than write an essay.

So I need to find a way to make this paper matter. Even thinking about writing a two-page summary has me seriously pondering what I want my paper to do. (In case you're all wondering, yes, I am indeed begging for help!) I know that there are a lot of things I could do with an analysis based on the idea of "journey." Should I use psychoanalysis, and talk about why this book is emotionally fulfilling? Should I talk about perspective while growing up, like I did in this post? How can I make this analysis mean something?

For the moment, I'll plan on talking about how a person's perspective grows as they face trials, as seen through the character changes brought about during "The Hero's Journey." I'll put my paper up on this post soon, but please let me know if you have any ideas!

Things I've Never Tried Before

Creative Commons License 3.0
Honestly, I'm terrified to share my paper thesis with a stranger. I've never approached another human being about any paper I've written for school, unless that person has been a friend in the class and we are complaining about it. The idea of approaching a complete stranger and presenting something as personal as my novice efforts is disconcerting... but perhaps it has its upside after all.

I decided to look up The Phantom Tollbooth on Goodreads to find someone who had written a review that might echo my thesis. I found a couple people: one compared the book to L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, which reminded me of my comparison to Through the Looking-Glass; another mentioned that she had recently read the Tollbooth in preparation for her own research paper. Even though I was speaking to strangers and I had only a little information to go on, I took a deep breath and commented on their posts.

Perks Of A Possible Paper

I'm still hoping this paper will come along as I keep writing it but for now, it needs more work. There's also something in the back of my head telling me that I might have trouble writing a long, well-supported paper about this topic but I guess time will tell. Some of my ideas are still growing so they aren't as well developed. I'm really glad we are doing many small drafts as builds for our full paper. I feel like this really allows me to flesh out my ideas and work on my editing, which I need. Without any further adieu, here's my rough (but improving) build for my final paper. Suggestions are always welcome!

Feels like a Tug of War

Digging into my paper has showed me how much more I need to research and has also helped me figure out what information I am looking for. So that's been great as now I don't feel like this paper is a giant, terrifying monster. Anyways, so while I decided to let go of comparing Edmond Dantes and Alice (her character) and to instead compare him with The Queen of Hearts, I still haven't let go of my interest in existential meaning in the 19th century. I'm worried that perhaps I have too much going on in my paper. Also, I feel like my comparison is starting out to be a tug of war rather than flowing. So thoughts? Any advise on how to do a successful compare/contrast paper?

Here the link to it, so check it out: Edmond Dantes and the Queen

Ella Enthused

Wikipedia Commons
I originally had too many ideas for my paper. Now that I have narrowed it down and eliminated the ideas that I felt didn't connect as well, I have been left with a problem. I think my paper lacks a "so what?" After writing this much, it seems to me that the goal of my paper has become a comparison, taking Ella Enchanted and Cinderella side-by-side and talking about what each text teaches young girls about womanhood. There aren't high stakes.

Does anyone have an idea of how I can make this idea matter? I think I am summarizing and pointing out some general truths, but I need help finding a way to make it have more weight. What if I incorporated how women have to fight to be a heroine, whereas men are expected be the hero? Thoughts?

Ella Enchanted: Regaining Feminist Control

There are certain roles society assumes appropriate for women and they are often reflected in literature. Young adult literature in particular envelopes the topic of gender as a dictator of status and expectations for young women. In the novel Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine there is no mistaking the feminist connotations. It is meant to be a retelling of the classic fairy-tale Cinderella; however, Ella, the young female protagonist, is teaching an opposite lesson than Cinderella. Ella begins the novel by explaining a curse of obedience that prevents her from having the agency to make her life her own. She is also fighting something much greater than her curse. The plot follows Ella's journey to rectify this curse of obedience, and along the way Ella defines a woman’s beauty, success, and happiness as a result of hard work, wit, and determination rather than from the actions of external people or circumstances as in Cinderella.

