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Month: April 2019

blog 10

In my project, I intend to argue that adults utilize child characters as a means of reconnecting with their past by living vicariously through the child, as well as explore the meaning of childhood when represented in a literary form. I also intend to argue that adults recreate the childhood experience within literature in an attempt to address the nostalgia they feel and connect with a time that is otherwise impossible to return to. I want to accomplish this by providing evidence from secondary sources to demonstrate how this is shown in Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. What I have so far addresses a sort of introduction to the topic and begins to go into some of the reasons why Victorian male authors utilized little girls as a means of reconnecting with their past. I then go into the nostalgic space that is childhood. However, I think that I need to introduce Alice in Wonderland/a brief description or summary before I go into my argument so as to make a better connection between the text and the secondary sources I used. This would include some reorganizing of the paragraphs; perhaps, putting the summary at the very beginning and sectioning my paper so that there was an introduction which included the summary and what I intend to argue/how/why it is important and then go into the idea of using little girls as intermediaries between adulthood and childhood. This would lead to a section on nostalgia and then a section on the relationship/dynamic between adults and children as a subsequent result of what adults want children to do in literature. I think thus far I have utilized strong supplemental source and made an interesting claim which has the beginnings of being supported. However, based on some of my peer review comments I need to add more evidence as well as discuss the sources in a more inquisitive way. I also think that I should add some element of an opposing view or in some way acknowledge the possible different viewpoints so as to strengthen my argument. As of right now, I need to go through and reorganize some paragraphs/ideas so my argument and claims are followed logically by the evidence and so that there is enough context for the presentation as that will be just a part of my paper. The paper itself will need to be longer and so I may need to write the entire paper draft so that I can pull from it the strongest parts for presentation.

Blog 9

Blog 9:

MacNeil, beginning on page 559 and continuing on to 560, under the fifth section: Justice for All? Transfiguring the Magic Kingdom, discusses the ways in which Harry Potter raises the question what is good and what is evil: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire anticipates, even pre-empts, proleptically, this jurisprudential shift in its representations of a legal system that cannot tell, with any conviction, who is a Death-Eater and who is a White Wizard” (560) i.e., who is good and who is evil. He states out that point the book is trying to make seems to be that there is no way to authoritatively tell who is good and who is evil because evil it seems is a product (repercussion) of all good. I focused specifically the passage: “The great uncertainty here is not whether Voldemort should be resisted – clearly he must be – but whether this world, with its admixture of good and evil, is one worth fighting for” because I think it raises an interesting question about the line between good and evil. Because MacNeil also highlights the “social evils” that are prevalent not just throughout the novel, but also within Hogwarts, including the enslavement of the elves, and the gap between classes and between “full bloods, half-bloods and mudbloods,” it seems as if there is no justification for fighting for a world which is both good and evil. This is not just true of Harry Potter, but it is representative of our society today; there is often the question of what is worth fighting for when it is difficult to not be entirely un-hypocritical. As with the other sections of the essay, though it is writing about the law within Harry Potter, the questions and points that arise are applicable to the real world outside of literature. Many of the characters, like Voldemort, are comparable to actual people in history (Lenin for example (560)). This passage, in particular, continues to develop the ideas that MacNeil raises previously about society and the legal system that governs it and how what is shown in Harry Potter (in this instance the question about fighting for a world that is a mixture of both good and evil) is transferable to the real world. I would forward this work to another reader by explaining how MacNeil utilizes the work of Jk. Rowling to raise some questions about the laws that govern our society and the representations of the different groups of people.

Blog 8

Blog #8:

What initially got my attention (besides the title), was the soft-greenness of the paper. It reminds me of construction paper, the kind I used in art classes and during crafts when I was younger. It has been folded into four sections, each with different information/text. The edges of the paper, and the corners where it has been folded, have faded to a yellow-brown, emphasizing the notion that it has been around for many years, probably touched by many hands and thus is now faded and worn away (but not unreadable). The most noticeable text is the title: “A Little Gateway to Science” followed by a small description: “True stories that read like fairy tales.” It then states that it is a “First book in Nature Study” by Edith Patch, an entomologist at the University of Maine. A small description on the back side of one of the folds describes the story as being “Told very simply” for children because (it would seem) the author believed that children should be provided and approached with the same honestly as even the most educated.
What was most interesting to me was that this piece (though seemingly a small section/blurb of a longer book) is an integration of both science and fiction. There is an element of fairytale, of the bugs Patch talks about being mysterious and magical in the same way that fairies are. In the introductory paragraph on the back page it states, when talking about hexapods: “You can tell from this they are very strange people and you can call them fairies if you like!” The rest continues on to discuss hexapods with names, making them into creatures out of a fiction story, and yet at the same time Patch manages to list facts about the bugs. By combining genres, the more scientific with fiction/fables (though only in tone and not so much in what is said as the majority of it seems to be facts), Patch is able to present something which would usually be only for a select group of educated individuals to children.
Although I didn’t know this before, having done some more general research on Patch (never having heard of her previous to this artifact) I found that as an entomologist she was against pesticide usage. Thus, the way she explains bugs in the children story makes more sense as she is perhaps attempting to eliminate fear of the hexapods (and other insects) by assocating them with fairies. I believe that her use of mutliple genres to teach others about something she finds interesting is especially important becasue it can be used across disciplines when trying to communicate to audiences unfamiliar with whatever the given topic is. Though in this case Patch is especially appealing to children, this idea of communicting across different discplines has been used in other instances. Like in Heart and Science, messages are easily speread when written in a more universally understood way, in that instance it was a love story, for Patch it is working with fairies. Regardless, being able to teach others through utilizing other disciplines and genres is essential to spreasing information to different audiences.

Blog 7

Blog #7

O’Gorman’s reading of In the Blood, was in many ways similar to my own. Having read The Scarlet Letter, the reworking of the novel was apparent and, in recreating a piece of literary work by offering a more contemporary issues of societal problems, Parks is able to “undermine those ideals that have come to be associated with literary canons – specifically by destabilizing dominant ideologies and emphasizing a productive moral ambiguity.” Like O’Gorman, I found the representation of Hester in the play (or perhaps rather a re-representation) to be one of the “most striking manipulations.” In the Blood’s Hester, though still embodying many of the same (if not similar) effects society instills upon those who are marginalized as the original Hester, is ethnically different and begins the play already a marginalized character. She is, from the beginning, a person whom society looks down upon and although there is sympathy for her character, her murdering of her eldest son signals that there is a line between those in poverty and those who are “better.” Even in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne’s Hester only “dare[s] to briefly contemplate [murdering her child].” Even while the Reverend D and Dimmesdale, are the character equivalent of each other, they differ in that Hawthorne’s is far more victimized and weaker and Park’s is explicitly able to “intersect with and interrogate historical conflations of blackness, disadvantage and poverty. He finds Hester’s ‘suffering’ to be ‘an enormous turn-on’. Yet, he concludes by expressing hatred for her hunger.”
However, O’Gorman argues that it is these discontinuities between the two texts (or text and play) which allow for and “help to productively reorient the politics of the source text towards more immediate concerns involving race, gender, and constructions of crime.” I agree that by adapting the work to fit a more modern audience, the ideological concerns regarding “labeling, public shaming and social hypocrisy” that arise in The Scarlet Letter are better able to resonate with the contemporary readers/audience.

Blog 6

Blog #6

“Experimentation or Exploitation? The investigations of David Ferrier, Dr. Benjulia, and Dr. Seward”, by Valerie Pedlar, explores the work of David Ferrier in the context of the vivisection movement and different works of literature. Pedlar looks at the different ways in which Collins evokes the vivisection debate in his novel Heart and Science. She focuses on the implications of a piece of polemic cast in literary form such as this and how Collins utilizes his characters and the contrast between good and evil to further his antivivisection stance. Pedlar states that The Cruelty to Animals Act, though it stipulated that “animals should be anaesthetized except in certain specified circumstances” did not affect the way vivisectionist conducted their experiments (170). This leads to literature such as Heart and Science, where the characters are used as a way to show that vivisection, and in many ways scientists, are evil, even monstrous. Pedlar also brings in the work of Seward and Dracula, as another work which involves controversial topics regarding such experimentation. I think some of the points that Pedlar beings up would be interesting to investigate further. Her discussion of Dr. Benjulia and his “foreignness,” as well as Collins refusal to go into the experimental laboratory, only add to the notion that there must be divide between heart (love) and science (evil/dark).

