For my capstone, I created a website for the Hyrtl Skull Exhibit at the Mutter Museum. There are one-hundred-thirty-nine skulls in the collection, and Hyrtl took very detailed notes on all of them, beyond occupation or age or cause of death. He looked at where the skulls were from and the shape of them. This collection was amassed to disprove the theory of phrenology, which is the idea that you can determine a person’s intelligence based on the size and shape of their cranium. This idea was used to support slavery and white supremacy. I first did research on Dr. Hyrtl and then I started to catalogue the data that I was given. This is what took my the longest, as there are one-hundred-thirty-nine skulls and the data was not organized in a way that you could draw conclusions from it. I created a 20 page table with nine columns that summarized all of the data. From there I found statistics like average age, sex ratio, and causes of death. Once that was done, I took all of my data and put it into my website. I also shared this chart with the Mutter, so they have a better idea of what their collection looks like.
Bank, Andrew. "Of 'Native Skulls' and 'Noble Caucasians': Phrenology in Colonial South Africa." Journal of Southern African Studies 22.3 (1996): 387-403. Web. 3 Feb. 2017. This article talks about one of the most common uses for phrenology. Because phrenology came to rise around the same time as mass colonialism and nationalism did, it became common to justify the colonialism and mistreatment of native peoples and their land using phrenology. It is common to see terms used like “alien race” or “inferior race” when colonizers were talking about the people they colonized. These terms are a result of phrenology saying that Causians are the superior race, and all others are less advanced. This source looks a South Africa specifically, as the results phrenology and colonialism there still have lasting effects on the population.
Dhody, Anna, comp. Hyrtl Skull Exhibit. 1874. Exhibit at the Mutter Museum. The Mutter Museum at the College of Physcians, Phildadelphia. This source is my raw data for the project. These 139 skulls were collected by Dr. Josef Hyrtl throughout the course of his life. In 1874, they were bought by the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians. On each of the skulls is a short description of the person to whom the skull belonged, which may include a name, occupation, sex, age, religion, place of origin, cause of death, and a description of the skull, among other things. One downside to this source is the fact that I am working with translations, as the original descriptions were written in German. However, they were translated by a professional, and there are not many words that could get confused in translation.
Ilacqua, Joan, comp. Talking Heads. N.d. Exhibit. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston. This collection is about Phrenology and the history of studying skulls. It discusses four men, Franz Gall, Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, and the Flower brothers, who contributed to the concepts and ideas of phrenology. This source also provides a very good definition for phrenology and why it was so popular. It also expands on what phrenology is involved with now, as it has been separated from the science that it was originally associated with. While Keckeisen addressed the root of phrenology, this source expanded on what was already given. It also explained what happened to phrenology after Gall created and shared his ideas about the shape of the skull and brain and how they relate to different attributes of different people.
Jahoda, Gustav. "Intra-European Racism in NineteenthâCentury Anthropology." History and Anthropology 20.1 (2009): 37-56. Web. This source talks about how phrenology and craniology, a precursor to phrenology, were used by early anthropologists to create different sub-groups within various races, especially causians. This practice was mostly used to prove that northern, WASP (white, anglo-saxon, protestant) Europeans were superior to all other. That would mean a German or Frenchman would be superior to a Greek or Italian, but all of them were superior to the rest of the people from the world. This source gives a lot of context for the information that is on the skulls, especially in concern to why religion was only noted sometimes and where each person was said to have come from.
Jenkins, Bill. "Phrenology, Heredity and Progress in George Combe's Constitution of Man." The British Journal for the History of Science 48.03 (2015): 455-73. Web. This source focuses more on the scientific ideas of phrenology and on one of the most important books on phrenology ever written, George Combe’s Constitution of Man. This book was published in 1828 and maintained its relevance and importance throughout the second half of the century. I was concerned that this source would not provide me enough information about the ideas of phrenology itself, but it explained the ideas of phrenology very well, as well as explaining why this book was so important. This source did focus solely on George Combe’s research, but because of the time period in which he lived, his research would have been very influential on Hyrtl’s own research and what data he collected while he was studying his skull collection.
Keckeisen, Sara K. "The Grinning Wall: History, Exhibition, and Application of the Hyrtl Skull Collection at the Mutter Museum." Thesis. Thesis / Dissertation ETD, 2012. Theses. Senton Hall University. Web. 2 Feb. 2017. This source is an analysis of the Hyrtl Skull Exhibit at the Mutter Museum and the ethics and methods of displaying an exhibit such as this. I was concerned that this source would focus too much on how the exhibit was displayed and whether or not displaying an exhibit like this is ethical, especially because the Museum did not obtain consent from the decedent. However, it provided very good information about the history of studying the skull, phrenology, and why Hyrtl collected the skulls on pages four through thirteen. Overall, the majority of the source was somewhat useful, however the pages noted above gave clearer answers to my questions about the history of phrenology than any of my other sources.
Lewis, Jason E., David Degusta, Marc R. Meyer, Janet M. Monge, Alan E. Mann, and Ralph L. Holloway. "The Mismeasure of Science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on Skulls and Bias." PLoS Biology 9.6 (2011): n. pag. Web. 3 Feb. 2017. This source focuses on one of the many obvious scientific problems with Phrenology, which is the fact that much of the data used to uphold this “science” was manipulated, misreported, and selected to fit the researcher's’ preconceived notions about humanity and where they stood in regards to other races. This source looks at Stephen Gould’s work about Samuel George Morton’s work. Gould took Morton’s work as a case study for the manipulation of evidence and data to support your own conclusions in the scientific community. It would have been better to look at Gould’s work first hand, but there was no easy or free way to access that in the time period I had.
