Archives pour la catégorie Seats and Forms of Power

NOTIONS – TOPICS – PROBLEMATIQUES

Welcome to the new school year 2017-2018!

This blog is going to focus on the 4 notions and their definition. First by looking at the notions, you will notice that they all include 2 terms which are linked together by “and” or “of”. (Spaces AND exchanges, seats AND forms of power, the IDEA of PROGRESS, myths AND heroes)

  • Interroger la mise en relation des termes – cette relation est-elle de complémentarité? d’ opposition? de corrélation? de causes ou d’effets? Ainsi vous éviterez de ne traiter qu’un terme ou les traiter l’un après l’autre alors qu’ils sont liés entre eux. Posez vous la question : “quel enjeu puis-je dégager de cette confrontation des termes ?”

Idea of progress : il s’agit bien de l’idee de progres- donc de la représentation que nos sociétés se font du progrès – et pas seulement du progrès  en lui-même. Viewed from this angle, progress becomes a double-edged sword.

I am going to give you very simple definitions of the notions, but I will advise you to come up with your own definition. A list of topics will also be given but it is the key question (la problematique) which will determine the choice of your documents.

FORMULER UNE PROBLEMATIQUE

CONCRETEMENT UNE PROBLEMATIQUE C’ EST:

  • Une question ouverte à laquelle on ne répond pas par oui ou par non
  • Elle est introduite par : How, to what extent, why, etc..

Myths and Heroes

Myths exist in every society, as they are basic elements of human culture. We can understand a culture more deeply and in a much better way by knowing and appreciating its stories, dreams and myths.There are many types of myths such as classic myths, religious myths, and modern myths etc.  

A Hero can be a mythological figure, a person who is admired for his or her achievements, a superhero or maybe a role model or an icon. Therefore heroes, just like myths, can be real or fictitious. Heroes are people we can look up to, people who inspire like sport personalities, political figures, entrepreneurs, artists, etc..  Heroes lead, inspire, and entertain the masses.

A few examples in the English speaking world:

  • rags to riches stories : Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Carnegie, Charlie Chaplin,Anita Roddick
  • Historical figures or National leaders who can be considered as heroes: Queen Victoria, Elisabeth I and II, Obama, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzi, Ghandi …..
  • Founding myths of the United States (Pilgrim Fathers, The myth of the frontier, the myth of the Road, the Gold Rush, the American dream, witch hunts)
  • Unsung Heroes or fallen heroes of the Vietnam War that are portrayed in American films (Platoon, Born on the 4th July, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket)
  • Pop stars or sports heroes (and fallen idols)
  • American movies and comics: superheroes such as Superman or Captain America and their role in society/world
  • British heroes or heroines: Churchill, Florence Nightingale, the Suffragettes, Stephen Hawking…..
  • British myths and legends: Robin Hood, King Arthur, etc.

In our class, we will focus on the topic of  Witch Hunting in the USA by asking the following questions : Are witches a myth of the past ? From Witch-hunts and Communist-hunts to Terrorist-hunts Why have witch hunts been a recurrent element in modern American history?

The Idea of Progress

The idea of progress is the idea that advances in technology, science and social organisation can bring about a positive change to our society. These advances help improve our daily lives and give us a better quality of life. Social progress, scientific progress and economic development are usually considered as having a positive effect on our society. However the idea of progress is not progress since there are some cases where this change can have a negative effect too. Very often progress is also accompanied by opposition because society isn’t comfortable with the changes being made (same sex marriage, women’s rights, minority rights). We can ask ourselves whether progress is always positive?

There are many kinds of progress and they can be divided in diverse areas.

  1. Technological progress

The technological advances of the last decades have totally changed our world. For example, the arrival of internet has changed the way we communicate. On the one hand we have access to far more information than before, we can easily communicate across borders, buy new products, be informed about the latest news events, share our opinions about different topics but on the other hand, many people have become addicted to social media and this creates new problems such as depression, isolation, bullying, cyber criminality…..

  1. Scientific progress

Scientific progress has had a direct impact on the improvement of human life. Thanks to advances in medicine we can cure illnesses that could never have been cured in the past. Vaccinations,Antibiotics, painkillers and other medical treatments have helped to improve our general state of health and survival rates. But could there be a point where progress come too far? What should be the importance given to ethics? What about scientific progress in the area of cures for illnesses, cloning, performance enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms etc?

  1. Social progress

Social progress most often comes about when members of a population feel oppressed,  or second-class citizens (women’s rights, civil rights, etc).

