Primary Source Description

Centered across the top of the horizontal grey felt block are capitalized black bold letters that spell out “DONALD J. PLETZKE”. At first glance, the audience can easily observe the symmetry of the panel and the variety of different clothing items that have been carefully folded, cut, and sewn on to the quilt to display their messages. Pictures and tokens of Pletzke’s life are carefully attached to the panel. Each of these items had a significance to Donald J. Pletzke.

AIDS Quilt made for Donald J. Pletzke

Five items of clothing are displayed on to the felt quilt in an aesthetically pleasing order. From left to right the color pattern is as follows: white, blue, black, blue, white. The colors utilized match the same colors that are found on the small flag in the bottom left corner. The lettering on the first white cotton shirt states “Mohawk Leather Atlanta” and includes a black and white sketch of man with a Mohawk hairstyle underneath. Next in line is the light blue shirt with small, white font stating, “I’m the Daddy, that’s why” that stretches about 10 inches horizontally across the shirt. In the center of the entire block is a black leather vest, kept unfolded and uncut, with a small red ribbon pinned on the left side panel where one’s heart would be which symbolizes solidarity of people living with AIDS and HIV.

AIDS/HIV Ribbon:

Stop AIDS sign.

This ribbon contains a small golden angel placed directly in the center. A gold-plated medal pin, rectangular in shape, is placed right above the ribbon and reads “BULLETWOMAN”. Proceeding the vest is a blue jersey like shirt that is folded in a way that only the back is visible. It contains a large number seven in black centered on the back of the shirt. Last in the row is another white cotton t-shirt with an abstract design on the front. It includes eyes and a mouth, along with stating “HOLLYWOOD hits ‘89”. These shirts are presented in a timeline fashion progressing from one side to the other with the peak being the middle black leather vest. The quilt has a mournful effect on the audience due to the neutral color scheme layout which incorporates the blues, whites, and blacks on a gray backdrop.

Under the row of shirts centered in the very bottom are the dates of Donald J Pletzke’s life. The date of his birth comes first (2-20-47) and then the date of his death is underneath it (4-25-93) making him 46 years old at his time of death. Both dates are in the same black bold font as his name at the top. The numbers were created from black fabric cut-outs. Similar to a tombstone, the dates are appeal to the viewers in a way that commemorates the life of Pletzke.

On the bottom left hand side of the quilt, adjacent to the dates, there is a picture of a leather pride flag. It contains nine horizontal stripes altering from royal blue and black and has one white strip in the middle. In the upper left corner is a red heart. This flag is about 6 inches wide and 9 inches long and it printed on the fabric. First created by Tony Deblase, this gay pride symbol was used in 1986 for an International Mr. Leather Competition (IML). International Mr. Leather is a contest/conference of Leathermen held In Chicago, Illinois every May since 1979. The leather subculture is the practice of sexual activities involving leather garments such as belts, pants, jackets, etc. and is mostly centered around gay communities, more specifically gay men. Leathermen strongly associate with the BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism) sexual fetish and other kinks.

Image of the Leather Pride Flag

Leather Flag at a Gay Pride Parade 

For more information on the Leather Pride Flag and Gay Pride Flags:

Image of International Mr. Leather logo

International Mr. Leather Official Website:

On the bottom half between the flag and the dates of Pletzke’s life is a faded portrait style picture printed on fabric of Pletzke. It is about one and a half feet by one foot with a one-inch black border around it. In this picture Pletzke is wearing a light blue button up shirt. On the other side of the dates the is second faded picture, but this one captures a group of twenty men in dressed in white uniform with the title “Bulldog’s” printed on it. These men seem to be part of a softball/baseball team. This picture has the same one-inch black border as the first picture.

Finally, in the bottom right hand corner there is a typed letter printed on to white fabric and attached to a vibrant pink fabric, giving the letter a small border. It is titled “The True Saga of Bulletwoman”.

