Just like our previous conversation, please write 2-3 paragraphs and conduct some outside research. Again,
for this discussion, you have the choice of choosing one of the following questions to research and answer or
generating (and then researching and answering) one of your own questions/prompts!
We will be focusing on the essays “Is This Kansas” and “Notes From No Man’s Land”
1. On page 135, Biss brings up the idea that universities in the U.S. are essentially feudal systems? Do you
agree with her? What other evidence can you find that backs this idea up? Destroys this idea? What other
U.S. systems could arguably be perceived as feudal?
2. On page 137, Biss brings up the idea that her students thought of racism and sexism as being “over.” What
is the result of thinking of specifically “sexism” as being “over”? Why do we still have “separate but equal”
bathrooms? What has complicated the idea of feminism since the 1960’s and 1970’s? How do people think of
feminism now? What is feminism?
3. How does the coverage of looting in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina reinforce the idea of skewed media
coverage? What makes people read or watch stories about disasters, specifically if these disasters
disproportionally affects groups of people the rest of the country considers poor? In the news, how much
overlap is there between fear of groups of people and placing judgment and/or blame on victims? Explain.
4. What does Biss mean when she states that what we find compelling on the news is what “allow[s] us to be
afraid of the people we want to be afraid of,” especially in reference to stories of murder (151)? Why would
we WANT to be afraid of people we are already afraid of?
5. Biss also states that “fear is a cruelty to those who are feared” (154). In the U.S., who are the
“victims” of fear? Who is America scared of (156)? How do we justify this fear? What about the fear of what
children will “turn into”? When do we give up hope on people that they will be relegated to a “feared” group?
6. Similar to the above question, WHAT is America afraid of, specifically white America, according to Biss
(161)? Take another look at the handout on Borders from Week 1. If those in power, those with governmental
influence and money, decide where borders are and fiercely protect their own borders, how does gentrification
become justified in their eyes when they are literally expanding their borders and infringing upon others’
borders (166)? Why does Biss’s husband hate the word “gentrification”? What makes gentrification so
complicated? Where do people move to if they can no longer afford to live in their own neighborhood?
(Washington DC and New York have extensive studies about their neighborhoods, specifically detailing
population movement as a result of gentrification)
Call dibs! And remember: You are not limited to the questions above. Stretch your brain and come up with
your own research question and subsequent research!
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