Examples can be:

  • Scientific Progress – Medical advances, cures for illnesses, cloning, performance, enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms.
  • Technological Progress-  technologies to slow down climate change such as hybrid cars, wind turbines, solar panels, biofuel…..
  • Advances in communication:  the internet, social media, mobile phones, video games – how  they have changed our lives and the dangers of these modern ways of communication
  • Robots, automated production
  • Nuclear Power – for and against
  • Social Progress: changes in the quality of life – how does progress affect our/a society?
  • Education, employment, equality, family life, Women’s rights, human rights, minority rights The idea of liberty, freedom, democracy

We will focus on 2 topics

Scientific Progress :  Science and fiction : Does fiction draw inspiration from science or is it the other way round?

Social progress : Why is India said to be a country of contradiction?

Places and Forms of Power (also called Seats and Forms of Power)

In politics and social science, power is the ability to influence people’s behaviour. In order to live together members of a community accept rules, regulations, laws. This helps to create social cohesion but can also lead to conflicts and tensions. Even when authority seems absolute, there are always counter-powers which question it, aim at limiting its excesses and resist it. Power is also associated with authority and influence and certain places can be associated with the authority – for example the White House and the President of the USA, 10 Downing Street and the British Prime Minister etc..

Examples to illustrate the notion can be:

  • the power of the media (reality tv, internet v written press)
  • Financial power (the power of money)
  • Inequalities between blacks and whites – the fight against oppression and segregation (South Africa, USA)
  • The Civil Rights movement and political recognition : Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X (can also be linked to the notion of Myths and Heroes)
  • The power of Art (The Harlem Renaissance – Banksy..)
  • Cinema and power: how do films influence society? Movie stars using their fame to influence public opinion on certain topics (Leonardo Dicaprio, Schwarzenegger)
  • The power of education: improving knowledge and education across the world and enabling access to education for all (Malala)
  • The power of music and the music industry: songs used to change people’s opinions on political subjects (vietnam war, US President, poverty, climate change), pop stars who use their fame to bring about changes in the world (Bono, Bob Geldof, Madonna)
  • People’s empowerment

We will focus on

Protest songs : How have protest songs fought political power? How have they contributed to social progress?  (also to be linked with Myths and heroes because some of these protest songs have become myths – also to be linked with the notion of Idea of progress – how have these songs contributed to social progress?)

Civil Rights: To what extent have African Americans achieved equal civil rights? Are African Americans still second-class citizens? (also to be linked with Myths and Heroes and Idea of Progress) : MLK, Rosa Parks etc… Heroes who have inspired others and contributed to social progress

ART as a form of power : How has the Harlem Renaissance contributed to forge a black identity? (also to be linked to Spaces and Exchanges : The Great Migration to Northern cities – Migration for a better life)

Spaces and Exchanges

This notion deals with the geographical and symbolic areas (spaces) that all societies occupy and the interactions (exchanges) between men and different societies. Our world is built on the exploration and conquest of new spaces. The different cultural, economic, sociological and language interactions have shaped and characterised our modern-day world.

Examples can be:

  • India : Progress and traditions –
  • Working conditions (telecommuting, internet)
  • Globalization (the world has become a small village) – global cities
  • School and education (social diversity / knowledge)  comparison of the different educational systems – the brain drain
  • The Internet / social networks… a new virtual space ….the advantages and disadvantages of increased access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter -Cyber criminality, identity theft, cyber bullying, internet scams..
  • the movement of people: Immigration  to the UK, to the US, the Brexit
  • movement across borders (Gap Year) – student exchanges

We will focus on 2 topics :

Global cities: To what extent do migrants contribute to population and economic growth in global cities?  why are migrants attracted to global cities?

Migration: The migration of African Americans to Northern cities – In search of a new identity – Reason to migrate – Attraction to urban life.

 

Publicités

Black Protest Song : Strange Fruit

strange-fruit

ANALYSIS – POETIC DEVICES IN STRANGE FRUIT

Metaphor

 

 

 

‘Strange Fruit’ Unusual Imagery, so grabs your attention. Also dehumanising.
Irony

 

 

 

 

 

‘gallant’ Gallant means brave and honourable, so using it in this context is sarcastic – the poet means the opposite of this.
Alliteration

 

 

 

‘Black bodies’

 

“sudden smell”

Makes you pay attention to those words
Rhyme

 

 

 

Throughout poems Helps when reading it out loud, gives it structure, makes it flow. Memorable.
Adjectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘strange’

 

 

‘bitter’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘black’

Means different – see connotations(fruit)

 

Two meanings: 1. People looking at hem might look like they had a bitter taste in their mouths, 2. The bitterness that it caused in the family and friends of those who were lynched.

 

Only reference to race in the poem. Followed by ‘bodies’, showing that the people had no individuality or identity as such apart from their race.

