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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cook Library Hours

Of the several universities in Mississippi, USM's Cook Library has the earliest closing hours in the state. Although the library is open 24 hours during finals week, many students find the need for an operational library during the rest of the weeks during the semester. During midterms, for example, there are not extended hours, and midterms often count for the same percentage as the final exam. Also, when students have papers due the next morning, they are often found working on them at the last minute. While this behavior is not to be encouraged, it must be respected that students keep different hours than most normal 9-to-5 citizens.

Many students in college, myself included, work 40+ hour per week jobs while they attend classes, and many of these jobs include the restaurant business. As restaurants close so late, it makes it impossible for these students to complete homework if they need a computer, printer, or even just a space to study, since many people either live in dorms or apartments with close quarters and roommates to consider. As a campus is built specifically to cater to the academic needs of students, it should be noted that the library closing at 12am is often not late enough to suffice. Some other universities with later hours during the semester include Mississippi State University. The library closes at 1:45 Sunday through Thursday. While it would cost more to keep staff at the library later at night, it could prove to be beneficial to students' grades.

MSU Library Hours

Joseph Cook Library

A Streetcar Named Desire at USM

Of the several productions by the Southern Miss Theatre Department this year, one of the most interesting ones is Marat/Sade. Below is a critique that I wrote on the theatrical elements that were put into the production of the show.

USM’s Marat/Sade was written as a very interesting story, but was made more interesting through the decisions of the costume and scene design as well as the director. The choices by Bailey Cole and Monica Hayes, just as two examples, exemplified two areas of changes to the play that made it different at USM than from any other venue.
The decision by Monica Hayes to make the Herald a woman as opposed to a man changed the entire dynamic of the play. This change created a sexual tension (or what seems to be so) between the Marquis de Sade and herself possible. They were two very powerful characters in the play and therefore their relationship was portrayed very clearly on the stage. The female Herald does not seem to have any serious psychological problems, so it can be assumed that she is a political prisoner as well as Sade. After listening to Annie Cleveland’s interview after the play, it was interesting to find out that she is naturally a fairly quiet person who normally plays “innocent” characters. Her part as the Herald is one with a booming voice and suggested sexuality, which must have been a challenge for Annie.
Bailey Cole’s costumes and hair and makeup designs were interesting. For example, the fact that she said that the hair designs were modeled after a Dolce and Gabbana show in 2006. Watching the play and not knowing this, I noticed the hair designs and thought that they looked rather familiar, and while I do not have a lot of historical knowledge about the time of the play, it makes sense now that I realize that they were from recent fashion shows. Rosignol’s (Kira Lyon’s) hair especially reminded me of current high fashion hair trends. The fact that all of the asylum’s characters’ costumes got progressively more disheveled was very well staged, as it wasn’t always noticeable but by the end of the play they looked significantly different than they did at the beginning.
All of the characters having certain psychological problems (aside from the purely political prisoners such as Sade), and it is interesting to see how each of them plays out their given disorders. Finding out that some of the actors were allowed to research into and decide what their disorders were shows that the actors had a very involved job of getting into character. For example, the fact that Annie decided that she had Histrionic Disorder makes sense as she played it out, but just reading the play and trying to figure something like that out of context must be difficult.
Chris and Joseph’s characters were clearly drastically different, although the entire play is rather challenging to keep up with. It was clear that Chris’ character of Jean-Paul Marat was very much in favor of violent revolution and that Joseph’s Marquis de Sade believed in changes of people from within. Having not learned very much in history classes in high school, it was difficult for me to keep up with the historical content of the play. However, it was overall successful in depicting themes such as Sade’s control over everyone as though they were puppets, Marat’s revolutionary and frightening political writing, and the denial by people such as the Coulmiers that there were still struggles between social classes.
Annie Cleveland and Joseph Lopez

Close Reading Essay for English 371: American Literature

One of my assignments this semester was to compose a close reading essay of approximately eight pages about something we had read in the class. I chose to write about Portrait of a Lady  by Henry James and Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. One of the themes we discussed is the idea of the gaze and the phenomenon of both looking at someone and being looked at. I chose to incorporate an essay I had written on the subject, called "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" by Laura Mulvey. Below is a link to a full text version of this essay. The central idea is based on a phenomenon called scopophilia. In my paper I also addressed the issue of double-consciousness, which was examined first by W.E.B. DuBois. The premise of double consciousness is the struggle between the way the world views a person and the way the person really is. Below is a thesis statement for my paper.

Double consciousness is a universal concept that affects how everyone acts. When a person becomes aware of being watched or feels watched, it can make her feel out of control, even over her own actions. Laura Mulvey, in her essay titled "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," talks about the psychological effects of being watched. While this essay focuses on men viewing women, there are important points about the process of both watching and being watched that apply to everyone. Both Portrait of a Lady and Franny and Zooey feature characters who become aware of the public eye upon them and struggle with the issue of what to do about it. The vicious cycle of trying to reconcile who she is with how the world views her affects each Isabel and Franny in different ways, based on their personalities. Each of their reactions is different. Double consciousness is an issue that is still relevant to everyone and examining the reactions of different characters such as Isabel and Franny reveal a lot about the human psyche.

Laura Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" Full Text