If you know me in a class-setting or have ever seen me doing homework, then you know I’m kind of an adamant note taker. The ‘kind of’ is to make that last part sound more casual and moderate than it actually is: essentially, to lead you to think that I’m not as much of a note taking fiend as the title of this blog suggests. Hyperbole always hooks people in, but as the following pictorial evidence will show, I’m not hyperbolizing in the slightest.
I’ve mentioned in several previous blogs how much I love note-taking, and I think I once attributed it to a weird enjoyment from the feel of a smooth-writing pen to paper. This is totally still the case, but I also have the continuous need to quote any well-worded fragment of a professor’s lecture, an assigned 40 page article on JSTOR, or pretty much anywhere language is involved. Something about taking the time to write a complexly-worded phrase or series of sentences demystifies whatever jargon is at play, and it keeps me focused in times when I could just as easily open an iMessage tab to text JHU_Ebo about some ridiculous internet find.
Nothing about this whole “waxing poetic about note taking” thing is new, and for the sake of time management and not getting premature arthritis, I’ve been trying to do it in a bit more moderation. Still, it can be especially difficult when you’re an English major taking five humanities classes, all of which require reading and writing about various texts in a way that breaks down the upper echelons of literary and artistic works to a solid level of understanding. Hence, the barrage of notes and the rare removal of pen from paper. Now that I’ve given you the proper introduction to my note taking philosophy, here are a few hallmarks of my notes from spring semester thus far.
“The school brings the written text into contact with the spoken language, and this contact produces friction.”
-John Guillory, “Canon”
This quote comes from an anthology of essays about literary criticism that we use for my Intro to Literary Studies class. Guillory’s essay, “Canon”, analyzes the various hypotheses about how the literary canon was formed, as well as the multitude of socioeconomic and historical factors that went into its creation. The aforementioned quote caught me off guard, as I had never considered the way texts and spoken language engage in this malleable point of contention in school. I love his choice of the word ‘friction’ to epitomize this phenomenon. It reminded me of the distaste with which so many of us first confronted the language in Shakespearean plays in high school, as two very distinct forms of speaking — 17th and 21st century lexicons — clashed. Ultimately, my example is an extreme simplification of what he’s trying to say in this section — that schools teach you not only how to read and write, but also how to speak — but regardless, this quote made the cut for notes.
“Museums are a significant antidote to the globalized homogenization that is the byproduct of hyper-capitalism.”
-Robert Janes, “Museums and the End of Materialism”
While Janes’s verbiage may not roll off the tongue in the traditional sense (and take two or three more read-throughs to fully comprehend), this equal parts optimistic and defiant sentence is one of the best I’ve read in my Intro to The Museum course thus far. Janes spends his essay talking about the myriad of ways a museum has the potential to impact society on political, global and environmental levels, not simply within the context of its walls as a ‘cultural institution’. He calls for all museums to recognize this potential and wield it accordingly, to take advantaged of the multitude of forms in which a museum can exist and combat said “globalized homogenization” for the greater good of localities and international relations alike. His piece, while providing few concrete avenues of achieving this realized potential, was an inspiring one, but after some intense deliberation over myriad articulate one-liners, this one took the cake.
“Just as a spectator mimics the actions of the performer, the latter initiates its spectators, reflecting contemporaneous conceptions of what it means to be human.”
-Juliet Koss, “Bauhaus Theater of Human Dolls”
As a performance art history novice and lover of broad conceptual statements, I can safely say that I wrote this in my notebook before I realized what I was doing. This week in my Performance Art in America and Europe course, we’ve been learning about the Bauhaus in Germany during the 1920’s. Essentially, it was a movement that prioritized a unity of artists and craftsmen, of both technical and artistic training in one school of production. Part of this movement was the Bauhaus Theater, a main component of which was the creation of these massive (sometimes bulbous, sometimes more angular, sometimes very difficult to describe) doll costumes that performers wore in various shows and ballets. This quote is, perhaps, a more broad statement about performance art, but in relation to the Bauhaus, it applies tenfold. Also, the word ‘contemporaneous’ is worth noting.