Sample question:
5) Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart ends thus:

"The Commissioner went away, taking three or four of the soldiers with him. In the many years in which he had toiled to bring civilization to different parts of Africa he had learned a number of things....In the book which he planned to write he would stress that point....Every day brought him some new material. The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate. There was so much else to include, and one must be firm in cutting out details. He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger."

Comment on this emblematic moment, in any way you wish, in order to discuss such issues as colonial paradigms, practices, ideologies, resistances, subaltern speech and representation -- in reference to particular texts you have been reading.

I could do this one, without too much trouble, I think.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Finished the Gottlieb/Graham this morning. Roshani and Zoe came for lunch, and I made a nice vegetable korma to go with my leftover beef curry. Pleasant hour, and then I dutifully sent them away again so I could go back to work. Reading Rutherford's Identity anthology this afternoon. So far, low on theory-language, also not really telling me anything new. Mostly agree with essayists. Quick, easy read. We'll see if that continues.

5 thoughts on “Sample…”

  1. “Mostly agree with essayists.”

    What happens when you run into people you don’t agree with (and are “supposed to” agree with, or at least accept as foundational) in your exam reading? Do you have any serious points of disagreement with your committee? There’s a coherent question in here somewhere, I swear.

  2. Oh, that’s fun. That’s when I get to think about it really hard so that I don’t sound like an idiot when I try to defend my position.

    Though mostly, I think my thoughts align pretty well with Derrida/Spivak, which helps. If I want to demolish other people’s arguments, I can rely on the ways D/S do it. It doesn’t hurt that I get to think of them as D/S. 🙂 Actually, Derrida can be kind of mean when he shreds people. I felt bad for some graduate students whose argument he took apart, piece by bloody piece.

  3. here is what I’m working on. comments much appreciated, though hardly expected. have a nice day with your work:

    Nylons and Lace
    after Brent Hagens Human Elements


    I question the endurance
    of mozzarella crusted to
    an over-baked lasagna pan, the
    inadequacies of soap and brillo-pad.
    Try to stretch the meaning out of
    redundancy: the fiber of drunkenness
    thrilled from the living-room,
    a soiled sock, nestled
    like a child in a fold of the arm-chair.

    Always these extractions 
    As though a glass can remain
    standing in an unused room
    without filling with dust,
    fractals of light muted  lost
    in the shuffle of unmade homes.

    The namers of poets are rough men;
    they are gorged, and also

    Our love is the attraction of oxygen.
    This is all I have to build on:

    Molecules. Postulates.
    The fusion of these rare beads
    of liquid and filament.
    I keep losing ground,
    mental contradictions falling
    like barbs across an erased
    page of words.

    I only have the power to appreciate,
    the fistulas of desire an
    unanswered barking
    in the night. Who keeps
    turning a light on
    in the house across the street?

    I am tired of the world so easily
    forgetting, as though modernization
    were a choice. There is a cipher
    forming over the ocean; its
    luster mesmerizing.
    Soon we will have nothing left
    of dissection.

    I finally write about my weakness for romance

    How it corresponds to a meticulous corrosion
    taking place in wooden structures,
    the beauty of a worm-bitten barn,
    its hinges rusted out.

    The husk of a Chevrolet.
    Unresolved winter dropping
    like ash, obscuring
    the violation I make with thick soled boots
    pursuing a black bird across the limitless
    deep of Virginia. To waltz in her
    blistering reds and yellows, the dust of roads,
    insouciance. A physical odor of lilacs signally
    the timid coming of birth.

    And what of liberation? As awkward
    as a hemorrhoid in new stockings.
    An accidental impact: all of these children
    are growing up with silver and copper keys
    strung like jewels around their necks.


    And then there is you 
    interruptive. Floundering.
    Ravenous as language.
    A poem.

    The figure of speech is terrifying.
    How can we pretend to function
    under the kinetics of metaphor?

    Your argument was the first feature
    to be canonized: so many angles and
    shallows of light. In time, I came to appreciate
    the contours of your face. And then sex,
    like a fissure. I keep forgetting there is more
    to fucking than the slow unwind.

    Sex, like a brawl,
    its untimely satisfaction
    heavy on the branch.

    You are understanding theory,
    and also its dissonance  a seizure
    of marriage growing bold with
    the mouth of it.

    I want you, and at the same time
    I am calcified, scabbed over by this
    apotheosis  the being of what women
    are, and how that keeps asking for
    ulterior motives.

    There is a furtive masochist inside me.
    The moon rises orange over the ocean,
    waxing. I watch it move
    like a hot balloon, change loads
    of laundry with irritated precision
    On the stove, the water boils.
    the muse knocks

  4. please keep in mind that there were stanza breaks in there when I posted. I swear. if anyone is truely interested, drop me a line and I’ll forward you a “legitimate” copy.


    as for disagreeing well….

    at what point do you decide your own read is more important?

  5. “at what point do you decide your own read is more important?”

    When wouldn’t it be?

    (Then again, that reaction is probably one reason why I got dropped from my own Ph.D. program…)

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