By: Val Jackman
For this pressbook assignment, I wanted to focus on the continuum of sameness and difference that was presented by Professor Jackie Murray during both the talk (3/29) as well as our class discussion on 3/30. I found the sameness and difference diagram that she presented to be extremely powerful and something that I think is crucial in understanding both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Specifically, in terms of a counter-narrative approach to The Odyssey, I find Professor Murray’s comments on the impact of a dominant narrative to be really poignant, especially in the context of our class discussions on the roles that gender and race play in The Odyssey. Professor Murray commented on this by stating that Homer imbeds the dominant narrative by telling the story from Odysseus’s perspective. She stated that in terms of her continuum diagram, everyone in the society moves within the system and are thus inherently constantly at the whim of the dominant group regardless of the amount of variation one may have or how “far” they move towards the “green zone”.
For the sake of my pressbook assignment, I chose to focus on the topics of autonomy and monstrification mentioned by Professor Murray. Specifically, through the monstrification of the female characters in this story. Given that despite a select few, most women in The Odyssey are portrayed as monsters, I began to question this portrayal during our class discussion with Professor Murray when she gave the example of what it means to “monstrify” someone. She stated that monstrification is a mode of dehumanization that ultimately serves to alienate one from their own humanity. Considering this, I began to wonder if the monstrification of female characters in The Odyssey serves a similar purpose and whether or not the narrative of females taking on the role of monsters contributes to upholding the male-dominated context in The Odyssey.
Considering Professor Murray’s continuum diagram in the context of monstrification/dehumanization, I began to think of the image of female characters in The Odyssey moving from the ‘dominated’ to the ‘dominant’ end of the continuum. In order to portray this, I chose to use painting as my medium and portray Scylla on a “voyage” from the right-most (dominated/alienated) end of the continuum towards the left-most (dominant/inalienable) end. I wanted to portray the resistance one faces when attempting to re-gain their autonomy when functioning within a system that perpetually denies their humanity. For this reason, I chose to do this in the form of a current/waves that are meant to represent this resistance. I by no means am an artist, and I have very (very) little experience with painting, however, I thought that I would try something outside of my comfort zone for this assignment, and give painting a try in order to portray the resistance one faces in the continuum of sameness and difference in a visual context.