Oscar Wao Presentation

Hello, everyone!

My presentation was on the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I thought this novel was pretty flexible so I decided to cover as much material so that it could be used to it’s full potential. If you haven’t read the novel, I highly recommend it even for a fun read.

I’m attaching the Word Document to this post so that you can save it in a folder you might have on your computer that covers exam materials: Presentation

The first theory I covered was DuBois’ Double-Consciousness. Oscar is both Dominican and American, constantly being pulled by each side as he gets criticized for not being the Dominican-machismo male the culture expects him to be. This ultimately shapes his identity and could play a factor in the tragic ending.

The second theory is Brennan’s “Transmission of Affect.” Yunior, the narrator of the novel, is one of the many who criticize Oscar for not being Dominican enough. He is always commenting (or complaining) about Oscar and his love for sci-fi and comics. Yet, Yunior himself is affected by Oscar’s love of these subcultures. Yunior is constantly referencing sci-fi and comic book characters to give the reader a better understanding of what he’s talking about. Also, Yunior gets one of the highest grades in a creative writing course he takes with Oscar in college and ends up becoming a creative writing professor towards the end of the novel. He embodies the criticism he gave Oscar, proving that Oscar’s love transmits onto Yunior.

I also covered genre. Daniel Bautista’s “Comic Book Realism: Form and Genre in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” discusses Bautista’s claim of the novel emerging a new genre: comic book realism. Latin American literature usually brings up magical realism which the novel gets criticized for properly continuing this tradition or not. Bautista believes a new genre emerges overall. But, I believe the novel is a tragicomic because it covers all aspects of what a tragicomic is defined as.

Another genre element is Unnatural narration in Katherine Weese’s “‘Tu no Eres Nada de Dominicano’: Unnatural Narration and De-Naturalizing Gender Constructs in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”  Yunior is the narrator of the novel and tells us all about the De Leon family, even going as far back to Oscar’s grandfather’s history. Although Yunior says he talks to Lola, his past girlfriend, about Oscar and their family, it’s still pretty strange how Yunior is able to have this knowledge. Also, the article brings up Jon Alber’s UnNatural Narrative article which I know some people might use for the exam.

I lightly touch upon historical context, but the novel is covered in so much history that it was hard for me to cover as much as I could within the time we have left from now and the exam. The article is by Monica Hanna and is called “Reassembling the Fragments”: Battling Historiographies, Caribbean Discourse, and Nerd Genres in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I give excerpts from the introduction that cover what the article is about in my document if anyone wants to head down that path.

Good luck!

Exam strategies

Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems:

Theory: I believe the discussion we had in class that covered the variations of DuBois’ theory of double-consciousness worked well. Rather than using his theory for what it is (regarding race), I can expand on it by saying that within any binary Brooks explores in her poems (wealthy and poor, male and female, black and white), there is a double consciousness mode of thought.

Historical Context: The supplemental readings I added at the end of my study guide by Debo and Stanford can help discuss Brooks’ poems in certain historical contexts. Debo explains how Brooks’ poem “Riot” “connects the 1968 riots to the violence aimed at African Americans in the sixteenth century” (144). Stanford dichotomizes the poem “Negro Hero” by scrutinizing the Double V concept that Blacks are fighting for: the war at home and the war overseas.

Genre: Debo can also be used regarding the way Brooks writes her poetry. She explains how some critics believed her earlier poetry was “traditional,” “accommodationist,” or “white.” I can discuss how Debo believes Brooks’ poetry evolves and follows “what she sees happening in the arts and in politics – it is all politically informed” (143). [Weak, but just writing down ideas].

Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Theory: When we went over Postcolonialism (PoCo) in class the other day, I suggested this text. There are many instances in the novel where characters would bring up how Oscar doesn’t fit the description of what a Dominican is supposed to embody [need to work on this]. Or, as Professor Tougaw suggested, the places where Oscar lives fit into PoCo: he lives in DR a little at a time, a place where it’s constantly hot, little to no AC, etc; he lives at home with his parents who bring that DR essence to the house; as Oscar starts to get more independent and goes away to college in a dorm and then gets an apartment afterwards, it shows how he leans towards the more colonized way of living. [Need to work on this].

