The film Never Look Away provides recounts how a fictional artist’s experiences influence his work. The viewer follows the relationship between Kurt’s childhood in Nazi Germany and the evolution of his artwork. As Kurt tries to break from his training in Socialist Realism and discover his artistic voice, he combines his traumatic childhood memories with the experience of post-WWII Germany. Kurt combines photographs from his childhood with clippings from newspapers to create photorealistic paintings. Kurt’s artwork resembles that of Gerhard Richter. Both the fictional artist Kurt and the real artist Richter appropriate existing photographs to create paintings that almost perfectly resemble its source imagery. However, both artists question the potential of their work to fully represent a specific moment. The gap between reality and representation exists in the differences between an original experience, the moment a photograph captures, and a painted adaptation of the photograph. Art captures a moment, but it fails to truly depict the emotional and narrative contexts. Richter argues that reality is more dreadful than the moment a painting captures. The more an artist appropriates or recreates a moment, the more they remove the experience from its original context. The appropriation of photography in both Kurt and Richter’s paintings reflect the claim that as a work of art extends further away from its original context, the easier the viewer accepts the artwork. No matter the distance between the original moment and the representation of that moment, the resulting artwork is an abstract interpretation unique to the artist’s experience and the viewer’s interpretation.
Shadows of the Summit Pointing West ! The German citizens’ perspective on the summits and conferences of world leaders following WWII greatly differs from the idealized history presented in history textbooks. ? How did the leaders/members of the summit respond to Meinhof’s writing?
Hitler Within You ! Students bear the responsibility to not let the past rest and to question older generations, placing an emphasis on transparency and confrontation. ? What information/influence from older generations pervade the lives of students today?
Human Dignity is Violable ! A single addition to the constitution had the powerful effect of reversing progress towards an idealized condition of pure democracy and the elimination of all possibilities of war. ? Do the two pillars (democracy and no war) still exist in the German constitution today? Are they as important today as they were in the 1960s
Women in the SDS: Acting on their own Behalf ! We can’t push for equal pay or equal work without first changing the distribution of wealth. ? How do the American and German wage gaps compare?
Columnism ! The columnist guards the originality and individuality of a newspaper, contributing to the profit and prestige of a paper. ? How has the role of the columnist versus the editor changed in today’s shift away from print to online media?
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum ! The complicated web of relationships and connections in combination with constant distrust and betrayal made it difficult to determine which figures to side with. ? What role does translation play in the subtitles of the movie? What does the viewer lose in only reading subtitles?
The Baader-Meinhof Complex ! The fast-paced, dramatic action of the movie makes the viewer constantly switch sides, and question why they should or shouldn’t support the terrorist group. ? What differences exist between this movie and an American equivalent? What does German/European film use that American film does not, and vice versa?
Rather than studying the different translation as a whole, my AT group decided to focus on a specific poem and apply the differences we found to the rest of the work. We chose the first poem and engaged in a great conversation about the disparities between translations. Thomas translates the poem to read similarly to Akhmatova’s original literary content, as seen in his more passive and linear language. Oppositely, Anderson takes artistic liberty to stretch Akhmotava’s original language into English rhymes. The difficulty of finding equivalent rhymes in two languages appears in some of Anderson’s imperfect rhymes, such as back and wax; brow and howl. Our comparisons led us to conclude that the two translators took different approaches to Akhmatova’s poems. While Thomas used the translation to strictly convey words and phrases equivalent to the original, Anderson bounded his translation to preserving the artistic nature of the original.
! Although Russian artists were fully aware of the strict censorship and dramatic consequences, they were not afraid to use their art to challenge the Soviet regime
? Did these artists use a common collection of symbols/ codes that went unnoticed by Soviet censorship but recognized by the artists’ audiences?
Snow quote: “The number 2 is a very dangerous number: that is why the dialect is a dangerous process. Attempts to divide anything into two ought to be regarded with much suspicion.” (9)
! The number 2 is incredibly pervasive in our lives. We divide almost everything into two, especially the emphasis on opposites and categorization. Only upon reflecting on the number 2 do we realize the significance of its presence.