In Cinderella, her outward feminine beauty defines her worth. It is her pretty dress from her fairy godmother that gets her the prince in a matter of moments. In Ella Enchanted, this idea of beauty is addressed and discredited.
“I collapsed on the stool next to the stove, sobbing so hard I couldn't catch my breath. Then Mandy's arms were around me, and I was crying into the ruffles along the neck of her apron, where I had cried so many times before for smaller reasons...
“She couldn't be a fairy. Fairies were thin and young and beautiful. Mandy was as tall as a fairy was supposed to be, but who ever heard of a fairy with frizzy gray hair and two chins?" -Ella Enchanted

Good Success on Goodreads

So this week I posted several comments and questions on reviews on goodreads, and actually got a response back! It made me realize that if I choose to talk about the extent of God/Providence in Edmond Dantes life, researching a little more carefully into Alexandre Dumas’s religious background would be a good idea. Also, she brought up free will, which has come up repeatedly in my conversations with people about my idea and in just talking about Count of Monte Cristo. So I am thinking of considering that as a potential point to talk about in my paper.

Publishing Avenues:

The idea of publishing my paper makes me more excited about writing it (which honestly, I need all the excitement I can get as we near the end of the semester) and a little more nervous about doing a good job on it.

I have never heard about BYU’s ScholarsAchive until this week, and have decided that submitting my paper to it seems like a low-risk, low-stress option.

I also looked into the BYU’s English Symposium, and I really like how it covers a vast area of literary space, and I am super interested in submitting something to it next year.

Sophi mentioned the blog, Interesting Literature and I checked it out and read some of their articles. I really like the style that they have and their topics. I noticed that a lot of their Guest Blogs are in list form, and I think it could be a cool way to adapt a paper to blogger-friendly.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

So Many Words, So Little Time

Question: Do you think I can actually compare these two novels or are they two different that I appear to be grasping at straws? What are some other connections that I can draw between the two stories? Also, this obviously only scratches the surface of the first two ideas; I have many sources and actual evidence that I will be putting in the formal paper when I actually get to writing it.

            Dracula and Alice in Wonderland: two stories from Victorian English literature that are very different. Dracula is a gothic tale that questions what is real and what is not. The book plays with the psychological idea of memory versus knowledge—which is stronger and which will ultimately prevail. Alice in Wonderland is a fantasy that also questions reality. Both of these stories have symbolism embedded throughout. However, Dracula is fueled by the symbolism embedded throughout the story. The symbolism is an effective foreshadowing tool that helps to drive the plot along. On the contrary, Alice in Wonderland uses the symbolism to draw mental connections, just as the mind would do, and the symbolism isn’t an integral part but rather enhances the storyline. Despite how these stories are different, they each play with similar ideas and use the same tools, although they both come to different conclusions.

A Miniature Paper About Morrie and Alice

Here's Alice having a nice relaxing afternoon in the fields,
unlike the rest of us, locked inside cramming for
finals and writing papers.
My main problem is that I'm feeling scatterbrained in terms of my ideas. I have lots of good things that I want to include, but I'm not sure how to tie them together. I'm also worried that my idea isn't advanced enough to make an 8 page paper out of it. I don't know if I've come up with anything someone could argue with, I guess. So if anyone has a minute to look it over and give me some
feedback, that would be really really nice.

Here's my miniature paper.

Princess Paper Prototype

Creative Commons 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

This one's a kicker. Maybe I was a little too confident about the ideas that I had for this paper because once I started writing them out, none of them made any sense. There are so many holes in this paper, and in my ideas, and in my thesis. I apologize about the rough, swiss-cheeseness (holy- get it?) of this paper, and I am more than open to comments and suggestions.

If you're brave enough, go ahead and take a read:

Princess Bride Mini-Paper

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feedback and Publication...

Curious Cheshire Cat 
I've reached out to quite a few of my Korean friends back in California by email and Kakao Talk (a texting application) and received many ideas from them. But the person I received most help from was my mom who is familiar with both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Sara. As mentioned in my post Miracle, my mom was the one who introduced me to the book. She had great interest in what I was going to write about, especially in how I plan on connecting the protagonists of the two novels, Sara and Alice. Both characters are children and have preconceived notions about the world. But when they encounter strange and fantastical creatures, such as Cheshire Cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Solomon in Sara, their world and perspective turns upside down. My mom helped make this kind of connection between Sara and Alice. Many of my friends helped me in different areas, such as how I can make connection between settings of both novels.

Kimberlee made a great suggestion in my other post Shell: "It also might be helpful to try to tie your paper into a broader, more general audience: like, why is your paper significant to the reader." I don't have an answer to this question yet but my train of thought leads me to "it is significant because a part of us are always curious about the inexplainable, even though we believe in to be unrealistic, and we sometimes ponder whether it really is impossible."

