Two Journal Assignments

Journal entry 1 :

The systems and structures that shape cultural norms and our perceptions—and, therefore, that create/shape single stories—do not operate in a vacuum. As our course texts and discussions have shown, structures interact with each other. They are intertwined, so they shape our bodies and experiences simultaneously. Kimberlé Crenshaw explains this deftly and eloquently in her TED Talk through the concept of intersectionality.

Therefore, you must use at least one specific idea from Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TED Talk, bell hooks’s essay, or Audre Lorde’s essay in Women in Culture. The second text you cite must be from the week you’re submitting your journal entry.

Part of analyzing and complicating single stories involves understanding how our world is more complex than the “truth” a single story creates.  For example, in our class we discuss

  • how different identity categories, “isms,” and/or systems of power and privilege are operating at the same time to affect how people perceive us and we perceive ourselves, and
  • how social identity categories are heterogeneous:  there is “difference within” this category (e.g., not all “women” are the same or experience gender in the same way).

journal entry 2

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells us, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person” (10:04). Moreover, these “definitive stories” often misrepresent and oversimplify someone’s identity and/or life experiences. This occurs partly because a single story is larger than any individual: single stories are shaped by

  1. structures of thought— such as a stereotype, a belief system, or an “ism”(sexism, racism homophobia) and
  2. material structures— such as economic, educational, government, and legal systems.

Entry Instructions

In at least 200 words, for this entry, you’ll explore a structure of thought and/or a material structure in relation to single stories. How do broader social structures (material structures or structures of thought) oversimplify our understandings of identity. This relates to the concept of “single stories” because single-story ideas create and are an effect of the simplified ideas about identity?

You can focus on a specific identity category (such as race, gender, sexuality, religion) or focus on the way that “identity” is structured in US society more broadly. Some questions that you could address are

  • What “isms” and structures shape a specific single story about an identity category?
  • How do the “isms” and structures create social/cultural norms and perceptions that shape single stories?
  • How do “isms” and structures make single stories difficult to change?

Remember to integrate specific parts of at least two required texts to help explain your ideas about the relationship between these structures and single stories, and one of those texts must be from week 8 (Lorde’s essay or Alsultany’s essay).

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Joseph Mathenge

Author Since: February 25, 2021

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