Repetition

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Strange Fruit’ Gets it into your head – at beginning and end of poem to give it structure
Connotation

 

 

Blood

 

 

Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

Bulging, Twisted

We associate with death and pain

 

We think of fruit being positive, but in this poem we are made aware that this fruit is ‘strange’ – so negative.

 

Violent

Imagery

 

 

…the whole poem… This whole poem uses Imagery to get its message across. In particular, a lot of disturbing and violent imagery is used. Also, at times, unusual imagery is used for dramatic effect.
Listing

 

 

For… Time passing, reiterates the point
Contrast

 

 

‘scent of magnolias’ vs ‘burning flesh’ Imagery for the nose J Shocks you because it is so disturbing, especially when juxtaposed with the sweetness of a magnolia.
Allusions To seasons:

Rain: Winter

Wind:Spring

Sun: Summer

To drop: Autumn

 

Shows it is all year round – ever present. And cyclical.

 

CONTEXT, MEANING AND IMPACT

 First recorded by the famous jazz singer Billie Holiday, ‘Strange Fruit’ is a song about the lynching of black people in Southern America in the first half of the 20th Century. It was first written as a poem by teacher Abel Meerpol and was then was published in 1937. Abel Meerpol was a white Jewish man who belonged to the American Communist Party, and he wrote the song after seeing a gruesome picture of a lynching of black men. In the 1930s, lynching had reached a high peak in the South of US. By conservative estimates there were around 4,000 lynchings in the half century before 1940, the vast majority in the South, with most of the victims black.

The song has simple lyrics, that carry a huge strength, and haunt you even when the song is over.  The song exposes the brutality of racism in America, and doesn’t leave any room for more words. When the meaning of the song is fully grasped, one remains shocked, angry and disgusted by the imagery portrayed.

When Holiday first performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939 she said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation but, because its imagery reminded her of her father, she continued to sing the piece, making it a regular part of her live performances. The song was so powerful that a rule was set that she could only close a show with it; the barmen would have to close off service and darken the room. The show would end with Billie Holiday, with her powerful voice, singing in the dark with a light shining on her. Even the way it was performed reflected the compelling origin of the song and its lyrics.

It was not easy to record the song, as most recording companies were afraid of gaining a bad reputation with the anti-communists and southern racists in America, which at the time dominated the political scene. However, when it was finally recorded by Commodore in 1939, it quickly became famous. It attracted the attention of the more politically aware park of society; intellectuals, artists, teachers and journalists. In October of that year, a journalist of the New York Post described the song as the anthem and the anger of the exploited people of the south, if they ever got to voice it.

At a time when political protest was not often expressed in musical form, the song was revolutionary. It was seldom played on the radio. This was a period in which the segregationist Southern Dixiecrats played a leading role in the Democratic Party as well as the Roosevelt administration. It would take a mass movement to finally dismantle the apartheid system that played a key role in setting the stage for lynching.

The song, is said to be the original protest song.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,

And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

sources : http://wordsinthebucket.com/meaning-behind-strange-fruit-billie-holiday

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE SONG

It was the first time a black artist had sung such controversial lyrics. Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun called the song « a declaration of war… the beginning of the civil rights movement ».

It has endured and become a symbol of the racism, cruelty, pain and suffering endured by so many in the United States. Other major artists, including Nina Simone, John Martyn, Sting and Robert Wyatt, went on to record it.

Billie Holiday’s version eventually sold more than a million copies. In 1999, Time magazine voted Strange Fruit the Song of the Century.

Bob Dylan cites the song as a personal inspiration. It has inspired books, an opera and continues to be recorded today.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN ANALYSING THE SONG :

Why were most lynching victims hung from trees?

How do we know from the lyrics that the « strange » fruit here means the bodies of lynching victims?

What contrast is made between the « gallant South » and the South which bears strange fruit? What is ironic about this contrast?

Why do you think the word « lynching » never appears in the song?

Do you think the song is more powerful, or less powerful, because its topic [lynching] is implied instead of stated?

To what extent can a song be an effective form of protest ?

Why is this song so relevant today ?

Donald Trump inauguration: Rebecca Ferguson says she will perform ceremony if she can sing ‘Strange Fruit’ !!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Can Music Fight Power ?

protests-songs-1

Across the centuries people have recognised the power of music and as a result, it has continually been used as a tool of propaganda and songs have always provided a platform for people to share their concerns about pressing economic, social and political issues that are so often swept  by those in power.

Examples of protest songs:

Public Enemy — Fight the Power

Written for Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing, the 1989 hip-hop song Fight the Power orders the listener to fight authority and carries the message of empowering the black community in America

Billie Holiday — Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit is a protest song against the lynchings of African Americans in 1930s America.

