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This tension produced the ambivalence internal to the novels themselves as well as the critical reception they received. It also contributed to the subsequent changes in narrative strategy and setting. While a certain ambivalence characterises both the structure of Gothic narratives and their relation to the literary codes of the time, it is an ambivalence that cannot be restricted to the sphere of literature itself. What literature was, its nature and function, was undergoing significant revision. Fiction was becoming less a mode of moral instruction, a guide to proper behaviour, a way of representing society as natural, unified and rational, and more an invitation to pleasure and excitement, a way of cultivating individual emotions detached from the obligations of the everyday world.
While it freed the writer from neoclassical conventions, it also imaginarily liberated the reader from his or her place in society. These changing attitudes to literature were part of wider shifts in the mode of literary production and consumption. Markets for and access to texts of all kinds were expanding as a result of cheaper printing processes and the emergence of circulating libraries. The growing reading public included larger numbers of readers from the middle class, especially women, and reflected a change in the distribution of power and wealth from an aristocratic and landed minority to those whose interests lay in a mercantile economy.
While this meant that individual writers were bound to sell their work, it also made them dependent on the market that consumed fiction. The popularity of the Gothic novel highlights the way that the control of literary production was shifting away from the guardians of taste and towards the reading public itself, much to the chagrin of those interested in maintaining an exclusive set of literary values.
Women constituted an important part of this market, and not only as avid consumers of fiction. An increasing proportion of novels were written by women, often in order to maintain themselves and their families. These shifts in the class and gender composition of readers are linked to social and political changes as well as economic ones.
All areas of British society were rendered unstable, as were its ways of representing and regulating itself according to rational and moral principles. While much Gothic fiction can be seen as a way of imagining an order based on divine or metaphysical principles that had been displaced by Enlightenment rationality, a way of conserving justice, privilege and familial and social hierarchies, its concern with modes of representing such an order required that it exceed the boundaries of reason and propriety.
It is in this context that Gothic fiction can be said to blur rather than distinguish the boundaries that regulated social life, and interrogate, rather than restore, any imagined continuity between past and present, nature and culture, reason and passion, individuality and family and society. In the preface to the second edition of The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole both situated the novel in relation to romances and novels and justified its project in terms of the move away from neoclassical aesthetic values.
The story, however, inclines more to the presentation of marvellous events than to human characterisation and realistic action. In the second preface Walpole appeals to new ideas about writing. Inspiration, individual artistic genius and imaginative freedom overstep the boundaries of neoclassical taste. Written in the third person, the preface, though acknowledging authorship, tries to negotiate a compromise as well as distance the writer from any impropriety that might be detected.
Novels and romances were far from being completely acceptable pastimes for a member of polite society. For the development of the Gothic novel, the significance of anonymous publication is more than the recognition of impropriety associated with authorial disavowal. The first edition had a preface that became a crucial device in Gothic narratives: it was itself a fiction, a fiction, moreover, with pretensions to historical authenticity and veracity.
The antiquarian tones of the preface declare The Castle of Otranto to be a translation of a medieval Italian story printed in and written at the time of the Crusades. Everything, from the Gothic script in which it is printed to the feudal customs and miraculous incidents it presents, conspires to give it an air of truth as a production of the barbarous and superstitious dark ages.
The historical distance that is opened up by the device of the discovered manuscript returns readers to the neoclassical strictures and produces an uncomfortable interplay between past and present that both displaces and confronts contemporary aesthetic and social concerns. Historical distance also acknowledges cultural difference: English Protestant culture is distinguished from the southern European, and thus Catholic, background which is constructed as both exotic and superstitious, fascinating but extreme in its aesthetic and religious sentiments. His sickly son is crushed by a gigantic helmet on the day of his wedding to Isabella, daughter of another noble.
Ambitious and unscrupulous as he is, Manfred decides that, though already married, he will have to wed Isabella in order to produce an heir. She flees from the castle, helped by a recently escaped Theodore, through subterranean vaults. The youth, however, is recaptured. At the same time, servants are terrified by the sight of a giant in armour and Manfred, jealous of an imagined attachment between Theodore and Isabella, threatens his life.
A friar, Jerome, intercedes, and discovers the youth to be his long-lost son. Suspicious of Manfred, the knights join the search for her. Back at the castle, the conjugal problems are still unresolved. Theodore is attracted by Mathilda, as is Frederic. Manfred, finding the lovers in the chapel and believing Mathilda to be Isabella, stabs her in a fit of passion. The guilty die or incarcerate themselves in convents and proper lineage is restored with a warning about human vanities and with the eventual marriage of Theodore and Isabella.