Morton, Samuel George. "The Debate Over Slavery." Exploring U.S. History | the Debate over Slavery. Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2017. This source is a series of excerpts from Samuel George Morton’s book Crania Americana. Morton lived around the same time as Hyrtl and collected a similar number of skulls. However, Morton collected his skulls to try to prove phrenology, or, as he called it, craniology. Morton’s collection is currently on display at the Penn Museum and is often compared to Hyrtl’s collection. These excerpts described his ranking of the different human races and their intelligence in regards to skull capacity. The one downside to this source is that the excerpts have been edited from the original text. However, Morton’s meaning and intention are still clear.
Wells, Samuel R. How to Read Character: A New Illustrated Hand-book of Phrenology and Physiognomy for Students and Examiners; with a Descriptive Chart. New York: Samuel R. Wells, 1870. Print. This source is a book on phrenology from 1869. It was designed to be a how-to guide for phrenology, including descriptions of the different races, what the average skull for each race looked like and how it measured, and what each of the those measurements “meant” in terms of intelligence, character, and attitude. It also talked about which parts of the brain, and therefore the skull, affect different parts of people’s characters. I was unable to read the entire book, so I am most likely missing some information, but I read all of the sections that addressed the questions I had. They site I was reading the book did not have the highest quality scans, so I did not completely understand everything that was written.
Wiest, Gerald, and Robert W. Baloh. "The Personal and Scientific Feud Between Ernst BrÃ¼cke and Josef Hyrtl." Otology & Neurotology 27.4 (2006): 570-75. Web. 3 Feb. 2017. This sources focuses more on the personal life of Hyrtl and his research and work outside of his skull collection. It focuses mostly on Hyrtl’s personal and scientific feud with one of his contemporaries, which made me sceptical of its usefulness as a source. This source gave me more information about who Hyrtl was and why he was so important then any other source I have found. It speaks in depth about Hyrtl’s work as an anatomist and his work in understanding how the human body works. It also spoke to his personal beliefs about how scientific research should be approached. You can see how that might affect the his views on phrenology and how it was used to justify slavery of Africans and the mistreatment of other races.
1 ¾ cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of sugar
¼ pound of melted butter
Vanilla to taste (start a 1 teaspoon)
Anise to taste (not used in the batch I made)
Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
In a larger bowl, beat eggs and sugar until blended and slightly fluffy. Slowly add in cooled, melted butter, vanilla, and anise and mix until fully incorporated.
Slowly add in dry ingredients until the batter is smooth and thick
Drop batter onto the pizzelle iron, using a cookie scoop, and cook till cookies are golden brown.
A Note for the Beginner:
DO NOT LET THEM BURN! (It smells worse than burned popcorn.)
The food in this recipe is processed, but not to an extreme. Both the flour and the sugar are bleached, and the extracts have chemicals in them, as does the butter. However, this recipe was designed to be made by peasants in Italy. Nothing in the recipe has to be processed, it is more a matter of what is available to the consumer when you buy the ingredients. While most of the ingredients are processed, it is not nearly as bad as buying pre-made pizzelles, which have exponentially more sugar and chemicals in them than if you make it yourself.
As a desert, this is obviously not the healthiest of meals, but humans have evolved to digest everything used in the recipe. There are chemicals added to make them easier to sell and to store, but not necessarily to make it easier to digest. Pizzelles are not meant to be eaten all year round. Mostly they are served around Christmas, and eaten with espresso after dinner. Too much intake could lead to diabetes, but that would take a lot of pizzelles.
As far as environmental ramifications go, almost everything used was produced in North America. The thing that came the furthest was the vanilla, which was originally grown in Mexico. Almost everything else was produced in the Midwest or East Coast. There is not a lot of travel involved in producing pizzelles because they are so simple. Again, this is originally a peasant desert. You had to be able to come up with the majority of your own ingredients and get the rest for cheap when this recipe was written. That meant nothing that I had travelled too far, if at all.
For my five minutes of science, I decided to focus on circus “freaks”. Most commonly known for their sideshow attraction in the late 1800s and early 1900s, we don’t think about them much anymore, but they are still a very large part of our entertainment industry. From people like Andre the Giant to Peter Dinklage, it is clear we still find something interesting about people who look different than us. And as American Horror Story: Freak Show shows, we still view these “freaks” as just that. They are separate and apart from us, something we enjoy marvelling at, but not welcoming into our own society. That is all fine and good until you consider that millions of people are considered “freaks”, for whatever reason. They cannot get jobs or a steady income because of their appearance, and when they do find something, it is often a capitalization of their birth defect, making them into something less than human.
These “freakish” types of birth defects can be caused by any myriad of things, from chromosomal abnormalities to genetic mutations to tumors to exposure to things like viruses, alcohol, or drugs in the womb. For example, gigantism is commonly caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland that causes it to secrete to much growth hormone, somatotropin, making them grow much taller and much faster than the average human. Something similar happens with dwarfism. While there are multiple types of dwarfism, the most common is achondroplasia, which is caused by a genetic mutation that makes the pituitary gland create less cartilage and slow the use of the growth plates much faster than they should. And those are just two of the most common.
