RaceB4Race Education Day 2: Tarrell R. Campbell, Mariam A. Galarrita

Hello everybody. Welcome to the second day of the RaceB4Race symposium on education My name is Jonathan Hsy, I’m a member of the RaceB4Race executive board. I’d like to thank Ayanna Thompson and ACMRS for bringing this conference together. We’d just like to begin this session by a land acknowledgement I am physically here in Washington, D.C., which sits on the ancestral lands of the Piscataway and Pamunkey peoples and among other Indigenous communities past, present, and future Since our theme here today is Education, I’d like to signal how much the RaceB4Race community continues to make me rethink my own ethics and teaching practices as a non-Indigenous POC, and I’m really moved by the power of BIPOC communities — that is, black, indigenous, and people of color communities — working together in coalitions like this one We’ve had some very wonderful conversations in our opening session last night, and I look forward to continuing these conversations with our two speakers, Tarrell R. Campbell and Mariam G. Galarrita Now, I won’t list all their accomplishments right now, because they are in the program, but on a somewhat personal note, I’m so glad to be here having this convo (conversation) with Tarrell and Mariam who are both wonderful educators, as well as scholars and activists: I remember first meeting Tarrell as the prime mover for the conference at Saint Louis University honoring Belle da Costa Greene and Medievalists of Color in the field, and Mariam as the Founder/Director of the RAPP (Race & Premodern Period) Speaker Series at UC Riverside, and we’ve had some digital conversations about that.I’ll tell you some more about some announcements related to their work later, at the end of the session So, to proceed with our conversation, we’ll proceed in the order of our program, first Tarrell, and then Mariam, followed by a Q&A. Audience members who are watching today can send questions using the Q&A tab. To activate the captions if you need them, click the CC link on the bottom of your screen. Just a reminder that this event will be recorded and posted to YouTube afterwards. And if you’d like to follow on twitter, you can follow the conversation using the hashtag #RaceB4Race, that’s B and then the number 4: RaceB4Race So without further ado, I will hand things over to our first speaker, Tarrell Hello, hello. I am Tarrell Campbell. Good day, good people. This is one of the only venues where I get to talk about African American Literature and Medieval studies at the same time, so bear with me here people, bear with me for a second. Shout-out to the MOCs Alright, let’s do this, people Richard Wright’s Native Son is published in 1940, I’m sorry, my talk is entitled, “Lines of Flight Denied: Delimited Points of Entry within the Academy” Richard Wright’s Native Son is published in 1940 After two years of brooding over what he perceives as the failing of his previously published work, Uncle Tom’s Children, Wright arrives at what he considers a work reflective of his own constructed literary aesthetic, an aesthetic that is “anti-aesthetic in so far as it will seek to push art beyond mere contemplation”. Uncle Tom’s Children, “a collection of stories all but one of which had the same pattern, a Negro was goaded into killing one or more white men and was killed in turn,” fails to satisfy Wright as an author and artist. Wright’s dissatisfaction with Uncle Tom’s Children stems from public and critical response to the book. He feels that the book inspires more “pity than terror”. He writes, “I found that I had written a book which even bankers’ daughters could read and weep over and feel good about” The reception of Uncle Tom’s Children brings Wright “face to face with his own inner tension about literary expression”. He views literary expression as a criminal activity, which has to be carried out under the shadow of what he calls “a mental censor – product of the fears which a Negro feels from living in America”. Joseph Skerrett claims that Wright fears “disapproval from white audiences and black leaders” (qtd. in Critical Essays 106); nonetheless, Wright swears,

“if I ever wrote another book, no one would weep over it; that it would be so hard and deep that they would have to face it without the consolation of tears” (“How Bigger Was Born” 519). Native Son is that book. The writing of Native Son becomes an “exorcism from forces, both black and white,” that attempt to limit and censor Wright’s literary expression (qtd. in Critical Essays) The writing of Native Son and the construction of Bigger Thomas, in part, reflect “Wright’s deepest aggressive drives” regarding literary expression. My approaches to uses of Medieval theoretical approaches mirror Wright’s motivation – the exorcism from forces, both black and white that attempt to limit and censor my scholarly output, production, and expression Some New Critics of the 1940s, in particular, sang the praises of Native Son, placing the novel in the naturalist tradition or the realist tradition of social protest New Critic Harry Slochower highlighted the realist portrayal of “black Jews” – as he interpreted Bigger and black Americans – in Native Son (qtd in Critical Essays 6). Charles I. Glicksburg understood Native Son as “objective Realism” and understood Bigger to represent and emphasize black “hatred towards whites” in America (6). Edwin Berry Burgum reiterated Glickburg’s position and placed Native Son and Bigger Thomas in the “Realist tradition” of the “Negro literature of protest” (qtd. in Critical Essays 66). In the 1943 essay entitled, “The Promise of Democracy and the Fiction of Richard Wright,” Burgum gives a cursory explication of the works of “the most…intransigent representative of [America’s] submerged nationalities,” as he refers to Wright (63). The essay seemingly accepts “hatred of whites” as an essential characteristic “of the Negro” (65). Moreover, Burgum confesses that the quality of “intransigence,” also essential to an understanding of the “new Negro,” is “hardly palatable to…whites” (65) “In a Deleuze and Guattarian framework, bodies [such as Bigger Thomas] are designated for the categories [for which they function] and in the process are constituted as things” (Massumi 90). As commodities Bodies and their categorization and their function are prescribed by language “rather than referential” (Massumi 90). Burgum is one of the earliest white New Critics to prescribe the categorization of Bigger as real He bases his assertion on his understanding of the “esthetic expression” which governs “the idioms and cadences of Negro speech, and reflects Negro sentiments in such genuine detail that its Negro origin can never be mistaken” (qtd. in Critical Essays 65-66) I find Burgum’s stance preposterous because he attaches essentialist qualities to black modes of speech and sentiments, suggesting that there is “an absolute gulf between white skin and black,” suggesting that here is a genuiness to blackness (65) For Burgum, Native Son “provides an authentic understanding of the [black] individual” (68). This understanding is facilitated by Burgum’s belief that there exists an “unspoken assumption that Negroes must have some…common protest that shall enable them to bring the abstract…into…the specific” (69). And, although Burgum suggests that “Bigger Thomas is of course not a typical Negro” in one moment, he states in the next moment, that as “a reader,” he “accepts [Bigger] as representative of other men unlike himself in various ways (71). For example, Burgum understands “Bigger’s hatred” as the hatred “shared in varying degree by every Negro” (71). He accepts this characteristic of blacks as “the general situation as it” exists (72). He accepts Native Son, interpreted in part as a result of the actions of Bigger Thomas, as the story of “Negroes [negative] achievement” (74) Now, I’m bringing this up, because I can go on and on and on, but ultimately, what we arrive at is a generic — that is, with regards to genre — clarification of Native Son as realist literature or naturalist literature. During my graduate studies, I attempted to make the argument that Wright, in Native Son should be included within the halls of High Modernism. As you can probably imagine, I got laughed out of many a thesis director’s office Because, high modernism is thought to begin with Edmund Wilson’s Axel’s Castle in 1931; European High Modernism is considered the repository of all that is great in European and American literature and Europe and America in general. It is the world of the genius: the world of “high” culture, above the usual, “particular way of life” (Johnson-Roullier 28). The High Modernist literary aesthetic finds important the valorization of literature’s national character, the way in which a particular literary work contributes to the exfoliation of a national identity, through emphasizing [the nation’s] literary tradition as a whole Literature and nation are two manifestations of the same cultural idea: as representative of the highest thoughts and values of the nation,

