Tone

My first experiment included a sample interview with a professor of mine, and the questions were designed to answer a question I had explored in a close reading essay. The tone of that was investigative. The questions were written with the assumption that my subjects identified as feminists, because that was who I needed to ask, but they are still objective in that I did not want to give away the answer I was looking for.

My second experiment involved research of artists whose work was used in protests for different social justice movements. I displayed the information about the artist, the piece, and the movement along with a picture of the piece I had researched. The tone is meant to be inspiring and reminiscent of the energy of these activists.

For my third experiment, I decided I needed to do something more personal. I am working on a personal essay about what it is I want to say, and how I would use art to say it, if I ever decided to use that as my medium. The tone of this is meant to be animated and impassioned. I want to stress that I feel very strongly about this statement, and I really want to make something to represent it, but for now I’ll just write about what that would look like, and how it would feel to show people.

Tracking an Author: Joyce Johnson

In her book called The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac, Johnson does not focus on their relationship that occurred around the time On the Road was published, but dives into his background, paying a lot of attention to the fact that his is a French Canadian background. There are a great deal of biographies about Kerouac, but Johnson’s is the only one with so much focus on this fact, and only she had gained access to his large archive that has been kept in the New York Public Library since 2002. Johnson was not granted permission to quote the archives, so it is all paraphrased in The Voice Is All. And even though she writes at length about the value and brilliance of the works she had found, she does not include any examples of them. Johnson seems to be very reserved when it comes to Kerouac’s work, and the work of others like him.

The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac was published by Penguin Books in 2012.

Trustworthy and Authoritative

Buzzfeed articles, in my opinion, are not authoritative, but I generally trust them. They always make corrections, and I read the articles knowing something could be inaccurate. They don’t have the authority to report anything with very high stakes, and their information usually comes from outside sources. I trust them enough to be interested in what they have to say.

I read The Travels of Sire John Mandeville for a class this semester, which is not an article, but it’s definitely an example of someone who is authoritative but not at all trustworthy. This is medieval travel literature, written by a knight, supposedly accounting for his travels around the world and the things he saw in different countries. It has been known for a long time that almost all of what he said was untrue. At that time, it was one of the most referenced texts for travelers, even though it was mostly made up or translated from medieval myths. He had the authority, being a knight in medieval times, and his book is still being read today, but it’s obvious now that he cannot be trusted.

Tracking a Writer: Joyce Johnson

Johnson’s first novel, published under her maiden name (Glassman), is called Come and Join the Dance. It was published in 1962 by Antheneum. Johnson is the first woman novelist of the Beat Generation, and this is her debut. She began and nearly finished writing this novel before she met Kerouac, for those who give him most of her credit. In Come and Join the Dance, Johnson gives her character, a young woman who is about to graduate from college, the freedom to discover herself without urgency or risk of alienation. This is considered a feminist move, and it definitely displays the liberating ideas of the Beat Generation.

Tracking a Writer: Joyce Johnson

In her book called What Lisa Knew: The Truths and Lies of the Steinberg Case, Johnson picks apart one of the most famous murder cases of the 1980s. Two parents were arrested on child abuse charges after the death of their 6-year-old daughter and the mistreatment of their infant son. The mother was not prosecuted after discovering that she had been abused as well. In this book, Johnson tries the mother alongside the father and finds them both guilty of murder. Johnson eagerly condemns both of the parents, and blames a society full of lawyers, doctors, journalists, and feminists who did not bring justice to Lisa Steinberg. Overall, she condemns people who do not care about children or their rights. The book has more to do with speculation than separating truths and lies, but the injustice of the case and her anger toward it is made very clear. This is one of Johnson’s earlier books that further establishes her as a writer.

What Lisa Knew: The Truths and Lies of the Steinberg Case by Joyce Johnson was published in 1990 by Putnam Adult.

Track A Writer: Joyce Johnson

In her book Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir, Johnson talks about the Beat Generation in New York City and recounts her affair with Jack Kerouac. In one passage she talks about the “slums” which is how she refers to the Lower East Side. This area was left behind by children of lower-class parents making way for “loosely defined.. ‘artists'” to rent and eat for cheap. Johnson’s mother wonders why she loves the streets that her grandparents worked so hard to stay off of. This memoir captures Johnson’s experience as a Beat writer, which I find more fascinating than her relationship with Kerouac, which is sort of a biography of him (this is not boring, just not as exciting to me).

Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir was originally published in 1983 by Penguin and won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

 

Joyce Johnson

I recently came across the periodical A Women’s Thing that featured a short piece called “My Decors” by Joyce Johnson, and an interview about her experience as a Beat Generation writer. Her voice immediately interested me. Johnson enrolled in a novel workshop in 1957 with editor Hiram Haydn, who bought her first novel, Come and Join the Dance, which was published in 1962 by Random House. She has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the Washington Post. Her books have been published numerous times since the start of her career, and in the periodical she mentions she plans on writing at least one more.

Johnson had a two year relationship with fellow Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, which her memoir Minor Characters is about. She has received a lot of criticism because of the relationship with Kerouac, because people try to credit her success and insight to her involvement with him. In her A Women’s Thing feature, she calls out all the men, including Kerouac, who “kept interrupting the progress of [her] novel” (“My Decors”, 2017).

Tolentino/Small Staid Articles

“Louis Sachar, The Children’s-Book Author Who Introduced Me to Style” by Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker

Audience: People who know Louis Sachar is some capacity. Also, possibly those who have had a similar experience with childhood fascinations becoming influences in their adult lives. One might not have to know who Sachar is to be interested in how his stories impacted the writer’s style.

My Location: I was drawn to this article because I wanted to know how a children’s book could influence style. As I read it, i was thinking about which things from my childhood were reflected in my personality as I grew up. Which is why I think the second part of my statement about audience could be true.

“The 27th Letter” by Mairead Small Staid from Poetry Magazine

Audience: People who read Poetry Magazine, and must have a certain level of interest in the English Language as well as its history.

My Location: I do not read Poetry Magazine, but this piece stood out because I am an English major, and so I am interested in reading about a 27th letter. This piece about the ampersands is written to be informative, but it’s also very poetic. I wasn’t expecting to find anything like this.

 

Introduction to the MiW

Hello, my name is Karis Blaker. I’m a double major in English and Women’s Studies. I love reading books, poems, feminist magazines, and articles I find on Twitter. I also really like movies and TV, which is why I work at a film library.

I want to be able to write the things that sum up what so many people are thinking but can’t put into words. I constantly find things in articles or books that do exactly that, and they always stick with me. I want this minor to help me write things that stick with people. I guess that’s the sort of writing I would like to emulate. I also have an obsession with Sylvia Plath, so her writing is an inspiration too.