While most “freakish” birth defects are survivable and have minimal side effects, depending upon how bad the birth defect is, some of them can be crippling. Some conjoined twins can never separate from each other, making life very dangerous for them. People with microcephaly can suffer side effects from something as mild as a shortened stature to something as severe as seizures. Not to mention that people with visible birth defects, like people with hirsutism, extreme, male patterned hair growth on women, or cornu cutaneum growths, human horns, are incredibly unlikely to get a job or the emotional support they need as humans without expense treatments and surgeries.
As someone who has studied many of these birth defects and more, at the Mutter Museum and beyond, I have found it increasingly more disturbing the way society treats these people. We allow ourselves to make a profit off of them and marvel at them in fascinated horror, but we refuse to let them work in the same offices as us or try to accommodate any side effects from their “freakishness”. While we may not stick them in side shows anymore doesn’t mean we treat them anymore humanly. We force ourselves to ignore the issues they are facing for reasons they can’t help in favor of our own comfort. This treatment needs to end and end quickly. We have been treating “freaks” like this for over a century; isn’t it time we learn?
M. (n.d.). Hirsutism. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hirsutism/basics/causes/CON-20028919
McGurgan, H. (n.d.). Gigantism. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.healthline.com/health/gigantism
Memento Mutter. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://memento.muttermuseum.org/
M. (n.d.). Microcephaly. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/microcephaly/basics/causes/con-20034823
In 2013, Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church covered the entirety of their lawn in crosses. They were fashioned out of PVC piping and each had a white, red, orange, or beige t-shirt on it. Each shirt had the name of a gun violence victim on it, as well as their age and the day they died. In front of all of these crosses was a sign that read “Philadelphia- highest major-city gun death rate. Where are you, Mayor Nutter?” Each crosses represented one of the 331 people who died because of gun violence in Philadelphia in 2012.
I was thirteen when I drove past this display on my way to my church. I haven’t been able to shake that image from my head. I always knew that Philadelphia is a violent city but I’d been sheltered from just how violent it is. Though I regularly watched the news at night, and I saw the reports about murders in the city, I’d always felt disconnected. I didn’t know anyone from those parts of the city, they didn’t even seem like part of the city I grew up in. I was allowed blissful ignorance because, for the most part, people who looked like me weren’t affected.
I used to go to a private Catholic school outside the city. I was lucky, in that regard. I was never sent to one of Philadelphia’s numerous underperforming neighborhood schools. However, because I was sent to Waldron Mercy Academy, a private school, I was only ever really exposed to the life of people living in the Main Line. I was never exposed to the harsh reality that so many people in this city live every day. This began to change as I entered SLA, especially during the beginning of my sophomore year, with death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The more evidence of police brutality that came out, the more determined I was to rid myself of my ignorance. As Madeleine Bair from WITNESS has said, “With all the videos that have flooded our news feeds and turned names of victims into hashtags of a social movement, how many videos have we not seen?” How many videos are out there that we haven’t seen because of the almost willful ignorance to this topic. And how many of these incidences have happened with no one there to record what was happening. How many people, how many cops, have gotten off because no one wants to believe a cop is capable of something this terrible.
People, especially people uneffected by it, have a way of trivializing violence. We find ways to make it seem like it isn’t such a big deal, and that it doesn’t affect many people. I was one of those people. I let myself be blinded by the privilege I held, and if I wasn’t going to SLA, I most likely still would be. I can see the posts that my friends from my middle school put up on Facebook, and I don’t know how to react. They trivialize the Black Lives Matter movement and don’t want to acknowledge the systematic oppression that extends into every aspect of our country. And they certainly aren’t the only ones. According to a survey conducted by PBS NewsHour and Marist College, “59 percent of whites described the [Black Lives Matter] movement as a distraction from the real issues, whereas only 26 percent of African Americans felt this way.”
At this point, we’ve accepted gun violence as a part of life. We certainly don’t want it to be something we regularly hear about on the news, but the way we see it, there is nothing we can do. While this idea is beginning to change, especially in the African American community, one of the communities most affected by violence, this change is facing an uphill battle. Ignorance is indeed bliss, and that comfort is not something many people want to leave behind. We, as people with privilege, do not want to acknowledge this privilege, because than it means that we acknowledge that change needs to happen, and that is something we don’t want to do. The system as it is works incredibly well for us, but only because the system is rigged that way. We have an advantage solely because others do not.
And we, people with privilege, go out of our way to excuse that privilege. We try to talk our way out of the privilege we hold. And we do the same with regards to gun violence. As essayist Susan Sontag has said, “Words alter, words add, words subtract.” Words can be used to change a horrible situation that needs attention to an issue for other people to deal with. One of the only ways to combat this is to use photographic evidence. We might try to trivialize photos and videos, but seeing a horrible truth is different than hearing about it. In the same essay as above, Sontag also said, “The horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken.” Although Sontag was talking about the images from Abu Ghraib in Iraq, her argument could easily be about police brutality and gun violence. Both situations were and are perpetrated by people we are supposed to trust. People who are supposed to protect us. And both situations are and were enacted on people they felt superior to. This is the definition of privilege.
