A Good Example of a Section Introduction

Hi everybody. I’m pasting a draft of the section introduction written by the “Sexuality and Self-Disclosure” group. They’ve done a great job, and I thought it would be helpful for others to see.



Nicola Certo, Liz Foley and Kat Vecchio 

Each public disclosure of a private reality becomes something of a magnet that can attract others with a similar frame of reference; thus each public disclosure…serves as a dismantling tool against the illusion of ONE-TRIBE NATION; it lifts the curtains for a brief peek and reveals the probable existence of literally millions of tribes.

–David Wojnarowicz

Each of these three projects examines the means by which a group of people have publicly disclosed a historically stigmatized sexual identity and the implications of that form of disclosure, both for the authors of the message and the audience that receives it. Whether the disclosers are post-Stonewall gay and lesbian artists writing memoirs that are explicit about their sexual lives, ordinary queer people using social media as tools to facilitate and amplify their comings-out, or polyamorists using mainstream media outlets to combat misunderstandings about their sexual practices and ethics, the goal in each case is to claim public space and visibility for identities that were formerly invisible or visible only in a negative light.


In “[title TBD],” Liz Foley traces a tradition among queer memoirists of choosing autobiographical forms that disrupt conventional narrative. Her argument considers the connections between narrative and self-construction and asks whether anti-narrative techniques can nonetheless produce effects of narrative satisfaction in both queer and general readerships. In “Isn’t it Too Much for YouTube?,” Nicola Certo explores the recent phenomenon of posting coming-out videos on YouTube. Using the case of the Rhodes brothers as a starting point, he raises questions as to whether the coming-out process, once seen as an act of personal liberation that simultaneously increased the visibility of a larger group, has now reached a historical stage at which it can be used for careerist or narcissistic ends. And in “The Use of Candor by Polyamorists to Create Understanding and Empathy with Outsiders,” Kat Vecchio’s focus is on polyamorists’ efforts to use mainstream media platforms to speak candidly about their multiple concurrent romantic relationships, with the goals of increasing polyamory’s visibility and combatting misperceptions about the polyamorist community on the part of the general public.

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Hi everybody. You can stream Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation here. Let me know if you have any problems.



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Working TOC for Shared Anthology for MALS 70000 (Oversharing and Inventing the Self)


Possible Titles Possible Subtitles
Private Selves, Public Worlds

Shared Selves, Private Selves



Selfhood from the Inside Out


An Anthology on Selves Invented and Revealed

An Anthology on Self Invention and Revelation

An Anthology on Self Expression and Experiment


Sections / Menu Names (subject to revision)

Narrative and Identity

Private Bodies, Public Bodies

Affirming Neurodiversity


Feminist Approaches

Adolescents, Youth and Social Media

Breaking Taboos

Social Identities

Science and Society


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Groups and Menu Topics for Our Online Anthology

You can download a PDF of the material on this page here:

Abstracts for Anthology Day pdf

Narrative and Identity

  1. Jennifer MacDonald

Through reading about and viewing other people’s travels in literature and movies as well as sharing our own travel stories and listening to those of the people we know, we unify with the notion that travel causes transformation. When we move our bodies from one place to another, we are affected by the change in environment. But how, and what exactly do these changes do to us and why? How does moving through a new space change the self? How is it able to affect our autobiographies so immediately and directly?

During planned travel in particular, we journey to another place usually in order to encounter new people, places, and things. These encounters also move us to a different place psychically. We are changed from the experiences, never again the same. What happens between a point of departure, a point of arrival, and a return home that changes our position to and within our autobiographies? When we journey, how do the days, hours, and minutes instead become powerful and distinct moments that we remember so viscerally? How do these moments become a “great present” we cannot forget? What are the ways in which we describe the changes these moments make in us?

Abraham Maslow calls these moments peak experiences. James Roy King describes them as moments with “intention and concentration [that] involve being ready, being ‘there,’…alert, focused, no longer imitating the movements of others but generating one’s own movements.…” By surveying narratives and secondary sources regarding trips, travel narratives, the psychology of place, how space affects us, and our experiences of time during peak experiences and in relation to our autobiographical thinking, I’ll present striking moments from people’s journeys to show how travelers describe the self-transformations they experience from putting themselves into new spaces and moving through them. These moments will tell the story of the effects of their encounters with new people, places, and things, and offer insights as to how these encounters have changed them.

  1. Berni Mosetafa

Developments in cognitive and neuroscience have led to a number of literature that apply new discoveries in these fields to the question of why we read novels. The theory of mind and the discovery of mirror neurons for example have expanded our understanding of how readers establish character identification. Meanwhile linking neuroscience with aesthetics offers yet another window into understanding reading experience. This paper will look into the discourse on hermeneutics and aesthetics, drawing from among other things the works of philosophers and mystics, to reexamine a reader’s relationship with the novel. Approached from this angle, I aim to provide a dynamic view of the reader’s self that looks at its fluctuating relationship with the character, the story, and the text to show how the self changes in the course of reading a novel. My argument is that the experience of reading a novel contains an inherent duality: on one side it demands immersion with the characters and on the other side it requires detachment to obtain the novel’s aesthetic experience. The reader experiences the story through the character’s point of view but experiences the novel’s aesthetics through himself or herself alone. Only as a detached observer can the reader extract meaning from the text, which not unlike poetry, requires the function of aesthetics. The interplay between the reader as a character in a story and the reader as the detached observer results in this dynamic view of the reader’s self and in the full experience of reading a novel.