While The Castle of Otranto sets out the features and themes for use in all later Gothic texts, it does so in a rather ambivalent way. The aristocratic order of primogeniture, property and patriarchy that it restores with such speed, and so many convolutions, stretches the bounds of credulity and reduces the basis of feudal society to a few of the more extravagant customs. For the supernatural manifestations of the restitution of an old order present a law that is at once violent and sublime, disproportionate and just, and founded as much on superstition as on power.
Indeed, the novels style stimulates emotional effects rather than rational understanding, thereby emulating the vicious passions of the selfish and ambitious villain. The frenetic pace of the text is, in part, an effect of excitement and irrationality. In a letter to the Reverend William Cole 9 March , Walpole describes how his own Gothic mansion and its decorations contributed to the dream he offers as the origin of the story.
The style of writing itself works against reason and propriety and led critics of the time to baulk at its absurdities, lack of morality and false taste. But its contrast of distinct aesthetic impulses leaves the text itself in an uncertain position between offering a serious purpose or a subversive play. Its evocations of terror and superstition can be seen to advocate a sense of awe at supernatural power and its restitution of justice, or can render such a notion of justice comic and suggest that the orders which depend on such superstitious notions are quaintly unrealistic.
If ideals of chivalrous virtue and honour depend on spectral appearances and supernatural wrath to preserve them then they, like the castle itself, may be destined for ruin. Chivalry and honour, indeed, are like ghostly incarnations of an old order that have no place in the enlightened eighteenth century. Mere superstitions, these ideals, while underpinning aristocratic and patriarchal culture, have no power against the cunning and tyranny of the selfish and ambitious individual.
Virtue, too, is helpless in the face of tyrannical fathers interested only in the preservation of a law of primogeniture. Confronted with indifference, forced marriage and death, their lot, it seems, is to suffer and be sacrificed to the persecutions of patriarchal power with only the occasional knight fighting for their honour. Indeed, the predominance of arms and armour presents a culture founded on a violence that is constructed as both metaphysical and individual.
But it is not, in eighteenth-century terms, natural. In this respect, The Castle of Oranto can be seen as a reinforcement of eighteenth-century values, distinguishing the barbaric past from the enlightened present. None the less, eighteenth-century culture still depended on notions of virtue and honour. Nor did it witness the total disappearance of an aristocratic order, of which Walpole, later to become Earl of Orford, was a part. From the position offered by the second preface, however, with its advocation of imagination and original genius and its privileging of individualist values, the novel appears as a text that examines the limitations of reason, virtue and honour in the regulation of the passions, ambitions and violence underlying patriarchal and family orders.
Despite their significant interrelation, distinctions between terms and values are left unresolved. It was ambivalently received by reviewers in the s. The function of literature in representing a rational and natural social order and guiding readers in proper modes of conduct and discrimination is also questioned: in failing to offer an overriding and convincing position, The Castle of Otranto leaves readers unsure of its moral purpose. Its uncertain tone and style, between seriousness and irony, is perhaps the novels cardinal sin and one that is visited in various forms on all its literary offspring.
Rending the homogenising correspondence of representation and reality, Gothic fancy and invention was able to construct other worlds that dislocated boundaries between fact and fiction, history and contemporaneity, reality and fantasy. The loosening of rational and moral rules for writing facilitated by the idea of the individual imagination, and the indulgence of emotions and pleasures, also entailed evocations of anxiety—evinced by figures of darkness and power—that any form of justice or order, whether natural, human or supernatural, had itself become spectral.
In The Champion of Virtue. A Gothic Story was published anonymously in the guise of a translated old manuscript. This device itself acknowledges the influence of The Castle of Otranto. In the light of these criticisms The Old English Baron attempts to reduce the ambivalent effects of Gothic fiction, and restore a balance between marvellous and supernatural incident and the natural life and manners of eighteenth-century realism. Ghostly machinations are kept to a minimum and, though the customs and settings of feudal times are invoked, they are contained by eighteenth-century sentiments.
It is so probable that any trial for murder at the Old Bailey would make a more interesting story!
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The Old English Baron establishes a historical continuity maintained by the imposition of eighteenth-century rules and morality. Differences between Walpole and Reeve, moreover, implied disagreements that were not solely concerned with the purpose and place of literature. Unlike the aristocrat, Walpole, Reeve came from an educated middle-class background, her father being a curate in Ipswich.
His courage, kindness and generosity of spirit qualify him as one deserving of his advantages rather than merely inheriting them. Gothic devices and setting are subordinated to the social and domestic proprieties of the emerging middle class of the eighteenth century. Set during the reign of Henry VI, the novel tells the story of a foundling, Edmund, of ostensibly peasant birth, who distinguishes himself in social and military skills.
