October 26, 2012

More than just a Critique...

When reading the author's statement for "Public Secrets" by Sharon Daniel, it was something that really pulled me into the text where I wanted to know more. Which is the case with most things. Of course, this form of introduction is a great way to get people's attention. When you tell someone that you have a secret or that you know something that they don't it kills the other person. They want to know. We are, afterall, curious individuals (most of the time). Now I understand that the statement was a way to give the reader an idea of the type of text they will be getting into but I'd like to argue that besides this promoting the text, it also provides a knowledge that we are being open to. Really, the whole text provides knowledge and information to the reader about things they might not be aware of. It's not really part of everyday school/home life.

This idea of getting insight of the women correctional facilities is intriguing and when you find out that there is something wrong is it because the author finds it wrong or she is letting you think and interpret the situation and you decide it's wrong. It's a very difficult way to think of it. People have the right to take in what they want. And people can't get to their own solution until they read on how it effects anything around them.

We discussed in our last class that depending on what is said or done there is a response or reaction. Miller talkes about "situated action" and this really ties into the text of Daniel. These women are literally in a facility with very few freedoms. The responses themselves almost seem to be known . And when I say that I mean similiar situation repeat in these facilties but Daniel finds away to show the importance of it. SO why care for these women in one facility when a lot of this happens in other places? Maybe they are just to be a representation. But ultimatly the reader decides.


Catalina said...

It is interesting how you perceive the audience of this text, the reader. For some viewers, this IS everyday, this IS what they deal with on a daily basis. Many of the women represented in this essay came from backgrounds in which they were doomed to end up in prison. One of the blurbs talked of a woman whose two daughters and niece joined her in jail. And another of a woman who grew up thinking everyone got drunk every day, she thought that was completely normal. If you belonged to an audience that felt like the women represented, would the text be as powerful? Would the shock value wear off? Would you be less curious, less captivated, by the message?

I think her intended audience is middle-class, mainstream citizens. Any other audience just wouldn't be quite as affected by the text.

Cookie said...

I completely agree with you. It is for people who aren't exposed to these types of situations. It supposed to be shocking.
But that doesn't mean it's not for others. People who have family in these facilities may want to read this and take a stand. I think it can go to a wider audience I just don't think the same reaction will come from everyone.

Stephen Craun said...

I believe that you're idea of the text "providing knowledge to be open to" is a huge componet of Daniel's article, but it seems as though she is more interested in emphasizing that what we consider to be fundamental concepts and ideals of our society have been bastardized by the manipulation of what we perceive to be "knowledge"
What i mean can easily be seen in Daniel's term "public secrets", which she describes to be the "unknown known" knowledge within a given society, and these "unknown knowns" are actively kept consciously unknown by the general public to "keep safe from itself". Daniel uses the example of "don't ask, don't tell" to illustrate that if an individual's sexual orientation deviates from what is recoginized to be socially acceptable, then the other members of that society would rather not know about the deviation from their perceived belief systems.
I think that daniel's article goes beyond simply demonstrating that something is "wrong" with the womens' correctional institutions in califorina, but she wishes to illustrate from her own perspective that something is "wrong" with the way we perceive the nature of the correctional institutions to be. The contradiction of which the correctional institution manifest itself can be seen in the title given, "correctional facility", and this contradiction springs from what Daniel terms to be the "Aporia", or conflict between power and knowledge, and information and denial" The term "correctional facility" serves to imply that the prisons are institutions that "correct" sonme flaw in the immates, but the hypocritial nature of this institution becomes apparent when we are brought to the realization that the corretional facilities are far more detrimental to the lives of the immates and their existance in the social environment as a whole, through "correcting" aspects of individual freedom and social status

rachel rivera said...

I think this audience is meant for more than just a middle-class audience. One of the girls talks about how her parents told her she was going to end up knocked-up on the corner of the street when she was younger. She claims that she told the police she was being emotionally abused before that was even a "mainstream" or popular term.

I think the idea of "public secrets" is fascinating - there are things that we're purposefully blind to, like the treatment of prisoners, not just female ones. For so many people, this is everyday life. We're putting these people away because we don't want to have to deal with them, we don't want to have to help them be better. Why aren't they just that way? Why won't they just listen to their parents, like the girl said the police officers told her to do?

In response to Catalina, I don't think there would be a shock value because this is what they deal with for their entire lives but I don't think that would stop you from being curious or captivated. I think it's more that it would be frustrating to see that it's not just them who are being discriminated against, there's more and people just aren't doing what they're supposed to.

Nicola Wood said...

I'm sure this one prison is just meant to represent women in prisons all across the country, instead of being singled out as the most important. In your second paragraph, you talk about how the author reflects her feelings onto you, ie. she tells you what she thinks is wrong, and the reader/audience is expected to feel the same. However, I am not sure that she really has much to do with how we interpret the piece. Obviously she shows us one side of the situation (that prisons are mistreating their female prisoners and there is much about the prison system that we do not know), but I think that it is kind of universally accepted that prison is not a great place and prisoners do not receive exceptional treatment. So I'm not sure that Daniel is pushing her opinions of what is wrong or not wrong on us, rather she is making us aware of happenings in the prison that she deems are "public secrets."

Bridgette Balderson said...

I'm also curious to who Daniel's audience is supposed to be. I noticed that she herself is a professor and I think this project has too much of a foot in the world of academia. I mean, as students studying EWM it's pretty interesting, but who is randomly just going to happen across this on the internet and be intrigued enough to look at the whole thing? And.. who gets access to this? It's not like the California Department of Corrections has a featured place for "Public Secrets " on their website? Do the relatives of these inmates ever get to see this?

tgraban said...

Bridgette and All: I get your questions about audience, and really appreciate your point about giving others access to it (for example, inmates' relatives, if we thought that was part of its goal). But the devilish part of me wonders, "so what?"

In other words, so most texts (if not all) are audience-determined and audience-intended, and most are written with a certain set of constraints.

It wouldn't be hard to look up the journal in which this essay appeared (Vectors, online), and there's nothing about the journal that hides its own mission. It is a journal--quite academic, but quite hybrid in a number of ways. It probably wouldn't be too difficult, either, to determine who the audiences of that journal may be. Should academics not be writing and reading about these things? Thinking about the difficulties (or possibilities) in abolishing prison systems?

Does the fact that this was written by a professor-who-also-affiliates-with-a-nonprofit-organization mean that it didn't communicate to audiences beyond the one(s) intended? That it isn't a valued genre? Or medium? Is this the same as saying the message is inaccessible? Or less meaningful? Or less valuable?

Or, going a step further, is there a way to view this project as something that has grown out of the constraints of its own rhetorical situation? Something that has transcended our common tropes and genres and typical ways of thinking about women inmates, prisons, the prison system, ourselves?

I suppose what I'm really curious about is whether it is possible to see this project as doing something different -- as in, different enough to help us (as viewers) imagine different ways to view a problem. Different ways to think about problems. Different ways of thinking at all.

-Dr. G

Nicole Lynn said...

I like the proposal you make in the second paragraph and came to the same conclusion myself. Our perception of a piece is influenced not only by the voices that the author creates but by thew way they are presented. Though Daniel was definitely working to make us see things from many different perceptions, she still creates an outline for us to do this by, using particular images and picking out particular women. Everything is articulated to give us a new perspective and show us the "fine line" between contrasting ideas.

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