Pinterest, How Fantastic

As I try to finish up studying for my finals and writing my last papers I keep finding myself on Pinterest.  And then I think about when we talked about when we discussed Pinterest and fantastical modes of consumption/reception in class. 

We started the discussion because of Lewis’ article, which discussed how magazines different in their representations of models and clothing and their layouts in general.  The fantastical mode essentially consisted of what you wanted to look/be like.  The magazine had ideal images and it was up to the viewer to read against the grain or not. 

Pinterest works the same way as the magazines. You can take a wholly realistic approach and only look for things that can be attained or you can fill your pin boards with your most exceptional dreams and desires. 

The mission statement of Pinterest is itself rather fantastical: “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.”

The goal is to connect literally everyone on the planet, which is a rather lofty goal.  The mission statement of Pinterest and what it is used for is actually fairly representative of the American Dream.  You cannot achieve a goal until one has been set and throughout history Americans have been setting seemingly impossible bars.  Pinterest is just a public display of a person’s hopes and dreams.  When Monica on the TV show Friends had to plan her wedding she consulted her wedding scrapbook, as did the bride in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Today a bride will just direct her wedding party to her Pinterest so they can see exactly what she wants.  And she’ll be saving the environment by not making a scrapbook! 


— Megan Hruska


Polio & Repro-Time

I never expected my Epidemics in History class to have anything to do with this class.  And then I was reading primary source documents for my final paper and as the patients were explaining how they contracted polio and then how it affected their lives I just kept thinking about repro-time.

The document I was reading is “Polio Voices: An Oral History form the American Polio Epidemics and Worldwide Eradication Efforts.”  Essentially it is a compilation of firsthand accounts of polio victims.  After writing my history paper I went back and looked at the narrations to look at how polio affected repro-time or how the victims said polio affected their lives in terms of repro-time.

Samuel McKnight was born with polio because his mother contracted it while she was pregnant.  His mother eventually died of the disease.  McKnight was raised by his grandparents and his father left because of the damage caused by polio.

Priscilla Dewey Houghton sent her children away after she contracted polio in the hope that they would be spared the disease.  Later he son said he felt deprived by having his mother taken away from him at that stage of his life.  The boy was five when he was sent away.

Fred Bloom built a house for his family and his brother’s.  Specifically the house had a level that was wheelchair accessible for his quadriplegic brother.

Carol Cox was denied enrollment to public school in the first grade because she had suffered from polio.

Edward O’Connor said “you lied a lot because you couldn’t tell potential employers that you had polio – you would never get hired.”

Judith Ellen Hewmann said that the disability she suffered because of polio was worse than the disease.  She was disabled before there was any kind of legislation in our government and she also suffered a lack of employment.

During one of our class lectures my professor stated that during the highpoint of the polio epidemic marriages often suffered.  Specifically she stated that women who suffered paralysis to their arms were more likely to have their marriages end and/or it was rare for them to marry or remarry.

It isn’t groundbreaking to say that illness affects lives in a critical way but I thought it was really interesting to see how drastically polio influenced changes — particularly if you had to live the remainder of your life in an iron lung.   While reading this document I started to think if there was ever a time when repro-time actually existed.  All throughout our existence there has been disease to disrupt our lives so maybe that’s all the more reason to ignore repro-time because it is legitimately just in our heads.

Silver, Julie, and Wilson, Daniel. ”Polio Voices.” London, England: Praeger. 24-91.


— Megan Hruska

What Came First, The Chicken Or The Woman?


In the article, “Cultures of Eugenics,’ subRosa, makes the argument that women and chicken are far more similar then you would think. Oh, stop me if you’ve heard this one before! According to subRosa, “women and chickens both produce eggs, and eggs are all-important in today’s genetic engineering industry” (subRosa 15). Moreover, the article does a side-by-side comparison of two entities, arguing that both chickens and women were the first animals/humans to be permanently confined indoors “based on intensive genetic selection, dietary manipulation, bodily restriction and drugs” (subRosa 4). However, things started to get a bit fuzzy when trying to accept the suggestion that Britney Spears is linked to the genetically engineered pharm chicken of the same name. Comically, the authors assert that as Spears is a cosmetically engineered American teen idol, so too is its poultry counterpart. While I agree with the bulk of subRosa’s arguments in their essay, this one was a little too far fetched for me. 

