Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Harkness Pages 180-187

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 3:20 am


These pages begin with the description of Doris’ usual day with abundant imagery. She eats, then proceeds to have a bit of quiet time before visitors and her staff arrive. Doris also touches on the main question of reporters, “what do you do all day?” and how some have even said that they’ve been inspired by her life. The next pair of pages include a vast array of topics and pictures of people in motion, something Doris always says she has the urge to do. She says that she may not be able to do acrobatics, yet she is still up and about. Next her and Joe Jr. clean up the archive room, in reality only moving boxes from one side of the room to the other. Doris felt as if her life was “unfolding in pieces before [her],” as she unpacked and repacked these articles and photos. These memories reminded her that she was alone, without many family members and in the absence of her husband, yet Doris doesn’t have a negative perception of this. She then shifts to a poem that she memorized about the chambers in a nautilus and quotes some of the lines that she’s memorized. Redness lists some facts about this creature that relate to Doris and how she organizes her past. The final pair of pages are not full of text, rather a picture of a young Doris posing atop a rainbow sharing her “secret of [her] longevity” which is to lead a normal life. 

What we learned:

From each other we learned that we all have about the same perspective on things and a lot of the same ideas about Doris’ life including how she was feeling near the end. We, more or less, believed that as she was getting closer to death she wanted to do more and more. We thought that it was pretty incredible that she could keep a farm and be responsible for so many things even though she was pretty old. Through this, Doris has realized that she is in fact slowing down, yet there are still so many things that she could do or could have done. This realization comes from her fishing through her past memories and reflecting on them.

On pages 180-181 we discussed the importance of a routine in everybody’s daily life. Doris’ routine seems very slow paced, like the stereotypical older person’s, yet before, her life went by amazingly fast. This gives her time to reflect upon the past and this schedule keeps her going as more and more people come to visit, hoping to gain insight into how Doris has lived so long. She has confidence in her body by not taking any medication and by being constantly active throughout her life. This is an example of how Doris would rather stray from the cliches of an old person’s life and live how she wants.

The nautilus poem proved to be an interesting topic in that it was almost a parallel to Doris’ life. She too uses her archive boxes to catalog her past. Doris looking back on her archives relates to how the nautilus continues to live with its chambers. As Doris looks back, she cannot change the past, like how the nautilus cannot reform its shell. She can only reflect and use these experiences as buoyancy to get through the rest of her life.

Questions and Confusions:

There was no confusion after our discussion, but we did have a few questions.

Were there any family members or friends with Doris when she died?

Why did Doris choose the poem about the nautilus to memorize?

Could there have been other poems?

How did she find this poem and come to recognize the importance that it had in her life?

Was she fulfilled by her life as a whole?

Where we would’ve liked our discussion to continue to:

If we had more time to discuss, we would have continued to dig deeper into the meaning of “The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell. This poem was the base of many of the unanswered questions afterwords, mainly relating to its significance. It also would have been interesting to look at how her life ended and what her mental state was like when she died. Was she at peace or did she believe that she could have done more? We all realized how much she packed into her life, yet were there other things that she wanted to do? Everyone has some sort of a bucket list, yet we hoped that she was at peace.

Harkness Reflection

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Summary of the Passage + Context:


  • This passage is about Doris’s later life. She takes care of both her husband and her brother who suffers from dementia. After both of them pass away, she is invited back to perform on Broadway. She is once again back to where she starts.



What did you learn from each other?


We learn a lot of main lessons from the passage. These are kind of overarching things we think appear not only in the book, but also in life.

  • No matter how late in your life it is, you can always make a comeback. Doris has had downhill moments, but she got back up again. Roadblocks can be passed.
  • You’ll always be known for your best moment. Doris is put on the stage again not because she’s a good dancer, but because she’s a treasure of memories from eras past.
  • Memories are always with you…
  • …unless you lose them. Once you lose a memory, you never get it back.
  • People try to deal with memories by hiding the darker parts of their lives, using the ideal memory as a replacement, but you cannot voluntarily completely eradicate your memory.

What questions do you still have? Are you still confused by anything?


  • As a group, we didn’t have very many questions because we were able to focus on a few major subjects. There was some confusion over the image of the clock on page 166. “What does it represent?” We asked each other that question but we never came to a focused conclusion. The numbers on the clock were also interesting. It would have been nice to go more in depth with the discussion but we were pressed for time.


