Above is the link to the presentation I created with my classmates that analyzed an advertisement campaign by The Mandarin Oriental
How an Anti-Feminist Theory is implied in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
The Feminist Theory entails the relationship between the sexes and the inequality that exists in the role of women in society and culture. While Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress mainly focuses on delineating the aspects of the Cultural Revolution, viewing the novel through a lens of gender reveals an entirely new perspective on how women are being portrayed. More specifically, the outline of Luo’s attempt to “civilize” the Little Chinese Seamstress reveals the underlying values that oppose the Feminist Theory in the novel.
“The second was new, Made in Shanghai, and he left it at home for his daughter, ‘the Little Seamstress’.” (Sijie 42)
The hints of anti-feminism are apparent from the most earliest remarks in the novel. While introducing one of the main characters, the seamstress, Da Sijie uses diction to deliberately underscore certain characteristics of the seamstress (the only female main character in the novel), that lie their basis on the stereotypical portrayals of females. The seamstress is merely referred throughout the novel with an epithet instead of having a name, and has the most stereotypical gender role of being a seamstress. This loss of having a name (a symbol for your identity) implicitly degrades the position of women in the novel. Furthermore, she is referred to as the little Chinese seamstress, which has a rather demeaning connotation.
“With these books I shall transform the Little Seamstress.” (Sijie 178)
“She’ll never be a simple mountain girl again.” (Sijie 179)
After Luo’s first encounter with the Little Chinese Seamstress, he decides that it is necessary for her to become more “civilized” in order for him to interact with her at a more in-depth level. While outlining Luo’s desires, Da Sijie describes the seamstress as a “simple mountain girl”. The underlying ideals in Luo’s description of the seamstress of her elementary mental state and how it is Luo’s job to “transform” her into a more “civilized person” connects back to the stereotypical gender role (of being a seamstress) that she holds in the novel. Not only this, but a contrast between Luo and the Chinese Seamstress is drawn. While a job that is merely considered “simple” and “basic” is given to the seamstress, a relatively more complex task is given to Luo, who believes that he is obliged to
“She said she had learnt one thing from Balzac: that a woman’s beauty is a treasure beyond price.” (Sijie 323)
Luo’s attempt to “civilize” the seamstress continues on in the novel, and he supposedly succeeds in shifting her perspective on how she views the world. However, in this process of her “transformation”, the seamstress ultimately acquires complete independency of her future. The creation of her determination to explore the world through her new perspective ultimately leads to her leaving the town (and Luo). While the initial idea of a character (that symbolizes female roles) gaining absolute independency in her decision-making lies under feminist ideals, the novel indirectly suggests the necessity of the intervention of a male character (Luo) for the change to occur. However, in reality, the shift in the seamstress’s perspective was caused through the power of literature, which is another one of the underlying themes of the novel. In fact, Luo was merely a trigger that allowed her to explore the literature that actually brought change to her life.
Just evidence that I completed the Individual Oral 🙂
Overall, I had a pretty good time. It was challenging at times but people DEF overrate the difficulty of IB. We are all procrastinators.
2. If I wanted to be remembered by one thing, it’d be that I was a pretty hard worker. I think you can succeed in high school/wherever if you work hard, and I want to say that I worked decently hard throughout the past four years. Not just in this course, but in all the things I did.
3. I am totally unsure of where I’ll be next year, because I’m still waiting on my decisions in Korea. Hopefully, I’ll have options in both the US and Korea 🤞🏼. But wherever I go, I know I’ll be happy with my time in high school – it was really a blast.
4. One key takeaway from this particular class would be experiencing a wide range of texts. I know that’s like the whole point of the course, but taking IB English really allowed me to view/read/consume all types of texts that I would never have stumbled upon on my own. That’s one thing that I appreciate about this class 🙂
5. My favorite memory is killing Jane right before class during assassins. It was awesome because she was not expecting it at all, and I basically prevented her from having fun 😌
6. One memorable text we studied was “When They See Us,” as it opened up an entirely new perspective for me regarding the prevalence of systematic racism in the US. Also, it was just a really good miniseries in general (and one I would never have watched if not for this class).
