The following is an excerpt from one of my current students' blog postings reflecting on the Student View art exhibition of work from English 1101 and 1102 courses at Georgia Tech. The exhibition is on display at the Ferst Center on campus.
Sandrine LeFebvre's project
At this year’s Student View Georgia Institute of Technology’s finest Literature, Media, and Communication were on display. But one particular exhibit that stuck out to me was Sandrine Lefevbre’s work, Buzz’s The Word: Communication & Culture Edition. Lefevbre was a former student of Dr. Golden and pointed out something that I have begun to notice in my class with her now. Lefevbre’s piece centered on how meanings of words do not only get lost in indirect translation, but also in lack of cultural understanding. She pointed out the phrase, “Cockeyed son of a bow-legged scorpion,” in Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable (1935). While this book was written in English it was also written by an author from India. Because of the difference between culture in 1935 India and 2015 United States the very insulting phrase did not fully click with American readers. . . .
I would like to extrapolate on Lefevbre’s video by applying it to what I have noticed so far in Dr. Golden’s class. While reading books such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray that take place during 1800-1900 England I realized that my appreciation for the setting was not at its full potential because I did not understand what was going on during that period. England was in the mix of an Industrial Revolution that brought upon great changes particularly in the way people lived. People began to settle down in urban areas compared to rural areas because there was opportunity in cities. By researching the history of 1800-1900 England for my first project I have a much better understanding of what was going on. This is why reading The Picture of Dorian Gray is significantly easier than The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What stands out to me from The Picture of Dorian Gray that I likely would’ve missed was the difference in class between Dorian and Sibyl and what it means towards the book. Dorian is a man who comes from money and seems to have an endless supply to spend as he pleases, while Sibyl is from a lower class family on the East End of England. These two types of people do not usually mix, which is what causes Sibyl’s brother to be skeptical of their engagement as he should’ve been. Just after becoming engaged Dorian calls off the marriage leading to Sibyl committing suicide. The magnitude of their engagement would have gone unnoticed to me had I not known how rare it was to see marriage through such a difference in class standing.
Overall, I support Lefevbre’s point and applaud her on her ability to explain it through a digital medium. By doing this she exemplifies on her own point. Youtube videos have become very common in my generation because I have grown up using and creating them. However, other generations that do not fully understand the digital revolution that is going on right now truly appreciate her work and all of the different digital effects she put into it.
Amanda Golden is an Associate Professor of English at New York Institute of Technology. She is the author of Annotating Modernism: Marginalia and Pedagogy from Virginia Woolf to the Confessional Poets (Routledge, 2020) and editor of This Business of Words: Reassessing Anne Sexton (UP of Florida, 2016). Her research and teaching interests include American and British literature from the nineteenth century to the present, modernism, poetry and poetics, literary archives, composition, and the digital humanities.