I've been writing the Instructor's Resource Manual for my advisor and his writing partner's new textbook (that is officially in print as of Friday the 15th). Now...I just need to finish the IRM. It's not easy, for the record. Writing exam questions is a real booger, especially for a text of this kind. I feel like in some ways it attempts (and maybe this is because of who I am writing for) to debunk the reliability of Multiple-Choice and True-False questions, and yet, in order to sell a textbook, these things have to be included. It's kinda gross (as my friend, the cheese, would say).
I've also been trying to write a fellowship application. This application is awarded based on one's dissertation research that adds to the literature about education issues. I think my dissertation will add to that literature, but before writing it, I'm having difficulties putting into words what it will add. Fun times...
Finally, I'm trying to prepare for my preliminary exams. I think I have written the beginnings of one of my possible questions. I'm going to paste it below.
On a beautiful spring day in May of 2010, one of my instructors invited the class to sit outside during classtime. I had chosen to wear a short skirt that day and therefore was miserably self-conscious; moreover, I was uncomfortable because of the way I had to contour my body to sit without revealing my unmentionables. I wrote the following, in my class notebook, that day:
Sitting on the ground reminds me of the size of my body, a size that I have grown to both have and love over the years—granted, there has been progressively more love than hate. The size of my body, however, has not been accepted (nor loved) by much of western society as beautiful, healthy, or o.k. I know, though, that the curve of my hips and thickness of my thighs are who I am in this space, uncomfortable as I may be physically on the ground.
Earlier the same semester, plus size clothing retailer Lane Bryant produced a television commercial that was “banned” by Fox and ABC during prime programming for shows such as American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Though Fox eventually relented and allowed the commercial, ABC offered that the commercial could be run at a later hour. The argument from the media stated that the advertisement bared too much cleavage to be aired in primetime hours, but the public read an implication that the choice to not run the advertisement was a clear example of weight discrimination.
The media provides television viewers with a barrage of commercials every hour, many of which fuel our consumerist tendencies while also speaking to our cultural expectations and reifying our cultural norms. Commercials address the cultural expectations and stereotypes of women and women’s bodies, in particular beauty norms.
Hart and Daughton (2005) suggested several critical probes that feminist critics might use in order to interpret the “possibilities of a message” (p. 285). For this analysis, I will use the following of those probes (found on pages 285 and 291):
· In what ways does this artifact suggest that women and men should look, think, feel, behave?
· In what ways are women and men advantaged or disadvantaged by such portrayals?
· What does the rhetor present as “the norm”?
· What intellectual, mythic, or role conventions does the artifact offer?
· What are the implications of these depictions for men and women (people of different classes, body sizes, sexualities, ethnicities, nationalities, etc.), both in terms of how they see themselves and in terms of how others see them?
Using the constructs of feminist rhetorical criticism, I am interested in analyzing this commercial, the rhetoric surrounding it, and my own lived responses to it.