In the end, this resignation surrounding gun violence stems from our ignorance and the ignorance of the people in charge, and that ignorance comes from the arrogance and unwillingness to admit to flaws that privilege provides. Privilege, especially white privilege, allows for people who have it to run away from the problems they created. It’s a proverbial ‘get out of jail free’ card. And it is only given to certain people for arbitrary things like gender and race. We need to learn to let go of privilege. It is a weapon no one should be able to use. Maybe we can’t get rid of it, but acknowledging it and the issues that it creates is the first step to taking away its power.
"'Black Lives Matter' Confounds White People | DiversityInc." DiversityInc. 25 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
"Caught on Camera: Police Abuse in the U.S." WITNESS Media Lab. 08 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
Sontag, Susan. "Regarding The Torture Of Others." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 May 2004. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.<http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/23/magazine/regarding-the-torture-of-others.html?_r=0>
At some point, we've all been labelled something by society. Society tells us that we are one thing, and that is it. We are allowed no dimensionality. In this paper, I wanted to explore why that is. I wanted to create an in-depth look at how society treats people, and how they identify themselves. I also look at how we identify ourselves and how society identifies us effects where we feel we belong.
We’ve all been there. We’re talking with someone about something, and they say something controversial, something that goes against a tightly held belief. In that situation, we have to make an instant decision: do we speak up and risk starting a fight, or do we stay silent, and feel guilty but free of a confrontation? It’s a verbal fight-or-flight reaction. Either choice feels like a bad one. On the one hand, we want to stand up for our beliefs, but that could result in a loud, possibly explosive argument with the other person, whom we might really like. But, if we don’t stand up for those beliefs, we begin to question how dearly we hold them, even if we have believed in them since we were children. In some cases, mainly when we don’t like the person we are talking with, the choice is easy: we fight. We argue and defend our beliefs and allow passion to take us over. But what happens when it’s your childhood friend? Or a family member? We often choose to stay silent.
That silence is not a compromise of your beliefs. Humans, as a species, are designed for adaptation. We adapt to whatever situation we are in. This knack for adaptation applies also to our identity and how we display it. Though everyone will always display a few core values, our identity, as a whole, is a fluid thing. We allow different environments to pull different feelings and connections out of us. We pick and choose certain aspects of ourselves for certain situations. But that does not make the parts we did not choose any less a part of our identity. Human identity is built on a series of contradictions. Just because you are religious doesn’t mean you can’t believe and fight for gay rights. Just because you are a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t wear makeup and dresses. The thing is, society is often the thing that causes the different parts of our identity to clash. According to Dimitrov and Kopra:
Society prefers to operate with fixed identities - they help to divide people into groups, to 'push' the groups into separate "boxes" and computer files (hierarchical or nested into one another), to label these boxes and files with names, numbers and codes, and then to do with them all sorts of manipulations.
These fixed identities, which are often based in stereotypes, make it harder to find belonging in multiple places. Society wants everyone in boxes, because that makes us easy to categorize and deal with.
This categorization also leads to things like the hierarchies of race and the patriarchy that we deal with everyday. “Part of understanding our identity, therefore, means understanding how we fit in (or don’t) with other groups of people. It also means being aware of the fact that some groups have more social, political and economic power than others.” (The Critical Media Project) Because we have been sorted into boxes, each box must have a certain value, and that value comes in the currency of privilege. And American society has chosen to give the rich, straight, white man the most value, and, therefore, the most privilege. And with this privilege, they decided in what boxes other people belong in. Because I am a woman, I have less value than a man, but because I am white, I have more value than woman of color. And that is absolutely ridiculous. I am worth no more or no less than anyone else, and everyone else is worth no more or no less than me. But, because gender and race have come to correlate with value within our society, that is how we are perceived in our boxes.
Because society is constantly pushing us into boxes, we constantly feel conflicted about our identity and where we belong. According to Giddens:
Even those who would say that they have never given any thought to questions or anxieties about their own identity will inevitably have been compelled to make significant choices throughout their lives, from everyday questions about clothing, appearance and leisure to high-impact decisions about relationships, beliefs and occupations.
Society is constantly asking us to choose between various aspects of our identity. Are you girly or feminist? Do you believe in religion or evolution? But those choices are often impossible to make. Human identity and belong are robust, complex, and multifaceted. It can change, shift, and disguise itself, but it is alway full to the brim and bursting with societal contradictions. In the end, identity cannot be defined by anyone, and especially someone who is not you. Where you belong and how you define yourself are solely decisions that you can make. We were not meant to be put in boxes. And we really can’t let those boxes define us.
Dimitrov, Vladimir, and Kalevi Kopra. Dynamics of Human Identity. Dynamics of Human Identity. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.zulenet.com/vladimirdimitrov/pages/identity.html>.
Giddens, Anthony. "Www.theory.org.uk Resources: Anthony Giddens." Www.theory.org.uk Resources: Anthony Giddens. David Gauntlett, 2002. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.theory.org.uk/giddens4.htm>."Identity: Key Concepts." The Critical Media Project. USC Annenberg, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
I’ve always believed that reading and writing are the closest things humans will ever get to magic. They allow us to know things and people that never were. They allow us to create worlds and people and places that never happened. We can alter the course of human history with a single story. We can change the way people see the world with one book. If you need proof of this, simply look at the Harry Potter franchise. With 7 books, JK Rowling influenced billions of lives. She’s prevent countless suicides with her characters and taught us hundreds of lessons with her stories. Her books created worlds, created movies, created thousands of fans. All simply by writing something that people wanted to read.