As for venues I've researched for submitting my paper...

Peers and Publishing: The Sun Also Rises

We've all been here...
Finding peers with whom I could share my ideas wasn't too difficult. Luckily for me, I am in another English class with some pretty smart people. I spoke with one of my classmates from the class. The two of us meet weekly to discuss certain topics that pertain to the class. On Friday, I reached out to her to see if she would mind listening to my ideas about Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The experience was a good one for me because I was able to organize my ideas more and present them to someone who was interested and knowledgable about the topic. I got some feedback that helped me narrow down my results a little more, but I was still torn between two ideas.

Creating Ideas in Conversation

File:Sanzio 01 Plato Aristotle.jpg
 Wikimedia Commons License / Wikipedia
 If this English class (Writing Literary Criticism) has taught me anything this semester, it's to be proactive about my work. There is definitely a difference between plugging key words into library and Google search engines and asking people what they think about a certain topic. It's the difference between finding what already exists and bringing a new conversation, and consequently new ideas, into existence.

I sent out messages to a large group of people on Facebook and tried to contact someone on Goodreads. I just noticed 30 seconds ago that I got a response! Thank you to my cousin, Melissa! Her comment makes me even more confident in my thesis, and I think I will be able to really run with it, now.


I find the idea of publishing one of my papers to be somewhat uncomfortable. I have always enjoyed writing, but I don't think I have ever really aspired to having my paper read and published in a public forum. I think it is probably time that I change my mentally about my writing and be more open to the idea of having others read my work. I think it will allow me to grow even more as I received feedback from all sorts of individuals, so I feel more partial to Guest Blogging.

Granted, this all would require that I write something that is worthy of their time and can contribute to the academic discussion on my given topic. Hopefully I can do that.

Academic Archives: BYU ScholarsArchive

In my American Lit class, I wrote a paper on Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat. As I researched the topic, I found a very useful, peer reviewed article written by a BYU student that explored Poe's writing style. It helped me to form some ideas about my paper and I appreciated that fact that another student had struggled through similar ideas as mine. I think that this would be an interesting place to publish because whatever work I come up with (hopefully good work) it can be of use to another BYU student that is working on a similar assignment.

Guest Blogging: TheAwl /

"We are largely interested in reported or observed nonfiction or cultural studies. That includes work that examines or highlights history, media affairs, strange occurrencesideaspopular or "fine" culture and capitalism in practice." This seems like a pretty progressive blog and would be an interesting place to discuss the different lenses of literary criticism. May not be what I am looking for with my paper right now, but I definitely would be interest for other works. 

Another Guest Blog: Book Riot /
This was on their About page:

Our Beliefs

  1. We create.
  2. We always prefer the book to the movie.
  3. We riot as a team.
  4. We geek out on books, embarrassingly so.
  5. We’re leaders.
  6. We practice charity.
  7. We miss our subway stop cause the book is that good.
  8. We are non-traditional.
  9. We believe in family (bookshelves and cats count).
I concur with every single one of these, and wouldn't have to look past their About page to feel like this would not only be a place I would want to contribute, but a site where I would enjoy reading other people's work. 

On Feedback and Publication

Creative Commons License 2.0 / Bill Bradford
Over the past few days, I've circulated my work in progress to a few different peers. The first was John, a neuroscience major I met a couple of week ago, the roommate of a friend of mine. He actually thought my paper sounded really interesting, and suggested that I could tie the Bible into my argument. William Tindale's Bible, he said, helped to shape our English language today more than Shakespeare or any other single source. I think this would be a really helpful way to connect to a more general audience.

The second peer that I connected with is my friend Ira from my Italian class, who is pursuing her master's degree in Linguistics. After talking with her briefly about my paper, she told me that she had also written a paper about the use of language in Alice and Wonderland, and so she emailed it to me. I gave her the link to the blog and she also said that she would talk to some of her own peers in her linguistics classes, some of which majored in English for their undergraduate degree, to see if they had any ideas, and that she would email me if she or they had any more suggestions. This is enormously helpful because I can connect to a broader audience of people who are also interested in language itself, and I'm excited to get more feedback.

A Thousand Splendid Venues to submit to.

LOL JK not a thousand more like three.

So, first things first.  I posted my question to my peers that commented on my original post on Facebook, and sadly, none of them responded.  So then I posted it to others that I thought might be interested in this topic.  To my surprise, I had three people respond that were very, very invested in Islamic feminism.

