In a Tortoiseshell: In this close-reading paper written for the Humanities Sequence, Sandra Chen begins with a detailed analysis of a poem’s text to make larger arguments about its meaning.
In a Tortoiseshell: In her paper, Debby Cheng utilizes her thesis to roadmap her text to explore the nuances surrounding the distribution of blame within the black community during the AIDS epidemic prior to the introduction of an effective treatment. Using enriching and creative sources to provide evidence to her claims, Debby efficiently asks the reader to question, just as she does, the role of the heterosexual black man as the “invisible” force that perpetuated the spread of HIV in the United States during the last two decades of the 20th century.
In my eternal attempt to get in shape, I recently started attending a group fitness class at Dillon Gym called BODYPUMP. Written by the fitness company Les Mills, BODYPUMP is a strength-training class in which you use a barbell and plates to tone specific muscle groups. The workout is choreographed to upbeat music, where each song is paired with a major muscle group in the body. During one track, we might do different kinds of squats to target our glutes, and in another we might do chest presses and push-ups to work our chest muscles. We do hundreds of reps, until our entire bodies are sore and shaky, but stronger.
While doing all those reps, I started thinking about workout classes like BODYPUMP and how they relate to the Lexicon. They are choreographed just like essays are written, so we can analyze them with the same concepts. They have, for example, theses and motives. BODYPUMP’s mission or thesis is to build strength and tone muscles so that attendees become healthier. Workouts can have structure built around the muscles in the body, like BODYPUMP does, or on skills or techniques that are being used, such as karate or boxing. One might think of individual moves—squats, chest presses, push-ups, etc.—as evidence, since these are what must be manipulated for the workout to achieve its goal (or support its thesis). Our reps of these moves are like our analysis, since they are how we enact our moves (or interpret our evidence). Lastly, specific kinds of reps are the key terms of workouts. For example, in BODYPUMP we have a rep which consists of a move done quickly twice in a row followed by the same move done slowly with pulses. We perform this kind of rep with all our moves—squats, deadlifts and rows, chest presses, etc.—and it marks our maximum effort level for each muscle group. Like key terms, it is versatile, gives each of our tracks a focus, and helps the workout feel cohesive.
Next time you are at the gym, think about how you structure your workout to achieve your health goals. Maybe you’ll find that your “evidence” is not varied enough, or that you aren’t doing enough “analysis.” And if you don’t even know where to start, try out a class like BODYPUMP and let them structure your workout for you. I hope to see you there!
— Leina Thurn, ’20