This is exceptional! LOVE Basquiat. Enjoy!

Mediated

Last night I watched a DVD documentary on the 1980s artist Jean Michel Basquiat, called “The Radiant Child”, which included footage from an interview done in 1985 in LA.  The picture above is from another interview, I’d guess around 1982, and I just liked it cause he’s unexpectedly wearing the Wesleyan shirt (my alma mater).

In recent years I’ve come to appreciate his work more and more.  He grew up in Brooklyn in relatively well-off circumstance, but apparently had quite a complicated relationship with his businessman father, and ran away from home several times.  He ran away for good at age 17 in 1978 to Manhattan, and his initial efforts were doing graffiti with a friend under the name SAMO.  This was not standard graffiti – SAMO had messages for the world which were legibly written on building walls in block letters.  Despite being mostly homeless, he had a…

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Reading the Visual World

Thoughts and comments on this course syllabus would be much appreciated. 🙂

Reading the Visual World

Office Hours By Appointment

Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense.
Gerhard Richter, The Daily Practice of Painting (1995)

As subjects, we are literally called into the picture, and represented here as caught.
Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1978)

What is “visual culture”? What do we mean when we speak of “the visual world,” “images,” “symbols,” or “signs”? What kinds of “things” are conjured in our minds by these words? Furthermore, if these words lead to visual “things,” to “images,” in our minds, must then “images” lead to words? This course will explore the myriad of shapes, forms and contexts that art, “image(s),” takes within cultures.

From art to architecture, advertising to film, visual culture takes many forms throughout history and especially within today’s marketing-charged, internet-driven culture of constant images and streaming video. How we see and how we interpret what we see is essential to how we comprehend the world around us. Yet few disciplines, outside of the Fine Arts, examines the relationship between image and text in order to develop a critical vocabulary for discussing it, dissecting it, and theorizing it in new and exciting ways. Therefore many are left intrigued yet perplexed by visual culture, lacking the means to express what they see and how feel about it.

This course will serve as a wide-ranging introduction to visual culture and critical approaches to the study of art in all its assorted forms. An emphasis will be placed on exploring elements of the visual world to better understand types of images, ways of interpretation and understanding, and methods of speaking and writing of and about images. The seminar will serve as a workshop in which students will help set the agenda for weekly discussions by bringing their own interests, impetuses for seminar participation, and modes of interpretation to the material.

Formal interest in art, art history, architecture, aesthetic studies, advertising, film, anthropology, or museum studies is not required, in fact the more diverse and wide-ranging the backgrounds, interests, and disciplinary fields of the students involved the better.

Course Requirements:

Because this is a once a week seminar, a premium will be placed on attendance and active participation, the life-blood of any seminar. In addition to being prepared to discuss weekly assigned readings and visual materials presented in class, students will be expected to write weekly responses based on questions or prompts given in class or in the syllabus. Responses are to be brought to class in hard copy with the student and should serve as a tool for discussion and investigation of the class material. They will be turned in at the end of the class for which they were assigned. Late or digital formats will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made with the professor.

Each student will also be responsible for two presentations: a museum presentation midway through the semester and a presentation in class at the end of the semester. For the museum presentation, students will select a piece on display in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  They will prepare a short object analysis/discussion to present to the class, who will meet for that week at the museum. Final presentations will be an in-class presentation (with necessary images) of students’ final semester paper. The paper, the topic of which shall be decided in conjunction with the professor, should be a discussion of a single “image” utilizing all the tools and analytical skills acquired over the course of the semester.

These components will comprise the student’s semester grade and will be weighted as follows:

Class Participation 10%

Weekly Responses 50%

Museum Presentation 20%

Seminar Presentation 20%

Just as there is no expectation of previous course work in related field(s), there are no required textbooks for the course. Instead, the professor will distribute PDFs of all assigned readings at the start of the semester, or make them available for download through a web client such as Blackboard. A bibliography of materials is provided at the end of the syllabus for reference and future use of the student. With that said, a considerable number of readings will come from Donald Preziosi’s seminal edited volume “The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology” (we will, in fact, read almost the whole volume over the course of the semester). Some students may find that they would like to purchase the book so that they have the readings gathered in one handy volume. This is entirely up to the student.

