Archive for the ‘Century Girl’ Category

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.

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

Group Harkness Reflection

In Century Girl, core texts, discussions, reflection on October 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Our harkness is based on page 30 to 37 about values and the different perspectives of the follies’ performances, such as the perspectives from common people, audience, and the performers. From the harkness, we learned we should listen to each other, because sometimes we interrupt each other, which may distract others who want to talk about their ideas. We also learned how that period of time is different from now, that unlike our ways of entertaining, they prefer to watch dance performances. Therefore, the folly, as one group giving out dance performances, plays an important role in the society. In addition, all the pages are interconnected. For example, the texts on page 30 and 31 have connection with the picture on page 32 and 33. Further more, we found that the text on page 30 and 31, supposedly a description of the picture on page 32, does not fully support that.

We are confused how the passage can be related to Doris, because these pages seem to talk more about the folly, instead of Doris, the main character. We think it is related to Doris, because it explains why she becomes famous, as she leads the fashion trend and, as dance performer, she is very popular. We observed that the author put the glasses on way on page 30, but the other way on the next page. We are confused about why the author made this deliberate choice. Answering why the glasses face opposite ways on page 30 and 31, we said that that illustrates the perspectives from both the audience and the performers toward the dance.

For questions, we did not get to talk about the woman on page 37, and we are not sure why the author put the woman there, and what the woman represents. We are also confused about what does “it” on page 37 means. If we have more time, we want to discuss how is the woman on page 37 relates back to the previous pages. We also want to discuss more about our confusions more.

To sum up, from our discussion, we conclude some themes. What people want always lead the fashion trend. From different gender perspectives, people have different opinions on one single event.

-Grace, Suzie, Pin, Christy

Harkness Reflection

In Century Girl, core texts, discussions, passages, reflection on October 11, 2012 at 2:04 am

Our group discussed the text from page 34 to 41. On pages 34 and 35, there are descriptions of the Follies and the pictures show what the Follies looked like and what they actually represented. Page 37 tells about Ziegfeld’s trace to nobility of the Follies girls and talks about leaving conservatism and entering being more scandalous, the era of the new fashion style: sex appeal. The next page gives the profile of Ziegfeld from how he got started and his career at the point in the book. Pages 40 and 41 talk about how to be beautiful, how society abuses fake beauty, and how society was interacting and its response to the new fashion, beauty, era.
Through the Harkness discussion, we learned that beauty and appearance are extremely important at that time, and the new image of the ideal woman causes the male dominance to decrease and start to decline. Also, Follie girls’ attractive performance along with classy costumes were appealing and glamorous to people and served as the escape for people who were working hard in their daily life. Ziegfeld’s description and words that his girls were classy and have noble ancestry suggest that he also wants to be seen as a classy person. This is well represented by his purple tie on page 38 that symbolizes nobility. On pages 36-37, we learned about how Titanic is sinking in the blue ocean, which symbolizes that the sinking of conservatism. The ice berg image of the top of the page 37 represents the new ideas and new images of beauty, the sexual appeal. We came up with a structural question: Why is Ziegfeld brought up after he was introduced earlier in the text? For the answer, we thought that such introductions make readers more attached to the shows, and let them learn more about him. Perhaps, Redniss thought that it would be interesting knowing about him after his success. Lastly, we talked about the analogy of the phrase “…Urban background, the inviting semi-smile, the senous, sophisticated atmosphere, the silk and softness of the female, he thought, would be as good to city flok as a SEARS-ROEBUCK catalogue…” (Redniss 35). This shows the analogy that people watching the Follies are similar to a country person looking at a city catalog: how people want things in magazines and the viewers watching the shows either want them or want to be like them.
We are still confused about some portions of the text and came up with two questions:
1) Why do they give such detailed description and also give a picture of it as well? (page 34-35)
2) Why they have different color backgrounds and what is the significance?
We would like to expand more about the idea that we came up with on page 40: How and why does Doris, at such a young age, want to become a part of the Follies, the sex era. Also, if we had more time, we could have either analyzed a larger portion of the text or focused in on a specific page or small portion of the text.

Chapter 5: Live-Blog

In activities, Century Girl, discussions on October 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Photo Credit: Brian Lanker

If you’re interested, check what the video reports as the last live-event Doris Eaton Travis ever participated in. The videos are long, but the writer’s project (and Doris’s comments) are interesting to entertain.

Interview Part 1
Interview Part 2
Interview Part 3

Besides that, let’s keep moving with the live-blogging. In our last few live-blogs, we’ve relied on a few too many questions-as-comments. Since we’ll quickly turn our attention towards essay preparation, let’s start flexing additional mental muscle when live-blogging. Explicate particular images or literary events in the text. Ask yourself a content or structural question and then answer it. Finish Chapter 5 and then read parts of previous chapters to see the book transition its portrayal of Doris.

Deeper comments don’t necessarily mean longer comments. Just make your comments useful for your thinking and writing later on!

Chapter 4: Live-Blog

In activities, Century Girl, core texts, discussions on October 8, 2012 at 4:41 am

Since some of us are really charging forward with the reading schedule (go you!), I’m quickly posting this without much prompting. Check back in a day or two for some (hopefully) thought-provoking videos, images, or ideas to work with as you post. Of course, you always have Century Girl to push your thoughts, as I know it will.

Keep up the great Live-Blogging!

Chapter 3: Live-Blog

In activities, Century Girl, core texts, discussions on October 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm

SOURCE: The Ziegfeld Club

If you have a minute, please check out this Washington Post obituary on Doris Eaton Travis. What moments in the obituary also appear in Century Girl? How does Century Girl add to the experience of reading about Eaton’s life when compared to the article?

For this live-blog, let’s aim for an even deeper understanding of how these pages work. What do you see or notice on an individual page? What patterns are at work? What interpretations are you leaning towards? Can you apply those interpretations to elsewhere in the text?