literature becomes [the nation’s] spokesperson, the means by which the most important qualities of a nation’s identity as a people may be known and understood. (Johnson-Roullier 31) The exclusion of Richard Wright from the period of High Modernism in 1940 seems to acknowledge the New Critics dominance and power as “custodians of modernist culture, which they identified with their notions of organic form and their values of unity, wholeness and balance” (Pearce 14) The widespread influence of the New Critic definition of modernism, and the New Critic exclusion of what “is not modernism” has led to the domestication, naturalization, and appropriation of all that is new and distinctive as modernism by those identified as European and American. In 1940, this was white males So Modernist American literature, as opposed to African-American literature, and High Modernism, combined, represent “the site where high modernism’s pledge of allegiance to a transhistorical canon, founded on the subordination of gender, race, and class differences to what T. S. Eliot idealized as the ‘universal mind of Europe’ is most evident” (Johnson-Roullier 29). Modernism “is much too narrow a way to describe the culturally vibrant period between the two world wars” in 1940s America (Johnson-Roullier 29); yet, modernism functions perfectly as a “force field, keeping a select few texts in [the American canon of modernism and High Modernism], and those unselected out” (29) Richard Wright as an artist and Native Son as a novel do not reflect the ‘universal mind of Europe’ like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Earnest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Joseph Conrad, for example, and are therefore considered neither fully American nor fully European. Because of the “historical relationship in America between the white mainstream and African-Americans,” what Du Bois refers to as the ‘color line,’ the “possibility of full American identity” for blacks does not exist (133). Each attempt on the part of the “white mainstream to protect what it conceives as its cultural identity” denies full participation in a full American identity by blacks (134). So, although, personally, Wright feels as though white “colonizers could not have done a better job of liberating the masses of Asia and Africa from their age-old traditions,” he still is not admitted into full Americaness Even as “a knowing black man ‘Thank[ful to] Mr White Man’, for freeing [him] from the rot of irrational traditions and customs,” Wright is denied entry in full participation of an American identity (“Tradition and Industrialization” 355) Now, I apologize I share this lengthy episode from a period during studies for my master’s program because I have found the fields of medieval and premodern studies to function in many of the same ways as High Modernism in the 1940s. We have gathered here to discuss those same ways. We gather here today to discuss, analyze, and evaluate medieval and premodern studies––particularly as relates how we teach our fields, why we teach our fields, and whom we implicitly and explicitly include and exclude in the process That we, seemingly, explicitly dissuade Black students and scholars from our fields while, simultaneously, we seem to invite and to motivate white students and scholars to join the fields in manners so nuanced and implicit as to function in normative ways has been documented and discussed Right? We know this. About two years ago, Mary Rambaran-Olm (MRO, affectionately) gave a talk at RaceB4Race that highlighted how gatekeeping in early English studies continues to stunt the field’s growth and prevents fresh and/or innovative scholarship from developing…[that the] field is heavily weighted to favor literary and linguistic scholars…[and that] the attention that literary scholars receive in early English studies is problematic in itself,…limit[ing] our understanding of the past by not collaborating with scholars from different subfields While we are beginning to know the stories of Toni Morrison and Stuart Hall very well, with regards to premodern and medieval studies, let us applaud MRO for spurring more research on Gordon David Houston and the delimited choices made available to him in early Twentieth Century American as relates his scholarly attempts to practice within the domains of Middle English and Old English Still, one of the more recent queries into Hall struck me and serves as a sort of jumping off point as regards the issues that I wish to discuss today with respect to how we teach our fields, why we teach our fields, and who we include and exclude In New Ethnicities and Medieval Identities, Kathy Lavezzo writes, “[Stuart] Hall…provides a helpful means of correcting two problems that appear in existing work by medievalists who discuss race and ethnicity: 1) they often fail to distinguish between the two terms, and 2) they at times support fantasies about essential identities” (Lavezzo 4). That there still exists confusion as regards different meanings race and ethnicity among scholars is certainly a valid point

Those practicing as medievalists are not the only groups confusing the two term Just the same, when it comes to the participation of Black scholars like myself – whose work discuss race and ethnicity – Lavezzo’s position centered on the support of fantasies about essential identities strikes quite a chord. Perhaps due to the ambiguity of language – Lavezzo neglects, seemingly, what Richard Wright hightlights: the understanding of Black expression as a criminal activity, which has to be carried out under the shadow of “a mental censor – product of the fears which a Negro feels from living in America” (“How Bigger Was Born” 511). Also, when Lavezzo writes of “essential identities,” in many respects she is signifying on many black male writers post-Wright and black female writers of the post-1970s. That is, those who were positioned to make generative literary uses of overdetermined aspects of their very identities in a post-Civil Rights America In my estimation, in many respects, she’s signifying on people like Morrison and Tony K. Bambara, and Audrey Lord, and so on and so forth. This is problematic To be Black in America is to exist within the realms of the essential – for blackness functions as the repository of the nonnormative as regards human endeavor. Blackness is the essence of that which is NOT white. It is the denotation of Black that projects upon these nonnormative bodies their essential, critical characteristics and criteria Black bodies–such my body or Morrison’s body or Hall’s body–are designated for the categories for which they function–and within the Academy, Black bodies, at least historically, have not been designated for categories associated with the study of medieval and premodern studies. As has been pointed out by scholars like Dorothy Kim, Matthew Gabrielle, Sierra Lumoto, Jonathan Hsy, Cord Whittaker, and MRO (just to name a few): with respect to medieval studies and premodern studies, “each and every separate subfield has historically been comprised of white people…racist gatekeeping has either prevented those of us who are seen as ‘others’ from entering the field or rampant racism has forced other marginalized scholars to pivot. Scores of students and scholars of color have left” the fields. Moreover, medieval and premodern studies “stagnates intellectual growth, while…[losing] out on intellectual richness offered by a varied scholarly community” (MRO) In the case of Hall, even scholars like Lavezzo seem to lament the loss for the fields of premodern studies and medieval studies, as regards Hall’s occlusion and exclusion. The new ideas and new approaches to the premodern offered by a varied scholarly community–at least during Hall’s time–are irretrievable and lost to us forever. The products resulting from Hall’s “line of study”–centered on the use of contemporary theoretical positions with respect to the medieval–could have been exciting and groundbreaking. I know that I believe that many of the ideas that I have attempted to develop and to pursue within the Academy have groundbreaking potential. And while scholars like Morrison and Hall were interested in utilizing contemporary theoretical positions to investigate the medieval past, I am interested in using medieval and premodern theoretical positions to investigate our more contemporary moment Consider an analysis of the discography of Jay-Z read against the landscape of Paul Laurence Dunbar utilizing the concept of translation imperii? Or, consider the fruitfulness of reading Douglass’s Narrative against the landscape of Milton’s Paradise Lost? Or, consider the use of Deleuze and Guatarri’s abstract machine to analyze the development of the Angelcynn only to legitimize the advent of the African American people? I imagine that many of you are making the same faces that my advisors would make. Just the same, this exclusionary practice as regards the presence of BIPOC bodies and ideas within the medieval and premodern fields is problematic as regards the expansion of our collective knowledges and scholarships. Take for example, the medieval as found in Jessie Fauset’s Plum Bun and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple Now, Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral is a 1928 novel by African American novelist Jessie Fauset The novel makes generative literary uses of romance and the fairy tale, while exploring aspects of domesticity, racism, sexism, and capitalism. The novel’s protagonist, a young, light-skinned Black African American woman named Angela Murray, leaves behind her past and passes for white in order to attain fulfilment–which includes her desires to become the housewife of a wealthy white man. I developed a project focused upon the hidden transcript as discerned in Plum Bun as regards what I understood as Fauset’s implicit critique of the binary options available to American women of the early twentieth century:

the choices between the harlot and the angel The choices between the hussy and the housewife In The Politics and Poetics of Transgression, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White highlight the hidden transcript and its roles and functions as found in within plays of the York Corpus Christi cycle and its functions as related to the carnivalesque, along with the use of drama as a platform for the hidden transcript of groups subordinate to the dominant ideologies which structured medieval English society. The authors argue that “powerless groups have…a self-interest in conspiring to reinforce hegemonic appearances” As a result, “every subordinate group creates, out of its ordeal, a ‘hidden transcript’ that represents a critique of power spoken behind the back of the dominant.” In its most recognized form, the hidden transcript: 1) “is specific to a given social site and to a particular set of actors…each hidden transcript is actually elaborated among a restricted ‘public’ that excludes certain specified others,” 2) “does not contain only speech acts but a whole range of practices,” and 3) represents “the frontier between…a zone of constant struggle between dominant and subordinate” ideologies. The hidden transcript, could , therefore, be understood as that which “represents an acting out in fantasy…of the anger and reciprocal aggression denied by the presence of domination.” So when Lavezzo talks about living out fantasy, she doesn’t know how much she hit the nail on the head! I digress My project centered on the idea that Plum Bun displays the hidden transcript as regards the binary choices of harlot/angle, housewife/hussy afforded many American women during the early portion of the twentieth century–particularly African American women. Moreover, aspects of the medieval permeate the novel. Formally speaking, for example, explicit discussions of “fairy tales” are present: “When Angela and Virginia were little children and their mother used to read them fairy tales she would add to the ending, ‘And so they lived happily ever after, just like your father and me’” (Fauset 33). Other explicit generic aspects associated with medieval literature center on the romance subplots between Angele and several beaus. But, it is the implicit critique centered upon hussy and house wife, along with the function of “silence” throughout the text, that piques my interests and concerns and inqueries. And, these concerns can only be addressed if one recognizes that hussy is a contracted modern word deriving from a compound word of Old English origin: the contraction of hus and wif to give us “hussy”. If one does not recognize this, this area of analysis does not open itself to us for exploration The Color Purple, by African American novelist Alice Walker and published in 1982, takes place in rural Georgia and focuses on the life of African American women in the Southern United States in the 1930s–including a woman by the name of Shug Avery. The novel explores a number of issues relevant to African American women, particularly the exceedingly low social status afforded Black women in America. In the novel, Shug is explicitly referred to as a hussy The community preacher uses Shug as a lesson telling the congregation about “a strumpet in short skirts, smoking cigarettes, drinking gin. Singing for money and taking other women’s mens. Talk about slut, hussy, heifer, and street cleaner” (Walker 40) Shug’s name is dirt and the rejection of her mother is synonymous with her community’s rejection of her for her choice to freely loving Moreover, Shug’s lifestyle–her lifestyle as a hussy, check this out–is what keeps from being able to marry: becoming a housewife. Now, how ironic is it that Shug’s actions as a “hus-wif” are what keep her from becoming a “hus-wif”. I think they’re trying to tell us something here I think they’re trying to tell us something here What’s my time looking like, Jonathan? 5 minutes? Okay Now, I’m a little long-winded here, right? But I tried to develop a multiplicity of other projects while I was doing my graduate studies In Percival Everett’s Erasure, the novel’s protagonist is a guy named Monk Ellison. To make a long story short, Monk Ellison is a black dude who writes on things that include everything except stuff centered on blackness. For example, one of the novels that he’s wrote is called The Persians, right? So he’s focusing on these classical aspects of literature, and he keeps getting rejected by all of the publishers that he sends it to. And the reason why he keeps getting rejected is because they have no idea what “Aeschylus’ The Persians has to do with the African American experience” (Everett). Moreover, when Monk walks into a Borders book store,

he finds his books in the store, but they’re not categorized under the subject matter that they represent. His books which have nothing to do with “The African American Experience,” are all categorized under African American studies And there are some other tangiential references to the medieval throughout the novel, Monk in one discussion in the novel refers to him as “la roi”, I tried to make the argument that there is what Pierre Bourdien would refer to as social capital going on here, in the vein of if you all remember when Matilda and Stephen were fighting over the English throne, it was basically social capital through the reading of the text, that focused on the Arthurian legends that kind of helped them sus out who should get the throne And so I tried to make arguments about Monk’s father preferring monk over the other children through his display of these aspects of social capital as they would play out in medieval times And as I mentioned earlier, there were my attempts at using Deleuze and Guatarri’s abstract machine to help explain the development of the race amongst the Angelcynn, only to legitimize the advent of the African Americans. This had a little bit more success, but that had to do with the fact that I was under the tutelage of Dr. Elaine Joy, at Southern Illinois University, who was a little bit more liberal at my attempts to merge these two subject areas I’d be more than happy to discuss other projects that I, as a student have been denied, but one last thing that I wanted to say about how we teach and what we teach: as an instructor of writing and a professor of rhetoric and composition, many students of color come into my classes intimidated by being charged with writing in the standard English format. Right? And particularly when it comes to my Black students, they fear being labeled as speakers of Ebonics And so, in my studies, you know, we’ve all got to study the history of the English language, I come across these gnomic, universal, uses “be”, within the Welsh language. And you know, Tolkien and others, I think Filppula are going back and forth on whether or not the Welsh influenced Old English speakers, or whether Old English speakers influenced Welsh speakers. Whether or not, who influenced who, through a whole bunch of syntax morphology, and so on and so forth, we still have this gnomic use of “be’d”or “to be” in our language. And it shows up in Ebonics when my students say things like “I be doin my homework,” or “my mama be workin all the time.” And they get criticized for speaking Ebonics, and they get criticized for not speaking standard English, right? And what I want them to know is: that’s probably the result of some Gaelic-descended highlander of Scotch-Irish origin working as overseer on some plantation that perhaps one of their descendents was on, who taught them English and utilized the gnomic be. And they’ve carried that with them as living artifacts in these here United States to the present day Baby, don’t be ashamed about that! Don’t be ashamed about that. We are some of the only people walking on these here grounds in these here United States that can reflect the origin of this country from its inception. Promote that proudly. I digress Our next speaker is coming up here shortly. Mariam, the floor is yours, I apologize for going over Not at all! Thank you so much. Let me go ahead and share my screen Take a moment to think about your relationship to language. I ask that you continue to reflect on it during my talk. As many writers and scholars have noted, language is rooted to culture, and it binds a culture and its communities over time. Language is often understood as the vehicle for passing down tradition. It shapes our identities, the way we think and how we see the world For many, language is a home, an attachment to family and country, and can feel like a place of security and comfort. But language can also dispossess, disenfranchise, isolate, alienate, and even traumatize a person and a peoples. Language is a racializing technology Thus it structures experience in inequitable ways. As an immigrant, and subject of diaspora,