Where would you take your discussion next?

  • We would continue on with the relations between the pages because we didn’t talk too much about that, and the relations between the effects and reasons of all-black and all-white pages. We would also explore an overarching concept because we didn’t have enough time for that.

-Grace, Maggie, Margaux, Addy

Doris’ Resiliency

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm

The pages that we read were mostly moments in Doris’ life where tragedy struck her family. It talked about how her sisters died, her sister’s kids died, and her brothers were drafted into the military. However, throughout these tragedies going on in her personal life and in the world around her, she is able to keep herself removed.

There was definitely a theme of tragedy and being able to push through it. This is especially seen in page 127. The first sentence says, “Desperate to avoid her fate as bleak as those of her sisters, Doris ploughed forward.” This shows how Doris was able to move on from the tragedy occurring around her in order to keep herself from dwelling in the past and keeping her from being successful.

Something that we were thinking of was was Doris really that removed from tragedy or is that just how Redniss portrayed her?

We learned different ways to interpret the drawings and the meaning behind them and their significance. There were many illustrations that were so abstract that we had to come up with out own interpretations behind them based on what’s going on on the page and what we’ve read previously in the book. On page 127, we decided that the alien looking drawing resembled Doris moving on, but always taking a part of her family with her.

In addition, the Uncle Sam poster in the background of page 130 captivated us. This was very prevalent in the time period. Also, it was gazing at Charlie dancing with the two Red-Cross nurses, which appears to be a humorous situation. This is a painful reminder of the events that were happening outside of the ballroom.


Katrina, Sam, Christina, Hannah

Harkness Reflection Pages 133-144

In Century Girl, discussions, reflection on October 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

By Zoe, Tessa, & Serena

We read pages 133-144 in chapter 3. It starts off during the peak of Doris’ business dealing with the Arthur Murray studios and also during/near the end of World War II; Doris is experiencing a lot of success in her life while there is still a lot of political conflict in the US. The first page explains the beginning of Doris and Paul’s relationship which seems to be built through dance. The next two pages depict their wedding without any text.

Doris then embarks on an array of adventures, including the Travis’ Tender Turkeys farm, Arthur Murray Havana Dance Vacations and a television show. The two-page layout describing and illustrating Doris’ South American dancing experiences is fraught with new and foreign dances, a slew of famous names, and a combination of photographs and black and white drawn images.

America’s post-war need of recreation brought the rise in television, which Doris naturally participated in, hosting her own broadcast show. Next there’s a wordless spread of jungle animals and plants with an image of Doris and a man dancing layered on top.

The last page shows two people (perhaps Doris and Paul) watching Doris and Paul dancing on the television. The picture seems to show a tension between them. There is also a photograph of an atomic bomb outside the window which both the man and woman seem to be ignoring.

What Q’s do you still have?
+ Why were all the animals on the spread of 142-143 looking at the dancing couple of Paul and Doris?
+What makes it easy for Doris to not focus on the global conflicts happening around her?

Are you still confused about anything?
+Why did Redniss include the picture of the random dance instructor on page 139, instead of a more historically significant person?
+Are the two drawn people on pgs. 144-145 supposed to be Paul and Doris?
+Why is the spread of page 142-143 showing a tropical habitat after a discussion of TV when it could have easily been placed next to the other pages about Havana?
+Why does the aforementioned spread have cheetahs and other random animals on it?

Where would the discussion go next?
+Why where the birds included, and did they really symbolize women or freedom?
What did we discussed:
Due to Doris’ different experiences in different fields, she has opened her minds to a lot of opportunities and being successful. Also, the society at that period of time is more willing to accept women at work, which provides Doris more to explore what she thinks. On page 142, the page is not directly connected to neither the previous page nor the next page.

On the other hand, however, the page is related to Doris’ previous experience in South America, which suggests that Doris is building off on her experiences and brings that back to her own in order to make her career better. Also, on the same page, the bird was showed up many times throughout the book in many different forms. Birds symbolize freedom: freedom of ideas and actions. As a result of the change in society about freedom, Doris is able to blend her ideas and experiences in order to succeed in the fields she participated in.

