Unit 8 Assignment 1–Natalie Zhu (15th Apr)

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum

!: Strangely, I felt very “satisfied” when she finally decided to kill the journalist, even though killing is wrong. At first I wondered if she was going to kill the journalist or herself, and I thought if she killed herself that would be pathetic. 

?: How can we balance the between the so-called freedom of speech and censorship? We can definitely see in this movie that freedom of speech is not equal to saying whatever you want.

Baader-Meinhof Komplex

!: I was pretty amazed to see that there were so many people supporting communism in countries and areas that were supposed to be democratic and anti-communist.

?: Is there an effective way other than violence to express one’s political idea clearly to the public?

Unit 6 Assignment 2–Natalie Zhu (17th Feb)

note ! & ? for your reading of C.P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” (lecture? paper? article? what is it now in this format?); be sure to include a quotation from Snow (and page number) for your observation and question.

Then also note which of the Top 10 scientific theories and experiments you recognized.

!: The “optimism” of scientists is that they believe something can be done unless it can be proven otherwise, not just random optimism out of no support or evidence.

?: How can we address the importance of literary work and study in today’s world? We are too inclined to think that science or STEM subjects are far more important today.

Unit 6 Assignment 1–Natalie Zhu (12th Feb)

Brief post on CABD’s “Black Girl Linguistic Play.” We’re interested in the basic question: what does the work do? In just a few sentences, present both an observation (!) and a question (?) about what the performance does.Your observations and questions about what performance does will begin to connect our experiences engaging with performance and engaging with abstract painting.

!: I like how they utilise the chalk on the ground, and how it connects to the grand mural in the background. They later explained that using chalk to draw murals means to erase the childhood memories, and that was a truly interesting point.

?: I have a question for their choice of music. During the performance, I found that many times, the rhythm of their movement dose not match the rhythm of the music. So I’m curious about if that’s intentional or not.

Campus Event Assignment–Susan Rice–Natalie Zhu

I went to Susan Rice’s lecture yesterday. Susan Rice is an American public official who served as the 24th U.S. National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017, and the lecture was based on her new book, Tough Love

            She first talked about her family story, about the different background of her parents and their similar experience in this country. The part that impressed me most was when she said her dad was questioning why black people and people of colour need to show white people what they can achieve to actually prove their worth. Why they are not believed to be as talented as the racial dominant group. That was back in the 1920s or 1930s, if I’m not wrong, but same issue still exists today, in 2020. In many cases we still need to work extra hard to prove that we are as good as white people. That made me think back to our past unit in Humes, and that remains a question, that what can we do now to improve this. It is important how history took place, but it is more important how we improve today’s social justice and equality.

            Another part that impressed me a lot was when she was talking about some political issues, and how she dealt with the difference of political stand in her home. She said even though we have so many differences, it is not the differences that make us apart, but the similarities that bond us together. I love that sentence so much—even with so many differences and controversies, we are all human beings and we share the bodily feelings, and that is what bond us together. We should look more at the bonds between us, instead of trying to find the differences, or we can never work together to a better world.

Unit 5 Assignment 1–Natalie Zhu (19th Jan)

unit 5 post 1 due Monday 8:00 pm: Get back into the swing of things with brief ! & ? about each of the readings, Schneider and Birns; include quotation or page numbers or key words or ideas in your post. Remember to tag your professor under “category.”

Rebecca Schneider, “Performing Remains”:

!: Oral history is created for preserve history, but in fact, it leads to greater loss because it has no identicality.

?: If we say that performance will disappear every time it’s performed, can we say that performance itself is a form of self-annihilation, as mentioned in the text? If so, then what’s the purpose of producing performances, and how is it preserved/lost in our memory?

Nicholas Birns, “Ritualising the Past: Ralph-Lemon’s Counter-Memorials”

!: “The vacancy of the present does not mean America has recovered from its past” (21). There are traumas that will never heal, and building a memorial means that we honour the ones died in the past, not we have already done something for them so we can set this history aside and don’t need to care for it any more. 

