Florida Women Writers Final Presentation



all right so my name is James Alexander and this is my video presentation on swampland eeeh and attempting and I will attempt to tie in some of these course objectives and try and identify or analyze the way that they work in Karen Russell's text so I just wanted to talk quickly before I begin talk a little bit about Karen Russell because I think especially in this class and when we look at works like what we just read with Victoria Fenton and how that was a memoir so it was based on events that happen in her life but I mean even all throughout this course when we're looking at you know Florida women writers I think it's important to at least have a brief background or understanding of who they are because it obviously influenced their writing in the stories that they told so karen russell was born in Florida in Miami and actually swampland II it was her debut novel and it was included in the New York Times 10 best books of 2011 which is pretty impressive but it was also a finalist for a Pulitzer and fiction but if I understand correctly when I was when I did the research on this there wasn't enough votes for any of the three for any of the three finalists that year and so nobody was awarded the prize there was a situation like that for sure that she was involved in it might not have been the Pulitzer but there was a an award that she was a finalist for that I guess the category or the award as a whole didn't receive enough votes for any of the finalists and so about it wasn't awarded that year but I think it was the Blitzer but I'm not 100% sure um but I do think it's interesting that that this was her date her debut novel and I think she obviously she actually also had a follow-up work called vampires in the Lemon Grove which sounds in some ways familiar at least in theme or you know in a genre that swampland eeeh is but writing also runs in her family believe her brother is also a writer and as funny as it is she actually as a right now doesn't live in Florida anymore which I don't blame her for to be completely honest but I believe she lives in Oregon if I'm not mistaken so that's just a little bit about Karen Russell before I began so the spacing in swampland eeeh was something that I think Russell was really able to maximize in multiple ways both with how it sort of intertwined with the plot that was ongoing but also when it came to incorporating different themes and going back to the course objectives and trying to identify sort of the various Florida spaces this one felt like I feel like this one was probably my favorite because of how it felt like it was a mixture of a bunch of different spaces and locations that are let's say do you need to Florida so we I feel like because of the way that the world works with the amusement park which is also sort of set in the Everglades but it's also sort of set off from the mainland it feels like it's a little bit of rural it feels a little bit like it's urban but it also that natural Floridian Everglades or natural environment and so I think that's partly why this this story was really easy to get into and to sort of identify these themes that we're looking for with these different works because it wasn't it wasn't one or be over or you're trying to figure out which one it's not it was more of seeing how all of these different locations can sort of be combined into one and how that affects the way that the world works in a story I think I finally found my wording there so that's the first point I wanted to make with the spacing when it comes to how the spacing was used with the plot and what I mean by the way that Russell was able to maximize it I think I even mentioned this either in the journal entry for this module or was the discussion post but I mentioned something about how having the story lines for me siblings with I want to say Ava and Osceola and then Kiwi I believe hope I'm hope I'm getting names right I don't have them in front of me but so we had him going off to mainland to try and find work which sort of opened up this opportunity to have the two sisters explore and in this way this felt even though it wasn't a quick thing it was something that was sort of bear through liner their arcs for the entire story we got to see we got to explore this world Orvis the way that the spacing works in this world through the eyes primarily through the eyes primarily through Ava but also a little bit draw seola so I think that's what I mean by the plot working sort of hand in hand with the despising and the world and the environment of swamp land eeeh and so the last point I wanted to make was that the park also works as a for and a symbol for themes that are very common in a story so death and loss or dealing with death so grief and it but also this uncertainty of future I think we get this in a lot of ways and I'm gonna tie this into how maybe not necessarily just the perspective of a woman here but how the how women or girls work or gender I should say it works in this story particularly but for this point right now we you know we start off the story basically coming off of a death but we also get this not strictly metaphorical but we you know we don't know essentially their business is dying their amusement park you know it's not doing business the same way it was obviously if a murder was the domain attraction but so we get her death and we get the uncertainty of their future but we also get the uncertainty of the future of their family business and I think that was something that was really easy for me to like identify and I'm sort of a so what I'm looking for I I really like like the way that themes work in subtext and in context and and all that stuff when it comes to stories like me so I think that was I was really not inspired by but I was really into the way that Russell was able to do this and