“Love and Vivisection: Wilkie Collins’s Experiment in Heart and Science” by Jessica Straley highlights the antivivisection argument that Collins evokes in his novel. What was particularly interesting to me about this article is how Straley poses her first question: “Like an autopsy, Sensation fiction [like that of Heart and Science] was drawn from the exposed bowels of an eviscerated social body…If to write Sensation fiction is to dissect and to vivisect, then an antivivisection Sensation novel is a contradictory enterprise. How then does Collins work within a genre that figuratively commits the very crime his plot condemns?” (350-351). I had not previously thought of the genre, and the implications that writing about vivisection as Collins does, within such a genre would have. Straley also claims that Heart and Science, for an antivivisection literary work, is especially delicate. Collins, instead of using the grisly details, “eschews vivisection in theme and style.” What is especially interesting about this article is that it focuses on not just the implications of using characters to embody beliefs, but the actual literary techniques that were used (for example, Straley mentions how the lack of inviting us, the readers, into the laboratories, is to focus our attention on “how literature incites its own victimizing, and sanctifying, vibrations”). Straley invites us to look at the relationship between the reader and the work.

In her Essay Heart, Science, and Regulation: Victorian Antivivisection Discourse and the Human, Sara Murphy discusses the implications that vivisection has within not just the scientific community but whole cultures. The debates surrounding vivisections bring up questions regarding the line between humans and animals, and what is moral and what is an abuse of power. Murphy states that “while modern law supposes a subject that is autonomous, fully conscious and rational, capable therefore of choosing and willing actions for which it will be then responsible” the Cruelty to Animals Acts of 1876 proposes ways in which such regulations may complicate the conventional views. Most notably, the debate illuminates the relationship between science, law and literature and how the three are utilized as means of argument, working both to complicate and help understand certain positions and ethical questions regarding vivisections. She examines the argument Collins makes in the novel Heart and Science, as it is “a scene of law and literature that is suggestive of the intricate crossings of these two disciplines at a critical moment in our biopolitical history.” When discussing Laura Otis’s argument that Collins is essentially, in a way, retrying David Ferrier through the novel, Murphy states that to read the novel in such a way as this, “evoke[s] that thread of recent discourse on law and literature that has argued that novels sustain and cultivate a certain humanist sentiment in the face of modern law” and that this is not what she intends. One aspect which I found interesting was in regards to Benjulia representing a sort of national identity crisis. The evil doctor who practices vivisections, was described as having foreign features, “’the straight black hair of an American Indian,’” though he is never associated with a specific country or place, it is just implied that he is not from England. Thus, as Murphy brings points out, he begins to represent the “otherness within national identity, an otherness presumably liberated by the habitual practice of cruelty.” Not only does the book illuminate how the debate over vivisections affect cultures and cultural identities, but it also forces the idea that with cruelty to animals comes cruelty to humans, i.e., habitual cruelty.

It’s hard to decide which article I will most likely choose as all three raise interesting points about the implications of the antivivisection debate and Collin’s use of literature as an argument against it. That being said, I think either Essay Heart, Science, and Regulation: Victorian Antivivisection Discourse and the Human by Sara Murphy or Love and Vivisection: Wilkie Collins’s Experiment in Heart and Science” by Jessica Straley would be good essays to use.

Blog 5

Blog #5

Reading the Feminist Criticism is interesting as I have thought little about the implications of the different feminist critiques. The Feminist critique in Frankenstein states that: “until a few years ago…feminist thought tended to be classified not according to topic, but, rather according to country of origin.” I think that it is these types of separation, the limiting of certain schools of critique to a country or certain class of people, that leads to the exclusion of many women and/or feminists. This division of feminism has to led to what many consider “white” or “western” feminist schools of thought. The values held in the dominant schools of feminist theory are often associated with, and or dictated by the values held in western society, this excludes a majority of people from identifying with something which is not supposed to be exclusive, but rather the opposite: it is supposed to integrate women into a highly masculine-dominated world.
Kristeva associated feminine writing with the female body, thereby further classifying what it means to be a feminist, especially within literature. Other French feminists, such as Helen Cixous, also aligned themselves with this perspective: “’Write yourself. Your body must be heard” (342). Cixous believed that once women learned to write their bodies, they will have the ability not just to realize their sexuality but to also “enter history and move toward a future based on a “feminine” economy of giving rather the masculine economy of hoarding.” Not only did this cause controversy as many suggested that “an emphasis on the body either reduces the ‘feminine’ to a biological essence or elevates it in a way that shifts the valuation of masculine and feminine tradition but retains the binary categories” (342). This is also interesting as it leads toward the idea that masculine and feminine theories have different values. This strays from the central focus of the critique as a site for reclaiming sexuality and power, and lends itself toward a more defined boundary between the two gendered critiques.