The syllabus may change at the discretion of the professor. All changes to assigned readings and/or due dates will be made in advance and new material provided by the professor.

Week 1:

Introduction

Introduction to the course, explanation of the syllabus and student requirements, and a “getting to know one another” discussion.

In-Class Activity: What interested you in the course? How do you define “visual culture”? What do you think is your relationship to the visual arts?

Readings:

Gardner (Kleiner and Mamiya), “Introduction.” (skim)

Gombrich, “Introduction.”

Hartt, “Introduction.” (skim)

Maquet, Chapter 1 (“The Reality Anthropologists Build”)

Chapter 2 (“Art in Everyday Reality”)

Week 2:

Art History: Making the Visible Legible

Having laid a general foundation to the concept of “art” in the previous week, this week will concentrate on the history of Art History; how it developed as a field of inquiry, and most importantly how it has and continues to produce a vocabulary and methods of discussion and analysis of visual culture.

Readings:

Preziosi: “Introduction”

“Art History: Making the Visible Legible” (and page 21)

Michael Baxandall’s “Patterns of Intention”

Heinrich Wöfflin’s “Principles of Art History”

“History as Art: Introduction.”

Response:

Compare and contrast your thoughts on “visual culture” and your relationship to it prior to the first class meeting and the readings and after. Have your opinions/thoughts changed?  If so, how?

Week 3:

Style, Iconography, and Semiology: Mechanisms of Meaning in Visual Culture

The previous two weeks have been devoted to establishing a foundation for the course at hand but also for the study of the visual arts at large. This week will be devoted to the means by which Art History, and thus visual culture, is legitimized as an autonomous field of study. Readings and discussion will be based on the “visualness” of the visual arts, the key issue that sets such inquiries as ours apart from other fields of historical or cultural pursuit.

Readings:

Preziosi, “Style: Introduction”

Meyer Shapiro, “Style”

Ernst Gombrich, “Style”

Chapter 5

Response:

Take three pictures with your cell phone camera or digital camera. One image should capture a “style.” One should represent “iconography.” And one should represent “semiology.” Write a brief paragraph describing how your photos represent/articulate the concept. Be prepared to share your images in class and discuss them.

Week 4:

Off the Wall: Sculpture, Architecture, Land Art and Landscape

So far the course has focused on the concept of images and art in a two-dimensional sense (paintings, drawings, etc). This week will focus on the means by which we interact with and speak of that which we move through and around.

Readings:

Courbusier, Towards An Architecture, pp 93-130.

Hays, Michel Foucault, “Space, Knowledge, and Power,” interview with Paul Rabinow

Michell, Landscape and Power, Read: Preface and Introduction. Skim: “Imperial Landscape,” “The Effects of Landscape,” and “Invention, Memory, and Place.”

Michell, What Do Pictures Want? “What Sculpture Wants: Placing Antony Gormley.”

Preziosi, Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.”

Rasmussen, Chapter 1, (“Basic Observations”)

Response:

Beyond the obvious technical differences, how do the processes of thinking about and speaking of architecture, sculpture, and landscape differ or are similar to paintings? Can we speak of architecture and landscape in the same iconographical or semiotic terms as paintings and other visual images? Why or why not?

Week 5:

The Viewer and the Viewed: Gaze, Gender and the Object

Up to this point we have discussed the visual world in historical and methodological terms, but these have been passive discussions. This week the readings and class discussion will take our “looking” from passive to active, “seeing.” Not only are we, the viewer, “seeing” the work of art, but the object is being “viewed.” Does our gaze change the meaning of the object? Furthermore, when we take into account the role of gender and the nature of our gaze on the object, in most cases a woman, does this affect our understanding? When reading this week’s readings, pay attention to the role and concept of gender and how the use of gaze and viewership alters perception and meaning.

Readings:

Butler, “Art and Feminism: An Ideology of Shifting Criteria.”

