Tuesday, 29 March 2016

American Border Control

Against Immigration: 

For Immigration:

I believe that one of the most controversial discussions about border control in recent news has been in relation to Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall along the southern border, paid by Mexico, in an attempt to fully prevent illegal immigration from the South.

The website argues that for years, "Mexico's leaders have been taking advantage of the [US] by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country". Focusing primarily on the cost of illegal immigrants to the American tax-payer, "in healthcare costs, housing costs, wlfare costs etc", as well as disadvantaging jobseekers, Trump promises that the costs of building the border wall is significantly less than the above costs, and therefore the right choice.

They also use shock tactics and emotive language to convey their message, focusing on the "horrific crimes" which Illegal Immigrants have committed against Americans, in particular rape and murder. In addition to this, there is a clear focus on how the influx of illegal immigrants has negatively impacted employment of Americans, especially Black and Hispanic teenagers from working class backgrounds.
In this way, the website pits America against Mexico, stating that they "will not be taken advantage of anymore".

Trump vows for the return of all criminal 'aliens' back to their home countries, detaining all 'aliens' until this return is complete, increasing punishment for expired visas, and ending 'birthright' citizenships for children of illegal immigrants in the United States. This is Trump's attempt to end any 'loopholes' in the immigration system, especially the 'catch-and-release' of illegal aliens, which currently occurring in America.

Trump's website uses argumentative, emotive language and statistics to back up his promise of using a border wall to limit entry of illegal immigrants from the south of the border. It can be argued that this is coming from a biased standpoint, as in being a political candidate, he is making these promises in the hopes of securing votes from the public, especially those affected by illegal immigration.


The pro-immigration website I am looking at lists the arguments for immigration into America, and in this way starkly contrasts Trump's website. The site categorises the arguments; pragmatic, philosophical, traditional, etc. according to the nature of the arguments.

The pragmatic benefits look at the economical side of things, stating that 'immigration economically benefits Americans', rather than the general 'false' belief that it reduces wages of American citizens. One possible issue with the website would be that it generalises quite alot, stating that "immigrants are law-abiding and upright citizens" who "come to work, not to claim welfare benefits", and despite being a positive outlook, this is arguably idealistic and perhaps naive to assume. Similarly, however, Trump's campaign in relation to immigration also generalises immigrants, marking them as murderers and thieves. This highlights how both sites use positive/negative generalisations to win over the reader.

The philosophical arguments look at the rights of those who want to become American citizens, highlighting the 'freedom of movement' as a fundamental human liberty. This contrasts to Trump's ideology, with the idea of a solid wall to prevent movement into America as a physical barrier to restrict this right.

One of the things I found particularly interesting about this article was the 'American exceptionalism argument' in which it states that "The United States of America is one of the few countries where an immigrant can become American." This stands in stark contrast to Trump's beliefs, his website suggesting that immigrants only serve to rob, rape and murder American citizens, rather than having the potential to become as successful as an American-born citizen.

Monday, 28 March 2016

US Border Issues


This pro immigration organization, FIRM (Fair Immigration Reform Movement) main commitment is for immigrant rights at local, state and federal level across the United States. Consisting of 30 organizations committed to immigrant rights from across the country, this website aims to both raise awareness of the issues faced by immigrants daily.

The main focus' of this organization is to: provide a path to citizenship for ALL members of the community, reunite ALL families and reduce immigration backlogs, provide opportunities for safe future migration and etc.. A large part of the organization's work is the focus on establishing a border policy that protects border communities, focusing primarily on the border between the USA and Mexico. 

Founded in early 2000, FIRM have created and hosted many projects and campaigns in order to raise awareness for immigration rights. Projects and campaigns such as: DREAM, which gave young immigrant adults the opportunity to temporarily be shielded from deportation and allow them to live and work legally in the U.S. by applying for "deferred action". 


This anti immigration organization, FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) is a non-profit organization which over 35 years experience and 250,000 members. Their main goal is to educate and increase public awareness of immigration issues, present solutions, hold our leaders accountable for answers, and ensure the public's voice is heard.

The belief of the organization is that "America has reached a point where perpetual growth cannot realistically continue within limited space". The website offers additional information regarding various immigration issues, such as, illegal immigration, legal immigration, national security, border security etc.. 

In comparing both websites, in how they address the issues, both websites and organizations address their opposing issues in formal ways, for example the pro website clearly lays out all the issues they hope to address and overcome for immigrants in the future. The anti website is similar as it likewise lays out the issues that immigration has causes to the united states and what they wish raise awareness towards.

I feel the anti website is very calm in terms of the message it is trying to portray as it does not post blame on any particular race or ethnic group, like many other websites, and likewise it uses paragraphs such as: "We understand that immigration policy involves sensitive and emotional issues, and we believe in respecting the basic human rights and the dignity of all involved. We also believe that immigration policies should not be based on favoritism toward, or discrimination against any person on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender or nationality."

The Mexican Border

American Border Control

This website is pro-border control and takes a very strong stance on the debate. There is few images or videos on this website and it is mostly text, it is more like a blog that posts regular articles and links. It appears that this website is made to provide information to people who are already fans and regular visitors to the site, as opposed to trying to attract new visitors and persuade them to agree with their point of view. American Border Control website opens up with a large headline that says "Mexico: Cartel Hell" in bright red letters, this invokes a feeling of danger and fear. Many of the articles are particularly biased in the topics they discuss and the emotive language they use to perpetuate the views of their readers, examples of this include "hyper-aggressive, paramilitary tactics" and "this ramshackle pueblo is the No. 1 drug distribution center". Many of the articles could be viewed as scare-mongering and they are also particularly vocal Donald Trump supporters. 

