2016 Article Wrap-Up: First Quarter

I read a lot of articles and since this blog is about documenting what I read, I thought I’d share the most outstanding and thought-provoking ones here. I wasn’t sure at first how to go about doing this. I considered making a separate page for the articles, but then decided to include them in my quarterly wrap-ups. Now I’ve changed my mind again and have decided to give them their own wrap-up post. For now, the plan is to do these posts quarterly.

The list is kinda long so I’ll highlight their topics. Hopefully a few will interest you. Well then, here they are in no particular order:

The Harry Potter-verse

Those who’re tuned in to Harry Potter updates are probably aware of the new stories Rowling recently published on Pottermore that expands the Harry Potter universe to the Americas. Well, there has been a backlash as Rowling has excluded some key facts in her stories. I haven’t yet read those stories but I found this article on them interesting.

Well, This Was Never Going to Go Well: J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Leaves Britain (ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com)

White privilege

This article offers a different take on the conversation on White privilege. The writer is White but grew up poor so she did not have as many opportunities as other Whites who were raised middle- or high-classed.

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person (huffingtonpost.com)

“Poverty colors nearly everything about your perspective on opportunities for advancement in life.”

“The concept of intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others. There are many different types of privilege, not just skin-color privilege, that impact the way people can move through the world or are discriminated against.”

Controversial speakers

I wasn’t sure if I should share this article or not because it’s behind a paywall, but the topic is great for discussion. The article’s title says it all — Should Campus Leaders Ever Disinvite a Controversial Speaker? With the increase in student activism these days, I think colleges and universities are afraid to take chances. However, I think controversial views should be discussed. Discussing them doesn’t mean that the institution is promoting them. We aren’t helping anything by shunning and ignoring unpopular views and opinions. Plus, colleges and universities are supposed to be spaces that encourage discussion whether controversial or not.

Should Campus Leaders Ever Disinvite a Controversial Speaker (chronicle.com)

“You can’t really learn and grow if you can’t hear things you don’t agree with.” — Christina Paxson, president of Brown University

Safe spaces

I didn’t entirely agree with the writer here but I found this article interesting. I see the concept of “safe spaces” as a trend and I don’t think it helps. Yes, I agree that a person should be able to share their views in a discussion without being attacked by others, but I don’t think opposing or unpopular views should be excluded from a discussion. Those opposing views might be hurtful but I think it’s important to understand why those views are believed and what fuels them.

How ‘Safe Spaces’ Stifle Ideas (chronicle.com)

“Dialogue is encouraged so long as it is rooted in approved suppositions and clearly headed where we must all want it to go.”

A quick story

Umm… I like this one but I don’t know how to say what it’s about in a few sentences. But, there is a guy, a girl, postcards, and books.

Watercolor Romance (medium.com)

“I thought of love like blending watercolors. Like dipping a brush in water, taking one color, and mixing it with another. The resulting hue wasn’t something easily comparable. The base elements were different — naturally, so were the results. Whether one was nicer than the other was a matter of personal preference.

Love then, was the image two people painted with the watercolors they’d mixed. Whether it was pretty, or bland, or ugly — who could really say?

Art is fickle like that.”

Black women and motherhood

This one is a quick reflection on being childless at 40. The writer discusses how people react to her being childless and the expectations placed on Black women.

40 and Childless: Reflections on the Societal Expectations of Black Women and Motherhood (forharriet.com)

An art break

I saw these cool illustrations on deMilked a month or so ago. The artist, Brian Polett, aka Pixel-Pusha, drew these images under the influence of various drugs for 20 days. The illustrations are crazy. I love them. Not the drugs part though.

Artist Takes Different Drugs For 20 Days And Draws Illustrations (demilked.com)

Polett drew the image below on day 15 while on MDMA. For more of Polett’s work, visit his website.

different-drugs-affect-art-drawing-illustrations-brian-pollett-26

Student activism

The New York Times did a profile on a few student activists that I enjoyed reading. I agree with Josh Freeman’s opinion here. He’s a student at Princeton University. I keep hearing about student’s petitioning to rename buildings and such and though I get why they are doing it, I don’t entirely agree that a change of name will help. Yes, I believe we shouldn’t honor people for the ills they’ve done and there should be more diversity on campuses, but I’m not crazy about all this renaming and removals and calls to suspend/fire faculty members.

“I disagree with those who want to rename the Woodrow Wilson building and college. Wilson is a part of Princeton’s history. We can’t erase this, no matter what. We have to discuss the good and the bad with his legacy.”