Frascina and Harris, “Introduction to Part II,” T. J. Clark’s “Preliminaries to a Possible Treatment of ‘Olympia’ in 1865,” and Griselda Pollock’s “Modernity and the Spaces of Feminity.”

McDaniel and Robertson, “Sexual Bodies: The Gaze and Sex and Violence”

Nochlin, “The Imaginary Orient.”

Preziosi, Chapter 7.

Response:

Select an image of your choice. First, analyze the image without taking into consideration the concepts of gaze and gender discussed in this week’s readings, and then analyze the image with those considerations. Be prepared to discuss your image in class.

Week 6:

The Black Sheep: Orientalism, the “Other,” and the Non-Western World

Last week we started to examine visual culture through active means of “seeing,” engaging in images on more than a purely stylistic level. By engaging in a discussion of the “gaze” and the question of gender and how these affect the viewer’s understanding of an image, we have transitioned into more critical and theoretical discussion of what visual culture consists of and how we can use multiple tools of analysis to examine them. We continue this theme this week with a discussion of “the Other” and Orientalism.

Readings:

Frascina and Harris, Edward Said’s “Orientalism.”

Michell, What Do Pictures Want? “Living Color: Race, Stereotype, and Animation in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.”

Preziosi: Chapter 9: Introduction

Timothy Mitchell, “Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order”

Annie E. Coombes, “Inventing the ‘Postcolonial’: Hybridity and Constituency in Contemporary Curating”

Saad, Empire and Its Discontents

Response:

What is Orientalism according to our authors? Do you agree with them? Edward Said first wrote about Orientalism in the 1970s, do you think it’s still prevalent now? Why or why not? Cite examples.

Week 7:

Museum Presentations

Class will be held at the Museum of Fine Arts. Students are to gather inside the main entrance of the museum by the start of class time. There are no assigned readings or response paper for this week. The presentation will serve as your response (a hard copy of which will need to be provided to the professor at the museum), and your attentiveness and participation in discussing your colleagues’ presentations will serve as your participation.

Up to this point we have discussed “traditional” media, now we will turn to discuss media that are included under the umbrella of “visual culture” but are not traditionally considered part of Fine Arts. For this second half of the semester I’d like to focus less on discrete methodological or historiographical questions and more on technological developments that lead not only to the inclusion of new media within the larger discourse of visual culture but also to new theoretical paradigms. This half of the seminar will open with two weeks of introduction lectures on new media and modernism/post-modernism and student discussions of texts. The final two weeks of seminar discussion prior to presentations will serve as student led workshops centered in new media and theoretical models in the readings.

Readings:

Barthes, Camera Lucida. (skim)

Coles, Design and Art, pp 10-22, 29-57, 74-88, 154-71

Groys, “Iconoclasm as an Artistic Device: Iconoclastic Strategies in Film,” and “From Image to Image-File and Back: Art in the Age of Digitalization.” (skim)

Gunning, “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)credulous Spectator”

Frascina and Harris, Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”

Harrison, Chapter 2

Joselit, Chapter 4 (“Avatar”)

Kracauer, “Basic Concepts” and “History and Fantasy”

Lavin, Clean New World

Michell, What Do Pictures Want? Read: “Addressing Media.” Skim: “The Ends of American Photography: Robert Frank as National Medium,” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Biocybernetic Reproduction.”

Panofsky, Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures

Perry and Wood, Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5

Vogue, Extreme Beauty

Week 8:

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Photography and Film

 

Week 9:

Video Changed the Museum Star: Conceptualism/Structuralism/Post-Modernism

Week 10:

The Mad (Wo)Men of Madison Avenue: Fashion, Advertising, Performance, and Design

Week 11:

High Techne: Technology, the Internet, and Cyberculture

 

Week 12:

Final Presentations

 

Week 13:

Final Presentations

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Politics, #p2, and Being Purposefully Pugnacious

Yesterday I unfollowed a whole host of “#p2” tweeters. For those unfamiliar to the “#p2” concept on Twitter, allow me to briefly explain. The “#p2” hashtag is used by progressive, liberal minded/leaning, lefties to denote a tweet espousing political and social beliefs related to such positions.