I’ve had a fraught relationship with language, both with Tagalog, my first language, and English For me, both these languages represent what David L. Eng and Shinhee Han call a “double loss,” or “the estrangement from language, both native and foreign” consequent of immigration and assimilation into American ideals, or the ideals of whiteness, disguised neatly as the American Dream. At a young age, after getting in trouble with the teacher and then my parents for not learning and speaking English at school, I began to understand that “English” equaled betterment It is the language of opportunity, of freedom, of happiness. It represents access to opportunities, success, and a better life–things my parents felt were not available in the Philippines. In contrast to English, Tagalog became a site of shame; it was everything English was not. It would not provide opportunity, freedom, success, or a better and happy life. As E.J.R David shares in Brown Skin, White Minds, he began to distance himself from Tagalog and from unassimilated Filipinx, or FOBS, for fear that associating with them would undo his efforts in becoming more American, more white For me, and many other Asian Americans, language becomes a crucial aspect of our identity, likewise, unfortunately, language is also how others negotiate and determine who we are The English language as site and medium for community and culture is not a universal experience. In fact, that language is a racializing technology, it is also a site of racial trauma, or in terms of racial melancholia, a lost object that represents the ideals of a dominant culture, for my talk today, it’s the ideal of being American, or white In using the concept of racial trauma, I draw on David L. Eng and Shinhee Han’s work on mourning and melancholia in “A Dialogue on Racial Melancholia.” In this text, they argue that Freud’s melancholia presents a “compelling framework to conceptualize registers of loss and depression to both psychic and material processes of Asian American immigration, assimilation, and racialization.” However, unlike Freud, Eng and Han argue that racial melancholia as the process of assimilation is a fluid negotiation of being, where the subject resides in a liminal state of being of processing mourning and melancholia. As Eng and Han point out, immigration is akin to mourning, and what is mourned is a loss of national, familial, and individual identities and bonds As this subject grieves, melancholia emerges in the assimilation process, which demands the same subject, in their grief, to adopt the “dominant norms and ideals—whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class family values—often foreclosed to them.” Thus, for Asian Americans, often times, the demand to speak English impeccably, to master it accent-free, is a necessity to belong and to succeed in society. Ocean Vuong reminds his audience during an interview that the “price of admission into English is so high.” From his own experience, he shares that the English language “is such a destination for so many refugees,” and that he has witnessed folks in his community risk and lose their lives in order to speak English I would expand the loss of life here to encompass the life lost during immigration and assimilation An admission into the English-language often happens at the cost and loss of a mother tongue, but at the same time language becomes the vehicle with which to find ourselves Vuong, inspired by Coleridge who uses poetry as a way to learn about oneself reflects, “What would happen if I were to use language toward self-knowledge?” He recognizes, however, that “the stakes are very different, because for us self-knowledge is a difficult challenge, because the books written [about] us, particularly [about] Southeast Asians are often by white men, and even as they write about us very rarely do we see ourselves in that writing.” If language is a form of self-knowledge for those of who experience a “double loss,” how do we as educators address these readers’ conscious or subconscious drives in our premodern lit classrooms, especially when often times the literature we teach touch on the Greek maxim “know thyself”? How familiar are we with Asian American students and their experiences in a University or literature classroom?

How do these students engage with premodern literature? How do our classes on Chaucer or Shakespeare, often required classes for English majors, enact racial trauma? I want to talk about the English language, and how the written word and its aurality are sites of exclusion and racial melancholia. I’m interested in how the English language, the text on the page, reminds some that they are not part of the dominant, white communities that cohere around the English language. I’m interested in thinking through the ways we make the classroom inclusive, our literature inclusive, our methodologies inclusive, when we have students, and even scholars, who either feel, or are treated, as being outside of the English-language community Where I teach, at the University of California, Riverside, understanding language and its potential for enacting racial melancholia is crucial, as my students are predominantly students of color who live in homes where English isn’t the only language spoken, and often times not the primary language. I’m interested in the way language excludes, subjugates, and alienates students, and how premodern studies can often engender racial melancholia by the very fact that our students enter a Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or premodern English literature classroom that is housed in an English department, where a core assignment is often a form of English composition How much more alienated could you feel about language and about literature when you’re not white and you have to study these canonical texts. Bearing these in mind, I intentionally turn our focus toward a relatively unknown early modern text that uses language to render Asian as a perpetual foreigner, a myth and experience common to Asian American experience today I turn to Francis Godwin’s science fiction novel, The Man in the Moone, posthumously published in 1638. It is violent in its linguistic erasure and colonization, and for me, it is a reminder of my own foreignness, and alienness In The Man in the Moone, a Spanish nobleman named Domingo Gonsales, accidentally lands on the moon, and in his attempt to return to Spain, he accidentally lands in China When Gonsales lands on the moon, he meets the Lunarians, a Christian race with a “most pleasing” “colour and countenance.” Depending on their height, they can live to at least 1000 years, thus suggesting they are an ancient people. Godwin’s description of the Lunarians is standard ethnographic profiling found in travel writing, including descriptions of what he hears. In describing the language, he tells his readers that the Lunarian language: “consisteth not so much of words and Letters, as of tunes and uncouth sounds, that no letters can expresse. For you have few words but they signifie divers and several things, and they are distinguished onely by their tunes that are as it were sung in the utterance of them, yea many wordes there are consisting of tunes onely, so as if they lift they will utter their mindes by tunes without wordes . . . .” (93-94) This description of the orality and musicality of the Lunarian language resembles that of commonplace European explorer descriptions of Amer-Indian cultures. During the early modern period, travel writing often focused on the Natives’ so-called musicality of rituals, marked by adjectives like the word Gonsales uses: “uncouth.” Lunarian language is (for Gonsales) “uncouth,” denoting that which is unfamiliar, strange, unattractive, unpleasant, uncultured, ignorant, and alien What becomes apparent here is the way in which language is used to racialize a people This is nothing new to the early modern period In Classical Greek, “barbarous” first denoted “not Greek,” and developed into meaning “not classical or pure” and thus “unpolished”, “uncivilized” and “without literary culture.” The Athenian empire distinguished themselves racially and hierarchically through language when they deemed their Persian enemies as barbarous. Linguistic barbarism as a racial technology re-emerges during the English Renaissance through the revival of classical studies. However, the term barbarous, once as Margo Hendricks and Ian Smith have pointed out, was commonly attached to an idea of Africa and Africans. Smith argues that Renaissance England’s revival and investment in classical study developed what he calls “Renaissance neo-barbarism,” a racial logic of language that would be applied to African speech Lunarian language is further rendered to an oral culture because the tunes can’t be expressed by “words and letters,”–there’s no writing system Orality often takes on the sense of primitiveness and backwardness, and even anti-progressiveness, because it suggests a society’s inability to modernize or develop. Writing systems, as Albertine Guar argues, is a form of information storage, and was intended for administration and

