The Asian American theatre performance chosen for this essay is Akatombo, a rendering of Japanese Taiko developed by Naoko Amemiya of Portland. Akatombo is a piece of Taiko composition based on “a famous Japanese folk song and showcases tight Taiko choreography, Japanese flute and singing” (Akatombo). Taiko involves “repeatedly banging, slashing at and clacking an array of drums while pushing the body through sweeping, animated gestures. Drummers follow a predetermined beat, but the songs, mostly written by the group, allow for both physical and sonic improvisation” (Toto 4). Portland Taiko, which composed this piece, uses a few innovations that mark out the performance from traditional Taiko. One of the most notable of these differences is the presentation by female artists, where previously only male artists were allowed to perform. This innovation is not just unique to Portland Taiko but generally holds true with Asian American practice of the . . . Read More
The Kiss by Anton Chekhov is a brilliant short story. It contains all the requisite features of a good short story. Elements of excitement, drama, romantic infatuation and suspense make the story hold its ground. In terms of literary devices, the apt yet optimal use of imagery and symbolism accentuates the overall effect on the reader. The story is also outstanding for its accommodation of dual characteristics of the concrete and the abstract. In other words, while the romantic preoccupation of Ryabovitch has a certain immediacy and specificity, by the end of the story, it becomes clear that the author is dealing with human universals. The character of Ryabovitch pitted against the unexpected circumstances he finds himself in acts as a representation for broader human life. The rest of the essay will outline the summary, and analyze the themes and literary aspects of the story.
When the officers of a reserve artillery brigade pass through the countryside as part of their . . . Read More
The two films in discussion – ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and …Spring’ are very dissimilar in terms of techniques employed, but share common themes. Persepolis tells the story of Marjane from her childhood through adulthood in the backdrop of hostile political atmosphere in Iran. It is one of a kind movie, for it is rare that politico-historical subjects are treated in an animation format. This cinematic experiment has worked out well, as symbolism and abstract depictions are well suited to socio-political drama. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and…Spring is a masterpiece in its own right. This film treats such difficult subjects as nature v nurture, religion, meaning of life, human tendencies for sin, methods for salvation, etc. Broad and yet profound in its interpretative scope, the director conveys his musings mainly through visuals set amongst brilliant natural scenery. Dialogues playing second fiddle as a narrative device but . . . Read More
It is fair to say that Margaret Mead is one of the most influential cultural anthropologists of the century gone by. Although some of her inferences have been proven to be flawed, she is a pioneer in the field who opened new vistas within the field of anthropology. In the documentary videos about her life and work perused for this essay, one could witness the key developments in anthropological study that she initiated. One could see in the videos, that Mead contributed immensely to not just the study of cultural anthropology retrospectively, but she played a role in creating new trends and fashions in her own era. In this view, Mead was a key figure who ushered the cultural upheavals in the American society of the 1960s. The ‘Hippies’ culture of this period was inspired by thoughts of such intellectuals as Mead, who were able to present anthropology from a feminist perspective.
In her early field work in remote islands in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, . . . Read More
Literature is an exercise in trying to understand the human condition. Women, who comprise half of humanity have historically been silenced and stifled. In this respect, a feminist take on select literary works is both a worthwhile and interesting exercise. Adapting the feminist approach to literary studies to The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Enchantress of Florence, one can generate interesting inter-disciplinary correspondence. This essay will argue that separated in time between the imperial reign of Akbar the Great and the musical reign of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the two characters of Qara Koz and Vina Apsara are united in their emancipated and empowered expression of womanhood. It is hoped that an analysis of the two novels through the feminist lens would lead to a better understanding of broader humanity.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Salman Rushdie revolutionized the art of fiction with his breakthrough work Midnight’s . . . Read More
Post-colonial literature has been instrumental in bringing awareness and understanding of indigenous culture to outsiders. This could be said of post-colonial African Literature too. Gender issues are one important aspect of indigenous African culture. And African women writers of recent decades have investigated and evaluated these issues from both historical and sociological viewpoints. The two novels in discussion – So Long a Letter and Everything Good Will Come – delve deeply into women’s issues in their respective countries. The rest of this essay will highlight, compare and contrast the gender issues discussed in these novels. In particular it will argue that the two books in question bring key insight, understanding and a message of hope to women’s issues in their respective countries.
So Long a Letter (originally published in French as ‘Une si longue lettre’), gives voice to women of Senegal in particular and . . . Read More
“Love is always something more and something different than can be captured by any single definition” (Watts, 2002).
Love is a universal phenomenon of life. Where ever life exists, love manifests there. Love can take various configurations too. While romantic love is the most publicised and celebrated type, parental love, sibling love and compassionate love towards larger humanity are all equally powerful and valid. Besides, there is also the love of art that powers creative energies, and the love of knowledge and discovery that drives a scientist toward this goal. Since Alan Watts is a spiritualist and philosopher, his understanding of love would have encompassed all of these possibilities. This essay would venture the arduous task of confining to words the endless scope and interpretation of this time-honoured concept.
Evolutionary sociology has offered to lay bare the practical and rather mundane reasons why love exists between two individuals . . . Read More
The second article in review is titled ‘What Boys and Girls Need’ (April 5, 2007). It acknowledges the negative effects of gender stereotyping in young boys and girls. Yet, studies have indicated that parents (and caregivers) are not adequately meeting the needs of boys and girls through their style of care-giving. Citing the work of researchers, whose work was published in Work & Family Life Newsletter (March 2007), Susan Gilbert makes the following key suggestions for parents.
Firstly, contrary to conventional parenting practices, boy children need as much (if not more) attention as girl children. Parents should not withhold love and affection for boys, for fear of making them effeminate. In the same vein, boys need to be talked to as much as girls. Regular one-on-one conversations have proven to stimulate the brain. Contrary to traditional beliefs boys need exercise of their fine motor skills alongside their gross-motor skill development. Just as boys need added . . . Read More
The two literary works in question are stellar illustrations of the dichotomous views of men and women in medieval Catholic Europe. The two works are truly exceptional in that they represent the rare women’s voice in a cultural and intellectual milieu dominated by men. The Book of the City of Ladies (which originally appeared in French in 1405 as Le Livre de la Cite des Dames) was written by Christine de Pizan. The project is not only a product of creative storytelling, but also a polemical response to an earlier work by Jean de Meun, namely The Romance of the Rose. De Meun’s work exemplifies the stereotypical views and subordinate status of women of the era, as the prose is full of misogynist beliefs. In the creative yet culturally sensitive response to de Meun’s work, de Pizan constructs an allegorical story of the City of Ladies.
Drawing heavily from Giovanni Boccaccio’s On Famous Women (first published in French as De mulieribus claris), de Pizan weaves . . . Read More
The Yellow Wallpaper is a much acclaimed nineteenth century short story authored by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It first appeared in The New England Magazine in 1892. Upon its publication it proved controversial and provocative due to its bold portrayal of women’s sexuality and psychology. The story is also unique, for it adopts the epistolary style, which is a device uncommonly used in short fiction. The letters/journal entries record the experiences of a woman who is confined by her husband to the bedroom upstairs. She is ordered not to work or exert herself in any which way, so that her recovery from ‘temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency’ will be quick and effective. In what amounts to a house-arrest by her husband, the woman’s condition steadily descends toward psychosis due to lack of variety and distraction in the bed-room existence. For example, “the character becomes increasingly perplexed by the garish color and the intricate . . . Read More