Historical Context: The novel reflects on Oscar’s family and their history with Rafael Trujillo who was the President of DR who led them into a dictatorship. I haven’t come across anything yet and this wasn’t really a path I wanted to take, but I will try and find a source that might be beneficial and post it as soon as I do.

Genre: I read this article a few years ago when I read the novel and just saw that Professor Tougaw posted it where our supplemental readings. The article is Daniel Bautista’s “Comic Book Realism: Form and Genre in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Bautista discusses the use of magical realism in Latin American literature and argues that strays away from that tradition into another realm: “Diaz’s mix of sf, fantasy, comic books, and gritty realism subversively reworks a strong tradition of magical realism in Latin American and Latino writing. The result is a new kind of genre, which I am calling “comic book realism,” that irreverently mixes realism and popular culture in an attempt to capture the bewildering variety of cultural influences that define the lives of Diaz’s Dominican-American protagonists” (42). I think I’m going to argue that Oscar Wao is more of a tragicomic. It follows the traditional styles of a tragedy: human suffering, tragic ending. And also of comedy: pitting two groups against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye defined the two groups as “Society of Youth” and a “Society of the Old.” The old is the Dominican machismo elements Oscar’s mother, Beli, and Yunior try to impose on Oscar. But Oscar is embedded in the new popular culture and surrounds himself with comics, fantasy, etc.

Another article I was looking at is “Tu no Eres Nada de Dominicano”: Unnatural Narration and De-Naturalizing Gender Constructs in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Katherine Weese. Weese discusses how the novel “violates traditional narrative conventions for distinctions between first- and third-person narrators” and how the novel “also participates in the unnatural in its use of science fiction and fantasy literature, and in its representation of logically impossible scenarios” (89).  [Reading this now, might bring it up during my presenation].

Flexibility and Modularity

I feel like DuBois’ theory of double-consciousness works with Brooks and Diaz’s novel. Oscar lives his life as a Dominican-American, constantly being pulled on each side in some sort of way.

I think I can somehow tie together Oscar Wao and The God of Small Things with a PoCo reading. Tracy brought up moments in the text where the twins had to adapt to their new way of life. This is similar to how Oscar slowly adapts to the American lifestyle and not so much Dominican. [Just something that popped up in my head].


Gwendolyn Brooks Presentation

Hey, everyone. I edited the Gwendolyn Brooks Study guide because it was a lot sloppier than I thought. Attached is an updated version: Gwendolyn Brooks Study Guide

Here’s a brief summary of what we went over:

I believe Du Bois’s theory of double-consciousness fits best with the four poems we’re using for the exam. [Double Consciousness (D.C.): “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others. . . One ever feels his twoness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder” (Du Bois)]

Du Bois’ theory was very influential at the time and is still taken into consideration today.

Within this theory, though, there are variations of the way it can be used.

“Negro Hero (1945) can be used for it’s original meaning. Dorie Miller juxtaposes his D.C. life both as a soldier fighting for America (against foreigners) and fighting a racist battle at home (against whites).

“The Sonnet-Ballad” (1949) adopts D.C. but modifies it in a way that it focuses on women. Rather than an African-American woman thinking  in terms of race, D.C. becomes a sense of agency where the speaker in the poem thinks of her love-life as a woman compared to her lover.

“Riot” (1969) can use D.C. as both it’s original term, but also in economical terms. Brooks uses John Cabot to mirror the stereotypical white man at this time with materialistic goods and Blacks by referring to them as “unpretty.”

“The Near-Johannesburg Boy” (1987) mainly uses D.C. in its original context but also implies that D.C. is a thought that can expand throughout countries.  Another option is contrasting the three earlier works with “The Near-Johannesburg Boy” since those three were written about the U.S. perspective of double consciousness while Johannesburg is about South Africa.

Another option is contrasting the three earlier works with “The Near-Johannesburg Boy” since those three were written about the U.S. perspective of double consciousness while Johannesburg is about South Africa thought.

