Winter 2016 Third Publication

With this issue’s submissions, there’s no mistaking that Dead Week is upon us. Thomas Browning’s take on the infamous Evil Hangman is a perfect representation of the gnawing feeling of playing an academic game rigged to humiliate and we’re also pleased to present a handy classifier of the wild-eyed mania of the sleep deprived hordes you’ll soon see surrounding you. The tenth week of Winter  Quarter will take no prisoners. Fear not, however, for the darkest hour is just before the dawn, and even the worst cases of despair will be melting away with the brooding clouds of winter. In between finishing those final projects and getting into the zone for exams, one of the most important things to do is maintain some broader perspective. That’s why we’re especially honored to publish the remainder of our conversation with Curtis Hisayasu about his life as an academic, an instructor, and, no less importantly, a counselor to all of the students at the RC. Without further ado, we present these three works as our final publication of the quarter.

Happy Dead Week!

You may notice students stumbling through their week with bloodshot eyes, sallow skin, unkempt hair and an unshaven face, and sporting a great, cheek-splitting grin revealing unbrushed espresso-stained teeth. Do not approach these students. Do not ask them how finals are going. Do not feed them after midnight. Some number of them may even be bio-engineering majors, in which case the safest course of action is to back away slowly, making soft reassuring thrumming noises from the base of the throat.

If you get a hankering for a sense of accomplishment that doesn’t require that you finish any of your work, follow this link to download and play Thomas Browning’s rendition of Evil Hangman. You may change the words.txt file if you wish.

Finally, we interviewed Curtis, asking him to share his thoughts on everything ranging from stigma toward the humanities, to the importance of art as a site of critical engagement with the world, to how Curtis takes his down time when he puts aside the spinning plates of all of his duties at the RC. The full interview can be accessed here, but we’ve included some excerpts below.

We asked Curtis about what drove him to become an English academic, and his response was: “when I was coming out of high school, there was a thought that I was going to go to art school; I wouldn’t have even gotten a B.A., I would have gotten an arts degree. I was always more humanities based, English, Art History, these were things that I explored a lot in college. When I got to UCSB, I loved my classes, my GPA shot through the roof because all of a sudden I was super engaged. And it was also the college-level version of that material, so it wasn’t sitting around sitting around talking about, you know, what kind of ‘moral message’ Hawthorne was trying to teach us, and a lot more of a critical engagement with the concept of ‘art,’ and social/cultural conflicts happening in and through art and literature. I was really inspired by that kind of stuff. I think that was what made me want to go to grad school, wanting to be a professor, wanting to teach those classes, wanting to continue to have those conversations that drove me to grad school. I think my motivations changed a little bit there. I’ve learned a little bit more about what the challenges that were faced in the discipline, and got a little bit more about the stakes of the work. I think there, I became a little bit more acquainted with and inspired by the sociopolitical stakes, what kind of stuff the discipline had to teach, the ways in which it could illuminate some of the struggles that we’re facing out there, in the real world. What most people consider relatively esoteric concerns, about culture, representation, language, identity, race, gender, these things… you know, none of those things are “as important as terrorism” [laughs]. But of course, there’s a way that those questions are absolutely relevant to what’s going on in everything, economic and political, around our world. The more I was able to realize that, the more I felt almost an ethical imperative to bring these questions to the table, to get smart students thinking about them and invested in them, if possible.”

Curtis weighed in on the institution of gifted programming as well, saying “there is a risk there, in the programs that we put together and the expertise that we produce. It’s actually about the challenges that our students face, the barriers to their success, that other students may have, and that’s the kind of thinking that you direct at at-risk populations. You try to meet those needs. Interestingly enough, except to say that, (and I’m still not much of an expert in gifted education), I think the other thing that I’ve learned is that there’s a way in which giftedness can be really an albatross around a student’s neck. That when students identify as gifted, any evidence to the contrary, say a particularly hard English class, which is a subject that they’ve never struggled in before, all of a sudden comes not just as a challenge to their ability to do well, but a challenge to their very identity. And I’ve watched students (not all, a lot of this has to do with the way students kind of get this in the way that their parents deal with this and all those other things) really struggle with this before. They knew how to be successful, and their identity was based off of that success. The minute there was any kind of struggles, suddenly, they didn’t know who they were anymore, and the parents didn’t know who they were anymore. And that’s tragic, because they are who they always were. That’s the answer to that question. That’s one of the things that I’ve seen as the strengths and weaknesses of gifted education as a model.”