? I don’t feel the incredible sense of polarization between literary intellectuals and scientists that Snow so heavily emphasizes. Maybe this feeling stems from the differences between the English and American educational systems. What are the major differences between the two country’s perspectives on education? How do they approach education differently?
The scientific theories I recognized: Special and General Relativity (4/5), Natural Selection (2), and heliocentrism (1)
C. Shaw Smith’s lecture of Romare Bearden in terms of “being human” provided a clear transition between unit five and unit six. After spending a month studying the use of performance to enter a political conversation, I quickly picked up on the connections between reading dance and reading visual arts. Smith used the works of Bearden to guide us through the practice of visualizing and performing memory. Bearden’s work emphasizes the importance of remembering and ritualizing in visual arts. His collages represent different rituals as a means of confirming humanity; collages of remembering. Human rituals impose order over the chaos in our lives. Examples of rituals in Bearden’s collages include burials, going back to school, worthing, bathing, and other rites of passage. Through these rituals, Bearden tells his experience and defines his identity through pictorial complexities. In addition to storytelling, Bearden’s work also employs what Smith called “the acoustics of remembrance,” or the study of what paintings sound like. Overall, Professor Smith’s presentation on Bearded gave me a good foundation for the process of reading and hearing visual arts.
The documentary calls attention to the shocking persistence of minstrel shows and their characters into the 20th and 21st centuries. Popular culture has conditioned us to ignore these characters. Although the documentary calls attention to 20th-century examples of the continuation of minstrel influences, what are some 21st-century examples?
I closed my eyes during the Kelly Lecture on “The Other Slavery” and the lecturer’s words quickly transported me from the 900 Room into Hance. Andrés Reséndez called attention to the system of Native American slavery in American History. Throughout the lecture, Reséndez mentioned how the historical narrative emphasizes African slaver, but it pays little attention to native slavery. I sat there thinking, “historical narrative, narrative, Archive?!?!?” The lecture connected perfectly with the content of Bory’s unit: the collective narrative fails to equally represent different histories, perspectives, and opinions and, in turn, the Archive lacks documentation of these narratives. Reséndez described his studies seek to call attention to the native slave narrative and increase its presence in the archive. Leaving the lecture, I reflected on how interesting it would’ve been to have Reséndez give a lecture in Hance. The Humesters could have connected Resédez’s studies to their studies of narratives, archives, and performances.
Attending the Byran Stevenson lecture allowed me to clearly connect the themes of humes, the Montgomery study trip, and the reality of our society. The readings we discuss in the classroom improve my understanding of challenges, and conflicts through an academic perspective, but, as Stevenson strongly emphasized, we need to get proximate to these problems. The Montgomery study trip brought us closer to reality. We walked around historical sites to connect to the physical place. We attended the Legacy Museum to intellectually confront racial oppression. We visited the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice to evoke an emotional response to the past. While the study trip brought us close to confronting past and present inequality, the Stevenson Lecture connected our classroom and field trip learnings to the real world and called every audience member to action. Stevenson proposed four key steps towards evoking change: (1) get proximate, (2), change the narrative, (3) stay hopeful, and (4) be willing to do uncomfortable, inconvenient things. First, proximity is powerful. It fosters connection through affirming the dignity and humanity of a historically marginalized people. We have to get up close to people to understand and connect the nature of problems. Second, we have to change the sustained narratives passed down to us that lack equality and justification. These narratives of fear and anger create a society of mistreatment, oppression, and excessive punishment. We must disregard these outdated narratives and replace them with more modern, flexible solutions. Next, we have to stay hopeful that change will come. Although it may appear like the easiest step, we face inexplicably difficult experiences that make us question our purpose. But, we must learn from the broken and grow out of brokenness to persevere. Lastly, change cannot occur without a willingness to make ourselves uncomfortable. We must face inconvenience and discomfort to truly witness reality, which allows us to overcome oppression and create change. Overall, my reflection on Byran Stevenson’s lecture and my connections to humes left me wanting to bring an element of external interaction to the humes curriculum. We focus so much on the importance of provoking change in a world of flaws, but we do nothing to act on these issues. I think all the humesters could benefit from following Stevenson’s four steps and serving the community.