-Ro Weissberg

NEOTB: New Eugenics On The Block


Obligatory New Kids on the Block reference? Check. Within the article, “Cultures of Eugenics,” subRosa argues for the resurgence of eugenic thinking. Presenting a historical primer on ‘old style eugenics,’ the article contends that the term was derived from the Greek word meaning “true breed.” Moreover, eugenics is defined as “a science that deals with the improvement-as by control of human mating- of hereditary qualities of a race or breed. However, although many believe the use of eugenics has been expunged, subRosa argues that it has been re-appropriated, “this time in the guise of genetic engineering” (subRosa 4). Prior to reading this article, I wasn’t aware of the connection between eugenics and certain medical procedures that are commonly utilized. For instance, the use of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and cloning could be observed as a form of eugenic activity, in that it is “an improvement of human characteristics through scientifically controlled reproduction” (subRosa 8). Interestingly enough, subRosa brings up a valid point when they as if “our fears of eugenics’ bad history hold us back from pursing theses seemingly beneficial new developments” (subRosa 9)? Personally, although I’ve always associated the practice/term of eugenics with something negative, I do believe that its transformation into beneficial technology should be grounds for endorsement.

-Ro Weissberg

Since I wrote my short assignment on something else, but showed this video in class, I thought I would blog post about it.

The Funny or Die “Rick Santorum Aborts Presidential Campaign” cleverly jokes at his ridiculous policies and his ruined reputation.  By playing at the way in which clinics try to talk many out of the abortion procedure and have the patient go through numerous guilt-giving processes, Funny or Die takes Santorum’s anti-abortion, anti-female policies and throws them back in his face.  As the ladies point out the facts that nobody would want him as a running mate and his political career might as well be over, the falsely sympathetic tone of the video also shows the fragility of female-friendly abortion clinics.

-Elizabeth Nash


Just realized I need one more post! I just wanted to say it was a great semester and I loved being in this class. The discussions and content were fantastic. Thank you Hillary for a great class! I obviously have nothing else to write about and I’m kind of delusional right now because I’m writing my final paper for cognitive psych. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about cognitive emotional processes so I won’t bore you. Some points is better than no points right?

Thanks again Hillary!


-Sara Asher

Something other than bell hooks

Seeing as how everyone did their video on some concept from bell hooks (including me), I’m going to re-do our little assignment and NOT about hooks. Instead, I want to talk about the video for “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye. I saw the video and was absolutely stumped. I love figuring out the meaning of videos by artists and it’s kind of a ridiculous obsession of mine (especially with Gaga!), so of course I went online and found some interesting interpretations to add to what I had made of the video. The lyrics are pretty straightforward. Gotye and Kimbre broke up and he doesn’t understand what he did wrong, and doesn’t recognize who Kimbre has become or why she cut him out of her life. She talks about how shitty the relationship was. The bad break up in a nutshell. I didn’t really understand their bodies being colored in triangles. This is where I did a little digging. The interpretation I liked the best is one where Gotye is trying to make Kimbre fit into his mold (the color scheme of the triangles) but she just doesn’t fit and is tired of trying to. She thought the problems in the relationship we her fault, but realized it was his expectations of her. In the end Kimbre has no paint on her, and it represents the breakup and her taking over her identity as her own person and not what Gotye wants her to be. I related this to Butler’s view on torture. She says that all bodies are vulnerable and marking the body is torture. The more marks you make, the more torture you inflict and the more dominant you become. In this case, Gotye trying to fit Kimbre in his mold is represented by the paint and shapes, which for Butler would represent the torturous marking of the body. In the end, Kimbre breaks the mold and releases herself from the torture Gotye is placing on her by removing the marks. It could also be said that Gotye is torturing himself by marking her with his expectations. Butler also says that bodies are reliant on one another, and no body is singular. Gotye and Kimbre’s bodies become disconnected with her removing all the marks, and him still standing there with marks.

This is just the interpretation I liked the best and I thought it went well Butler. I hope you like it!

-Sara Asher