Here are the two further sources:

Debo, Annette. “Reflecting Violence in the Warpland: Gwendolyn Brooks’s ‘Riot.’” 2005. African American Review, 39.1/2. p. 143-152. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40033642

Stanford, F. Ann. “Dialecitcs of Desire: War and the Resistive Voice in Gwendolyn Brooks’s “Negro Hero” and “Gay Chaps at the Bar.” 1992. African American Review, 26.2. p. 197. http://search.proquest.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/docview/209808244?accountid=13379&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo


I write a To Do list every day.

Here are a few things I need to focus on:

  1. Strengthen thesis – make it clear what I’m doing in this paper and why it matters.
  2. Find more sources on the pieces and on education.
  3. Stop being so wordy, get to the point.
  4. Structure – make the paper flow better.
    • Include works of literature earlier.
    • More literature, fewer paraphrasing. I need to find which sources are actually worth including in my paper and where their strongest arguments are made.


It’s great to do this paper in portions. It feels like I’m in a video game and just tackled the first two bosses before entering the castle and facing the final one. I need to strategize my paper better and make sure readers know what they’re reading before getting fancy with terminology and suggestions. I’m taking a break for now by tackling other assignments for other classes before I put my headphones on and listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers for hours while writing. Also, it feels pretty good to get this assignment out of the way so early in the semester.

My peers help with the tears

The most reassuring part about the feedback I received is that everyone agrees that my topic is heated and ongoing.

I was also able to sharpen my thesis on a paragraph that stood out to everyone. I mentioned that teaching literature that pertains to the overall topic of neurodiversity can help students understand the term. Ikram backed up this claim and Professor Tougaw agreed that it was one way to help navigate students through the complexity of the tensions between social and physiological ways of understanding disability. Studying the terminology that surrounds neurodiversity can also help students increase their understanding of how to use appropriate terms when writing.

My thesis will focus more on the literature I’m using (Tito Mukhopadhyay’s How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?, Naoki Higashida’s The Reason I Jump, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, I also added Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World to even out the literature I’m using to 2 memoirs and 2 fiction) and how it can be beneficial to students in numerous ways. Students will be able to understand the tensions between the physiological and social understanding of disability and how these two sides clash; what terminology is appropriate when facilitating a discussion about neurodiverse people; and some will be able to sympathize with the protagonist age wise (all novels invite YA readers).

On top of this, I would commit myself to read at least 1 chapter of Hayot’s book to pick out flaws when re-reading.

Edit: Here’s an excerpt from the introduction of Stephen King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams to help with the writing process –

“the finished product never seems quite as good as the splendid idea that rose from the subconscious one day, along with the excited thought, Ah man! I gotta write this right away! Sometimes the result is pretty good, though. And every once in awhile, the result is even better than the original concept. I love it when that happens. The real challenge is getting into the damned thing, and I believe that’s why so many would-be writers with great ideas never actually pick up the pen or start tapping away at the keys. All too often, it’s like trying to start a car on a cold day. At first the motor doesn’t even crank, it only groans. But if you keep at it (and if the battery doesn’t die), the engine starts . . . runs rough . . . and then smooths out” (2).

Comfortably Numb

My research project has been progressing well and a lot better than I thought. The only problem I’m having is organizing and structuring my paper so that it flows well for readers.

The introduction has been a problem because I want to provide certain information for readers through the introduction, but I don’t want to give away too much that the reader can already assume what I’ll be discussing later on. I’m also not sure if I should format the paper with subheadings or make it continuous. I’m looking back on Hayot’s chapters: Chapter 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 18 to help me with this problem and some of it has been helpful. The stance I’m taking might be just reviewing and studying the theoretical terrain and relating / coming up with new ideas.

Also, finishing up on finals with other courses has been a burden and messes up my stream-of-consciousness. So I needed to get all of that out of the way before I start writing.

The good thing is that I have a lot of evidence and enough information to support my project. I didn’t have to make any detrimental changes to my annotated bibliography and actually added a huge argument that allows me to open up a new and relatable realm to my paper.

And I’m also running out of Merlot.