Schneider – Performance Remains: ! Performance can facilitate remembrance by rejecting western society’s conception of the Archive ? What does it mean for a history or narrative to disappear entirely? Will some form of the narrative always remain? Is it possible for us to truly know if a history disappears?
Birns – Ritualizing the Past: ! Sorry, but I can’t get over how this artist’s last name is Lemon. It’s a pretty fun last name! ? How far can an artist push their work until critics no longer consider it art? Does Lemon’s combination of dance and other art forms push these boundaries?
Senator John Lewis dedicates much of his graphic novel to the Freedom Riders—with the perspective of both an outsider and a participant. Artist Nate Powell represents these different perspectives through a variety of graphic elements; such as full-page illustrations, text-based descriptions, and powerful representations of violence. Particularly powerful, the scene depicted on page 47 successfully conveys the tension, violence, and chaos of the Civil Rights Movement. The page illustrates various reactions to the news of flames engulfing the Freedom Riders’ bus in Anniston, Alabama. Lewis writes that he returned to Nashville to “attend a picnic to celebrate the fact the after fourteen weeks of stand-ins, the city’s theatre owners had finally agreed to desegregate” (46). However, the news of the burning bus interrupts the celebration. One panel depicts a radio with a static speech bubble quoting the news headlines. After this simple panel, chaos fills the next page. Speech bubbles, onomatopoeias, and movement fill the page. The radio remains a constant, telling Lewis and his friends of the dramatic event. This continuity emphasizes the significance of the fire on the Freedom Rides and its impact on other members of the Civil Rights Movement. Meanwhile, people rush to phones and clatter around to seek more information about the breaking news. Speech bubbles shout expressions of shock and concern: Hey! Turn it up! Hello? Yes? Harsh lines and angles slowly fade to softer shapes as the pandemonium calms. Unlike a purely textual description of Lewis’s response to the Freedom Riders’ burning bus, the pictorial depiction evokes a more emotionally connected response. The reader’s eye dashes across the page, prompting confused, concern reactions. The rhetoric of the imagery conveys a heightened understanding by forcing the reader to interact with and respond to the story. As a reader, I found the story more moving and empowering because of its imagery. The authors’ choice to tell Lewis’s experience with the Civil Rights Movement as a graphic novel demonstrates the power of expression without a dependency on text.
Both Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells experienced lives influenced by blatant racial discrimination. Terrell’s parents raised her and her siblings in a financially stable household. As a member of the upper-middle class, Terrell used her position to fight racial discrimination. She focused on racial uplift, believing that racial discrimination could end with the social advancement of blacks through education, work, and activism. Although she joined Ida B. Wells in her anti-lynching campaigns, Terrell’s efforts towards civil-rights focused more on social disparities rather than violence. Unlike Terrell, Well’s found violence a more pressing example of racial discrimination. As a journalist, activist, and researcher, Wells documented incidents of white mob violence and lynchings across the United States. Despite the two women’s different expressions towards violence, they shared similar religious backgrounds and beliefs. Both Terrell and Wills grew up with similar religious upbringings. Later in life, Terrell taught at a university founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which influenced her approach towards social activism. The Methodist Church emphasizes charity and works of mercy. Its members follow Christ’s command to spread the good news and serve all people. Specifically, African Methodism advocates for the civil and human rights of African Americans. Members of the African Methodist Church fight for equality through the social improvement, religious autonomy, and political engagement of African Americans. Similar to Terrell’s experience with the intersection of religion and civil rights, Wells wrote for a black church’s weekly newspaper. Wells served as the editor and co-owner of The Free Speech Headlight, a black-owned newspaper based at the Beale Street Baptist Church in Memphis. The religious beliefs of the church, along with her religious upbringing, led Wells to base many of her arguments on racial equality on religion. In summary, Terrell and Wells both fought racial discrimination and advocated for women’s suffrage through a religious lens inspired by their upbringings and work surrounding the church.