The True Saga of Bulletwoman

This passage not only characterizes Donald J. Pletzke and explains the “bulletwoman” persona, but also ties in all other aspects of the quilt.  This passage explains the types of communities that Pletzke was a part of; the leathermen community which was presented expressed through the first white shirt and the black vest, the softball team community that was conveyed by the blue jersey and the faded team picture, and the homosexual community in Atlanta, which was presented by the image of the flag and the bulletwoman pin. The passage is broken up into five different sections. The first gives background on Pletzke and how he made it onto the Armory Bullets softball team. It also explains how he got his first nickname as Nurse Bullet. The next section reveals that after being late to one bowling match with his team, Pletzke nickname was then demoted to Bulletwoman. The following two paragraphs recount Bulletwoman’s first gay parade. By stating “Hail, Bulletwoman, king and queen of Atlanta” as the final sentence, the author of the passage preaches Donald J. Pletzke’s story in honorable acclaim. While there are some grammatical errors in the passage, it flows perfectly with all other facets on the AIDS quilt tying it together as a coherent memorializing piece.


I am a little confused about the primary source description.

While we are mainly focusing on one panel of the AIDS quilt, can we talk about the quilt as a whole and its significance along with how that ties into just that one panel?

Syllabus Quiz

What are the major projects? In a bulleted list, provide links to the project descriptions for each of them.


How will your final grade be calculated?
The final grade will be calculated by submitting work into Gradian. If you complete all four of the projects and other classwork, then you letter grade will be assigned by a number of points you have in Gradian.

What happens if you don’t complete one of the major projects?
You receive an automatic grade of D or lower.

What is Gradian and how do you use it? Embed the Gradian login page below your answer (hint: Google “embed iframe WordPress blog” to find out how).

Embed the course calendar and weekly overview below this question.

Where on the course website can you find an overview of what’s due and the readings for each unit?

You can find out what is due by opening up the calender tab and clicking on the “unit overview”.

Syllabus & Course Info

What is the best way to see an overview of what’s due each week?
By opening up the calender tab and selecting “weekly overview” you are able to view a list of the readings and deliverables for each week.

What is the attendance policy?
Every class is important and students should come to every class. If they miss class then they should make an appointment or drop in during office hours to review what they missed. Unexcused absences will cause students to lose 50 points and arriving late to class with cost students 25-50 points.

What is one way you can lose points?
You can lose points by not arriving on time or at all to class.

What are my office hours, and how do you make an appointment to see one of us outside of class?
Office hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00-10:30am. To make an appointment contact Dr. Wharton by email (

How do you earn participation credit? Provide a link to the instructions/guidelines for participation.

You can earn general participation points by keeping up with class preparation which will also ensure that you stay on track.

Syllabus & Course Info

How many points can you earn by participating in or organizing a study group session?
You will receive 20 points but the instructor reserves the rights to assign more points for quality entries. You also have to be sure to fill out a submisson form for each item you complete for extra points.

How can you be assured of earning an “A” in this course?
Once you complete all of the major projects and class prep, and accrue 5,985 points, you will receive an automatic A for the course.

What are the minimum requirements for earning a passing grade of “C”?
By completing and earning the minimum points for the major projects, complete all test prep, and attend every class, you will earn at least 2,200 points and a grade of a C.

What do you do if you’re not sure how to document your participation in order to earn points?

Be sure to fill out a “submission form” for each item you complete for extra points. If work doesn’t automatically get counted then let the instructor know. You will write up your work as a blog post and submit the link to your post via the submission form, or submitting a link to the exercises in the Writer’s Help. If you ever have questions about what kind of evidence you need to provide to document you participation and how to submit it, stop by during office hours or ask the question before class.

What are the Unit 1 readings and which one is your group assigned to focus on for the Unit 1 Reading Response?

The unit one readings are Kenneth Haltman, “Introduction” to American Artifacts, paying careful attention to his description and discussion of Prown’s object analysis assignment and Stephanie Fitzgerald, “The Cultural Work of a Mohegan Painted Basket”. My group is assigned to group two which is the reading by Fitzgerald.

Group Reflection #1

Once week two rolled around, I realized that the confusion was building up. I got together with Xander to work on the class prep assignments and we helped each other if there we had any questions. We discussed Gradian and and how each of the two works. We also helped each other understand the purpose of the reading responses.

I benefit a lot from group meet ups and definitely will work with Xander again in the future. I gained a lot of clarity through this collaboration and am happy with the outcome.