This pleasure isn’t something that should be withheld from anyone, yet 26% of the world’s population is illiterate. This is something that can greatly affect the rest of your life. Not only does being a literate person give you social, political, and economical advantages over an illiterate person, but it can completely alter the way you think. When author Neil Gaiman spoke for the Reading Agency in London two years ago, he made it clear how important literacy is in our lives: “How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And [scientists] found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn't read.” The fact that literacy can determine likely it is that you will go to prison in 15 years should completely dispel any sort of passivity surrounding this issue.
I’m lucky, in the sense that I grew up in a very literate home. I grew up with bedtime stories and parents and teachers who were constantly teaching and encouraging me to read. I went to a school that had a library full of different books. By the time I reached second grade, I was reading far above my grade level. And that talent became a passion. JK Rowling has said, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book yet.” I was lucky that I found the right book so young.
When my second grade class reached the library on the third floor of my school, I already knew which book I wanted to check out. As Ms. Moran let us go look around the library, I made a beeline for the fantasy section. I grabbed the first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone I could find. I had just seen the movie and I wanted to read the book. I ran to get my book checked out and then plopped myself down on one of the beanbags in the reading area. This was the biggest book I had ever read by myself, but I was determined to do it. I opened the book to the first page and dove in. By the time Ms. Moran came back to get us, I had finished the first chapter and had decided that I would read the entire series.
“What book did you get, Michaela?” my friend Lindsey asked me.
I smiled, “Harry Potter!”
Harry Potter quickly became my favorite series. I fell in love with the plot and the characters and the world they existed in. I began to explore the world of books, the world of magic. I read to both understand the world, and to escape it. I read to believe in magic and myself. In the words of Sherman Alexie, “I read with equal parts joy and desperation. I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I was trying to save myself.” When the world wasn’t there for me, my books were.
And all of the reading paid off. According to a 2014 study:
becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader's ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports.- (Reading Fictions Improves Brain Connectivity and Function, Psychology Today, Christopher Bergland)
This study isn’t the only one of its kind. Also in 2014, researchers from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy found that children who read Harry Potter were far more likely to be open minded and less prejudiced to different people and cultures.
Reading provides escape and magic and the ability to connect with the people around us. Literacy provides so much more than practical advantages. Literacy, especially in young children, can completely change how you see the world and the people in it. Literacy can open your eyes to how terrible this world is, but it can also make you realize that you can change it. People who read are more likely to be more tolerant, empathetic, and open-minded. They see the world not how it is, but how it could be. For the literate, it is easier to look past difference in past, skin color, culture, and heritage. Our imagination knows no bounds and our reality is very different from that of the person who doesn’t read. For the man who doesn’t read, reality is small and boxy. It is their home and their community and their day-to-day routine. For the man who does read, reality is the whole world and every piece that works together to make it turn. Literacy is not simply a tool that humans use to further themselves; it is a key that unlocks different worlds and emotions and frees us from the cage of ignorance.
Alexie, Sherman. "Superman and Me." The Most Wonderful Books: Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 1997. N. pag. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 1998. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://articles.latimes.com/1998/apr/19/books/bk-42979>.
Bergland, Christopher. "Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 04 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <https%3A%2F%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fblog%2Fthe-athletes-way%2F201401%2Freading-fiction-improves-brain-connectivity-and-function>.
Eberspacher, Sarah. "Study Finds Kids Who Read Harry Potter Books Become More Tolerant of Minority Groups." The Week. Dennis Publishing Limited, 30 July 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://theweek.com/speedreads/449053/study-finds-kids-who-read-harry-potter-books-become-more-tolerant-minority-groups>.
Gaiman, Neil. "Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming." Reading Agency. Barbican, London. 14 Oct. 2013. The Guardian. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming/print>.
"International Literacy Day September 7, 2001 Washington, DC." International Literacy Day: Facts about Illiteracy. SIL International, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://www-01.sil.org/literacy/LitFacts.htm>.
Myers, Christopher. "The Apartheid of Children’s Literature." Editorial. New York Times 16 Mar. 2014, National ed.: SR1. Print.Zimmer, Carl. "This Is Your Brain on Writing." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 June 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/19/science/researching-the-brain-of-writers.html?_r=0>.
This essay is about realizing your growing because of other people. In my case specifically, these other people were my two younger cousins. My goals with this paper was to look at growing up and family in a different way. Most people talk about growing up in vague, undefinable terms. I tried describe this experience in terms of family. I think I was able to clearly portray my sense of humor and terror throughout the essay. I feel like I could have done a more in depth analysis of my fear, and I could have tried to determine it's exact root better.
Having a big family is great. Not being able to see said family… Not so great. From my Aunt and Uncle in Maine to my cousins in Hawaii, to my extended family in north Jersey, almost everyone in my family lives over an hour away. Physically, the closest family I have is my Aunt Elaine, my Uncle Ed, and my Grandma, and they live in West Chester. Because of this distance, seeing my family is kind of a big deal for me. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my cousins Dashtan and Rae in person. Oh, and Dashtan and Rae live on opposite sides of the country.
