IF/THEN: Pry the Game

Here is my final paper talking about how elements of gaming appear up throughout Pry and why they all aid the novella as a game. I hope you enjoy!

P.S. The publication platform made my essay a bit wonky so if you want to read it un-wonked, Here is the link to the GoogleDoc version of it.

I had a really fun time in class this semester, from the topics to materials to classmates. I wanna thank all my classmates for having great discussions in class that helped me look at House of Leaves specifically in so many different lights. I hope everyone has an amazing winter break.


Final: Alienation and Form

Nathanael Hueso

English 527

Professor Jessica Pressman

15 December 2015

Alienation and Form

Books are currently in a war against newer forms of media which take advantage of digital technology. For hundreds of years, books have been the main source for scholarly research and educational material. The form is simple and familiar to people of all ages. Children grow up with the traditional book and it becomes second nature to them. As technology advances, newer forms of media arise and try to take hold of readers. Video games and television have proven effective at taking people’s attention away from books. Books are no longer read as frequently, in general, as they once were. Reading forms become more complicated and readers become fragmented in their attention. Pry by Tender Claws  is a contemporary example of a literary medium which is difficult to define. Is it a video game, movie, novel, or something completely different? The complicated nature Pry lends itself to a smaller audience because most people are not willing to learn a new form of reading. As literature evolves, the form which it takes becomes just as important as the content. This creates an awareness of both content and form when studying literature.


Pry is currently only available on iOS on Apple devices, such as the iPad and iPhone. It is meant to be read on an iPad and experienced through sight, sound, and physical touch. This brings the object in which the content is locked into the spotlight. The weight of the iPad, as well as the screen between the reader and the content makes the reader aware of the medium they are reading. Liedeke Plate states that, “Electronic digital computing ended the invisibility of books. Bringing the text’s material support back into view, e-books and e-readers reveal how the materiality of books has been a neglected area in literary studies and the reception of literary works” (Plate 95). The potential reader might be scared away from reading Pry because of its multi-modal nature. Readers are used to picking up a traditional book and just reading without having to learn how to use it. The iPad has a cold, hard feel to it. It is not as welcoming as the soft, warm feeling the book gives the reader. The reader is familiar with the books form and does not feel intimidated. The reader is aware that Pry is a new multi-model experience just as Pry itself is.

Pry itself recognizes that it is a multi-model experience and that it takes advantage of another form of media. Pry’s home page is made up of a table of contents, about section, credits, settings, send feedback section, and share feature. The home page is also animated, with a fluctuating background. E-books typically present a visually static layout. The only real interaction between the reader and the form is tapping links and turning pages. Linking between one part of the novel and another is nothing new to e-books, but the way in which Pry handles it is. Pry is set up in a non-linear, linear fashion. Chapters are laid out in order, but not all chapters are currently available to read. The chapters available are also not sequential. Video and audio is incorporated into the reading experience. This requires a higher level of commitment and attention from the reader than the typical e-book. Rather than going back a sentence and re-reading what the reader may have missed, the reader now has to restart the entire chapter in some cases. The experience may also not play out as intended. Sections may go too fast depending on the interaction of the reader with the iPad and their attention level. It requires that the reader involve their body in the reading process.

Pry is very much an experience which requires the act of touching and body. Traditional books are also meant to be touched by the reader, but the level of interaction increases with Pry. Touching the page while reading is required in many chapters, such as Chapter 3. Reading Pry is similar to a blind individual reading brail. A blind reader replaces the aspect of sight with touching; Pry incorporates both. Plate further goes on to say that, “Materiality stands at the heart of contemporary writing that foregrounds the sensory and affective dimensions of reading – experimental multimodal writing, that is, that not only draws attention to the text’s visual and aural aspects but also to the ways in which the feel, touch, shape, weight, and smell of the bound paper page is part of its aesthetics, eliciting affect, emotions, and knowledge” (Plate 95). The reader may be so distracted by the form of Pry that they never get to the content. This alienation of the reader to the text fits the theme of the content of Pry.