‘Southern trees bear strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze/Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.’

Patti Smith — People Have the Power

‘The power to dream / to rule/ to wrestle the world from fools/it’s decreed the people rule/ it’s decreed the people rule/LISTEN

Bob Dylan — It’s Alright Ma (I’m only bleeding)

The lyrics express Dylan’s anger at hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism, warmongers and contemporary American culture

Money doesn’t talk, it swears,’ ‘Although the masters make the rules, for the wisemen and the fools’ and ‘But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.’

Nina Simone — I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free

Simone’s 1967 recording of Dick Dallas and Billy Taylor’s song quickly became the anthem for the civil-rights movement.

John Lennon — Imagine

I just had to include a song from a native Liverpudlian, and Lennon’s Imagine continues to encourage generations to imagine a world at peace without the divisiveness and barriers of borders, religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions.

“Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/ Imagine all the people/Living life in peace”

Bob Marley — Redemption Song

‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.’

source:http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/can-music-fight-power-try-our-protest-song-playlist

Bob Dylan: The most powerful and poignant lyrics from the Nobel Prize for Literature winner

 Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind Lyrics

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you can call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can really see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind. 

About the song and its impact:

« Blowin’ in the Wind » is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1962 and released as a single and on his album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1963. Although it has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of rhetorical questions about peace, war and freedom. The refrain « The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind » has been described as « impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind ».[2]

In 1994, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, it was ranked number 14 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the « 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ».

(CNN)When Bruce Springsteen inducted Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he said: « Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. He showed us that just because music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual. »

Dylan’s influence on music cannot be overstated: the way he subverted the notion that radio tunes have to be three minutes long; the way he proved that songs with overtly political themes can be commercially successful; the way his music resonates just as much today as they did when he recorded them decades earlier.
To be fair, there are quite a few songwriters whose work is still relevant, but here’s only one – Dylan — whose poetry has, at times, changed the course of history.

When he wrote this song in 10 minutes sitting in a cafe — as Dylan claims — he had no way of knowing it would become an anthem of the civil rights movement. After all, he once called it « just another song. » He sang it at a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi. Peter Yarrow sang it during the march from Selma to Montgomery. And the trio, Peter, Paul and Mary played it on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, just hours before Martin Luther King Jr. stood before thousands and declared « I have a dream. »
NOW: Now a timeless classic, « Blowin’ in the wind » sits securely atop any list of anti-war songs. It’s the most covered of all Dylan songs. In 1997, it was the subject of a homily by Pope John Paul II, the only time a pop song had prompted such a sermon. In it, the pontiff said, « You say the answer is blowing in the wind, my friend. So it is: but it is not the wind that blows things away. It is the wind that is the breath and life of the Holy Spirit, the voice that calls and says, ‘Come!' »
To illustrate the influence of songs on people read this article :

What role did art play in the quest for equality and the affirmation of black identity in segregated America?

jacob-laurence-the-great-m

 

jlauwrence

Panel # 1

The Migration Series

In 1941, Jacob Lawrence, then just twenty-three years old, completed a series of sixty paintings about the Great Migration, the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. Lawrence’s work is a landmark in the history of modern art and a key example of the way that history painting was radically reimagined in the modern era. Explore the social and cultural nuances of each of the sixty panels in Lawrence’s series here.  panel #1 Lawrence opens his sixty-panel series with this image of a chaotic crowd in a train station pushing toward three ticket windows marked CHICAGO, NEW YORK, and ST. LOUIS. Images of train stations, railroad cars, waiting rooms, and passengers weighed down by bags recur throughout the Migration Series; . Each of this trio of cities is the subject of a chapter of Emmett J. Scott’s Negro Migration during the War (1920), one of the first scholarly efforts to come to grips with the huge demographic shifts spurred by the Great Migration. “They left as if they were fleeing some curse,” he writes. Negro Migration during the War was one of the pivotal books that Lawrence read in his extensive preparatory research for his series at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem.

Latest news : Le Musee du Quai Branly à Paris organise une exposition qui rend hommage aux artistes noirs americains. Expo The Color Line au Quai Branly

The expression “the color line” refers concretely to the discrimination that divided Blacks and Whites in the United States and which appeared at the end of the Civil War in 1865. The Civil War may have abolished slavery in America but this racial “line” continued to have a profound impact on society.

Three Constitutional amendments were passed to accord African Americans legal status: the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolished slavery, the Fourteenth (1868) provided citizenship, and the Fifteenth (1870) guaranteed the right to vote.

In spite of these amendments, between 1873 and 1883 the Supreme Court passed a series of decisions that virtually nullified these texts.