?: What will be the best way to preserve performance? Will it be written notes of the choreograph, or videotaping? I know performance will be lost after it’s performed, but we’re still looking for a way to preserve it as much as possible. (20)

Unit 4 Assignment 2–Natalie Zhu (4th Dec)

            This is the part that the freedom riders were arrested on their way from Nashville to Birmingham. They were on a bus, when a police officer suddenly stopped their bus, and asked all other passengers to get off, or they were “free to leave” except the freedom riders. The freedom riders were forced to wait in the bus and in the dark for more than three hours, until some police officers showed up and put them into jail. It turned out that a senator did this to them because it was “for their own protection.” In the jail, they were told to stay there until morning leave Birmingham tomorrow as soon as possible, because Birmingham was not safe.

            The tricky part of this is the excuse the senator gave them to justify what he did. He stopped the freedom riders from advocating for equal right, and he claimed that he did that because he wanted to protect them, and Birmingham was not the place they belong to. What appeals most to me is that the fake excuse he used to cover his real intention, and the way they treated the freedom riders. They were left alone in the dark for more than three hours until someone came to explain the situation. Nobody should be treated this way, and I believe no white men would be treated that way back then. The senator left the freedom riders waiting for hours, arrested them, put them in jail, and said all of these were for their own protection—that was unbearable. And I can’t stop thinking that how many other hypocrites would be there like the senator, who said they would support and help the freedom riders, but in the end the only thing they did was stopping them from what they should do.

Campus Event Assignment–Back to the Night–Natalie Zhu

Forgive me for writing this several days late. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see something magnificent, since I do prefer classics like Macbeth, BUT it turns out to be so good that really exceeds my expectation A LOT.

I was actually a little triggered when I was watching the show. The topic is so depressing yet so realistic. I felt so bad when I heard Cassie said that nobody will pay attention to you if you don’t show up with a scar that proves you’re a victim. And the scene of the march, during which Brandon showed up wearing a bra. I was questioning deep in my heart, that is he really supporting the march, or is he just wearing like this to gain attention and thus get rid of the responsibility and bad reputation of being the head of a frat? And the dean of student saying that an authority in the college cannot lead the march, and they can only support and help the students to organise it. Does it mean that the dean of student is avoiding their responsibility, so when things get out of control, they won’t be the person being blamed?

Aside from all these thoughts, the actors’ skills were so good. I couldn’t believe the actor who played Em can keep that PTSD state for that long, and the actor who played Brandon can stay so calm in that red bra.

Campus Event Assignment–The Fifth Horseman is Fear–Natalie Zhu

Today I went to watch the “nearly perfect” film by director Zbynek Brynych, “The Fifth Horseman is Fear.” 

The single one word I would use to describe this film is “unsettlement”—it creates so much tension in every single picture and sound track, that sometimes the viewers would feel that intense emotion so strongly. The emotion of fear is very strongly displayed from the beginning to the end, with especially strong intensity in the last fifteen minutes. When the police came, viewers can see the characters’ purposeless pacing, the tight facial expressions, the effort of trying to stay calm, the constant movement of wiping sweat from faces, etc. The viewers would slowly be brought into this intense fear, and when they see the eccentric informer character, Fanta, sneakily peaking from his window, they will also feel the fear that Fanta seems to know their secret. Thus, when the end happens in a sudden, the emotion viewers feel is first, relief, and then sympathy toward this tragedy—they are so deeply involved in the emotion of fear that they didn’t even realise. 

The other important element in the film is the sound effect. The background music is always harsh and irritating, with very high pitch and rough sound, setting the unsettlement atmosphere. Surprisingly, though the music and sounds are always irritating, they have certain rhythm. For example, the music in the nightclub is a perfect combination of music and picture. The camera moves around the crowd, following the rhythm of the music, and randomly catching faces in the crowd. This scene, aside from the delicate picture of the characters’ nervousness, is the most artistic part of this film. The sound in the beginning of the film and the sound in the end are almost identical—the repetitive switch of high-pitch music and rough, harsh sound of machinery. This seems to show that even Doctor Braun did something virtuous, this world is still the same, and nothing of the crimes and sins will be corrected, which explicably tragic.

I have to say the film itself is truly a masterpiece of depicting certain emotions by sound, music, and close-up shots. Few films can make me involved in its emotion, but this one did it. The coexistence of harshness and rhythm in the music is also truly remarkable.