7. I would encourage all the juniors to just finish everything on time. If you follow all the deadlines, you’ll be okay. Also, work hard play hard. For real, have some fun because high school is supposed to be one of the best times of your life. ISB is pretty academically focused so it’s more difficult, but you can always make time on a Friday/Saturday night. I’m gonna miss high school a lot because I had so much fun, so cherish it when you can 🙂
Peace out high school, peace out ISB 😤
Overall Theme: I focused on valuing friendship and the role that friendship holds in our lives. I chose this particular theme as I personally have a lot of experience of acquiring comfort/providing a source of comfort to others through friendship.
Article 1: “Companionship and Mental Health” – Especially during the long period of quarantine, I found many of my friends having difficulty maintaining a healthy mental state. As someone who understands the benefits of being surrounded by people who support you, I want to be able to spread that message. Furthermore, teenagers might find talking to parents about such issues difficult (as they will worry), which is especially why having supporters of your age is so important.
Article 2: “How to End a Friendship” – As much as you can benefit from friends when the relationship is not healthy, it can certainly affect you negatively. I believe that (while it may sound a bit cold) you HAVE to end such relationships. While it may be difficult, if you know you’ll gain more from that process, you have to make the hard choice and say goodbye.
Article 3: “How to Say ‘I Love You’ to a Friend” – I actually love saying “I Love You” to my friends. I think there are many different types of love you can experience in your life, one of which is the bonding experience you have with your friends. For me, a lot of the time, saying the phrase “I Love You” solidifies and reminds us of our relationship’s strength. Hence, whenever I call a friend that is not currently in Beijing with me, I end the conversation with a simple, “I Love You.”
Article 4: “Why Old Friends Matter” – I chose this article to remind MYSELF of why old friends are important. Unfortunately, over time, I have drifted apart from my old friends (who I knew since I was 1 year old). This was because we started attending different high schools, which formed different friend groups and different values. I know that we can strengthen our relationship once we start talking again, so it’s just a matter of garnering the courage to send that “How ya doing?” Text message. While I’m still hesitating a bit, I know I will be reaching out soon because I love them and miss them.
Article 5: “Why Men Are So Bad at Friendship” – This article made me THINK. I’ve always thought that I was good at showing my vulnerability to my friends but reflecting back, I remembered specific cases where I closed myself off. There were cases where I internalized my pain instead of reaching out to my friends, which created confusion and miscommunication. To be honest, I think my process of internalizing my pain was in part because of my fear of being vulnerable to my friends. It’s a weird and challenging thing to do- though I know my friends will support me no matter what, I still sometimes struggle with it. It’s something I want to continue working on.
Article 6: “The Teasing of Old Friends” – I loved this article because I agreed with many of the things it discussed. I think teasing/being teased is undoubtedly an important process in building relationships. When I understand that someone is comfortable teasing me/being teased by me, it elevates our level of friendship to another level. My old friends always greet me with a joke, and I reciprocate it with my own. As soon as we crack the same old jokes, it feels like we returned to the times when we were together every day at school. I think that’s the best part about teasing – its power of restoring the friendship we once had in such a short amount of time.
Article 7: “What Would An Ideal Friend Be Like?” – While the article lists the 6 characteristics needed in an “ideal” friend, I don’t think something like this can be defined. I had a period in my life where I wanted to be an “ideal” friend to everyone but realized that it would be impossible. Everybody has different preferences for what they want and need in a friendship, and tailoring my personality to each person is just too stressful. As soon as I realized that I did not have the mental capacity for that, I moved on to being myself. At the end of the day, we’re living our own lives, and I think good friends (though maybe not ideal) must respect that part about each other.
Article 8: “On Talking Horizontally” – I chose this article as I initially did not understand what they meant by “talking horizontally.” I thought the article’s connection between Freud’s realization and our relationship was really cool. We find it difficult to talk about certain things, regardless of how closely-knit our friendships are. Every time I’m under a situation where I need to confess something “uncomfortable,” I keep on reminding myself that the fact that they love me won’t change – no matter what. Once that thought is in my mind, talking horizontally to my friends is not as difficult.