As a woman of highly liberal and left leaning politics and social concepts, I was an ardent follower of many members of this Twitter community. These are people who believe in the same style of politics, the same social obligations and policies that I believe in. Following them, conversing with them, debating with them is one of the main reasons I was drawn to Twitter in the first place and the reason I have stayed on Twitter for nearly a year.

But I have noticed that in the last few months the tone, method of communicating one’s point and debate styles have changed. Once open minds now seem closed to opinions other than their own. Tweets between tweeters have been filled with nitpicking, backbiting, brazenly rude and personal attacks. Rather than foster open debates about the Left, Democratic Party, and President Obama, his administration, and policy decisions, “#p2” has fractured. Now splintered into several camps, each with their own de facto leader and list of persons who the group must be unanimously opposed to, civility, it seems, is gone. Rather than fostering an environment of: “We can all support a common aim whilst being critical of that goal and the means by which we achieve it,”  “#p2” has become a land of “with us or against us.” When did the national left become the flag bearers of post-9/11 Bush doctrine? When did we buy into the “if you don’t agree with me 100% you’re the enemy”?

I support President Obama. I supported him in 2008, I voted for him, and I have in the time since then, been an ardent fan and believer in the progress and change brought about by his administration. But what is missing from “#p2,” what has become a prickly point of contention is whether or not one can be a supporter of Obama whilst being critical of him. Since the spring this has led to numerous eruptions within Twitter-land. While I understand the sentiment by some Obama supporters that many have turned on him at the first sight of something they disagree with (and certainly the “primary Obama” mess was just stupid), support for Obama can’t be so unwavering that it comes without critical examination.

Is Obama our savior, here to deliver us ponies and rainbows? Hardly. But support of a party, a candidate, an administration has to be critical in order to be effective, otherwise we begin down a Stalinist slippery slope towards zero political dissension. Someone voicing concern or consternation over an Obama decision, or lack of one, isn’t a sign that the party is falling apart and the GOP is going to take over the world. It’s a sign that members of our electorate care enough not to follow blindly, not to fall lockstep behind the loudest or most obnoxious voice. Obama isn’t infallible. His administration isn’t infallible. The Left isn’t infallible. Criticism doesn’t expose infallibility to the sharp knife of a take over. No. Criticism fosters analysis. Criticism asks all participants to constantly strive for better.

I can be critical of Obama without being anti-Obama. I don’t vote based on what someone says on Twitter, so why would I attack someone on Twitter simply because he or she is disliked by members of “#p2”? I thought the Left was better than this. I thought we were better than the cheap-shot taking, chew-up-and-spit-out-anyone-with-a-different-opinion Right. Clearly I was wrong.

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And So I Begin, Again…

In June, having returned to my childhood home in the arms of my mother, on the heels of a university approved medical leave; I wrote a blog post that led, ultimately, to my silence and the desire never to post again. I resisted, at the time, the rising desire to end this blog in its entirety – to remove it, excise it from my life. Instead I walked away. I abandoned my once omnipresent Twitter voice. I silenced my furiously tap-tap-tapping fingers on my laptop keyboard. And I withdrew in all senses of the term.

My silence had less to do with others than with myself, though, of course, this was discovered in hindsight. At the time I felt wounded, mortally, by a perceived tidal wave of animosity. The post of contention dealt with, in its final section, an event that had unfolded some time prior on Twitter. I had found myself acting seriously in the wake, in response, to a flippy and snarky quip executed off the cuff by a friend. I, not being in a humorous mood at the time, responded with what amounted to a defense of the quip’s target. What ensued in the aftermath of such quick and unconscious tweeting was one party feeling as though the other grossly over-reacted to a joke and the other party feeling distinctly unheard, unappreciated, and dismissed. Neither was entirely right and both proceeded to behave poorly.