Unit 4 Assignment 1-Natalie Zhu (17th Nov)


Born on 23 September, 1863, in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Daughter of small-business owners who were former slaves.

One of the first African-American women to earn a college degree in 1884.

The first president of the National Association of Coloured Women and a charter member of the NAACP.

An early advocate for civil rights and the suffrage movement.

Source: https://www.biography.com/activist/mary-church-terrell


Born on 16 July, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Her family was decreed free by the Union about six months after her birth.

An African American journalist, abolitionist and feminist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. 

Co-founder of National Association of Coloured Women in 1896.

Battled sexism, racism, and violence. 

Source: https://www.biography.com/activist/ida-b-wells


Terrell talks about how a coloured person, especially a coloured woman, can be unequally treated and even excluded from white people in the U.S. capital, Washington D.C. She uses examples of how a coloured person cannot sit in the restaurants, cannot find a place to stay, or cannot go into the theatres. She focuses more on the effect of separation and exclusion caused by the Jim Crow Laws. Wells, at the same time, talks about the brutal violence of lynching targeted at coloured people. She describes the increasing brutality during the years, and how a single word from a white woman can sentence a coloured man to death and torture. She focuses more on the cruelty of the torture and violence of lynching. Both of the two violence are directly caused by the hatred towards black people during the post slavery era. 

Both of them talk about women in their essays. Terrell describes how a coloured woman face separation, exclusion, and loneliness in D.C., while Wells writes that a single word from a white woman can lead to brutal torture. This drastic contrast effectively reflects racial inequality and discrimination toward coloured people. 

Campus Event Assignment–Macbeth–Natalie Zhu

Finally have time to write about this year’s production of Macbeth.

For me, it is not merely an experience of watching a play, but the whole process of creating it. 

I’m an apprentice in the theatre scene shop, so as the cast stared their rehearsal, we also started building the stage. The design was very creative while bold, I have to say, that it extended out of the real stage boarder into the seats down stage. The traps were also very innovative. (Actually, audience were allowed to sit on the stage to watch in an earlier version, but I don’t know why this plan didn’t pass.) I spent most of my time painting the background of the scene, which was a delicate work of painting many different layers of colours. The days of actually building the stage in DFPH were exhausting but fun. It was a process of seeing that little stage model becoming a real thing. So when I finally see the complete stage I was still very surprised and impressed—it was so SPECTACULAR. (Kaylin and Chip are really really professional.)

After wrapping up the stage building work, I became part of the tech group, and most of the time I was on the follow spot. I haven’t done such work before, so this was a brand new experience for me, and it turned out to be really fun. At first, spotting exactly on the person was hard, but later I got more and more used to this, and I could actually cooperate with the stage manager well (shout out to Turner!!!)

Macbeth is a very new yet very nice experience for me, and it really makes me make up my mind to take part in more theatre production here.

Unit 3 Assignment 3-Natalie Zhu (27th Oct)

Both of these two passages talk about how medias, films, and images create bias towards a truth. People have different perspectives, so do the photographers and people behind the medias. Thus, there’s almost no absolutely fair and objective media in the world. Medias and images choose to present an event or a problem based on their understanding and perspectives. Sontag talked about censorship in her book, that most media are censored by the government. We can actually see that most media in real life has a clear political stand, and those who do not follow a government’s value will be easily called offline. To prove that, Gourevitch had the dog example—people believe that the reason why there’s no dogs in Rwanda is that dogs eat dead bodies, but the negative feeling towards that is basically due to mass media which tells people that dogs eating dead bodies is a big hygiene and safety problem. Sontag also said that “the camera brings the viewer close, too close,” which implied that people can easily be controlled by the photographers. They perceive what the photographers want them to perceive in photos, and thus being so influenced by the bias. 

Unit 3 Assignment 2-Natalie Zhu (23rd Oct)

Chapter 1

Virginia Woolf concludes that there’s a great distinction between man and woman—man likes war and murder, and thus gives an explanation of the origin of war—gender. Woolf also says that no “we” should be taken for granted when the subject are looking at other people’s pain, because we cannot understand their pain. When looking at picture and photos, Woolf points out that people need to realise what the picture is. Do they reflect a common value, and what are they presenting about? Most pictures here reflect the great horror of war and slaughter, but the question is, can WE get the pain and despair only from these pictures?