Regarded by many as second-class citizens, Blacks were separated from Whites by law and by private action in transportation, public accommodations, recreational facilities, prisons, armed forces, and schools in both Northern and Southern states.

aaron-douglas-into-bondage-1936

Aaron Douglas, Into Bondage, 1936

Affirmation of Black Identity

The exhibition “The Color Line” looks back on this dark period in the United States through the cultural history of its black artists, the prime target of this discrimination.

The exhibition takes viewers through the civil rights movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and introduces the new millennium with contemporary art work.

About the exhibition :The exhibition pays tribute to the African-American artists and thinkers who contributed, during a century and a half-long struggle, to blurring this discriminatory « colour line ».

The Poetry of Langston Hughes

A central figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s and 40s, Missouri-born Langston Hughes used his poetry, novels, plays, and essays to voice his concerns about race and social justice.

One Way Ticket

I pick up my life, And take it with me,
And I put it down in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Scranton,
Any place that is North and East, And not Dixie.
I pick up my life And take it on the train,
To Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake
Any place that is North and West, And not South.
I am fed up With Jim Crow laws,
People who are cruel And afraid, Who lynch and run,
Who are scared of me And me of them
I pick up my life And take it away On a one-way ticket
Gone up North Gone out West Gone!

POWER AND SEATS OF POWER –

What role did art play in the quest for equality and the affirmation of black identity in segregated America? (see post on Harlem Renaissance)

The role of these artists was essentially to construct an image of the black person that was different from the one transmitted by racist images, by stereotypes.

These documents  (paintings, photos, texts, films) present the struggle of African-Americans for the effective recognition of their rights: . During all these years, artists never stopped pinpointing inequalities, injustices and racism through their art.

Harlem Renaissance, a blossoming (c. 1918–37) of African American culture, particularly in the creative arts, and the most influential movement in African American literary history. Embracing literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts, participants sought to reconceptualize “the Negro” apart from the white stereotypes that had influenced black peoples’ relationship to their heritage and to each other. They also sought to break free of Victorian moral values and bourgeois shame about aspects of their lives that might, as seen by whites, reinforce racist beliefs. Never dominated by a particular school of thought but rather characterized by intense debate, the movement laid the groundwork for all later African American literature and had an enormous impact on subsequent black literature and consciousness worldwide. While the renaissance was not confined to the Harlem district of New York City, Harlem attracted a remarkable concentration of intellect and talent and served as the symbolic capital of this cultural awakening.

The background

The Harlem Renaissance was a phase of a larger New Negro movement that had emerged in the early 20th century and in some ways ushered in the civil rights movement of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The social foundations of this movement included the Great Migration of African Americans from rural to urban spaces and from South to North; dramatically rising levels of literacy; the creation of national organizations dedicated to pressing African American civil rights, “uplifting” the race, and opening socioeconomic opportunities; and developing race pride, including pan-African sensibilities and programs. Black exiles and expatriates from the Caribbean and Africa crossed paths in metropoles such as New York City and Paris after World War I and had an invigorating influence on each other that gave the broader “Negro renaissance” (as it was then known) a profoundly important international cast.

SPACES AND EXCHANGES -IDEA OF PROGRESS

How has the Great Migration changed the face of New York city ?

What impact has the Great Migration had on US main cities (NEW YORK – CHICAGO) ?

What pushed African Americans to go North? (push and pull factors) – (see post on Immigration)

HARLEM -Impact of the Great Migration –

As a result of housing tensions, many blacks ended up creating their own cities within big cities, fostering the growth of a new urban African-American culture. The most prominent example was Harlem in New York City, a formerly all-white neighborhood that by the 1920s housed some 200,000 African Americans. The black experience during the Great Migration became an important theme in the artistic movement known first as the New Negro Movement and later as the Harlem Renaissance, which would have an enormous impact on the culture of the era. The Great Migration also began a new era of increasing political activism among African Americans, who after being disenfranchised in the South found a new place for themselves in public life in the cities of the North and West.

Black migration slowed considerably in the 1930s, when the country sank into the Great Depression, but picked up again with the coming of World War II. By 1970, when the Great Migration ended, its demographic impact was unmistakable: Whereas in 1900, nine out of every 10 black Americans lived in the South, and three out of every four lived on farms, by 1970 the South was home to less than half of the country’s African-Americans, with only 25 percent living in the region’s rural areas.