Pry is very much about trauma and alienation. The protagonist, James, tries to block out reality through his interaction with other objects, such as a Game Boy system. The reality of war is too brutal for him to cope with, so he tries to reform the concept through a game. In chapter 6, James states that, “The world moves like a video game. A projection happened here. The mirage of an old home movie. A record of everything familiar burned away. Air flickers with the illusion of playback. The tape burns. This burn is the new memory. Keep me, it orders. But, it is a loud, loud thing that smells of burnt hair when it heaves up” (Tender Claws). The reader experiences many of these things when reading Pry. The work is very much about a concept which most readers cannot truly understand. War changes the person in a way which only those who have experienced it can attest to. In a way, those who read Pry have gone through a type of “war” and are changed fundamentally compared to those who have only read traditional books. The experience is as if “everything familiar [has been] burned away.”

Content and form are inseparable in experimental digital works such as Pry. The type of physical, multi-model experience Pry provides calls attention to its form. Pry knows that it is not a traditional book, which lends to its message. The interaction between the reader’s body and the body of the medium is necessary for Pry to succeed. Just as James feels alienated through his experience with war, readers become alienated to those who engage in only traditional means of reading. It is not certain if the traditional book form will be eventually abolished, but what is certain is that media will continue to evolve and become more complex. This is not necessarily a negative aspect of reading, but could prove useful in furthering human thinking.

Works Cited

Cannizarro, Danny, and Samantha Gorman. Pry. Computer software. Tenderclaws.com            Tender Claws, 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.

Plate, Liedeke. “How to Do Things with Literature in the Digital Age: Anne Carson’s Nox, Multimodality, and the Ethics of Bookishness.” Contemporary Women’s Writing, 9.1          (2015): 93-111.

Final Essay

Jackson, Amy

Professor Pressman

English 527

12 December 2015

The Chicano Feminist

Cunt. The word whether written, carved into smoothie shop tabletops, or pushed through bared teeth, still has the power to cause women everywhere to recoil. Yet, there on page 139 of The People of Paper, literally front and center, sits the word that is powerful enough to justify so much space. The reader recovers and then the question becomes why. Why does this word follow Liz’s plea for respect, her plea to be more than the faithless woman who destroyed the hero? Readers everywhere at this point tend to label Salvador Plascencia, the creator of this novel, a misogynist pig, a defender of patriarchy. It’s easy to think this way if you focus on that page, if you take in how the female characters are presented. Ultimately, observations are flawed due to the failure to understand the women through a close analysis of the male characters and by looking at this novel from an Euro-American perspective. The novel is, in its totality, is a Chicano novel that breaks away from the traditional Chicano novel. It is possible even to categorize this work as a novel in support of Chicana feminism. Through the revision of the stereotypical Chicano machismo, the creating of Chicana female characters that divert from their traditional roles as women and their evolving image through the evolution of popular women in religion and mythology.

The traditional definition of the Chicano Machismo is that of a Chicano who, through his inability to protect his family from the invasion of his land, strives to be the embodiment of masculinity to atone for the sense of impotence forced on him by the colonizer. In the novel you can see evidence of these sentiments in how Saturn describes Liz’s new lover, he claims, “They colonize everything: the Americas, our stories, our novels, our memories…” (Plascencia 117). Early Chicano literature depicted these fierce, possessive male characters, but we see little of this in Plascencia’s novel. Instead we have a man hiding behind a pen name, a man who harasses his ex through telephone lines and pens somber poetry in her honor. We also have a man who wets his bed and seeds saint augustine grass in the hopes that his wife will drag herself across it someday begging for his forgiveness. These are not the macho men of past works of literature, and if Chicano men are experiencing a change in portrayal, then it is likely that Chicana women are too.

The protagonist is supposed to appeal to the reader. He is the one that generally has the greatest influence over the reader’s thoughts and emotions. The protagonist of this novel, Saturn, leaves much to be desired as far as character is concerned. The way that he takes advantage of the already delicate and apitoxin addicted Cami, the way he throws around the word cunt, and how the reader imagines that he looks huddled in the bathroom force-feeding his sorrows to Liz’s message machine leaves the reader with a poor impression. Placencia is aware that his protagonist would have this effect though. Just as when we witness the cruel, popular girl in a teen flick attempting to ruin the reputation of another character, you already know to question their credibility. As humans we tend to trust the opinions of the ones that we respect and admire. By creating a protagonist that few would be capable of respecting, despite their grand namesake, Placencia is trying to direct the reader to be cautious with their judgment because the novel lacks a reliable narrator. This means that the women of the novel, all of them being presented by Saturn, should be analyzed while considering the authors influence on their portrayal.

