a diary of definitions


  • 8.29.18 – study of people, humans, human nature, products of the human imagination, experience, persepctive; a glimpse at who we are in a specific moment (place, time, privilege, experience, uniquely to you), yet can be relatable/interpreted across the diversity of people with vastly different experiences, perspectives, and identities
  • 9.18.18 – humanities uses conceptual schemes; you use your personal experience — privilege, the subconscious and conscious influences of your surroundings, environments, and relationships, your interests and chosen knowledge — in order to learn/gain/process more knowledge/stimuli
  • 11.7.18 – to study the humanities, to try to define it, is a cycle of developing more questions than finding answers on the subject itself.
    • the study of human creations
    • humanities is evolving – having a single definition seems counter-intuitive to the true meaning of humanities; to define it is a contradiction to the true definition itself, because of its ever-evolving nature
    • the individual themselves is a product of their interpretations of the human creations they view; rejection, neutrality, of adoption/support of the human products they view informs how we will make or create our own human products/creations
      • we will be impacted regardless if we believe to be or not; “the water doesn’t stop rippling even if the stone is sunk.” – Max Dominguez ’22
    • documentation may be perceived to be neutral/objective, but it too is a form of human product/creation–it represents how we remember and communicate ideas, which can differ from others who may observe/record about the same work
      • regurgitation is a foundation for human creation
  • “Humanities” with a “big ‘H'” — the institution or organization of study surrounding these themes, topics, ideas; a gathering space for collaboration and intellectual study, an organized means of exploring the humanities, little ‘h’


  • 8.29.18 – something that changes the status quo, or at least makes a structure uncomfortable/subject to some kind of pressure; it’s making change on a social, political, and/or personal level; revolutions don’t have to be as strict as Lapham seems to define: King’s movement was a revolution in that it resulted in both personal and concrete change
  • A lot of my exploration of revolution via “Humanities, big ‘H'” has been witnessed by the scribbles in my red notebook. Most of the content on these pages can be understood as an examination of power structures, and how I play a role within them. The pages I’ve found to be the most eye-grabbing or striking in my reflection now are the ones that explore poetry, page usage, and drawing to explore ideas I’ve wrestled with. Here are a few:
    • political cartoon image of Battle of Cowpens
      • This was a political cartoon I drew after our class visit to the site of Cowpens, famous in the U.S. Revolutionary War. After a day filled with rhetoric about how “lucky” we should feel for being descendants of this war, I thought to look at the narratives that weren’t being spoken about or represented, especially in a space that prides itself in accurately retelling history. Somewhere along the way, we learned here that “accurately retelling history” also includes the continuity of ignoring and excluding the complex critiques and unique narratives and oppression that women and minorities experienced for this white man’s concept of “revolution.”
      • This is a visual that demonstrates one of my revision processes for creating a poem. This poem, which can be found on my poems page, is one that discusses growth and healing, literally with rhetorical devices and figuratively regarding my own journey. I found this page interesting in thinking about my own personal revolutions, how my writing on growth can also appear physically as growth with these revisions.
      • Left page: some kind of poem/expression written the day that neo-Nazis were exposed on our campus, when we first started receiving emails about our campus nonetheless being “safe.
      • Right page: title written the next morning, in Humes, when instead of having a “regular” class we used the time to talk as a group about these events.
      • Powers can tell us that we are safe, can make us even think that we are safe, but it doesn’t mean that we in fact are safe, or that everyone (or every student, staff, or faculty member) truly feels safe. So, I think what we should be asking is who feels safe here? And then, who here doesn’t?
      • When the neo-Nazis were exposed on our campus, the timing corresponded to Dr. Denham’s Humanities unit addressing the poetry of Paul Celan. Writing his words, his poetry, helps with the process of processing, and then responding.
      • I began my first sociology class on this campus and began thinking critically about the meanings of citizenship and the exclusive nature that the creation and rhetoric of and by a state establishes. What does political revolution mean when we do it by means of exclusion? What does your and my inclusion in a political, state narrative mean for those who aren’t? Is revolution revolutionary for everyone, every body? In these contexts of state-driven narratives, I don’t think so.
      • On my trip to London through the Humanities program, we visited Oxford University’s Trinity College. In the exclusive tour we had within the tall iron-fenced lot, we were encouraged to take a moment to realize we were standing on someone’s grave in the complex’s church. Despite the complex already only being accessible to current students and tours, it was emphasized to us to not stand on the grass, as their nice yard sign told us. Within this culture of elitism, thriving upon and for capitalism and built upon the deaths of so many who were not included in this narrative of “the elite,” I thought this statement (“You can’t walk on the grass, but you can walk on the graves”) summed the whole experience up rather effectively. And then there’s me, there, accessing this elite privilege with my college’s money: how do I, other students, and administrators at my own college feed the narrative of stepping on graves, but not grass? Who gets to stand on Chambers lawn, and who doesn’t? There’s much to be thought here about how and why Davidson is and continues to be a school that marginalized students have little to no representation within.


  • To understand my definition of revolution rooted in social change or impact, I believe this except, from my researched essay for the Humanities course, describes it well:

“The linguistic privilege of many conceals the disadvantages of language to a few, namely those with non-normative identities. The use of labels highlights the ways in which language has constituted social hierarchies and managed marginalization.” These essentialist women artists of the 1970s see themselves as protesting the way male artists have defined them in art; however, because they do not address the categorization of the gender binary at large—that women can inherently be labelled women based upon a conception of biology—they actually work to reproduce that very binary, that power structure that oppresses them, while simultaneously excluding and marginalizing from feminist activism those identities already excluded from the marginalizing binary—namely, trans women and non-binary folx. The messages of their artwork in fact serves as an example of how the oppressed within a binary can oppress those identified outside of the binary, how “labels can be used to distinguish the empowered from the powerless, placing individuals within societal and intra-identity hierarchies that promote conformity to a norm.”  In their construction of reclamation of their identities, artistic works like “Interior Scroll” actually work to reify that very system of bio-power which oppresses them, and is therefore not truly revolutionary nor feminist.

  • I argue that revolutionary isn’t so concrete and clear as many of us would like to argue; it is not always marked by physical violence and can still manifest in harmful manners, within and outside of social movements like feminism. Power dynamics that lead to a movement for social justice does not make that movement immune to its own abuses of power by those who are privileged in the context of the movement; we can understand the violence against marginalized women, the intra-group violence, that is honed by social movements that do not recognize the necessity of intersectional discourse and deconstructing systems that privilege some voices over other, “more marginalized” voices in the already marginal movement. As a result, and as Schneemann demonstrates, one can think they are rebelling against the system that oppresses them while actually reifying that system and reinforcing oppression against more marginalized voices and even themselves. If you work within the limits that the state has defined, you are now just doing the state’s work for them. What is revolutionary for some may not be revolutionary for all, and, in that sense, may not be revolutionary at all when we get down to why we seek this revolution in the first place.