The renaissance had many sources in black culture, primarily of the United States and the Caribbean, and manifested itself well beyond Harlem. As its symbolic capital, Harlem was a catalyst for artistic experimentation and a highly popular nightlife destination. Its location in the communications capital of North America helped give the “New Negroes” visibility and opportunities for publication not evident elsewhere. Located just north of Central Park, Harlem was a formerly white residential district that by the early 1920s was becoming virtually a black city within the borough of Manhattan. Other boroughs of New York City were also home to people now identified with the renaissance, but they often crossed paths in Harlem or went to special events at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library. Black intellectuals from Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and other cities (where they had their own intellectual circles, theatres, and reading groups) also met in Harlem or settled there. New York City had an extraordinarily diverse and decentred black social world in which no one group could monopolize cultural authority. As a result, it was a particularly fertile place for cultural experimentation.

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

drstrangelove

Context of the movie : It was just 52 years ago that Stanley Kubrick’s legendary satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb hit theaters — but the world was a very different place. The Cold War was at its height, and America was still recovering from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy just two months earlier. It’s into this charged landscape that Stanley Kubrick launched Dr. Strangelove, a jet-black comedy that gave voice to the nerve-jangling paranoia of the era.

Why is Dr Strangelove still relevant today?

  1. There are still a lot of nuclear weapons in the world
    In the decades since Dr. Strangelove’s release, there have been significant reductions in warheads across the globe. But more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the world’s combined nuclear arsenal remains disturbingly high. It’s estimated that some 17,000 warheads are currently stockpiled around the globe, of which around 1,800 remain on high alert, ready to be fired at a moment’s notice. In addition, the government continues to plow billions of dollars into projects such as the so-called « Star Wars » missile defense system (an idea first dreamt up by the Reagan administration in 1983).

These days, of course, Russia isn’t the most troubling atomic aggressor; there are emerging nuclear powers, like Iran and North Korea. But while the players have changed and public paranoia has diminished, the Doomsday Clock remains rooted at five to midnight — a reminder that mankind is arguably as close to mutually assured destruction as we were at the time of Dr. Strangelove’s release.

  1. The technology of war
    From doomsday machines to a Jumbotron-filled war room with a strict « No Fighting » policy, technology is at the heart of Dr. Strangelove’s dark narrative — particularly when it malfunctions. One of the film’s central themes is the deeply flawed technology of war, which puts real power in the hands of fallible machines, not to mention armchair generals holed up in windowless bunkers thousands of miles away from the front lines. Fast forward 50 years, to an age where drones have become commonplace, and you don’t have to look hard for a parallel.
  2. Human fallibility
    « I admit the human element seems to have failed us here, » says Dr. Strangelove’s General Turgidson, played by the brilliant George C. Scott. It’s a sentiment that echoes throughout Dr. Strangelove. The mental illnesses, testosterone-fuelled saber-rattling, and downright stupidity of a few high-level players can set humankind on a course to nuclear obliteration. Half a century later, the human race is no less fallible — and whatever your politics, you need only to turn on the news for to get a stark reminder of mankind’s continued propensity for self-destruction.
  3. A culture of fear
    No, the United States is no longer immersed in a Cold War with « Rooskies » or « Commies » who are intent on « impurifying our bodily fluids. » But the culture of fear that drives in Dr. Strangelove is still an ever-present part of our lives. From the ongoing « War on Terror » to chronic tensions with North Korea, unseen enemies continue to drive public paranoia in a way that makes Dr. Strangelove darkly relatable. In the years since its release, collective fears about ideological enemies have continued to fuel policy-making, from the invasion of Iraq to the expansion of the surveillance state.
  4. Government distrust
    Dr. Strangelove goes out of its way to undermine each and every authority figure that it puts on screen: Psychologically unstable generals, drunken world leaders, and armchair commanders whose opinions are directly informed by agenda-driven think tanks. Kubrick’s film shows us a world where there’s an entirely justified suspicion of the people whose fingers are on the triggers. If that sounds familiar, that’s probably because it hasn’t changed much: If recent reports of record levels of government mistrust are to be believed, things are worse than ever.

POWER in Dr Strangelove

First, we’ve got the deadly power of nuclear bombs and the Doomsday Machine. We’ve also got political power, which in this story isn’t very effective. There’s Strangelove’s demented scientific power. You’ll notice that women are totally absent from this discussion of power. That’s because they didn’t have any, except the power to drive men crazy with lust. The idea of a woman in the War Room or the White House would have been completely off the radar back then.

Do you think women would be less likely to let the nukes fly?

Questions about Power

  1. Who would you say is the most powerful character in the film? The most powerless?
  2. How is power shown as a force of destruction in the film? Is it ever shown as a positive force?
  3. What does the film say about President Muffley’s power?

Chew on This

Take a peek at these thesis statements. Agree or disagree?

Technology is the only « character » in the film with any real power.

Dr. Strangelove depicts powerful men as clowns to highlight the fact that they’re ultimately weak on multiple levels.