  1. Mattheus Oliveira


Quarrelling with Scaly Beasts and Excitable Goddesses: Navigating Desire and Shame

The goal of this paper is to examine the use of the inner self dilemma, commonly identified as a secondary character that embodies a particular set of feelings in the main character’s mind, as a means by which complex, even dark, ideas of desire are discussed and examined. It seeks to break down the means by which this technique attempts to navigate a complex network of social expectations and judgments. This secondary voice, while revealing some form of inner conflict or trait, is its own active force within the narrative. It is at odds, often in a fight, with its attached character, and reveals to the reader private information as useful insights into the complexity of the character. The paper aims to deconstruct the ways desire is restrained and shamed through the use of this internal dilemma within two wildly popular novels. J. K. Rowling, in book six of her Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, introduces Harry Potter’s chest beast, a scaly monster that erupts from his desire for Ginny, and puts it at odds with a sense of brotherly duty he has as a friend of Ron Weasley. In a similar fashion, E. L. James, in her novel 50 Shades of Grey, introduces the Goddess. Located within the main character Anastasia, she is a complex image of female sexual empowerment that berates Anastasia who struggles in her new, sexual relationship.

Private Bodies, Public Bodies

  1. Miriyam Aronova


Needs a Title

This paper will discuss HIPAA laws and regulations. Firstly, I will define what HIPAA stands for, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act was originally created to protect people’s insurance. A second aspect of HIPAA addresses patient’s privacy in terms of their medical history. I will also include a YouTube video of HIPAA violations.

Lastly, I will examine a specific case study in which a doctor violated his patient’s trust by discussing confidential information with her ex-husband. What is fascinating about this specific case is the outcome. The doctor won the court case, simply because the year was 1993, three years before the implementation of the HIPAA act. While we cannot go back in time and undo the court’s ruling, in this paper I will point out how the different the outcome of the court case would be under HIPAA regulation.

  1. Zoe Simpson


Sexual Health & the Sexual Confession: The Value of Oversharing

In “Sexual Health & the Sexual Confession: The Value of Oversharing,” I explore a recent trend in sexual health advocacy: the public sharing of one’s personal sexual practices. The taboo on sex talk presents a challenge to sexual health advocates whose advice often centers on communication. Whether it’s discussing STIs and contraception with your doctor and your partner, passing a lesson on to your children, or communicating with your partner about your wants and your limits for a more fulfilling sex life, talking about sex is a necessary aspect of physical and emotional well-being. Many advocates choose sexual confession as a way to practice what they preach, demonstrating for their viewers that sex can and should be talked about without embarrassment. This message is especially poignant for certain female advocates, whose confessions have the additional feminist aim of defying traditional gendered restrictions on sexuality. At the same time, many advocates use the taboo to their advantage, exploiting the image of juicy gossip and risqué content to create entertaining media that will be widely viewed and shared. To show precisely how sexual confessions achieve these health advocacy goals, I provide a close reading of an online video by Essence magazine and videos from three popular YouTubers: Laci Green, Carrie Hope Fletcher, and Sarah Rae Vargas.

  1. Amber Chiacchieri

The rapid pace of development and change in technology is transforming the way the world operates and the way humans operate in the world. With the advent of new and evolving developments in biomedicine and bioengineering, Freud’s famous conviction: “biology is destiny” is more problematic than ever. Might it be modernized – or postmodernized – as biotechnology is destiny? In this article, Amber Chiacchieri explores this concept through an interdisciplinary analysis of Stelarc’s cybernetic experimentations and cyborgian performances. Using texts from Haraway and Shildrick as theoretical base points, Chiacchieri explores the ethical potential of Stelarc’s techno-body and techno-Self. She argues that Stelarc’s body-in-becoming undermines the modernist ontology of the Human by blurring the boundaries and binaries that secure the parameters of the Self. Contra popular depictions of the cyborg, which equate the integration of body and machine with loss of human identity, Stelarc´s performances reveal that integrating technology into the body may result in an extension of agency, selfhood and interconnectivity of self and Other.

  1. Julia Gruberg

Ten Things Fat Girls Don’t Want You To Know!

My two-part project explores embodied selfhood via video and a short paper. The paper reviews important theories of embodiment and performativity and explains some reasoning behind the video. In the video, I chart my relationship to my body and my self in a visual list, mimicking Viegener’s list of 2500 things about himself. Through about six clips I explore and document my body, sexuality, space and belonging, nature and mind. My list is non-narrative, alternately featuring analytical voiceovers, music, internal musings, and soothing or jarring imagery. This work contains graphic material, including nudity and blood. I am keenly aware of how ‘private’ this material is – indeed, many will call this work oversharing – but my display of it is designed to assert my power and right to take up space. The video may feel cohesive, but does not decisively answer any questions. Rather, the video represents my path to understanding the fractured selfhood I embody.

Affirming Neurodiversity

  1. Melissa M. Boronkas


Rebels with a Cause: Conversational Deviance, Stigmatized Identity, and Confessions of Dyslexia on YouTube

We live in an age where the norms of self-disclosure are evolving. These norms are shifting so much so that the term “oversharing” has been recently coined to explain and label the phenomena. Oversharing in the Oxford dictionary has been defined as “reveal(ing) an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life.” While this definition provides a starting point, it is subjective and sets up oversharing as deviant behavior by tying it to the word “inappropriate.” In order to explore this term, I looked at self-disclosure norms as they relate to young adults disclosing a hidden and stigmatized disability, dyslexia, via YouTube. Through the analysis of 3 YouTube confessional videos and the comments associated with the videos, I sought to determine if the concept of oversharing was shaping how young adults with dyslexia disclose their dyslexia online. I found the fear of being labeled an “oversharer” does not factor into disclosure on YouTube. The YouTube community values intimate disclosure and abides by reciprocity norms that include positivity in disclosure and community building through peer support. Additionally, I found these new norms of positivity and community building can be tied to a generational shift in the perception of disclosure practices and the information that is deemed appropriate.