When we asked Curtis about how he balances work with the rest of his life, he laughed and said, “Poorly. Anybody who gets as far as I have either has realized this or is living some kind of weird lie. Teaching is always going to be a lot of work, it’s always going to be bringing homework home with you. I am very fortunate to have a partner who is also an academic, also a grad student, so we understand each other’s lives. She’s dissertating now, and I’m doing that delicate balance of trying to be supportive and also trying to stay out of her way because that’s exactly when I would have wanted. She has her own students. It is a little all-consuming in that sense, not in a bad way necessarily. Part of the reward of teaching is getting to do things like go to Camp Casey, guests over a weekend, but there is that kind of stuff; I wouldn’t trade any of that out. I think another thing that’s inherent to the question you asked is about what it’s like to be somebody that’s both – as a humanities instructor, it’s not like the things that I study are totally different from the things that compose more of the “fun” parts of my life. I study movies, and I write deep papers about movies, I talk about movies in my class, then on the weekend I go see movies. That’s a line that a lot of us in cultural work have to manage. I wish I had more time to do more, with this job in particular, because it’s not a research job, really. Anything that I want to do either for my own scholarship or for fun has to happen after the grading is done on the weekend. So it’s tough. It’s a balancing act. I’m getting better at it over time. So it’s another thing that you just have to work at, you know? I think I’m always a student also of various things.”

One of the last things we asked Curtis to give his thoughts on was the importance of creative work as a shared forum. “Culture and art,” he mused, “these things are always about struggle. They’re always about interfacing with the world. Art is not something that takes you out of this world, it should ultimately get you in it. As a kind of expression of a small community, art is going to be one of the places where we engage with each other. That was the hope, goal, for Chimera itself early on, just to create another venue where Robinson Center students can be talking about themselves to each other. It wasn’t like you could just pick up the journal and say “This is the Robinson Center”. Because there is no Robinson Center in that sense. All there is is difference. All there is is this one guy who’s totally invested in the ethics of cloning and another person who’s writing poetry about fishing with their dad. It’s the dissonance that is worth preserving.”

It is with those last thoughts that we wish you all an excellent end of the quarter, a well-earned break, and a bright return in the spring to all of the things which compose the RC’s vibrant culture, which we are proud to continue to curate and showcase.

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Winter 2016 Second Publication

We’re excited to bring you our second publication of the quarter! A big thanks to all those who came to our kickoff earlier this quarter. At the kickoff, we received several poems which, through great feats of allegory, description, and play on words, conjured without intonation the irrefutable image of Donald Trump.  Here are two excellent examples:

Poem #1
He stands center stage with hair yellow

Basking in the nation’s eye
You know him from his standard bellow
We just want to say “bye”

Poem #2
More manly than Ron Swanson
Thicker than Tennessee
He’s got hair like Boris Johnson
Will he make it to the RNC?
As people continue to fawn
I say “wait and see”
I think Iowa is his swansong
Though it would be funny

Our academic submission this week is a 7 page cultural studies essay by Clovis Wong called “Gendered Coding of Domesticity and the Ideology of Empire,” which discusses gender’s role in articulating colonial ideology in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The essay can accessed at this link. The excerpt below provides but a small example of the critical depth plumbed by the full essay:

Marlow, implored by the Intended to reveal Kurtz’s last words, chooses to lie to her rather than reveal the true conditions of his descent, telling her that the last words he said were “her name.” By doing so, Marlow recognizes and then subsequently denies his own complicity in maintaining the illusion of separate domestic and colonial spaces. He says after, “I heard her weeping; she had hidden her face in her hands. It seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head. But nothing happened…I could not tell her. It would have been too dark…” (77). After visiting the Congo, Marlow can no longer deny colonial violence and exploitation… Marlow’s own horror is that there are in fact no separate worlds. Just as Europe is implicated through its economic dependence on colonialism to maintain a lifestyle of civilization and modernity, Marlow is implicated by being a paid worker of the colonial project. Faced with this “horror,” which is now not merely Kurtz’s but his own, Marlow chooses to continue to fabricate a distinction between domestic civilization and commercial empire rather than bring to light the dependency between the civilized European center and the violent colonial periphery.

Last but not least, we present the first in a series of installments which we will publish over the course of a few publications. We sat down with the one and only Curtis Hisayasu, and asked him to reflect on his life experience, the stakes of his intellectual career, and his role in the Robinson Center.

Here is the first installment:

CHIMERA: For those at the RC that don’t know, what is your title and what is your role here at the Robinson Center?

CURTIS: So, I wear two hats here at the Robinson Center, two separate but connected jobs. When I was hired here originally, it was simply to be the TS English instructor, and to be a member of the faculty, which involved designing the TS English coursework, the three quarter curriculum, as well as all of the stuff that all EEPers are probably pretty aware of: the tutorials, the student meetings, the faculty meetings, and that type of work; basically, working to support and assess all of the Transition School students.

