Each of us relates to the urban environment uniquely. For example, because I am short, I do not sit comfortably on any public seating -- in parks, restaurants, movies, on buses, etc. Also, because I am short, I am not easily noticed when I am in line at a department store, deli, etc. Some years ago, when I lived some distance from a bus stop, I avoided taking the bus late at night. When my children were in strollers, I was often frustrated by the hassle of having to find the one elevator in a public building (or, in some cases, finding out that there was no elevator and having to carry my children in their strollers up the stairs).
Each of us also perceives our own identity and our own
sense of community uniquely. There is no
one, "right" sense of community, personal identity, and relationship to
urban space. These perceptions of self
and space depend on many factors. As we explore these topics over
the rest of the term, I'd like you all to think about community, identity,
and urban space in two ways:
The primary goal here is for you to get a sense of what it feels like to be "out of place in space." People of color often feel "out of place" in spaces that are dominated by white people. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people feel "out of place" in predominantly heterosexual settings. Short people feel out of place in public spaces where their feet don't touch the ground. Wheelchair-bound people feel "out of place in space" when the built environment can't accommodate them. Our world is not a one-size-fits-all world, but those who are members of the dominant majority group never really notice how the rest of the world doesn't fit a lot of people. I'm asking you to take on the challenge of trying to perceive/experience the urban physical, social, cultural, and psychological environment as someone other than yourself.
You will be given a "persona challenge" after a month or so of journaling your experiences as your other persona. This will ask you to do something challenging as your persona. You can either actually do the assignment (for example, physically go in person to a restaurant) or do the assignment "virtually" -- just imagining the process (e.g., imagining getting around the PSU campus in a wheelchair). You will receive the Persona Challenges on the date indicated on the syllabus.
You are assigned to a persona based on the first letter of your last name. You may not choose a persona that seems more "interesting" (after all, in real life, most people don't get to choose to be someone else). However, you may choose another persona if you find the persona you are assigned objectionable to you on any grounds (see note below).
If the persona to which you are assigned is objectionable to you on any grounds at all, feel free to choose the Stefani Volinski persona as an alternate.
Also, if the persona to which you are assigned seems pretty
similar to the
"the real you," please choose the Stefani Volinksi persona.
If your last name begins with
A-B: your persona
is Brittany Williams
C-D: your persona is J.P. Hinkhouse
E-G: your persona is Jiande Ling
H-K: your persona is L.N. Smythe
L-M: your persona is Maria Delgado
N-P: your persona is Melinda Santiago
Q-S: your persona is Michael Lawrence
T-Z: your persona is Miriam Habib