Pride and Prejudice is the story of a middle class family in 18th century England and how the parents are in dire need to marry off at least one of their five daughters to a man of wealth in order to keep their family estate. Excitement begins when a wealthy man named Mr. Bingley and his friend Mr. Darcy move in next door. These two seem like two perfect matches for two of the daughters but personalities clash between Darcy and the second oldest daughter Lizzie. The two seem to hate each other but then continually run into each other conveniently. Mr. Bingley proposes to the oldest daughter Jane and she gladly accepts. That same evening Liz finds out that Darcy may be engaged to another women and she is hurt by this, which causes her to reanalyze how she really feels about Darcy. The next morning though Darcy proposes to Liz and she gladly accepts, telling her father, “I was wrong. I was entirely wrong about him.”

The Piano follows the life of Ada, a mute Scotswoman who is sold into marriage by her father to a New Zealander named Alistair. Her and her daughter Flora are then shipped off to live with him. Ada’s most prized possession, her piano, comes with them since it is her way to express herself as a mute. Yet, Alistair abandons it on a beach since there is no room for it in his house. He sells it to his friend Baines who is secretly attracted to Ada and invites her over to play for him. Ada also develops an attraction to Baines and an affair develops. Alistair finds out though and angrily cuts off Ada’s index finger so she may no longer play the piano and sends her and her daughter away with Baines. As the three depart for a boat to take them away she asks Baines to push the piano overboard, tying her one foot in a rope to pull her down with it. As she begins to go down she changes her mind and decides to live out her life happily with her daughter and Baines, teaching piano lessons. The film ends with a quote from a Thomas Hood poem that opened the film, “There is a silence where hath been no sound. There is a silence where no sound may be in the cold grave under the deep deep sea.”

The two films obviously have their similarities and differences. Both follow the similar topic of love and marriage but how the protagonists arrive at their conclusions are totally different. Liz from Pride and Prejudice was allowed to have a say in who she married. For while her parents made it clear that it was important for their girls to marry well, it was ultimately their choice in the matter and nothing was forced upon them. This is in direct contrast to Ada’s situation where she was immediately forced into a marriage to a man she did not love nor find any attraction to. Both women were able to find love and happiness in the end though. 

Visually, The Piano was much more in depth compared to Pride and Prejudice. In The Piano most of Ada’s emotions were conveyed through her playing her piano since her character is a mute. I believe the two most visually impacting scenes would be when Alistair cuts off Ada’s finger and when she throws the piano overboard, both are such striking ends to the music and expression that she could convey earlier in the film. Countering that verbally, Pride and Prejudice is filled with witty verbal commentary and other types of vocal expression. A lot of important information is learned when the family listens at the keyholes of doors and so the verbal exchange between the characters is played up much more. 

Piano image: http://www.impawards.com/1993/piano_ver1.html

Pride and Prejudice image: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414387/

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The History of Marvel Comics

Things all began in 1939 with Martin Goodman working at Timely Comics. This company acted as sort of an overseer for multiple publications including Atlas Comics and, Goodman’s creation, Marvel Comics. 

Marvel’s first comic, entitled “Marvel Comics #1” featured the character the Human Torch and was a great commercial success. This success allowed Timely Comics to hire its own set of staff and things only started to pick up from there. 

From this new group of writers and publishers came Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, in 1941 these two created the ever so patriotic character Captain America. Captain America exploded in popularity as the United States grew continually more involved in the second world war since Simon and Kirby had him constantly battling the Nazis and other forms of evil all in the name of the USA. 

Once the war ended and the troops all returned and settled down the popularity of comic books declined. In the 50s the thought of costumed superheroes battling war criminals fell out of fashion and people looked for other genres such as spy, romance and horror fiction. 

Looking to change with the times, Timely Comics changed its name to Atlas Comics and began working with the American News Company. Shortly after that though the American News Company lost a lawsuit against the Justice Department for holding a monopoly over their industry and was completed liquidated by 1956. 

Therefore, Atlas Comics had to change their name again, no longer wanting to stay affiliated with the dissolved American News Company. Which is when, in August of 1961, the title Marvel Comics was officially used, appearing on the science-fiction work “Amazing Adventures #3.” 

At this time rivals DC Comics were having great success in reviving their comic book superheroes of the past and Marvel decided it was about time they did the same. So in November of 1961 the very first issue of The Fantastic Four was published. With this series, and the ones to follow, the people at Marvel wanted to take a more “real-world” approach to their characters. They showed the more human side of their characters; showing that everyone bickers and everyone has problems. 

In this “silver age of comics” Marvel produced other great series such as: the Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and Daredevil. 

Marvel soon became famous for their rich level of characterization in their comics. The series that best exemplifies this is The Amazing Spider-Man. The main character Peter Parker was a shy and nerdy teenager who was thrust into a role that he did not know how to handle. One of the most famous lines in the entire series comes from Parker’s Uncle, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Which perfectly sums up what Marvel was trying to show in their new “real-world” take on comics. 

Marvel has only continued to grow and adapt to changing times and now operates as Marvel Entertainment Incorporated. Not only does this company offer their traditional comics but they also have their own rating system entitled “Marvel Rating System,” a mature audience publication called MAX, a line dedicated just to younger readers entitled Marvel Age and a dedicated presence in Hollywood. 