For my part I internalized the tone, demeanor, and language of a friend, a confidant, as being deeply personal and dismissive. I objected to the hissing tone of anger and frustration without stopping to ask myself why I was engaging him at all, why I was making him angrier and more frustrated with a situation that needn’t be complicated at all. I could have, and should have, walked away. Chalked the whole mess up to crossed wires and different-strokes-for-different-folks. But no, I didn’t do that. I made the whole situation worse by caring too damn much about a silly misunderstanding and not realizing I should have just said “Hey, smart joke, good turn of phrase.” But hindsight is 20/20, yes? It’s always easier to Monday-Morning-Quarterback than to play the game. I played badly. I lost. And instead of saying “My bad, no worries,” and shaking it off, I sulked.

With that said, I stand behind the idea expressed in the last post. There has been a rising trend of sentiment amongst women that lends itself not to “feminism” in the Ms. Magazine or Gloria Steinham way, but to a new chimera of Third Wave that takes as much pleasure is regaling its members with support as it does in taking them done a peg, or four. As Margaret Thatcher once noted: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support women.” The post wasn’t perfect, few posts ever are. The ideas weren’t fully formed and the argument was underdeveloped, to say the least. But the broad strokes remain true, I believe, and for that I won’t apologize.

My summer in Texas, with my family away from Twitter and blogging et al, was less a vacation and more a summer of healing. I had, in the wake of more than a year of cancer treatment and surgeries, fallen slowly and then rapidly into a depression that I was ashamed to admit to and embarrassed to be experiencing. My life, as I knew it, came to a sudden and drastic halt. I hit a wall going 90. Not only was I incapable of picking up the pieces, I had no desire to. I withdrawn completely from my studies, my research, my academic pursuits, and I did not leave my apartment for days on end and had no desire to. I was in such a rapid state of declining mental health that I was sleeping hardly at all or for 12-16 hour intervals. My appetite nearly vanished. My desire to engage the world, to have anything to do with other people all but left me. I could not be happy if someone paid me to be. Without the assistance of a psychiatrist and regimen of medication, I don’t think I would still be here. Seriously. If it weren’t for a medical intervention, my inability to engage with other people would have taken me to take my own life.

Home in Texas, with the support and comfort of my parents, I was able to enter an outpatient program at a local hospital. To begin, slowly, to work my way back to life. It was a long, slow, arduous road frequently marked with debilitating panic attacks and fitful, body-wracking bouts of sobbing. I had to face not only the mechanisms of my depression but my intrinsic inability to handle myself in the wake of them – my lack of coping skills, my inability to address and deal with conflict in a healthy and beneficial way.

Now that I am back in Boston, my strength returning more and more each day, I am slowly engaging my Twitter voice more and more. The final step now that I am on my own in Boston again, is gaining my voice back, both scholarly and more colloquially on the blog. The blog may not be exactly the same as before. But then, of course, I am not the same as before, and thank whoever-there-is-to-thank that I am not the person I was six months ago. Hell, I’m happy not to be the person I was two months ago.

Though my depression isn’t gone – it will likely never be “gone” – it’s manageable. My life is once again manageable, after such a prolonged period of not being in control of my body and my emotional response to it. I am just happy to be in my skin again. To feel, in so many ways, like myself again.

And so, here I am, writing again. Having shed the weight of shame and embarrassment (for the most part) of a depression that had crippled me for so long, I am free to stand unwavering in my convictions, my intentions, and my desires. Gone is the desperate desire to be heard, validated and understood. Fuck thee who care not what I write, for he suffers from an unopened mind and an unwilling spirit.

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The Perils of Public Emotion

With the recent tearful confession of Rep. Anthony Weiner regarding his oh-so-personal tweets to women other than his wife, I was reminded, yet again, that public displays of emotion remain a treacherous path to traverse.

How many tearful, choked up, or otherwise emotional confessions of infidelity or bathroom stall foot-tapping have we seen from politicians in recent years? All, of course, from men. The tearful mea culpa of the modern male politician has become so commonplace that we, the collective viewing public, have become nearly immune. The inevitable press conference, just the next piece of chum for the gnashing sharks of the 24-hour media outlets. It’s a sign of a man kicking himself for getting caught, eating a bit of crow publicly in order to retain a fundraising base and being accepted back into the fold of the establishment.

