All posts by orella chichester

Final Elit Project: “Womanhood”

Author’s Description: Womanhood is an electronic literature piece dedicated to addressing the various components of womanhood. The piece reflects the author’s views and experiences with womanhood and femininity. The text is written as a collection of poems that detail four important components of womanhood: Virginity, Venus, Genitalia, and Race. Readers are invited to choose which section of the text they would like to explore by answering the question, “When you hear the word ‘Womanhood’, what comes to mind first?”

Link to Final Elit Story Project: https://www.inklewriter.com/stories/38254

Reflection:

I honestly enjoyed creating this project. It tested my creative and poetic abilities. There were many times during the creation of this project that I became extremely frustrated. I was frustrated by my lack of coding skills and overall tech knowledge. When I first began the project, I wanted to create something very similar to Queerskins; an elit piece that seamlessly incorporates imagery, sound, and text while also telling a powerful story. However, after a few failed attempts at utilizing Wix, I quickly realized that the initial vision for my project would need more than two weeks to create. I decided to stay within my lane and utilize the digital tools suggested by my classmates. My search led me to Inklewriter, a simple but powerful platform.

Overall, I am content with my final project. However, if I had more time and resources, I would have loved to create this as a collaborative project. I would want to interview women of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and upbringings about their experiences with womanhood and femininity. My current elit piece is told from my perspective. The perspective of a Black woman. In order to provide readers with a more in depth look at womanhood, interviews and just a more inclusive knowledge of the different facets of womanhood would have been very beneficial to my final project.

Progress Report: A Coming of Age Story

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very intimidated about starting the final elit project. In fact, I’m way more intimidated about creating my own piece from scratch than I initially was about navigating elit pieces. I don’t see myself as a very tech-savvy person. I’m intimidated by coding and anything reminiscent of it. In the past, I have created sites through WordPress and Wix. However, these sites were not nearly as interactive as the elit pieces we have reviewed thus far. 

The piece I enjoyed the most was Queerskins. I thought this piece was very simple in its navigation yet extremely powerful in its content. The piece incorporated images that looked that they were captured by disposable cameras. Audio of journal entries were read in the voice of the respective characters. 

I would love to create a piece that is reminiscent of the layout and navigation of Queerskins. I specifically want to create a piece that is centered around a coming of age story. The protagonist is leaving behind the only life they’ve ever known in pursuit of greener pastures. In the midst of their journey, they encounter many obstacles. Each obstacle provides a valuable tool and learning lesson for navigating life. My goal would be to incorporate text entries written in poetic formations, as well as journal entries. The images would reflect each piece of writing. I would use a combination of images I have taken in addition to images from the internet. I’m not sure what type of audio combination I would want to use. 

The biggest challenge I have encountered thus far in the brainstorming process is trying to figure out what site I want to utilize to create my elit piece. I am leaning more toward Wix because I find it to be the most interactive. However, I am very terrified about pulling all of this together. I am hoping that my anxieties dissipate and allow me to create something unique.

“The Hunt for the Gay Planet” Compared to “Queerskins” and “Pose”

As I read The Hunt for the Gay Planet by Anna Anthropy I found myself constantly drawing connections between it, Queerskins, and the television show Pose

The Hunt for the Gay Planet takes a lighter approach to the popular trope of being gay and searching for community. The piece is filled with humorous phrases and sentences such as “gay tools”, “nothing strikes you as queer”, “funk that noise” and the resistance of heteronormative cave drawings. Anthropy does an excellent job of providing lesbian representation in science fiction. Most science fiction pieces are told from a heteronormative approach. Anthropy rejects this practice by creating a lesbian character who is insistent on finding a place for those just like her.

Although Anthropy’s piece is more humorous than Queerskins and Pose, the pieces still relate greatly. In each piece, a gay individual is seeking acceptance and community. In The Hunt for the Gay Planet the main character is searching for Lesbionica; a lesbian planet where she will be able to live freely amongst women just like her. In Queerskins, the life of Sebastian, a young doctor, is documented through his journal entries. Sebastian was a man afflicted with HIV/AIDs during the height of the epidemic. Through his journal entries, readers are able to learn about how Sebastian was simply a man in search of love and belonging. He was rejected by his father and ignored by his mother. His search causes him to pursue relationships where he’s unappreciated and a relationship where he is loved until he finds out he has HIV/AIDs. In Pose similar circumstances occur. Gay men and trans-women during the HIV/AIDs epidemic search for community, safety, and acceptance. They create their own communities and “houses” within the ballroom community. In the show, viewers witness the discrimination that these individuals endure all in the pursuit of acceptance.

