Building a Website

When it came to building my website, I had predetermined that I would use Wix to host my content (I didn’t even consider, until after, that I could have chosen from a number of sites). The main, and really only, reason why I chose to use this site was because I had seen a number of well thought out and visually appealing capstone projects completed on Wix. Even though I went into the site with the thought that this was the only one I could use, I really enjoyed it’s easy to use interface. I chose to use a blank template, which I simultaneously regret and applaud. Creating a website is difficult, and as I found out, especially difficult to do from scratch; I have many drafts for what the best layout for my content would be. At the same time, I am happy I chose this direction because it allowed me to have a lot of freedom and creativity in the way I shaped my web pages. In the end, they may not be as beautifully and seamlessly laid out as a lot of the templates that Wix gives you, but my site will allow my content to flow in the exact way I want it to, without having to cram anything into predetermined boxes.

Tracking an Author: Joyce Johnson

One of Johnson’s later books, Missing Men: A Memoir, is considered a classic memoir about growing up female in the 1950s, and also chronicles her two unfortunate marriages. The story is both Johnson’s and her mother’s, and describes a life build around absent men. Like most of Johnson’s work, the book is compelling and unique, and captures yet another image of her New York life. It is one of the first in its genre: stories of minor characters in history. The cover of the book is haunting and completely perfect for the story it tells.

Missing Men: A Memoir was published in 2004 by Penguin Books

Following a Writer: Joshua Rothman

Having gotten comfortable with The New Yorker as a venue, I decided it was time to break away from topic of video games while sticking to that same venue – mostly because nothing new or interesting had been published on that topic since my last post. I returned to the Culture section and browsed for a bit, but finding nothing on the front page that interested me I resorted to digging through writer’s archives for something more to my taste. This led me to the work of Joshua Rothman, namely his article “How TV Became Art” from last August (new enough for me). The early parts of the article mainly cover the early history of television and how journalists went about covering it, including The New Yorker‘s history of television coverage. The article gets interesting once it gets past these simple historical observations and onto the question of how TV was perceived by the press and the world at large, Rothman noting The New Yorker‘s own struggle in deciding what television was and could be. Was it “the decline of civilization” or “a new frontier for dramatic and civic life,” a new form of art? This question and the history of how it was tossed around is important to me as it is currently being repeated with how we talk about video games – I know I said I was getting away from that topic but I could not help but point out how this article connects to the larger canon of my posts here. Eventually, as is evident with the advent of widely acclaimed shows like Game of ThronesBreaking Bad, and The Sopranos, TV entered the realm where it could be considered art. Rothman also writes about TV news and the major impact it has had and still has today, and how this is still very much an open debate and unresolved, ever evolving along with the technology and public perception and such, but that is less interesting to me and only mentioned here as it would be a discredit to Rothman’s writing to ignore it completely.

Rothman is able to capture the essence of a massive body of work in only a few paragraphs, covering the magazine’s coverage of TV since its inception through to the present. It helps that he (along with the article’s co-writer, Erin Overbey) is the magazine’s archive editor, so no doubt has extensive experience perusing the extensive catalogue of material that the magazine has accumulated over the years. His expertise on the magazine’s overarching trends and attitudes comes through impressively in this piece, and looking over his other work appears to be a staple of his voice. Given how much I enjoyed this article, I will likely return to read more individual work of Rothman’s, as well as that of Overbey, who I can definitely see myself covering in another post in the near future.

Tracking an Author

Back to Margaret Talbot, I read one of her articles entitled “Why It’s Become So Hard To Get An Abortion.” Talbot first begins with the political nature of the issue. explaining how President Trump agreed that women who have had abortions should be punished on MSNBC. She then gave a brief history of anti-abortion laws through the work of Carol Sanger, a professor of law at Columbia. Sanger explains how the Right to Know laws have yielded a new form of modern consent–ultrasound laws. However, these laws, which require a woman to look at the fetus before having an abortion are both senseless and ineffectual; nearly sixty percent of women who have abortions have already given birth once, and of those who view sonograms, ninety-eight percent continue with the abortion anyway. In fact, sonograms often have the opposite effect (since most abortions occur in the first trimester, women feel often feel relieved when they are unable to see anything more than fluid in a sac). Talbot also recounts Sanger’s history of SCOTUS’s interpretation of abortion laws and the court process necessary to get “approval” for an abortion when a woman does not have viable parental guardians or is a ward of the state.

She then turns to her own tale, revealing that she had an abortion when she was eighteen and attending UC Berkeley.  A year later, she went undercover as a journalist for the university paper to a crisis pregnancy center. Only she learned that the crisis center was just another form of anti-abortion campaigning; instead of unconditional support, she was told that she might have to take some years off of school but at least she would not have to endure a lifetime of guilt.

Talbot raises interesting questions for abortion law, specifically abortion law on campus. During high school, I knew exactly where to go if I required one and what level of confidentiality I would be afforded. But years later, now in college, I could not tell you where I would go at U of M or in Ann Arbor. Hmmm.

Tracking an Author

As an offshoot of my last post, I am examining the work of photographer Philip Montgomery. One of the first things I looked at was his photo collection in Harper’s Magazine of the day President Trump was elected. The pictures are very interesting, but maybe more amazing was his use of language. He accompanies each photo with simple and potent captions. They are factual; yet, at the same time they attempt to comment on the political climate and sentiments of the election. For example, one photo caption reads, “The view from the crowd as Trump gives his inaugural address. As he started speaking, it began to rain.”

I then looked at his photo slideshow “Inside New York City’s Mosques.” The first picture is a man praying inside a vacant Burger King. An unique aspect of his collections are the continuities between the photos–how not only the content, but the shadowing and emotion are consistent between images as the viewer progresses.

