Posted in supplementary material

Episode 15 Follow-Up: Forgiveness of the Self

(Written by Martha S.)

Let’s talk about self forgiveness real quick.

One of the things we talk about at length in our last episode is whether or not granting oneself forgiveness is valid or not. We talk about forgiveness as a two-way street, and I believe some pretty strong words are used in relation to Briony seeking to forgive herself for the lies she told during Atonement. I will admit to you now, dear readers, that I don’t remember what side of the argument I came down on in the episode; if I was against the concept, I am now revealed to you as a fraud and charlatan, because I’m about to talk to you about narratives that hinge on self-forgiveness as a means of character growth.

I recently finished listening to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart on audiobook, which was a fascinating listening experience, as the story unfolds in fits and starts as Cadence, the main character, recovers her memories of a summer previous when something terrible happened (but no one will tell her what). She has returned to the island owned by her grandfather, which serves as a family summer destination, to spend the summer with her three best friends before they start leaving for college. The only thing is, as the summer progresses and Cadence’s memories return, you (the reader) realize that not only did something horrible happen, but that Cadence was the cause of it – and only by remembering and acknowledging what she did, and forgiving herself for it, can Cadence move on from it.

Here is where that difference between forgiveness and absolution comes in as well, I think – Cadence forgiving herself for what she did does not absolve her blame or guilt, but at least puts her in a position where she can recover mentally from what happened (in the case of We Were Liars, the tragedy was an accident caused by rashness and foolhardiness, and whether or not Cadence forgives herself, this doesn’t change – what CAN change is whether or not she learns from, and moves on from, the accident).

In Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (one of my favorite emerging YA talents – his superb debut novel The Serpent King won the Morris Award last year for best debut novel by a new author in the YA world), Carver Briggs is dealing with the fact that his three best friends died in a car accident probably caused by one of them answering a text from him while driving. While I as an adult human can look at that and say “It is not your fault, Carver, for sending that text – your friend should not have been texting and driving, that was a choice he made without you,” Carver is a teenager without such insight and spends the novel trying to reconcile his continued existence while his friends are buried one by one. He seeks to be able to forgive himself, while pursuing the forgiveness of the families of his friends.

Did you think I wouldn’t find a way to link in Hannibal? YOU THOUGHT WRONG, DEAR READER. (Honestly, it was either this or Supernatural, since those shows encompass so very many of my favorite storytelling tropes.) Season 3, episode 2, “Primavera,” largely deals with Will Graham coming to terms with the fact that he’s willing to forgive Hannibal for the events of the past two seasons – I like this example because the forgiveness itself isn’t in doubt, simply Will’s acceptance of that within himself.

Last, for something I haven’t figured out how to work into conversation about seventeen thousand times, consider the movie Captain America: Civil War. One could argue that many, nay, all of the events in that film are the result of Tony Stark seeking a way to forgive himself for the events of Age of Ultron. He sees a way to moderate his guilt about creating a homicidal AI that destroyed a country by yoking the superhero group he’s been kind of de facto in charge of for two movies to a larger governing body. He may as well be screaming “Please love me again, I promise I’m a good boy.”

I would also argue that he never figures out how to forgive himself in this particular film, which is why he can’t fully commit to Cap’s side of the argument. But forgiveness is a process, whether it’s facilitated by oneself or someone else.

Posted in classroom connections

Audience Forgiveness of Characters

By Pete R.

In the most recent episode, we accidentally stumbled into a topic that none of us had thought of: the role of audience forgiveness in media. We talked primarily about whether characters had earned their forgiveness from other characters, but only at the end did we quickly discuss whether we, as readers or viewers, forgave the characters. In most cases, we were split. Even more interesting, in some cases we all agreed that the character had been forgiven within the narrative but we did not feel that forgiveness was truly earned; rather, that it was a cack-handed narrative conceit.

This would make a great topic to explore for older middle school or younger high school students. Asking students to explain compare how the character is forgiven within the narrative to their own forgiveness of the character allows students to engage deeply with the media. Asking them to defend their assertions in a paper allows them to practice using evidence to support their conclusions. And students at that age especially enjoy expressing their own feelings. Forgiveness is a topic not only relevant to this assignment, but to their emotional development. Asking them to grapple with and defend––using evidence––their own take on a character lets them engage with the text and begin to examine their requirements for forgiveness in their own lives.

