Octavia Butler, Sojourner Truth, and Kimberley Crenshaw

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All the writing assignments should be written in MLA format, double-spaced. The font should be Times
New Roman, 12 points. A delay will cause a reduction of credits. The grade breaks down into the
following sections:
Response Papers: 75% (5 x 15%), 4 pages each + a list of cited works
Response papers are the short written responses on the literary and cinematic materials. Students may
choose one or several from the indicated materials and engage with it/them deeply. They can also engage
with the films and literature from the former weeks. The response should include a paper title, a clear
research question, logical and well-structured analyses, examples from the indicated materials or daily
life, and a list of cited works

For the third week (December 31 – January 6), we will finish the following tasks:

1. Read the following five selected stories from Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories: “Bloodchild”, “The Evening and the Morning and the Night”, “Speech Sounds”, “Amnesty”, and “The Book of Martha”.

2. Read Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” please find it under “Content.”

3. Read Kimberley Crenshaw’s social analysis, “Mapping the Margins.” please find it under “Content.”

Correction: in the former announcement, I assigned six stories. Please read just five stories instead: “Bloodchild”, “The Evening and the Morning and the Night”, “Speech Sounds”, “Amnesty”, “The Book of Martha.” Delete “Crossover.”

In her “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument,” Sylvia Wynter analyzes the evolution of modern Man that overrepresents the meaning of human since the beginning of the colonization of America and Africa. Instead of universal as how we easily take it, this modern Man a universalized concept that is temporally and spatially specific, which can be historicized as how Wynter did, and became universalized through the colonial(izing) and global(izing) world history. In other words, Wynter is pointing out that we should understand the concept of human which is overrepresented by the modern Man as a social invention that is not irrelevant to the natural and biological reality but shape how we understand such a reality. The marks of human – chosen by the God, reason, mind, intellectuality, consciousness, physically evolved of being able to use technologies, and so on – are all related to a specific epistemic order of things and beings.

The evolution of Man has two transitional stages. The first transition transforms the True Christian Self into the Man of Reason. The light side of this transition is the rise of the European modern nation-state, public space, representative politics, and citizenship, while its dark side is the witch-hunting that systematically punishes and murderers the females that are not properly feminine as a reproductive machine for the nation-states and the subjugations of the non-human, animalistic savages all around the world. The Man of Reason is the one claiming that he has the ability to control his emotion with the instrumental reason that no others can. The Reason given by God enables him to become a proper political subject and a citizen that controls the other apolitical and non-citizen things and beings that includes women and non-human colonized people. The guide quote from Pico della Mirandela’s Oration on the Dignity of Man in the Introduction part of Wynter’s article epitomizes this first transition happened with the Enlightenment:

“Now the highest Father, God the master-builder, … took up man … and placing him at the midpoint of the world … spoke to him as follows: “We have given to thee, Adam, no fixed seat, no form of thy very own, no gift peculiarly thine, that thou mayest feel as thine own, have as thine own, possess as thine own the seat, the form, the gifts which thou thyself shalt desire. A limited nature in other creatures is confined within the laws written down by Us. In conformity with thy free judgement, in whose hands I have placed thee, thou art confined by no bounds; and thou wilt fix limits of nature for thyself. … Neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal have We made thee. Thou, like a judge appointed for being honorable art the molder and marker of thyself; thou mayest sculpt thyself into whatever shape thou dost prefer. Thou canst grow downward into the lower natures which are brutes. Thou canst again grow upward from thy soul’s reason into the higher natures which are divine.”

As we can see, the modern Man is being able to be political and independent because he is given by God with this unique ability of Reason that differentiates him from other beings in Nature. He is the only being created by God to make decisions with his own intentionality for himself as well as to utilize the natural environment for his own profits. This transition is also called a secular turn of Man. What is ironic is that the logic of secularization is totally based on the logic of the supernatural. The modern Man cannot establish his sense of the Self without the supernatural authority and the condemnation of the senses of selves of human others. The human others were not considered modern and political exactly because they were not chosen by God.

The second transition is the Darwinian evolutionism that brings the politico-centric Man to the biocentric Man. The power of this second transition is that it erases the socially defined power relation or what Frantz Fanon calls “sociogeny” and attributes how a person exists to what a person biologically is. Therefore, as Wynter points out, if a person of color fails to become a breadwinner in a society, it is because he is not born that way. A person is not a Man of capital because s/he is not selected by the Natural Law (created by the God and later became secularized) to be the one destined to be a leader or an elite. In resonance with Fanon, we can say that a person is fixed in his/her body that carries his biological inferiority. The biological defines the social. A person is not a full citizen, a political subject, a man of reason and consciousness, a man of knowledge, or a man of consciousness, because he is biologically less than the modern Man. The traces of the first transition of Man’s evolution did not disappear but deeply embedded in the new version of Man.

In “Get Out,” a peculiar understanding of human evolution is sarcastically exhibited. Chris and his black folks are considered the medium of human evolution because of their physical bodies. Their bodies are racistically defined as fertile, seminal, enduring, and muscular, which are ideal for the modern Men’s minds to reside.



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