Our feelings about the crying politician confessing his cheating ways is now running parallel with the frequent tears of Majority Leader John Boehner, a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t bashful about sharing his emotions with his public. Many applaud Boehner for his passionate candor and willingness to share his most heartfelt feelings, and many find humor and an opportunity to mock Boehner’s crying.

The question that has been rolling around in my brain lately is this: If it were Nancy Pelosi tearing up over HCR or Hillary Clinton tearfully admitting to infidelity would we feel differently? How would we respond? Would our feelings about Pelosi or Clinton’s strength and feminism change? How? Why?

The remorseful male politician “weathers” the media storm of his infidelity. Some give into to the pressures of his party and seeks “treatment” or makes a quick and immediate retirement to return to “family.” Others go on to serve for years, even decades in public service and are highly respected and lauded for their service. Take Barney Frank’s hiring of a male prostitute to work in his office and home in the late 80’s, as example. A storm weathered, a politician still serving with the respect of his constituents and his colleagues. Would this be the case for a woman?

Taking politics as just one paradigm, the larger issue here, of course, is the notion of public displays of emotion, distress or sadness and how these reactions vary between the genders, how each gender is perceived and treated because of such displays. Would a woman in power – politics, business or otherwise – be rewarded or applauded for publicly tearing up or crying? I assert the answer is staunchly, no.

It is easy to point the finger at the age-old binary of gender issues – “men vs. women” etc. Easy, but wrong. This is, in many cases, less about men pointing a mocking finger at women for being “emotional” and more about women pointing an accusatory finger at each other. In the wake of the women-in-business boom of the 1980s and the rise and prosperity of Third Wave Feminism from the late-1980s to now, many women are less accepting of displays of emotion from their own and more desiring of  a “male” character of aggressive assertiveness and tough exterior. A crying woman is a weak link. The tough, savvy, career-gal the new poster child.

Tears are a weakness, a sign of a lack of strength, a character flaw. A woman who discusses her emotions publicly, who bares herself in a moment of tumult or fear is seen as an embarrassment. Why? What’s the difference between a woman openly sharing her feelings about an issue or an event and a man? Is one reaction less “real”? Less merit worthy? Why do applaud a man for being open about how he feels but minimize and peripheralize a woman for the same behavior? More importantly, why has it become commonplace for women to be the leading the charge against each other?

This question is one I take personally, very personally in fact. I have long considered myself a feminist, a flag-waving, march-leading, loud-mouth for the modern feminist movement. As part of that I embrace every woman’s desire to select her own path – be that boardroom or homestead – to conceal or flaunt her body as she sees fit, to embrace or disavow her sexuality, etc. This is the pinnacle of feminism: the purest expression of self. It is through this that I have drawn much strength as I have aged and experienced the new, the frightening, the unfamiliar, etc. Much of my personal strength and perseverance stems from my ardent belief that my voice is meaningful, powerful, and worthy. Which is why an event at the end of April was so disturbing to me and has led me to ponder the question of emotion in public at length.

An afternoon “joke” made by a friend on Twitter hit me the wrong way. I saw it as a flippant jab, he, obviously, did not. He thought my bristling was about, of all things, cupcakes. Whereas I knew it wasn’t about cupcakes but rather his seemingly immediate dismissal of any opinion divergent from his own. The argument played out mostly off the public discussion environment of Twitter, though some of it did. Many wanted to offer advice, step in to mediate, referee and assist in any way possible. But the situation still deteriorated.

The context of the initial argument quickly became unimportant, and soon the issue between us – on Twitter and off – was about deeply hurtful and demeaning language that he used towards me. I didn’t share this with my followers. I never resorted to calling him names, to encouraging others to talk about the event publicly or privately with me on Skype as he had. I chose, after two days of thinking and reflection, to leave Twitter, to take a breath and evaluate how I had responded to the situation.