Annotated Bibliography + Ballroom Diagram

Anastasiou, Dimitris and James M. Kauffman. “Disability as Cultural Difference: Implications for Special Education.” Remedial and Special Education, Vol. 33, No. 3, 2012, pp. 11.

This article examines and criticizes the treatment of disability being a cultural difference by theorists who are of the “social model,” a model that considers “disability to be a specific social and economic structure that excludes impaired people from participation in mainstream activities” and the “minority group model,” proposed by scholars with disabilities, propose that the “definition of disability directs attention to the sociopolitical significance of the ineraction between persons and the environments that surround them” (139-140). By comparing disability with something like cultural difference, Kauffman and Anastasiou attempt to create a positive identity in the term disability that is similar to other civil rights movements. By including this article, I hope to find a deeper understanding of why and how disability can be used as a positive term and relate it to the impact it may have in an educational setting.

Armstrong, Thomas. Neurodiversity in the Classroom : Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, US: ASCD, 2012. ProQuest ebrary.

Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development. He has 16 books, all mostly pertaining to the topic of education. Armstrong’s book suggests important strategies that will help all educators when it comes to dealing with neurodiverse students. He emphasizes on “positive niche construction- that is, the establishment of a favorable environment within which a student with special needs can flourish in school” (4). I can compare this book with the Kauffman article and also my literary texts that represent positive niche construction.

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2004.

Mark Haddon is an English novelist. Curious Incident won the Whitbread Award, Guardian Prize, and a Commonwealth Writers Prize. Haddon’s novel includes aspects of education: it’s no secret to Christopher that he attends a special school, Christopher’s Mom tries to educate him herself as much as she can, etc. Although Haddon’s blog emphasizes on this novel representing difference and not a particular disease, I can still add this literary perspective to my overall topic. The novel also has arguments about whether or not it should be involved in school curriculums. I’m trying to open up a more literary lens with Haddon’s novel that opens up a larger discussion to neurodiversity in the classroom.

Higashida, Naoki. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. United States: Random House Trade, 2016. Print.

(In process) Naoki Higashida is a Japanese poet, novelist, and essayist. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5 and was not able to make himself understood around people. He was able to quickly pick up on Japanese characters and was better at expressing himself through that (think Mukhopadhyay). The Reason I Jump was written when Higashida was thirteen and is a memoir on how his autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds. I will probably use this as a first-person approach to how Higashida was educated whether it is at school or outside of school.

Kauffman, J. M and Jeanmarie Badar, “How We Might Make Special Education for Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders Less Stigmatizing,” Behavioral Disorders, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2013, pp. 16-27

Kauffman and Badar say “The stigma with identification as needing special education for EBD (emotional or behavioral disorders, or any other disability) could be reduced by talking in readily understood language about differences, accepting the reality of differences and what they mean for students’ education, emphasizing the benefits of special education and the special skills needed to provide it, and working to make special education for students with EBD the special instruction and behavior management it should be” (16). This source adds to the conversation of making special education less stigmatizing and raising the awareness of difference. By implementing this source into my research it factors into the neurodiversity movement with its acceptance of diversity and also adds to the reservation of special education.

Kauffman, J. M and Jeanmarie Badar, “Instruction, Not Inclusion, Should Be the Central Issue in Special Education: An Alternative View from the USA,” Journal of International Special Needs Education, vol. 17, no. 1, 2014, pp. 13-20.

Kauffman and Badar state “A focus on anything other than instruction undercuts the legal and moral rights of students with disabilities to an appropriate education and fails to produce substantive social justice…Instructionally-relevant differences include many disabilities, but they do not include such differences as skin hue, parentage, sexual orientation, national origin, and many other kinds of diversity” (13). Both emphasize on the importance of instruction over inclusion for the sake of the students’ needs. This article adds both a practical and emotional factor to why special education should still exist.

Kauffman, J. M., Lloyd, J. W., Baker, J., & Riedel, T. M., “Inclusion of all students with emotional or behavioral disorders? Let’s think again,” Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 76, No. 7, 1995, pp. 542-546.