More recently in the last three years, I’ve taken on the job as the Assistant Director of Programs here, so that makes me the guy that’s overseeing all of the student services for all of our University-matriculated students. The way that it usually works out in terms of the duties around the center: Dr. Halvorsen is in charge of all of the stuff that we do with students that are not University students, so that’s Summer and Saturday Programs and TSers, and I and my team take over for everything for the students once they become University students. So that’s you all who are under my purview [evil laugh].

CHIMERA: How did you become involved in the RC originally?

CURTIS: As a Summer Stretch instructor way the heck back in 2007. You know, I needed a summer job, as a grad student (I think it was my second year of grad school), I needed a summer job, and I knew someone in the English Department that was teaching an essay writing class. They needed an American Literature instructor, I applied, I interviewed with Dr. Halvorsen, I got it, and that summer I had a number of students in my class that would go on to be TSers the following year. So that was my first interaction with RC students, and it was a positive one, so, hence, here I am. Yeah, after that, I got to be known amongst the community, a lot of TSers would take my American Lit class before going into TS, I became somebody who was known amongst the students, so when they needed an English instructor, I was someone they contacted directly. I jumped at the chance.

CHIMERA: What is your favorite aspect about working at the RC?

CURTIS: That’s easy: the involvement with and contact with the student community. I really loved teaching at the UW proper as well; I taught as a graduate instructor at the English Department. I really liked those classes, I think UW students in general are great, they’re high-caliber students, even when they’re not involved in your major or your area… but you know, there was that thing where you had to design these courses, and they were fun courses, and I enjoyed teaching them, and had great groups of students, and get to know them over that ten weeks, and then– they’d be gone. And occasionally you’d have the student who you’d formed enough of a connection with and they’d take multiple classes with you, or whatever, but, you know, even that happened very rarely, and so, one of the things I like about my job right now is how I get to basically be all up in your guys’ business [laughs] throughout the entire time you’re here, both helping you throughout TS and helping the Academy students throughout their personal careers, but really getting a chance to see where you guys go and what you guys do with that education and to be a mentor and an advisor throughout that process is still the most rewarding aspect of this. No doubt.

Winter 2016 First Publication

This week, we’re proud to present works by an anonymous contributor, Philip Lee, and Mara Page, exemplifying each of our three main categories: creative, multimedia, and academic.

Our creative submission this week is the following ingenious design of a plate system ship in LDD by an anonymous contributor.

Plate System Ship (Photos).lxf

Our multimedia submission this week is the exquisitely composed music video by Philip Lee for the song “Aftergold” by Big Wild, which can be viewed below or at this link.

Our academic submission this week is a 10 page English essay by Mara Page on monsters in Attack on Titan titled, “Giant Fears: the Production and Regulation of Cultural Norms in Attack on Titan,” critically examining the show’s exploration of a cultural anxiety surrounding the ramifications of the consumer identity. The full essay can accessed at this link, but we have featured one excerpt of the thought-provoking work below.

“One of the reasons that titans are so repulsive is that they are a reflection of us…This distorted, perverted reflection of humanity is a mirror that shows us what we least want to see in ourselves. It terrorizes us because it shows us what we have the potential to become if the rules and conventions of society are abandoned. Giants in medieval folklore are characterized by their repulsiveness, their crude desires and their lust, the antithesis of chivalric values. Modern giants in Attack on Titan operate using the same logic. The titans represent what we dislike about ourselves and our culture – our gluttony, our stupidity, our destructiveness and our mindless violence. The titans show us what we are frightened of our culture becoming. The fat, stupid-looking titans are so scary precisely because they are fat and stupid – we see ourselves in them and are terrified that we will be consumed by them too… The stability of their society depends on remaining separate from the titans, and doing their utmost to ignore what exists on the other side of the wall.”

Now Accepting Submissions!

Chimera is now accepting submissions! Remember to keep all content respectful and up to the standards of the RC community. We are looking for all kinds of work, including, but not limited to:

Creative Works

Academic Writing

          Multimedia
  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Novel Excerpts
  • Thesis excerpts
  • Academic Papers
  • Journalistic and Opinion Pieces
  • Music Composition/ Performance
  • Visual Art
  • Photography/Fim Art

You can receive a free cookie for each work submitted before Friday, December 10th. If you have an academic work or term paper that will not be ready by the deadline but you intend to submit, you may still receive a free cookie if you submit a project description to chimerauw@gmail.com. Please make sure that your work conforms to our submission guidelines.

We will start posting at the beginning of Winter Quarter. Until then, keep submitting!