Audience forgiveness is a discussion fulcrum that can be as simple as a think-pair-share activity or as complex as an essay or presentation. It can be one component of a larger discussion or the primary focus of the discussion. It hits that sweet spot of being inherently engaging, academically rigorous, and emotionally relevant. It works well for both struggling students and advanced students because it begins with a student’s personal opinion, yet it scaffolds easily as additional evidentiary requirements can be added as needed.

Posted in episodes

Episode 15: Forgiveness

The homework for the episode:
Martha: The Walls Around Us, 2015 novel by Nova Ren Suma
Pete: Doctor Who S9 e6 “The Girl Who Died” and s9 e7 “The Girl Who Lived” (2-parter)
Maren: Atonement (2007 movie directed by Joe Wright, starring Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy)

Amber is in a high security prison for violent girls. Violet is a dancer on the path to Julliard. Orianna is the strange girl who unites them both, in a story about the walls we build and that are built for us.

The Doctor saves a girl, and a Viking town, and realizes he has duties beyond simply saving a life.

A girl sees something she thinks she understands, but what she says afterward causes grief and heartbreak for many in this World War II drama.

Our theme this week is forgiveness as we plumb the depths of some…pretty strange stories, to be honest. Stories that we have a lot of strong feelings about!

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Iron & Wine’s new album, Beast Epic
Martha: Season 4 of Top Chef
Maren: CityLab article by David Lepeska: “How Bon Iver Saved Eau Claire

Let’s get this out of the way: Martha is a garbage reality tv show fan and at some point she’s going to make her hosts watch some episodes of…something. For now, she’s basking in the glory of Stephanie Izard’s win on Top Chef as the first lady winner. Pete thinks Martha probably has heard a lot more Iron & Wine than she thinks, and both he and Maren lose it a little when she mentions she may have seen him at Jazz Fest? Maybe? Maren gets to school everyone on how Bon Iver is revitalizing Wisconsonian territory.

And then…and then we all had a lot of feelings.

Big Questions for Forgiveness

    1. How successful are characters in achieving forgiveness?
    2. Should characters pay a price in their quest for forgiveness? What price do they pay?
    3. Does forgiveness need to be reciprocal?
    1. What function is forgiveness playing in the narratives?
    2. Are forgiveness and absolution the same thing?

Martha’s not a Doctor Who fan, don’t @ her. We dig deep into semantics here, and it may be the first episode where that’s a good thing! Across all three media, we encounter characters who are seeking forgiveness in some capacity or another: from their loved ones, from themselves, on behalf of themselves. Are they successful? What defines success? Is, perhaps, the act of seeking forgiveness enough to warrant it? We also get meta and look at what role we as an audience have in being able to forgive characters. This is a good ep for looking at how an audience interacts with a narrative, and how that may or may not effect the way in which you interpret a story – having more emotional cache with a character from a serial narrative, for example.

On September 13, we’re talking about how You Can’t Go Home Again with special guest Cory Ruegg. Your homework for next episode:

Pete: The Fifth Elephant, 1999 novel by Terry Pratchett (part of the Discworld series
Martha: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 film directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and starring Chris Evans
Cory: Gone Home, 2013 PC game available on STEAM

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook!

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Pre-Reading

Pre-Reading for Episode 15: Forgiveness

Our third chair for this episode: Maren Hagman

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since our last episode.

That’s right, we’re talking forgiveness in the episode that drops tomorrow.

We’ll be exploring the idea of forgiveness from a few directions. What’s the difference between forgiveness and absolution? Who needs forgiveness in each narrative? Do they earn it within the story, and does the audience agree that they earned it? (We might also realize that rooting for characters or having previous connections with them makes us more willing to forgive them, even when they commit some serious mistakes.)

Meanwhile, Martha forgives Maren for making her re-watch Atonement, and Pete talks about wanting to re-watch Black Swan following all the ballet talk in The Walls Around Us. And we’ll all be sniffling because some serious allergens have hit both Chicago and Milwaukee.

Tune in tomorrow to hear the whole conversation. It’s a good one! We have a lot of opinions about all three homework assignments, and really get into the meat of the matter.

Homework for this episode:

  1. Maren: Atonement (2007 film; directed by Joe Wright; starring Keira Knightly, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan)
  2. Pete: Doctor Who s9 e5 “The Girl Who Died” and s9 e6 “The Woman Who Lived”
  3. Martha: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

 

Programming note:

This will be our first full episode with a guest in our third chair. This will be the new format going forward, so get ready to hear many new voices in future episodes. Big thanks to Maren for being our first guest (and for doing it twice in a row, since she was also our guest for the extra credit Summer Vacation episode)

Posted in supplementary material

Games, Gaming, and Educational Space

(Written by Martha S.)