Blog 4

Blog #4
In her Essay Heart, Science, and Regulation: Victorian Antivivisection Discourse and the Human, Sara Murphy discusses the implications that vivisection has within not just the scientific community but whole cultures. The debates surrounding vivisections bring up questions regarding the line between humans and animals, and what is moral and what is an abuse of power. Murphy states that “while modern law supposes a subject that is autonomous, fully conscious and rational, capable therefore of choosing and willing actions for which it will be then responsible” the Cruelty to Animals Acts of 1876 proposes ways in which such regulations may complicate the conventional views. Most notably, the debate illuminates the relationship between science, law and literature and how the three are utilized as means of argument, working both to complicate and help understand certain positions and ethical questions regarding vivisections. She examines the argument Collins makes in the novel Heart and Science, as it is “a scene of law and literature that is suggestive of the intricate crossings of these two disciplines at a critical moment in our biopolitical history.”
When discussing Laura Otis’s argument that Collins is essentially, in a way, retrying David Ferrier through the novel, Murphy states that to read the novel in such a way as this, “evoke[s] that thread of recent discourse on law and literature that has argued that novels sustain and cultivate a certain humanist sentiment in the face of modern law” and that this is not what she intends. One aspect which I found interesting was in regards to Benjulia representing a sort of national identity crisis. The evil doctor who practices vivisections, was described as having foreign features, “’the straight black hair of an American Indian,’” though he is never associated with a specific country or place, it is just implied that he is not from England. Thus, as Murphy brings points out, he begins to represent the “otherness within national identity, an otherness presumably liberated by the habitual practice of cruelty.” Not only does the book illuminate how the debate over vivisections affect cultures and cultural identities, but it also forces the idea that with cruelty to animals comes cruelty to humans, i.e., habitual cruelty.
One way in which one could forward Murphy’s analysis is through extending her argument. Though, as Harris points out this can be difficult and is often complicated by misappropriating the ideas/phrasings of other authors, it would also allow one to put a spin on the arguments Murphy makes about vivisections a

Blog 3

Blog #3

Novels such as Heart and Science are fascinating in that they create a new way of illustrating certain problems or dilemmas, often regarding one’s moral and ethical stances. What I found to be particularly interesting in respect to Collins’s work, is that he takes a scientific argument, or rather debate, and turns it into a fictional story. In doing so, he associates certain personalities and characters with specific aspects of the science that he is against, thus perpetuating his bias against vivisections (though I am not arguing for its benefits, Collins was himself very anti-vivisectionist). As Otis states in her analysis: ““Collins oppressive thesis that love inspires and vivisections degrades helps his character development, for at least some of his creations change their ways” (39). Both Mrs. Galilee and Doctor Benjulia are scientists of a sort and both are portrayed as sadistic and cruel. While Carmina faints upon first seeing her aunt, Benjulia is described as being “so hideously-thin that his great gloomy gray eyes, his protuberant cheek-bones, overhung a fleshless lower face naked of beard…” (103). These descriptions cause the reader to have an immediate bias against the two scientists (or scientifically involved persons) because they begin to associate the negative aspects of science (vivisection) with evil people.
Prior to reading Otis’s essay, I had not realized the significance that these two characters have on the readers. By sentencing them to the role of “bad guys,” Collins is in effect altering the reader’s stance on vivisection and this sort of radical science “[b]y associating scientific attitudes with these two characters, Collins avoids condemning science as a whole” (40). Furthermore, as the American scientist finds the cure to the brain disease through means of observation and not vivisection as Benjulia is attempting, “Collins implies that the greatest contributions to science come from compassionate individuals whose own suffering lets them identify with laboratory animals” (Otis 41). The framing of an argument, especially one regarding such controversial ethical questions, in the form of a novel (with a plot explicitly centered more on love than science), is an effective way to influence people outside of the scientific community.

