A Journey through Classics and the Heritage of Brooklyn College Students

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Maria Alejalva December 1st, 2017– Instagram Direct Messenger

Are you comfortable if I ask you some questions about you ethnicity and origins?  Can I write about your answers on a public class blog?

Yeah, sure I don’t mind

 Do you identify yourself with a country or ethnicity beyond the United States of America?  If so, which one?

I identify as biracial Dominican. My mother, a white Dominican woman and my father, an Afro Dominican man. When I had to do a project back in the fifth grade on my country, I learned about the origins. It was the first colonial settlement in this hemisphere and I know about the racial tensions in DR because of colonial influence, especially after our Dictator Trujillo called for a racial cleansing of Afro Dominicans.

How have you learned about the origins/history/past/importance of that place? (If they feel no strong connection to other place or identity, then ask them to talk about being American.)

Most of the information I’ve learnt came for my parents and family members, as they are natives of the country. I was born in America and have only visited maybe once or twice so there’s a bit of a disconnect. Other information I have acquired came from basic knowledge and prior research. I had to do a project back in the fifth grade on my country and there was also where I learnt about the origins.

 Is there one person, maybe a hero or ‘wiseman’ or king or law-giver, that is important to your people–someone people tell stories about, maybe legendary, maybe true?  Can you tell me a story?

Um, I would have to go with my parents and family members. For a great length of time DR was plagued with the dictatorship of Ulises Heureaux and Rafael Trujillo. My parents along with many men and women from Moca played a major role in bringing down the two dictators, and bringing democracy back to the country. This was and still is a big deal in modern Dominican Republic society. This isn’t really much of a story but it’s a factual event that I believe has been interpreted into a story through popularity.   

What values do you think that story teaches?  Are those values important in the traditions of your people?  How?

If there’s a lesson to be to learnt from this I think it would be perseverance and determination. I believe the result of where the Dominican Republic’s democratic stance is today is accredited to the peoples unity and undivided trust in one another.

 Fatema Islam – December 3rd 2017 IMessenger

Are you comfortable if I ask you some questions about you ethnicity and origins?  Can I write about your answers on a public class blog?

I guess it’s fine (She is in our learning block, Team Jupiter J)

Do you identify yourself with a country or ethnicity beyond the United States of America?  If so, which one?

I identify as a Bangladeshi. I was born in Bangladesh and only came to the United States at the age of two.

 How have you learned about the origins/history/past/importance of that place? (If they feel no strong connection to other place or identity, then ask them to talk about being American.)

I came to learn about my for my country’s origins and history through the impact that my family had while they were involved though minimal at most. I also learned through my own self-interest and research. I know how the country came into being and how my family was in involved. I also go back once in a while. I visited a few years ago so I saw how things were there. But I also identify as an American because I lived here for a long time so my values are a mix between the two

 Is there one person, maybe a hero or ‘wiseman’ or king or law-giver, that is important to your people–someone people tell stories about, maybe legendary, maybe true?  Can you tell me a story?

N/A wasn’t able to answer

 What values do you think that story teaches?  Are those values important in the traditions of your people?  How?

N/A wasn’t able to answer

 Enrique Ortiz December 7th 2017 Gmail

Are you comfortable if I ask you some questions about you ethnicity and origins?  Can I write about your answers on a public class blog?

Yes, I am more than comfortable answering questions about my ethnicity and origins

 Do you identify yourself with a country or ethnicity beyond the United States of America?  If so, which one?

I identify as a Puerto Rican-American male, but when the option isn’t given, I have to categorize myself as Hispanic/Latino, which I have no problem doing.

 How have you learned about the origins/history/past/importance of that place? (If they feel no strong connection to other place or identity, then ask them to talk about being American.)

That one is a little hard to answer with one definitive answer. It’s not like someone sat me down when I was a little kid and said “hey kid, this is your heritage.” nope, it’s something to I had to learn gradually as I got older. I grew up very disconnected from the culture I now claim, and I’ve still been trying to make up for the years I missed out on. The years that have been essential the upbringings of my friends and shaped who they are today.

