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Participation Portfolio 1

This participation profile provides explanations of some of the best work I have done in this course regarding these 5 categories: Depth, Riskiness, Intertextuality, Discussion, and Timeliness.  

 

Depth 

 

I believe my in-depth posts on “RUR (Act 1,2)” and Foster’s idea of patterns in the introduction highlighted my ability to look beyond the words on the paper.

 

First, I made a connection between the historical context of R.U.R. and the hypocrisy of the men of the story. The play is written in 1920, a time where women began to challenge traditional gender roles. This was made evident during a conversation between Domin and Helena when Helana asked why they manufactured men and women robots even though sex means nothing to them. To which Domin responded, “There’s a certain demand for them, you see. Servants, saleswomen, stenographers. People are used to it”. This proves that gender roles are engraved in their society. There is an interesting thing to think about: Wouldn’t creating a female robot and a male robot require more time, money, and effort? This is a contradictory statement made by Domin. During a conversation between Helena, Fabry, and Busman, Fabry claims the “human-machine” was imperfect and needed to be removed. Fabry continued to point out, “It was not effective”. The men in this story claim that the reason the robots were created was that they were more efficient than humans. If the goal is solely producing the desired while maximizing your time and energy, why would they waste their time and energy to create two different robots to support the traditional gender roles of the 1920s? The hypocrisy of the men proves that they may have an agenda other than efficiency. 

 

Second, I was interested in what Foster wrote about patterns in literature, so I drew on what I learned from my study of psychology in my high school English class. Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the human psyche is a pattern I see in several modern-day pieces of literature. Sigmund Freud believes there are three parts of the human psyche. The Id (the most primitive and instinctual part of the mind), the ego (the realistic part of the mind), and the superego (the conscience). Being able to recognize this pattern in literature is important to be able to understand characters and their actions. In my blog post for the introduction of Foster’s I wrote, “ For example, In Lord of the flies, Jack would represent the id, Ralph would represent the ego, and Piggy the superego”. The character Jack was instinctual and acted out of emotion, sometimes in an irrational way. While the character Piggy carefully thought before acting and was the highest source of moral obligation in the story. Understanding this pattern in literature would help understand why the two were at odds with the entire story. Being able to recognize this pattern also helps the reader understand why Ralph was the main character. The ego represents the most realistic part of the mind, and the character that represents the ego tends to be the main character. Ralph attempted to balance out the two characters. Looking for this particular pattern in literature has helped me understand the actions of characters. 

 

Riskiness

 

During our small group conversation on RUR, one of my classmates said the scientist in the story was playing god, and for that reason the creation of the robots was immoral. I used what I learned in a philosophy class to argue a different point. I argued that because humans don’t have a clear and definite answer on what the soul is, they were doomed from the start. In RUR during a conversation between Helena and Dr. Gall was discussing one of the robots Radius was acting outside of its design.

GALL: Reaction of the pupils; increase of sensitivity. It wasn’t an attack characteristic of the Robots. 

HELENA: What was it, then?

GALL: Heavens knows. Stubbornness, anger or revolt!–– I don’t know. And his heart, too! 

HELENA: What?

GALL: It was fluttering with nervousness like a human heart. He was all in a sweat with fear, and!–– do you know, I don’t believe the rascal is a Robot at all any longer. HELENA: Doctor, has Radius a soul?

 

Philosophers and scientists fail to define what the soul is. Philosopher Thomas Aquinas expanded on Aristotle’s definition of the soul to say, “holding that the soul must be insubstantial because it can know – and thus to take the form of – every other kind of thing, whether substantial or not”. The robots in RUR weren’t created from the unperfect human design. But without having a clear understanding of the soul and conscience, the doctors in the story may be creating these robots with these characteristics indirectly. This is a risky conclusion to come to because whether the soul exists or not can be argued, but without a clear understanding of this topic creating robots that don’t have a soul seems to be pointless.

 

Intertextuality

 

Ghinkle wrote in her blog post, “When the play started the robots had no emotions but as we follow along with the play we see that the play is about finding something and as for the robots it was the ability to become as human as possible. They wished to have souls and have a greater purpose for their mundane lives”. I think this is an insightful point but I think she is missing the larger picture. The robots in this story recognize that their “mundane lives” are because of the human race. Radius for example speaks on this during a conversation with Helena where he said, “You are not as strong as the Robots. You are not as skillful as the Robots. Robots can do everything. You only give orders. You do nothing but talk”. The robots seem to be bitter towards humans. But to say the robots are looking to have a soul is misleading. I would argue these human emotions the robots are showing were created through human error. Dr. Gall admitted to changing the robots during a conversation amongst the men when he said, “I changed the character of the Robots. I changed the way of making them. Just a few details about their bodies. Chiefly!–– chiefly, their!–– their irritability”. The robots were created with human emotions, which is the reason why they are bitter towards humans.

 

Discussion

 

In our class discussion on the importance of being earnest I made a connection between the name of the play and the historical context. This play was written during a time of aristocracy. The characters in the play were noble people, and with their play being a satire, the goal of the play is to criticize the stupidity of the characters in the play. I made a point in class that the author of the play is attempting to make fun of the trivial problems the characters in the play have. On a larger scale, the issues in the play would be unimportant to a serf in that time period. Serfs were owned by the noble people and were virtual servants. They were forced to work in the field and sometimes still had to pay the land owners for rent. So when Oscar Wilde described the play as, “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People ”. I believe he was highlighting how unimportant (trival) the serious people (serfs) would find this play.

 

Timeliness

 

All my posts were on time but none of them were early. My online composition and culture class has assignments due every Monday and Thursday also so it tends to be hard to get the assignments for this class done early. I will work harder this semester on turning assignments in earlier. 

 

Coverage

 

Most of my early blog posts were fairly simple and straightforward. My post about Trifles and The Proposal weren’t the most brilliant posts. As I started adapting to the class I started to understand what you were looking for in the blog post and started making more meaningful contributions. My blog post on Foster chapter 5-7 and R.U.R act 1,2

 

Conclusion

 

The first goal of this course on the syllabus that I want to accomplish is, “Deeply and critically read culturally dramatic literary texts”. I think my participation profilio shows my growth regarding my ability to critically read and think. But my participation profile also shows I need tons of work in my ability to read deeper than the text and create well rounded and cohesive conversation. I will work to improve these skills for the upcoming assignments.

References 

 

Gunderman, Richard. “Whatever the Soul Is, Its Existence Can’t Be Proved or Disproved by Natural Science.” The Conversation, 5 Dec. 2019, theconversation.com/whatever-the-soul-is-its-existence-cant-be-proved-or-disproved-by-natural-science-61244.

“The Importance of Being Earnest A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.” The Importance of Being Earnest, www.gutenberg.org/files/844/844-h/844-h.htm#startoftext.

CAPEK, KAREL. “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” Pre Prints, 1920, preprints.readingroo.ms/RUR/rur.pdf.

Source: Participation Portfolio 1

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