People Helping People in the Border Zone is an organization from the rural town of Arivaca in Arizona. It is part of the militarized Mexican American border. The organization strives to protect the rural town from an influx of immigrants however they also fight to protect the border through opening up the border in arduous and treacherous locations in order to deter people from trying to cross the border, in places such as the Sonaran Desert. They believe that militarizing the border will only have a negative impact on the rural villages and communities that will become involved in a border war. The language that is used on the website is much more objective and seem to put convey their opinion in a more reasonable way. The People Helping People in the Border Zone website also uses images and videos to show how their project works and attempts to motivate viewers to donate to their cause.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Education for American Women


I believe that the provision of education for American women has had a massive impact on the status of women in America today. This is significant in comparison to colonial America, as education for women was commonly in order to learn household chores and duties, to prepare them in their roles as wives.

One of the most significant factors in the road to education would be the idea of 'Republican motherhood', a 20th century term. Following the Revolutionary War, there were several changes in women's education, due to changing social patterns and the new Republic's citizenry expectations. Due to the themes of independence and self-reliance, the need for intelligent and virtuous citizens increased. This meant that the provision of education to women wasn't for their individual benefits, but rather to put them in the position to impact future generations. Several women at the time reaped the benefits of this opportunity, participating in the civic culture. However, any women who attempted a political career were ridiculed and discriminated against. Despite this, the Republican Motherhood was an important step for women, as it justified women's education and acted as a stepping stone in the road we continue on today, with several successful female figures, such as Emma Watson and Malala Yousafzai continuing to fight for women's right to education in 2016.

A second major factor in the foundations of female education would be the establishment of schools for women, The opening of The Young Ladies Academy in 1787 was pivotal in said establishment, and was followed by several other academies being opened in early 1800's, their mission being to offer women an education equal to the same high standards which men had received throughout history.  Despite facing problems, such as teachers being overworked and having to skim over some subjects when teaching, this was also an incredibly significant event which led to coed public schools, and eventually the status of female education in America today.

To conclude, I believe that both of these examples factor enormously in the history of education of women in America, and are pivotal in the road to equality which we still travel in 2016.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Women in the Workforce and The Quiet Revolution

Women in the Workforce and The Quiet Revolution

During the period of World War 2 and the depression (1930-1945), more and more women were pushed into the work force than ever before. Due to the increase in male soldiers needed for the war, women had to take over the work load. This allowed women who had never worked before to experience freedom and the opportunity to make their own living through wages and salary. This both improved working conditions for women, encouraged a high level of women's participation in labour and overcame some racial prejudices against non-white women workers. By the end of World War 2, more women were working than ever before.

Following the end of World War 2, and the return of male soldiers, many women enjoyed the work they had been doing and felt that the freedom they experienced and this new ability of earning a living for themselves was something they wanted to continue. Following this more and more women found themselves attending colleges and grad schools to get a better education in order to start their own career. In the 1970's, also known as the 'Quiet Revolution' even more women began attending colleges and grad schools, many of which began to expand into the fields of medicine, law, dentistry and business. As described by Claudia Goldin, "the 'Quiet Revolution' is called such because it was not a 'big bang' revolution; rather, it happened and is continuing to happen gradually."  

In conclusion, I feel that World War 2/The Depression era as well as the 'Quiet Revolution' have a great impact on the status of women today, specifically on women in the workplace. Through the war many women were able to get a taste of freedom and independence through working while the men were away at war, this continued on the create the 'Quiet Revolution' which inspired women to get better education and find their own careers in life, something which is highly continued today. 

Voting Rights and Birth Control

The Passing Of The 19th Amendment

The day that women won full voting rights is an obvious milestone in the fight for equality. August 26 1920 saw the 19th Amendment passed by over three quarters of congress. It marked the end of an eighty year fight to ensure that all women were given the same basic right as men and offered the opportunity to dictate how their country will be run. It was through the work of incredible women such as Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony that the 19th Amendment managed to find its way through congress. On particularly interesting fact is that many of the women who fought in the suffrage movement where of Quaker faith, for example both Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony. This explains some of the fundamental beliefs behind the movement, particularly the idea of political equality. This strongly links with the core values that lead to the initial settlement of the United States of America.

The Invention Of The Birth Control Pill

The invention of the birth control pill in 1957 and its subsequentapproval for release in 1960 was a major turning point in the empowerment of women. It came shortly after the baby boom where increasing numbers of women were being forced into a housewife lifestyle due to pregnancy. At the time female employment rates had dropped since World War 2 and many women were beginning to experience frustration at the societal restrictions that were being placed upon them. The ease of access to the pill allowed many women to be sexually active without fear of becoming trapped by an unplanned pregnancy. It is also important to recognise that this is a form of birth control that is solely controlled by the women therefore removing some of the power that men had over them.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Representation in Orange is the New Black

Popular Netflix show, ‘Orange is the New Black’ is often viewed as being progressive, in its radical portrayal of gender, races, and sexuality. Therefore, I believe that the show is a good example of contemporary African American representation, especially for black women, by presenting a variety of characters with different backgrounds and personalities.

The ideas of separatism and assimilation are continually represented in ‘Orange is the New Black’, as when the protagonist, Piper, is first introduced to the prison community, the divide between prisoners is clear, with cell blocks being segregated and named “The Ghetto”, “The Suburbs” etc. according to the races of prisoners in said blocks. Separatism between races is also clear during cafeteria scenes, in which there is a clear divide, with the black women sitting together at one table, the Hispanic women at another, etc. Furthermore, throughout the series, there are conflicts between said racial groups, which only emphasises the division of them. An example of this would be the introduction of Vee to the prison, a black woman who takes control of the ‘Black Girls’ clique, and manipulates others, especially Suzanne, getting her to attack others, and further separate the African American prisoners from others during the second season. This is not to say that the black women are being completely forced into this separate community, as on several occasions, we see members of the ‘Black Girls’ clique mocking white culture, such as Poussey and Taystee doing impersonations of privileged white females, and talking about “yoga workshops”, “wine-tasting classes”, and veganism, suggesting the division is mutual.