commerce, but in its capacity to keep records, the writing system evolved into preserving religious, legal, commercial, and everyday literature. This is not to say that the oral tradition did not have an “information storage unit”; orality “stored” or retained information through repetition; however, with a writing system, Guar points out, societies would be divided in to “information rich” and “information poor” communities, and would create an imbalance of power and equity. For early modern England, writing becomes an important mode of power, inheritance, legacy, and futurity Godwin’s Lunarian language, it’s orality, becomes a racialization technology to subjugate an ancient race on the moon to the Earthling languages with writing systems When Gonsales accidentally lands in China after departing the Moon, he provides a description of the Mandarin with a tone of suspicion that echos commonplace stereotypes of China, such as their craftiness. In describing the Mandarin language, Gonsales reports that, “like that of the Lunars did consist much of tunes,” thus drawing similarities between both languages. However, Gonsales’s description of the Lunarian language’s tonal expression echoes commonplace early modern accounts of the Mandarin language’s tonality, which would prompt readers to see how both the Lunarians and the Chinese can be seen as one and the same. In Godwin’s construction of the Lunarian language, he draws on Mandarin’s signifying tones and recombines and re-presents it with commonplace tropes of European and British first encounter with “primitive” Native Peoples Drawing this parallel between Mandarins and Amer-Indians maps on the rhetoric of savagery, backwardness, and primitivism onto China Through this triangulation of perceived Amer-Indian-Lunarian and now Mandarin orality, Godwin subjugates all languages in the text, except perhaps the invisible English language and writing script on the page. The English language has always been there, translating all the foreign languages for the readers In this Orientalist project, where Europe constructs an inferior and backward Orient, the Lunarians, and the invisible Amer-Indians, serve as the allegorical figuration of the Mandarins In essence, the Mandarin language in The Man in the Moone is relegated and reduced to an oral culture, to orality Godwin’s representation of Mandarin as oral, like the Lunarian’s tongue, is a moment of cognitive dissonance that must be examined closer. For while tone was viewed as a dominant characterization of Mandarin, the Chinese writing system was understood by Godwin’s contemporaries to be its source of power and universality because of the way in which it could be understood across China’s vast provinces It is this quality of written Mandarin that makes the language technology of interest and mystery for the English. Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary who lived in China, learned Mandarin and wrote that the Chinese written script is universal among the provinces and other countries. Ricci also noted that some of the symbols “have the same sound in pronunciation, though they may differ much in written form and also in their signification,” and it is “[t]he use of accents and tones” that “serves to lessen what [he calls] the difficulty of equivocation or doubtful meaning.” This removal of “the difficulty of equivocation or doubtful meaning” sounds much like what Francis Bacon wanted from a novel universal language which could directly represent reality without that troublesome difference between words and things. Could Mandarin have been perceived as that kind of technology? What would it mean for China to have that technology long before England had its own? It may appear that this crossed at least Ben Jonson’s mind In his masque, The Entertainment at Britain’s Burse staged in 1609, the Master of the Chinahouse proclaimed as much to sell his wares, “Oh, your Chinese! The only wise nation under the sun! They had the knowledge of all manner of arts and letters many thousand years before any of these parts could speak. Sir John Mandeville was the first that brought science from thence into our climate, and so dispensed it into Europe and in such hieroglyphics as these.” Similar depictions of China circulated early modern England, suggesting that China was as a model empire Godwin’s Orientalist project doesn’t end with erasure, however. Godwin not only erases the Chinese writing system from his novel; he writes a “script” for the tonal language to replace the actual Chinese writing system. After Gonsales learns the Lunarian language, he helps his readers imagine this language by using musical notations. In effect, Gonsales creates a kind of

visual pseudo-script and English translation for the Lunarian language, and analogously, the Chinese language, thereby committing the tonal and oral language into a written one as well In the first musical notation, Gonsales translates the Lunarian tonal signification of “Glorie be to God.” On the facing page, Gonsales translates and writes his name using musical notes. This language is also a cipher, something Godwin was into, and the notes represents alphabetic letters, which I’ve added in red Returning to the translated phrase, Gonsales not only assigned the musical notes to tones that represent letters, but also imposes a Western “grammatical” structure of word order In addition to the script, Gonsales uses this new language to assert the Lunarian’s Christianity. He establishes the Lunarian’s relationship to writing and God in this instance to privilege Christianity and the word of the Bible, which for the English, render the Lunarians as superior to the Chinese, who are further excluded and made perpetually foreign, or perhaps unassimilable and alien to that of the Christian Lunarians. Godwin’s careful representation of his main character’s purely oral and aural interactions with Lunarians and Chinese people makes clear that the multi-lingual Spaniard character not only an explorer and discoverer but also a creator of a new language writing technology, which Godwin conveys in English for those who might read the text. In the end, China appears safely “behind” English and Spanish civilization in the linguistic technology race through Godwin’s transformation of Mandarin through its selective mirroring in Lunarian Gonsales’ process of rendering a tonal language visible, his concretizing how it might be scripted for people outside of the Lunarian race’s comprehension and imagination, undermines the Lunarian’s ownership and sovereignty over their language. The potential consequences of a people losing control over their language involve the way in which their knowledge is produced and transmitted, the way in which the people are racialized and “civilized” or “barbarized.” By design, the parallels to the Mandarin language in Moone, asks the readers to deem the Mandarin language as deficient and inferior to the European alphabetic writing system, and the “tunes and uncouth sounds” as incomprehensible, and thus the Asian alien It’s the Asian-as-alien for me. Asian as alien prompts my racial melancholia, it reminds me of my own double loss of language. In Godwin’s texts, the “tunes and uncouth sounds” of language marks a people primitive, backwards, and alien This recalls how Asians and Asian Americans are often marked as alien through language, and how they are often rendered “perpetual foreigners.” At my own university, language and race are inextricably linked in teaching evaluations, perhaps it’s fair to say even institutionalized In numerical evaluations, one assessment asks students to rate how their instructor’s command of the English language impedes their learning of the material, and in a parenthetical note, states that “This question is not applicable in foreign language sections.” While I demonstrate a command of English, and I’ve assimilated and erased my accent as a dutiful immigrant, I will often receive one or two marks indicating that I have a poor command of the English language. How might these evaluations teach students to perpetually read foreign bodies as having incomprehensible language skills? How should I negotiate being seen this way at the end of each term? Beyond teaching, in seminar, it wasn’t uncommon for me to feel as though my inability to comprehend material or a comment was the cause of my status as an ESL, second-language learner That was my go-to explanation, nevermind that I was reading something dense or jargony For our own students, I’d like us to consider their own experience with language in the classroom or at the university. Jenny J. Lee, an Assistant Professor for the Center for the Study of Higher Education at University of Arizona, reports that Asian international students have “described reactions of frustrations and contempt from faculty, students, and administrators for their language accents.” Lee continues, “Too often, a ‘foreign’ accent, particularly Asian accents, was equated with ‘stupidity’ and sometimes even ridiculed, whereas European accents were more tolerated and appreciated.” This doesn’t sound like a welcoming academic environment, especially when international students are often recruited by our institutions In a study on Asian American student experiences at school, Asian American students have reported avoiding Asian international students for fear of being mistaken as an international student