Sea Shells and Such

I still do not have a physical something that I can post on here for everybody to see for a shell for my paper, but I thought that it wouldn't hurt to at least post the general idea and direction I have for my paper.  Everyone should expect a few graphical or illustrative representations later.

First, my book is The Great Gatsby.  I will be making connections, or at least conversing with, ideas between that and the two Carroll works we have read for this class.

Here is where I can make a physical something to show:  I am going to do one of those webs or connection things to show how everyone connects to Jay Gatsby.  I might even try to make connections from AIW and TTLG to him as well.  That might not focus so much on the actual characters, but maybe more so on the themes or ideas.

Now I am treading into waters that make me feel uncertain.  I know that I do not want to focus too much on themes.  But I do want to show how the characters are connected to my main idea of random, and Gatsby being outside of the mold.

Maybe somebody can help me with this part, but I am a bit uncertain on how to tie more literary elements to my paper than just talking about characterization and plot.


1)  I am thinking either Digital America or the literary magazine Kristen works on, Criterion.  Then again, I am not sure what kind of stuff that they want.

2)  Maybe the BYU English Symposium, maybe a couple of others.  I would feel comfortable staying close to this sorta home, but maybe breaking out of that would be nice.  Any ideas?

3)  I really don't know on this one.  I might just do what a lot of other people are doing for this one.  Granted, many of us are thinking along the same lines.

To Publish or Not to Publish: That is the Question

                I’ve been discussing my paper idea with a good friend of mine who also happens to be an English major. She’s read Dracula and is familiar enough with Alice in Wonderland that I think she has some good insight as to some of the things I could talk about. I’ve also bounced the symbolic ideas off of my roommates and they think it sounds interesting, even though they haven’t actually read the books.
                I definitely think that I want to compare the symbolism in Dracula to that in Alice, but I also want to talk about what the symbolism does to the plot. For Dracula, I think the symbolism is a foreshadowing tool, while in Alice I think that the symbolism is used to draw more connections in the way our minds draw connections. I’m still a little iffy about whether or not I can find evidence about the last part. Who knows though, maybe the research will help me come up with even more ideas?

Perks of Publishing

From Wikipedia
One of my new favorite things to do is sharing my work, or work in progress, with others. Whether they may be interested or not, people are prone to give useful feedback that will benefit you. Many of the people I've talked to have definitely improved my process. I decided to share my draft with some of my peers from my dance technique class. I see them everyday for two hours so they are peers I am pretty familiar with. It was so satisfying talking to them about my paper because they reacted exactly how I intended: they related to the idea. My teaser discusses how The Perks of Being a Wallflower involves the concept of loneliness. The author, Stephen Chbosky, says this story is very autobiographical in terms of how much it relates to his life. This is the purpose of the book, to allow audiences to relate. When I shared this draft with my peers they began telling they're stories of loneliness and how they experienced it but overcame. This reassures me that the topic is supported and easily understood.

Now its time to start thinking about not only sharing my work but publishing! At first, it sounded a bit intimidating. Thinking about strangers reading my work and critiquing sounded scary. Now I'm thinking "Read my work, rip me apart, make me better!!!!!". This process is for sure to help me improve.

1.The publication I think would fit my paper the best would definitely be Digital America. Since I'm focusing on the novel and film, it goes with their interests and would make a good argument to them.

2.The conference I'd like to submit to is the BYU English Symposium. I feel more comfortable here at my own school because I know my peers are supportive. The due date might have passed but it still sounds fun.

3.For the guest blog post, I am stealing the one I read on Kate's post which McKay used as well. The blog is called New Directions in the Humanities and it seems very modern which I appreciate. The name describes it perfectly "New Directions" so it focuses on fresh ideas and topics that have not been commonly discussed. My paper would fit pretty well into this. They even have a promotion on their home page about a book that discusses the transition between literature and cinema....BINGO!

One Little Victory

I'll have to admit that I've been a tad apprehensive about getting my peer feedback. I posted on a blog about Watership Down sometime last week, but the results simply weren't showing up. It was looking like I'd have to resort to asking English majors in my French class for feedback. I wasn't entirely convinced that they would be enthusiastic about reading what I have so far.
This woman feels something close to my level of excitement right now
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Something great happened though! I checked the blog and the author responded to my question! They not only responded, but gave me some excellent biographical background I was unaware of, along with some great tips for directions I could take my paper that I had never even considered. I'm so glad that our previous assignment pushed me in a direction that I would never have moved toward on my own. My paper isn't written yet, but already I feel so enthusiastic and confident about what will become of it thanks to this one little victory. Check out the comments from the blog below.