The first time I saw my cousin Dashtan was about 3 years ago. It was the first Christmas he would ever spend in the continental US. It was also the first time my immediate family would ever meet him. This was something monumental for my sister, Stella, and I. Until Dashtan came along, we had always been the babies of the family. We had no younger cousins, unless you count Angel and Maya, but they live in Switzerland. It was an odd feeling, fussing over someone, instead being fussed over ourselves. When we got to my Aunt’s house, I saw a little flash of green and red out of the corner of my eye. Dashtan had rushed from the kitchen into the living room to see greet us. He’s eyes went wide at our height, since up until this point, he had only seen us over Skype. It was an incredible feeling, seeing this little boy look up at me and my sister, both physically and emotionally, something no one had done before.
Normally, during family holidays, Stella and I would often be sent to the basement while the adults talked. When we were little, we enjoyed it. We loved curling up on the couch under a blanket and watching Disney movies. As soon as I turned 8, it became clearer to me that we were being sent away, so they adults wouldn’t have to deal with us. That Christmas was the first time in several years we eagerly headed down the steps to the basement. Dashtan picked out a movie he wanted to watch and then sat on the floor to play with some of the toys he had brought with him. As we played with him, I realized why we had always been sent to the basement. “Little kids are tiny balls on indecisive energy,” I thought as Dashtan stopped building with his blocks and started playing with the trucks, again, all while The Rescuers played in the background. Another realization: young boys are a lot more rambunctious than young girls. I can’t tell you the number of times I almost had a heart attack, watching Dashtan run and jump around the room. At that point, it really hit me for the first time. Stella and I weren’t the babies anymore. We weren’t little. We weren’t the ones being watched over. Everyone has a realization like that at some point. When you realize, you aren’t a kid anymore, and it’s terrifying. When you’re little, growing up seems great; but when you actually get there, you realize you have no idea what you’re doing.
The next cousin to come along was baby Rae. By this point, I was 14. I had learned how to master toddlers, but babies? Yeah, I didn’t have a clue. When Rae was about 6 months old, my family and I went down to Asheville, North Carolina to meet her. She was, of course, adorable, as babies should be. She had big, light blue eyes and tufts of dark blonde hair. She was just starting to teethe, so we were all greeted with a gummy smile, but happy none-the-less. I was fine while I was playing with her, as long as she was sitting on something or someone else. But when I was asked if I wanted to hold her, I had a very internal panic attack. I’d never held a baby before. Like I said, Stella and I were the babies of the family, and she is only 3 years younger than me. If you’ve never held a baby before, I wish you good luck. And no matter how big their smile is, it’s still terrifying.
Terrifying. I’ve used that word a lot in this essay. But, I guess that’s a part of getting older and getting more responsibilities. It’s also the part we never see coming. Growing up seems great until you realize your mind skipped some very big, very scary things. Like high school, or realizing that you aren’t the youngest in the family anymore. It’s scary, all of these realizations and experiences, and most of the time, you don’t know what you’re doing. Maybe someday I’ll get the hang of this growing up thing, but until then, just like learning how to deal with little kids, I’m taking it one step at a time.
Point of View, or POV, is a critical part of stories. It determines how the reader feels about various characters, and what they know. Often, when the author wants the reader to connect with the main character better, the book will be written in the first person POV of the main character. James Dashner’s The Maze Runner does not follow this convention. It is written in the 3rd person limited, following the main character, Thomas. Despite the the fact that Thomas is not telling the reader the story directly, there is almost no detachment from the story. Instead, the reader feels as if they are experiencing and learning everything with Thomas. The use of Thomas’s 3rd person limited POV in this story allows the reader to feel like they are a part of the story, and therefore, more invested.
In the first two chapters of the book, the only thing Thomas knows about himself is his name. In the third chapter, Thomas asks Chuck, one of the other characters, how old he thinks he is. Chuck answers the question somewhat blandly, not knowing how shocking the answer would be to Thomas. “Thomas was so stunned he’d barely heard the last part. Sixteen? He was only sixteen? He felt so much older.” Thomas thinks with the intelligence and maturity of an adult, yet all the boys in the Glade are just that, boys. Logic tells the reader that Thomas has to be around the same as the rest of them, but since the story is told through what Thomas sees and thinks, it feels like he is older than he really is. His age is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things Thomas and the reader have to learn about the Glade and the Maze. A review of The Maze Runner in The Guardian perfectly summarizes this. At one point, the review states, “Thomas knew NOTHING and nobody would tell him what he wanted to know so I kinda ended up getting as frustrated as Thomas.” In the first several chapters of the story, Thomas is still learning and adjusting to the new language and surroundings. He is curious, as is the reader. However, the Gladers are a very secretive group. He has to learn like the rest of them did. That sentiment is a large part of the reason why the reader feels like they are a part of the story. They are learning as Thomas learns, and are feeling the same irritation and annoyance as him.
Later in the novel, Thomas is stuck in the Maze, at night, with an unconscious Alby, the Glade’s leader, and a panicked Minho, the Keeper of the Runners. Minho told him it was pretty much fend for yourself and ran off, leaving Thomas alone with Alby. Minho did not try to help Thomas at all, leaving him with no experience or advice. “A sudden dislike for the guy swelled up inside him. Minho was the veteran in this place, a Runner. Thomas was a Newbie, just a few days in the Glade, a few minutes in the Maze. Yet of the two of them, Minho had broken down and panicked, only to run off at the first sign of trouble.” Through out the novel, the Gladers put immense amounts of emphasis on the danger of the Maze. No one but the Runners are supposed to go out there. And no one is ever supposed to go out there at night. The worst punishment they have in the Glade is banishing someone into the Maze for a night. They never come back. Thomas, who was aware of the danger of the Maze, went out to help Alby and Minho anyway. The fact that Minho leaves him at the first sign of danger leaves both Thomas and the reader feeling betrayed. Thomas had grown to trust and like Minho, and because of the way Dashner writes Thomas’s experience, so did the reader. This is a bit surprising, because with most 3rd person POVS, even 3rd person limited, are normally detached and slightly distant from the characters. However, the perspective gained using the 3rd person is very useful throughout the novel. Dashner’s ability to combine emotion and thoughts with perspective guides the reader, allowing them to understand the story like Thomas, and making them feel like Newbies as well.
