Before we start our review of this semester, we want to bid farewell and acknowledge the significant contributions of Chandler Warren. With one exception (which involved hauling water tanks on a Sunday morning), Chandler’s trademark kindness and gentle humor has been a feature of our Watershed experience. Moreover, he provided this blog with a critical link to as well as insight from the Digital Humanities. Chandler was one of the original six graduate students who came together to start this project. As such, he played a key role in shaping our philosophy, structure, and operation. He is the first to leave us. Chandler, safe journeys!
From “Are You in the Wrong Bathroom?: Uncanny Androgyny” by James Brunton
“In this climate, a perceived gender transgression doesn’t merely produce a casual recognition of the possibility of difference that lies within oneself (a banal or perhaps even playful recognition of variance and one’s ability to occupy different roles at different times—“look! a biological female with short hair!”). Instead, it produces a terrified encounter within an other who challenges one’s own sense of bodily coherence and safety—an encounter that ends up with me being an object of terror and fascination, possibly threatened with physical violence, when all I wanted to do was wash my hands after touching the sweaty controls on the treadmill.”
From “Sociopaths and Game of Thrones” by Daniel Clausen
“The world is portrayed as having a history, but not in having constant maintenance by human labor or renewal through human work. That, of course, would be boring. And just like in the real world, we prefer our encounters with politics to be flashy, violent, and sexy. We would rather see the results of work than the workers; rather have the consumables of labor than encounter any laborers. The few times laborers do make it on screen they are quickly killed and/or robbed. The political economy of Westeros is the most postmodern thing about the show’s politics: an economy that seems to be almost immaterial by pushing workers to the margin or killing them in the name of conspicuous consumption.”
From “Painting Truth to Power: Public Art and the Politics of Place” by Jason Hertz
“Public art, by virtue of its position in the city, adorning bridges, parks, and warehouse walls, has the opportunity to acknowledge contradictions involved in its production, and it has the rare opportunity to create dialogue in the local politics of place. This opportunity is rare because local politics of place tend to challenge unequal lines of economic stratification and because views from Los Angeles, Manhattan, and Washington, D.C. dominate the media.”
From “The Exceptional State of Sex Offender Registries (Part Two)” by Robert Lipscomb
“Though a state of exception may not exist and while those listed on sex offender registries may not yet qualify as bare life, these individuals exist as a type of designation I call an exceptional state. The law determines these individuals to be excepted from the law on a list that renders them simultaneously visible to everyone as threatening and exposing them to the scourges—unemployment, homelessness, immobility—most reviled in America. As such, sex offender registries may well represent the steps taken by states to produce a new permutation of bare life. Our society’s outdated morality may well be replaced by a necessary villainy.”
From “Recognizing and Responding to Plant Stories” by Aubrey Streit Krug
“Scientific research into the myriad abilities of plants to recognize and respond to their environments calls into question the “common-sense” assumptions (for some cultures) that plants are passive, sedentary, and uncommunicative. At the same time, there are important differences between plants and other kinds of creatures, like animals. Revising people’s understanding of plants without inaccurately representing plants vis-à-vis animals can thus be a tricky task for science and nature writers.”
From “Kidnapping Personhood: Rancière, Hegel, Deleuze (Part One)" by Anne Nagel
“Although Hegel’s triad is often categorized in terms of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis, a clearer way of understanding it is through the triad of identity, difference, and identity-in-difference. Overlaid onto Rancière’s schema, we find that the “speaking beings” have a normalized identity, whereas the part of no part is defined by its difference from them. And in terms of its position within this process, difference functions not only as a disruption but also as a failure of identity, which must be corrected through synthesis. As long as identity precedes difference, difference will remain irrecoverable from this secondary position.”
From “Bring Who Back?: Dusty Springfield, Camp Taste, and Desire” by Dan Froid
“Queerness slides between Bourdieu’s neat demographic categories, seeks itself elsewhere. In music it finds a match. Dusty can perform a song as straight as anything even while infusing it with every imaginable level of campy parody. She moves gracefully through the world while, almost covertly, resisting it. It’s the implicitness rather than explicitness that makes her camp effective—which is what makes any camp effective. Even as she sings “Bring Him Back,” her wink to me, to you, to the viewer, lets us know how unseriously she regards the whole business. Bringwho back? Maybe I love Dusty specifically because of this dance between the explicit and the implicit, the light and the shadow, the straight and the queer. Enjoying her music feels like, beyond the pleasure I take in the music, a private joke. I move through the world quite seriously, but I also fail in many ways to take the world, or my culture, seriously. Its structures weren’t made for me. They weren’t made for Dusty, either.”
From the Humanities on the Edge article review “Christina Rodríguez’s ‘Law and Borders’” by Raul Palma
“Federalism poses a number of issues for immigrants and individuals with no citizenship. For immigrants, already disoriented, seeking or pursuing integration in the United States, I could see how navigating a sea of diverse ideologies, states, and constitutions would further disorient them, even with mobility protection. Still, Rodríguez demonstrates just how volatile policy-making can be. Early in her essay, she shows how in California at the very same time that integration policies were extended to immigrants, more immigration policies were enacted. Immigration federalism, then, might be the most effective route because it would allow for a multiplicity of both theoretical and methodological policies to be applied, thus offering states an opportunity to learn from each other, rather than heeding and resisting a nationalistic approach.”
From “The Trolls and Copypasta of Twitch Chat” by Jonathan Cheng and Chandler Warren
“On one hand, this process could be seen as a site of immaterial production similar to the type discussed in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire series—a space that is mass producing new subjectivities. On the other hand, this view could be seen as being too optimistic, and perhaps too broadly appropriates the act of trolling for this specific political agenda. These are potentially too difficult to untangle precisely because it is impossible to delineate when an act of trolling has a sense of genuine outreach and connection versus when trolling constitutes an act that more closely resembles its earlier association with cyber bullying. Either way, while these conversations continue to take place, Twitch chat might serve as a way of complicating these discussions for the better.”
From “A Note on Conceptualism” by Edwardo Rios
“This is not a novel. I might offer this potentially fascinating statement about each of the conceptual works that appear at the end of this post in spite of the fact that I am not quite sure whether any of the creators of these particular objects would confer the identity of a novel on their productions—not that such artistic or authorial intention would matter. Markson’s programmatic description above offers a remarkable sketch of many of these works. Few contain intelligible narratives, characters, settings, or themes, although fragments of these may appear depending on the enthusiasm and imagination of the reader (who, as Robert Fitterman and Vanessa Place note at the beginning of Notes on Conceptualisms, is necessary for the (impossible) completion of conceptual writing). In fact, many contain no words at all aside from their titles and colophon information. Nevertheless, I am at the present moment inclined to label as novel and novels these works that, among other things, seem to question the boundaries between art and literature and strive to resist these potentially limiting categorizations.”
But before we go for the summer, we want to say, “Thanks.”
We want to thank EVERYONE in the English department, our teachers and colleagues, who have supported us in so many ways over the last year.Thanks to Humanities on the Edge for the opportunity to collaborate. We can announce that we will be continuing our collaboration with Humanities on the Edge next year.
Watershed will return for the fall semester. While we are not quite ready to announce our new members, we are pleased to report that the collective will include representation from Composition and Rhetoric, Digital Humanities, Creative Writing, and Literature.
From all of us, enjoy your summer!