This source argues against including neurodiverse students into mainstream classrooms. A disclaimer is given at the beginning of the article, “While we attempt to make regular schools and classrooms inclusive in the best sense for as many students as possible, we should not be guided by overgeneralizations or become detached from the realities of classroom teaching, the authors warn”.  Kauffman is an American who has an Ed.D in special education and has made significant contributions to both the mainstream education and the special education field. Lloyd has a Ph.D in education with specialization in special education. Both teach at the University of Virginia. (Have yet to find background on the other 2 authors). Their article allows me to look at the counter-argument of including nerudiverse students in mainstream classrooms and join in on the conversation.

Mock, Devery R., and James M. Kauffman. “Preparing Teachers For Full Inclusion: Is It Possible?” Teacher Educator, Vol. 37, No. 3 2002, pp. 202-15.

This article examines various fields as to why it is impossible to train teachers to teach both mainstream students and students with specific disabilities effectively. They mention those in favor of inclusion as taking an emotional appeal to the topic and for those who oppose the inclusion taking a scientific approach. From civil rights to apartheid, slavery, and segregation, this article can impact the teaching portion for my research.

Mukhopadhyay, Tito Rajarshi. How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move? Inside My Autistic Mind. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2011. Print.

Another first-person approach to education, Mukhopadhyay is similar to Higashida as they both use writing as a way of communicating. In this book, Mukhopadhyay is educated by his mother and that holds a huge influence on him and he also attended the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing and said that it going to this school “worked better for [him] than going to any special school” (174).

Silberman, Steve. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. , 2015. Print.

(In process) It would be wrong not to include Silberman’s book because he brings up important points that will help any paper on neurodiversity. Silberman brings up some personal experiences that include educational features that I can possibly use for my research.


Possible sources:

Walton, Elizabeth, “Using Literature as a Strategy to Promote Inclusivity in High School Classrooms,” Intervention in School and Clinic, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2012, pp. 224-233.

I was going to use this source to provide examples of how including literature such as Curious Incident, How Can I Talk, and The Reason I Jump into class curriculum can be beneficial to students by opening the discussion of accepting diversity.

Brantlinger, A. Ellen. “Conclusion: Whose Labels? Whose Norms? Whose Needs? Whose Benefits?Who Benefits from Special Education?, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2006. PDF. 1 Dec 2016.

Brantlinger’s textbook holds many articles by both herself and other scholars addressing the aspects of special education. In her conclusion, though, she talks about the individual’s identity when exposed to these norms of being different and the effects on the person’s self-perception. It would add to the cultural as difference and positive identity conversation.


ballroom-photoshop(Click to enlarge)

Research Proposal

(I have yet to read some sources in full so this list is subject to change)

My primary sources will consist of:

  • Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Silberman, Steve. NeuroTribes
  • Higashida, Naoki. The Reason I Jump
  • Mukhopadhyay, Tito. How can I talk if my lips don’t move?

I’m looking for educational aspects in the literary texts I included. Christopher Boone spends a lot of time in his “special” school; Mukhopadhyay is mostly educated by his mother; I’m in the process of reading both Higashida and Silberman but I’m sure education will pop up.

Here are some questions that arise from these texts:

  • Is the inclusion of autistics in mainstream classes beneficial or detrimental to both “types” of students?
  • What are some arguments about including a neurodivergent outlook in a “normal” classroom setting?
  • How might this affect the neurodiversity movement?
  • Does excluding neurodivergents in mainstream classrooms increase the stigmas against them?
  • How can we bring neurodiversity into a strict classroom curriculum?

Possible secondary sources:

  • Armstrong, Thomas. Neurodiversity in the classroom, Developing and Evaluating Educational Programs for Students with Autism
  • Brantlinger, A. Ellen. Who Benefits from Special Education?
  • Magyar, I. Caroline. Developing and Evaluating Educational Programs for Students with Autism
  • Franklen, Fred & Wood, J. Jeffrey. Social Skills Success for Students with Autism/Asperger’s: How to Teach Conversation Skills, Prevent Meltdowns, and Help Kids Fit In
  • Luiselli, K. James, Russo, C. Dennis, Christian, P. Walter, and Wilczynski, M. Susan. Effective Practices for Children with Autism: Educational and Behavioral support interventions that work

These are textbooks. Some include academic articles in them that go beyond or are perfectly compatible for my topic. I’ll definitely use one or two reviews on Curious Incident, both the novel and the play, especially Olear’s review on Haddon’s novel and the blog post on the topic. There are also some arguments on including Curious Incident in the classroom and it being banned. I’ll also try and find sources that are based on experiments of neurodivergents in mainstream classrooms. (More to come).