In terms of assimilation, it can be argued that some African American women in the show may be deemed separate from the ‘Black Girls’ clique, through their personalities and interactions with white women. One prime example of this would be Sophia, a black transgender female prisoner, who regularly styles the hair of other prisoners. Sophia isn’t associated with the ‘Black Girls’ clique, and is seen interacting with white prisoners, especially Piper, more than the likes of Suzanne and Taystee. In this way, it can be argued that Sophia’s character helps to lessen the separatism between races in ‘Orange is the New Black’, although not completely.

Another interesting aspect to this representation of African American women in the show would be in considering the aspects of the characters, which are separate from their race, and how this contributes to the idea of the separatism between themselves and other characters. For example, Sophia’s transgender nature is always controversial, but is brought to the forefront in season 3, and the transphobia which Sophia continually faces only acts to further her status as a minority in this community, leading to her being attacked by a number of inmates, and facing literal separation by being thrown in SHU, to “protect” her. In a similar way, Suzanne is introduced to the show as a lesbian who almost stalks Piper, making her seem intimidating, but also a comical character in the way she acts, being nicknamed ‘Crazy Eyes’. Later, when it becomes clear that Suzanne has a mental illness, this also seems to further her separation, not only from white and Hispanic prisoners, but even the ‘Black Girls’ clique, as they don’t seem to understand or sympathise with her, especially after she is manipulated by Vee. There are countless other examples, such as Cindy converting to Judaism, and Poussey’s sexuality.

Therefore, I believe that the racial separatism within the prison is clear throughout the series ‘Orange is the New Black’, and is only furthered by other forms of separatism, caused by issues of identity, mental health, religion, sexuality etc. 
The Two key dates in U.S. history that really stood out to me as empowering for American women, and in many cases women abroad as a result were...

1776–1807: New Jersey grants women the vote in its state constitution. - A date that really surprised with its early recognition of women's rights. An incredibly outlandish move for that time period, it is way before the date that I personally assumed, baring in mind initial UK impressions of suffrage is very much the late 19th turn of the 20th century. 
A key moment because it paves the way for the women's rights movement galvanising other women around the U.S. and giving them hope.

April 2, 1917: Jeannette Rankin of Montana is formally seated in the U.S. House of Representatives as the first woman elected to Congress. - I picked this as a key date because it is arguably one of, if not the most, senior position ever taken by a woman in the U.S. based on individual achievement. Even though today the pursuit of equal gender rights is by no means a forgotten subject, the 20th. Century was in many respects a century for women in the way that the female image and lifestyle develops so rapidly, and it is all down to showing that if a woman can be in congress how can she not do other things? 

Overall, the significance of these two dates shows the the start of a 150 year journey that caused the rights that women so truly deserve to eventually be delivered, and the date in which a female in congress can start to change institutionalised sexism in the U.S. Political system.

Alright - Kendrick Lamar

The song 'Alright' by Kendrick Lamar was released as part of his Grammy winning, third studio album, To Pimp A Butterfly, on March 15th 2015. The album itself is critically acclaimed for its powerful political and social message and themes which run throughout the record. It touches on major topics ranging from gang violence, mass incarceration and institutionalised racism. This honest expression of many issues faced by African Americans is incredibly powerful and many have talked about the "Overwhelming Blackness" of the album. Kendrick Lamar uses musical aspects, as well as lyrical, to present the black culture, for example his use of blues and jazz influences. The record was released during a period where there was a major focus on police brutality and the treatment of African Americans, as well as the rapid uprising of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

'Alright' is seen as an anthem to black resilience and is used by activists. One example took place at Cleveland State University where people protesting police harassment began to chant "we gon' be alright", the chorus of the song. The rest of the lyrics of the song focus on themes of exploitation ("I recognise you're only looking at me for the pay cut") police brutality ("We hate Po-Po, wanna' kill us dead in the street fo' sho'") and temptations and desperation to make money when coming from a poor background ("I can see the evil, I can tell it, I know it's illegal I don't think about it, I deposit every other zero"). This song stands out in particular as it looks at these issues but continues to carry a hopeful message throughout and leads to the idea of one day reach a place where everyone will be "alright", perpetuating the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.

The official video was released on June 30th 2015 and created a lot of controversy due to the message it conveyed and the imagery it contained. The video opens with shots of Compton, an incredibly poor area of LA that is a primarily African American population, it continues to show a group of black men smashing a car and drinking alcohol in the street, before a young black man is arrested and shot when he tries to run away. The video then cuts to a scene where Kendrick Lamar is in a car which is being carried on the shoulders of four white police officers. The video continues to show Kendrick Lamar floating above the people and streets of Compton, perhaps suggesting that he has 'escaped the hood' through his success. Due to this and the repeated use of money and gang imagery in the video it could be seen suggesting that music, gangs and money, in particular are the only ways in which African Americans can gain success in modern day America. The video ends with a white police officer shooting Kendrick Lamar down from the lamppost he was standing on and smirking after he does it, this could be seen as suggesting that no matter high up he gets, Kendrick Lamar and African Americans are still in danger. After he hits the ground, presumably dead, Kendrick Lamar smiles at the camera, telling the viewer he is still alright.

The song was also used in an advert to promote the Grammy's, where Kendrick Lamar was nominated 11 times. In the promotional video we see black men and women of all ages, speaking the lyrics of the song on the streets of Compton, this also conveys the idea that the purpose of the song is to uplift and inspire a sense of hope in African American communities.

One of the most controversial scenes in the music video shows a group of dancers standing on an abandoned police car. This is an idea that Kendrick Lamar had already presented the day before the release of the music video at the BET Awards, where he performed the song while standing on top of a vandalised police car, while dancers both on the stage and in the crowd invoked imagery of the Los Angeles and Baltimore Riots. This performance was particularly controversial, one example of this is the reaction of presenters on Fox News who stated that Kendrick Lamar and hip hop in general “has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism” and also argued that his performances was intended to incite violence against the police. These views could be seen as oppressing free speech and trying to put the cause of African American struggles as a fault of their culture and perhaps could be seen as evidence of institutionalised racism.