Over the past few decades the Chicana feminist writer has made great strides in deconstructing the portrayal of mythic and religious female figures. In literature they have started to revise the submissive, docile, and in some cases deceptive nature of popular women in mythology and religion such as The Virgin of Guadalupe and La Llorona. In Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s book Borderlands she discusses the ‘mestiza consciousness,’ and describes it as “a way of thinking that derives from a life in the borderlands: The new mestiza copes by developing a tolerance for contradictions, a tolerance for ambiguity. She learns to be Indian in Mexican culture, to be Mexican from an Anglo point of view. She learns to juggle cultures…This way of thinking also necessitates the creation of a new mythology, history and culture as well as a new perception of one’s self” (qtd. De Pinedo). Plascencia’s novel illustrates this struggle between the traditional, patriarchal view of the Chicana as the embodiment of Virgin Mary, a women who is maternal, a martyr, and an object of sexual gratification, and the modern, feminist view of the Chicana. Focusing on Rita Hayworth, Merced, and Merced de Papel, we see this redefining of the Chicana.

Rita Hayworth, through her transition from a Tijuana dancer who cultivated inedible plums to the Hollywood star who reshapes her nose to make it more Caucasian in appearance, embodies the Chicana in her physical appearance, which is influenced by both Mexican and American culture. In her refusal to be ruled over by a Chicano man and to embody the traditional domestic image of the Chicana she challenges traditional ideas of how women should look and act. Merced also defies this image in that she has completely thrown away her role as nurturing mother and her roles as a woman whom allows herself to suffer to maintain peace in the domestic sphere. She abandons her daughter without a second glance and stops tolerating the bedwetting. She chooses a life of adventurous sex and romance without the security of a family. Merced de Papel is a woman who through nature’s influence on her very substance is forced to constantly evolve and change through the striping away of her paper flesh and the layers that replace it. She takes lovers, but never the love that sometimes follows. We see the traditional view of the Chicana in the treatment of these women by the male characters. The lettuce picker who claims to have bent Rita over and the ones who throw lettuce at her due to her refusal to accept their desire to use her as an object. We see it Fedrico de la Fe’s inability to accept that Merced would have left her position as mother and wife willingly.

We also see the new approach to the portrayal of Chicana characters in how Plascencia adapts myth and religion to the evolving Chicano/a culture. Merced de Papel is described as “Created not from the rib of a man but from paper scraps. There was no all-powerful god who could part the rivers of Pison and Gihon, but instead a twice-retired old man with cuts across his fingers” (Plascencia 15). Merced de Papel is the first woman mentioned in the novel echoing a very similar creation story in The Bible. The authors creation of a modern image of Eve sets the reader up for a story that will challenge all assumed definitions applied to religion and myth. Merced de Papel is an Eve who has no desire for an Adam, an Eve who is the last of her kind and not the first. Many characters are described as Saints in the novel, Cameroon being one such character. A Saint is a person who is considered especially pure in spirit and in some cases even considered alike to God. Cameroon though does unholy things when touched by water, her halo causes the warping and burning of objects, and she speaks words of defamation instead of scripture.

Plascencia helps to break away from traditional, patriarchal portrayals of women in literature. Writing in the modern feminist tradition he assists in altering religion and myth to create empowered images of women. In Rita, Merced, and Merced de Papel’s refusal to fulfill traditional domestic roles, despite the attempts by the male characters to force them into these roles through the application of scandalous remarks and tales applied to their character. It is up to the reader to see past the male characters frustration over the leaving abandoning of traditional roles and beliefs. Palencia challenges the traditional view of Chicano/a by creating men who are sensitive to heartache, who create poetry and scar tissue and female characters who embody the opposite of the adjectives usually applied to women.  The People of Paper is a novel focused on how Chicana feminists are striving to change how they are defined in a world where they are neither accepted by Mexicans or Americans. To one they are a traitor and to the other they are inferior. By working to develop a culture for the women of the borderlands, they work to empower Chicana women to mold and shape the past to create for themselves a future away from the control of a male creator.

Works Cited

De Pinedo, Eva Fernández. “An Overview of Contemporary Chicano/a Literature.” Literature Compass, 3.4 (2006): 658-675. 13 December 2015. Online.

Plascencia, Salvador. The People of Paper. New York: Harcourt, 2006. Print.