A personal motive for researching this topic is that it will help me as a future educator if I were to ever come across this situation. I have yet to come across opposing views of neurodivergents in a classroom, but I’m sure if there are current debates behind this topic it will strengthen my paper and allow me to contribute to the conversation. This topic may also seem insignificant to the public eye but it is important to the neurodiversity movement and educators as well.

Know Your Role – Kinesic communication in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Researching historically has always made texts easier to read and remains one of my favorite aspects of a research process. While reading Bolen’s “Face-Work and Ambiguous Feats in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” it didn’t occur to me how important gestures and knowing one’s role in society during this time was.

To understand his article better, Bolen talks about Gawain not resisting the agreement between Green Knight because of trawthe, the “truth, trustworthiness, and honor” of  Gawain and how important trawthe is in this text. He continues to say that trawthe ” refers to the validity and reliability of a person’s given word, and it pertains to a concept of the truth that cannot be dissociated from social bonds” (Bolen, 123). This idea of trawthe comes a long way from the beginning to the end and is arguably the plot, climax, and resolution of the text.

Bolen breaks down the text into three stages: “First, we are given to witness Gawain’s diplomatic art when he defends King Arthur’s honor at Camelot. An eerie knight bursts into the castle, humiliates the king, and Gawain intervenes to save the day… In the second stage of the narrative, Gawain travels in search of the Green Knight to fulfill his promise and mission… The third stage of the narrative is the conclusive confrontation with the Green Knight, where Gawain proves willing and able to offer his neck to the axe” (125-126). These three stages define Gawain’s capacity of following trawthe. Gawain intervenes to save his King; travels to complete his mission; and proves himself to the Green Knight, passing the game.

Following this term, Bolen goes on to explain the gestures, or kinesic communication, of the characters. The OED deines Kinesic as “Of or pertaining to communication effected non-vocally through movements or gestures (kinesic, adj., OED). He discusses the Green Knight’s “absence of reaction” to King Arthur’s gestures by commenting on his beard stroking and undressing, “the act of stroking one’s beard and straightening or smoothing one’s coat instead of maintaining a state of alertness and preparing to fight constitutes an attack more dire against Arthur’s worthiness and honorability than any other threat…” (127). Bolen is suggesting that the Green Knight’s unpredicted bodily gestures is a bigger threat than being alert and preparing a fight. This made me think o Conor McGregor (the famous Irish UFC fighter) and how he acts in pre and post-fight interviews. Instead of talking about tactics, training, and conditioning, McGregor attacks his opponent by laughing and not physically touching them, but taking items in their vicinity and mocking them. Like the Green Knight, rather than preparing for a battle, he makes himself comfortable by taking his coat off. As far as the beard stroking goes, Bolen believes it to be “complex because of its interactional context” (127). Stroking one’s beard is complex to read. It could either represent thinking, physical irritation, a stimulating pleasure, etc

This reading had me thinking about social gestures we use everyday. One can bob their head back and forth if we see them wearing headphones but if the headphones are absent their called crazy. Flapping hands is a common stimming pleasure for autistics, yet when we see someone shaking their leg constantly while sitting that’s a normal type of stimming. When teaching ESL students teachers depend on kinesic communication to make sure the student comprehends the work easier. Gestures is another type of communication that unfolds various types of meanings. I didn’t expect to take Sir Gawain this far, but reading the text this way had me thinking of other texts and I just got myself tied into this idea.

An English Major’s epiphany

I’m enjoying Hayot’s The Elements of Academic Style. Chapters 8 & 9 create a formula for a more organized structure that will keep one’s reader engaged. Ever since I was introduced to the 1-5 levels I haven’t stopped rating article’s sentences and paragraphs. Hayot’s book as a whole capitulates what academic papers should consist of.