Welcome to the Real World.

Logo from
I have been on Goodreads exploring different reviews that members have written about the YA novel Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I stumbled upon an extensive review with a link to a whole article on feminism in Ella Enchanted. I was pretty excited, because it relates really well to the ideas I have been exploring for my literary analysis paper. I messaged the author of the article (a college student from Pace University) to thank her for her helpful article and asked her if she had any thoughts about feminism in Young Adult Literature specifically in fairy tales. She responded to me in literally 20 minutes:

"Hi Tori! Thanks for getting in touch. It's so nice to know people still find that review on here and actually read the article..."

She went on to give me links to several more articles and her thoughts about my topic. Wow. That was so helpful and it happened so fast. Plus, it was so easy. People really do wan
t to talk to me about my little paper! I was blown away by her eagerness.

I also have an old Facebook group from a class last fall semester and we have kept it going this semester even though we are all in different classes now. I don't know the people very well, all I know is that that are a little bit nerdy and have a lot of great thoughts about my ideas. This Facebook group I have quite honestly ignored for the past few months has become a great resource. 

I have also been looking for ways I can get my paper out to people who might care about reading it after I finish writing it. I had no idea that there were so many ways to publish undergrad essays online! I am very grateful for this informative blog post about how to find authentic audiences for my work, even while I am still a student. It has been very motivating.

First of all, I am definitely going to submit my work to the BYU repository called the ScholarsArchive because it accepts any kind of student research. It would be a cool place to be published since I am attending school at BYU and I'd feel like I was leaving my mark here. 

I would also love to submit to the International Student Journal because I love the variety of topics and the range of research that they accept. People from all over the world can submit to this journal. I think my paper about YA literature, feminism, and gender roles will find a home there.

This blog: Interesting Literature is calling for any papers on literary analysis which is exactly the kind of paper I'm working on right now. This is one of my favorite options becuase I feel like guest blogging is more low-key. I feel pressure to write something worth reading, but I am not overwhelmed by the formal elements of a journal submission.

Chris on Flickr: shutterhacks
This blog: PURM is more geared toward bloggers who want to discuss the process of undergrad research. This isn't one that I could submit my paper to but it is something that is beginning to interest me. It makes so much sense for us to be looking for authentic audiences now while I am a student, and yet, I have never done it before. Why haven't I? I've decided it comes down to two things: fear and ignorance. I'm afraid of an authentic audience and I haven't bothered to learn how to find them. It's much more comfortable to settle for a contrived audience.

But no more. 

Real life is beginning. Undergrad researchers of the universe, are you with me?!

Pleas and Publishing

My Facebook plea
Last week when I created the second “build” of my paper, my plan was to circulate it among my co-workers. However, none of them had actually read The Book Thief (which completely shocked me because I work at a library, I thought that all of them would have read it). Anyway, when that plan failed I resorted to begging on Facebook, which actually worked out quite well. After I posted my plea for help, my dad and step-mom both shared my post and circulated it to their friends. Long story short I received a lot more feedback than I was originally expecting. I had several long conversations with people that I hadn't talked to in a while, and they were very helpful. Specifically, my friend Bill provided me with other themes from Alice in Wonderland that I could use in my paper. And my step-mom's sisters (my step-aunts?) gave me some really good ideas about Death in The Book Thief. Despite my frustration at my co-workers for not having read The Book Thief, I ended up with more feedback that I had ever hoped of receiving.

On a completely unrelated note, here are my ideas for venues to publish/submit my final paper.
1) ScholarsArchive – this is the BYU academic archive.

2) 12th Global Conference: Monsters and the Monstrous – A conference focusing on the cultural and historical moments that cause society to call something monstrous.

3) Interesting Literature: A Library of Literary Interestingness – A blog that welcomes guest posts about literature. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I had never even considered putting my work out there so far, so close to the flames of publish-ing-ness (surprising I'm an English major). But now I'm considering it. And it seems wonderful. 