Coincidentally, I saw the Davidson Theatre Company’s production of “Macbeth” exactly one year after my high school won the state championship for our production of “Twelfth Night.” I guess November 3rd is a day for Shakespeare. Having acted in a Shakespeare production myself, I think, allowed me to better understand each character and their contributions to the plot as a whole. While the complex story was interesting, I was most intrigued by the elaborate set and lighting designs. Upon walking into the theatre, an extended stage protruding into the house greeted me. The esteemed Humanities fellow Turner guided me to the seat he deemed the best in the house. He was certainly right. I felt like I was present in the very moment for the whole show; like the actors were only talking to me. In addition to the impressive stage with its multipurpose layers and trap doors, the lighting design also enhanced the production. The actors’ candles and flashlights added to the eeriness of the show. Overall, I really enjoyed the production and watching the hard work of my fellow humsters.
Both Gourevitch and Sontag provide information on and insight into the relationship between tragedy and imagery. Although Gourevitch does not include images from the Rwandan Genocide, his writing effectively conveys the same amount of shock and horror provoked by photographs. The story of the dogs during the genocide disturbed me the most. After his first few months in Rwanda, the noticeable lack of dogs struck Gourevitch. He counted the dogs he saw and inquired about their absence: the dogs were eating the dead, so the Hutus killed them. Along with the Tutsis, the dogs became victims of the Rwandan genocide. This story illustrates the horrors of war and genocide. But we do not feel a connection or response to such violence until we, willfully or forcefully, read, view, or hear stories of wrongful death. Sontag argues that only photography captures death in its true form. The camera places the viewer in a shocking scenario with no choice but to confront the horrors of reality. Gourevitch writes, “I couldn’t get past a photograph on the front page: bodies swirling in water, dead bodies, bloated and colorless, bodies so numerous that they jammed against each other and clogged the stream” (152). These images engulf their audience, forcing them to confront reality and making them feel helpless.
At the Make Your Own Passport workshop, the artist greeted us with a jar of folded slips of paper carrying our nationality for the next hour. Looking at the rainbow of passports, I was eager to do some arts and crafts and test out a new passport. However, the slip of paper gave me a stateless status. An additional piece of paper detailed my background story: I currently live in China, but neither I nor my parents have Chinese citizenship because of discriminatory citizenship laws. My fellow stateless people and I wandered around the tables unsure what to do next. I was surprised by the number of us and how little instructions we received. Eventually, the artist presented us with two options for stateless passports, only one of which still exists today. I opened the passport to find blank pages and general confusion. I left the workshop confused and curious. What does it mean to have stateless status, and what disadvantages do stateless people encounter?
Paragraph: War is inevitable. We can hope that the abolition of war exists, but violence between people and groups of people will always prevail. Shocking images depicting the violence and gore of war attempt to deter their audience from war. These images force viewers to confront the reality of war and realize its destructiveness. However, they are only as effective as their audience is perceptive.
Sentence: Authors and artists can use the power of words and imagery to shy people away from war, but the shock, gore, and violence of the images can never prevent future wars.
Paragraph: Human nature creates a perceived obligation to look and continue looking at shocking images of violence and cruelty. Our curiosity provokes reactions that often exclude reason or conscience. We have an innate desire to view the gore and violence of others. This inclination to watch suffering overpowers reason, and the normalization of violence by popular culture perpetuates this indifference.
Sentence: The normalization of violence, passivity towards suffering, and innate curiosity create a subconscious desire to witness the gore and violence of other people’s suffering.
Paragraph: Reality obliges society to reach moral and emotional maturity. We cannot avoid losing innocence or ignorance; we have to accept corruption, acknowledge suffering, and recognize humanity’s capacity to enact violence on others. Images depicting suffering, violence, and gore require us to confront this reality. The accessibility to current events invades our lives, and we must generalize the horrors of our surroundings to create a life outside of the constant violence.
Sentence: Emotional maturity requires us to confront suffering and violence, but we disassociate ourselves from the misfortunes of others because of our inability to end all suffering.