Reading diversely

Did I share this article before? I’m not sure if I did. It was one of the first articles I read this year. It’s about the current trend to proclaim that you’re going to read diversely. The writer hits many of the thoughts I had when the new year started and people began making TBRs and such.

Damn, You’re Not Reading Any Books by White Men This Year? That’s So Freakin Brave and Cool (jezebel.com)

“Justification for obviously rewarding acts is always unnecessary, and in the case of reading “diverse” writers, the reward can be meaningfully deflated by the announcement of the act itself.”

El Chapo

Everyone has probably read this already, the interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, aka El Chapo. The article was funny to me because I found it hard to believe. I think it was heavily edited or something. I enjoyed the backlash on it on journalism ethics.

El Chapo Speaks (rollingstone.com)

The Passion

Did you watch Tyler Perry’s modern musical retelling of Jesus’ story, The Passion? Well, this article is a critique of it. It’s good reading. I saw only bits and pieces of the musical. I thought the performance was good (my mom thoroughly enjoyed it) but I was a bit critical of it too.

The Passion: A Perfect Bourgeois Jesus (theatlantic.com)

An art break

Here’s another I found on deMilked. (Can you tell that I waste a lot of time on that website?) It’s a comic series by Idalia Candelas, a Mexico-based artist, about being single. The series is called “Postmodern Loneliness” and is drawn using pencil, ink, and watercolor. For more of Candelas’s work, visit her website.

From the deMilked post:

“The theme of the loneliness has been recurring in my drawings,” Candelas told Mic. “I like to show women who exist in solitude but do not suffer. They are not depressed or crying. Rather [they] are safe, exalting in the sense of enjoying the company of just herself.”

Single woman

Black women, mental health, and public housing

A great article on about growing up in public housing with a mentally ill, single mother and the lack of adequate governmental aid.

Black Women, Mental Hospitals, and Public Housing — A California Carceral Story by Siobhan Brooks (lareviewofbooks.org)

Gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Sandman

Here’s another article from Lady Geek Girl and Friends that I enjoyed. I haven’t yet read any of Gaiman’s work, but I enjoyed reading this article. Actually, the article made me even more curious about his work, especially American Gods. The article is discusses how deities are employed in Gaiman’s work and what that reveals about what we believe.

Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Faith-Fueled Gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Sandman (ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com)

Do writers make great undercover agents?

In this article, the writer talks about applying for the CIA and how her skills as a writer help. It’s a good read, but by the end I was unsure if it’s fiction or not, which made me like it even more.

MFA vs. CIA (laphamsquarterly.org)

Living a creative life

Some tips from Elizabeth Gilbert on how to live a creative life. I read this shortly before starting on Big Magic. If you’ve read the book, then you’ll be familiar with the tips.

Fear is Boring, and Other Tips for Living a Creative Life (ideas.ted.com)

Bestseller lists

The writer discusses how some bestseller lists work. Pretty interesting.

The Truth about the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists (timgrahl.com)

That’s it. 🙂

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16 thoughts on “2016 Article Wrap-Up: First Quarter

  1. This was such an interesting post! The Jezebel one was really interesting and made some excellent points- but I’m gonna be a bit controversial here and say that to me when people say things like “I’m only reading diverse authors” they’re just virtue signalling. It’s one of those things I definitely roll my eyes at because it’s such a ridiculous thing to say. Interestingly, this ties in with the article you linked to about privilege. Recently I saw an article from someone saying they were no longer reading classics, because they were all written by privileged white men. This made me roll my eyes for a number of reasons- one because not all classics were written by white men and two because a lot of the authors they were talking about were not privileged at all (take Dostoevsky, Dickens or Hardy). It’s just a totally bizarre way to look at art.
    Incidentally, that article about privilege was excellent- the idea of telling someone to check their privilege because of the colour of their skin, their race and their sex is actually as bigoted and intolerant as what these people pertain to be fighting against. Obviously, it’s incredibly prejudice to assume someone is privileged from just judging them by their appearance and it also ignores the many ways someone can be disadvantaged (such as coming from a low income family)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points. And that’s what I liked about those articles, they made me think differently about things, especially about privilege. It’s easy to dismiss a person as privileged based on the color of their skin these days. (I sometimes do that.) Often the argument boils down to Black vs. White instead of haves and have-nots and how to move toward equality (which I’m pessimistic about ever happening but strongly hope equality will exist one day).
      I think it’s easy for some folks to dismiss the classics as being written by privileged white men because often popular discussions claim so. It’s often said that literary canon was established by white men so it’s easy to assume they were privileged. I used to think that way too until I started to read and learn more. (Not excusing the person, just saying that might be why they said that.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! Exactly- in reality it’s a lot more complex. I’m a tad pessimistic about equality ever being achieved, but personally, I don’t see how telling people off for their perceived “privilege” ever helps, because it doesn’t exactly pave the way towards a cohesive society.
        I know- I’ve heard that before, but I’ve never really found that argument terribly logical. It’s a bit too white male conspiracy theory for my liking. It makes out like professors, who are increasingly coming from diverse backgrounds, are all sitting round trying to find ways to exclude literature from the canon on the basis of gender and ethnicity. I actually found while I was at uni that professors went out of their way to find diverse authors- which sounds good, but in practice didn’t always make sense, because finding the sole female author writing at a specific period is not always worthwhile- studying Joanna Baillie’s work simply because she was the only woman writing at the time was pretty much the lowlight of my university career! The fact of the matter is, there just weren’t as many women who were writing before modernity- which makes sense since female illiteracy was very high. And, in terms of race, there were even fewer racially diverse people, because society was not multicultural. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any books written by diverse authors, just that there are fewer.
        I get it- it makes sense to want to read authors and books that represent you- I definitely do (not that I would find anyone that represents me writing in English 300 years ago)- but literature is not always supposed to be safe and familiar, so it’s better not to rule things out.
        Phew- sorry for the super long reply- hope I didn’t bore you!