  1. Venita Andrews

The purpose of this literature review is to explore self-perception and social stigmatization regarding mental illness. How does a diagnosis or naming convention help or hinder the patient on their road to recovery?   By using this methodology I will find common themes of socially and self-imposed stigmatization by those with first had knowledge of various mental illnesses. I will discuss ways that conventional methods of therapy have failed sufferers and in what ways these protocols can be enhances. With the use of memoirs and updated Psychology journals. My intent is to reveal a new less judgmental way to understand mental illness that allows the sufferer respect and the autonomy to affect change in their lives.


This essay delves in to the condition known as synesthesia. This phenomenon translates attributes of sensation from one sensory domain to another. Among most commonplace of synesthetic perceptions are the well known connections between sound and color .The empirical review suggests that the associations between sound and color have been and are for a most part systematic and consistent from one person to another. Importantly, “color hearing” has not only been known for its aesthetic abilities to inspire musicians and painters but also suggests that there is a link between speech sounds and color as they are a powerful source for the production of secondary visual sensation .This results from the fact that there is a clear relation between sound (vowel quality) and associated visual sensation(color) . This paper explores the experience of “color hearing” through the literature review, biographies and memoirs of famous artists and shows how the actual experience transforms human sensorium.


  1. Liz Foley

Memoirs by gay men and lesbians have historically had a fraught relationship with conventional narrative tradition. Until well into the twentieth century, indeed, the “gay memoir” could scarcely exist under its own name; narratives involving gay sexuality, when they appeared at all, initially had to be projected into the realm of fiction to escape opprobrium, and even then such narratives were usually heavily coded, published posthumously, or both. It was probably natural, then, that even after it became possible for gay authors to write openly about their sexual lives, a wariness extending even to the very forms of conventional narrative would linger in the historical consciousness of some gay memoirists, resulting in an ambivalence or antagonism toward traditional autobiographical narrative that might be termed “the anti-narrative impulse.” In this analysis, Liz Foley traces the history of this anti-narrative tradition and its manifestation in gay and lesbian memoirs of the last several decades, including works by Joe Brainard, Samuel R. Delany, David Wojnarowicz, Alison Bechdel and Matias Viegener. Backgrounding her literary analysis is an examination of recent scholarship in narrative psychology, which has drawn connections between the formation of self and the construction of personal narratives, and in queer theory, which is intimately concerned with the forms and circumstances of queer self-expression and its ramifications for the culture at large. Foley’s considerations include questions about the intended audiences for these nontraditional queer narratives, and about the likely future of the tradition in light of the increased political and cultural mainstreaming of gays and lesbians since Stonewall.


  1. Nicola Certo


Isn’t it Too Much for YouTube?

This paper is my attempt to describe a contemporary process that nowadays is very common: the coming out process, which has been part of my personal life. When I watched a video on YouTube of two young twins – the Rhodes Bros – coming out to their dad, I decided to develop a paper on this process, starting from that video, that for me was a clear example of oversharing. Is there a story behind that? This is my intention: to deepen the general issue of public YouTube confessions, through a historical and precise process that should be considered more intimate than anything else.

We could look at the history of coming out to see all stages that had been touched in this argument, but it’s enough to say that the more we look at the coming out process, the more it becomes public and overshared. What about today? What does remain of political issues for equal rights? In the paper I analyze a few examples in which the coming out process was a pure liberation of the self, a free self, because the scope was the battle for equal rights and it was truly meant for the inspiration of others, and not for their own aspirations.

We can still notice that the coming out process became singular, egoistic and sentimental, all about the self, but a self that is not looking for knowledge, rather a narcissistic self. Journalists see this video as attempt to reach fame and success. Part of this paper is also a defense of the YouTube platform, a media instrument that can seriously be helpful for the discovery of the whole world.

  1. Kat Vecchio


The Use of Candor by Polyamorists to Create Understanding and Empathy with Outsiders

The continued evolution of society’s ideas about sexual mores has allowed for a growing acceptance of non-traditional relationships and increased their public visibility. The increased acceptance and visibility does not mean that participants in these relationships are now free from all stigma or negative social consequences, but this acceptance has created space for individuals in these formerly taboo relationships to speak publically and candidly about their experiences. This paper takes as its focus one type of non-traditional relationship, polyamory—which can be loosely defined as having multiple consensual romantic partners—and it explores one of the ways self-identified polyamorists have attempted to combat stigma by utilizing candor when speaking with the media. Examining two types of public self-disclosure by polyamorists printed in mainstream media publications – the printed reported story and the personal essay – this paper explores what these instances of self-disclosure are intended to accomplish. Vecchio argues that this deliberate sharing of personal and intimate information is done with an intention to educate, increase empathy and understanding, and to directly challenge stigma.

Feminist Approaches

  1. Pat Wadsley


This essay uses actress, writer and producer Lena Dunham as a lens through which to look at current sexual attitudes. The essay uses Dunham’s fictional HBO series Girls , and her memoir Not that Kind of Girl to look at the various issues of embodiment she presents—from nudity to sexual exploration –and examines the public and media response to those issues. Dunham is known as outspoken and candid and much of what she has disclosed both through fictional work and her memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl” centers around issues of her body.

  1. Maple Wu


“Too Much Shame, but No Shame: Controversies in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior

Maxine Hong Kingston’s novel/autobiography, Woman Warrior is an influential icon in Asian American literary community. Since the text’s publication, it has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction (1976), distributed widely in college course readings, and included in anthologies with a multicultural slant. Yet, Kingston’s and her text’s fame are not received without controversy. On the one hand, most Asian American and poststructural feminist readings turn to Kingston’s Woman Warrior as a critique of sexism and female difference. On the other hand, critics with a nationalist reading argue that the text feminized Asian American literature and masculinity. One of Kingston’s most notorious contestants, Frank Chin, argues that representations in Woman Warrior are shameful, that the text stereotypes Asian men and victimizes Asian women. In Kingston’s and her supporter’s defense, shame is an active mechanism that deconstructs the idea of the victim woman. Both arguments take firm, drastic measures to illustrate whether Kingston’s book is a qualified representation in Asian American literature. This paper explores the ways that “shame” operates in Woman Warrior and the implication that shame entails in these readings.

