Humanities 2
Themes, Questions, and Ideas from Class Discussion (1/21/05-2/2/05)

Power:
* Hierarchical vs. distributed
* Real vs. Illusory --How is it exercised? How is it contextual?
· Pearl Earring: Vermeer as an agent of power. Griet as a powerful agent (despite class).
· Nafisi: The intimacy of the prisoner and jailor. How is the condemned man complicit in his imprisonment?
· Male vs. Female modes of power (how can these be mixed, appropriated or disturbed?)
· Where does power reside? When is this surprising?
· Why is Osmond (Portrait of a Lady) so powerful? How are others affected by his power? How does he demonstrate his power? (Stepping on dress, appealing to honor, etc).

Relationships:
· Between men and women (husband/wife, protector/protected, seducer/seduced-which is which?)
· Between women (shared experiences, class differences, etc.)
· Between men
· The power of alliances (when does it pay to conceal these alliances?)
· The danger/intrigue of sexuality (how can sexuality be converted into power, or into a feeling of powerfulness?)
Dualities: Conflict vs. Solidarity Danger vs. Love

Social Structures:
Private vs. Public Insider vs. Outsider Individual vs. Group
· What happens at the boundary of these?
· How are the conflicts between these acted out in relationships?
· Societal representations and roles are self perpetuating: we are cast into these types by words/examples.

Art: How is it tied to gender? Are there ways in which it allows transcendence of gender? How can it be used? How does it relate to these other themes?

Objects: Hair, Dress, Pictures, Paintings, Books. How are these things valued? What can they become symbols for? What is the importance of small acts of defiance? Who is aware of their power? What freedoms or power can they provide? How can these associations be subversive?

Space:
Private Space/ Self-definition
Intellectually and literally
· Nafisi: Women create a haven (safe space) in which they are more free in important ways.
· Isabel (Portrait) reserves the right to experiment with her life (clings to a self-image based on independence), and rejects obvious sources of power.