In conclusion the song 'Alright' calls upon many of the issues faced by African Americans, with particular emphasis on racism and the victimisation of black people by the authorities that are supposed to protect them. However the song is a key example of African American culture, with its blues and jazz influences on hip hop and through its themes and lyrical expression. In addition to this also invokes a positive and overall hopeful feeling from its listeners, providing the idea that African Americans and black culture are strong enough to overcome these issues and everything will be alright. 

African American representation in Boyz n the Hood (1991)

I chose to focus on an example from the film Boyz n the Hood (1991) by John Singleton, a film revolving around a black community in South Central Los Angeles. I chose the scene in which the character of Furious (Laurence Fishburne) explains the term ‘Gentrification’ to some members of the community.

This clip can be related to the representation of contemporary African American identity as Furious explains some of the troubles which black Americans face. Firstly he describes what is meant by gentrification and how it could mean that their neighbourhood could be bought and the black Americans living there will be told to move out. Furious’ solution to stop this from happening is to ‘keep everything in the neighbourhood black,’ thus suggesting that nobody will buy their neighbourhood if everything is black owned, perhaps due to racism or fear of African Americans which grew strong during the end of the 20th Century, due to the rise of ‘hoods’, which is also referenced within this clip by the quote, “its these folk, shooting each other and selling that crack.”

Other troubles for African Americans are explained within Furious’ speech such as the fact that ‘every time you turn on the tv, that’s what you see black people, selling drugs,’ and how it isn’t a problem when they turn up at wall street where they are hardly any black people. Also the reference to brutalities towards young black adults, who are ‘dying on the streets every night.’

Without actually mentioning white people, Furious referenced towards white people are being the villains in this situation with the repetition of ‘they’ and referencing to Iowa, Beverly Hills and Wall Street, in which 92% of the population of Iowa is white with only 3.4% African American.  

In terms of assimilation and separatism, I feel this clip relates more to separatism as it doesn’t appear as though the characters are very favourable towards white America or in favour of joining their community. Firstly I think this through the quote of ‘keeping everything in the neighbourhood black’ as well as the focus on white people being the villains in this story. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Three Brothers

On location of Resettlement Administration film near Bakersfield, California. Three brothers, drought refugees from Texas (note water barrel)

This is a photo taken in November 1935 by Dorothea Lange at a Resettlement Administration centre in California. The photo depicts three young boys who have migrated, with their family, from Texas. They appear to be sitting in a truck where all of their possessions are covered by a blanket. They also have a barrel of water, which conveys the idea of some of the difficulties faced by migrating families, for example the rarity of clean water, this is something that is made even harder in a hot and often drought stricken state such as a California. 

Knowing that the location the family have migrated from is in Texas, we could assume that they were fleeing the Dust Bowl and therefore clean water would’ve been seen as an incredible luxury. From the pickup truck that the family is driving it would be reasonable to assume that the family used to be farmers and therefore would be the most affected by the Depression and the Dust Bowl.

The fact that the photo shows three very young boys could be seen as showing them as "Perfect Victims" (a term coined by Lawrence Levine). This photo creates a sympathetic feeling from its audience. It gives the viewer a sense of the vast scale of the people affected by the Depression. As poverty was not new to the United States of America. It was seen as necessary to shock people by showing images of innocent children being affected by the catastrophe.

"Texas tenant farmer in Marysville, California" by Dorothea Lange

This photograph by Dorothea Lange, from 1935, depicts a family; a mother, father, three young children and a baby. The first thing which caught my eye in this photograph was the presence of a full family, as the majority of images which we looked at during the lecture showed single parents with children, or children as the only subjects. By showing a family with two parents, the viewer can identify the different gender roles at play in the picture, with the mother holding the infant child, a feminine image, and the father sitting, a more relaxed position, interacting with his toddler son.
A second aspect of the photograph which piqued my interest was the caption:

"Texas tenant farmer in Marysville, California, migrant camp during the peach season. 1927 made seven thousand dollars in cotton. 1928 broke even. 1929 went in the hole. 1930 still deeper. 1931 lost everything. 1932 hit the road. 1935, fruit tramp in California"

This is an incredibly interesting caption, compared to most which simply described the subjects and date of the photograph. Here, however, we learn about the past 7 years of this family's life, going from a successful cotton farm business, to losing everything as a result of the Depression, and having to start over. 

This can be linked with the idea of the 'American Dream', as it suggests that even if the Dream of wealth and success is fulfilled, even on a smaller scale, like breaking even on your family's cotton farm, this doesn't guarantee wealth and success for the rest of your life. The Depression affected everyone, more so farms, and this photo's caption encapsulates how the economic downfall completely ruined this Texan family's lives, and business, forcing them to complete relocate and restart. 

In addition to this caption evoking sympathy for the family, the children present serve to further this emotive tactic, guiding the viewer towards a sympathetic viewpoint of the family. As learned in the lecture, the parent's of the children in the photographs often put their children's appearance first, ensuring the children were hygienic and well dressed, before tending to themselves. This may be suggested in that the children in this photograph have clean faces, compared to their father's unshaven face. Despite this, the poverty of the situation is echoed in the lack of shoes on the children's feet.

To conclude, I believe that this photograph significantly depicts how the Depression greatly affected farming families at the time, and how poverty-stricken they remained years later. 

Monday, 7 March 2016

Depression Era Photography

Drought refugees from Oklahoma looking for work in the pea fields of California. Near San Jose Mission. 1935. By Dorothea Lange

This image particularly caught my eye as it portrays what is viewed by Lawrence Levine as the "Perfect Victims". In this image the perfect victims; the children are used in an emotive way to make the viewer feel sympathetic towards the victims. Also the fact that no men are pictured within the photograph suggests that the men are out looking for work, while the women look after the children, thus enforcing the idea of gender roles in the 20th century. 