The last eight months were undoubtedly one of the most memorable periods in both my learning and life. For the first time, I “attended” school from three different places: my grandma’s house in Korea, my quarantine hotel downtown, and my home in Beijing. While there were both benefits and challenges that followed these circumstances, overall, I am genuinely happy and grateful that I saw everyone in my life come out of quarantine with a generally positive attitude.
Throughout this period filled with abnormal conditions, I found myself adapting to our new way of learning. The system of working almost entirely online allowed me to schedule my work time accordingly, which meant that I had freedom over when/where I wanted to complete all my assignments. This was a benefit that I truly enjoyed having, as it was one of the few aspects of elearning that helped me relax from time to time. That being said, I set ground rules for myself to complete all my coursework on time. Below is the actual “rules” list I copied from my stickies:
– WAKE UP BETWEEN 8-10
– SLEEP BEFORE 2
– DO HOMEWORK FIRST
– MAX 2 HOURS OF NETFLIX
*I ended up watching a lot more Netflix during the weekends
I think having these rules certainly contributed towards keeping myself in-check over this challenging period.
As for a challenging aspect of the last eight months, I personally found the countless waves of dx notifications to be quite daunting. Waking up to these notifications often made me feel overwhelmed about the day’s workload, and it became my primary source of stress over the period. However, as I learned NUMEROUS times before, the only way to really tackle your problems is to face them. As a result, tackling and completing all of these assignments became one of my most significant sources of happiness during this elearning period. Other than that, seeing my friends after spending months alone in Korea and quarantine was also an unforgettable experience. It allowed me to reflect and appreciate so many different things that I took for granted. That’s precisely why I’m so grateful for going to school currently, as I’m aware of this lack of privilege in so many other places in the world.
Moving onto specific school work, my favorite text that we studied last year was the Netflix documentary, “When They See Us,” directed by Ava Duvernay. I previously discussed the effects that this documentary series had on me in my last reflection post, and my stance on the matter remains the same. In fact, with racial discrimination seemingly only increasing all around the world, the lessons I’ve learned from the series have become exponentially more valuable over this period. Exploring a wide variety of work is one of my favorite aspects of this class, as I would have never watched a miniseries like WTSU alone (as I tend to shy away from sad movies that make me really sad).
In terms of major assessments, I will be focusing on the paper 1 and my individual oral. I significantly improved my work for both of these assessments over the last year, but I’m a firm believer that there is always more room for improvement. Now that I have a better understanding of how both of these assessments are structured/graded, I better understand what I have to do to improve in specific areas. Personally, I believe that going an extra step in my analysis will significantly enhance the level of my work for both of these assessments. I certainly have more confidence and experience regarding this aspect, and I feel as if it’s now the time to apply these strengths to my work.
Hence, my smart goal for the next year would be to consistently display the higher level of analysis (for both assignments mentioned above) while maintaining my organization and concision. I believe this goal is achievable, considering my experience and renewed confidence.
Taking a look at the year ahead, I feel all sorts of different emotions simultaneously. In a way, I’m excited about being a senior and ending my high school journey. On the other hand, I’m starting to realize just how significant this period will be in determining my future life. Knowing this, I feel quite nervous about completing my assignments to the best of my abilities. While I’m genuinely excited about the new year, I also can’t wait for it (my high school life) to be over. As for the works we are covering this year, I’m quite excited about reading the articles on The Onion. I usually read all my news on The New York Times, and I think it’d be an excellent idea to expand out towards different media outlets. However, I’m slightly worried that we’re reading Frankenstein this year, as I am a HUGE scaredy-cat (like for real).