He is steward to the sons of Baron Fitz-Owen whose family inhabit a castle owned by a relation, Lord Lovel. The castle has a decayed set of apartments that have been mysteriously locked for years.
There, groans and strange lights lead to a dream in which he sees a knight in armour and a lady who address him as their child. Consequently, Edmund attempts to discover the truth of his parentage, gathered from diverse local anecdotes. After a feudal combat, the sins of Lord Lovel are brought to light and Edmund is established as the rightful heir to the castle and estates.
Propriety as well as property is restored. Not only do virtue, morality and social and domestic harmony prevail, they are, so the cautionary ending declares, divinely sanctioned and protected. While its subjects are aristocratic and its world is feudal, the story keeps superstition in check with its emphasis on virtuous character, individual merit, human vanities and domestic order. Disturbing the boundaries between past and present, however, became an inevitable feature of Gothic fiction, even though the manner in which the two were articulated differed from writer to writer.
History, like nature, the supernatural and the passions of individuals, became a contradictory site for both imaginative speculation and moral imposition. The novel situates its fictional heroines in a world populated by real figures and events from the Elizabethan age. Spicing fiction with fact, however, did not lend the tale greater veracity. For one critic it detracted from the narrative.
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For several critics the novels melancholic and gloomy tones were at odds with the romance form. Historical accuracy, indeed, is not a primary concern of the novel in which fictional licence freely alters events and their chronology. In many ways it serves as the backdrop for the representation of eighteenth-century concerns. Gothic elements feature as part of the wider plot of a historical narrative that owes much to the extravagant composition of seventeenth-century French romances. Picturesque descriptions of natural scenery and accounts of domestic happiness, sufferings and tensions, however, maintain a thoroughly eighteenth-century perspective.
The use of history in The Recess introduced some important new directions for the Gothic model derived from Walpole. Like Reeve, it reduced the incidence of the supernatural and also gave new impetus to the historical romance, a form in which past events are liberally recomposed in fictional narrative.
Unlike both Reeve and Walpole, however, the action of the novel centres on the lives of two women. They are the daughters of Mary Queen of Scots who have to be hidden from society and the court of Elizabeth in order not to suffer the same fate as their mother. They grow up in secret in the subterranean chambers of a ruined abbey. Society and marriage offer only brief moments of happiness until the secret of their identity is disclosed. The disclosure leads to the death of one sister and the flight of the other, powerless against the political intrigues and violent passions of the Elizabethan world.
The world at large presents the greatest terrors for the young heroines. Rather than the imaginary threats of supernatural powers it is the accounts of pursuit and persecution by noblemen, female courtiers and hired bandits that constitute the major instances of fear. In contrast, domesticity, represented by the sentimental attachments of the sisters in their hidden, underground habitation, offers love and security.
However, the novel suggests that there is no refuge in secrecy, hidden recesses or domesticity itself. The outside world invades the private, domestic sphere, turning a refuge into a place of dark menace. In its focus on female virtue, The Recess seems to take a pessimistic position in regard to its primary location in domestic space. Virtuous women continually confront suffering and persecution, their ideals leaving them both powerless and unrewarded. Neither virtue nor the security of domestic space forms an adequate defence and itself becomes a prison rather than a refuge, a restricted space confined by a system of values that privileges the male and active world beyond the family.
At the same time romances marked a putative and contradictory attempt to offer access to worlds other than the domestic and family spheres that constituted the real life and manners of the majority of middle-class women. At home they could read tales that, while reinforcing ideals of female virtue and propriety, offered some escape from domestic confinement through fictional adventures even if, in the fictions, the impulse came from external violence.
Foregrounding confinement, virtue in suffering, and a threatening external world, fiction none the less attempted to articulate the contradictory requirements of propriety and excitement. In its highlighting of problems in ideals of female virtue and domesticity The Recess establishes an important direction for the Gothic novel. Frequently cited as a Gothic novel, Vathek remains distinct from the genre, though its influence can be traced in later and more obviously Gothic texts.
One of the main connections is that its author, the extremely wealthy Beckford, built an extravagant and costly Gothic building, Fonthill Abbey. Like Walpole and his Gothic mansion at Strawberry Hill, he thought of the intricate and sublime architecture of Fonthill as a source of inspiration for his novel, comparing it to the hall of Eblis in Vathek. There are many evocations of sublimity in the natural and supernatural descriptions of the novel. Vathek is also a sensualist, building great palaces in order to indulge his carnal pleasures.