In Representing Autism, we can see how Murray structures his paragraph to grasp the reader’s attention and allow his paper to flow. He opens with familiar impressions of autism through autistics such as Grandin, Baggs, and Williams, and juxtaposes their experiences with other novels. By doing this, Murray opens up his second paragraph by writing “the places where autistic lives do not show this kind of range are, of course, those created from outside the condition itself” (Murray, 45). These first two paragraphs follow “the Uneven U” system by Hayot. A 4 in the opening: Murray uses “less general; oriented toward a problem; pulls ideas together” by juxtaposing the writing of autistics with that of neuro-typicals (Hayot, 59). Murray then goes to level 2: introducing novels that hold representations of autism and examples within them.

Skipping ahead to the Bartleby section, Murray takes a glimpse in the past by saying that Curious Incident “is perhaps not the great literary text of autistic presence” and that Melville’s story should be “properly” given that role (Murray, 50). Murray tells his readers that “to choose a text from a period before autism was a diagnosable condition might seem counterintuitive…yet noting the processes through which autism was named and acquired its current diagnostic formations does not suppress the need to attempt to locate the ways in which the condition was represented before the 1940s” (Ibid). Murray understands that his research before autism was created is not common in this field of study but can still be nevertheless true. He defends how his argument may work by mentioning his introduction on retrospective diagnosis and how it is “a fraught process that is all too open to the abuse of the lazy claim, but it can also be a radical critical intervention that is enlightening in extending the parameters of how we understand and read disability” (Murray, 51). His claim, then, is used later on in the paragraphs that follow. By understanding other perspectives on researching autistic presence in literature before the disorder was created, Murray allows an argument to follow his claim but does not fully close his claim because of how valid it still is. Murray’s overall claim, then, is that ” ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ presents a radical narrative of autistic presence, and that it does so some ninety years before the condition began to be recognized within the terms of clinical medicine…there are two aspects to this claim. The first is that the representation of Bartleby is recognizably that of an autistic individual and that the text offers a clear account of autistic behaviour. The narrator’s descriptions of Bartleby time and again echo the description of impairments – of communication, imagination and socialization – that would come to be central to twentieth-century outlines of autism. The second element to this claim is what we might call the critical consequences that come with the admission of the fact of a narrative autistic presence, namely the manner in which Bartleby’s subject position then determines the various analytical interpretations that can be mobilized in discussions of the story as a whole” (Ibid). Readers now get a sense that Murray has a singular claim that is broken up into two components and should be prepared to read examples of how each component fits into his overall claim.

As Murray gives examples from the text itself, he also adds other academics into the argument and their research on the novel. He brings up Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s definition of a ‘normate’ and how it fits into his claim.  Murray also later sheds light on another claim by Wyn Kelly and Cindy Weinstein that aren’t on the same route as mental disorders but rather an economic difference within the text. By introducing these different perspectives, readers get an idea as to how Murray’s overall claim works just as well. I think this technique is a stretch off where he appears to be headed because it doesn’t follow his overall claim but can also be used as another defensive strategy for his argument that allows readers to understand the different perspectives ‘Bartleby’ represents.

Murray closes off his section III by saying “For all the metacritical status of the story, and all the provisionality of any reading of ‘Bartleby’, it is perfectly justifiable to prefer this reading of the conclusion” (Murray, 59). This closing tells the readers that his reason for bringing up other readings of ‘Bartleby’ is to show how his claim is “perfectly justifiable” and mentions how it is a “preference” not an overall fact.

Hayot’s book is actually helping me as a writer. I always think of a thesis but sometimes close the idea because of its counter-arguments which make me lose my overall motivation of writing the paper. I now understand that it’s perfectly fine to think of counter-arguments because it opens up more doors for my overall thesis. When writing an academic paper, one doesn’t have to suggest that their overall paper is a fact that must be read this way, it’s just one way of reading a text. Readers don’t have to agree, but it doesn’t make the overall claim invalid if the evidence shows that the text can be viewed in that particular way.

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