 Is there one person, maybe a hero or ‘wiseman’ or king or law-giver, that is important to your people–someone people tell stories about, maybe legendary, maybe true?  Can you tell me a story?

Yeah, as Puerto Ricans, we have many figures like that, but I’m only familiar with a few. One of the more famous people would be baseball player Roberto Clemente. He was larger than life, and an athlete of the ages when he was around. Having grown up with nothing in the slums of Puerto Rico, it was astounding for many to have seen him make his way from the Puerto Rican Winter League games, to the grand stage of Major League Baseball in America, where everybody loved him. Not only was he a great player, but he was also a humanitarian and philanthropist, always giving back to the community. It was actually his love of helping people that led to his death, On December 31st, 1972, Clemente died in a plane crash as he was carrying supplies for relief in Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. He’s been immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first Latino player to be inducted, and the MLB has an award that bears his name, giving it out each season to the player who best embodies the spirit of helping and community outreach in the league.

 What values do you think that story teaches?  Are those values important in the traditions of your people?  How?

I didn’t exactly tell a story, but I can tell you why Clemente is important to us as a people. Because we come from a small, impoverished island with little opportunity, it isn’t often that someone leaves and makes it big. That’s why when it does happen, and they leave a big enough impact, they’re practically immortalized in Puerto Rican folklore as heroes who did what many could not. We’re also a very proud people, so when something important or monumental occurs involving a person that is Puerto Rican, we celebrate because it’s as though we’ve all made it.

Summary and Similarities

Every person I spoke with was a first generation American or immigrant. A similarity that all these interviewees had was that the parents offered them an opportunity in America all the while taking the privilege of knowing their own culture. A quote I found quite relevant from the text we had been reading in regards to the responses I had received from my interviews was “The less man had, the less there was greed”. I found this interesting because it highlights the sacrifice that these three interviewee’s parents or family members had taken in bringing them to America, and giving them this lifestyle. The consequence of all this was a lost culture. A good portion of my interviewees referred to themselves as American citizens: which they are. First generation and beyond. However there is a thick layer beneath that that they are unable to identify or relate with and that is their native heritage.

Another similarities that I noticed between each interview and the stories we learned about Rome is the important leader/event or movement that happened in their culture. Pride and knowledge of these historically is in their native countries/ areas is similar to that of the ancient Roman princess Juno. We learnt in classics of Juno and how she loved and had great pride in her city. “Juno loved it, they say, beyond all other lands in the world…”

Shamiso Tunduwani, Team Jupiter

 

 

Lucretia and Olympia

 

Lucas Cranach the elder. Lucretia. 1532. Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Wien, inv. 557.. http://library.artstor.org.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/asset/LESSING_ART_1039789025. Web. 9 Dec 2017.

The work of art I found is entitled, Lucretia it was created by Lucas Cranach the elder in 1542 and is a painting; the medium is distemper on wood. The description relates that’s the painting depicts a “Roman noblewoman and wife of Tarquinius Collatinus, [who] killed herself after being raped by the son of Tarquinius Superbus, last King of Rome.” The artist Lucas Cranach the elder is German (Western) and the year competed is during the Renaissance. There was a re-emergence of the significance of female nude as a genre during the renaissance in Western art.  Though it is supposed to be a somber scene, Lucretia is painted nude, distracting the audience with her idealized body. She appears soft which enhances the sensuality and sexuality of the piece. She is standing in contrapposto and a motion like stance. Also she is holding an extremely sheer piece of fabric in her left hand as it rests over her right forearm and the sword that she is soon going to drive into her chest is in her right arm. In her face we can sense her sorrow, tilted head and her drooping sad eyes gazing off into the dark space. The background is dark almost black, adding to the dramatization of the scene.