More questions about power:

Is Power Good Or Bad?
There are so many ways to use power that it is quite easy for it to take over and actually do more harm than good in society.

Sources:

http://www.shmoop.com/dr-strangelove/themes.html

http://theweek.com/articles/452253/why-dr-strangelove-more-depressingly-relevant-than-ever

Ironically as I was writing this article I came across this:

cover-de-niro-trump

“I don’t see a lot of difference between Kubrick’s totally insane General Jack D. Ripper and our totally insane Donald J. Trump. Do you?” actor says Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVER-De-Niro-Trump.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I don’t see a lot of difference between Kubrick’s totally insane General Jack D. Ripper and our totally insane Donald J. Trump. Do you?” actor says Sunday

 

The American Dream :Myth or reality?

Here is a link which explains the American Dream in simple terms. It will also give you key questions for the exam.

 

The American dream

A myth or a reality?

What are the main values that the American Dream stands on? Are they still shared today?

Now watch a video of the recently elected Donald Trump and his intention to renew the American Dream. ¨Trump pledges to renew the American Dream¨ : For Trump, the dream is obviously  a reality which is no longer true but can be brought back. The dream can become reality if you vote for him!

To what extent was the American dream of the settlers  fulfilled in the XX century? What about today?

Another video on the American Dream : Requiem for the American Dream. An interview of one of the most prominent intellectual of the XX century : Noam Chomsky. For Chomsky the American Dream has always been a make belief. Chomsky explains how concentrated wealth creates concentrated power, which legislates further concentration of wealth, which then concentrates more power in a vicious cycle. He lists and elaborates on ten principles of the concentration of wealth and power — principles that the wealthy of the United States have acted intensely on for 40 years or more.

The video can be seen on youtube –

Great document to illustrate the notion of power.

The film concludes with a call to build mass movements for change. The United States still has a very free society, Chomsky advises. A lot can be done, he tells us, if people will only choose to do it.

Again this can illustrate the notion of power and the topic of counter power : See my post on Power and counter power –

To finish let´s remember John Lennon´s song :

JOHN LENNON LYRICS

« Power To The People »

Power to the people

Power to the people

Power to the people, right on

Say you want a revolution
We better get on right away
Well you get on your feet
And out on the street

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

A million workers working for nothing
You better give ’em what they really own
We got to put you down
When we come into town

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

I gotta ask you comrades and brothers
How do you treat you own woman back home
She got to be herself
So she can free herself

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on
Now, now, now, now

Oh well, power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Yeah, power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Harlem Renaissance

harlem-renaissance

Completely excluded from the fine ideals of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, African Americans spent the next two centuries searching for political, intellectual and cultural empowerment in American society. Prior to the 1920´s African Americans were depicted as the goodhearted and obedient ¨negro¨ (Uncle Tom´s cabin) or the uneducated farmer. With the Harlem Renaissance a new image of sophisticated and intellectual Afro Americans began to emerge. The harlem Renaissance was more than an artistic movement ; it helped lay the foundation for the post-World War II phase of the Civil Rights movement.

The Harlem Renaissance – A new racial consciousness for African American artists who believed that, through art, they could fight stereotypes and racial prejudice.

See previous post : Art as a weapon which also deals with this topic.

Problematiques:

How has slavery affected the African American culture ?

How to combat stereotypes of Black Americans ?

To what extent has the Harlem Renaissance helped to combat/to fight the stereotype ?

To what extent has the Harlen Renaissance helped African Americans achieve recognition?

To what extent has the Harlen Renaissance helped African Americans gain power?

Documents :

On stereotypes :

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom´s Cabin, 1852

Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, 1969

On Discrimination and the Jim Crow Laws

Toni Morrison, Sula, 1973

On the Harlem Renaissance – Art as a weapon/as a counter power

Langston Hughes, I Too Sing America, 1925

William H. Johnson, The Chain Gang, 1939

Gordon Parks, American Gothic, 1942

 

 

 

 

 

FIDEL CASTRO : A HERO OR A VILLAIN?

castro1

SOME ARE GRIEVING….

castro2

WHILE OTHERS ARE CELEBRATING…..

He was a figure of both lights and shadows, beloved as well as hated by millions of Cubans and others around the world.

Here are 2 articles to help you forge your own opinion on this ambivalent leader.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Definition of heroes

  • A person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal
  • A person who has braved death, who has risked or sacrified his or her life

In the light of this definition, can Fidel Castro be called a hero?

 

 

 

 

LONDON:AN EVOLVING CITY

londonbrexit

It’s official – London is the most powerful city on the planet. According to this year’s Global Power Index, there’s no better place to work or live when you weigh up our economy and culture.

london-global-city                                                 london

London = a global city

London´s leading role as a global city

It´s time for London to leave the UK

What impact do global cities have on people´s everyday lives?