Finding conferences and articles that were tantalizing was not hard. Through the confidence-building blog post Moby Digital and its links, I was able to find some really interesting stuff. And for the first time in forever (try to read that without singing it) I have gotten excited about sharing my work. 

Professor Burton was right. Now I really want to work harder at this paper and really nail it down. Maybe it'll be worth sharing! Maybe I'll get to be a part of something greater than just getting a letter grade! Oh, the places I'll go! (Hopefully). 

Creative Commons 2.0UK / Jisc Corp

1. The publication I'd really like to submit to would be Digital America. Looking through it, I knew my paper would match their interests, as well as my own.

2. Why not? I'd like to submit it to the Scholars Archive at BYU. I didn't even know this place existed, and now that I know, I want to make something I'm proud enough of to submit to it.

3. If I were to write a guest blog post, I'd  post in  the New Directions in the Humanities blog that I found by reading Kate's post on this blog. So much blogging. But, thanks to Kate, I got really excited about adding to this site and store of knowledge. On the homepage it states, "This knowledge community is brought together by a shared commitment to the humanities and a concern for their future" which I think my paper would really fit into.

4. The conference I found that would really be interesting to apply for (and hasn't already finished) is the EKPHRASIS 2014 : Urban Symphonies. Creating, Performing and Writing the Space in Cinema, Visual Arts and Literature Conference. It's exactly what I was looking for, and it's located in Romania, which is an extra bonus.

This is a whole new outlook on my education. To think that my work could be worth more than a grade and a dusty box, is better than I expected. I'm excited to continue working on this project with potential new end goals. 

Finding Similarities

Creative Commons License 3.0 / Antonio Litterio
When I first started thinking about what I was going to do to write this paper, it was initially difficult to pin down similarities between Anthem and Through the Looking Glass. They were written in different time periods, different genres. One is a whimsical fantasy land and the other is a dark, primitive future. Then I looked back and tried to figure out what I liked most about each text: the language (which makes sense, since I considered majoring in Linguistics at some point). Lewis Carroll is a wordplay master, and Ayn Rand wrote a whole story that placed extreme emphasis on the limitations of language in a way that I had never seen before.

So then I asked myself: what does the use of language in each text have in common? It's obvious, in Anthem, that language controls thought. Equality 7-2521 speaks in a plural first-person point of view, and struggles to conceptualize things that have been omitted by the language. So my next question was whether or not language served the same function in Lewis Carroll's works.

In Anthem, the language:
  • omits the idea of the individual
  • oppresses the people--speaking the word "I" is punishable by death
  • controls characters (prevents individuality)
In Through the Looking Glass, the language:
  • adds to confusion and chaos
  • creates humor (puns, etc.)
  • controls characters (characters obey nursery rhymes with or without realizing it)

Here's the link to a shell of my final paper:

Monday, March 17, 2014


I've compared Sara and Alice's Adventure in Wonderland in both their setting and characters:

1. The protagonist Sara and Alice are both children yet very different individuals. But they do share common characteristics such as curiosity and child-like personality.

2. The settings in both novels are similar as well. They are secluded in the sense that no humans are present except for the protagonists.

3. Animals can communicate with the the protagonists.

Here is my shell.

Get This Ball Rolling

Rolling, rolling, rolling.

I have two working theses right now and can't decide which is better. I put down my ideas in a simple comparison outline (image shown) and then was able to organize them into the thesis I thought was the best fit. Here it is in my paper shell.

It's just a beginning, but sometimes the beginning is the hardest part. I am excited, actually, to work on this and post it because it is getting the ball rolling.

Really rolling.

I hope it starts to snowball soon, but right now I am not getting very much from the enthusiasts I've contacted. I've gone to Goodreads, blogs, and even had an online interview with a screenwriter/enthusiast which unfortunately was cut short. I suppose it will pick up again soon. I'll keep working at it. 

I guess the best thing to say here is that this quest is to be continued...

Conferences? Journals?? Publications???

This is how submitting my writing makes me feel.
Source: Creative Commons License
As an English major and an aspiring writer, conferences, journals, and chances at publication are all things I yearn for and am simultaneously terrified of. They seem unbelievably hard to attain, even now. I'm going to be honest and say that I'm having a difficult time finding appropriate venues and opportunities to submit this paper for publication or conference proposals.

