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Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

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Fall 2004and
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Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Ambiguity
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Joyce Carol Oates
  Our RITES OF PASSAGE Theme
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
  YOUNG MAN ON SIXTH AVENUE
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  LITERARY SYNTHESIS PROJECT
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Analyzing THE FIVE BEDROOM, SIX FIGURE ROOTLESS LIFE
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Analyzing WAITING FOR GODOT
  Approaching WAITING FOR GODOT
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA Links
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Notes on LEAF BY NIGGLE
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Notes on THE EYE OF THE GIANT
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  About SKIN DEEP
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

 
~~ About Skin Deep ~~



First, this film won an award in 2001.  It’s a powerful film, but not really a pleasant one.  There is some violence here, and a lot of ugliness in the form of racism.

The film tells the story of Romo, a 15-year-old mixed race teenager who is half white (his mother is British) and half Asian (his father was Pakistani).  Although he and his sister are both “Paki’s”—which is a racist way of calling them Pakistanis—Romo has learned that he can conceal his Asian features well enough to pass for being white.  Why would he want to do that?  It seems he’s trying really hard to fit in, to belong.  That’s a universal need, as we discussed on Wednesday, a really crucial part of anyone’s identity, feeling like you belong somewhere.  This film shows us Romo trying really hard to be accepted by the very people who have been so cruel to him in the past.  Why???  Why does anyone join a “gang”?  Maybe he’s just tired of being the victim and he feels it’s a way to be more powerful.  Maybe he’s been the victim so long that he’s completely internalized all that racist violence—to the point that what he most wants is to completely annihilate that whole side of himself; he wants to kill that whole “Paki” side of himself just as people around him have tried to kill him.  That seems to be what he’s trying to do.  But can he??

You’ll see in the film how much racism affected him throughout his childhood, growing up as a minority in an almost all white neighborhood, where everywhere he goes he can feel the hate.  Violence is never far away.  In the flashbacks that punctuate the film, we get a small sense of the abuse he had to endure growing up.  But we also see that intimidation and violence firsthand in several scenes.  We first see it when his little sister is taunted on her way to school.  The men who taunt her are members of the skinhead group called the National Front, a well known white supremacist gang in England.  You’ll notice in that scene where Romo is walking his sister to school that he has no intention of “protecting” her from this gang—even though his mother tells him to watch out for her.  Instead, he hides away and leaves her to fend completely for herself.  He’s more concerned about not being seen with a “Paki”—even if she’s his sister.  That really speaks to how alienated he is from his real self.  He abandons his own sister.  But he abandons her even before that.  It’s really obvious that whenever he looks at her he feels ashamed; her race is too visible.  You may begin to think pretty early on that this guy is heartless, horrible.  But that’s what the film is exploring—what racism has done and is continuing to do to this kid, the psychic damage it inflicts, how it rips his soul completely apart, how it completely threatens his identity.

You’ll notice throughout the film he keeps looking in the mirror.  It’s a motif.  The film opens with him looking in the mirror, talking to himself.  And throughout, he keeps checking himself in the mirror.  Each time he looks, the feeling is a little different, until the last scene, which is the real climax of the film.  When you see him looking in the mirror, try to imagine what he’s looking for, what he’s feeling, what he seems to be trying to feel.

One or two other things that might be hard to pick up on because of the British accent—and only seeing the film once.  When he walks his sister to school he tells her he’ll be home at 6:00 for a special dinner to celebrate his first day on the job.  At some point you realize he's completely neglected to go home.   Notice, too, the scene in the pub; in the background, the comedian on stage is telling “Paki” jokes.  

The action of the film is pretty simple.  It’s 13 minutes long and it follows this boy in the course of one day.  But it’s not just any day—this is a big day for him.  He’s starting a new job.  His co-workers at this new job are both in the National Front, that white supremacist gang we see when he walks his sister to school.  He wants badly to be accepted by them.  Nothing else—his  “Paki” family included—is the least bit important to him.  Will he be accepted?  At what cost????

Questions to Consider
  1. Are the men from the National Front the only ones with racist attitudes?  (The comedian, the people in the pub—they’re all hostile.) Would it be different for him if the racist attitudes were limited to that group?
  2. What do you think happens to this boy after the last scene?
  3. Not everyone reacts like Romo when confronted by racism.  What makes him seek the acceptance of the people who’ve been so cruel to him?  Does it seem psychologically realistic to you that he’d want to join with them?
  4. In her brief scene, the mother says her children wouldn't be acting this way if their father was still there. 
Another short film, Second Skin, is also about identity, but not really about an identity crisis.  It’s more to do with how we judge people by their appearances, but how, especially for teenagers, appearances can be deceiving.  

 

 

 

     

 


Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2008 by Stacy Tartar Esch.

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