The characters in The Hunt for the Gay Planet, Queerskins,and Pose are all resistant to the oppression and discrimination that come with heteronormative practices. Although Sebastian must live in the shadows because of the discrimination that came with being a gay man, he is still committed to living his truth amongst those who are just like him. In Pose, the characters make it their missions to be unapologetically themselves. This ranges anywhere from being seen in the daytime to leaving their small towns to venture to NYC. The main character in The Hunt for the Gay Planet is intent on finding her gay utopia. When she arrives and finds out that the utopia she’s sought out for so long is ran by a puppet dictator who is controlled by the heteronormative and homophobic governments of other planets, she swiftly and courageously decides to overthrow the hierarchy and implement the acceptance and freedom she has desired for so long.

I believe it is essential that there are constant representations of LGBTQ+ individuals not only in electronic literature but in all forms of media. It is important to note that these representations shouldn’t always be rooted in trauma but should also employ elements of humor, courage, and tenacity — just like what we see in The Hunt for the Gay Planet.

All About RedRidinghood

Just to set the record straight, I’ve never done any hallucinogenic drugs but navigating RedRidinghood by Donna Leishman felt exactly like what I imagine a bad acid trip to be like. The piece starts off with simply drawn characters and an easily navigated homepage. However, once the piece began, I found myself very confused about what was going on.

The description of RedRidinghood describes the piece as “‘Little Red Riding Hood’ from a feminist perspective”. The piece begins similar to the original tale. Red is sent by her mother to her grandmother’s home. On her way there, Red is confronted by a wolf-boy on a scooter. He seems to be bothering her so she shrugs him off and walks to a of field flowers. After she picks a bouquet of flowers, she falls asleep. This is where things got a bit strange for me.

As I watched Red sleep in the field of flowers, I kept asking myself “who falls asleep in a field of flowers?” In the original tale, Red lives in a village and has to travel to another village to visit her grandmother. However, in this take of the classic fairy tale, Red lives in an apartment building with her mother. Which means that this story is taking place in modern times. With that being said, who in the 21st century, stops to take a nap in a field of flowers?

While Red naps, users are given the option to wake up or continue to sleep. I actually navigated this piece twice so I was able to both wake up and sleep. The navigation of the piece ended more quickly when I chose to wake up from the nap. However, when I chose to keep dreaming, I was taken on a lucid trip. In the dream there was a naked person, an angel, and boom boxes. I kept wondering how exactly this related to the theme of the piece. I still don’t know.

The piece ends by Red eating the wolf-boy that kills her grandmother. However, the story does not end there. Someone in a hoodie with a gun approaches Red while she sleeps, she opens one eye and smirks. Then the piece ends. I felt confused and also empty. I am very curious to see how this piece relates to feminism and also the meaning of the ending.

“Inanimate Alice”

Before I began to navigate “Inanimate Alice” I was nervous because of the description provided. According to the description, the only way Alice can save herself is by traveling through the “scary factory”. I am not a fan of horror movies or anything in the scary realm. So, I was very unenthused about navigating this piece.

“Inanimate Alice” starts off like a 90s TV show or film. The introduction of the text reminded me of a crime drama like “Law and Order” and “NY Undercover”. The text, imagery, and sounds combined made me feel like I was getting ready to watch my favorite TV show. The area where the factory staircase that Alice and her friends are playing on is reflective of a grimy area. There is graffiti on the brick walls of the factory and the factory seems to be abandoned. The city where Alice lives, including her home, is very dreary.

I found “Inanimate Alice” to be very eerie. Alice is the one narrating the text that viewers have to read in order to navigate the text. At first glance, the text just seems like a 14-year-old writing about various areas in their new town. However, at a closer look, I found certain things to sound a bit strange. For example, when I was navigating through Alice’s school, she stated that she now goes to school like a “normal kid”. She goes on to state that she was previously homeschooled in Moscow by her mother. In addition, Alice created a program called “iStories” that lets her friends create their own stories. Although the idea was innovative, I found the premise of the program to be odd. In the story, a young girl’s father goes missing and now she and her mother set out on a road trip in hopes of finding him.

The imagery of Alice’s home seemed like a setting straight out of a horror film. She states that her home is from the previous century and was never renovated by the previous owners. She also states that in order to get to the only bathroom in her home, you have to walk through her bedroom. Yet, she does not seem bothered by what I perceive as a major inconvenience. All she says is, “it’s kind of horrible but I like it”. In addition, Alice is the only person who likes their new town. Everyone else in her family is frustrated by the small house and their new jobs.