I did find a good website called New Directions in the Humanities that seems to be a good resource for conference publications. Their next conference is in Madrid which makes attending out of the question for me, but they offer options in virtual presenting/attending, which is super cool.

The same website also offers opportunities for journal publications, which is also neat. They require you to review other articles to keep the community circulating through each other's work, and they require you to submit a conference proposal and have it accepted, which is a lot of work, but I can understand where they're coming from.

I also investigated the possibility of submitting to the PCA/ACA conference, which I attended two years ago in Boston. I was bursting with ideas for papers and conference presentations when I left that conference, so I've always wanted to try something like it. Their conference is in just a couple of weeks, so going this year wouldn't be possible, but they might open up submissions for next year's conference shortly after this conference ends, so that could be a possibility.

As far as guest blogging goes, I investigated a few of the ones listed on the Moby Digital post we read for class, and the best one I found was Interesting Literature, which looks like its general call for guest authors is still open.

Digital Humanities Now also looks like a plausible option for a guest blogging sort of submission.

This past week I've been getting really good feedback on the blog from some peers, but my experiment on the Facebook group didn't go as well as I hoped. I asked for help, received many enthusiastic pledges to give help, and then got very little back after that. Like we talked about in class today, sometimes you get fast, healthy responses that quickly wither after a while. This is a step up from last week, when I got hardly any feedback at all, so I'm learning!


This really is a shell. Quite empty. In fact, if you could hold it up to your ear, you might hear the ocean.

I am stuck with what I think I want to say and how I want to say it. I am also finding out that JRR Tolkien did a lot of artwork so I am not sure how much that will affect my decision to run with this idea.
Click here --> MY SHELL
Small Brainstorm
Alice Illustration
LOTR Ilustration by Tolkien

Finding Enthusiasts for Feedback and Encouragement

Elsewhere I've discussed the importance of gaining social proof from various feedback groups. One starts by consulting one's closest friends or "homies"; then moves on to seeking feedback from peers. At the most developed stage one consults experts. I'm suggesting a third, penultimate group to consider for getting feedback: enthusiasts.
Who are these enthusiasts? What good can they do me? Where can they be found? That's what I wish to address in this post. 

Profile of an enthusiast
First, there is considerable overlap among these various groups. It is very possible than enthusiast about a given topic may be a peer or an expert of some kind. But in general, I'm suggesting that there exist many groups and individuals within reach (often electronically) who know a lot about a specific topic and who take pleasure in sharing that knowledge. They may not be credentialed, but they are usually experienced, and they have some kind of domain knowledge that gives them authority. They stay current on their field and interact with others on their favorite topics. Unlike one's homies, enthusiasts don't really know you as a person; unlike peers, enthusiasts may not share a common age or situation. Unlike experts, enthusiasts are less likely to be intimidating. You should find enthusiasts because they are likely to give you frank, quick feedback on your developing ideas, without the pressure of feeling as though your query or your project must be all that developed. If you show some basic knowledge and enthusiasm for a topic that they care about, they are likely to want to help you out. 

Enthusiasts may be reviewers, bloggers, commenters, or curators. They are amateurs, not paid professionals. That gives you some clues of where to find these people.

Unrequited Love

From the Computer Screen of Chalene
Dear Gadget Filled, Shiny, Aluminum Metal Device,

I hope this doesn't come as a shock to you, but I can't keep my feelings to myself any more!

 We have been spending a lot of time together.. a lot of meaningful time.  I feel like we have developed an intimate relationship that I have never shared with anyone else.  You have been there for me.  You help me find the answers to my questions, you listen to my musing and ramblings, and it really feels like you keep my life is order.  My life would be thrown into chaos with out you!  There is no one else I could turn to that is full of such knowledge and wisdom.  I know our time together can wear you down and that you get sleepy from our late nights, but you bring me such great joy.

Thank you Computer.  Thank you for being the place of my mind dump.  Thank you for taking all my incoherent ramblings to heart... well, hard drive.  Thank you for answering my Alice questions, by Elsha questions, by MLA formatting questions.  Thank you for your search engines and blogspots.
My college life (and this paper) would fail without you.

I love you Gadget Filled, Shiny, Aluminum Metal Device.
I only hope that some where deep in your mother board you can love me back.