All in all, I’m really happy with the position I am currently in, for both school and life. I love my friends and family; they love me, and I have so much to be grateful for. I know the upcoming months will be extremely stressful, but at least for now, I want to keep a positive mindset going into it. It’s going to be an interesting year, and I’m looking forward to it 🙂
I decided to try and make a podcast for this story! It was cool trying something new 🙂
I wanna start off by saying that I believe we have collectively achieved so much as learners in English this year, and it’s honestly become one of my favorite courses.
Funnily enough, before this assignment was given, I had a conversation with a senior friend about my academic life. This was someone who I looked up to and solicited advice from all the time. While our relationship rooted much deeper than merely discussing schoolwork, it was something we talked about quite often. Hence, when I was choosing my courses at the end of my sophomore year, we had lengthy discussions as to which courses would best fit my interests. During this process, we came to a consensus about nearly all of my classes except two: English and math. Personally, I really wanted to choose Lang & Lit instead of math as a higher-level course, but he advised against the idea, telling me it was “notoriously difficult.” I was on a ledge at this point, as I knew this was advice from someone who not only knew more about the courses than I did but also wanted nothing but the best for me.
In the end, I decided to take Lang & Lit as a higher level course (obviously).
Traveling back to just two weeks ago, we revisited this topic of how I was doing in school. We talked about everything – managing time, what I was eating during quarantine, how the first year of IB was going, etc. Then, in the middle of our conversation about schoolwork, I mentioned how Lang & Lit had undoubtedly become one of my favorite classes. I jokingly said I was very glad that I did not listen to his advice, and that taking a higher-level course for math would’ve been a nightmare. Obviously, I was messing around, but that exact moment made me realize that I really grew to love this class.
Personally, I think for a student to enjoy class, there has to be a combination of both growth and an entertaining aspect of learning. As for growth, while I may not have received all the best grades for our class, I feel as though I made the most significant strides in Lang & Lit out of all my classes. Most of what we do during class requires us to view all sorts of texts through a critical lens, and I believe I definitely improved in analyzing the texts given in class. This was only achievable through constant practice, which I also believe to be a key element in our learning. Furthermore, there was a clear improvement in my ability to complete the assessments. This was a natural process, where as we took more paper 1s and practice individual orals, we were able to better understand what we exactly had to do. For example, I personally felt progressive improvement in my ability to allocate my time properly, organize my analysis, utilize academic language, etc.
As for the entertaining aspect of learning, I personally found all the texts that we’ve been covering to be really interesting. Specifically, in this unit, our classes mainly revolved around the album DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar and the Netflix miniseries, “When They See Us,” directed by Ava Duvernay. Both of these texts had a resounding effect on the way I view not only texts but the world. For the album DAMN., while I listened to the the album prior to this unit, it served as a reminder of how important the context was. It made me realize that I was merely enjoying Kendrick Lamar’s music as a fan of mainstream music rather than someone who dug deeper into the meaning of his lyrics. Truly understanding the context of his work and the purpose behind the album opened up an entirely new perspective in not only listening to this album but viewing/listening to any type of text.
Out of all the texts we explored in class so far, the Netflix Miniseries “When They See Us” definitely had the greatest impact on the way I view the world. I typically avoid films and books that make me cry, so I saw this as a good opportunity for me to confront my fears of consuming these types of texts. In the end, I ended up connecting with the film on another level compared to the other texts, not because I could relate to the characters’ experiences but because they did such an excellent job in depicting their stories. Before watching, I was only briefly aware of the discrimination that was prevalent during the 1900s but watching the series really helped me understand as to how severely people’s lives were affected during these times. I had moments where I felt so angry or so sad for The Central Park 5 that I did not want to watch another episode. And again, viewing the miniseries through a critical lens where I considered the 6 dimensions of the rhetorical circle definitely enhanced the overall impression I received from the miniseries.
All in all, while I’m aware of the clear room for improvement, I am pretty proud of what we have achieved together as a class so far. I think whatever we do, it’s important to keep an optimistic mindset where we acknowledge what we’ve done, all while understanding the fact that there’s always more room to improve. This is where I believe I’m at with our class today, where I’m happy about what we’ve done, but is also looking forward to what we’ll achieve in the future. Let’s keep this up!!