have themes that directly tied into the story but we're also sort of more underlying themes in the story okay so when it comes to women's perspectives and how I feel gender works in swamp land eeeh again I have basically three main points that I think are the most crucial at least for my interpretation and these at least the first two points I also talked about when we did the discussion posts and the journal entry but I guess I can expand I mean I'll be able to expand on it here so the first point is that I think this really were I think smartly I know swampland the excuse me works as a really great coming-of-age sort of mesh of stories that all cover I guess different elements or different dynamics of growing up and I think that the way that Russell just sort of perfectly blends that with how its specific and how its unique to growing up in Florida is also a really strong element but funny enough I really enjoy sort of teenage slice-of-life coming-of-age stories about growing up and about teenagers or young people sort of finding their place in the world or fighting or you know figuring out who they are and what that means in the world which is why again I for the most part chose to focus on this text but I think I also think this story best displays how gender and gender both gender and the perspective of a woman author comes into play so we basically have Ava who is 13 I believe and she for the most part is the character that were getting the point of view from she's sort of guiding us through the story and I guess if I had to use one word to describe her character it would be naive and I think that's very accurate of teenagers especially at 13 but there's a lot of other factors here domain one being that her mother just passed away and I think that's where we really get into the deeper layers here and there are time throughout the story that we see her especially early on well actually all throughout the story but diving to specific examples of that like immediate sort of loss of guidance come right away I think I mentioned on the floating library where we had the picture of the woman who had no cue poles in the book and how I kind of I don't know if that was for Ava it might have been frosty I can't actually remember but I just think it was interesting because it was sort of a play on the fact that they now had no guidance and they were sort of searching for I also mentioned for Ava specifically how she was trying to sort of make do now that their mother was gone and I also make a point about how it really didn't feel like the issue was so much about the death but more about how they move forward without their mother so I think that was also really interesting and as we go through the story we get a lot of these first experience moments for Ava and I'll get more into that with my third point but I sort of started to touch on the loss of their mother and how that affected the story so we also and on let me go more into that with the ava trying to fill the shoes and i think we see that in a bunch of different ways i mean be sort of points that i also mentioned in the journal entry but specifically the wrestling of the gators and trying to sort of there was this kind of fun thing where she was trying to match her mother's time for i want to say it was either tying them down or keeping their jaw shut or something like that and she had gotten down to like four minutes when i think her mother used to do it in 30 seconds or something like that and anything was really interesting to see how that was sort of her method of coping and we also get to see and I think this really ties in the perspective of a woman here is when we get to the point of Ava discovering the alligator eggs and then one hatching and you know getting the red alligator and her thinking okay this you know her natural instinct this is sort of raised that family and I think it's a cool metaphor because she's it also feels like in many ways she's trying to save her own family and I just thought that that was a really clever way to sort of portray that and to get it across or to convey that message and it's not so much that you know just women and their how you know oriented they are when it comes to family or how maternal they are or how caring they are I mean that's not the only point I'm trying to make I'm just saying that I think it's interesting going from seeing Ava trying to sort of replace that role and then also trying to take on that role with the with the alligator and also in a sense that they lost the main attraction of their amusement park which was their mom and then we get her trying to be a mother to what she thinks could potentially be the next main attraction of the park so there was just kind of like a lot of these elements that sort of intertwined here and they felt very specific especially dealing with a teenage girl and her perspective on the world and how she was seeing things in the way I oftentimes feel like the most interesting thing about teenagers is the way that they think and what is their first reaction to something it's often very emotional it's often very sort of misled or it's and it's not always I would argue most of the time it's it's intended to be a positive or it's intended to be productive but it just because of their lack of experience in the world they don't exactly know how to go about that and I think we see a lot of that with Ava in this story on a contrary with Kiwi going to the mainland and I'm gonna get more into this especially with the third point because it's probably my favorite point but we just see different ideas of how to move forward so for him we sort of get that I want to be the provider and this this isn't working anymore we need to go to something else I'm gonna go to the mainland and try to get a job trying to find work whereas for the two sisters and especially Ava they