Also in the image we can see that they have a lot of luggage and what can be described as all their belongings in the back of their car, this along with the caption suggests that they have left their home or have possibly been removed from their home by authorities. 

In the picture we can see that the individuals are quite clean showing that they perhaps look after themselves and ensure to keep themselves looking clean, especially the children to give almost a sense of normality. The cleanliness of the people is contrasted to their car and belongings. 

This can be related to the American Dream as the image has been taken in California, a very western state, suggesting that the movement westward in hopes for the American Dream did not work out. Thus portraying it as a failure in obtaining their American Dream. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Technology And Consumer Culture In The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

One of the key themes in the novel The Great Gatsby, is the idea of technology and consumer culture. It is something that is crucial to the storyline, technology in particular plays an important part in the story line of The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is infamous for his large parties which are made possible due to the huge technological advancements at the time in which the novel was set, for example the advancements of radio and automobiles. Cars played an important part in the way in which the story unfolds. The Great Gatsby also explores the ideas of consumer culture as the novel very gratuitously glamourizes wealth and material goods, particularly Gatsby who often shows off his lavish lifestyle and wealth, one example of this is clear in the way he throws the shirts on the bed, showing them off to Daisy. We could also look at the way she enjoys seeing the shirts, as showing how impressed she is by his possessions and therefore shows the importance of material wealth at the time.

These ideas of the importance of technology and the power of consumer culture are still vital aspects of modern day society. No place demonstrates this as much as Silicon Valley, a mecca for digital programmers and technology start-ups. It is the home of huge tech companies such as Apple and Google. These companies feed the modern day consumer culture through their increasingly regular product releases, pushing newer and more advanced technology as the primary selling points behind their new devices.

Women and Liberty

Among the several themes presented in the Great Gatsby, gender is a key aspect in relation to the progression of plot; with Daisy as the reward for Gatsby to continually work and long for, and Myrtle as the source of conflict both before, and after, her death. Despite their influential presence in the novel, the female characters of the Great Gatsby are continually labelled as submissive and passive when compared to the likes of Gatsby, Tom, and Nick.
Daisy plays the key female role in the novel, introduced as Nick’s cousin, Tom’s wife, and eventually the love interest of Gatsby. Daisy is arguably the epitome of the trophy wife stereotype during the early 20th century, shown as captivating, demure, and incomparably beautiful. She is seen as an object, a prize which Tom has, and Gatsby wants. This is where the idea of liberty and freedom come into play; Daisy’s words are often hollow and dismissed by the other characters, signifying her lack of liberty as a person. This is further emphasised by Daisy’s failure to leave Tom for Gatsby and compliance in Gatsby taking the blame for Myrtle’s death. Daisy’s lack of liberty, however, means that she is safe by the end of the novel, contrasting to ‘free’ characters, like Gatsby and Myrtle, who didn’t survive.
In relation to more independent female characters, readers often suggest Jordan as a contrast to the likes of Daisy and Myrtle, in that she resists certain social norms. This is shown in her almost androgynous appearance, her lack of a husband despite being around the same age as Daisy, and her success as a sports star, a generally patriarchal vocation. The idea of liberty and freedom may also be applied to Jordan, as her engagement by the end of the novel may signal her conformity to the likes of marriage, and beginning as a wife and possible mother.
Myrtle, on the other hand, can be seen as a female character who isn’t entirely oppressed, nor is she entirely free. Presented as a powerful, seductive woman, Myrtle is clearly in control in her marriage with Wilson, a sickly, submissive man. Therefore, there is a sense of liberty in Myrtle’s confidence, and audacity to have an affair with Tom, a married man. It can, however, be argued that the Great Gatsby warns against a liberal attitude like Myrtle’s, with her death being a stark warning to the fate of adulterers. With this in mind, there’s clear irony in the fact that despite his part in the affair, the novel ends with Tom alive, well, and still married to Daisy, suggesting that only female infidelity is punished, in the end.
To conclude, within The Great Gatsby, there is a clear connection between the female characters, their freedom, and how this impacts their fate in the plot.

Recent Example:
In relation to the idea of Daisy being restricted and submissive, as an unemployed trophy wife, contrasting Jordan as an independent, successful sports personality, I believe that a relevant argument would be that of modern women choosing between a career, or a family. The two videos below explore this topic.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Prosperity and Money

Prosperity and Money in The Great Gatsby 

Within The Great Gatsby there is great emphasis placed on the themes of prosperity and money. Throughout the novel it is clear to see that the American Dream for most Americans during the 1920's was the idea of prosperity and wealth, this dream is portrayed primarily through the protagonist Jay Gatsby. Gatsby's back-story (which is explained in chapter 6) shows him as a struggling man with little income, from dropping out of college, to working on a yacht as Mr.Cody's assistant, it is also explained how he fell in love with the luxuries and wealth after sailing through the West Indies. 

From this the novel shows Gatsby now as a wealthy businessman, showing his success through the luxuries he now possesses. Gatsby lives in West Egg, which is described in the novel as the home of 'new money' whereas East Egg is home to those of 'old money'. New money refers to people like Gatsby who have become newly rich, for example earning an inheritance or working for their earnings. People of new money are also shown as spending their wealth in careless ways, this can also be seen through Gatsby, for example his party in chapter 3 which is described as being very over the top with an orchestra, expensive buffet food and drink and paid staff to cater for the guests. Also Gatsby's material possessions such as his Rolls Royce car and marble swimming pool can also show the careless spending. 

On the other hand, people from old money are more selfish and careful with their money having come from wealthy families, an example of this is Daisy and Tom Buchanan. Within the Great Gatsby, wealth and prosperity is a major theme which runs throughout the novel and defines the type of person each character is. It is also interesting to see that the lower classes are not referred to, with the exception of Myrtle and her husband, who both die in the end of the novel, along with Gatsby, who was born into the lower class. This could perhaps be to symbolises the power of wealth, as Daisy not only get away with murder but is able to leave East Egg with Tom without any concerns, this ending for these characters could also perhaps be to symbolise the death of the American Dream.  