On page 144, people seem to not pay attention to the explosion that is outside the window, which indicates that  people tend to focus on other entertainment in order to avoid thinking about wars. Also, contrasting what Doris has brought back the dance moves to the explosion in the war, the ways of blending the culture absolutely affects the degree of people accepting the culture. To be more specific, the dance moves that Doris learn at South Africa are added to her own dancing, which later has become popular in America, because she appears at television a lot. Nevertheless, the violate way such as wars that enforce another culture to overlap the indigenous culture seems to be less acceptable for people especially the natives.

Furthermore, on page 140 and 141, Joe mentioned that the portion of the hand-drawing and the real photograph. We thought that hand drawing involves of the progress of recreating the image and therefore, generates a new interpretation of the event. Whereas, the photograph is an instant moment of what exactly happened during that event. Joe also mentioned that by looking at the hand drawing, the readers are more able to apply their own thoughts into it, instead of a photograph, which has a defined definition of what is going on.

Harkness pg. 114-121

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

After Doris Eaten opened a dance school in Detroit, her name alone was bringing the school business and increasing her influence as a dance teacher. Although many enjoy her style of dance,even going so far as to read her column in the newspaper, some people such as Henry Ford aren’t exactly fond of her style of dance. Her style of dance was closer and had more body movement than the dancing in the past. The dance school was hitting a big boom when word that doctors suggested dancing for good health. In her columns in the newspaper, she made up names for bad dancing. Names such as: the Chinlead, the Kneeknocker, the clinging vine, the straphanger, and the cuddler.

What did you learn from each other?
During our harkness discussion, we focused on many particular points in the text. One point that we payed attention to was all of the modernization during the era. We can all agree that one thing we learned by focusing on this point was that modernization was a very important part of the time. The fact that Doris helped open a business to teach modern dancing was a huge step. There were some people that were afraid of change. For example, Henry Ford was creating the new idea of how people should create cars but he was stubborn in accepting the ideas of modern dance. Another thing that we learned was that Doris was a great business woman. The fact that the dance studio was extremely successful right after the Depression is amazing! Doris was very independent, smart, and skilled. Because of these qualities, she ran the business very well.

What questions so you still have and are you still confused about anything?
After completing the Harkness discussion, we still have a few questions. If you graze your hand against the page, the book has a certain texture. Does this texture have anything to do with the context of the book? Another question we still have is the plant on page 118. Why did Redniss decide to put this plant here? We thought that, because the people are dancing outside and in public, it shows that dancing became a social milieu. But why that particular plant? Why is it located where it is? Why is it the size it is? On page 114, there is a picture of Doris demonstrating a dance move in six separate parts. If you look at part four and six, her foot and arm is cut off. Why is that?

Where would you take it next?
We would take it a bit more in-depth into each page in turn. We did well with finding connections across pages and using multiple pieces of evidence for each point, but because of that we didn’t necessarily read as far into each page. For example, we brought up the plant on 118, talked about it for a moment, then switched to another, related topic, even thought there was likely more depth available with the plant.
Also, we would like to talk more about what this section reveals about Doris’s thoughts on male and female roles in society. We spoke about how social mileau and gender roles in society were shown, but we did not specialize much into Doris’s views. However, because of all of the quotes from her and the article she wrote, we think there’s a lot to be read into Doris’s character here, so that may have been a good avenue to take.

-Sydney, Amanda, Makana, Sarah, and Aquene

Julia & Preeti’s Harkness Reflection on p.154-161

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

We learned that Doris’ restricted feelings can be shown in the image on p. 154 of the horse. The horse, which looks like a trained, dressage horse, embodies this idea of precision and restraint. Doris’ restrictedness can be seen in the horse because the horse’s movements, as a dressage pony, have to be perfect. Additionally, it seems like the man’s control over the horse parallels Paul’s control over Doris. It’s almost like Doris is the horse and Paul is the man controlling her. Lastly, the letter on this page shows us how Doris does things for herself and wants to be an agent of her feelings. She is deeply affected by the destruction in her and Paul’s relationship, yet she doesn’t reveal the letter she writes to Paul. It’s as if the writing makes her feel satisfied with herself again. 

Also, the trees on p. 154 have holes in them. We thought that these holes represented the emptiness and damage that is present in Paul and Doris’ relationship. However, the regrowth in some of the holes shows how Paul and Doris were able to fix their relationship through dance. As you move on to p. 155, you’ll notice that there are no holes on the trees and the words on the pages are spread out more. The widely spaced words shows Doris and Paul’s ability to move through the mess that is p. 154 (aka their relationship). Plus the lack of holes shows how things are mended through Doris’ incorporation of dance. It seems that Doris’ solution through everything is dance. We realized that Doris’ longstanding companion is dance. 

