hablo lo inglés matao
hablo lo español matao
no sé leer ninguno bien
so it is, spanglish to matao
what i digo
¡ay, virgen, yo no sé hablar!
–Tato Laviera, “my graduation speech”
When I applied for a job at Breakthrough Collaborative in Santa Fe, I thought teaching writing for a nonprofit would be a chance to do what I love and also do some good. After three years of majoring in English at Drake University, I had only completed work in my field of interest during the school year—tutoring college students in my university’s writing workshop and helping elementary and middle school students practice their English while I was in Spain. Perhaps as a consequence, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with an English degree. As I grew closer and closer to graduating, I became increasingly nervous about finding a purpose. It didn’t help that my major seemed to be the butt of every joke. In Spain, when I told a cab driver I was studying English, he said, “Ah,” as if he now understood that I was suffering from a grave predicament. He turned to me confidentially and said, “Estás estudiando tu propia lengua.” Listening to John Mulaney on Netflix, I heard something similar, as he cracked a series of jokes about obtaining a four-year degree “in a language I already spoke.” In the words of Princeton, a singing puppet down on his luck in Avenue Q, “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” I hoped teaching would be my answer, so I could finally have a sense of direction. Continue reading “My Graduation Speech by Abi Grimminger”
When Africans were violently brought over to America and forced under the institution of slavery, the separation from their heritage was far more than physical. Their traditional religions and practices were demonized and punished on a large scale, creating a compulsion to assimilate to the dominant culture and enforcing a more complete rupture from their various cultural pasts. The fictionalized autobiography The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, a manuscript written in the mid-nineteenth century which tells the story of a slave woman who runs away from her oppressors, deals with the tensions between the Western America and the traditional African cultures under the institution of slavery. Many scholars have noted the manuscript’s blatant appropriation of the urban gothic Bleak House by Charles Dickens in several passages, but the comparison between the Western gothic genre and Crafts’s novel goes deeper than simple copying. Crafts takes many characteristics of the Western gothic novel and incorporates them into her own work, contextualizing them in accordance to experience of slavery. In other words, she African-Americanizes them. Specifically, Crafts African-Americanizes the Western gothic literary tradition in her use of traditional folklore and oral narratives in the African-American communities under slavery. This appropriation illustrating the complicated relationship between the two cultures is furthered by Crafts’s character and persona, Hannah, through her own position within and without the African-American culture of folklore and oral narratives. Continue reading “Transformative Slave Gothic: Hannah Crafts’s African-Americanization of Gothic Literature by Nicole Margheim”
Meet Frank Abagnale Jr., the con artist who tricked the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can (2002, Dir. Steven Spielberg) follows Frank while he is still a teenager in the 1960s as he runs away from his divorcing parents, assuming different identities along the way. Through the application of rational choice crime theory, Frank’s actions can be understood as the reasonable conclusion of cost-benefit analysis.
Continue reading “Catching on to Catch Me If You Can by Madeline Miller”