themselves. Asian American students often hear what white students say about Asian international students, and this in part shapes their own experience with language as a double loss As I wrote this paper, I began to fully recognize the subtle ways in which I performed perfect mastery of English, spoke impeccably, to demonstrate to others, to White people, that I’ve assimilated, and to feel that I belong. In my own reflection, I wonder how language operates in our classrooms? How inclusive are we if we assume everyone’s relationship to language is the same? To return to Godwin’s text briefly, The Man in the Moone seems to shape an idea of Asia, one that American fiction writers have inherited The Man in the Moone exercises the commonplace depictions of China as a crafty, deceptive, and a technologically-advanced and wise empire, but one that must be controlled and subjugated This language recalls “yellow peril” fiction Stephen Hong Sohn argues that in figurations of Asian as alien, “the alien stands as a convenient metaphor for the experiences of Asian Americans, which range from the extraterrestrial being who seems to speak in a strange, yet familiar, accented English to the migrant subject excluded from legislative enfranchisement.” I’m reminded of Toni Morrison here, when she argues that America inherited an imagined Africa. I have begun to wonder how we’ve inherited an idea of Asia I’d like to close on a different note by returning to Ocean Vuong’s interview with Souvankham Thammavongsa for the Toronto Public Library Asian Heritage Series. Thammavongsa shared her own personal experience with language as self-knowledge. She shared that the first time she read about Laos was in a history book. There were no pictures or narratives, just a footnote Vuong asked her, “How did you write yourself out of that footnote? The moment when you said, oh, that’s where I am, buried at the bottom. How did you look at the footnote and ask more of it?” I think I’ve always been searching for myself in early modern texts. I’ve been using language as self-knowledge without knowing it. It’s why I’m interested in travel writing. A couple years ago I found something of myself in Hakluyt. Upon Thomas Cavendish’s return to London after his successful circumnavigation, he brought home with him two young Japanese men, and three young Filipino boys The youngest was gifted to Frances Walsingham I’ve since been searching for more about this boy But the deeper I’ve gone into this search, the more I found myself traumatized by the language I would read. How do I do this research when the language I have to work with is rife with wounds? As students, educators, and scholars, how do we write ourselves out of a footnote when the language we use can’t be our own? How do we use language to get out of the footnote when our language is delegitimized, uncouth, or “incomprehensible”? Thank you Thank you so much for that, Mariam and Tarrell, these were just wonderful thoughts. So much to think about Thank you so much. So much to think about, so beautifully delivered, and I just want to say I very much appreciate that these were two papers where I get a sense that you are really speaking as your whole self In both of these presentations, and I think that’s very rare for us as BIPOC scholars to be able to do. I’m just, I would just like to acknowledge that that the line you end on, Marium, this idea of like how do we write ourselves out of footnotes, and I think that’s a really great question you know for us to think about And that you leave us with — I see that we’ve already got a few questions coming through, but before that I’m just going to take a moment, and, after I finish talking post a few oh choice quotations two from each presentation that I think are very great, very good, and we can ponder collectively. There’s just three very short themes that I want to pick up on to just try and get things started. One that I thought was actually very much very interesting that it only emerged kind of through this talk is this — it’s this question of “who is an alien?” Right? So, who counts as a medievalist, a Shakespearean, a modernist, you know, when marked BIPOC racial identities are at play. So if BIPOC students and scholars have always had contested belonging in quote “coded, white pre-modern fields,

“European, English-centric fields,” then how do we actually get around that, how do we navigate our identities that are always being pressed into these essentializing categories or modes of expression? I’d like to think about that question of how — how do we think about ourselves. Are we aliens, are we invaders, can we actually think about that in another way? The other major theme, of course, that I picked up on here, and, especially given Tarrell’s great riff on Bead here, is this question of language as a racializing technology or a system of power. How do we think, especially as BIPOC scholars who are experts at code switching, right, how do we actually think about the resources we have in navigating languages, homelands, communities? How do we actually navigate those systems of power? Okay so those are just two big questions that I’d like to start off with; this question of “what is the alien, what is it to be an alien,” and this question of code switching. So I don’t know if either of you want to pick up on that, or want to ask each other questions, or we can just start with that You want to go? I’ll try. To pick up on this question of code switching, it used to really bother me, and what I mean by “really used to bother me” is that, Mariam pointed out in her presentation, I’ve of one of those bodies that’s pretty much been in predominantly white institutions since I was in the seventh or eighth grade, right? And I had one of those — two of those grandmothers who always told me, “now don’t you go out there embarrass me in front of those people,” and so I didn’t want any of the quote unquote “ghettoisms,” “hoodisms,” any of that to ever rear its head. It wasn’t until I started doing medieval studies that I let that go, actually. Because I had interactions with Rickford out at Stanford and his linguistic projects on Ebonics. And as useful as that project was meant to be, it always left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and so when I started learning about the coming of the the Saxon,s and their great adventures, and going through, I started getting caught up in this language thing, and i discovered that my last name, Campbell, meant crooked mouth in in one of the Old Gaelic forms of Scottish right, I mean, it’s “crooked mouth” in that, and it means “beautiful field” in French I was like, “okay, so I guess in a sense I was writing my way out of the footnotes,” I was like, “okay, maybe there’s something here,” and when I came across that gnomic use of “be,” it just it allowed me to open my students up. I mean, a lot of their contemporary rap songs, Nellie’s from St. Louis, he in country grammar, he’s using the gnomic “be” all throughout it, right? “Gin tonic and chronic be my,” this and that and the other. I’ll be doing this, and so my students, this is a part of who they are! And I wanted to unleash that to them and allow them to make generative uses of that and studying the morphology and the changing of the of the language, particularly the Indo-European languages, as they went on, and they got kicks out of being able to get them to see how kneed was connected to genuflex, and things of this sort. And so to answer your question, Jonathan, I stop looking at it as a weakness and start looking at it as a power, and I intentionally do it in all the spaces that I am in now, or shall I say I don’t police myself or censor myself from code switching. I might be in the middle — I might be in the middle of a lecture and signify on some contemporary pop culture thing because I know my students know it, and it’ll give them an entry path into this very hard thing that we’re studying, the type of entry points that were denied to me and my kind when we were in their positions. So I hope that kind of answers the question I guess I’ll touch on this idea of being alien. When I just reflect on my own experiences during coursework, it was always interesting that I felt somewhat odd in a seminar with a lot of other white students, and in some ways that that feels like you’re in a footnote sometimes, because the work that you’re interested in working on doesn’t come up in discussion, or it’s relegated last