In Edouard Manet’s Olympia of 1863, though it is three centuries after, the female body was and still is objectified in art. It is viewed and represented as a symbol of fertility, sexuality, sensuality, and seductively. This tradition goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Olympia is a prostitute and unlike Lucretia, her body was not painted to be idealized or perfected. Manet challenges those established ideas and simply paints a real woman in an apartment in Paris. Instead of standing like Lucretia, she is laying down. She is painted to look quite flat and angular and we can’t see any brushstrokes. Unlike Lucretia, Olympia is gazing directly at us which blatantly emphasizes her sexuality.

Livy book 1 describes the account of Sextus Tarquinius raping Lucretia and her suicide. It all began with his obsession with Lucretia. One night when he along with other young princes were drunk, Livy states, “Not only her beauty but also her proven chastity spurred him on” (Livy 161). When he caught her alone, he threatened to kill her if she didn’t sleep with him and murder a slave and place him naked next to her naked as false evidence that she committed adultery and to ruin her reputation. So, she allowed him to rape her, called her father and husband afterwards and told them what had happened so that her name wouldn’t be tarnished. The account goes on to say that they found her sitting, with tears in her eyes quite different from Lucas Cranach the elder’s rendering of her. Also unlike the painting, she wasn’t alone when she killed herself as others were attempting to console her  by, “shifting the guilt from the woman who had been forced to the man who had done the wrong” (Livy 164). One last difference between the painting is that while she is nude in the painting, the literary version describes her to be clothed. “She took a knife that she had hidden in her garments and plunged in in her heart” (Livy 166). I infer that the artist made this choices to add to the dramatization of the scenes depiction and to the sensuality of Lucretia.

– Chanté, Team Venus

 

 

Contemporary Social Issues From the Past

This scene is a tragic scene from the show, One Tree Hill, and depicted a high school shooting. In this scene, a teen by the name of Jimmy Edwards has brought a gun into the school and taken a couple of other students hostage out of fear of what he has done. He knows that he has made a major mistake and is fumbling over his next actions subsequently making more mistakes. In this scene he is confronted by the uncle of one the main characters in the show, Keith, who tries to talk him down from doing anything else to make matters worse and talked Jimmy into letting a student he had previously accidentally shot go. It is here where Jimmy reveals his motives for bringing a gun into the school; over the years Jimmy has been constantly battered with bullying because he is the lame kid in school. He is the kid that the popular kids target to get their fill of name-calling and beatings. He is depressed, all out of hope, and he believes himself to be an outsider who is all alone; he is the Other.  In the end, jimmy knows he has put himself in an impossible corner and that his life has little chance of getting any better, and he chooses to instead take his own life. He ends his hellish nightmare of a life by turning the gun on himself and pulling the trigger.

The contemporary social issue that this scene perfectly depicts, and is still very prevalent even today, is the issue of bullying, depression, and suicide. It promotes awareness for people to keep an eye out for anyone that may be having a hard time waking up everyday or someone that has had too much that they become a danger to everybody, including themselves. This scene tells students and teenagers to not specifically target people to make fun of or pick on, and to not treat anybody like an outsider or this very plausible situation could come to pass. This show was placed in a setting that was prime for tackling social issues, due to the fact that it was based around teenagers in a small town.

The contemporary social issue connects to the story of Euripides’s Medea because Medea addresses practically the same issue. In this play, Medea was the outsider, she was the foreigner, she was the Other; she came from an exotic land that was a significant distance away from Greece. Amongst other problems she was faced with, including Jason dumping her like trash for another wife, she faced this predicament as well. Jason treated her like trash and basically threw he away, even after all she had done for him, and not many people would offer her help due to her not being from Greece. Like Jimmy Edwards, Medea was an outsider, and this issue was one of the things that tipped her over, made her go mad, and kill her own children, and Jason’s new wife and father-in-law.

In today’s world there are many people who experience depression and bullying, this is especially true for teenagers. Every year, the world loses countless lives due to many people being treated unfairly and horribly by other people. In the end, within both stories, tragic events came to pass due to the treatment of the characters that can be regarded as “the Other.”

Sean, Team Ares