        Like

        • Lol, no problem. I get where you’re coming from on this. From all you’ve said, I think that’s why the read diversely movement is so important now because minorities and women have the opportunity to publish their work. The standard for great lit and canon is slowly being reworked to include more diverse authors.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get what you’re saying and the Jezebel article is so on point. I know this post isn’t about me but I wanted to put I my two cents.

      My blog is focused primarily on non-white authors but that doesn’t mean I don’t read white authors. I just don’t blog about them. And I also recenttly blogged about not reading classics anymore due to a personal preference for modern literature and POC, which means I’m better of not reading classics.

      For me diversity is not a trend and my promotion of multicultural authors isn’t meant to diminish anyone or anything. I do it because it’s important and I see it as a form of activism that is necessary.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I understand that and I think readers would understand that as well when they visit your blog.
        I hope my statement above didn’t give the impression that I think the read diversely movement as a whole is a trend. I think it’s a much needed form of activism in publishing, but I do find it a trend that people feel the need to proclaim that they will read diversely and what exact books they plan to read for their diversity project.

        Like

        • Yes, I’ve had the same thoughts as well.
          It’s certainly problematic when reading diverse authors is treated as a project or a trend that will be abandoned a month later. If people are simply doing it to place themselves on a pedestal and feel superior, then they’re giving off the wrong message and it becomes very obvious as well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, exactly. In my perfect world there’s not discrimination on who gets published so people choose what to read based on interest and are still able to read a diverse set of authors.

          Like

      • Also, I think its important to note who is saying they’re reading diversely. I take that comment much differently from people like us (who really probably do so anyway), who may be searching for themselves in the books review…versus a white reader. Two completely different implications. That said, I don’t think that article even applies to us– sure as hell doesn’t apply to me.

        And to be honest? If you need a trend to help you decide to read diverse, I’m fine with that. Disappointed, but fine. These authors’ sales don’t know or care why you’re buying their lit. Just that you’re buying it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Too true. I also don’t really mind when a trend or diversity project motivates readers to read books they usually wouldn’t. It’s better than not reading them at all. It’s more promotion and visibility for authors of color, which is a very important first step for reaching mainstream audiences and inclusion of POC in the publishing industry as long as you’re not being superior about it, I’m fine with it.

          Liked by 2 people

        • My thoughts exactly. I am glad that more people are reading diversely because of the read diversely movement, and therefore the trend to say so.

          Like

      • I get that- that’s totally fair enough. And if you chose not to read a single white author, that’d be upto you too. I personally don’t like to limit myself to reading certain books- and that’s not just dependent on trying to read diversely or not- that also includes by genre for instance. I used to say, for instance, that I would never read sci fi or historical fiction- which not only wasn’t true, but was also silly cos I was restricting myself from reading things I turned out to actually like. But, of course, there’s never anything wrong with saying you don’t like certain books. I mean, if I told you that you couldn’t read what you wanted, it’d be like making you play touch move in the library (aka saying “you’ve touched that book now you have to read it! Who cares if it interests you or you like the blurb- read it!!!”
        Hope that makes sense 🙂

        Like

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