8. Ethics of Representation


Week 8 Theme: Ethics of Representation

What kind of power is inherent in the practice of representation?

AGENDA, March 21, 2018

If you missed the “live” synchronous class, please watch the video. Then answer the question at the bottom of this page using the “Leave a Reply” function.

  1. Reflections on the affordances and liabilities of the infographics you created
  2. Key ideas on the ethics of representation from Lange, Parker, Burgess
  3. View and discuss: “Because why not”
  4. Discuss: What are some strategies for teaching and learning about representational ideologies?
  5. Review LEAP 3 Digital Storytelling (due April 4) and homework assignments for next week’s class


  1. The Week 9 theme is Digital Storytelling: What makes digital narratives so powerful and complex as a tool for learning?

If you were unable to participate in the “live” synchronous class, please select one of the digital stories at The Moth and offer a description and analysis of it in the “Leave a Reply” section below. Be sure to include a link to the story you selected.

7 comments on “8. Ethics of Representation”

  1. I watched a Moth Video by Gretchen Waschke about her eviction and sudden loss of a living situation. She bravely confronts her story and holds back her tears throughout the entire performance. I love the way Gretchen uses the eviction & shut off notices as concrete signifiers of the harsh reality of her situation. The part of the story that seems most powerful to the storyteller is the meanness of her soon-to-be divorced husband and her need to protect her two daughters. We are each programmed with the type of provider we think we’re supposed to be & are devastated when we don’t live up to our own metric. Gretchen’s epiphany, which comes in the last line of her story, is that “Community is my true family.” This mentor text gives me a much better idea of how I might structure my LEAP 3.


  2. I listened to a really funny story on the Moth called The Nerve by Andrew Orvedahl: A comic gets his big break.
    He made me laugh right from the start because he was so authentic describing the experience of getting a call from the Tonight Show to come and tape the show. That’s how his story begins. From there on he takes you on journey of self- reflection (disbelief, fear, humor, anxiety) and then describe the physical world he moving through; Manhattan comedy clubs, jeering audiences, and backstage at the tonight show. I learned by listening that language, phrasing, repeating inner dialogue and subsequent reactions, response to interacting with other people…just to name a few. Pace of delivery is another thing I learned. Stir it up. Keep it interesting. Check it out…it’s worth it. http://player.themoth.org/#/?actionType=ADD_AND_PLAY&storyId=15090


  3. Being fascinated by good writing about everyday, mundane stories, I chose Charlotte’s Deadly Scissors by Erik Heen. In this slice of life story Erik moves from about the “whitest” area of the country to multicultural Houston, Texas. While out looking for a job, he stopped for a haircut. He was tempted to leave after seeing the place filled with only African American women, but was
    afraid that would be offensive. He ended up looking handsome and was happy to return again.

    Erik uses prosody when telling his story. He uses inflection when speaking, such as saying “blown away” and “the usual” in meaningful ways. The story evokes familiar experiences. We understand his old ‘barber shop’ and ‘Ernie’ the barber. Erik uses repetition to describe all the places in the ‘barber shop’ that are filled with African American women. The topic is one that can be uncomfortable, and Erik authentically shares his struggle with humor. Saying of Charlotte, “She looked like a matador,” he employs simile. The listener expects that Erik is getting a bad haircut, but that ends up being a red herring. Erik shares his turn in perspective after interacting with Charlotte.
    Highly recommended! http://player.themoth.org/#/?ctionType=ADD_AND_PLAY&storyId=1466


  4. For my Moth episode, I chose to listen to Sweet as Pie by Mary Hamilton. Mary goes on to tell the audience of all the expectations her family had when she was planning her wedding, from the food, to the gifts, and the appearance of her future husband. She goes into detail about how her family had doubts about her future husband but learned to accept him and his knack for baking homemade pies. Mary does a good job in keeping the audience entertained by giving dramatic pauses and changing her voice inflection to imitate family members. My favorite part of the story is the ending when Mary is able to come full circle when she gave us an update on her family members and the nit picky things that they wanted her to do for her wedding. It was a short little story that gave us a short glimpse into Mary’s family.