Out of all of their legendary characters my all time favorite has to be Spider-Man. In my opinion he faces not only the most diverse and interesting characters but his own personality is really witty and leans more towards smart humor. Also, his story is one most people can relate to. Most people have felt like the outcast at least once in a situation before and Peter Parker always approaches problems with a positive thoughtful manner. Spider-Man first appeared in 1962 and was developed by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. 

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http://www.worldcollectorsnet.com/features/comics/marvel-comics/

http://www.superherostuff.com/biographies/spideybio.html

There are a few things that, throughout history, have been able to capture our attention and invaded our cultures so frequently as the dragon. This creature has taken so many different forms and can be everything from a helpful friend to an evil gold hoarding beast. The one culture that has had the dragon as part of it’s national identity for thousands of years is China. The dragon was first added to the Chinese national flag at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty in 1644 and stayed there until it’s end in 1911 (Dragonsinn). The ancient Chinese people saw the dragon as a symbol of power, wisdom and strength. Many emperors would either compare themselves to a dragon or say that they were descended from one as a way to present themselves as great leaders (Dragonsinn). There are nine types of classical dragons and each one has their own special meanings.The Celestial Dragon rules over and protects the other dragons. The Spiritual dragon controls the weather. The Earth dragon controls the rivers. The Underworld dragon reigns over all the precious metals in the ground and is the cause of volcanos. The Horned Dragon is the mightiest of dragons. The Winged Dragon is the only one with wings and is said to have served Emperor Huang Di. The Coiling Dragon lives in the ocean. The Yellow Dragon is a dragon of knowledge. Finally the Dragon King is actually four different dragons that control the seas to the north, south, east and west (Dragonsinn). There is also a distinct difference between western and eastern dragons. While eastern dragons are revered and looked up to, western dragons are fire breathing menaces that should be slain (Draconika).

Sources: 

http://www.draconika.com/culture.php, 

http://dragonsinn.net/east-2.htm, 

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I’ve always been one to think that theme museums are a bit tacky. That they’re really there as just another tourist attraction with the hopes of raking in as much cash as possible from the gift shop sales and over priced snacks. Heading towards the Newseum my mindset was no different and I thought to myself, “time to go re-learn about the invention of the printing press or how newspapers have been there to deliver the world’s news for the past few hundred years.” 

Now I wasn’t proven completely wrong by my time there but as someone that really loves history I thought the entire visit was quite fascinating. I enjoyed the free flowing feel of the entire building and there wasn’t a moment when I felt like one particular exhibit was being pushed on me. Though that being said everything is flashy and in your face. The entire place is one show stopping event after the other. With everything being so big one could really immerse themselves in the media being presented to them, which really took things to a whole other level. 

The highlight of the entire trip was just being able to walk into the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater. The theater was truly amazing and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to work with such a space. 

One thing I didn’t really enjoy, that is not Newseum specific, are the sections that try to hard to be interactive. Just because somewhere has a room full of giant table top touch screens does not mean I will appreciate what you’re trying to show me anymore or any less. If anything it almost cheapens the experience for me. One should let the media and or the art speak for itself.

An example of a photo that can stand on it’s own is the work Refugees From Kosovo by Carol Guzy, Lucian Perkins and Michael Williamson. It is an image that called out to me from the very beginning. What first attracted me to the photo was the pristine mountain scenery in the background. The sky is a perfect mixture of different blues stirred together with the white of the clouds. Which then seems to mesh so well with the lush green mountains. While panning over the landscape one’s eyes meet the barbed wire cutting across the sky and that begins to draw one’s gaze downwards into the scene below. The fence itself and the horizon create a set of horizontal lines that focus attention downward and to the left. Obviously the main subject of the photo is the child being passed through the fence. His turquoise outfit is so striking compared to the greys and browns of the others in the shot. It is almost as if he is a bridge, linking the calm serene landscape with the barren desolate camp. You can see in the background that behind the fence the grass is completely dead, almost like a visual representation of the hardships the camp patrons face every day. It is also unreal to think that this lifestyle is the norm for the infant. The child looks so calm and is putting up no struggle. The child adds in an element of innocence and it really brings such problems closer to home. 

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Visual Literacy 4

photo’s found at:

 

This image has come to signify the strength of women as a whole but I look at it and see the changing times of WWII America. This poster was originally created to rally the women to join the workforce and support their country while the men were away at war. There really was no intention on having the female population remain in the workforce after the war had ceased and yet in that time period they proved to be just as productive as their male counter-parts and perhaps even more willing to work. They liked their positions in life and did not want to give them up so quickly. The poster itself keeps to a very simple color scheme with the main character sporting patriotic red, white and blue. Instead of the usual Uncle Sam calling the men to fight, the main character is a fellow women, reassuring her peers that they are strong and can accomplish anything. Even the look on her face shows seriousness, professionalism and no signs of weakness. This image single-handedly takes the old stereotypes and cultural norms and kicks them right to the curb.

This image can be located at http://www.nps.gov/pwro/collection/website/home.htm

Visual Literacy 2

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