were or at least it felt to me like they were a little more desperate to hang on to that and to try and make make that work with their family and I think that was also sort of interesting take on I guess the different perspectives or how you get different perspectives that Russell gave us from her point of view but so I the main point I mean the my favorite point here is my third point and I actually sort of came this came to me as I was preparing to for the presentation but I think the harsh realities that differ for boys versus girls in the world is really on display here and I think Russell did a very good job of showing that so what I mean is that we do see Kiwi struggle a bit when he first gets the mainland but as we know we sort of get a turn of events that start to work in his favor with the girls though we see and I think I also mentioned this in the one of the two things that I wrote but we see them sort of immediately get lost once their mom is gone and I yes it's physically they get lost in the park but I also think it's I think it's there's a deeper point there I think it's very hard for teenage girls especially to lose their mom because as much as you know you could as great as a father can be a greatest you know as an impact on them as a parent there are certain things that men cannot sympathize and empathize with when it comes to women or girls and I think it was really cool to see them sort of immediately just kind of fall apart once they didn't have the guidance with their mom but what I mean by the harsh realities and a difference for boys and girls and this isn't always but I do think it's I do think it's a thing and I think that girls naturally are always in more danger than guys are I don't even think that's an opinion I just think that's I think that's a fact and so we we do get the very dark story for Ava that happens with the Birdman and I think that is also a way that it goes back to the point my first point at the coming-of-age thing but that is something that for the most part young boys or teenage boys don't have to worry about nothing it doesn't happen but for girls especially for her too for that immediately to happen to her when she's in this journey of looking for something to sort of latch on to looking to understand what life is now and what everything means and how where she fits in the world with what's happened for her to immediately get to get taken advantage of feels very real to me and it feels like it's but it also didn't feel like it was forced or that it was like I think this is something that you sort of have to catch or you have to interpret it interpret it this way or at least that's the way that I do and I think that was Russell's way and I think that's what I mean by how we get a woman's perspective I'm you know not that men can't see this or can't tell the same type of story but I think just seeing how different it is for a boy who goes off versus the girls who go off on their own at a young age I just think that Russell did a really good job of incorporating her voice and potentially her experiences excuse me as a woman and that now that I think about it that was probably my favorite at least underlying theme that was incorporated into the story so as I wrap up talking about swampland II I actually got the idea to actually sort of compare and contrast our last reading which was Victoria Fed ins this is not my beautiful life with swampland eeeh and I just think they have similar themes naturally since they're in a curriculum but I think considering one is a memoir one is not but also I I look at one where we see characters who have just lost their mother to death which obviously is want land eeeh but when you look at this is not my beautiful life we sort of have a similar theme that's working in a different way and it's this fear who sort of this fear of losing someone which in this case also happens to be from the perspective of a woman and it also happens to be about her mom and the reason I think it's an interest orbit to REITs are interesting to compare especially since they are both in a second half of the course is in this is not my beautiful life we get to see this really sort of colorful and dynamic relationship between Victoria and Cicely I think was her mother's name and as I stated in my a my writing about that about that text we got to see different sides of their relationship where you know oftentimes they were at odds but they were also also often trying to be there for one another or at the end of the day they still very much cared about you know where the other was in whatever they were dealing with and I just thought it was interesting to point out and make that comparison as far as how they contrast and and also you know with in terms of the way that we get to see how the perspective what how women's perspective comes into it and this is not my beautiful like we get to see sort of this really stressful and emotional journey at the beginning for Victoria she goes from being pregnant for the first time and you know and worrying about taking care of her family and you know were really worried about being you know a subpar mom whereas in swamp Lamia we don't really see that because for one their mother has died but we also see methods of essentially being a maternal figure through different mediums I think I mentioned that with Ava and the alligator thing and also them trying to sort of fill the shoes of their mom so I think it's just really interesting to look at one story where the mother is pregnant and the mother is present in that story whereas in swamp land eeeh she isn't but the theme of motherhood is still present I guess is what I'm trying to say and so I just thought that that would be an interesting sort of comparison or theme to to bring up as I conclude my presentation

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