After the events that transpired in the Maze, the Keepers try to figure out what they should do with Thomas. He did break the biggest rule they had, but he also saved two of the most important people in the Glade. Everyone was arguing about what should happen to him. Minho suggested that Thomas take his place as Keeper of the Runners. This did not go over well with everyone. “When everyone started talking at once, Thomas put his head in his hands to wait it out, awed and terrified at the same time. Why had Minho said that? Has to be a joke, he thought.” This is one of the best examples of the emotional description of Thomas. Dashner uses the perspective that any 3rd person POV gives the reader, and combines it masterfully with the emotion Thomas is experiencing. This allows the reader to feel as if they are in the room with Thomas, watching everything happen. The lack of in depth description of emotion allows the reader to put themselves in Thomas’s shoes, and feel the emotions they would feel in his place. Because of the way Dashner wrote this scene, each reader interprets it in their own way. They can each come up with different scenarios for what they believe is going to happen. Dashner provides a base, a jumping board of sorts, allowing the reader to experience the story with Thomas.
Dashner’s use of POV in this novel immerses the reader in the experience of being new to the Glade and the Maze. The reader does not know much of anything at first, which allows them to sympathize with Thomas, and understand him and the whole experience better. If it was told from any other character's POV, the reader would have felt like Thomas was annoying and strange, since they would not be able understand the inner workings of his mind. Following Thomas also allowed the reader to fully understand the process all of the boys went through.The 3rd person limited POV gives a necessary perspective to the story, but does not separate the reader from the story or Thomas. The reader learns every bit of information as Thomas does, often at a slow and antagonizing pace. This immerses them in the experience of the Glade and the Maze, and allows them to become part of the story.
Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. First ed. New York: Delacorte, 2009. Print. The Maze Runner Ser.
"The Maze Runner by James Dashner - Review." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Jan. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fchildrens-books-site%2F2014%2Fsep%2F15%2Freview-the-maze-runner-james-dashner>.
(Elizabeth is sitting on her bed. She is dressed nicely, with makeup and jewelry on. As she talks, she takes off her shoes, jewelry, and makeup (in that order), then takes her hair out of the side-braid it had been in, then shaking her hair out by the end. Side note- she pushes her hair behind her ear when she is upset or disappointed or shy)
That was incredible! He liked me. He kept calling me pretty and gorgeous and telling me that my laugh was amazing. And he was so cute (I’m talking tall, dark, and handsome, here) and nice and funny and sweet. And he listened when I was talking, always paying attention to me! And when he kissed me (puts her hands over her heart, leans back and squeals, kicking her feet a little). I can’t believe Nat was able to set that up for me. I have to thank her so much tomorrow. (Phone Buzzes. She picks it up, and reads the text aloud.) “How did it go? He told me he loved it! You totally scored- Nat.” (stares at the phone for a second, before laughing brightly and smiling. Then she begins to type) “It was awesome. He couldn’t stop looking at me! Even when I got up, I could feel his eyes on me…” (looks up from the phone) All night. All night, he was STARING at me, not looking. And he probably wasn’t really listening. (pushes hair behind her ear and looks down) And he was surprised when I started talking about politics.
I’m not asking for prince or celebrity. I’m not even asking for love. I’m asking for a guy who is willing to take for what I am. Because that, that’s what love grows from. It would also be nice if he didn’t focus on the physical? That boy probably didn’t hear a word I said, he was so focused on my body. I’m sure he meant everything he said, it’s just... (Looks back at phone) “Totally scored.” Not really. ‘Totally scoring’ would be getting a guy who is interested in what I’m saying and who I am, not just the physical features I have.
(shakes her hair out of braid and sighs) I can’t believe that I used to believe in love at first sight. At first sight, we focus on how a person looks. And we always try to make ourselves look nice. First sight is never this (gestures to herself, completely bare of makeup and jewelry). This is what I want people to love. I don’t want someone to love my body, but not my mind. Love my lips, but not the words they speak. Love is knowing everything about that person, all the little things that they like, and what drives them crazy. Love is knowing exactly what buttons to push. Love isn’t shoving your tongue down their throat. Love isn’t having arguments over stupid, petty thing. I don’t want love right now, and I know I probably won’t find it now, anyway. I guess I just want people to stop use a word they don’t know the power of. Love is beyond the physical, and it takes time. (picks up her phone, and begins to type a message) “It was okay. Don’t think I’ll be meeting up with him again.”
“Hi. My name is Michaela. I’m thirteen years old, and I’m from Philly,” I said to the group of girls around me. It was a standard summer camp icebreaker. We came from all over the country to spend a week here in Newport, singing. Since we were spending the week together, we were all introducing ourselves, telling each other our names and homes.
“Have you always lived in Philly?” one of the girls asked.