The white woman with what seems to be a bulb on her head represented Evelyn to us. We said that Evelyn was watching over Doris because she had previously home-schooled her and at this point in the story, Doris is getting her G.E.D. The fact that she chooses to wait until she’s in her late 80s to do so, makes us think that there is a time for everything in Doris’ life. Moreover, on this page, the words seemed to be juggled around the top of the page. The display of the words on top of the page shows how Doris knows how to put things on the top of her list and how to prioritize. Still, it shows that Doris is juggling many different things like the ranch and her studies. 

We struggled the most with p. 158. The motif of control and mementos of the past are something we appreciated in the next 4 pages. On 158 and 159 there are antique objects that Doris uses to remember her past. At the same time, people look at Doris dancing (image on p. 159) by objectifying her as ‘something of the past’. Doris doesn’t really have any time to reflect on her past until this moment. She slowly realizes the importance of looking back in the past. This translates in her decision to move Charlie to the ranch. However, on p. 161, Doris displays her trouble with balancing her past memories and her present relationships. On this two page spread, Doris and Paul are the smallest picture on the page. Doris archives and old objects take over all of the other space. It’s ostensible that Doris has recurring tendency to relate to her past through objects and prioritize that and dancing over her current relationships. 

In the end, we realized that dancing is something that is very rehearsed for her at first. It shifts to something that she uses as a tool for showing herself to the world. 

Questions we still have:

Does Doris have a time and place for everything? Why does she wait until her late 80s to get her GED?

Why is the plant on p. 155 so large compared to all the other plants that show regrowth?

What is the point of the strange objects on p. 159? What is the need for these artifacts?

Where we would take our discussion next:

How the motif of dance and control is represented in the actual layout of the words 

How dance, for Doris, is a gift AND a curse. Doris uses dancing to get through problems and also to connect with people. Still, dancing restrains her from making more out of her relationships AND how dancing also objectifies her. 


The Top Interview Questions

In activities, Century Girl, core texts, discussions on October 24, 2012 at 5:59 am

Two of our class imitations of CENTURY GIRL, based on minor characters that appear in that text. Charles Lindbergh (from artist T.T.) is on the left, and Babe Ruth (from artist A.K) is on the right

As we prepare for our interview with Lauren Redniss, here are the questions that earned the top votes along with some questions that dovetail nicely from the top questions.  If you have a moment, try using  the comment space to brainstorm a few of the ways you might answer these questions given what we’ve read of the text. Then, it’ll be really interesting to see how our answers differ from what we discover in the interview!

1. What inspired you to write a book about Doris Eaton? Where did the idea come from in the first place? Did you bump into her at the supermarket and just decide to write about her?

2. Whom did you write Century Girl for?

3. What gave you the idea of design the book out the way you did? (for instance, the collage type layout and the handwritten text).

4. When you first imagined writing this book, what did you imagine the finished product would be like. And was the result the same as you thought it would be?

5. What was the process that you had to go through to create this book? Were there any that you particularly liked or disliked?

6. As one of the assignments the classes are to complete as they study your book, we’re imitating your style create a page about a minor character. Do you have any advice or rules on design?

7. Is there anything that you wish you would have put in the book that you didn’t include?

8. What was it like talking to Doris in person? I bet the stories were more amazing when told directly from her. Were there any stories that you found interesting that you didn’t include in the book?

9. What was Doris’s reaction to the publication of this book?

10. What have you learned from creating CENTURY GIRL that helped you approach your newer works (whether RADIOACTIVE or other pieces) with new perspectives?

Kathy, Kiro & Tori’s Harkness Discussion pg.96-97 CG

In Century Girl, discussions, reflection on October 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm

This passage is about Doris cast in Eugenic Ideas and a French write M. Dekobra who wrote about the kissing style of different ethnic groups and he chose Doris as his idea of an ideal American kisser. This is placed in the 1930’s before the Great Depression and during the beginnings of film. Doris is very popular to ALL men all around the world and is the ideal women everywhere.

Doris went with the trend of society and conformed to the ideals that were placed on women at any given time. This relates to the topic of longevity as longevity can be achieved by adapting to society’s most recent demands. This conforming to perfection led her to objectification in the eyes of many men as she was whatever they wanted her to become. This objectification is seen when they say “ideal American specimen” as she is seen sort of as something that should be kept in a jar in a science lab.