Recent Example- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

For a recent example of Prosperity and Wealth having a great effect on the American culture, I chose a video portraying the Wealth Inequality in America. This video from 2012, shows the inequality of wealth within America, I though this was a good example as it shows how difficult it is to be considered 'wealthy' nowadays and how uneven the distribution of wealth between social classes is. This video also shows how difficult it would have been for Gatsby trying to gain his wealth if he lived in today's world both due to the recession and the competitive labour market.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Closing Scene

This scene is the final scene from the film, The Searchers. The scene opens showing the central protagonists riding across the large expansive Western American desert. This gives viewers the idea that the frontier was incredibly open free space, which is an ideology that was also conveyed at the time in which this film was set. It offers the idea of the vast size of the American west, and is a stereotype of the Western genre.

This scene shows Ethan and Marty returning to the village after rescuing Debbie. Debbie is shown in the traditional role of the damsel in distress as she is lifted off of the horse by Ethan and escorted in to the house by the family.

The most interesting aspect of this scene, is the way it ends with Ethan stood in the doorway of the house. Throughout the film Ethan is presented as the 'loner' which is also a convention of the Western genre, and this idea is continued in the way in which this film ends, with him rejecting the opportunity to join a family, instead turning back to his old drifter ways and continue to ride through the desert. The fact this scene is shot through a doorway with the door closing behind him, could also be seen as giving the idea of 'as one door closes, another one opens', which also offers the audience the idea that Ethan is moving on to other opportunities.

Monday, 22 February 2016

The Searchers scene analysis


Ethan returns to the family homestead. 

This scene opens with shots of the characters riding horses with the landscape in full view, I believe this is shown to represent the availability of land in the American west, this relates to the myth that the frontier/American west was the edge of the settled country where unlimited free land was available to everyone. 

This scene also portrays the native Americans as murderous and dangerous predators as they set the family home on fire, killing those who are inside also it is hinted toward the possibility that the Indians has raped Martha shown through Ethan picking up the dress before finding her body. As we are watching the film from the perspective of the settlers we view the native Americans as the villains of this story, which is a common theme in westerns and in old literature

I believe this scene reinforces the myth of the American west by showing the Native Americans in such negative light and through the myth of the wild west which can be shown through the character of Ethan as he is shown as a stereotypical cowboy, for example his clothing and violent nature (when he punches the other character). 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Cherokee Tribe

The Cherokee Tribe are a group of Native American people who were settled in the south east of the United States of America, in an area which would become North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee among other states. Through their oral history it is known that they migrated from the Great Lakes area, far north of where they eventually settled. They were recognised as incredibly advanced, both socially and culturally by the English settlers, and were open to adopting their cultures and technologies.

This is before they were forced to move to Oklahoma by English settlers. The Cherokee Tribe didn't want to leave their homeland and appealed to the Supreme Court to prevent them from being forcibly moved. Despite the Supreme Court allowing them to stay, this decision was overturned by President Andrew Jackson, who had them driven out by the American army. The Cherokee Tribe's journey to Oklahoma was long and arduous and thousands of Native Americans died, this lead to the path being known as The Trail of Tears.

After their resettlement the tribe continued to be well known for their advanced culture and school system. In 1844 the Cherokee Advocate was started and was the first newspaper in Indian Territory, it was printed in both Cherokee and English.

The Cherokee Tribe was one of the first non-European ethnic groups to become recognised as US citizens. Based on statistics gathered during the 2010 Census there are 314,000 members of the Cherokee Nation and over 819,000 people who claim to be of Cherokee heritage. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Blackfoot Tribe

I chose to look at the the Blackfoot tribe, due to the link between the tribe and Charles M. Russell, from my last blog post.

The Blackfoot tribe is a group of northern Great Plains Native Americans, made up of three sub-tribes; the Siksika, the Kainah, and the Piegan. They migrated from the Great Lakes region, to the Northern Great Plains, living in Montana and Idaho, as well as Alberta, Canada. Eventually, they dispersed, becoming four independent tribes, with their own governments.

The Blackfoot Indians were skilled huntsmen, primarily hunting buffalo, using them for food, shelter, clothing & equipment. However, when the white men began hunting buffalo in the 1800's, the Blackfoot, and several other tribes suffered. With their food source depleting, as well as the diseases e.g. small pox and measles, brought by the settlers caused the Blackfoot population to decrease from 20,000 to 5,000. Being mainly huntsmen, the tribe had no interest in arts or agriculture.

The Blackfoot population was known for being difficult to get along with. They fought with those living in close proximity to them including the Assiniboine, Cree, Crows, Flatheads, Kutenai, and the Sioux. Their aggressive nature also meant that before the 19th century, the Blackfeet were known as one of the strongest military powers in the Great Plains, fighting against explorers and settlers who entered their territory, until 1806.

The Blackfoot people have several religious beliefs, as well as superstitions. For example, they believe in underwater people called "Suyitapis", therefore the tribe actively avoided hunting/eating fish, and using canoes. The tribes would also congregate to celebrate "The Sun Dance", due to their religious beliefs, bringing the three tribes together for this festival.

Today, many of the Blackfoot live on reserves in Canada, and about 8,500 people living on the Montana reservation, and approximately 25,000 members in total. The Blackfoot tribe remain battling with unemployment, and alcoholism, Despite this, they continually advance in education, while continuing many cultural traditions of the past and passing on their ancestors' traditions to their children, such as the Sun Dance (which was illegal from 1890s-1934).

