Session 2: The Works of Tamora Pierce
Paper 1: Meira Levinson “A Woman without a Veil”: Feminism, Spirituality, and Bazhir Women in Tamora Pierce’s Alanna Series”
argument: close analysis of Bazhir characters = nuanced, progressive feminism that is still respectful of conservative traditions
Dragonslayer to Drayonsayer article, missed authors: first is a "masculine" model of heros, but are girls; example, Robin McKinley, she calls them "Girls Who Do Things" (presumably Aerin, _Hero and Crown_, Harry, _Blue Sword_); authors of article question whether this model is effective subversion: why should girls becomes boys to be successful. So present another model, "dragonsayer," that uses "traditional feminine values" of nurturing, communicating, etc. [just imagine scare quotes all over my transcription of this, okay, and take the rant of gender essentialism as read?]
this article puts Alanna in -slayer, because she switches w/brother to be trained as boy; speaker argues that much more complicated, healing magic, friendships, Great Mother Goddess, etc., doesn't fit either binary
Stevens & McCallum (sp?), _Retelling Stories . . . _ (something I missed), about children's literature, agree w/speaker re: Alanna but disapprove of feminist implications of third book, _Woman Who Rides Like a Man_ where Alanna lives with Bazhir that is presented as deeply traditional, esp. WRT gender, faux-Islam; men are warriors and make the decisions. Alanna becomes first female warrior, first female shaman, takes girl apprentices; can do this, she recognizes, because she is seen as a legend, and thus can start change that her own culture wouldn't accept. But she can't get her apprentices to take their veils off; Alanna disapproves.
Authors of article see Alanna attempting to put Western view of feminism, esp. WRT veil, marker of otherness and oppression of women. (Part of chapter on Orientalist meta-narratives and their presentation to children.)
Speaker: agrees that veil theme is never explicitly worked out, but claims that implicit in book and that can be read in more nuanced or respectful way.
[This is my skeptical face. I'm listening. (Wow, I'd forgotten how problematic this bit is, it got overwritten by the Trickster books.)]
1) Muktab (sp?), respected Bazhir, positioned as voice of authority in story, talks about balance; argues that can be read as lesson that passivity can be slow organic resistance (huge paraphrasing here, talking VERY FAST)
2) M. justifies keeping veil in pragmatic terms, too big a change, rather than immutable requirement--doesn't say whether Bazhir view veil as intrinsic good, use as example of how Bazhir's way of life rests on edge of knife, must accept Jonathan as their voice and Alanna as shaman, keep some cultural traditions or vanish
3) reads apprentices' choice to keep veil as in context w/Alanna's choice of dress throughout series, which reflects Alanna's choices to accept aspects of herself; can view veils in same way, refusal to accept that there is a mutually-exclusive binary (woman v. warrior, Bazhir tradition v. female shaman).
this is implicit, leaves lot of space for readers to engage with text and questions raised
[I have to say that this strikes me as pretty thin, especially set against the overall context of what these Bazhir need are some honkys, but I should probably re-read the book before I make up my mind. Also, I sympathize that 15 minutes is very short--I went through three rounds of cutting things out of my talk--but still, hard to follow when talking so fast.]
Paper 2: Melissa LaCasse “Lessons from Discipline: Positive Role Models in the Circle of Magic Series”
PowerPoint presentation! With fanart (super-cute, minuiko on DA: Circle kids--there's more, but I should be listening not finding the images).
in YA, one of current popular plots, single protag forced to make life-or-death decisions all on own.
Circle of Magic: four separate characters who rely on each other to be awesome [and, presumably, we'll talk about their individual and collective mentors at some point].
[summary, description, which I skip for the sake of my hands; I like these books a lot, they and the Kel/Protector of the Small series were go-to comfort books in law school, you should read them. booklog entries]
[oddly, mention of Daja's healthy low-drama relationship doesn't mention that it's f/f]
takeaway: not Chosen Ones, but chosen families; needing help isn't weak.
[a little talk about Rosethorn, but not much about the mentors, which is too bad, because I do like the range of them and their relationships. Also Rosethorn/Lark is canon, I just checked, but not explicitly until _Will of the Empress_, and I wish it had been done earlier because otherwise it's a whole bunch of single adults.]
Paper 3: Moriah J.C. Churchill “Alan/na: Gender-play within Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure”
queer feminist reading of _Alanna_
introductory overview of queer theory
Alanna actively subverts gender hierarchy of society by crossdressing as boy to be knight
performs maleness by conforming to chivalric code -- explicitly thinks that she has to hold extra-strong to it because she is female (which is questioned textually by Sir Myles)
later Alanna has to learn how to perform femininity w/help from George's mom
contrasts with Billingsley's The Folk Keeper, which essentializes gender by punishing gender play because dressing as a boy deprives protag of full power
[lost track of things, trying to paraphrase:] yet gender trappings don't seem to touch the stable inner core of Alanna's self
Alanna eventually stops performing masculine behavior when she stops crossdressing; but performs sex-less with Bazhir (Woman who Rides Like a Man); and when presented at court in last book, presented as "Sir" and in trouser; creates gender-fluid space for herself and also readers
[Keladry is "Lady Knight", as I recall, not Sir]
audience question: how does Keladry fit into gender-roles?
Kel: dresses (because she doesn't want them to forget she's a girl), sexual freedom conversation with her mom, falling outside of/choosing to disregard stereotypes/gender roles
me: mentor roles still outliers?
speaker: Haymitch, _Hunger Games_ more equal, but usually adults are left behind; did want to talk about teachers, cut for time
And now, lunch. Then Pierce's talk, then me, eek.
comment(s) | add comment (how-to) | link