One-sentence description: Pictures and photos are not able to empathise people who do not share the same experience.

Chapter 6

Sometimes, people get “beauty” from the war pictures with dead bodies. In other words, people sometimes hope to see something gruesome, and that is part of our nature, the love for cruelty. As explanation, people can imagine the suffering by viewing the images, like sacrifice or altruism. However, most pictures remain ineffective and unproductive, unless they generate people’s empathy and even action. On the other hand, when we feel sympathy towards others’ suffering, we are innocent, in a way. 

One-sentence description: People sometimes hope to see something gruesome, and the pictures will only take effect if they can make people move, or take actions.

Chapter 8

There’s a difference between remembering and memory: remembering is an active act that has ethical value and emotion, and is the way we connect with all others, while memory is only an indifference noun, our only connection with the dead. Most of the time, we are unable to do anything to the pictures—war and slaughter have already taken place, and we can do nothing to change that. Thus, images somehow create this indifference: they make people watch the suffering but do nothing at the same time. But remember, standing back and think is not wrong.

One-sentence description: Merely watching the pictures is not wrong, but an action of remembering. 

Unit 3 Assignment 1-Natalie Zhu (16th Oct)

Adolf Eichmann

  • a Nazi official who helped Germany carry out the mass murder of six million Jews during World War II;
  • both a skilled bureaucrat and a committed anti-Semite;
  • helped the party answer to the “Jewish question,” Nazi terminology for a debate over how European Jews should be treated;
  • attended the Wannsee Conference, the meeting at which a group of high-ranking Nazi officials coordinated the details of what they called the “Final Solution;”
  • helped implement the genocide, coordinating the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews in German-occupied areas;
  • was given aid by Catholic priests and bishops with pro-Nazi sympathies in Italy, and fled to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1950.
  • https://www.history.com/news/adolf-eichmann-nazi-capture-holocaust-trial-mossad

“Banality of Evil”

  • is a sobering reflection on “the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us—the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil;”
  • made by Hannah Arendt in 1962;
  • is a banality reflected in Eichmann himself, who embodied “the dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them;”
  • https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/02/07/hannah-arendt-the-banality-of-evil/

The Origins of Totalitarianism

  • was first published in 1951, and was based on research and writing done during the 1940s;
  • anti-Semitism, imperialism, racism, the post-World War I crises of multinational empires, the displacement of peoples by war and by technological change;
  • a generalized crisis of legitimacy in the 1930s throughout Europe—people feeling dispossessed, disenfranchised, disconnected from dominant social institutions.
  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/12/17/how-hannah-arendts-classic-work/

Campus Event Assignment–Baik Art Residency–Natalie Zhu

Today I went to the VAC for the artist meeting. There were three artists from Asia: Yong Soon Min from California/Korea, Jagath Weerasinghe from Sri Lanka, and Tintin Wulia from indonesia.

They talked about the background meanings of their works and their motivation, and Jagath talked about several points that made me interested.

All of their works reflect the theme of crossing boarders. For most people, crossing boarders is a struggle and lack of belonging. For example, the division of north and south Korea divided families, leaving people on two different sides. They were struggling to identify themselves, because they were one united country, and were forced behind the border. At the same time, boarders can also mean the connection and similarities between people. Everyone has a passport, which identifies them and build connection.

Jagath said he intentionally tried to create some incompleteness in his work, because that’s his interpretation of life. Life is never complete, especially to we young people, and we are always pursuing new things, new goals. That’s also why he said he couldn’t stop creating, because life in going on and we shall not stop creating new things, or chasing new goals before our life stops, like Sisyphus.

One very interesting thing is that all human figures in Jagath’s work are male. We asked him why they are all male figures, and he said that if he drew female figures, critics would mistakenly classify him as a feminist, instead of understanding what he really wanted to convey humans. This is a very interesting fact, that female figure in art indicates a feminist viewpoint, instead of being understood as humans, or having equal meaning as male figures. This connects a lot to de Beauvoir’s passage we read in unit 1.