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April 17, 2007

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Closing Statement.

April 16, 2007

Throughout this semester I have looked into the fact that Chick Lit is out there.  It is not only out there for only ‘chicks’ but it is out there for the every day average Jane Doe to read.  And Jane Doe can be any age too.

There have been all kinds of gossip going on about how Chick Lit is worthless, is skanky, is overall just trashy.  But not all of Chick Lit is trashy. One must pick and choose their titles carefully or one will end up with a raunchy Harlequin smut book. 

Chick Lit is popular–according to sales statistics from popular book chains–so obviously these pieces aren’t as negative as they may come off as.  I believe they engage the readers (mainly if not all females) and promote more reading when sequals and trilogies become available, or even when the book starts a series.   Chick lit is what it is.  And it is definitely here to stay….

 About the RSS Notebook….

     I already had a blog of my own but I never really did any research or writings on particular articles I had found.  So this blog was definitely a change from my every day ramblings. 

I had never used Google reader or any other type of aggregator tool.  Therefore starting out I felt kind of in the dark on what to do, where to begin.  But as I delved into it more, and messed around with searches I became more aware of all of the possibilities that came with Google Reader and I definitely liked what I found.  I now use it to keep up to date with my news paper back at home, my own blog as well as the gvsu blogs on livejournal.com, and a favorite webiste of mine called postsecret.com. 

As for using it in my own classroom?  I think it would be a great idea to have my students  use a blog for book reports and use RSS Feeds to find other information out there that was related to their book.  As long as my school has money for computers and also has some internet access—I definitely will include a blog in my classroom. 


Bright Ideas!

April 16, 2007

Waking up at 5:30 was tough. My earliest class is at 10am, therefore getting up to go to this conference was a chore! But I’m very glad I went!

Jacqueline Woodson was very inspiring. I loved the sound of her voice, the way in which she read her pieces, and her style. I have never really heard much about her other than a few award here and there. Since listening to her keynote address–I want to purchase a couple of her books for my future classroom library!

Ms. Woodsen explained how important it was to have your own voice in your work, and your own voice in the world. Her voice was clearly heard in the pieces she shared with the group that morning. She also claimed that everybody has a story and that each person has a right to tell their story. How you tell it is your choice. She chose to write about it.

I love how she hates the word “but” when sharing your thoughts on others’ work. Ex. I like your story BUT…. Instead she wants people to use “and” in place of ‘but’. THis will put a more positive spin on critiques and will not take away from all of the writer’s positive qualities.

Overall I really enjoyed Ms. Woodsen and would love to hear her speak again.

My first breakout session was tittled: Using Art in an English Language Arts Course

I got a lot of idea on how to integrate art and creativity into my English lessons. We are to use art as an ‘album of evidence of what is learned’ by your lesson and to ‘use art to see what they know and understand’. Something as simple as looking at book covers can be added to your lesson to has an art aspect. Some kids learn better through art according to Gardner so why not include it in your everyday lessons? There were two awesome lesson plan ideas from this breakout session that I plan on including in my pedagogy project. 🙂

My second breakout session was titled: Acing the Interview: What Principals Say They Value.

The best part of this breakout session was the role playing situation where we broke into smaller groups (of 8-10) and did an interview simulation with REAL questions that principals from 6 different [local] schools say they have and will ask during an interview. A lot of this information I have already received from the career center on campus…but it was nice to know what principals are looking for in regards to dress, portfolios, thank you’s, and advise in general.

Overall I think this conference was very beneficial to my professional development as a future teacher.


Teen Chick Lit: Who is turning the pages and why?

April 15, 2007

I remember being a gawky late elementary, early middle school student. My pre-teens and early teens were some of the weirdest times of my life. I was changing physically and emotionally. I wanted to try to fit in with a select group of people and because of this I changed the way I dressed, the way I did my hair, the way I talked, what I watched on T.V., what kind of music I listened to, and the list goes on and on and on. But one thing that didn’t change for me is what I was reading while growing up. I specifically remember reading tons and tons of “The Babysitter’s Club” books and also an assortment of “Sweet Valley High” series books. There was a “Making Out Series” by Katherine Applegate and also a “Fearless” series by Francine Pascal that I couldn’t stop reading. These books are places n the Chick Lit genre. Why was I so interested in these series of books? What made them so interesting and enjoyable that I couldn’t put them down? I searched my Google Reader in hopes of finding some answers to my questions.

