Sunday, December 21, 2014

Passionate Politics & Upton Sinclair

1) Use Passionate Politics to analyze Bachelder's relationship to Upton Sinclair, foregrounding key concepts from the chapters that you read.

Passionate politics, described in the chapters read by Goodwin, Jasper, and Polletta, shows us how truly important emotions are in the study of politics. Upton Sinclair, an important part of our history's national politics, is no exception. Sinclair used emotions and melodrama throughout his life in politics, and this can be most notably seen in his work The Jungle. The Jungle, in essence, tears down capitalism as the enemy, or the villain, and boosts up socialism as the answer to the problems in our society's economical and social discrepancies. Bachelder constantly "criticizes" Sinclair (in a most loving way), constantly "resurrecting" him and pointing out his ability to disappear and then reappear throughout American political history as he oscillates between both irrelevant and relevant. Passionate Politics comes into play when we look at how Sinclair persuaded his audience and his readers to join the socialist movement. "Emotions, we have argued, are collective as well as individual, and they permeate large-scale units of social organization, including workplaces, neighborhood and community networks, political parties, movements, and states, as well as the interactions of these units with one another" (Goodwin, 16). Sinclair understood this concept and realized how emotions are able to infiltrate each and every thought; therefore, he used emotions in his novels to get people riled up about an idea. Collins also describes how emotions in politics evoke feelings of group solidarity (28), and this was definitely used by Sinclair in his books to join people together, to start a movement. Bachelder realized Sinclair's passion and emotion when conveying his politics, and therefore to educate the reader on Sinclair in his novel U.S.!, he uses various forms of satire and parody to markedly point out Sinclair's melodramatic nature and ability to use powerful emotions to iterate his political view.

2) Describe three modes of satire or parody used by Bachelder in U.S. (in a loving fashion) about Upton Sinclair that you think would be useful for your tactical media project. Draft a mode of satire or parody using your research topic.

  1. One mode of satire that Bachelder uses in U.S.! that I found to be quite funny and also successful was Bachelder's fake syllabus for a class taught by Upton Sinclair; basically, he twisted a normal, collegiate-like ritual like handing out a syllabus and made it funny to point out Upton Sinclair's nuances and unique characteristics. I think that I could use this in my tactical media project by perhaps writing fake DSM criteria for depression to point out the social stigma that exists against mental illness.
  2. Bachelder also uses poetry, like in "My Last Leftist" to once again point out Sinclair being shot/killed and then resurrected, due to his politics becoming important in various periods of American history. The poetry angle in particular could be useful for my tactical media project in that using poetry is one of the best ways to convey emotion. Powerful language is often best used in poetic form, and I think I could use this in my tactical media project.
  3. The page entirely dedicated to exclamation points - I think this points out Sinclair's ability to use emotion and melodrama to make a point. The next page of U.S.!, after the exclamation points (171), describes an interviewer talking to Sinclair in that he used 1,539 exclamation points in his novel. Sinclair claims "Evidently, I didn't use enough". I think Bachelder does this to make a point that Sinclair clearly did understand what melodrama was and how powerful emotions truly can be in making a difference, especially in politics.
Mode of satire or parody using research topic:

I think that I could use the idea of the fake DSM criteria for depression to point out the stigma that exists surrounding depression. I think this would be extremely effective, for not only would it strike attention because it would be funny, but it would also point out how depression is viewed so often in society. I think it could also allow people to rlize when they're propagating the stigma, hopefully so that they can better understand those with depression and what dealing with mental illness entails.

3) Go to two instances of your classmates' work in each of these modes (total of 4, two each). Comment on theirs telling them what you've learned from their site.

  1. I liked Kirk's post describing the different forms of satire that Bachelder used because he also described how each could be incorporated into his own tactical media project. I especially liked his idea in having everyone on campus wear offensive Yak t-shirts with "End the Hate" as the caption on the back. While I think this isn't necessarily parodying Bachelder's style, I think it would make the campus more aware of the offensive Yaks that do truly hurt people's feelings and make people more aware of the offensive hate speech that anonymous apps like Yik Yak produce.
  2. I liked Philip's post, especially in explaining his first mode of satire. The term "anti-joke" is one that is unique and perfectly coined to describe Bachelder's view on Upton Sinclair and satire. Bachelder definitely uses the "anti-joke" to poke fun at Sinclair through his satire, but at the same time, point out how Sinclair was truly important and is still relevant in our society's politics today.
  3. I also liked Natalie's post and how she related each mode of satire to a possible parody she could use in her tactical media project. I think if she were to point out the tragedies that occur with overmedication of horses and then have someone doing the same thing, expecting a different result, this would not only be humorous but also incorporate a true sense of urgency in that this act cannot continue. This is exactly what someone like Sinclair and Bachelder would want.
  4. Lastly, I think Joey did a great job of incorporating each of his suggested modes of satire into his music video. It's extremely well done and I think it truly shows how passionate he is about the issue of the cessation in eating Asian carp. By using a parody of One Republic's Counting Stars song, Joey definitely incorporates satirical ideas from Bachelder's novel to make a successful video with underlying passion and emotion for an important issue.

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