“Yeah. Born ‘n raised,” I responded with a shrug.
“Huh. You don’t sound like you’re from Philly,” she said in an off-hand manner.
I just gave her a tight smile and shrugged, not letting her see how annoyed I was.
“You don’t sound like you’re from Philly.” I can’t tell you the number of times people have told me that. And whenever I ask them where I think I am from, their response is almost always: “I don’t know, just not Philly.” Has anyone told you that don’t sound like you’re from the place you call home? It hurts. The worst part is when they want you to prove it. The number of times I’ve taken the ‘water test’, as I’ve dubbed it, is horrible. Someone will ask me to say the word ‘water’. They expect me to say something along the lines of “wooda”, since they think that’s what everyone from Philly says. They’re almost disappointed when I say “wadar”. Often I’ll just smile, and explain that the “Philly” accent that they are expecting is a South Philly accent. And, yes, there are people who say “wooda”, but the majority of the people I know don’t say it like that.
A lot of people would say that I should be happy that I don’t sound like I’m from Philly. That way, it’ll be easier for me to get a job down the road. The thing is, I do sound like I’m from Philly. I slur my words and elongate the ‘s’, sometimes even adding an ‘h’, like almost everyone else from Philly. People just associate a “Philly” accent with the voice of Sylvester Stallone. And I’m not the only one who has to deal with this issue. This is a problem people all over the world face. We assume all people from a certain area speak like the people in movies. We think everybody from Boston says “Pak the ca,” (Park the car) or the that everybody down south speaks slowly and almost slurs a little. And nobody is immune to it.
A great example of this would be the time I met one of my closest friends, who lives right outside of Boston. Alyssa acts like your typical Bostonian (she loves the Red Sox, can’t wake up without a cup of coffee from Dunkin’, and can be a bit abrasive at times), but she doesn’t sound like one. Or, at least, she doesn’t have the accent most people associate with people from Boston. The first time we met, we both immediately started judging each other’s accents. She had said I didn’t sound like I was from Philly, and I snarkily replied, “Yeah, well, you don’t exactly have a Boston accent, either.” And before you judge, I am completely aware of the hypocrite I was being in that moment. But that’s just something humans do. We judge people on what they sound like, and try to figure out their story from the moment they open their mouths. Another great example of this lies in The Hunger Games series. In every book, Katniss talks about how strangely people from the Capitol speak. She even goes so far as to mock them, even after she has met several people from there, and knows they aren’t all that bad. Their accent is vastly different from hers, so her instinct is to distance herself from it and make fun of it. We do the same. I still have the impression that all people from Boston say “Pak the ca”, even though I know people from that area who don’t.
And, like I said before, those thoughts hurt. The place you call home is a key part of your identity. It’s one of the first things you tell people when you meet them. So, when people tell you that you don’t sound like you are from the place you call home, it’s almost like they are ripping away a piece of your identity. However, what’s worse, is when people tell you that you’re accent is undesirable. When people make fun of your accent, they make fun of the place you call home. They aren’t taking away a piece of your identity, they are telling you that an important piece of you is undesirable, that you should hide it. At least when people take away a piece of your identity, other’s can replace it. But some wounds aren’t so easily fixed, especially when they are supported by popular culture.
Gloria Anzaldua addresses this issue in her essay How To Tame a Wild Tongue. She says, “Because we internalize how our own language has been used against us by the dominant culture, we use our language differences against each other.” She was talking about actual languages, but this quote can be related to accents as well. An example of this would be what Alyssa and I did. She told me I didn’t sound like I was from Philly, so, I retaliated. Neither of us has the “standard” accent of our homes. So, we used those differences against each other, which starts a chain reaction. Once we feel inferior, we want to make others feel inferior, at least on a subconscious level. We deem any and all accents that differ from our own inferior, creating the urge to reach “the voice from nowhere”. Sometimes, we even denounce people with our own accent, because we think that it is shameful. Yet, if we do eventually get to “the voice from nowhere” , aren’t we just putting ourselves back at square one? If we have “the voice from nowhere”, people will still tell us that we don’t sound like we are from our homes.The idea of “the voice from nowhere” or a “superior” accent is ridiculous. Everyone has an accent, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Not only do these accents relay where we are from, they are a part of our identity, which is why making fun of them, or denying their existence, hurts. I know that we can’t just stop thinking the way we do, or change our misconceptions over night, but we can start to making changes. We can stop laughing whenever we hear a “funny” accent. We can stop voicing our thoughts about where we think people are from, or not from. And we can definitely stop trying to make others feel inferior because their accents differ from our own. No matter what we do, we will still make assumptions about people based on their accents. But maybe someday, those assumptions will come to include the less popular accents from a certain area. After all, don’t you want to sound like home?
This is my slide. Many design aspects influenced what my slide looked like. One example of this was I decided to follow the rule of thirds. In the rule of thirds, you utilize empty space. I let my image take up the majority of the slide. Then, I balance my text with the picture. This is a little difficult, since the text cannot overpower the image, but your text needs to be big and clear, so it is easy to understand. Another important aspect of making my slide easy to understand was contrast and simplicity. If there is too much going on on a slide, we would not be able to understand anything. That is why I went with a simple color scheme (black, white, and teal). Contrast is also important, since, without contrast, we would not be able see anything. That is why I chose to use white and teal against my black background. That is how I made my slide. Thank you for your time.