According to Dana Yates who writes in the Daily Journal: San Mateo County’s Homepage:

“There is also a new proliferation of chick lit, a genre that gives this generation their own version of Nancy Drew, Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. The new generation of teen chick lit has the same salacious plot lines with a definite older vibe, which caters to today’s fast growing teens. It’s Judy Blume to a higher level. The stories are compared to a toned down Sex and the City or Paris Hilton escapades.”

Yates also interviewed Jennifer Laughran, a buyer for Burlingame Books Inc., who claims that she has

“stopped short of calling them [the new books] trashy”

when she acknowledges that she read the same kind of books when she was that age.

“I wouldn’t be as big a reader today if it weren’t for those books. There’s nothing wrong with them. It teachers them that reading doesn’t have to be hard. It can be fun,” Laughran said.

This I thought was a great ending article to heave read. It sums up how chick lit can be about some questionable topics and is often seen as trashy. But even with it’s negative drawbacks, Chick Lit is here to stay and is seen as a positive genre considering it engages it’s readers (promotes reading) and is also seen as enjoyable, fun, and not a text book, which I’m sure many enjoy.

Teen lit enters ‘golden age By Dana Yates

Daily Journal: San Mateo County’s Homepage

Full Article


Review: Hazing Meri Sugarman & Sorority Life.

March 13, 2007

Granted I am not a part of the Greek family here at GVSU, I have always been very interested and curious about sororities. I have many friends involved in the Greek Life and always here so many stories. Some good, some bad. Most of you will remember MTV’s Sorority Life & Fraternity Life. Although the reality shows only lasted a season or two, many people had a lot to say about them, including some of my Greek friends. Most said that the Greek life that was televised was totally out of control and did not highlight the true Greek life that they all know and love. Anyways…like I was saying I’ve always been slightly interested in joining a sorority. So I picked up a hot pink covered book called “Hazing Meri Sugarman” by M. Apostolina. Apostolina himself describes “Hazing…” on his MySpace page as a

comic novel about Cindy Bixby, a mousy first year college student who believes she can change her life, meet new friends, and help her future by joining Alpha Beta Delta, an exclusive sorority house headed by Meri Sugarman, the glamorous house president! And then, uh oh, Cindy comes to realize that Meri is a dangerous psychopath! It’s up to Cindy and her new sorority friends to bring Meri down.

So I sat down to read the book and was presently surprised with it. I enjoyed it-but makes me wonder how sororities (outsideof GVSU) are like. I then went around searching for articles online and came across one from the NY Times. In the article titled” Sorority Evictions Raise Issue of Looks and Bias” by Sa Dillon, sororities are still getting bad reviews:

Worried that a negative stereotype of the sorority was contributing to a decline in membership that had left its Greek-columned house here half empty, Delta Zeta’s national officers interviewed 35 DePauw members in November, quizzing them about their dedication to recruitment. They judged 23 of the women insufficiently committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house.

The 23 members included every woman who was overweight. They also included the only Korean and Vietnamese members. The dozen students allowed to stay were slender and popular with fraternity men — conventionally pretty women the sorority hoped could attract new recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated they quit.

“Virtually everyone who didn’t fit a certain sorority member archetype was told to leave,” said Kate Holloway, a senior who withdrew from the chapter during its reorganization.

From this I get the impression that you must fit a particular stereotype in order to fit into a sorority…which I know is definitely NOT true here at GV. But–this article goes along nicely with the reality shows…image is everything and sometimes in order to be a part of something you have to fit a particular mold.

I’m just hoping those YA readers who engross themselves into “Hazing…” and Apostolina’s two other novels in a series of three, will not get bad impressions of things that can go wrong and then eventually hold back from joining an organization or club, Greek or not.

M. Apostolina’s MySpace Page

Full NY Times Article

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Suddenly I was swimming in pink.

March 3, 2007

After searching through more blogs I came across some anger towards Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Heels over Hemingway” which was published in the New York Times on February 10, 2007.

In her article Dowd bashes Chick Lit and it’s presence in the bookstore claiming it’s hiding the good literature.

