Over the past year, this blog has been incredibly helpful in enabling me to process, work through and archive my critical reflections on troublemaking and troublestaying. It has also enabled me to make productive connections between seemingly disparate topics: Eminem and Socrates; The Brady Bunch and Habermas; Hannah Montana and Judith Butler; Laura Ingalls and Bourdieu (hint: only briefly in the note at the end), just to name a few. When I began this blog last year, my plan was to use it as a writing tool. Here’s what I wrote about it on my about this site page:
The most important way that I am using this site is as a WRITING TOOL. I have been thinking and teaching about troublemaking for several years now and I thought that it was about time that I started actually writing about it (okay, I have written about it a little). I have talked for a long time (over a decade, sometimes) about certain ideas/theories/topics that would make a great article or book chapter. Life (kids, moves, PhDs, illness) got in the way and, for that matter, is still getting in the way. So, I thought trying out blog writing might help to get me writing again, especially with the limited amount of time I have (did I mention I have two very young kids?).
It has worked. I write a lot now. And on this blog I have stockpiled a large number of ideas, many of which are just waiting to be converted into articles (and maybe books?). So far, I have resisted this process. Academic writing tends to be boring and painful. And it takes time away from the writing that I enjoy; the writing that moves my spirit and that inspires me. But, I believe that I need to change my assessment of formal writing. This summer I need to take my ideas and do something more with them. I need (and not just for my cv) to write some articles and get them published. And I want to use the blog to help me do this by documenting my writing process (what I’m working on, what I’m stuck on, etc) and by posting parts-in-progress for review by others. I also want to use what I have already written, my archive of mini-essays on troublemaking and troublestaying, as the foundation for my manuscripts. In particular, I want to combine several entries, with similar or complementary themes, to create an academic publication-worthy essay. I have decided to call these essays blog mash-ups. I will write and submit as many of these mash-ups as I possibly can this summer.
So, here’s my first mash-up, all taken from the tag, “care”:
what does it mean to care? + defining care + horton the caring elephant who not only makes trouble but stays in it = an awesome article on feminist ethics
So here’s a summary of each entry:
what does it mean to care? In this entry, I critically assess how care is understood and articulated in a children’s book, “We Care, ” that is about a third grade class’s successful efforts to help/care for people in a homeless shelter. While I appreciate much of what the book is trying to do (encouraging students to care and linking care with specific and repeated practices), I ultimately argue that the book presents the reader (aimed at a 3rd grader) with a limited and problematic view of care. I suggest that the students are not encouraged to ask questions or think critically about why the shelter (or homelessness) exists and what kinds of care strategies and practices are most effective. I also suggest that the failure of the story to include the actual residents of the shelter (as characters or even as illustrations) reinforces a very problematic division between the care-giver as subject (student) and the care-receiver as absent object (shelter residents). My main point in this entry: this book offers a insufficient and ineffective definition of care, one that has potentially troubling consequences for readers as they develop their own moral vision of the world and how to treat/exist in the midst of others.
defining care: In this entry, I describe Joan Tronto’s definition of care as it is outlined in the fourth chapter of her book, Moral Boundaries. I also highlight her four inter-related yet distinct phases of care: caring about; taking care of; care-giving; care-receiving. I plan to use her definition as the starting point for my description of a feminist ethic of care. Throughout the entry, I ask questions about her phases and her definition of care. One question I ask is this: are trouble staying and curiosity-as-care only about paying attention? Do they offer other forms of care? Are they only valuable because they make us aware of a problem/need for care?
horton as troublemaker and troublestayer: In this final entry of the three, I write about how Horton, from Horton Hears a Who is a troublemaker who engages in productive troublemaking/staying not just because he pays attention to the voices on the speck that are crying out for help; he is a troublemaker/stayer because he refuses to ignore those voices, even when he is repeatedly told not to, that he is imagining them, and that he will suffer dire consequences if he continues to listen. The care he gives is focused on connecting his attentiveness to the world with his passion for social justice. In concluding this essay, I attempt to link Horton’s speech to the Sour Kangaroo (the “a person’s a person, no matter how small” speech) with a passage from Michel Foucault’s “The Masked Philosopher.” I really like this entry and I think it does a nice job of exploring the possibility for expanding what we mean by care/caring about and how it connects to trouble, both making it and staying in it.
But, wait. As I am writing this, I realize that I should add one more entry into this mash-up: another feminist response to horton hears a who: why is it always the mother’s fault?
In this entry, I discuss how the story (moreso in the recent movie, yet also present in the book) relies on the very problematic trope of the smothering mother: the mother who wishes to continue tradition/the status quo at all costs. The troublemaker (troublestayer) is pitted against the ultimate enemy: the Mother who sees change, curiosity and wonder as threatening. I like the idea of adding this in as well because feminist ethics of care is usually so closely linked with mothering and the mother-as-care-giver. In my own version of trouble-as-care, I am interested (as in J Tronto in her vision) in challenging this entrenched idea and of rethinking what care from a feminist perspective could mean.
So, there you have it: the key parts to my mash-up. Now I have to think through how to connect them, to mash them up, if you will. [Note: STA felt it necessary to remind me that mash-ups are played. I responded: Of course they are, they just had an episode about them on Glee! Regardless of how out-dated mash-ups are (and regardless of how ill-fitting they are for describing what I am trying to do with this blog and writing), I still want to use them. So there!] More on how I will use them in an upcoming entry…
I just spent a couple of minutes on youtube attempting to find a mash-up that I liked. I couldn’t find anything great…yet. I will keep looking. Any suggestions? In the meantime, here is the girl’s mash-up from Glee:
iPAD note: Because I have had some trouble in the past with the WordPress app, I decided to write this entry the old-school way: on my MacBook. About halfway through I realized that I liked how the app on iPad lets me see more of the entry at once while I am writing. So I switched to the iPad. I wrote the rest of the essay, switching back and forth between the two. Not ideal, I suppose. I will keep experimenting. Hey, have I mentioned that I love my new iPad?
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Here’s an update about this entry: If you have followed this blog all summer, you would know that I wasn’t able to complete any mash-ups. I think it was partly that I had too many other writing projects. I still like the concept a lot. In fact, I am giving the students in my queering desire a mash-up assignment. I’m excited to see how it could work. I also hope to get back to some of my own mash-ups at some point (hopefully, soon).
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