LONDON FOG

On Friday 5 December 1952, a thick yellow smog brought the capital to a standstill for four days and is estimated to have killed more than 4,000 people. London’s air may appear much cleaner today, but is still dangerously polluted. The coal pollution that caused the infamous ‘pea soupers’ has been replaced by invisible pollution – mainly from traffic fumes – resulting in 13,000 early deaths each year in the UK and 4,300 in London

60 years since the great smog of London

The pea-souper : It killed Londoners in droves, and inspired writers and artists from Melville to Monet: an atmospheric exploration of pollution in the capital

London. (….) Implacable November weather, (…) Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes – gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun (…) Foot passengers, jostling one another´s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and loosing their foot.hold at streets corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke) …

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Chapter 2, 1852

It was a foggy day in London, and the fog was heavy and dark. Animate London, with smarting eyes and irritated lungs, was blinking, whezzing, and choking; inanimate London was a sooty spectre, divided in purpose between being visible and invisible, and so being wholly neither (..) Even in the surrounding country it was a foggy day, but there the fog was grey, whereas in London it was, at about the boundary line, dark yellow, and a little within brown, and then browner, and then browner, until at the heart of the city – which call Saint Mary Axe – it was rusy-black.

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friends, 1865.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 19th century: He lived in London. The rapidly growing industrial environment of the time served as a bachground to most of his novels : Little Dorrit, David Copperfield, The Adevntures of Oliver Twist. He is famous for his realistic depiction of the poverty and pollution that were generated by the industrial revolution.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE CITY

The growth of global cities have brought a wealth of culture, linguistic and ethnic diversity, helping to enrich everyday life and open new possibilities of exchange. However, the needs of such dense population have led to serious problems in terms of environment. From the slums and fog of Victorian London to the Great Smog of 1952 and the current issue of traffic pollution, global cities struggle to find solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and improve urban living conditions.

Will global cities find a way to create sustainable environment in the future?

 

 

GLOBAL CITIES

global-cities

What does this expression make you think of?

Can you give some examples?

What can you find in most global cities?

What do they have in common? In terms of culture? Business? Services? Population? Architecture?

WHAT IS A GLOBAL CITY?

•Function as a key point in the global world economy
•Prominence of business and financial services
•Importance of global communication for the exchance of information
•Development of a global culture
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GLOBAL CITY
  • a large population
  • international financial institutions, law firms, corporate headquarters, stock
  • exchanges that have influence on the world economy, an advanced communication infrastructure
  • several international cultures and communities
  • a major international airport that provides flights to different parts of the world
  • an advanced transportation system that offers multiple modes of transportation
  • a lively cultural scene, including film festivals, a thriving music or
    theater scene, art galleries and street performers, cultural institutions such as museums and universities several powerful and influential media outlets with an international reach

NEW YORK…NEW YORK …  WHAT MAKES NEW YORK A GLOBAL CITY?

DIVERSITY

  • New York is a populous and diverse city with a population of 8.274.527
  • ¨melting pot¨ : 36% of the city`s population is foreign born
CONNECTIVITY
  • New York City is the top international air passenger gateway to the US Transportation:more than 12.000 yellow cabs
  • the New York City Subway: open 24 hours per day
CULTURE
¨Culture seems to be in the air, like part of the weather.¨ (Tom Wolfe)
  • A network of major cultural institutions such as Metropolitan Museum of Art ,The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Universities: New York is home to many universities such as    Columbia University, New York University…
  • Media: New York is a global center for the television, music and newspaper industries.
INTERNATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
  • New York is a major center for international affairs.
  • It is home to the United Nations headquartes complex.
  • Many major corporations are headquartered in New York City
FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES
  • New York: one of the three ¨command centers¨ for the world economy
  • One of the key cities in global communication
  • New York Stock Exchange
  • NASDAQ
DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS OF GLOBAL CITIES
According to Saskia Sassen  (Dutch-American sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration.  Sassen coined the term Global city)
– global cities fulfill coordinating roles and functions rather than competing against each other
– New York: major center for financial innovation
– London: international banking and financial center
– Paris: global financial center due to the structural features of its banking and financial system
 – London, Paris and Tokyo: national govermental capitals, but New York is not.
 – London, New York, Paris and Tokyo are all attractive cities for tourists, but the type of tourists is different.
PROBLEMS IN GLOBAL CITIES
  • Social polarization
In Sassen`s view: the economic structure of the global city leads to social polarization,
as the leading sectors employ a group of extraordinarily high earning individuals and create a demand for low-paid service workers.
  • High cost of living
  • High competition for top positions
  • Stress