to talk about, maybe the last few minutes of seminar. And it wasn’t until I spoke to my Professor Sohn, he made me realize that one of the reasons why I probably feel odd in the class, feel like an alien in the class, is because I am the only BIPOC student. After that, it just made sense that to get out of that footnote in the seminar, you had to find your BIPOC friends who understood what it’s like to be in those seminars and stuff That’s great, and thank you, thank you for that At this point I’m just kind of looking at these questions here, we have a lot of really interesting questions that have come in here. Let me see if I can — let’s see — all right This is bridging to — this is a question from — let me just post this question here. All right. This is a question from Brandy Adams, and it’s actually directed to Marium, but I think both of our speakers can address this both these talks were uh absolutely wonderful um this question is directed for mariam um my question is for how do you think through the manipulation of print to express visual difference and how do you think about white writers printers and publishers endorsing the racialization of print so i guess we could start with mary and then see what trial has to say to you so if i understand a question correctly you’re asking the manipulation of the print of the text um as a racializing effort i think um i actually haven’t really thought about that as much um i do think a lot about the language being used the way it’s repeated sometimes and and how it gets recycled and used to continually perpetuate ideas and to racialize others um i know that you’re very into book history so i would probably say that i’m out of my field when i’m trying to think about the actual print itself um but i will say that you know it’s interesting to think about a text written in english and it has everything to do with other people and yet english is always that invisible but not invisible language that’s there trying to really just racialize everyone else yeah i hope that answers your question i’ll try to adjust i know it wasn’t directed to me but i’ll try to address a tangent of that question um the racialization of the publishing industry itself is problematic right and so hopefully um this quarantine and the advent of uh information technologies and platforms will continue to democratize that process a little bit but this is what everett hits on in erasure right um the categorization of black bodies as a result of over-determined understandings of blackness right i mean here he is writing on classical and pre-modern subjects the that is the the character in the novel here the the black novelist is black male novelist is writing on classical and pre-modern subject matter but no matter what within that that those fields he writes on they classify him under african-american studies right and so until we can until until the gatekeepers you know and it has to be some coming to jesus moment with them i suppose and so the gatekeepers just have a desire to widen the gates some you know it’s going to continue to be problematic i mean just the other day i’m in a forum dedicated to a medievalist and somebody asked me if i was a medievalist like what you think i’m just hanging out here because i don’t have anything better to do right and so um and so you know it is it is what it is one of my graduating institutions the people who granted me my certificate and degree in medieval studies were shocked that i was a medievalist like like come on now people right you know and so you know when it comes to the the the mechanic assemblage that is that is responsible for producing medievalist we have we have some

skewed lenses that we’re looking through that must be that must be rearranged right i mean we’re missing out on all types of of potential scholarships and a multiplicity of fields because doors are being shut down and interests of inquiry are being negated by the powers to be right while while anybody in their mother it seems is allowed to write their way into arthurian history or etherean legend or anything dealing with the fall of troy or anything dealing with you know going off to fight in troy you just write yourself a narrative just right in there i was descended from achilles let me write something right and it gets accepted right so i digress um all right um wow there’s a lot of really great questions here uh let’s see all right um uh i’ll just go to this uh a question um uh from um let’s see uh okay um i’ll just go to this question here from um delaney uh harrington i’ll summarize this um the question is essentially what is uh the effect of racializing or other diasporic languages where an individual doesn’t have a clear relationship with a homeland so for whatever reason so that is you’ve been historically displaced or because of transatlantic slavery or the homeless no longer exists politically or there’s languages that are not notated like asl are not notated in in ways that conform to alphabetic forms of writing okay um so that’s a broad uh uh a question uh here in terms of describing language as uh as uh in um uh uh languages that don’t have uh a hall uh do you have any thoughts on that question i’m not quite sure i understand the question but i’ll take a stab at it all right because i think um for better or worse perhaps ebonics fits into that um you know um record talks about this idea of implicit and explicit signification right um and to make a long story short written discourse because of its explicit nature gets gets to become the repository of cognitive thinking and all and all of those great things and and um implicit discourse which i’m guessing that some of these language systems might fall into um being more sympolic being more pictorial being ideographic um historically they’ve come down to us to not you know represent the pinnacle of uh cognitive thought but in reading record there’s an argument to be made for the value of any metaphorical utterance um um if you can particularly um particularly when it comes to like displaced and pictorial and ideographic type languages um um because the metaphorical or utterance can allow us to make uh analysis of the vehicle and the tenor i guess so so in an attempt to try to uh answer this question you know it comes back it comes back to the analysts and what they can read into the material and that may not give you very much solace right now i don’t know where you are in your studies but you know we’ve got to become a little bit more intrepid in how we see the world our world our world views how we intake sensorum and spit it back out so with regards to whatever it is that is concerning you that led to you asking this question i would ask you to flip it and ask yourself what am i not doing to help bring some sense of this to the surface because only you know the motivating factor of why you’re asking that question more intimately than any of us all right so i’m i’ll give i’m i’m done um that’s a great question delaney um you know i have a similar experience with tagalog even though it’s my primary language i still i still feel very almost disconnected um from it and so if i were to answer from my own personal experience you know when you’re not when you don’t feel connected to a language that gets denigrated or racialized um as uncivilized or just doesn’t sound pretty um

you know you get mixed feelings for me as someone who had to assimilate and fit in like ejr david i felt like i needed to distance myself from that and so there’s this pain and loss and continual loss that you in effect recreate because you’re trying to fit into this other dominant ideal um but then there comes a point when you are drawn to it and you don’t know what to do with it and so i guess you know when i go back to eng and han and the work that they’ve done it’s always that conflict and trying to negotiate that experience with language um so i would say it’s always that conflict there’s you can try to feel connected to it but then you also feel this draw that you can’t because you need to be able to do this other thing and there’s also this intergenerational kind of trauma that happens too because you know i want to make good on all the things that and sacrifices that my parents have made and so it’s like i have to continue to assimilate and hold that up because they’ve sacrificed so much and so i have to continue to distance myself from that language um but at the same time it’s one of the ways that i can kind of feel connected to them so there’s that that trauma and that conflict both personally socially and within your own family and if i can add just one last state here you know african-american literary tradition itself is the result of having no real language system and making generative use of that right so i guess i kind of take it um take it for granted that it can be done because you want to talk about being displaced from language systems and the trauma that come along with it and having to work in the dominant system that you are distanced from i mean yet we have tony morrison’s of the world right and so um that’s a lot of years of pain and and hard work but at the core of it the reason why i come back to it at the core of it was a desire to make generative uses of the products around us just like ham hocks and chitlins and snoops and pig feet you know the the these people that i am descended from found a way to make generative use of this language system that had been projected upon them while their own tongues had been cut out and and and we can celebrate the beauty and the aesthetic of it so so once again you know i hate to not have an answer answer you know it’s what is driving you with regards to this loss you know play play modernness for a second and search for it knowing that you will never probably find it but let it let it drive you you know yeah that’s great thank you very much i mean this leads to this question of double loss if you think about racial mongolia right especially with asian american uh cultural studies but also um black beastoric studies this idea that whiteness that you know is a seemingly unattainable idea right it it and as well as the concept of a return to an imagined homeland that we can never access right so being caught between those spaces right is the condition of double loss um i’m picking up on this discussion um amberend etta boy has a question here about thinking about models of decolonization so i’m just going to post the question here but the summary summarize the last bit of it uh she’s referring to chango here as a postcolonial writer who’s rejecting english so and we that is we who are pre-modern scholars were actually here talking in english right we do not so are there ways that we can challenge the colonizing impulse of english as medieval and early modern scholars i guess it’s a big question but it seems to be a deep one this particularly is particularly problematic for me because i have so much investing in following the english language right um years and years of trying to figure out how this thing works so i guess i never really i guess i i’ve i’ve spent so much time in what what dorothy has highlighted as the undercommons trying to figure out how to navigate the undercommons within you know this world of englishness that i’ve i’ve i’ve never really thought is there a possibility to let it go all right um