This perfection added a lot of pressure and led to issues with her marriage as she wanted to dominate her husband and be in control however that didn’t conform to the societal norms for a wife like obedience and loyalty. She is a working woman, not a housewife so that also affected her marriages normality and her husband’s trust in her. She could easily have plenty of relationships with other men.

In comparison to pages 90-91, Redniss wrote additional text to explain the article and winnow the reader’s reasoning for why she would add this article. This page bridges the gap between plenty of information and nothing at all.

The general trend of the book shows that societal success and the success of the entertainment industry are directly related because ordinary people’s wealth funds the industry and after fundamental needs are met, the entertainment industry can have its share.

This shows where we would move if time permitted, as we would look at the themes created in the scope of the book in its entirety.

We were still confused as to the importance of the hand-drawn images on the page and what they represent in the context of this page’s story.

Vote Here on Questions for Our Interview with Lauren Redniss

In activities, Century Girl, core texts, discussions on October 22, 2012 at 12:58 am

Here are most of the many questions we have developed for our interview with Lauren Redniss. I have included so many questions because I did not want to disenfranchise you from the process. I only omitted questions that overlapped from the ones that appear below.

As you decide on the questions, please remember that we only have a short period of time to interview Ms. Redniss. Select the questions that you think are most important for Ms. Redniss to answer. You will want to avoid selecting any question that you could answer yourself with your own analytical abilities (and our trusty paragraphing friend, I-E-A).


Life as A Professional Dancer

In Century Girl, discussions, reflection on October 19, 2012 at 3:41 am

We read pages 52- 59. As Doris and Mary’s careers progressed, they began to have more interactions with the upper class people who attended their plays. On page 53, Doris gets invited to take flight with George. She agrees and she had an innocence, thrilling flight. Our group does not quite know what she means by “innocence abroad” because we think Doris wants us to try and think about what she means. In that time period, people were accustomed to not telling people all of the details. Our group suggested that the bird on Doris’s shoulder signifies leadership, dominance, and control. Also in that picture, Doris is sitting in a plane, and it looks like she knows what she is doing.

On the spread on page 54-55, we noticed that the heads were connected together. We said that the story of Mary came from Doris’s head, and this is how Doris remembers Mary’s career. On page 54, Doris mentioned how Mary “made Newton’s Law of Gravitation Look Foolish.” This shows that when someone is a professional dancer, they have the power to bend the Laws of Gravitation. Also on page 54 and 55, Mary wore a lace gown that was covered in Radium paint. We thought is was odd because Radium was toxic, but this gave us an understanding that she would do anything for show business even if it was bad for her health.

The spread on page 56-57 talked about Mary’s gifts, like a piano, she did not care about the gifts. It seemed like the gifts did not phase her because she was use to it even though before she was in show business, she did not get a lot of expensive items. She was swooned by a man who was married, and we thought it was a smart decision that she did not go after him. She got all of these gifts because of her royal lineage and because she had class unlike some other dancers.

On page 58-59, there were newspaper articles talking about beauty advice and praising Mary and Pearl for their beauty. All three women show confidence through out these newspaper articles. We said that the newspaper articles were cut out and placed on billboards that was in a grassy area in the middle of nowhere. This just shows how even in the middle of nowhere people knew about Doris and Mary. On page 58, we noticed that Doris’s picture is the same picture as the one on the cover of the book. On the cover of the book, it shows Doris’s upper half of her body, but in the newspaper clipping, you only see from her shoulders up. That meant that Redniss liked that picture so much that she had to go find the picture that show more of Doris. We also said that on page 59 the grass represented all of the legs in the world and out of all of those blades of grass there is one blade that is the best and that was Pearl’s legs.

Towards the end, we were discussing about some themes that occurred throughout the book. We noticed that in this section most of it is focused on Mary’s career. This books has a reoccurring theme of people who were successful, and Mary ties into that theme. Also throughout this book there is a theme about how much money people are making. When a new person that is a main character in the book is introduced, Redniss states how much they are making. We would have liked to talk more about these themes, but we ran out of time. We would have also wanted to talk more about pages 54 and 55. We only discussed the top layer about the Newton’s Law of Gravitation, so we would like to go deeper into that.

-Megan, Ji Young, and Allie