The etymologist finds the deadest word to have been once a brilliant
Language is fossil poetry. As the limestone of the continent
consists of
infinite masses of the shells of animalcules, so language is
made up of images,
or tropes, which now, in their secondary use, have long
ceased to remind us of
their poetic origin.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 11, 2012

Final Blog Reflection

          We graduate in less than two weeks.  It’s amazing to think that in just days I’ll reach a milestone that, at times, I never thought I’d get to.  My dad was the first person in my family to go to college.  He graduated from CSUN with a BA and then an MA in English, and always stressed the importance of education to me—growing up, I felt like I had no choice, but to do well academically.  I attribute my success to him and his constant encouragement.  I’ll graduate with a BA in English and a Single Subject Teaching Credential for Secondary Education.  I worked significantly hardly for the teaching credential, but I’m proud of the BA as well.  The other day, I was talking to my friend about how long we’ve been in school and how the idea of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree really hasn’t sunken in yet.  She said she thinks it will sink in once her peers begin registering for school and she doesn’t have to anymore, but I’ll still be registering for graduate classes.  I wonder if it will take another two years and then it will all sink in at once that I’m done.

            Teaching is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.  It’s one of the few careers where you can actually see the impact you’ve made. We’re reading The Great Gatsby in my class and I’ve been trying to get students to see Jay Gatsby in several different lights and to not JUST rely on Nick Carraway’s perception of him.  I discussed Nick with my students and then had them write in their journals about Gatsby from Nick’s perspective and then Daisy’s and then their own.  This assignment was one that I was completely “winging” and I had very low expectations for the sort of things my students would come up with as evidence to why they came to the conclusions they did about Gatsby.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  One of my more social boys read his journal aloud and connected Gatsby to a friend of his.  He said that he envies his friend for the things he has, but at the same time he feels bad for him.  I asked him why and he said because even though he has “stuff,” he hasn’t got a clue how to enjoy it.  At that moment, I felt like my teaching was paying off and that my students were actually learning something.  Several other students started to speak up after that and we had an entire discussion about the characters and their various personas.  It just goes to show that although I may feel like I’m talking to an empty room sometimes, something is actually getting through to them and they’re learning this text. 

            Senior Seminar provided me with several tools for teaching my class.  I’m actually requiring my 10th grade Honor students to use Google Docs when writing their group skits for their Modest Proposal assignment.  They all sit in their groups with the laptops and type up their different scenes on the same document and then add transitions and revise.  I haven’t figured out an assignment that involves GoAnimate, but I have years of teaching to incorporate that tool.  Overall, I feel like the class was useful because I benefitted from it and, in turn, my students will benefit from it. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stress Relief in the Form of Keswick, England

 Every time I feel overwhelmed by the constant effort put into school and work, career planning, relationships, and maining my sanity, I look at pictures of the places I want to live when I don't have to spend so much time worrying.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Kristin DeWinter

ENGL 495 ESM, Wexler

7 May 2012


            In America, we watch movies like Slumdog Millionaire and we marvel at how the characters must conquer their circumstances to survive.  We become grateful for our own lives as we watch the protagonists, Salim and Jamal, struggle to find the resources they need after their mother is killed and can no longer provide for them.  As the movie progresses, we feel hope for the slight chance that there will be a happy ending—that Jamal and Salim will rekindle their relationship as brothers and that the love story  hidden amongst the other subjects will come to a dreamy close.  And as the movie ends, we are left with the uplifting feeling that can only come from the notion that the “American Dream” still exists and can still be executed the same as it ever was. 

The American Dream is this idea that regardless of the social or financial stature that an individual was innately part of, he or she could move up in an American society with hard work and achievement.  In his essay, “Where Did the Future Go?”, Randy Martin discusses capitalism and the American Dream, stating that “the fortunate would be freed from work in the form of retirement and leave the earth secure in the knowledge that their kids would do better than they had” (1).  The less mentioned, but more conspicuous part of the American Dream is “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” simply due to the capitalist society that praises the hard-working and able-bodied persons who do what needs to be done by means of survival.  Danny Boyle’s Academy Award Winning film Slumdog Millionaire displays the epitome of a capitalist society and how the wedge driven between upper and lower classes can greatly affect what it means to survive.

Today’s capitalist economy praises the proletariat; however, the workforce is losing control.  Not too long ago, laborers could go on strike if conditions or wages were poor; business owners could not afford to let workers go and therefore had to adhere to their demands.  But the American business sector has changed: workers no longer have control because outsourcing has allowed for cheap labor (Harvey).  If workers go on strike because they want higher wages and better working conditions, that business owner can seek employees from other countries and hire them at half the salary:Corporations could threaten plant closures, and risk––and usually win––strikes when necessary” (Harvey 53).  As a result of outsourcing for cheaper labor, there are fewer jobs for those at home.  Because of this, when Jamal briefly covers the phone-line for a friend in Slumdog Millionaire, and is forced to talk to a customer, he lies about his location and tells her he is “right down the street from you” instead of in India.  The concept of outsourcing is present in the film, as is the potential controversy surrounding this business strategy.  David Harvey, in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, says this marks the “the momentous shift towards greater social inequality and the restoration of economic power to the upper class” (26).   The poor remain poor and the gap between the upper and lower classes gets progressively larger. 

In Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal and Salim belong to the “slums” of Mumbai, India.  Because the people of Mumbai have such little wages, money is extremely valued.  An example of this is shown in the film when we see Salim charging people to use the public outhouse.  Later in that same scene, despite his brother’s malicious and cunning attempts, Jamal receives an autograph from his favorite television star.  Salim, in an act of greed and perhaps jealousy, sells Jamal’s cherished autographed photo for the money he’s offered.  For Salim and Jamal, this is what it takes to survive.  Because they belong to the lowest class in society, the boys must do whatever it takes to gain money and security.  They join Maman’s orphan mill in order to receive food and shelter each day.  When they discover that Maman has mal intentions, the boys run away from this lifestyle and into a vagabond’s where they lie, cheat, and steal to survive. 

The expanding gap between the lower class in India and the upper class in America is displayed when Jamal is held responsible for an American couple’s car getting stripped.  The driver begins beating him and tells the startled couple: You wanted to see India—well here it is.  The couple urges the driver to stop the beating and shows Jamal the “American way” by handing him a one hundred dollar bill.  Upper class American citizens can afford to essentially throw away one hundred dollars, while lower class Indians are forced to swindle their way into any small fortune at all.  This wedge that’s being pushed between the upper and lower classes is clearly defined.  Salim joins a gang run by Javed, the mob boss of India, in order to make a life for himself that’s better than the one he had.  Jamal, on the other hand, is stuck in lower class delivering tea to outsourced telemarketers.  The only way for him to cross the swelling gap between classes is to essentially “get lucky.”  Jamal wins the Indian version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and is able to live the rags to riches American Dream ironically due to his experiences as a member of the lower class.

Slumdog Millionaire displays the means for survival and how this varies between classes.  While the rich get richer by means of outsourcing and global expansion, the poor remain impoverished.  Salim is shot while voluntarily submerged in a bathtub full of the one thing that consistently mattered to him: money.  Jamal is able to live the American Dream in India and change his financial stature for the better.  For Jamal, living as he did in the economy he was raised in has proved beneficial.  Not only did he fight for survival in a capitalist society and then win a game show because of it, but he may also be able to remain a member of the upper class due to this form of economy.   

Works Cited

Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2007. Print.

Martin, Randy. "Where Did the Future Go?" Logos 5.1. Logos Journal, Winter 2006. Web. 07 May 2012. <>.

Slumdog Millionaire.  Dir. Danny Boyle.  Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2008



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rough Draft

This is my outline for my rough draft.  I have the ideas basically mapped out, but not fully developed. 

Kristin DeWinter

ENGL 495 ESM, Wexler

30 April 2012

Rough Draft: Slumdog Millionaire

            Danny Boyle’s Academy Award Winning film Slumdog Millionaire displays the epitome of a capitalist society and how the wedge driven between upper and lower classes can greatly affect what it means to survive.

I.                   The wedge driven between classes is due the expansion of informational technologies—neoliberalism.  The part of the movie where Jamal is taking the American couple around India.  Upon returning, the couple, Jamal, and the taxi driver see that the car has been completely stripped.  The taxi driver begins beating Jamal and tells the American couple: You wanted to see India, well here it is.  The wife tells the husband: let’s show him the American way—the husband hands Jamal a 100 dollar bill.  Shows the Jamal’s class is the lowest of the low while the American upper class can afford to essentially throw away $100.  

II.                Business sector has changed.  Workers no longer have control because outsourcing has allowed for cheap labor—telemarketing jobs in India.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Slumdog Millionaire

I finished watching Slumdog Millionaire for class.  It's such a sad reality for some people and it's awful to think that children as young as the protagonists could be left to their own devices and have to grow up as fast as these two did.  If students in our society could put themselves in the shoes of children like Jamal and Salim, they would surely be more grateful for what they have now.  Even before their mother was killed, these boys were independent.  Teenagers tend to rely heavily on their parents even after they become adults.  I think this is a contributing factor to students' sense of entitlement.  It's unfortunate. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teaching Issues

A problem that I'm consistantly hearing about in the staff room at the high school I'm teaching at is students' sense of entitlement.  At some point in academics there was a shift; suddenly self-esteem was being confused with accomplishment.  Teachers began building self-confidence boosters into their curriculum and trying to make students feel good instead of being real with them.  Students were being showered with compliments for doing something they were required to do.  I am constantly hearing teachers complain about how students are questioning authority, mouthing off, and acting like they are above an assignment. 

A way to fix this problem via new media would be to expose them to students their age who do not have as much.  There is a documentary about students in Africa who are risking their lives everyday to go to school.  Perhaps showing the students that documentary would begin to set them straight.  As a follow-up, teachers could find successful members of the community who had to work hard to get to the top.  Students would be required to interview these people using face time in class on the laptops.  I will give them questions to ask to start off with, but they will be required to ask more than that.  Students would write an essay on My Access reflecting on their interviews and how their perspectives have changed.