Woman’s World Final Project

This is my final project based on Graham Rawle’s novel, Woman’s World. 


Lourdes mendoza

Professor Pressman

English 527

15 Dec 2015

Roy’s Norma(l)

The issue of what gender roles are acceptable in society is the construct that both genders face. The question of whether femininity is for just females is a production of society. This produces a construct between the genders and how society places this idea on femininity and masculinity to control. Graham Rawle’s 2005 novel, Woman’s World, answers these questions about males and femininity. Rawle uses an approach to show the reader of the construct that society has on men and femininity. The production of Rawle’s novel was produced in five years using 40,000 fragments of woman’s magazines to describe a story revolving the main character, Roy. The format that Rawle uses gives the reader the sense that he is questioning the acknowledgment of society assembling femininity and masculinity restrictions. Roy and Norma are an example of social construct by society forcing them to encounter the other. Rawle shows this in his novel in two different circumstances and uses both Roy and Norma.

The novel revolves around Roy, but in the first few chapters he is only mentioned by his sister, Norma. Norma is obsessed with society’s idea of female. Rawle uses the ridiculous text in the novel from actual woman’s magazines to demonstrate that Norma is obsessed with the idea. This format idea at first is great and describes a character, Norma, as shallow. As the novel progresses, the notion of magazines to tell a story about Norma and Roy make more sense on its usage. Norma encounters Mr. Hands, who wants to photograph her, but it seems that Norma is not allowed to leave the house. This circumstance transpires in chapter 13. Rawle uses this occurrence to show the social construct that these characters’ face involving people to control the situation, or Norma and Roy. For instance, when Norma is with Mr. Hands, he takes over the situation by trying to control Norma:

My tormentor was coming toward me, his arms aiming at the parts of me he wanted to examine. When I rebuffed him, he lunged at me and began grabbing whatever he could get his hands on. I wanted him to stop; I wanted it all to stop, but his hands were everywhere. He was tugging at my skirt, trying to look up it, which is (or should be) strictly discouraged until after marriage…In the end I simply let go and stepped out of it. (223-224)

This is an example that Mr. Hands is controlling Norma to encounter the social view of herself. He forced her to confront her femininity by his standards. This quote demonstrates that Mr. Hands controls Norma to do what he what her to do and Norma doesn’t give in, she gives him the thing he was after. This circumstance is an example of someone, Mr. Hands, controlling Norma to encounter the idea of female toward the male standards. As the scene advances, Norma does fight for herself not to be pushed into the situation with Mr. Hands, but he is aggressive to the male standard. “‘You’re being deliberately cruel to me, and I’ll not have it.’ He caught my wrist and pushed me against thee wall. ‘You’ll not have it!’ he repeated scornfully. ‘You’ll have whatever I choose to give you’” (224-225). This is a demonstration of Mr. Hands and his control over Norma to face her idea of what society made her believe what femininity is. This situation between Mr. Hands and Norma is an example of the restrictions that both genders are limited to.

Virginia Bruce’s article “The Expression of Femininity in the Male” discusses the action of society views of femininity in males. She mentions in her article that society see femininity in males as “immoral and abnormal” (129). This article was published in 1967 around the setting of the novel. This is a great example of how society sees femininity in males during the time the novel takes place. This article is pertinent to the discussion of the novel. In the even between the Norma and Mr. Hands. To understand the situation, Norma is believed to a coping mechanism for Roy and his oppresses desire to follow the notion of femininity in males in the 1960s. The situation with Mr. Hands and Norma is really a situation with Mr. Hands and Roy as Norma. The reader reads Mr. Hands controlling Roy by forcing him to encounter the female side he portrays in Norma. Bruce gives an example in her article of some of society’s restrictions places on males:

The development of the young human, the total of possible character traits and behavior patterns available as the building blocks of its personality begin to be limited, restricted and prohibited to him from early childhood. It is considered unmanly for a boy to be gentle, dainty, and considerate, or to cry or to be touched emotionally by events and scenes. He should not possess or enjoy things that are soft, small, detailed, dainty, colorful and beautiful. He is forced to discard and suppress those patterns and traits which his particular culture says do not conform to the standards of his sex. (130)

Bruce is demonstrating that young males growing up are restricted to be a certain way and things that are considered to be feminine are suppress. Bruce writes that males are shaped and formed in views that their particular culture places on them. Muck like Mr. Hands, who defines the definition of male in Bruce’s terms. In the case of Roy and Norma, Roy is shaped in views that society has placed on him, but uses Norma as a way to project those suppress emotions in a way that society will not ridicule him.

