While reading I was consistently trying to clarify a comparison between this book and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (both are on my exam reading list)....moreWhile reading I was consistently trying to clarify a comparison between this book and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (both are on my exam reading list). Both books have similar subject-matter and themes, both dealing with disparate identity and family mystery shrouded by modesty, blended storytelling, and physical distance, so stark comparisons were difficult. However, while Amy Tan’s work had a tension that held tight through the narrative, a frustration in identity that bled through the round of stories, Kingston’s work seemed to have little at stake. The narrator’s identity is far more removed from the reader. We see glimpses, but she quickly moves away and does not give us much of an interior view. In this way, the story was relatable; the narrator’s place being opened, the reader can more easily step inside. But also, I had the sense that very little was at stake: the narrator had mostly resolved her American-Chinese identity and the real problem was in the mother’s identity, which we approach from a distance, as a daughter, and a listener of her mother’s story, a reader herself.
This book, despite its focus on only one family unlike Joy Luck, is also fragmented. After lapsing into real, semi-real, and fanciful allegory, it’s almost a shame to come back to reality in the last two chapters. In doing so, I feel as if the timing is off. The brilliance of the fanciful allegory overshadowed the real events in the family, and ending with the real would have been a fine frame, but other stories were interjected first about the narrator and the mad sister. While these were fine stories in their own right, their length took away from the power of the former, so steeped in magical realism. In the later chapters there were also breaks in style, so obviously and cringingly meant to be poignant, I think the author should have re-thought them. Not bad, but also not touching, the book was interesting and relatable, but lacked heart.
Beautiful tales full of the sort of clear irony that leaves a bitter lump in your throat. These are like fanciful extensions of the author's more well...moreBeautiful tales full of the sort of clear irony that leaves a bitter lump in your throat. These are like fanciful extensions of the author's more well-known epigrams; however, do not judge these either as characteristic Wilde plots, nor as traditional moral fables, but as a delightful plays on the fairytale genre and you will not be disappointed. (less)
I don't usually like academic essays with nontraditional formats, but this one, I felt, was MORE readable, and more clarifying than most academic essa...moreI don't usually like academic essays with nontraditional formats, but this one, I felt, was MORE readable, and more clarifying than most academic essays with the added benefit of making some very interesting and bold assertions about the construction of Moby Dick. This essay particularly discusses the theory of two Moby Dicks, that Melville revised Moby Dick extensively after reading Shakespeare to include Ahab as a King Lear figure. This discussion is paralleled by two tracks--one of America's relation to the vastness of space and time, and the other to do with cannibalism--and yes, surprisingly, they do relate. (less)
I've skimmed over this book before, and my first impression, which also relied upon other scholars' uses of Howard's work, was that I didn't like it....moreI've skimmed over this book before, and my first impression, which also relied upon other scholars' uses of Howard's work, was that I didn't like it. Some scholars talk about Howard's work as if she claims that plagiarism is AOK and composition courses should all be like Kenneth Goldsmith's Uncreative writing course at UPenn where students retype pages of the New York Times.
However, I gave it another chance and was pleasantly surprised. It's a very thorough, well-researched exploration of plagiarism--its history, the critical theories of intellectual property and original authorship, modern instances, and problems in the academy surrounding the punishment of plagiarism. Though Howard is an "apologist" for patchwriting (a form of plagiarism where the author manipulates and alters the text though not to the extent of summary or paraphrase) she still sees it as a formative stage in the writing process--not an end point. Since it's a stage of development, Howard advocates for a pedagogical rather than punitive approach to dealing with student patchwriting. Howard even includes a few very doable lesson plans at the end of the book to illustrate how patchwriting can be viewed as a stage in the reading and writing process, rather than an academic honesty issue. If there is one thing that this book lacks, it is concrete examples of patchwriting to differentiate it from more heavy cut-and-paste. Howard's definition of patchwriting seems to assume some level of manipulation of the text, but how much makes it qualify as patchwriting? A paragraph? A few paragraphs? This, to me, is a major oversight, because I can see what she means in regards to a few sentences patched together and manipulated here and there as a stage in understanding a text, but perhaps not the several paragraphs plopped into a term paper from Sparknotes after having to asked a student to expand their draft. The answer according to Howard, of course, is that it depends on the student/reader/context/text, but I would've appreciated the specificity of seeing an example to ballpark differentiate learning-type patchwriting from plagiarism with a recognition of gray areas in that determination.
I still do not agree with some very key points Howard makes, particularly in the ultimate aims of a writing program, the usefulness of technological tools in plagiarism detection and prevention, and patchwriting as 'typically' innocent. However, because of Howard's work I have much more respect for these arguments, and she's even won me over on a few issues, such as the importance of intention in determining plagiarism, the problem of unequivocally equating patchwriting with plagiarism in academic policies, and the confusing contradictions that students are faced with when they are asked to produce original work using a specialized vocabulary they have not yet become comfortable with deploying. I draw some different conclusions, but these issues are worth addressing with the clarity of thought and strength of research she brings to them. (less)
Very worth the read for any who like fantasy. Great twists on the genre which made it very gripping. Also, it's nice to have a heroine who isn't a sap...moreVery worth the read for any who like fantasy. Great twists on the genre which made it very gripping. Also, it's nice to have a heroine who isn't a sap, a whiner, or who just isn't a girl at all.(less)
Very easy to read, but a bit repetitive. This is an interesting introduction to some regulation debates surrounding cyberspace.
It also proposes a spe...moreVery easy to read, but a bit repetitive. This is an interesting introduction to some regulation debates surrounding cyberspace.
It also proposes a specific fix to some of the problems (a coded ID system which would eliminate some of the anonymity of the web) which seems a bit too neat.
Having such a solution in the book is both a great virtue of it and a downside as well. The good part is that this solution makes the book not merely a series of paranoid criticisms, which is too often the norm in books about cyberlaw/crime/society. But it is also somewhat of a detriment, because as I read, I became much more interested in Lessig's insightful perspectives and the problems he brings up, than his solution to these problems.
It's worth at least a skim for anyone remotely interested how Internet law has changed and will continue to change. Great reading if you are interested in the SOPA/PIPA debates, though it doesn't mention it directly (yet-a future new edition should).(less)
This was an absolutely invaluable book for my graduate film class. I would highly recommend it for serious and detailed study, while being approachabl...moreThis was an absolutely invaluable book for my graduate film class. I would highly recommend it for serious and detailed study, while being approachable enough for newcomers to film study. If you aren't too interested in theory, skip the intro. Bordwell takes a rigourous stylistic/cognitive approach that I wish was employed more often in the study of literature.(less)