Questions that still need answering:
- Was Alice popular from the first publishing, or did it take time to gain a readership?
- Comparatively, was Alice a typical book of that Victorian Era or was it unique?
- Was Winter of Fire's genre popular during the late 80's, early 90's?
- Though, currently, though isn't a large readership, was Winter of Fire a typical book of that time?
- What, possibly more popular, books were published near and around the time of both books?
- *Looking together personal opinions and accounts about both novels.

Newborn Research Paper

Since As I Lay Dying and Alice in Wonderland are so different, I decided to write down some key areas of both books on which my paper is focusing. Then, I just wrote down the facts. I was definitely happy with my results, and it is going to make it a lot easier for me to compare these two, vastly dissimilar works.

Turns out, it's the selfishness and ego-centrism of the adults that negatively affects the children.


Here is my developing research paper for As I Lay Dying and Alice in Wonderland. Let me know what you think so far! And if you have any ideas for me/sources to share, don't be shy!

Depriving Childhood Through Authority

Regaining Composure

Things are getting out of control.

There is way too much going on in my brain. There was more going on than I even realized. Mapping it out was so simple, but so helpful for me because I didn't realize how separate some of my ideas were. I know that I need to eliminate the thoughts that aren't helping my ideas multiply. Also, I realize there were a lot of ideas that did connect that I didn't realize were connected. 

It's easy to see that I have too much going on.

I think I've narrowed it down to the main themes of control and feminism and how they are connected. I am steering away from Alice in Wonderland and will focus more on Ella's world using general examples from other texts.

So here is my shell of a paper.

Peers, Shells, and Something, Good Something

First of all, I am happy to say that I do have peers.  Now if only I could figure out how to make new friends... but that can wait until later.

Anyway, I circulated my thesis idea to some people in my art class.  I got a few interesting responses.  A girl named Maren/Marin told me that she had never actually read The Great Gatsby.  After half a minute of explaining the general plot, guy falls in love with girl, guy disappears, guy comes back and makes something of himself, she made an interesting comment.

Even if we do not intimately know either book, we can see one stark difference between Jay Gatsby and Alice.  That idea focuses on the idea of fate.  Alice goes along with fate, and takes most things as acceptable, or normal.  Jay Gatsby fights against fate.  We could go on for hours, and possibly days and months, about the class problems implicitly and explicitly shown in the whole of Gatsby.  But focusing on that detracts too much from the main idea; Gatsby fights his fate.

Another girl, Sidney, had some good points about the story too.  Gatsby wasn't at all random.  At all.  There is nothing random to the plot of The Great Gatsby.  The characters are random, as is everything in AIW and Looking Glass, but the plot and Gatsby himself are not.  Gatsby breaks from the norm of the random and pointless, and largely fake, people and events.

Again, he fights fate.

By the way, I have to admit that I did not finish anything that resembles the shell for my paper, I just did not know what to state for my thesis.  I changed my ideas a few times on what to state, or really focus on.  My sister Jenny, friend Jeremy, and the two above mentioned ladies, helped me to cement my idea to where I finally know what direction I am taking.

Expect the bone structure of my paper very soon!

Gearing up for the Journey

By this point I think I've made it clear how much I love the Hero's Journey (or at least the idea of it). I'll admit that the reason why I chose my thesis is because I love The Phantom Tollbooth, and I love adventures, and since the Tollbooth is an adventure story... Well, everything just fit together a little too perfectly, so I seized the chance.

My sketchbook. Click for a closer view.
I know that I'm going to have to do a lot of research into Joseph Campbell's theories about the Hero's Journey. To be honest, I've only really looked over the Wikipedia article, but I've heard about it a lot through word of mouth and the idea fascinated me. I think it's worth looking into.

For the purposes of the paper I'm going to write, I must talk about a book of my choice and one of Lewis Carroll's books about Alice, so I decided to contrast the two. The Hero's Journey is supposed to explain why popular stories become popular: they simply incorporate the Journey pattern into their plot. Through the Looking-Glass is certainly enjoyable (at least it is to my odd sense of humor) and it's one of my favorite books, but not because of any journey of growth that Alice embarks on. Here is a working shell for my final paper.

(I must also acknowledge the possibility that while I am researching the Hero's Journey and analyzing Through the Looking-Glass, I will realize that it actually does contain the Hero's Journey... at which point I'll simply have to change my thesis. We'll see what happens!)

I think it will be a lot of fun to sit down and analyze Milo's trek through the Lands Beyond. It's something that I've always secretly wanted to do.