  1. Sarah Cohn


Candor and Reticence: Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Robinson

This paper explores the space between published memoir and truth through a reading of two late eighteenth century memoirs of radical intellectuals—Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Robinson. The memoirs of Wollstonecraft and Robinson use the evolving genre of memoir for different personal and political purposes. Both memoirs were published posthumously by family members, both with specific aims, but are two very different texts. Each serves a specific agenda; one to further philosophical goals, the other to regain agency over reputation. The comparisons drawn between these two memoirs are both nuanced and direct, and there is a spectrum of revelation to be considered. Beyond the texts themselves, I look at contemporaneous critical responses to each memoir, and how the personal and political goals of the authors shaped the legacy of each woman.

  1. Destry Maria Sibley


The Betrayal Is Political: An Ethics of Exposure for Feminist Life Writing

Second wave feminists have long advanced the claim that the “personal is political”; as such, they say, women should share publicly their intimate stories to help catalyze cultural and political change. But given the intertwined nature of our social lives, it is impossible for any person to write about their personal life without also exposing or commenting on that of another, in particular that of a loved one. In this paper I examine these ethical boundaries, looking to the work of the confessional female poets of the 1960s, the incest and child abuse memoirists of the 1980s, and the generation of blogger-autobiographers from our current age of social media. Under what conditions are life writers justified in their choices to expose another, and when does their ethical responsibility take precedence over their creative work? I argue that there are four conditions under which a feminist life writer can justify – and at times even necessitate – the use of another’s life for subject material: when the text explicitly seeks to expand the narrative space for women’s voices; when it helps an individual or community to heal from traumatic events; when it advances a political movement for human rights; and/or when it problematizes the very conversation around betrayal in memoir. At the same time, I recognize that there are a set of critical artistic strategies that a memoirist may use to minimize the costs of public exposure and to protect their subjects from harm. I advocate for the use of these strategies, especially when the potential for damage to another’s psyche or reputation is high. Given the ongoing extent of domestic violence against women, I conclude that it is not only ethical but at times necessary that female autobiographers write personal stories that involve the exposure of others.

Adolescents, Youth and Social Media

  1. David Liburd

The internet for some time has been a well-known institution of communication and has a substantial effect on those who choose to participate in its many offerings. While the internet has countless prospects and opportunities, its influence on social issues has been one of mixed reviews, especially where young users are concerned. The internet with its wealth of communication capabilities has a propensity to foster dangerous tendencies such as suicide, by allowing information to be posted and viewed with little to no regulation. Although some internet websites have made an attempt to discourage their users to post offensive comments, much of what is posted and viewed creates dangerous consequences. However, if used appropriately the internet can be a useful resource to educate those who are in a potentially tenuous state of mind, and who might be at possible risk of self-inflicted harm. Due to the significant protagonist role played by mass media in society, a compassionate understanding towards psychosocial processes, through which archetypal communication is essential, influences human thought. Human behaviour has repeatedly been described with relations that have simplex causation, where behaviour is fashioned and organized either by environmental influences or by inner characteristics. Millions of young adults, digital natives, use social media networking sites, little is known to what extent or why and how, they use these sites. These sites are used in accordance with characteristic identity markers. Young adults express their preferences in order to communicate their identity as individuals in many ways, such as through their religious beliefs, political ideologies and associations, occupation and sexual preferences.

  1. Shirley P. Grant


Dear Diary…A Glimpse into one Teenager’s “Virtual Bedroom”

Adolescence is a crucial time in a young person’s life. It is a period filled with wonder and awe. Youth has for some time been regarded as a liminal period of transition, characterized by insecurity, ambiguity and a state of ‘not quite being’ located in between childhood and adulthood, dependence and independence (Sibley, 1995). During this time an adolescent’s mental and physical body undergoes changes and with the Internet at their fingertips, changes that once required one’s physical presence to bear witness are now shared virtually from almost anywhere. With the Internet and the virtual opportunities it presents, young people are increasing displaying their lives for all to see, but how much sharing is too much? Is there a point where sharing one’s thoughts and feelings becomes overbearing and just “too much or TMI” or does writing about one’s life and the realities of it serve as an inspiration or support network for others who may be experiencing similar happenings in their own life? Do adolescents who share on the Internet share too much? Is it an act of rebellion or simply the natural progression of life unfolding as it normally would, except it’s done online. This paper seeks to explore one teenager’s blog as she records some of her inner most reflections about life in an open forum where others can respond, if they choose. She welcomes her visitors inside of her “virtual bedroom” (Hodkinson & Lincoln, 2008), her inner sanctuary, a place where she shares personal accounts and reflections about the realities of life through her eyes.

  1. Alysha-Beth Rodriguez


To Share or Not To Share: The Dangers of Oversharing on Social Media and Cyberbullying

In today’s society there are multiple avenues of social media that enter a social media user’s daily activities. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tinder, Grinder, Blogs, Flicker, and even LinkedIn are all considered popular outlets of social media many active users access today either via the internet of through iphone usage. The use of social media can bridge many social connections that would not be possible otherwise. For example, with social websites such as Facebook, users can connect overseas within minutes or even seconds just with the click of a few buttons. Social media users can connect worldwide without ever having to physically reach other users. A typical user has the ability to share information, pictures, news and any other wed based content far faster and on a grander scale than most broadcasting systems from the past. However, while social media offers a multitude of benefits throughout the digital world, there are still a number of downsides that may accompany the use of this kind of media. Because everyone that uses social media is connected so instantaneously, they are subjected to several backlashes that social media may produce. Instances such as, cyber bullying are one of the top occurrences that spawn from social media use. As described by an online bullying statistics site, cyber bullying is used in an attempt “to get another child or teen to feel bad about him or herself through electronic communication”…“and includes leaving demeaning messages on someone’s Facebook page (social bullying), uploading embarrassing photos, or spreading gossip or rumors through instant messaging and text messaging” (Cyber, 2013). This alone is one of the many repercussions oversharing in social media may create. This kind of oversharing, or excessive use of social media can often reveal the darker side of a good thing.