Video on the Blackfoot Tribe

Apalachee Tribe


The Apalachee were a native tribe which inhabited the area in North-western Florida. The tribe was first discovered 1528 by Spanish explorers. In the mid 1600's the population was estimated to be 6,000 - 8,000 people. The Apalachee had a trade network that reached north to the Great Lakes, not only did the Apalachee excel in trade and agriculture but they were also noted warriors. 

By 1600 the Apalachee were missionized by Spanish Franciscans, they occupied eight villages until early into the 18th Century, when Creek tribes from the north where sent by the British to raid the Apalachee settlement. The attacks began in 1703 when an army of Englishmen and Creek warriors defeated the combined Spanish and Apalachee. The tribe was almost entirely destroyed, save for around 1,400 Apalachee who were removed to Carolina where some merged with the Creek. The remaining sought out protection from the French in Mississippi and Lousianna. 

Today most of the Apalachee live in Lousianna. The tribal office is also situated in Lousianna and serves approximately 300 members. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Rocky Mountains - Albert Bierstadt

I have chosen this painting by Albert Bierstadt, it is titled The Rocky Mountains and was painted in 1866. It encapsulates a lot of the key aspects and themes that were associated with art of that period. It depicts Western America as a place which is particularly beautiful and spectacular.

This image strongly conveys an idea of the sublime. Through the way that the forest in the foreground is shown as particularly wild and destructive, as indicated by the fallen trees. However the main aspect of the sublime is shown through the scale of the mountains how they seem to go on forever. The way in which the top of the mountain disappears into the cloud is especially effective in conveying the size of these mountains as shows them as being particularly sublime, the turbulent sky is also very effective at continuing the idea of the sublime in this painting. The use of mist also gives the landscape an aspect of wilderness and mystery as the viewer is unsure as to what the mist could by hiding. The inclusion of the deer in the painting's foreground as links the landscape to nature and ideas of the wilderness, although they also help to convey the grand size of the mountains that dominate the painting.

Charles M. Russell – A Desperate Stand (1898)

Charles Marion Russell was an artist of the Old American West, creating over 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and the landscapes of the West. Though being known for several paintings depicting cowboys, hence his nickname as "the cowboy artist", in reality Russell's depictions of Native Americans outweigh those of cowboys by a ratio of three to one.
Joan Troccoli explored the context and detail of Russell's work during an exhibition, noting in depth Russell's sympathy for the indigenous people, stating that they were "Russell's ideal, their human failings all but cancelled out by their tragic fate", almost suggesting that the conflict initiated by the people was justified, as they fought to take back their own land. Russell aligned himself with the American Indians, creating a physical resemblance to the people in his clothing, and even taking the "Indian" name, 'Ah-wah-cous' (Antelope) for himself. It is interesting to note how eagerly Russell sided with the American Indians, considering the era, as well as his focus on Native women, as well as warriors, revealing his admiration for the independence and courage of Indian women. It is this unique subject matter and style which makes Russell such a distinctive artist at the time of the "Wild West" trend.
When exploring Russell's work, Troccoli made a point of noting how the artist depicts Native Indians as "dignified, complex human beings who held the only truly authentic claim to the West", as well as actively protesting the "injustice and public indifference that attended their removal from ancetral lands." I believe that this is emphasised greatly in the painting which I have chosen.
Among Russell's multitude of work, his painting 'A Desperate Stand' (1898), caught my eye immediately, with it being the depiction of a battle scene between settlers and Indians.
This painting is captioned:
"The discovery of gold in southwestern Montana in 1862 brought a flood of prospectors to the region. Unfortunately, it also brought numerous conflicts with the indigenous native people who lived and roamed there. By the summer of 1864...groups of prospectors were being attacked by hostile Indians.
Here, Russell depicted one of those battles, between a group of men...and a band of hostile Blackfeet...A Blackfoot lies dead in the left foreground...Russell created a tight central composition...A man in the very centre of Russell's painting aims his rifle...directly at the viewer - placing the viewer, as Russell often did, on the side of the Indians."
What immediately caught my eye when I first saw the painting, as intended, was the dead Indian in the foreground, a shocking, emotive subject. This, alongside Russell having the opposition seemingly aim his rifle at the viewer of the painting, almost ensures that people will sympathise with the American Indians.
Possible symbolic meanings behind the painting are numerous. Firstly, the fact that the group of men are using the bodies of the fallen horses as barracks almost implies how the settlers would do anything to protect and serve themselves, the use of the dead horses similar to the death of numerous American Indians as a result of "protection" of settlers. Another symbolic aspect of the painting would be the Indians in the background of the art, clearly signifying that they outnumber the settlers, in horses and possibly manpower. This could signify how Indians initially outweighed settlers in Early America, yet this soon changed due to settlement and a clear gap in weapons, with new Americans having guns. Whether the above symbolic meanings were intended or not is unclear, but given Russell's sympathy for the American Indians, it wouldn't be surprising if they were intended.
Context is also key when analysing this painting, especially as this painting was created almost twenty years after the actual battle took place. This indicates that the events portrayed may not be entirely historically accurate, as well as being clearly sympathetic towards the American Indians in its message. Regardless, the painting, and several others by Russell, differ significantly from fellow 19th century Western artists, especially as said artists often actually lived in the East, whereas Russell lived so close to where the pictured battle actually took place.
In conclusion, I believe that this painting embodies the American West well, especially in relation to the struggle between settlers and the indigenous people.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Emanuel Leutze

Westward by Emanuel Leutze

This painting by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze, painted in 1860, celebrates the idea of Manifest Destiny at the time when Civil War threatened the republic.

The painting itself presents the image of settlers moving westwards, within the image we can see a different settler groups, the majority being families, as seen by the father and children atop of the rock in the centre of the photograph. This painting creates a damaging image as we can see a few settlers in the left hand corner chopping down trees along their way, creating much controversy as they are destroying nature as well as land which is not theirs.