This is a topic I would like to see us devote a whole episode to, if we can make it work, because it is a vast, rich vein to mine and has a lot of useful information for us to impart. But as an introduction to the idea, let me say: games and gaming are an incredibly useful tool in one’s educational repertoire. I have spoken myself at conferences on the benefits to having RPG resources and programming in the public library; others have written at length on the benefits of gamifying learning. I hope we will be able to add our voices and experiences to the conversation.

I am thinking about this at the moment because I spent the previous weekend at GenCon, the largest gaming convention in North America and the longest-running gaming convention in the world (this year marks its 50th anniversary). It is a celebration of gaming of all kinds, from board games to tabletop RPGs to miniatures and more. When I attend, I play as much of the Pathfinder RPG as possible, in addition to a handful of other tournament games over the years (I have played in WarMachine, Conquest, and Imperial Assault events). It is INCREDIBLY fun and I imagine my husband and I will continue attending until we’re physically unable to do so.

Look, I’ve given you two introductions to justify the fact that I want to tell you how amazingly inclusive Paizo is as a gaming company, and now I can’t figure out a way to transition easily into that, so I’m just going to say it: Paizo works really hard to make their “iconic” characters really, really diverse and I love it. (An iconic character is the example character for a particular class, that usually participates in the fluff or art in some way. Merisiel, for example, is the iconic rogue, and she is a gay elf who is in a relationship with Kyra, the iconic cleric, who is a gay brown human.) Additionally, the adventure paths that Paizo publishes (pre-constructed campaigns designed to get you from level 1 to level 20) are full of LGBT+ characters, frequently included without any kind of fanfare or controversy. The world of Pathfinder is rich and diverse, and while the writers are nowhere near perfect in representation (adventure paths are frequently weighted with hot women the players can romance and much fewer, less attractive men), it never feels exploitative or gross.

I’m sure that using RPGs as a way to teach empathy and compassion will come up if we are ever able to do an episode on games in the educational space. For now, I just wanted to say that I appreciate what tabletop gaming is doing to increase empathy in geeky circles, since there are so many other geek subcultures where it is lacking. I’m gonna go write my android space priest multi-personality collective now, for Paizo’s brand new science fantasy game Starfinder.

Posted in extra credit

Episode 14.5: Extra Credit

Welcome to a special summer school edition of Did You Do Your Homework! As we rework the podcast a bit and settle in to a slightly new format, we’re taking a brief break from homework to talk about what we’ve been experiencing this summer: the good, the bad, and the ugly. What’s been awesome, and what has been a disappointment.

This is also our first episode featuring a guest. To keep our three-person dynamic going, and to introduce fresh new voices to our discussion, we’ll be including super awesome guest stars for every episode. Allow me to introduce our first: Maren, Pete’s wonderful fiancee!

Our Pop Culture Credentials:

Pete: Lemonade, 2017 album by Beyonce
Martha: Black Sails, 2014 tv show
Maren: The Ezra Klein Show podcast episode featuring Julia Galef on how to argue better

In a three-truths-and-a-lie format, we’re each giving you three pop culture picks of the summer – and one disappointment, or dud. These are not things that debuted this summer necessarily, but rather things we experienced this summer, and are bringing to you, the listener.

Our disappointments may be unpopular! Don’t @ us. Go forth, and experience the good things in life, such as gay dad dating sims, the first Christopher Nolan movie to clock in under 94 years long, and cinematic scenes of the sweeping Scottish highlands.

Pete’s Picks

  1. Dunkirk (Film)
  2. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (Book)
  3. U Talking U2 2 Me (Po’cast)

Dud: Arcade Fire Everything Now (Album)

Martha’s Picks

  1. Dream Daddy (2017 PC game)
  2. Wynonna Earp (2016 TV show by Emily Andras, starring Melanie Scrofano)
  3. Motor Crush, vol. 1 (comic by Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr)

Dud: An Ember in the Ashes, 2015 novel by Sabaa Tahir

Maren’s Picks

  1. Outlander (2014 TV show by Ronald D. Moore, starring Caitriona Balfe)
  2. The Big Sick (2017 movie directed by Michael Showalter and starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan)
  3. An Extraordinary Union (2017 nov by Alyssa Cole)

Dud: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 (TV Show)

Our theme for August 30 is going to be Forgiveness. Your homework for next episode:

Maren: Atonement (2007 movie directed by Joe Wright, starring Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy)
Pete: Doctor Who S9 e6 “The Girl Who Died” and s9 e7 “The Girl Who Lived” (2-parter)
Martha: The Walls Around Us, 2015 novel by Nova Ren Suma

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook!

Posted in supplementary material

Episode 14 Follow-Up: A+ Leaders Who Are Also Women

(By Martha S.)

You may have deduced by now that gender portrayals are important to me in the media I consume – I am very prone to loving things that feature fully-realized, interesting, multifaceted women (notice I did not say “strong” – strength means many things, and I am just as likely to love a female character who is whiny and evil as I am to love one that is strong and likable). The gender disparity in the materials we talked about last week is bugging me, because I do try to pick media for the show that presents a range of experience and characters and obviously I need to do better. With that in mind, here is a bevy of women who lead in some way, whether successful or not, charismatic or not, likable or not. Because it is important to remember that while there are obviously brilliant and inspiring women leaders in fiction, there are also women who fail, and their failure as leaders does not equal their failure as characters.

Wynonna Earp, Wynonna Earp (2016 tv show by showrunner Emily Andras and starring Melanie Scrofano)
Long have I searched for a show that could ease the Supernatural-shaped hole in my heart, ever since it went to hell and I realized it hated women. Wynonna Earp seems to be doing just that. In brief, the titular character, the great-granddaughter of the infamous Wyatt Earp, is back in her hometown with Earp’s gun and a mission: kill the outlaws Earp originally laid to rest, who are cursed to come back from the dead every time the heir to the Earp name dies and the mantle is passed to a new heir. Wynonna is a booze-soaked, vulgar, rude, and frequently selfish character and I love her – she’s also becoming an increasingly more effective leader of her ragtag support group with every episode. The qualities that make Wynonna worthy of following? Pragmatism, street smarts, efficiency, and a strong sense for when her people need to take a break (also her little sister Waverly is the best and cutest exposition-fountain anyone could ask for).

Mirabel, Arsinoe, and Katharine, Three Dark Crowns (novel by Kendare Blake)
This fantasy YA novel features three wanna-be queens engaged in a fatal battle for supremacy. In the world of the novel, when the queen of Fennbirn dies, the crown is passed on to one of three sisters – each has a magical gift that they use to try and eliminate their competition. In Three Dark Crowns, the perspective rotates amongst the three sisters, who each are raised by a different group of people and trained to rule. It’s an effective story about the people who shape leaders, the influence they can have, and how a potential leader can either mitigate or succumb to that influence. By the end any one of them could be an effective Queen (although you’re getting very different flavors of leadership: clear and direct from Arsinoe, traditional and regal from Mirabel, cunning and grabbing from Katharine).

Eadlyn Schreave, The Heir (novel by Kiera Cass)
Gonna put this out right in front: The Selection novels (of which this is technically #4) are cotton candy novels. They are wonderful fluff. They are full of romance and pretty dresses and sometimes occasionally Cass remembers there’s kind of a story? This is more true in The Heir and its follow-up The Crown, wherein Princess Eadlyn is conducting her version of The Bachelor and also learning how to be Queen. I will also put this out front: Eadlyn is a TERRIBLE leader. She has no sense of how to inspire loyalty, is incredibly entitled, has no work-life balance, and can’t read a room to save her life. She’s intellectually intelligent and completely people-stupid. I would argue that the novels she stars in are actually the story of someone realizing they should absolutely not step into a leadership role, finding an alternative, and implementing that, rather than the story of someone learning how to be Queen.

Dorothy Vaughn, Hidden Figures (2016 film directed by Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae)
I’m singling out Octavia Spencer as Vaughn in particular because she’s in charge of the team that Henson and Monae begin the film working out of. She’s overworked, underpaid, and has no guarantee that she’ll ever get the recognition she deserves – but she still identifies a threat to her staff, learns its ins and outs, teaches her staff the skills necessary to operate the giant computer, and makes them all instantly indispensable. Not only is Vaughn capable, intelligent, and resourceful, but she cares about the women who work with her, and goes extra lengths to ensure they have job security as well. Everyone in Hidden Figures is admirable, but Spencer brings a steely determination to Vaughn that I found incredibly admirable.

Posted in episodes

Episode 14: Leaders and Leadership

The homework for the episode:
Martha: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Calee: Firefly, episode 1.09: “Ariel”
Pete: Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

A widowed mouse learns the secrets of her husband’s past (and his connection to some interesting rats) in her quest to save her son and move her family, before the farmer’s plow can destroy their home.

The crew of the Firefly turn to an unexpected source to help lead them through one of the biggest heists of their careers.

What if: Superman had landed in Communist Ukraine instead of the heartland of America? Generally, not great things.

Our episode is painfully topical as we discuss and examine what makes a good leader. What do we expect from our leaders? What happens when leadership turns toxic? Let’s get into it.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Hipster Jock Jam playlist for the Riverwest 24 bike race
Martha: Lore podcast by Alan Mehnke
Calee: Adventure Time animated show

Pete’s pop culture credentials are inextricably tied to him spending an ungodly amount of time riding a bike for charity, which, you know, is pretty cool. Martha’s prepping for a podcast live show (hey, you think we’ll ever be cool enough to do one of those?) and Calee is enjoying the frenetic, animated joys of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. Mostly, Martha is plotting how she can use Pete’s expertise in the world of charity cycling to fuel a library program, because that’s basically how she processes everything these days.

Big Questions for Leaders and Leadership

  1. What traits to effective leaders tend to have? Are the traits of IRL leaders similar to the traits of fictional leaders?
  2. What makes people follow a leader?
  3. Is it dangerous to glorify leadership?

Leadership plays a strong role in most narratives, and it behooves us to take a closer look at the strengths, weaknesses, and character traits of some of the many leaders we find in media. We generate a list of characteristics we appreciate in our leadership, Martha gets salty about Superman and Mark Millar, and we have a lot of fun talking about rats. Some sensitive topics are broached re: our current political state, but for the most part this is a bipartisan episode. (J/K our president is a toddler and our country is a trash fire, hooray!). Plus we all take a moment to reminisce about how much we miss Firefly.

Also, this is sadly Calee’s last episode with us as a regular co-host. Next episode we’re taking a small break to talk about what we’ve been enjoying this summer, to give Pete and Martha the chance to assemble some choice guests to bring you more of that good, good content.

Your homework for August 9:
See something cool! Read a good book! There’s an excellent thread on Twitter that The Fug Girls retweeted, full of juicy and salacious Hollywood memoirs if you need a good starting place.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Uncategorized

Pre-Reading: Leaders and Leadership

By Pete R.

Tomorrow we’ll be dropping out 14th episode. The topic this week is Leaders and Leadership. Martha, Calee, and I will be talking about

  1. Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
  2. Superman: Red Sun by Mark Millar
  3. Firefly season 1 (and only!), episode 9: “Ariel”

Tune in to hear us discussing what traits make a good leader, what makes people follow leaders, and if there are problems with glorifying leaders and the idea of leadership.

We get into it with regards to Superman: Red Sun, but we all loved “Ariel” and Mrs. Frisbee. 

In addition, it’s Calee’s last episode!

Listen to the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, GooglePlay, and anywhere else podcasts can be found. Or, better yet, set you iTunes to automatically download the episode each fortnight when we drop it! And certainly rate and review us on iTunes.

Posted in Uncategorized

Episode 13: Fandom Follow-up

Written by Calee S.)

I don’t know about you, but I find the concept of a fandom fascinating. I mentioned it in this episode that I consider myself a part of a fandom. It’s amazing how fans can build and expand on existing worlds in such a way where the line between canon and fandom becomes blurred. But what happens when these blurred lines become a bit too fuzzy?

I’ve witnessed fans lashing out at the creators of their favorite mediums when what they want isn’t the direction the creators planned to take it. I  personally believe this is due to a large emotional investment from the fans. But why turn this on the people that brought you your favorites? It’s okay to find fault in your medium, and wish it was better, or more issues had been resolved, but it can turn a good fandom ugly when creators are harassed. It’s a delicate line to walk. Creators are human too, but they shouldn’t be expected to cater to everyone’s whims. It’s important to trust that they know what they’re doing.

Supplemental Materials

  1. Anthology of Interest II – Futurama

This is a three part episode, so we’re just going to focus on the middle section, Raiders of the Lost Arcade. Fry teams up with Colonel Pac-Man in the hopes of using his extensive video game knowledge to defeat the Nintendians. What? Yes, lead by their fearless leader Kong.

2. When Aliens Attack – Futurama

Again! Another Futurama episode! It’s almost like it’s a pretty great show or something…

In this episode, New New York is invaded by Lrrr and it’s up to Fry and gang to save the day. And how do they do that, you ask? By filming and broadcasting the missing episode of Single Female Lawyer to appease Lrrr and his wife.