After visiting the various locations in Alice’s neighborhood, the text states, “I am going to die” and then fades into a black screen that is the inside of the factory. As the music played, the dimly lit screen and images of an abandoned factory were plastered all over my screen. I became super nervous. I thought it was going to be like those horrible Twitter videos that seem normal but then a demon pops out of nowhere. To ease my anxiety, I turned off the sound. However, I was still nervous about navigating the piece. I kept ending up at dead ends. This made me super frustrated and wanted to finish navigating the piece as soon as possible. I decided to just keep asking “Brad” for help until I got to the end. I think out of all the pieces we have discussed so far, “Inanimate Alice” has been the most nerve racking and probably my least favorite.

Alive and Well

Navigating “With Those We Love Alive” by Porpentine brought back the feelings I experienced during the beginning of this semester. When we first began to learn about elit and explore various pieces, I was extremely intimidated and felt like I was way out of my league because I was unable to make sense of the texts. I felt like that all over again this week.

Although I had read the description of the piece, I had no expectations of what the piece would entail when I first began to navigate it. I was greeted by a black screen and text that read “Before living this life, have a pen or sharpie nearby, something that can write on skin.” I was intrigued by this because so far none of the elit pieces we have explored have required us to have a writing implement. However, I found a pen and got ready to navigate the piece.

The following screen after the first was blue with white text that read “Please remember: nothing you can do is wrong.” For some reason this caption reminded me of something nurturing parents say to children in an effort to make them feel safe. This text made me feel calm and confident enough to navigate the text to the best of my ability.

The proceeding screens talked about being named by your parents but when they leave for work you find another book and rename yourself. I found this to be extremely powerful. I thought about how our parents name us whatever they want yet we are the ones who continue to name ourselves for the rest of our lives. We name ourselves through our actions, behaviors and life experiences. Your parents may have named you John but you determine the definition of John. You choose who John is and who they will be.

Despite the enlightenment I felt through the previous screen, I was left stumped by the proceeding ones. I found myself wishing I had some imagery to accompany the text. Yet, I also thought to myself “maybe this is why I need a pen. To draw my own imagery”. Keeping this in mind, I started to doodle the imagery described in the piece. By the end of the piece, I had doodled a spider, a spiderweb, a throne, and a skull. The piece uses a lot of descriptive language that allows the reader to envision the setting of the piece. I imagined the story taking place in a medieval setting. However, the use of the words “temple” and “vines” caused me to also envision a temple similar to those of the Aztecs and Mayans.

As I continued to navigate through the piece, I kept wishing for the piece to come together. This was obviously me still approaching elit from a linear perspective (old habits die hard). When I got to the end, I felt incomplete. “What was this piece about”, I asked myself. “Am I just an artificer attending an ascension ceremony?” I went back to the home screen and read the description of the text once more and decided to navigate the piece from the beginning. Yet, when I got to the end again, I still found myself longing to know the theme and overall purpose of the text. Now I’m very excited to hear Jessie explain how she interpreted the text!

Going Through The Motions

How can one really describe or even articulate all that is Motions? The piece left me speechless. At the surface level, the elit text does a fantastic job of combining imagery, sound and text. Yet, underneath the surface, you quickly realize that this text is not fiction. It is real life. Real accounts by individuals who have been trafficked. Once I realized this, I shifted my focus from the layout of the piece to the actual text. The small excerpts weren’t enough. I wanted to know more. “Who’s talking?” “Who did this happen to?” “How did this happen?” As I continued navigating through the elit piece, my questions were answered. The excerpts that swayed from one corner of the screen to the other answered my questions. The imagery answered my questions. The sounds playing in the background answered my questions.

The text moves quickly, yet it covers so many topics that our society deems taboo. Human trafficking occurs more close and more frequently than we would like to admit. Whenever it is discussed, it is presented as an occurrence that only happens in foreign countries and that is completely out of our control. We never discuss the human trafficking that occurs right in our town and cities.

The text discusses human trafficking in relation to modern day slavery, sex work and domestic labor. If you pay attention closely, the text in the background provides accounts of the various pretense individuals were brought to different countries under. Some were promised the hope of becoming professional soccer players. Others were told they had nothing to lose by leaving their home countries; so why not leave? The dream of marriage and a better life were sold to others.

I can’t stop applauding the authors of Motions for creating such a poignant piece. When it comes to topics like Human Trafficking, our human instinct is to leave them alone and focus on things that are less sensitive. Yet the authors attack the topic head on and do an excellent job in the process.

Fly Me To The Moon?

I first remember viewing Ask Me for the Moon on my personal search for an elit text to present to the class. However, my first interaction with this text was just a skim. I didn’t get to dive deep into it like I did this week.