https://sscott18.uneportfolio.org/2019/04/22/blog-3/

Blog 2

Blog #2

Smith states that there have been a variety of ways in which Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s Creature, has been analyzed and/or critiqued. Many of the ways in which the novel has been read and critiqued are through a feminist lens that focuses on the rights of women, as well as female anxieties in authorship and the complex (rather unjust) relationships between men and women at the time. Many of these analyses stem from Shelley being both a female author, as well as the daughter of liberal parents who were rather outspoken. Though there was little focus on the role of race in the novel, Frankenstein, an arguably gothic novel, does address, if not explicitly, injustices within society. Smith quotes Kari J. Winter who argues that Shelley “’attempts to give voice to those people in society who are traditionally removed from the centers of linguistic power…” Consequently, this “voice” that Winter and Smith believe Shelley has provided to such minorities allows for an inclusion and critique of the novel with an awareness of race as it was central to the “emergent English culture with which Mary Shelley eagerly engaged.” Smith points to many instances in the book where Shelley, though often metaphorically, utilizes rhetoric of control and submission and it is this which alludes to the role of race and slavery within the text.
Some critics have read Frankenstein as having been influenced in some way by Paradise Lost, in which the Creature is a sort of representation of Eve. Smith, however, challenges this interpretation and argues that because of the Creatures hyper-masculinity, it is comparable to the character of Caliban, an enslaved native of the island in The Tempest. Like Caliban, the Creature has a certain resentment toward his “master” (Victor). Furthermore, both Caliban and the Creature have some deformity, some aspect of their physical make-up is different from that of the rest of society. Not only that, but Frankenstein describes features of the Creature with rhetoric used primarily in colonial speaking or writing of persons from Asia, India and Africa and further establishes a racial divide. Smith continues to draw parallels between the Creature and slaves/slavery, pointing out that both the lack of name, and covert self-education was similar to that of slaves. The realization of “his ‘otherness’…comes with the acquisition of cultural knowledge in a model of coming-to-consciousness and disproof of assumed innate incapacity that us a regular element of the slave narrative.” Thus, in other words, Smith relates the story to that of a slave narrative given the increasingly similarities between the Creature, race and slavery.
Smith’s “project” is interesting, and I believe it should be looked at thoroughly, as there are many valid points about race and the relationship between a slave and his master and the consequences of such a degrading existence that are essential to understanding the role race can have within a culture and society. I found his focus on the Creature’s feelings of “other” to be essential to Smith’s argument as well. Smith quotes W. E. B Du Bois: “’One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body,” and compares this conflict to that of the Creature, who he says “develops a schizophrenic sense of himself.” This self-awareness is what leads to the Creatures desire for revenge and autonomy and, as Smith states: “just as the defining moment of the slave narrative is an assertion of the rights of the self against the wrongs of the slave-holding system, followed by the physical search for freedom in the trajectory of flight…the creature’s flight…fulfils this pattern.”
This reminds me of the talk given by Angela Davis, as she spoke of some of the impacts that being black can have on a person, especially a black woman. The sense of being “other,” of having to acknowledge the wrongs and injustices done (to the Creature and to people of color in this white, patriarchal society) in order to overcome being enslaved or subdued is seen not throughout cultures and societies. What is particularly concerning is how relevant such messages are today. Though Shelley wrote Frankenstein in the 1800’s, the hyper-masculinity in a male-dominated society and culture and the parallel to race and slavery is still pertinent.

Blog 1

Blog 1:

I have only read Frankenstein once previously to this and it was done in a very quick, sort of half-hearted fashion. We looked at and interpreted the novel as a sort of Gothic horror on the dangers of the possibilities of science and in this way it was rather a subset of romanticism. We also looked briefly at the implications of philosophy within the novel, in particular we asked questions regarding whether or not one should use science in such a way. This is especially interesting because many of the critiques regarding the philosophical aspects surround Shelley’s biographical life and her relation with her father and thus the relationship between author and world and author and text is prominent in this interpretation. It is difficult to position myself within the critical history as it seems as though there are many lenses with which to look at such a text, however, I found that looking at the gender roles and how male and female interactions are depicted within the novel provides an interesting way to critique such literature. Most of this, given the Critical History, was not looked at until the later part of the 1980’s. However, given that the story has been around for much longer, I think that some of the previous interpretations are also important to look at; including the concerns about Frankenstein’s moral effects in which there is some controversy regarding sympathy with the monster. One thing which surprised me in the history, was that there were continuous arguments for the novel’s high culture status which, given how the author is a woman and the time in which it was written, makes me wonder if this would be even a question had Shelley been a man.

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