Finally, I read a photo interview of Mr. Montgomery in the Lovely Daze. He describes something that I thought might be useful for my own final project:

“Photograph what you feel & not what you “think” is good. Everything has been photographed especially today where cameras are more or less accessible to everyone. It’s how YOU personally approach a topic and how you successfully convey your true voice as a photographer.”

Tracking an Author

Also very overdue for one of these posts…

I have been looking at Margaret Talbot, and on my first post regarding to her work, I read an article talking about the opioid crisis in West Virginia. Since then, she contributed to a photo collection by Philip Montgomery. The collection, called “Faces of an Epidemic” depicts the Opioid crisis in Montgomery County, Ohio. She leads by describing how President Trump was planning to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency. Her text accompanies pictures of the lives of people affected. As readers click across the display, they are introduced to the families of deceased addicts, watch as overdosing people receive care, and listen to the Sheriff’s insight regarding the most common time for an overdose.

Before reading this text/photo/video compilation, I hadn’t seen anything like this–I am even thinking about incorporating this into my final project somehow.  I am so blown away by the power of her words, and how the compilation is structures. I would encourage everyone to check it out!

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/faces-of-an-epidemic

Following an author: Sheelah Kolhatkar (2)

For the past several weeks, there have been several sexual harassment cases and the one involving Harvey Weinstein has shook not only the entertainment and media industries, but also brings Silicon Valley and Wall Street being questioned about the vast majority of such issues. Following from my last blog post, I decided to follow Sheelah Kolhatkar, and saw her article titled “What Hollywood Could Learn from Wall Street’s Sexual-Harassment Reckoning,” which highlights Wall Street’s history and how over the years, things have not really improved as most people would imagine so. I really liked the organization of her article since she seems to always start with one specific person’s experiences that links it with the main purpose of her article. She also likes bringing in several other references and perspectives which enhances her credibility and trustworthiness. From the content point of view, I was still amazed to see how women historically have been harassed in the competitive world at Wall Street, and how Human Resources till date continues to shun such cases away since it doesn’t fit their “company policies.” Through her choice of brief vocabulary, she effectively conveys clear messages of the “dominoes” effect of sexual harassment – unequal pay, suppressed environment, and private arbitration. Lastly, I find her one-two sentences confusion powerfully moving and effective, since she always leaves her readers with an important thought for the future.

Article: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-hollywood-could-learn-from-wall-streets-sexual-harassment-reckoning

Thoughts on Gateway Project

For my gateway project, I am looking at how people observe or react to emotional displays in public as compared to how they wish their own public emotional displays were viewed. I am interested in how I came from my original piece to this, which I will detail in this blog post. Here we go!

When we were asked to think of a written work of ours we would like to revisit, I was awash with ideas, though each piece I thought of had different reasons. One essay I wanted to rewrite because I slacked off and it did not turn out well. Another was an opinion piece, and my opinion had changed in the years afterward. This list and those reasons could continue for awhile, but I eventually settled on a poem I had written for a high school creative writing class. I (like to think I) had become a much better writer and poet in the interim, but there was one line that I really did like and still consider it one of my favorite lines I have written. To be fair, the rest of the poem was complete garbage.

This poem, in essence, talked about childhood hypersensitivity to emotions, pain, noise, etc. While growing as a human numbed down most of the unbearable sensitivity I had as a child, there were still aspects that influenced the way I interacted with the world, and I thought it would be rather interesting to see if anyone else felt that way. I do think I kept that theme in my final project for this class and am excited to see what the numerous surveys and interviews I have reveal.

Tracking an Author: Paul Ringel

Taking a look once again into the career of Paul Ringel, I found an Atlantic article very interesting to the aspiring librarian in me: “How Banning Books Marginalizes Children.” It made sense that Ringel would write about this, as he is a historian of children’s literature and this is certainly something that would crop up when studying what children read and why. In this article, Ringel discusses how banning books because of “inappropriate content” marginalizes children’s experiences rather than protecting the children themselves. In the history of banning books, it is important to look at the timeline with a historiographer’s lens rather than a 21st century view. Parents often made cases for books to be removed from school libraries for descriptions of violence or for rude language (think of the controversy over “To Kill A Mockingbird”). A picture book called “I Am Jazz” tells the story of a transgender girl was banned because it was called “anti-Christian.” In this article, Ringel steps back, observes the timeline, and closes the article with his own argument – very in-line with most other articles I have read by him. Ringle reserves his own ideas/thesis until he has presented a historical facts in a chronological order, and only afterwards will he put forth his own beliefs.

 

Tracking an Author: Francine Prose

I enjoyed reading Prose’s reviews, so I looked for another by her. Luckily, Prose weighed in on the movie “Mother!” In her review in the New York Review of Books, Prose addresses the controversies surrounding the movie. She lists some of the divisions between critics: they are angry at the lack of complex characters, some disliked the constant assault of women in the film, and the list goes on. Prose presents these critiques with equal weight and qualifies them with her own thoughts that dismantle the argument with only half a sentence. As an example: “Some objected to the level of violence against women, though one might argue that by the end, the carnage seems gender-blind.”

Prose leads readers to her/the real reason the movie was a bust. She quoted the movie’s director, Darren Aronofsky, where he said that he had a breakthrough: use the stories of the Bible to tell the story of humanity. Prose’s response did not hold back: “The story of humanity? One may wind up concluding that by far the most terrifying thing about Mother! is that Darren Aronofsky seems to be Hollywood’s idea of an intellectual, our own brainy, home-grown auteur.” This is how she concludes her review, which made sense. Prose started the review off in a similar way you inform someone that their essay you just proofread sucked: she began with compliments and slowly descended into pure disgust.