Tuesday, November 01, 2005

UVSC vs. BYU...duke it out.

Coffe Talk: UVSC vs. BYU
Topic: Literature

How did I ever manage to read Moby Dick without talking Queer theory? Or Emily Dickinson without talking about unrequited sexual desire? How did I graduate from college without reading any black/lesbian/activist literature? I went to BYU that is how.

So, I guess the most probable question is, is it a good thing? I am going to say---I go with XXXXXX on this one. Here are my thoughts on it.

At UVSC we talk about sex in novels, and that can be odd to my post-BYU self. However, not so much that I want to talk about sex, but, that we have read some really, really, important peices of literature, that if we had screened them, because of the sex in them, I would not have gotten to learn about the rest of the things the book teaches. Dialogues on feminism/feminist movement, racism, ethnic America, and coming of age, in some ways, (not that I advocate sex in books, and I am not saying go out and blindly read these novels), are not as complete without in some regard understanding how their attitudes towards sex effect their lives, or how some cultures have problems with sexual abuse ect.

Next thought; very very interesting to have teachers that are non-LDS. My American Reniassance teacher talks about themes such as, (from Moby Dick) topics of, well, what if we knew everything, would we be stunned at the utter chaos in the world, would it drive us to madness, if we comprehended all that God comprehends, would it make us realize that God is just playing with us as mortals, and/or has very little to do with the world? Has man created God? in order to give him answers, and meaning to pain? Moby Dick is often compared to God, and how we cannot see his head, and he does not tell us his mysteries. And we learn through the story of Moby Dick, (well one reading of it is) that God is cruel.

Edgar Allen Poe addresses topics very similar. Do we make up or own realities and assign reason to things that reason cannot explain? In, The Fall of the House of Usher, the narrator has super-human senses, he senses everything, sight, sounds, smells, the touch of fabrics, to such an extent that it drives him mad! We compared it to, The Murders on the Rue Morge, and how the detective Dupin, has a similar hyperactive tendency, and his is the actue sense of the analytic, he understands everything to the point of being able to see where your eyes are going and read your exact thought. But, these people are "mad" and "crazy" their sense of knowing everything makes them diseased. In, The Black Cat, the narrator murders cats brutally and then is driven to murder his wife, and his madness, suggested by Poe, is that he feels the need to come up with answers for everything. Assign reason to the absurd.

Anyway, point being, these same books, taught by LDS professors, would be entirely different. We would be discussing these from gospel perspectives. We know that God loves us, we know there is reason in pain, and I 100% believe it. I have an unshaken testimony of the Church. I am just simply putting it out there, that I feel like I am gaining new insights and perspecitves on these peices of literature, that I would not have ever had--because I am seeing them through eyes--with a view point very different from my own. There is a lot to be gained there. And, I am really enjoying it!

Maybe I should say it is a tie, that I find value in both ways of teaching literature, one of the things I loved at BYU was being able to understand the world through a gospel context, but I'm also "loving" some things about UVSC too.

Maybe there should be book editors to take out the sex in books, or the offensive terms ect., CleanReads instead of CleanFlicks? Don't know, food for thought.


Panini said...

wow esperanza...I think you should turn in your blog as an extra credit assignment or essay. What great organization and fluid thoughts! :) And I thought you just liked those novels you've been reading BECAUSE of the sex. (j/k)
It certainly is interesting getting a different perspective. And now, maybe I realize I really DON'T want to read Moby Dick at all...
besides being long and boring (everyone says this) the themes sound....uh..well, I just am not so interested. So thanks for the take on it.
And Edgar...now he is an interesting guy. I only read what they made us read of him in middle school...but he was a little scary to me.

SJ said...

I admit, after having gone to a secular college, it is actually very odd for me to hear my professor talk about his mission. Huh? And really, really weird to walk around campus and realize everyone I see is a Mormon. Total culture shock.

I should mention I'm taking a class from BYU (since I work on campus anyway) to finish up my other degree in Anthropology. In this class we discuss madness. It's called "American Culture". The professor's basic conclusion is that all Americans are really nice, and also really crazy. We are allowed to assign our own ideas to the absurd in this country, we are allowed, as US Citizens, to do pretty much whatever we want with our lives, and have an unending amount of differing beliefs on God and the Spiritual.

Esperanza said...

I will have to say, that I addressed this topic with some close friends last night and it is an inflammatory issue. So, I will modify only by saying this, I have a strong testimony of the church, therefore, I'm not shaken by these books/ideas, but for some people these books might have dangerous ideas in them, that may not be appropriate for everyone, so that is my disclaimer. Also, was mentioned, that I have no tolerance for sex in movies, this is true. Hence, edited movies, I love. But yes, I might be assigning a slightly double standard, and well, there is a difference between reading Harlequin Romances, which I do not, and books that have historical significance and have some shady parts.

Panini said...

I like your disclaimer. :)

Esperanza said...

Okay, so I'm commenting on my comment again! So, the interesting thing to me about like say, Edgar Allen Poe, and Herman Melville ect., and their talking about/addressing themse of the nature of God, and it God cruel/disinterested, is they were contemporary to Joseph Smith, and were writing at the time and before that time, of the restoration of the gospel, so its not too strange to think about how they were deeply pondering these questions, when the true church had been off the earth for hundreds of years by that point.

Sherpa said...

I never went to the Y or Ricks, and because of that this post was interesting to me, but now i get why my friends who went to BYU always bring up religion when talking about other subjects...thats the way they are taught at the Y.