Social media permits anyone and everyone that uses social web content to openly post, comment, and share any information they choose to share at any given time, at any whim a user may have. Events such as posting pictures of themselves or any event, commenting on other user’s photographs, commenting on shared content, offering opinions on others’ web based content are some of the main activities social media catalyzes. This type of outward and open sharing can pose a threat to a user’s privacy. Contributor, Alexander Elsas suggests, “we are often not aware how much information we give away that can be directly related to us” and that “we have almost no control over the data that is stored on the web about us” (Elsas, 2008). In many ways, the things a social media user says and does can reflect on their character and could potentially come back to haunt them.

While this digital technology is amazing, the immediateness of social media can often affect users negatively. Many users have the opportunity to post scantily clad photos of themselves on their social web site without the fear of encountering any censoring barriers. Thus, other users can create and share negative or positive feedback on any kind of social media content instantly. As explained by Sue Scheff, author and contributor to the Huffing Post Parents, there comes a time when “the amount of time you’re spending on social media hurts more than it helps” (Scheff, 2014). By over sharing, this can equally give social media both a positive and negative aspect of its use. Over sharing, material online is a common phenomenon in the current world of social media today. Often, the level of censoring in social media is unlimited. This type of venue that allows users to share anything they desire can create a level of indecency in a variety of cultural standards. This dangerous factor of social media vastly expands because “nearly all social media sites offer free memberships” (“Types of Social Media,” 2010). Therefore, there are many dangers and repercussions in broadcasting thoughts and provocative pictures on social media platforms.

  1. Adam Watson


Adolescents in Urban China: An Interdisciplinary Look at Internet Addiction

A steady increase in global Internet access over the past few decades has caused academics to pursue research across vastly disparate specialties, attempting to understand central and related concerns. Widespread Internet and cyber-sphere activities have caused a stir in sociological, psychological, political, legal, technological, ethical, and neurological areas, with multi-disciplined experts also contributing to the contemporary debate. It is within this large scope of academic prowess that I hope to coalesce the wide spectrum of research with a particular emphasis on Internet addiction. More specifically, using the Chinese context, I will draw ties between the rise of online social networking sites (SNS)—such as Facebook and Twitter—and the social ramifications both leading to, and deriving from, excessive time on and attachment to these outlets.

Breaking Taboos

  1. John Varacalli


Oversharing: The Means through Which Jean-Jacques Rousseau Championed Candid Communication in his Confessions­

In this paper, I am arguing that Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his book Confessions, had no consistent belief-system. Instead, he candidly presented some facts of his life, even ones that had the potential to disturb the reader. For instance, the reader learns about former girlfriends Jean-Jacques had, Jean-Jacques’ true disposition towards long-time lover Thérèse la Vasseur and secrets divulged about other people Jean-Jacques met in his life. In my paper, I am trying to discover why he does this. From reading Confessions, I concluded that he wants to encourage readers to be candid and open about their life experiences as well. In his worldview, he basically believes that problems arise when individuals are not open and candid about their life-experiences. If people did communicate problems, there would be more connections and less gulfs established between members of any conceivable society, according to Rousseau.

However, the question remains how individuals have been receptive to Jean-Jacques’ work. Although there had been some such as Edmund Burke and Madame de Staël who did not appreciate his literary work, most academics usually tend to agree that the enthusiasm generating the French Revolution had been highly influenced by Rousseau’s writing. Politicians such as St-Just, Robespierre and even Napoleon Bonaparte claimed to have been influenced by Rousseau’s writings. But due to the fact that some have had negative reactions to his Confessions, however, his book can be seen as ‘oversharing.’

  1. Yael Rosenstock

In “I become who I think you think I can,” Yael Rosenstock brings to light the battle commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) and youth, specifically female, face in trying to leave “the life” (sex work), particularly when those around them and in the rest of society impose judgments about their character and future prospects. Borrowing from works by Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., & Williams, Rosenstock demonstrates how test subjects are affected by rejection, inclusion, and perceived positive and negative comments. Through K. R. Berenson & S. M. Andersen, she discusses the tangible effects childhood abuse has on adult interpersonal relationships while Cotton, Farley & Baron help her analyze the believability of rape myth, child sexual abuse myth, and prostitution myth. Rosenstock takes the results of experiments used for generalizing to the larger population and appropriates or adopts them for the CSEC population. Throughout the weaving together of multiple arguments demonstrating society affecting the self, she also humanizes the otherwise marginalized and stigmatized population of CSEC, questioning myths surrounding their circumstances. Rosenstock argues that the cues to sexual exploitability outlined by Goetz, Easton, Lewis, & Buss encompass virtually all women as exploitable, illuminating the reality that most of us are vulnerable, and therefore, relatable to CSEC. Rosenstock’s ultimate goal is that in seeing the young women as fellow humans, it will influence society to change its perceptions and attitudes towards CSEC so they can learn to believe in themselves.