  5. I listened the story called “My Hero” by Sarah Lee Nakintu. She speaks in a quiet but also in a strong tone about her childhood experiences. She grew up in a patriarchal home. One of her father’s two wives was her mother and her mother was very obedient to her father. Her aunt, compared to her mother, seems to be an ideal educated role model for Sarah. Sarah dreamed to keep studying but she got to know that she will be sold by a different house by her father and her aunt. She felt betrayed by the aunt she admired. Aunt and her father convinced her. Only her mother protected her from this anti-human behavior. Eventually she and her mother came to live separately and her mother worked harder to support Sarah’s academic journey. Her mother is her hero! Again, I was very impressed with her tone. Her tone is quite calm but seems to give a stronger resonance.



  6. Bina Maseno, a political activist from Nairobi, Kenya, told the simple story of how she created an organization called Badili Africa designed to empower the youth of Africa to take action and play a leading role in the development of democracy. In terms of plot, the exposition and rising action introduces us to Ms. Maseno and her desire to serve in the Kenyan government. Initially, the conflict of the story is Ms. Maseno’s struggle to run for office in a society that does not think governing and politics is an appropriate arena for women. This conflict becomes an internal one when Ms. Maseno loses the election and she struggles with the realization that she has very little power in her community. The story’s falling action and resolution involves Ms. Maseno coming to the realization after having a conversation with her mentor that she does not need to be in political office to take action in her community and initiate change. This realization was the spark that motivated her to start her organization, Badili Africa. The organization inspires people to take action and expand the breadth of democracy.

    Ms. Maseno’s story is compelling because it is simple and concise. She does not dwell on unnecessary details, and, in five minutes, uses a traditional story arch, complete with an external and internal conflict, to tell the story of how her life changing organization was founded. No doubt, there are threads of the story and subordinate details and events responsible for the creation of her organization, but those are omitted in an effort to develop a memorable and gripping tail of triumph in the face of considerable adversity.

    Looking to the production of my LEAP 3 project, I am inspired to create a story with a traditional story arch that is focused and streamlined, omitting superfluous details and anecdotes. This will result in a more compelling and impactful story.

    Ms. Maseno’s story is also a wonderful way to teach story to middle school students. The elements of plot, conflict, characterization, point of view, and setting are easily identifiable and reproducible after listening and unpacking several of the MOTH stories .


  7. I listened to “Now I’m Angry” by Ann Morra. I chose it because I have often been angry and I like to hear others admit it and talk about it. Also, I could tell by the description that it related to road rage in Nairobi. I love to drive, have road rage, and have heard about the insane traffic conditions in African cities, so I decided this one is for me.

    Morra constructs a story within a story to illustrate her need for acknowledgement of her rights from men, and her struggle with the cultural demand that she act like a decorous lady in a society that sometimes outrages her. By the way she is awesome at being outraged and has an incredible fighting spirit.

    The outer story is about the time a man crashes into her car in a traffic jam and drives away screaming and accusing her of being a stupid woman driver. Morra spends a minute or two on this story and departs from it right at the moment that you are dying to know what she’s going to do to this guy for his multiple transgressions.

    Then she shifts to a childhood family memory. She sets the scene of the incident, then shifts upward conceptually and describes the cultural expectations of women and how her personality chafed against it as a child. The bulk of her story is this childhood incident. We understand her character and what motivates her. It is a synedoche: her character in miniature.

    The whole time she’s telling the childhood story I’m eager to get back to adult road rage and I’m also charmed by this story because it’s about sausages and angry girls and I like both of those things. By the time we shift back to the traffic jam, I know this woman. I know her mother, I know her brother. I’ve imagined her childhood house. I’ve smelled sausage and run down the hallways.

    She finishes the story very quickly, and after a magnificent display of righteous anger she extracts an apology from the man. She closes the story right afterwards, very quickly.

    I love how she found the nugget in her childhood to illluminate the adult story and used it to explain her character and motivation. If she didn’t do that, the story would have been dull, lifeless and frankly meaningless with no heart. This is a promising model for me to use when constructing my digital story.


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