The idea that the West holds a bright future for the settlers can be seen through the sunlight which appears on the left hand side of the painting.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Little House On The Prairie Presentation Notes

Little House On The Prairie Presentation

Chapter 18, The Tall Indian

Focus: attitudes to American Indians

- Chapter opens with Indians riding down the path next to the house
- Laura gives very detailed description of them
- "They saw red-brown skin against the blue sky"
- "Scalpolks wound with coloured string and feathers quivering"
- Seems to show the childlike wonder through which Laura and Mary see the Indians
- "The Indian's faces were like the red-brown wood that pa had carved to make a bracket for Ma"
- Objectification?
- Pa says "I wouldn't have built the the house so close to it if I'd known it was a highway"
- Shows acceptance towards the Indians
- Opposes Jack and Ma who hated the Indians
- "I declare Indians are getting so thick around here"
- Opinions continue
- When the tall Indian arrives and has dinner Pa protects him from Jack
- The two are silent but there is an understanding between them
- Pa is very open to sharing food and tobacco with the Indian
- Laura and Mary are fascinated by him
- "They couldn't take their eyes from that Indian"
- Also shown by the way they run to the window to watch him as he leaves
- Ma believes the Indians should stay away from them
- "Let the Indians keep themselves to themselves"
- Pa defends them
- "That Indian was perfectly friendly"
- Pa also shown as accepting and respectful when he keeps Jack chained up
- "Well it's his path. An Indian trail, long before we came"
- Indians come in to the house while Pa is hunting
- Take their food and tobacco, want to take furs
- "Killings, burnings, beatings, horse thefts and grave robberies – committed by white settlers, such as Charles Ingalls, against Osages living in villages not more than a mile or two away from the Ingalls’ little house"
Dennis McAuliffe Jr, Little House on the Osage Prairie
- Shown as rude and as thieves
- "Dirty and scowling and mean"
- Shown as intimidating
- "Ma held baby Carrie in her arms, and Mary and Laura stood close to her"
- Don't take furs in the end
- Chapter ends with Pa telling Laura that the Indians will be made to go west by the government
- "When white settlers come into a country the Indians have to move west"
- "White people are gonna settle all this country"
- Represents the attitude at that time - "manifest destiny"
- Laura asks "I thought this was Indian territory won't it make the Indians mad to-"
- Pa interrupts "no more questions"
- Shows how he doesn't want to think about the Indians and the effect their settlement will have on them

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Attitudes towards American Indians

During my presentation I hope to explore the Attitudes towards American Indians during Chapter 11 of “Little House in the Prairie”, entitled “Indians in the House”.
Throughout this children’s book, American Indians are portrayed in less than positive light, with characters revealing their personal attitudes toward Natives, such as Mrs Scott declaring that “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”, and that “they’d never do anything with this country themselves. All they do is roam around it like wild animals”. These views are clearly disrespectful and offensive, especially for a children’s book, which is why Wilder has often been criticized over what has been omitted and what has remained in the novel, by the likes of Laura June who explored the “casual racism” in the plot.
In relation to Chapter 11, we are told that two American Indians enter the household, while Pa is out. Nothing about the description of the Indians is positive, as Laura informs us of their skunk smell, and the girls’ immediate reaction to the men is negative, “Indians!” Mary whispered. Laura was shivery; there was a queer feeling in her middle and the bones in her legs felt weak.” This, however, can be considered a normal reaction, as Laura tells us that from prior knowledge, “she knew they were wild men with red skins”. In this, we can see how the attitudes of her parents towards the Natives have been passed down to Laura and her siblings.
A significant part of this chapter is the fear of Ma’s character as she had to protect her family, due to Pa’s absence, from the Natives. She does as she is told and gave the Indian’s tobacco and fed them, being shown as a victim in this perspective. However this can be argued as almost ironic, through Angela Cavender Wilson’s quote, that we should “observe how expertly [Wilder] crafted the horror of white supremacist genocidal thinking and the stealing of Indigenous lands into something noble, virtuous and absolutely beneficial to humanity”. In this, we can see that the scenario of Indians taking the tobacco and cornbread from the Ingalls family could be compared to the unjust taking of their lands. Therefore, it could be argued that the attitudes shown toward American Indians in the novel could be conveying the fear of Indians taking back what is rightfully theirs from the settlers.
A key aspect when exploring how the attitudes towards American Indians are conveyed through the text, would be to consider how Wilder could alternatively have portrayed the Indigenous people in her novel. As discussed in the lecture, with Wilder being a non-Native writer, there are clearly obstacles in avoiding appropriation, while remaining sympathetic towards this group of people which she had viewed as different and threatening, from a young age. Furthermore, Wilder intentions are to have the audience side with the Ingalls family, therefore, like the wolves and diseases, the Indians are just another hardship for the family to struggle with for survival in the West. And yet on the other hand, Wilder couldn’t exactly have completely omitted the presence of the American Indians altogether, as this could also have offended, as well as disrupted the plot majorly, as the people impacted her life, and therefore her books, so much.
In this, it can be argued that Laura’s attitude, presented in the book, is typical of a non-Native settler child, who was the product of a society which oppressed the Natives, as well as seeing them as threats of an almost animalistic nature, similar to the wolves seen in the book. During the book, we see Laura wants her father to give her one of the First Native babies, suggesting she saw the people as lesser beings, which she could objectify and own, even at such a young age. Furthermore, we see Laura hope that Pa could “show her a papoose…just as he had shown her fawns and little bears and wolves”, yet again suggesting that American Indians were creatures, rather than human beings, for her father to possibly hunt.

In conclusion, I think it is reasonable for readers, especially today, to find the attitudes conveyed towards American Indians within “Little House on the Prairie” as shocking and casually racist, particularly within Chapter 11. However, I also believe that this view towards American Indians, albeit horrifying, is simply a product of life at the time the book was written, with settlers fearing those whose land they had taken, and treating them like wild animals who lacked civilisation. The view of the Indigenous people through the eyes of a small settler girl is a sad example for readers today, of how the group were viewed.