  1. Kathy Cacace


Oh, How Hack! Oh, How Unnerving! Subverting the Double Taboo of Menstruation in Stand-up Comedy

Female standup comics, particularly those who identify as feminist, perform within two male-dominated systems of discourse: that of the wider American culture, and that of the comedy club. Jokes about the highly gendered biological process of menstruation serve as a case study to highlight the constraints upon what women can and cannot talk discuss, and how female comics use period jokes to subvert this cultural and comedic sexism. This paper first explores pervasive American cultural taboos around menstruation that originated with Kotex advertising in the 1920s and persist through contemporary advertising, educational films, and young adult literature. In order to orient the taboo of menstruation within the context of standup comedy, the paper then dissects the role of the standup comic as a truth-teller, comedy as a traditionally male art and the difficult evolution of women in standup, and the categorization of menstruation as a “hack” topic because of its gendered status. Finally, using jokes by Cameron Esposito, Margaret Cho and Amy Schumer as texts, the paper demonstrates how these comedians use the topic of menstruation to perform truth-telling in spite of taboos, to recalibrate the gendered expectations of the comedy audience, and to expose the sexism of comedy itself.

Social Identities

  1. Andrew Ude

The perceptions, emotions, and thoughts of an individual are thought to make up consciousness whereas the self is the subject that experiences them. Too often however, are the details described within the limited scope of a single discipline. Such bias reports on the self consequently fail to highlight the important aspects of the context, both internal and external. This paper addresses both sides of the coin (internal and external approaches) and does more than define the self and consciousness as a product of environment, but discusses how the self is created, maintained, and changed through the context of our environment. By borrowing from various disciplines in the social sciences, (developmental, social, cognitive, neuropsychology and sociology) the importance of the self as a product of limitless interaction with countless affordances and relationships that are rewarded, remembered and recalled, is made clear. Using a historical-bioecological model by combining Vygotsky’s and Bronfenbrenner’s approaches on development, the making of the self is described through a series of interactions and relationships, a consequence of innate human social behavior. Social needs and phenomenon that lead to specific behavior are familiar and recognized in others through perceptual-memory systems and reinforced or changed through dopaminergic systems. These systems are not opposing, but compliment each other through a reciprocatory synergistic process that never ceases and remains plastic.

  1. Frank Koshel


Secret Societies and the Perils of Oversharing

There are men whose allegiances lie not with their country, not with their friends or family or even their wives.  These men take an oath, guaranteeing their loyalty to the exclusive society that they wish to be a part of, clubs like The Freemasons, Knights of Templar, Skull and Bones, to name a few.  These groups have been around for hundreds of years, with their roots stretching all the way back to medieval Europe.  These secret societies have deadly penalties for any member oversharing their secrets.  The memberships of these includes presidents, bankers, and other powerful people that control major facets of the world community.  The interests of these secret societies are not the best interests of the general population.  Chances are, if you voted in the 2004 presidential election, you voted for someone who’s allegiance wasn’t to you but to their brethren in the secret society that have swore allegiance to.  These people want more power for themselves and less for everybody else.  Why must these societies operate in secrecy?  What impact have these secret societies have on the world?  Why is all of this a threat to American democracy?  This paper tackles all of those subjects and reveals a hidden power structure that becomes more and more obvious every year.

  1. Justin Wenham Luo

The Bounds of Selfhood: Extended Cognition, Extended Mind, and Extended Selfhood

Based on empirical research, some philosophers and cognitive scientists have put forth the hypothesis that human cognition, at least some part of it, is not merely happening in the brain but extended beyond the skull to the body and environment. Since cognition constitutes an essential part of the mind and self, this hypothesis implies that our mind and selfhood are not skull-bound but extended. This paper reviews both the hypotheses of four major proponents of the extended cognition—O’Regan, Noë, Chalmers, and Clark, and the counterarguments of two prominent attackers—Adams and Aizawa, concerning three particular cognitive processes—perception, memory retrieval, and reasoning. Through discussion, it will be pointed out that though the extended cognition hypothesis stands up and pushes cognitive science to extend its boundaries, its philosophical implications about the mind and self raise puzzles and absurdities. While these vexing puzzles pose a threat to the validity of the extended hypothesis, they can also be construed as a starting point for a reconception of the nature of self and personal identity.

Key words: extended cognition, extended mind, selfhood, personal identity

Science and Society

  1. Andrew Ude

The perceptions, emotions, and thoughts of an individual are thought to make up consciousness whereas the self is the subject that experiences them. Too often however, are the details described within the limited scope of a single discipline. Such bias reports on the self consequently fail to highlight the important aspects of the context, both internal and external. This paper addresses both sides of the coin (internal and external approaches) and does more than define the self and consciousness as a product of environment, but discusses how the self is created, maintained, and changed through the context of our environment. By borrowing from various disciplines in the social sciences, (developmental, social, cognitive, neuropsychology and sociology) the importance of the self as a product of limitless interaction with countless affordances and relationships that are rewarded, remembered and recalled, is made clear. Using a historical-bioecological model by combining Vygotsky’s and Bronfenbrenner’s approaches on development, the making of the self is described through a series of interactions and relationships, a consequence of innate human social behavior. Social needs and phenomenon that lead to specific behavior are familiar and recognized in others through perceptual-memory systems and reinforced or changed through dopaminergic systems. These systems are not opposing, but compliment each other through a reciprocatory synergistic process that never ceases and remains plastic.

  1. Jeffrey Vreeland, “Human Agency as a biological end product of Darwinian Biological Evolution; or can the self-destruction behavior generated by human minds be solely the product of a biological created brain?”

Academic papers and scientific literature abound with theories of how mind is produced in Homo sapiens. The more scientific based disciplines such as neurology, biology, genetics and those who write about them contend that the ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘self’ are generated solely by the biological body/brain. For example Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins. This paper hypostasis that the thought processes of mind generated in a biological brain which allow ‘self’ to believe it can survive after the biological death of the body undermines such theories; especially when the mind allows such thinking to be linked into quad pro quo covenants with a nonphysical entity, that might require/condone the self-destruction of the biological body (without first the passing on of its genes) to insure the survival of the created ‘self’ in another mind created reality. It will be demonstrated that such behavior is not altruistic but pure selfishness, as defined by Dawkins, on the part of the created ‘self’ to obtain some form of bliss in another reality.

