Survery of Literary Criticism

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Bit off more than is chewable?

Dear class,

Today we had individual presentations about the term papers that we wrote. I applaud everyone's efforts and ideas for their papers and other presentations throughout the semester. It seems like everyone has given an honest and whole effort to make the most out of this class.

I would like to address Cindy and her presentation this morning. Let me start with saying that I don't know what is the correct response to her request and subsequent outburst.

I had heard about Zach's journal through other members of the class. They had looked at the picture and told me that it wasn't something I wanted to see. They didn't say this because they thought I couldn't handle the picture, but merely because in general it must have been a disturbing picture and they wouldn't have recommended that anyone look at it.

So I didn't look at it. Not because I wasn't curious (that's usually what happens when someone tells you that you don't want to see something - you decide that you must see it!), but because I have been very busy and reading e-journals has not been a priority lately.

Then comes Cindy's reaction to the picture. I could tell that she considered her e-mail to be quite important by the way she asked Dr. Sexson if he was going to address it, but I never dreamed it would spark the reaction that it did. Right after she left the room, I felt sorry for her and thought that perhaps Dr. Sexson should have done more to pacify her than he did.

And classifying her reaction as a reader response, and saying that she needs to move past that stage is not very cool, in my mind. Yes, it may have been an initial reaction, but none-the-less, it was a real reaction and deserved to be treated as more than a silly outburst that she will get over. It was pretty clear to me that she will NOT get over it. That's not to say that she should or shouldn't get over her emotional response, but just saying that obviously she had been contemplating this for many hours, which is more than enough time to move past the initial reader response reaction.

While I certainly don't support Cindy's use of curse words, especially when they were partially aimed at Dr. Sexson, I understand she was very upset. The question that I've been contemplating is what should have been done? And I still don't have the answer. Did Cindy bite off more than she should have been able to chew by visiting Zach's site? Did Zach put more on his website than was digestable? Or did Dr. Sexson ask for more than the table was able to hold when he promoted the e-journals?

On one hand, I feel sympathy for Cindy's situation and life. I cannot say that I understand fully, because I have been blessed with a loving family and home life. Yes, my brothers annoy me quite often, but never have I ever lacked for the appropriate love from my parents and siblings. So I can see that she needed some satisfaction in order to justify her feelings. I agree with her point that she took this class because it wasn't supposed to involve the kinds of things that she cannot tolerate. And especially the request that the picture have a warning seems quite reasonable, considering that many other people have complained how grotesque it is.

But on the other hand, I understand that is Zach's private journal and he is entitled to put whatever he wants onto it. Also I see the point that we have been learning about effectively tearing people apart through the use of literary techniques and that to have really made full use of the class, Cindy should have written a scathing rebuttal to Zach and scorched his position and supporting picture. But obviously she was in no state to compose a well-written, carefully contrived article.

So in the end I guess what Dr. Sexson said was as correct as it can be. No, he didn't give Cindy any consolation. Yes, he protected Zach's right to choose the content of his e-journal. I would have like to see Cindy remain in the classroom and work out a compromise, but I'm not sure that was possible in the given situation.

And the issue of the journal comes down to whether Zach thinks his right to put whatever he wants to on his journal is more or less important than his consideration for potential viewers. If he thinks that people viewing his journal should view it at his standards, than he should not change a thing. If he was affected by Cindy's reaction, than he should change it.

Whatever happens, I've certainly gone through many responses to the whole issue. And the responses have been the classics- reader response, deconstruction, etc. My critique of it is that once again, everything is up to the individual and his/her interpretation. Some people will support Cindy, some Zach. That's the beauty of a free society where we all think differently.

For one thing, this has certainly been a good time to use my own e-journal to express an opinion. For the first time all semester, I hope that other classmates are reading my journal and please respond as you wish. Thanks for making the class interesting and educational.


Katy =)


  • At December 8, 2004 at 11:03 PM, Blogger Nikole Didier said…


    I am reading your journal! I think that this journal entry was very thoughtful and intelligent. Keep up the good work!

    Later gator,

  • At December 14, 2004 at 10:20 PM, Blogger lisamac17 said…

    I agree that Dr. Sexson's response disregaurded Cindy's feelings, or failed to recognize her legitimately. I enjoyed reading your journal. I can tell you put a great deal of thought into it.

  • At December 17, 2004 at 1:19 PM, Blogger Tristan Vick said…

    Dr. Sexson did not disreguard any feelings. Like myself, he was totally unaware that there was a student who would respond purely on the emotional level. Also, if you want to know the rolls of a professor, the class, and when and where they apply in online projects, you can go read my research of online etiquette, or Netiquette.

    Dr. Sexson supports, and want the best for all of his students. This comment, that he was otherwise, is silly and contrived. Cindy reacted, or responded, quite plainly, and she needs to deal with the consequences. There were about a thousand otherways she could have addressed the issue, and a thousand more words that would have sounded more intelligent than "fuck".

    Netiquette at Tristan's site:


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