what you got mario because i’m stumped on that one it’s a great question ombarine of course as always i’m reading it in the question box um so are there ways we can challenge the colonizing impulse of english as medieval and early modern scholars um i mean the only thing that i’ve got that i can imagine is always providing some kind of counter narrative um in a way to challenge the centrality of english to introduce other writers to introduce what they’ve said but the problem that too is that you know those are translated works so if we don’t have the language skills we can’t translate them ourselves and i can’t imagine that even putting its original and his translation on a facing par on a powerpoint facing each other that that does any good either but maybe really talking about i mean if you really wanted to really think about it you understand the losses in that translation so if you’re familiar with that translation you could talk about what’s lost maybe pick up on a word have students research a particular word in both senses that they can and then talk about what is lost what is what is missing what can’t be expressed um i always think about this one example from the matavia alfredo did talks about like in his off um one of his characters the abuelo you know he speaks yaki and also spanish and english and there’s a point in that text where he’s explaining the very difference of each word and the sense of it because language does shape how we think and see the world and how he thinks in one language speaks in another but feels through another language and when i think about seeing that on a single page because i always tear that page out and i teach it to students too um is what do you notice about the loss here you know and how do we incorporate that into our own medieval and early modern scholarship um maybe something similar my best answer no i’m not i don’t know if this quite the question is so elevated i’ll tell you one of the projects that i do with with like when i was in high school as a high school teacher and what i kind of do with my freshman right and this is just an attempt to um to try to knock english off its pedestal as you know supreme with su pedestal of supremacy you know english is such an uh acquiring language right it just gobbles up terms and stuff from from other languages and and um particularly when it comes to medieval uh words to come out of the medieval era they generally are imported from somewhere else too so a lot of uh uh word history and um um i’m gonna mess this word up a lot of looking at the etymology of of words takes um takes place in our in our class especially when we are learning you know the differences between formal analysis and maybe african-american analysis and feminist analysis when we’re doing the formal part there’s a lot of let’s go to the oxford english dictionary on on things and they notice how many words that they take for granted you know and they’re using their everyday in their everyday uh uh uh parliaments comes from someplace else right um and so maybe maybe in that vein we can begin to knock that down but i’m waiting for y’all to come up with something to say what to do along those lines carol i’m also thinking and a marine’s question um what if we had students translate a single line from a text in their own native language and if they if english is their only language then they pick one and try to translate it and see just in the act of doing that where is the violence where is you know the loss um in many respects know that new version of beowulf is a rift on that right it’s like beowulf written but it’s written in bro speak right it would be nice if it was written in something else and it’s still english but it is it it required a translation of beowulf that took into account you know differences in feeling and so on and so forth that might be lost between the the chronology of the two translations you know so you might yeah yeah that might work that might work particularly

with the demographics the type of students that i come from i teach a lot of international students right um and so that might actually make reading something from the medieval period more exciting to them right um one of my colleagues named ron austin he has this book out called avery coat is a snake a thief and a liar right and it’s really uh it’s really a collection of short stories i would argue but he would kill me for saying that but anyway i bring it up because he has all of these these references to the medieval in there right and um and i made myself i i i selected the categories that my students would research after reading this text and i made one of the categories the medieval right and so they had to it was it was it was one of the more enjoyable experiences that they had because once they discovered what he was referencing in the text they went and researched that thing and and and made their sense of why he was bringing it up in the text and so you know maybe we’ll get a couple of medievalists out of it well i think we just have uh one last question and kind of combining something that’s coming from mro and from barbara is asking uh the question of what how do we actually think about the heterogeneous individual relationships to language in the classroom and mary rembrandt um is asking you know what can we as bypass lawyers do um more than just being bodies in the room you know what can we act what what we we do more than that uh to create new forms of solidarity so any version of answering those final questions mary might hate to keep dominating going first you want to go first my friend i’m processing um and so if i um could you repeat that jonathan sure so barbara’s asking about a strategy to navigate individual relationships with language in the classroom and the thing that i wanted to point to here is this is from mro okay so she’s asking um how do black and other non-black pocs scholars in white field um how shift when there’s so much resistance in the field uh what do we do that’s apart from just being bodies in the field and creating solidarity amongst each other um i to answer address the first question about how do we navigate um the individual relationship to the language when we have these heterogeneous bodies i think in our classrooms um i think um i think one of the things that i’ve benefited from is working in a number of writing centers across universities um across america um i’ve always tended to find myself working with whatever the uh international or different or other demographic of students were for example i’ve worked with a lot of southeast asian writers and in order to help them in their relationship with standard uh writing in the standard english format i had to learn how they wrote in their native ways of approaching composition right like like for example i learned that a lot of my my southeast asian writers they don’t at least what they share with me is they don’t think necessarily in linear fashions so this essay that we’re trying to get them the right that we usually present to them in some type of outline form that goes from one to two to three to four and you put your main argument and so on and so forth in many respects that wasn’t how they were used to receiving their their training about how they go about um creating composition so after after learning you know the ways that they uh were used to go about doing things i was able to translate that into what they needed from me to try to address what their professors were desiring from them in the standard written format and so um beyond yes we need to do things beyond merely being present but i don’t think we ever want to devalue just how valuable our presence in these areas are um because a lot of these students i end up

working with them because nobody else works with them for whatever reason right and if if if you’re not there to take out the time and figure out who they are as people and where they’re coming from forget their relationship the in the english language you’re not going to be able to help them with their relationship to anything but with uh particular uh respect to that question and what can we do um with regards to the resistance that we um find in the field other than just being i wanna i’m gonna think of not asking for permission anymore man i’m like if you wanna whatever you think you want to do that floats your medieval heart let’s do it right i’m like i’m tired of asking people for permission to do you think i can do this like that and don’t get me wrong i’m going to hold myself to the criteria of the the scholars in the field and what we’ve deduced as making sense but i’m not asking permission to do anything anymore so if i wake up tomorrow and i have an idea about this and i think that it rocks i’m sending shooting out emails to see if there’s anybody who wants to get down with it i hope that kind of answers the question um so to barbara’s question um thank you terrell for letting me process um i was trying to save you i was looking out for you man i was looking out for it thank you um so i guess there are two ways to answer your question um barbara as far as strategies go um when it comes to a shakespeare class for instance um you know in terms of thinking about language we take it step by step i show students often that the language is difficult it’s challenging we go through it together um but i also like to assign marcus gonzalez’s um essay on was it caliban never belonged to shakespeare and he talks about language and the relationship of the characters within the tempest so you know in a shakespeare class i would assign that and we’d talk about language in that way i’ve taught a lot of composition classes and that’s where i get more most often a lot of international students and bypoc students in general and from what i’ve noticed is that a lot of my international students tend to be very quiet and in those classes i approach this in very different ways by assigning texts that you know stories that address like a relationship to language and we talk about the issues and themes in that text when it comes to helping students feel comfortable with language i don’t want to force them to have to say anything aloud we do note cards where i ask them to write something down and i collect them and i will bring them up and i’ll share it unless they want to share it themselves because i think sometimes students might feel uncomfortable speaking out for the very reason that they don’t want to be ridiculed for their accent or anything and so i don’t force that upon them and so gathering you know assignments beforehand where you can create a discussion or take ideas and and you know um share what they’ve shared is one way i guess as a strategy for teaching in a classroom wow that was an amazing uh panel both in terms of the kind of theoretical historical work that you all were laying out but also some of the kind of practical advices um that we can use in our classroom i’m deeply appreciative to you terrell to you mariam and to you jonathan for moderating this panel so graciously um and thank you all in the audience we miss you so much um and uh we hope to not see you but be with you in some way tomorrow remember that our schedule has a slightly different time frame tomorrow we start at one o’clock mountain standard time and we have three speakers tomorrow thank you all again thank you terrell thank you mario thank you jonathan bye everybody you