This phenomenon will be document from history, paleontology artifacts, and cognitive psychology and literature. If proven true the hypothesis could limit the extension of theories of mind based solely on the application of the Darwinian evolutionary models of biology by begging the question, “How can a species with this kind of thought process, created solely by random genetic mutations and allowed to survive solely though natural selection, create a mind capable of its biological self-destruction to preserve the integrity of a ‘self’ in another reality?

  1. Lisa Rodriguez


The Personality Traits of Users on Social Networking Sites: Extravert vs. Introvert

In 2012, Susan Cain published the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It discusses how at least one-third of the people we know are introverts.  They are the ones, who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. The other two-thirds of the population are known as extraverts.  Extraverts display high levels of sociability, participation, and positive self-esteem.  This distinction in personality traits shapes our daily activities, including personal and work.  Among those daily activities is the use of social networking sites. It is the popular trend that allows individuals to keep in touch with family and friends and develop new relationships.  Researchers suggest that personality traits, like the ones noted by Susan Cain, play a role in individuals’ everyday Internet use.  According to Psychologist Larry Wayne Morris (1979), the study of personality is a study of the characteristic behavior patterns that differentiate individuals from one another. In a word, the study of personality is the study of life styles. The influence of personality on engagement with social networking sites remains relatively unexplored, yet there exists trends amongst extraverts and introverts.

  1. Ayanna Alexander-Street, The Influence of Environment on Drug Use and Drug Dependence in Adolescents and Adults

Why are some individuals capable of casual or social drug use, while others are at risk of drug dependence? Drug abuse research has been divided for many years into two camps of thought. Neuropharmacology researchers attribute the neurochemical actions of drugs on neural circuits as the trigger for addiction. Some researchers hypothesize that addiction not only involves the action of a drug on a neural pathway, but on additional factors, including the environment in which the drug is taken, a personal history with the drug, and, a once controversial hypothesis gaining more exposure and acceptance among neuroscientists, the environment and circumstances in which you were reared, your social capital, and how these factors influence your baseline neurochemistry, thereby leaving you more or less susceptible to drug dependence. Extensive research has been directed toward impoverished and inner-city youth, and if their lack of access to resources contributes to what we consider to be poor outcomes, such as teen pregnancy, drug abuse and depression. Youth of low socioeconomic status have been shown in several studies to have poorer academic performance, less access to healthcare, more risk-taking behavior, and more abuse of drugs and alcohol. Similarly, a phenomenon of affluent urban youth, with excellent educational opportunities and support systems, are also at risk of drug abuse and other risky behaviors. Narratives from neuroscientists documenting their personal experiences with drugs of abuse, as well as animal studies and human studies will provide a framework to view the influences that may contribute to the development of drug addiction.


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For Tuesday’s Class: Anthology Workshop


We will meet in Room 6496.

Before class: 

You will send a draft of your abstract (250 words or less) of your paper by May 3rd [5 PM] to me at: jasontougaw@gmail.com

You will include your email address with your abstract, which will be released to all students in both classes—unless you choose to “opt out.” If you do not want to share a personal email address, you might consider creating a dedicated gmail account just for your work in this course.

Carrie Hintz and I will use the abstracts to come up with categories/group pages for the anthology—and divide everyone in both classes into groups whose papers speak to each other. There may be 5-6 groups in total.

Carrie and I will come up with some possible titles for the anthology—but of course we will also take suggestions from members of the class.

In class:

If her edit is ready, Julia will screen her video: “A Fat Girl Made Ten Video Clips. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next.” Inspired by Viegener, Julia is making a “video list” that is a sort of autobiographical provocation focused on gender and embodiment. She’s taking questions from theory and making them personal. We will begin the class with a screening of this video.

Carrie and I will talk the class through the process of putting together your section for the anthology. You will gather in the groups we’ve assigned.

You will compare abstracts with the students in your group, make suggestions for improvement, and talk about what you want to say in the introduction to your page–and come up with a way of distributing the work among the group.

Carrie and I will consult as you work.

We will then reconvene and Carrie and I will take questions.

A couple of sample abstracts:

Yana Walton: “To Thine Own Self be True: Self narratives, genderqueer identity, and transition access”

Gender has been theorized to be one of the primary frames from which understandings of self and other arise. In this paper, Yana Walton explores the ways that the popular modern western discourse of the “true self” has fostered the conditions under which formations of non-binary gender identities have proliferated. More salient than any medical or psychological research done to pinpoint the causes of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria, linguistic narratives rooted in the concept of the “true self” have expanded access to mental, physical, and social transition for transgender and non-binary identified individuals, and modified the standards of care and practices of community health clinics. Despite the ways in which queer theorists have problematized the concepts of identity and true self, Walton traces the relationship between this popularly accepted concept, and the pathways and narratives used by gender non-conforming individuals to access transition care from the 1970s to present that function to produce gender. Despite such gains, access to care remains limited for many transgender and genderqueer people. Because the types of care available actually constructs and constricts the ways in which gender operates and is performed, this work raises implications for the conditions under which we may imagine less restrictive possibilities of gender experience for us all.


Shona Mari Sapphire, “Selfhood: A Corporeal Understanding

The theoretical concert of neuroscience, personal narrative, phenomenology and affect offers critical insight into the primacy of corporeality in comprehending selfhood. Shona Mari Sapphire orchestrates a cross-disciplinary analysis on the theories of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, literary author Siri Hustvedt, and feminist cultural philosophers Elizabeth Grosz and Lisa Blackman, demonstrating the validity of the body’s generative function in understanding selfhood. Sapphire identifies surprising consonance within these disparate methodological standpoints, which are sometimes characterized as oppositional to one another in basic, foundational ways. How do a neuroscientist and a feminist cultural philosopher view the vitality of the body’s active and reactive life-forces in a similar manner? Why are body image and body schema deduced comparably by thinkers from phenomenological, affective, and neurological perspectivesHow do a literary author and cultural philosopher traverse theoretical thresholds in their assessment of the blurred borders between self and other? These questions form the basis of a meaningful dialogue on the relationship between corporeality and selfhood-revealing the permeability of perceived boundaries between body, self, mind, and other.

