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Fri., Sep. 4
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Massena woman has scholarly work published


MASSENA - A Massena woman’s study of the language of clothes in “Sister Carrie” and other novels by Theodore Dreiser will be published in The International Journal of the Book, a peer-reviewed academic journal that provides a forum for publishing professionals, librarians, researchers and educators to discuss books and their past, present and future. Olivera Stankovic, who currently works as vice president for communication and advertisement at 1050YBG Radio in Massena, said she had to meet a number of requirements in preparing her paper for publication.

“The process was very hard,” said Ms. Stankovic, who came to the United States from Montenegro in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and who is a member of The International English Honor Society, American Association of University Women and the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce.

Ms. Stankovic had to attend a conference last October in Toronto, which was paid for by SUNY Potsdam, where she obtained her master’s degree in English and communication. She credited SUNY Potsdam professors Dr. Donald J. McNutt and Dr. Sharmain van Blommestein with assisting her in the process.

She also had to provide two references and, if her paper was rejected, rework it and submit it again. Papers submitted for publication are fully refereed, and the publication decision is based on the referees’ reports.

“I polished this maybe five to six times,” she said.

Papers have to be approximately 2,000 to 5,000 words and must have a minimum of five scholarly references.

“Please remember that the papers are to be published in a fully refereed academic journal. This means that the style and structure of your text should be relatively formal,” presenters are advised.

Presenters also find themselves on the other side of the paper grading process, according to Ms. Stankovic.

“As part of your agreement, you score somebody else’s paper,” she said.

People who submit a paper to the journal are asked to referee up to three other submitted papers from the current or subsequent volumes of the journal.

Ms. Stankovic’s study of Dreiser’s novels focuses “on a semiotic approach to show the reader how Dreiser’s delicate description of clothes signifies their multifaceted meaning, and the reader’s quest for interpreting the language of clothes that convincingly narrates their own story on an individual’s change amid economical circumstances,” she wrote in her synopsis of her paper.

“The clothes ‘speak’ in multilingual language and influence on the characters’ actions. Simultaneously, the clothes articulate to the reader a tapestry of meaningful messages. The clothes of Dreiser’s characters represent symptoms of social inequality as well as a desire for shaping and transforming their behaviors,” she wrote, noting the paper “will analyze how clothes in the role of an independent narrator in Dreiser’s novels connects the body experience to the body of material culture testifying Dreiser’s unconditional acceptance of human beings with all their flaws and virtues, their expectations, and alienation from the world they live in,” she wrote.

The premise of her paper is very simple, Ms. Stankovic said.

“We’re a slave to things is the whole point of my study,” she said.

In her paper, she writes, “When Carrie stares at shoes and clothes through the windows of the department she is persuaded by their powerful appearance. Dreiser writes, Carrie passed along the busy aisles, much affected by the remarkable displays of trinkets and dress goods, stationery, and jewelry. Each separate counter was a show place of dazzling and attraction. She could not help feeling the claim of each trinket and valuable upon her personally, and yet she did not stop. There was nothing there which she could not have used – nothing which she did not long to own.”

Still, people feel the need to keep up with others, and clothing is part of that race, Ms. Stankovic said.

“Clothes help people hide their real personality,” she suggested.

She said Jean Baudrillard, a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer, shared the same sentiments. In his early books, his main focus was on consumerism, and how different objects are consumed in different ways.

“When he went to America his first impression was America is so materialistic. They stick to some things and become slaves to other things,” Ms. Stankovic said.

Referencing Baudrillard in her paper, she noted, “Dreiser episodically introduces Carrie to the material world. Constantly, as a tourist guide, he takes her to many excursions visiting myriad isles in the shops in order to show the readers how mass consumption, advertisement, display of clothes becomes money value, replaces human value, and offers, according Baudrillard, a false feeling of ‘liberation,’ ‘self-fulfillment,’ and integrity. The objects Carrie sees reflect a magnetic energy she is attracted to. Dreiser illustrates vividly Carrie’s fascination with the things she can only dream of, and simultaneously he reveals the materialistic structures lined up purposely to lure in compulsive shoppers.”

“He says whoever collect things means you try to refresh your memory from childhood. It’s a chance to collect things you didn’t have the chance to collect,” she said.

Ms. Stankovic said she spent three years researching her topic before putting it into writing prior to the October conference.

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