Monday, October 08, 2007


Yes, it's Monday, and I should be on campus sitting in my office waiting for eager undergrads to partake of my wisdom but alas, it's fall break, and those eager undergrads don't exisit.

I stayed up much too late last night watching "The Lives of Others" which is an amazing movie. It was very stark, and very sad but also hopeful and poingnot. It showed how art can transform someone, speak to them in such a way that is shatters their live. The movie also showed how alike we really are. I wish I was better at movie reviews but I'm not so...just rent it on DVD. You won't regret it.

Lastly, in the spirit of colloboration, and because I honestly don't think I would have been able to get my thesis together if it hadn't been for this blog, I'm posting just the thesis portion of my opening paragraph. It is long so don't feel obligated to read. I'd love feedback of course so if you please lay it on.

"This work deals with questions of what love means, and how a particular religious group can shape a person’s very emotions. Religious groups deal in particular emotional rhetoric that not only signals how one should respond but literally inscribes members’ bodies and psyches with these emotional codes. Through this kind of control, religious emotions can be used as a cultural politics.[1] The discourse of the FDLS church is a discourse that shapes the identity of each member. Palmer’s memories of sermons, lectures from her mother, step-mother and father all demonstrate how emotions become a vehicle through which her identity is created. In addition, this paper will show that this emotional discourse is a form of power that subjects Palmer. It is this very subjecting power that creates her as an individual. Due to this subjection/formation, a certain ambiguity arises as Palmer attempts, in the narrative format, to come to understand show she became as well as reconciling that past person with the person she has become. In addition, I will demonstrate how the author uses the narrative structure to work thru subjection, trauma, and abuse in ways that enable her to make sense of the present self. In any autobiography the narrator can only tell the story by looking upon her own story as somehow outside herself. The act of telling creates a distance but only to a certain extent for the subject is always in the not a stable self. The self is always in the process in becoming.
[1] Sarah Ahmed cites as one of her aims “I want to reflect on the processes whereby ‘being emotional’ comes to be seen as a characteristic of some bodies and not others, in the first place. In order to do this, we need to consider how emotions operate to ‘make’ and ‘shape’ bodies as forms of action, which also involve orientating towards others.” Sarah Amed, The Cultural Politics of Emotions, New York: Routledge, 2004, 4. This argument presents a framework for the aforementioned argument concerning how the FDLS shapes Palmer’s emotional discourse."


John B-R said...

You have commented several times that you feel differently about your academic prose and your fictions, etc.

Your thesis' opening paragraph feels like the opening of one of your fictions to me. Exact same issues, exact same problems. Exact same person ...

"I will demonstrate how the author uses the narrative structure to work thru subjection, trauma, and abuse in ways that enable her to make sense of the present self."

Autobiography-docudrama, anyone?

You go, Ginger.

John B-R said...

Oh, and re: the haircuts, don't you think it's only fair to pull the camera out??

Jon said...

Looks like a good start.

So you're arguing that the narrating subject of the autobiography is altered by the act of writing? How does this tie up with the religious control of the emotions? Has she worked through these internalised controls by writing, coming out differently (ie not part of the church)?

I'm reminded of passages in Douglas Robinson's _The Translator's Turn_ (1991 i think) where he talks about overcoming somatically protected norms, and breaking through to a new consciousness, especially in relation to Luther and translating the bible into german. I can find out the full reference if you're interested...

Good luck!


Lolabola said...

having very similar thoughts to john in both comments

Ginger said...

John B-R adn Lolabola. Thank you both. Your comments have really encouraged me to keep plugging away at this. There is a way to blend the personal and the academic.

Thank you for the questions. They're going to help immensely in clairfing what I'm trying to say.

A part of my argument is about how the narrating subject is transformed by the act of autobiograpy. This I believe is due to the sujbect never being stable. The autobiography is one way of showing the self as stable, as cointinuing on a straight trajectory.

As for what this has to do with the religious control...well, first I don't want to look at it as control. All groups imprint on us an emotinal's more than control, I's more akin to Foucaultian power/knowledge,and his notions of the discplines. There comes a time when the woman I'm writing about actually inflicts more control upon herself than the church does.

As for leaving this behind...yes, she does to some extent. But she's traded it in for a new emotional that is just more "mainstream" so to say.

I'd love the reference but can likely find it myself so please don't go through any unnecessary trouble.