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Annotated Bibliography Guidelines

Once you have completed your proposal and received feedback from me, the next phase of your research projects will be to compile an annotated bibliography–a list of sources you plan to cite, with a short explanation of what roles they’ll play in your essay.

Cornell University’s library offers a good overview of the genre of the annotated bibliography. It’s worth checking out.

For your annotated bibliographies, you should do the following:

  1. Create a full list of works you will cite, in alphabetical order, following MLA Guidelines–or the citation style best suited to your discipline (possibly likely APAor Chicago).
  1. Write a few, concise sentences that explain how and whythese sources will help you make your argument. For example, a source might help you establish motive or illustrate a point; it might provide background information or a counter-argument you want to address. Describe the source’s content as well as its functions in your essay. It may or may not be relevant to offer some details about the author (field of study, previous works, status, etc.).
  1. Name the discipline and methodology of the source–and explain how and why these impinge on the role it will play in your project.
  2. Include a diagram of your “ballroom” of sources (see Gaipa)—on a separate page.


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If there is a strong suggestion that there is no essential self to be found in the human brain, then what would you say are the determining characteristics that define us as “unique individuals”? If in fact we are?
(Page 8) Watkins talks about ego states and multiple personality disorder (MPD), his study findings bring to mind the quote by Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage”. An individual has many ego states to go with particular situations encountered daily, be it at work, with family, hanging out with friends etc. Watkins ruminates an of ego states being large or small of which can be prior experience or present, representative of “cognitive structural systems that are covert that are organized segments of personality, often similar in content to true overt multiple disorders”.
While reading this piece I thought of the many ways that MPD can have an adverse effect where crime is concerned. MPD is more prominent in people who commit suicide and pedophiliac’s. Foucault immensely significant in modeling understandings and observations of power, moving away from the scrutiny of actors who use power as a mechanism of coercion, and away from the inconspicuous organizations in which those actors operate, to saying that ‘power is everywhere’, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge and “regimes of truth”, power, for Foucault is what makes us what we are. Do people in a position of power have a larger capacity MPD? And if so are what makes them able to control that innervation? And how does the feeling of loneliness and depression intensify MPD to the point of suicide?

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The Blazing World

There was a wonderful review of Bruce Jenner’s Special With Diane Sawyer On ABC’s 20/20 Sets New Bar For Reporting On Transgender Issues on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/25/bruce-jenner-diane-sawyer-media_n_7141434.html
There was one emphasis on things Sawyer did and did not do. One which seem to resonate for me while/ after reading The Blazing World was one that “Sawyer did no do, as Katie Couric had, fixate on the status of Jenner’s genitals and pose invasive questions about gender confirmation surgery,* fueling the culture’s voyeuristic obsession with trans people’s bodies, as if to know someone’s anatomy is to know their soul.” I suspect that the novelized Harry referred to in a quote on pg 188 “My biography is ambisexual” “Harriet Burdan, …know as Harry to her friends could have said the same thing.” The real/ fictionalized Harry seem to have spent most of her life trying to find people, a public that would know her soul through her work in spite of the body she inhabited. Not too much different than Jenner.

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Fiery breath of Harry

Harry’s teenage obsession with Shelley s Frankenstein was played out in her Art…giant Venus, the warm dolls and Anton especially. During their last falling out she actually utters ” I created a monster” I think Harry was initially relating to Dr..Frankenstein s monster yet her experiment contorted the malleable Anton into a fame craving pseudo artist.  The role of Dr.Frankenstein was at first appealing but as the artifice crumbled she understood the psychological toll faced by the Dr.
Richard Brickman” blind sight studies and masking studies have further illustrated how unconscious perception candidate and do shape our attitudes.”

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The Blazing World

I am intrigued by Hustvedt’s tome. At first I thought it was fiction, and then when I read the Editor’s Note I thought, No, this is reality, and then the note was signed by IV Hess, and I went back to thinking it isn’t reality. I have not searched for Harriet Burden online because I do not want my idea of reality and fiction to be clarified while reading this book. I am sure it is fiction because it is labeled “a novel” in many places, but I am not sure if HB is a real person. Hustvedt’s/IV Hess’s use of footnotes further complicates the reality of the situation — I believe they are citing real books, but again I have not searched for them and they could well be fake books about real subjects with real-sounding names. Or, they could be real. 

This tension between reality and fiction is what makes the book so interesting. The different voices authoring each section also unsettle/fracture both the act of reading the book and the story itself. The creation of truth depends on many factors: the people involved, the topic in question, the local and global context, the goal of the individuals. Hustvedt creates a landscape of intersubjectivity and isolation by having each individual report on their truth in silos. We cannot know the whole picture without the multiple experiences of the multiple individuals. (Frankly we can never see or know the whole.)

The reality of the exclusion of women (and historically marginalized groups) from art and the dependence of the reception of art on its creator cannot be denied. So it kind of does not matter whether this story is ‘true’ or not because it is about something that is so very true. Yet the public goes to pieces when a person’s story is revealed to be ‘fake’ — like with James Frey or Brian Williams or the health blogger in Australia who said her diet cured her cancer. This brings me back to questions I’ve been grappling with in this course since the beginning — What is the importance of truth? Who judges what is true or not? What are the politics around believing peoples’ stories? How do we assess/validate the multiple realities and multiple truths different people experience around the same event?

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