“Looking for Mr. Goodbunny” by Kathleen O’Reilly sits atop George Orwell’s “1984.” “Mine Are Spectacular!” by Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger hovers over “Ulysses.” Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic” series cuddles up to Rudyard Kipling.

Later on in her article she says she had taken home several of these pink ‘novels’ and then compared the stories to those of real life Very Important People.

I took home three dozen of the working women romances. They can lull you into a hypnotic state with their simple life lessons — one heroine emulated Doris Day, another Audrey Hepburn, one was the spitting image of Carolyn Bessette, another Charlize Theron.

But then bashed them when saying

…but they’re a long way from Becky Sharp and Elizabeth Bennet. They’re all chick and no lit.

I then decided to check out Maureen’s critics and found:

Dowd doesn’t like books with pink covers, and the best thing about our free world is that she doesn’t have to buy or read them. -Krozser

…how come it counts as journalism to walk around a bookshop mouthing off ignorantly about a genre you know nothing about, grabbing three dozen of them to take home, flip through, and then mock in your newspaper column? -Larbalestier

and the sarcastic Kyra Davis explained that

there’s no denying that Dowd was right on the money when she cautioned her readers not to put chick lit books in the same category as the books of Jane Austen. Austen’s books weren’t just about her characters; they were about the times those characters lived in. When we read Pride and Prejudice, we are treated to a new perspective on the societal norms and expectations of nineteenth-century women. But chick lit is completely different. How could a novel about a single, thirty-something woman struggling in her career and worried about her weight be in any way reflective of a time in which obesity has become an epidemic and women are working longer hours and marrying later in life than ever before? The very idea that these books have any cultural significance is preposterous!

Chick Lit is a battlefield.

View Full Dowd Article

View Full Krozser Article

View Full Larbalestier Article

View Full Davis Article


What’s a cover got to do with it?

March 1, 2007

What’s a cover got to do with it?

 

    Walk into any bookstore. Peruse all the different sections the bookstore has to offer- science fiction, self-help, magazines, children’s literature, CHICK LIT. You can’t miss it. Chick Lit has an ambiance about it that is like no other. Their covers are filled with pictures of shoes, shopping bags, wedding rings or bells, and are normally colored with vibrant neons or soft pastels. So I tried to look up some stuff about Chick Lit and their cover designs.

 

I first ran across an article from http://www.telegraph.co.uk about which Jane Austen’s novels have switched over to “Chick Lit” covers. Her most famous novels have now been published with a

“glossy, pastel covers design to appeal to women put off by the idea of reading a 19th century writer.”

These covers also feature illustrations that might be common amongst chick lit.

“Mansfield Park, for example, features a couple in Regency evening dress linked by a shooting star, while Pride and Prejudice has a swallow, flowers and a bonneted beauty with her back to a whip-wielding dandy.”

 

Joel Rickett, the author of this article explains how the old novels become new again with their more modern, chic cover designs. He is supported by Harriet Evans, the editor of the series.

Harriet said: “Jane Austen is the fairy godmother of women’s fiction and we want to take her back to her romantic roots. The novels needed to look more relevant to women who read accessible modern fiction.”

So are women less likely to read a book if the cover is dull or look old? I thought we were to never judge a book by its cover? Chick Lit is always judged by its cover. Otherwise we wouldn’t automatically assume it is Chick Lit. Caren Lisser explains how Chick Lit may be marketed using their covers in her article found on MobyLives.com which was started in 1998 as a syndicated newspaper column about books and writers. She was writing about her own trials and tribulations with Chick Lit and how she didn’t really think her book was of that genre, or how she had hoped it wouldn’t be advertised as being of that genre.

“I admit, the marketing was hard to accept at first. Last year, I fought against the swirly lettering on the cover. I wanted something like Rick Moody’s Demonology, with a single iconic image in the middle of the cover and a solid background. Instead, I got some girly–looking letters in pastel blue. “It looks like Judy Blume!” I howled at the publishers.”

She then went on to comment how the majority of all Chick Lit has a pink cover design. So I guess she was lucky enough to be a stand out since her cover was blue.

 

These two articles contradict one another in a way because one loves the idea of ‘girly’ covers being the significant thing to capture the attention of more readers while the other states her sadness of the cover design that will reel in an audience that she didn’t think was suitable for her book.

 

View Full Article by Joel Rickett

View Full Article by Caren Lissner