The restrictions that male and female face in a society and culture is a production of gender roles. After the event with Mr. Hands, Roy decides to suppress Norma. The novel plays a moment when Roy decides to hide Norma and encounters two policemen. For instance, this situation is another that Rawle uses to show the restrictions of someone and the control of Roy. “Sergeant Dixon held out a pair of lace-look pantie briefs. ‘Let’s see you in these, just to make sure.’ The sergeant knelt at Roy’s feet, stretching waistband of the panties between the pork sausage fingers…” (271). This section of the text is only a small example of what the policemen made Roy do. It demonstrates the point that Bruce makes with the traits that men and women must follow. The policemen in this section force Roy to become Norma, or a fragmented version of Norma, against his will. To this point, the novel revolved around Norma and Roy changing at their own will. Rawle shows the restrictions, or consequences, of suppressing those traits. As the scene continues and the policemen had put lipstick on him, Rawle gives an inside on the feeling that Roy has. “Roy’s eyes were closed now and he could not open them. The humiliation had forever stripped him of all dignity. He felt the tears form under his eyelids and fought to staunch the flow. According to the code of which men are brought up manly, there’s something shameful about blubbering…He realize that he would have to pull himself together somehow” (272-273). Rawle gives the consequences of social construct that society places on males. In this scene, he establishes the traits that have to be suppress because of the construct of genders. The situation that is placed on Roy is him being forced to be Norma in front of two policemen, who control the situation, or police the situation. The policemen show power over Roy and control him for that.

Chia-When Chi and Cecelia Baldwin co-wrote the article, “Gender and Class Stereotypes: A Comparison of U.S. and Taiwanese Magazine Advertisements” as a way to view the gender constructs in different areas of the world through magazine advertisements. Their article is a questions of gender and class in different areas of the world by viewing what adverts are trying to tell males and females. Chi and Baldwin write, “As Doyle found, most people could hardy deny that men are portrayed as already having it all-the it being the three P’s of power, position, and privilege. In conclusion, the moment a girl infant is wrapped in a pink blanket and a boy infant in a blue one, gender role development begins” (157). The authors of the article are stating that men in adverts are believed to have to power and positon. The policemen in the scene are shown to have the three P’s over Roy. The scene that Rawle uses to show that Roy is forced to become his hidden identity is shown to contradict depending on the read of the three men in the scene. The section of the text has the policemen forcing Roy into the clothes after a traumatic event with Mr. Hands. The two circumstance are between men and their power and positon to control the weak, in this case, Roy and Norma. Once the policemen see what’s in Roy’s suitcase the view of him being a male, or man, is out of the question and see him as a coward that is into his femininity.

The situations that Rawle uses in his novel, Woman’s World, are between males and their control and power to make Roy and Norma fit into the gender role. Rawle uses this novel set in the 1960s to demonstrate that not only are women pushed into a gender norm, but man is also pushed into the norm. Males are unable to feel the femininity because of the social view and the social construct that is placed upon them. Rawle uses this novel as a way for readers to see the different aspect of gender roles. Roy, in this novel, uses Norma to project the idea of femininity in the male. Norma is the reason that Roy is able to touch on his femininity without being ridicule and forced until he meets Mr. Hands.




















Works Cited

Bruce, Virginia. “The Expression of Femininity in the Male”. The Journal of Sex Research 3.2 (1967): 129–139. Web.

Chi, Chia-When, and Cecelia Baldwin. “Gender and Class Stereotypes: A Comparison of U.S. And Taiwanese Magazine Advertisements”. Race, Gender & Class 11.2 (2004): 156–175. Web.

Rawle, Graham. Woman’s World. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2008. Print.


Final Project on Graham Rawle’s “Woman’s World”

Thank you all for a fantastic finale to my final semester here at SDSU.

The following link goes to the final product on windows, curtains, colours and their metaphorical nuances:


P.S. Make sure to click on anything that pops,folds, fades in or reads ‘Home, Blog, read more, & or continue.’ I embedded extra links within my final project in order to supplement my thesis and credit all the excavation that went into my research.

I hope you ‘voyeur’ inside & enjoy(: