Sunday, May 16, 2010

English Departments Sit on Globalization Throne

The happy-go-luck belief of globalization needs a reality check. As mentioned in "Towards a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations on Capitalism's Nature, Coronil states that corporates' "image of globalization offers the promise of unified humanity no longer divided…as if they were underwritten by the desire to erase the scars of congenital past or to bring to harmonious end, these discourses set in motion the belief that the separate histories, geographies, and cultures that have divided humanity are now being brought together…"(Coronil 2). What then happens to those who have not forgotten about the factors that do not separate us, but rather, make us unique?
Gikandi questions the intentions of globalization and postcoloniality, "Do the key terms in both categories describe a general state of cultural transformation in a world where the authority of the nation-state has collapsed or are they codes for explaining a new set of amorphous images and a conflicting set of social conditions?" Gikandi argues that one can no longer assume that one's location and cultural practices have any sort of connection. Just because one lives in America does not mean he or she upholds American traditions and values.
When speaking of globalization, it is important not to forget its influence on language. The study of English literature is caught between nationalism and globalization. The English language has quickly become the "global" language and English Studies has become privileged in globalization. English Studies, and the writers taught within the department, are predominantly from England and America. What of English writers that are not British or American? What of Fernando Pessoa? What of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio? English departments are just as biased and unwilling to "globalize" and should not be praised. As Gikandi reminds us, "it was not until the 1960s that major English departments in the United States began to allow Jews, women, and blacks into their faculty" (Gikandi 648).

Works Cited

Coronil, Fernado. "Towards a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations of Capitalism's Nature.

Gikandi, Simon. "Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality."

Globalization with a Side of Lies

Roza Gabrielyan
Professor Wexler
Eng 495ESM
17 May 2010
Globalization with a Side of Lies

Given the triumph of technological advancement, it is impossible to deny globalization and the effects of its transnational presence. David Held, author of Globalization/Anti-Globalization: Beyond the Great Divide, states that "the concept of globalization describes a structural shift underway in the organization of human affairs; from a world of discrete but independent national states to the world as a shared social space" (Held 52). Citizens of the world must ask themselves whether or not they want an "interconnectedness" of values and traditions. Do we want to blur the boundaries of culture? Are we willing to victimize ourselves for an opportunity to compete in the world market? How far are hyperglobalists willing to go in order to shove this "world-wide expansion" down our throats? Far enough for Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy to create Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, a film which makes globalization simple; if you want freedom and success, then you must embrace westernization. In Slumdog Millionaire, the show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is meant to represent the Indian desire for democracy, capitalism, and the benefits it produces, but in truth, it promotes the belief, or better yet myth that with westernization comes opportunity and eventually, wealth and success.
The television game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" first originated in United Kingdom. The show has slithered across UK boundaries and found itself in India where it has immersed itself into Indian culture. What better example of globalization than a television show reaching every corner of the globe? After all, "technology has now created the possibility and even the likelihood of global culture. The Internet, fax machines, satellites, and cable TV are sweeping away cultural boundaries. Global entertainment companies shape the perceptions and dreams of ordinary citizens, wherever they live" (Thorup 2). Almost every single person in India watches the show, which is meant to signify the Indian desire for democracy and capitalism. The show's intent is to allow anyone, rich or poor, the chance to achieve the "American Dream." In "Slumdog Millionaire" that anyone is Jamal Malik. Jamal, the perfect of example of your regular Joe Shmoe, is a lucky chai deliverer for Excel Five Communications who, by a precise calculation from the technical department, becomes a contestant of the game show in hopes of finding his true love. The premise of the movie is that even a regular Joe has a chance to attain the "dream" as long as he embraces western customs and ideals. Near the end of the movie Jamal asks Latika why people watch "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and Latika responds, "Because it is a chance to escape. Walk into another life." Latika's response suggests that if you want freedom and success, you must embrace globalization.
Literature, money, religion, and technology are some of the many means through which cultures globalize and embrace western customs and ideals. Coincidently, the questions asked in the game show during the movie are all about French literature, American money, Hindu religion, and American technology (revolver), suggesting that to achieve success you must embrace globalization. Jamal answers all of these questions correctly, but "happens" to not know the answer to the one question pertaining to his own country and cultural identity, "What is the phrase written underneath the lions on India's National Emblem?" When Jamal answers this question incorrectly, the viewer asks him or herself if the truth alone does triumph. Jamal's inability to remember his cultural phrase "Truth Alone Triumphs" makes him an example for all viewers; dismiss your eastern culture and embrace those that are western if you wish to succeed. Jamal is the prototype of globalization creating the perfect "western" male. He dresses in western fashion, works at an American company, challenges his "Eastern" brother Salim and is familiar with western literature, technology, and capitalistic ideals.
Although Jamal is the prototype of the "globalized" male, a careful viewer can see his dismissal of western values and globalization. During the movie, the Millionaire producer/commentator provides Jamal with an answer to a question. The producer is his show which is a symbol for transnationalism. However, Jamal does not trust the producer and by default of my argument, globalization, because he chooses D:Jack Hobbs when the producer had suggested b:Ricky Ponting. Jamal did not give in to globalization which is, in essence, a lie. A viewer cannot ignore the fact that the characters in the film that are viewed as corrupt: Salim, Maman, and Jarah Khan, are the ones who have accepted globalization which includes capitalism (cheap labor for maximum profit), technology, and multiculturalism. Maman exploits children for money, but pretends to be a kind savior, Jarah Khan is a gangster who is turning the slums into skyscrapers, and Salim sells out his own brother for a few measly dollars. Just like globalization, the antagonists in the film disguise their true motives under a veil of social and financial progress. Greed, pride, and gluttony become the main motivator when globalization comes into play. What happens to these three characters at the end of the movie? They die. If anything, the film should be a warning to all viewers about the effects of globalization.
Slumdog Millionaire attempts to endow viewers with a love for western identity and a dismissal of the cruel practices and beliefs of eastern cultures through the use of the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", but instead, inadvertently warns viewers of the consequences of globalization.

Works Cited
Held, David. McGrew, Anthony. Globalization/Anti-Globalization: Beyond the Great Divide.
Second Edition. Polity Press, United Kingdom. 2007.
Thorup, Mikkel. Sȋ Resen, Mads P. "Inescapably Side by Side". Polity: Feb 2004. 14 May 2010.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Incorporating Media into 19th Century American Literature

This is a visual animation of "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Poe. After students read the short story aloud, I would show this two part animation to help make the short story more concrete for students. Then we would discuss the difference between their assumptions about the text and the clip. How are the characters different? What part of the plot is left out? Media is paired with instruction to provide students with a multisensory experience.

Remember, I made that MySpace & Def Poetry comment in class. I didn't want to repeat myself on the blog. =]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Non-Existent Mythological Formula

The definition of "myth" has been under constant change since early 700 BCE. Derived from the Greek word mythos, myth has meant several different things over the years. According to Hesoid's Theogony, "mythos seems to have meant divinely inspired, poetic utterance"(2). With Hesiod, myth is associated with the divine and sacred. Heraclitus in the 500 BCE dismissed the belief that poets are divine inspiration. For him, myth was not sacred or divine. Instead, it was a tale filled with fantasy and guile. Soon after, Plato defined mythos as synonymous with falsehood. He argued that myths are irrational and therefore untrue and should be banned(along with the poets) because it would decrease the morality of the polis. Much later Joseph Campbell has his own take on myths, stating that myths are "stories of the rugged individual who realizes his true nature through heroic struggle…mythology is ultimately and always the vehicle through which the individual finds a sense of identity and place in the world"(17). Levi-Strauss' beliefs were polar opposites to Campbell's. He believed that myths "mediate the tension created by always present oppositions, whether individuals within a society are aware of it or not… [he] viewed the structures of myth and language as the hidden bedrock upon which narratives are built"(19). With all beliefs taken into consideration, it is naive and flat out stupid to assume that one of these beliefs fits every single story line. A myth is not a formula one can plug characters into and predict a desired outcome. Myths contain many layers and it is important to consider each when reading.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pearl Balloon

Pearl Balloon
by R.Gabrielyan

With her untamed sun-kissed hair and reckless lilac eyes,
Holding a pearl balloon,
Little Miss Hope walks along the boulevard
Without a cry,
Smiling at the heroes and villains the same
Asking everyone she meets for their name.
She cannot tell the honest man from the thief
Nor Truth from Deceit.
She does not know that the smiling man in white
Killed his wife with pleasure last night.
She does not suspect that the young man with the tie that is red
Walks around aimlessly wishing he were dead.
She does not understand that the woman in blue,
Contracted HIV from a guy she knew.
That the college girl with the colorful dress
Pays for her tuition by providing anyone with sex.
That those who look and laugh like her
Live only to see the destruction of the world.
On she smiles to all with heavenly bliss
Because Little Miss Hope had the gift of ignorance.

On she walks
Cross-ing streets and lights,
She walks for hours
With her balloon held tight.
Little Miss Hope reaches the place
Where reality and pain
Slap you hard in the face.
Where ignorance is traded
For an ounce of unwanted truth,
Where the veil is lifted to show
That the natural condition of man is cruel.
And slowly she loosens her grip
Her face stiffens due to her acquaintance with doom
Her heart hardens like a slab of cement
And Miss hope lets go of her pearl balloon.

Prisoner by Default

Prisoner by Default
by R.Gabrielyan

Washing away my youth
A grain at a time
Ruthless enemy
I am your prisoner.

Forced to obey
The schedule you set
Evil dictator
I am your prisoner.

Driving me towards
Things I cannot change
Tactful manipulator
I am your prisoner.

Opening my eyes
To the truth I refuse to see
Masked grim reaper
I am your prisoner.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

'Flying Japan"

Flying Japan
by Rosie Gabrielyan

Shattered glass
Buried in clouds of ash
Paint the skies black
Of Flying Japan.

Screaming voices fill their lungs
Unable to understand their tounges
Frowns form on the faces
of Flying Japan.

Blood lies on the soil
Sweat drenched by their toil
Unable to forget the murders
of Flying Japan.

Reading of "Adeiu, Farwell Earth's Bliss" by Nashe

One Cannot Defy Death

One Cannot Defy Death
Poetry Explication

It is impossible to ignore the transient quality seen in all aspects of life. One cannot deny that the leaves of autumn will wilt away due to the cold winter breeze, that the torching emotions of a love stuck youth will alter with every breath, and that the dark, threatening night can easily be replaced by a blanket of yellow light. Thomas Nashe’s lyrical poem “Adieu, Farewell Earth’s Bliss” from Summer’s Last Will and Testament warns the reader of the deceptive forms of happiness and reminds one that the world is full of uncertainties and the only certainty in life is the promise of death.
Nashe’s poetic form does not however follow its’ meaning of uncertainty and change. By this I mean that the poem is in an unchanging form, six stanzas with exactly six syllables per line. Each line has six feet and the poem is in iambic trimester, “The six-syllable line glides from a regular iambic pattern into a triple movement-accented, unaccented, accented and back again as if both were its mode of being and neither had precedence over the other”(Cunningham 1). Sung in the Nashe’s play Summers Last Will and Testament, it holds true to a circular meter. The rhyming scheme follows an aabbccdeeffccd… pattern, in which the third and second to last lines in every stanza rhyme and the last two lines “I am sick, I must die. / Lord, have mercy on us!” are repeated in every stanza to emphasize the inexplicable and inescapable reality of death. Death is ever present and one cannot ignore it. Each line in the poem is end-stopped and each stanza seems to be a poem in and of itself. Uncertainty and conversion are missing in the form of a poem which discusses these ideas to “death.”
“Adieu, Farewell Earth’s Bliss” is also commonly titled as “Litany in the Time of Plague.” The poem is actually a repetitive chant or prayer that was recited in the streets of London during the plague outbreak. The word “adieu” is often synonymous with farewell, but adieu is a direct translation from the French phrase “a dieu vous commant,” meaning I commend you God. Shortened to adieu, the phrase means “to God.” The word “bliss” is commonly defined as the state of happiness, but Merriam-Webster defines bliss as the joy of heaven and states that it is often associated with thoughts of afterlife. Taking these definitions into consideration, the title would then address God and dismiss earth’s superficial happiness to embrace the eternal joys of the afterlife. The speaker in the poem is directly addressing God and letting go of his impermanent attachments to the living world and submitting to the certainty of death. Given the cultural context, the speaker who is dying of the bubonic plague is reassessing his life and realizing that everything valued in life becomes obsolete when death beckons. In the speaker’s inability to escape death, he almost welcomes it.
At the beginning of the poem, the reader is immediately informed that the world is uncertain. The first stanza advises the reader against the natural urge to value revelry because it can easily be overshadowed by the prospect of death. Nashe’s tone shifts in each stanza from caution to submission and defeat. The speaker of the poem has accepted that his death will soon come, “I am sick, I must die”(Line 6) because he asks the Lord to have mercy on a man who has wasted his life valuing the inconsequential. The second stanza emphasizes that wealth cannot buy one out death, “gold cannot buy you health”(Line 9). The first evident reference to the plague is seen with “The plague full swift goes by;” warning the reader that no matter the amount of gold one has, they cannot avoid the sudden sweep of sickness and ultimately death.
Beauty is discussed in the third stanza and Nashe goes to great lengths to prove that no beauty can avoid its destiny to end when death overcomes life (Line 16-17). Even the beauty of a young queen and the most striking woman in the world, “queens have died young and fair; / dust hath closed Helen’s eye”(Line18-19) must come to an end because “all things to end are made” (Line 11). To value beauty in life is to value the second hand of a clock, momentarily significant, but doomed to end just as soon as it has begun
Strength too is unimportant in matters of death. Death is the inescapable consequence that everyone must pay for having ever lived. Death does not excuse those that are brave and strong; it is impartial. Even “Hector brave” who was young and strong had to endure life in all its uncertainties in order to posses his true happiness in death(Line 23). The fifth stanza reminds the reader that those who are intelligent and witty cannot avoid death either because “Hell’s executioner/ hath no ears” and cannot be swayed by clever pleas. ( Line 31). All those who live are only certain of one thing, the fact that they must die.
In the final stanza, Nashe wants us to dismiss these transient pleasures that bring us superficial happiness. All the things one values in life: joy, wealth, beauty, strength and wit, are all pleasures that do not provide true happiness. Instead, when one “haste[s], therefore, each degree” and steps along the path of life and submits to death in order to “welcome destiny”, true happiness is found with the glimpse of afterlife(Line 36-37). John Dryden discussed these ideas in The Explicator, “”Adieu, Farwell Earth’s Bliss” is a “progression” through the deceptive sources of happiness—gold, beauty, strength, and wit” (Dryden 1). Revelry, wealth, beauty, strength and with are forms of momentary happiness and true happiness and certainty can only be found with the promise of death. One must accelerate and pass each stage in life to welcome eternal happiness in heaven because “ Heaven is our heritage / Earth but a player’s stage” (38-39). The article “Logic and Lyric” in the journal of Modern Philology states, “that human happiness does not consists in carnal pleasures; that man’s happiness does not consist in glory; that man’s happiness does not consist in wealth; that happiness does not consist in worldly power….that man’s ultimate happiness is not in this life, for if there is ultimate happiness in life, it will certainly be lost, at least by death” (Cunningham 1). The speaker is asking for mercy from the lord because he has mistaken these deceptive forms of contentment for the true happiness that is found in Heaven.
“Adieu, Farwell Earth’s Bliss” is a poem which dismisses the uncertain pleasures of life to embrace the certainty and eternal happiness of death. Nashe wants his readers to see the world for what it truly is, merely a “player’s stage” before attaining the only true source of certainty and happiness, death.

Works Cited
Cummingham, J.V.. “Logic an Lyric”. Modern Philology, Vol. 51, No. 1 (Aug., 1953), pp. 39-
41 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable. 7 February, 2010. .
Dryden, John. “Nashe’s the Song (“Adieu, Farwell Earth’s Bliss”)”. The Explicator,
Vol. 31(1973). 7 February, 2010. < googleScholar.qst?docId=95874461>.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Poet's Work is Never Done

Though I am not an avid reader of Whitman, (I know what you must be thinking...what kind of English major doesn't like Whitman?) I cannot help but respect his enormous contribution to American literature and life with "O Captain! My Captain!" Yes, I realize that most of you are sick of hearing about this poem, but I am going to talk about it anyway because it is my blog.
Whitman is obviously referring to Abraham Lincoln as the captain in the poem. At the beginning of the poem, the narrator is rejoicing because they have won the "fearful trip" or the Civil War. Elated about their victory, the narrator can hear the crowds celebrating on the nearby port, "the bells i heard, the people all exulting"(3). People have been given the ultimate "prize", freedom and emancipation. The captain is also referred to as "my father." This name further drives the point that the poem is about the father of our country at the time, Lincoln. Lincoln dies only after accomplishing his dream of freedom, or voyage in terms of the poem, "The ship is anchor'd safe, its voyage closed and done" (20). Another symbol that further proves my point is the ship. The captain in the poem died with his ship as most captions do. Coincidentally, Lincoln died the same year the Civil War was officially over, leading one to believe that he too died with his metaphoric ship.

Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" paints a serene image for the reader. The delicate images of falling snow drift like the reader thoughts. I immediately envisioned the untouched snow, the cold silence of the wind seeping into my lungs, and the frozen lake reflecting my self-consciousness. The owner of the woods seems indifferent to its' beauty and innocence, "He will not see me stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow" (3-4). The owner does not appreciate the beauty that the narrator sees in the words. The narrator's horse, too, is unable to see and appreciate the splendor that surrounds him and " asks if there is some mistake"(9). The woods are a place for the narrator to reminisce and drift off into a realm without obligations and restrictions. Even though the narrator identifies with the woods, for they are "lovely, dark, and deep" like his thoughts, he must leave because he has obligations to attend to. No one can live in a state of serenity forever. Unfortunately, everyone must accept the world for what it is, but Frost wants us to take a little time to appreciate what little peace and beauty there is left in the world...

... even if it is all just a daydream.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"March Violets" Part 1-

"March Violets"

The title itself immediately alludes to the double meaning of the poem as a whole. Violets are associated with the month of February, yet the title suggests that they are a part of March. The title invites the reader to accept the duality of things. The poem is a representation of the two sides of a person. Can you, the individual, tell your two sides apart from one another? Can you separate who you are to society from who you truly are as person? Things aren’t as they seem. This “double-ness” continues on with “fire” and “water”. You are the aggressive and the serene. The same person who fires the gun, waters the vines in their yard. The “Ides of March” allude to the death of Cesar who was betrayed by his closest companion. This is to say don’t trust anyone, especially not yourself. The author takes the familiar, the everyday clichés and flips them, "look on the blind side, sleep with your bright side down." These sayings have been engraved in us, but who are we without the influence of others? The author wants us to question everything that we know and who knows us better than ourselves? "Can you tell them apart?" is initially written once, showing the unity a person sees in themselves. As the poem progresses, "Can you tell them apart" is written twice suggesting the two sides of a person. Finally, we see the author asking us to divide our two sides with the word "tear."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Removing the Veil of Indifference

Prepare to be subjected to a college student's unconventional insights.