Over the course of those two days a series of conversations occurred on Twitter, among women, calling me “emotional,” “irrational,” “a dog and pony show,” “a terrible display of bad behavior,” and the final straw was when I was accused of “making everything up.” Did these women know that the man in this argument had called me (among other things): a cunt, a bitch, a pathetic worm, delusional, “one flew over the cuckoos nest,” in need of mental help?

No. Of course not.

Would it have changed their minds about me? I don’t think so. The damage had been done. I had bared a emotional side of me that was expression of myself in the heat of an argument, in the midst of a deeply upsetting few days. My emotions were out there, there was no taking them back. I had demonstrated what many had seen as “poor behavior” and I was now no longer “strong.” No longer could I wear the mantle of being a tough, strong woman. No longer was my character held in esteem. Now I was nothing more than the pathetic woman who displayed her emotions in public and needed to be unfollowed and rebuked for it.

So often women feel the need to pander to the male element in society. To deny an aspect of themselves, to minimize that which is “feminine” in order to be seen as an equal. In doing so we think this makes us tougher, better women. We think this is feminism. So much of the impetus for Third Wave Feminism was a denial of the militant women’s organizations of the Second Wave, of the 1960s. A desire to prove that women can be strong, assertive, and self-aware without hating men. So we deny our emotions, we blur the lines between “male” and “female” in order to disguise the aspects of our character and psychology that we perceive to be inferior to the men we seek not to alienate.

But are we really better for it? Can we as women say that swallowing our opinions, our emotions in order to “fit in” to be “liked” has helped us? Do I feel better because I didn’t confront the women who publicly rebuked me for talking about my emotions, um, publicly? No, I don’t. But for me at the time it wasn’t worth it to discuss it with them. To talk to them about what happened in order to change their opinion of me would be value their opinion more than my own. I couldn’t do that to myself.

Taking a risk and sharing about of your emotional side with others is hard. It often takes more courage to share than to swallow those feels and maintain calm waters. It’s time that we all, women and men, realize that the height, the greatest achievement of feminism is the equalization of the sexes. It is seeing each other, tears and all, as equals. If we can pat John Boehner on the back for tearing up when he talks about his life and passion for legislating, than we can pat a woman on the back for publicly talking about her feelings too.

 

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Blondies

A collection of great blondies recipes. Enjoy!

Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Yield: 16 blondies

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper.
In a large bowl, whisk butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup each chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.
Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares.
Hazelnut Blondies
Yield: About 2 dozen
Ingredients:
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel, and chopped
1 heaping tablespoon chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella, plus more for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-11-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper. Butter parchment.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.
Melt butter. Beat butter and sugar until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture, and stir until combined. Stir in hazelnuts and Nutella.
Press dough into pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve with additional Nutella. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days
Raspberry-Almond Blondies
Yield: 9 large or 16 small blondies
Ingredients:
9 tablespoons (1 1/8 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds, (3 ounces), toasted
1 pint raspberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.
Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated. Mix 3/4 cup almonds into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan; spread with a rubber spatula. Scatter berries and remaining 1/4 cup nuts over batter in pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into blondies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 55 to 60 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting into squares.

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Brownies

Here’s a GREAT collection of brownie recipes. Enjoy!!

Double-Chocolate Brownies

The better the quality of chocolate you use, the better the results.

Yield: Makes 9 large or 16 small squares

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces coarsely chopped good-quality semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.
Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.
Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Add flour mixture; beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out brownies; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
Pecan Fudge Brownies
Yield: 16 brownies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter paper; set pan aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Place butter and chocolates in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in sugars, eggs, vanilla, flour mixture, and half of pecans. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift brownie onto a cutting board; cut into 16 squares.
Rocky Road Brownies
Yield: 16 brownies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as cashews, pecans, or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.
In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove mixture from heat; stir in sugars and salt, then eggs, and finally flour, stirring just until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips, then marshmallows and nuts. Bake until chocolate is shiny and marshmallows are puffed, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

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