Ask Me for the Moon starts off like the beginning of a movie. The black screen and fading captions seemed so familiar. I’ve watched so many movies that began with various captions. Some of these captions would state things like “based on true events”, “the scenes depicted in this film are purely fiction and for entertainment purposes only”, or sometimes just a quote that related to the theme of the film. Ask Me for the Moon does the latter. The captions provided relate to the theme of the elit text.

As I began navigating the text, I tried to analyze each group of fading words. However, the text moved too fast for my liking. I kept wishing I could pause the introduction of the text in order to carefully analyze the text. I found myself feeling like I was missing out on really important parts of the text. When I finally made it pass the introduction text, I was introduced to sound. The sound I heard as I hovered over a sign marked “Waikīkī” was reminiscent of a wave but also an echoed room with wind blowing through it.

The quickly fading text continued throughout my navigation of the text. However, I soon realized that the themes of the captions related to the excerpts that would come next. My favorite excerpt was about the transition of land in Hawai’i. The text begins with “Our ‘aina, or lands, are not any longer the source of food and shelter but the source of money”. This section made me think about the commercialization of Hawaii. To many Hawaii is just a tourist destination but to native Hawaiians it is a home constantly being destroyed by the tourism industry. Places that were once sacred to natives have been turned into tourist hot spots that they are denied access to.

After reading each excerpt, I was provided with the opportunity to click on one of the blue highlighted words in text. Words such as “beaches”, “land”, and “resort” were highlighted. Once I clicked on one of these words, I was taken to an excerpt that was centered around the word I selected. Overall, I enjoyed this piece. Initially I was a bit annoyed by the quickly fading words. However, by the time I got to the end, I realized that the words are moving just as fast as the waves of beaches do and I need to take in whatever I can while I can.

Queerskins and Pose

I must admit that even after the explanation, discussion and participating during last week’s class, I still left class feeling apprehensive. I thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?” “This is way more than I can handle”.

When I began this week’s assignments, my expectations were very low. I only expected to be able to comprehend bits and pieces. Yet, to my pleasant surprise, I understood everything and then some.

Queerskins by Illya Szilak is a wonderful piece of electronic literature. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this body of work. As I read and navigated through the site, I found myself constantly drawing parallels with previous works I’ve read and seen. The most recent work I compared Queerskins to is the FX series Pose. Similar to the life of Sebastian, Pose is also set during the height of the HIV/AIDs epidemic. The lives of a community of trans women and gay men living in NYC is documented in the series. Each of these characters has a different origin story, yet their lives are all intertwined through the ballroom community, the ostracization of LGBTQ individuals and the effects of HIV/AIDs on the community.

As I read and listened to various sections of Sebastian’s life, I kept comparing his life to various characters within Pose. There is a character named Damon who leaves his life in Pennsylvania in pursuit of New York City after his father finds out he is gay and beats him severely. His story reminds me of the strained relationship between Sebastian and his father. Even as a child, Sebastian’s father was abusive toward him. He would beat him for “no reason”. Sebastian’s father wanted to nothing to do with him after he found out his son was gay. He did not want to hear any news about Sebastian, nor did he attend his funeral.

Sebastian’s father refusing to attend his funeral reminded me of the character Candy. Candy was a trans prostitute who was brutally murdered by one of her clients. In the wake of her death, the ballroom community comes together to organize a funeral for her. During their planning, they reach out to her parents who quickly denounce Candy as their daughter and state that they only had a son. It is presumed throughout the episode that Candy’s parents will not show up to her funeral. However, her parent’s show up to pay their respects. It is through the funeral that her parents gain some sort of insight into what her life was like as a woman. It is also through the funeral, that viewers learn Candy was also HIV positive.

Lastly, Sebastian’s love life reminded me of almost every character on Pose. In the show, love and romance within the community operates within the shadows. There are written and unwritten rules that everyone abides by; some even make up their own rules as they go along the way. This reminded me of Sebastian’s relationship with Alex and JM. Sebastian and Alex’s relationship was monogamous yet open. They were committed to one another, but they also acknowledged Wednesdays as the designated day they were allowed to sleep with other people. JM and Alex did not court one another like heterosexuals do. This is mostly because they were not afforded that luxury due to being two gay men. Despite this, they found ways to make their relationship work by operating in the shadows and also establishing some form of normalcy. This is a common trope in Pose. The community operates on a need to know basis; those who need to know know and those who do not need to know do not know.

I believe what captivated me the most about this text was the readability of it. It flowed seamlessly. Each chapter being placed in the perfect order. The site also provides the reader with the ability to navigate in whichever order they please. They can read an excerpt from Sebastian’s journal or listen to an audio clip. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and would even recommend it to anyone who’s interested in learning about electronic literature.

(Now I’m nervous about presenting my own because it doesn’t flow this easily!)