Adept in the arts of astrology and magic, the Caliph fervently pursues forbidden knowledge, until he is finally damned. Though many antiquarians believed that the romance tradition originated in Arab or Eastern countries, Vathek is part of a different tradition of eighteenth- century writing. Translations of Arabian stories led to a vogue for Oriental tales and a love of the exotic. The East constituted another space in which the expanding imagination could freely roam. Indulgence in descriptions of excessive passion, irrational violence, magical events and sensual pleasure was acceptable, as many critics of Vathek seemed to agree, because they demonstrated the disastrous consequences of those forms of behaviour.
Ironically, and perhaps as a satire on eighteenth-century orientalism, this warning against excess comes at the end of a story that has flagrantly indulged in imaginative and descriptive excess. The ending, like the uncomfortable identification with the hero-villain throughout the tale, refuses to affirm in the manner of romances any stable boundary line between good and evil.
Vathek is the villain and also the victim of his ambitions and passions. Like Faust, having overvaulted his quest for knowledge and power, he incurs damnation at the hands of a violent supernatural order. The moral tone of the ending, as in The Castle of Otranto, remains unconvincing. In the connections and contrasts manifested in the writings of Walpole and Beckford, on the one hand, and Reeve and Lee on the other, two of the major strands of Gothic fiction are displayed. Despite differences of historical and geographical setting, the male writers of Gothic, of a more aristocratic class position, lean towards representations of irrationality and the supernatural, exercising the privileges and freedoms conferred by gender and class position.
The female writers, usually more solidly middle-class in origin, remain more concerned with the limits of eighteenth-century virtues, careful to interrogate rather than overstep the boundaries of domestic propriety which, because of their gender, were more critically maintained.
Though darkness, ruin, superstition and human passion are objects of fascination and sublimity in both strains, their significance and effect is shaped by the very different ends of the narratives. The Gothic fictions that dominated the s introduced certain changes into the genre but the basic pattern of the narratives, as well as the conventional settings, can be directly identified with these two strategies of indulging or rationalising imaginative excess.
But this would take us too far afield. It was the period when the greatest number of Gothic works were produced and consumed. Terror was the order of the day. Though the startling Gothic machinery of The Castle of Otranto was set to work in every text, there were significant shifts in emphasis.
These tended to follow the lines laid down by Reeve and Lee in their framing of the past in terms of a rational and moral present. Eighteenth-century values were never far from the surface in these tales of other times. Terror, moreover, had an over-whelming political significance in the period. The decade of the French Revolution saw the most violent of challenges to monarchical order. In Britain the Revolution and the political radicalism it inspired were represented as a tide of destruction threatening the complete dissolution of the social order.
In Gothic images of violence and excessive passion, in villainous threats to proper domestic structures, there is a significant overlap in literary and political metaphors of fear and anxiety: metaphors that imply how much a culture, like the heroine and the family, sensed itself to be under attack both from within, in the dissemination of radical ideas, and from without, in the shape of revolutionary mobs across the Channel.
Married to a lawyer who became editor of a literary magazine, she appears to have spent most of her time at their home in Bath. Her novels were enormously popular and also received critical approbation. Well into the nineteenth century books were produced using her narrative techniques, and even parts of her titles.
Like Sophia Lee, Radcliffe chose virtuous young women as heroines of novels set in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Like Walpole, her geographical settings were usually in southern European countries, Italy and France in particular, continuing the association of Catholicism with superstition, arbitrary power and passionate extremes. The physical settings, too, were suitably Gothic: isolated and ruined castles and abbeys, old chateaux with secret vaults and passage-ways, dark forests and spectacular mountain regions populated by bandits and robbers.
Orphans separated from protective domestic structures, these heroines journey through a mysteriously threatening world composed of an unholy mixture of social corruption, natural decay and imagined supernatural power. At the end virtue has, of course, been preserved and domestic harmony has been reaffirmed. The tales are all framed as lessons in virtue and faith in a guiding providential hand. In response to the strange noises and spectral figures that inhabit the dark world of ruins, castles and forests, the heroines conjure up images of ghostly supernatural forces.
Imagined supernatural terrors are accompanied by other mysteries that lie closer to home and reality. A Sicilian Romance describes the mysterious hauntings in locked apartments and unravels the family secrets that underlie them. In The Romance of the Forest the heroine discovers an old manuscript that, to her horror, tells the story of a murdered man.
Family secrets are resolved and often rendered innocent, but only after a series of repeated invocations have encouraged heroine and reader alike to imagine the darkest possible outcome. Apparently spectral events are similarly explained after they have excited curiosity and terror over extended sections of the narrative. Involving readers, like the heroines, in the narrative, the use of suspense encourages imaginations to indulge in extravagant speculations. While extremes of imagination and feeling are described in the novels, the object is always to moderate them with a sense of propriety.
They have a tendency, however, to overindulge their emotions, partaking too heavily of the cult of sensibility which flowered in the eighteenth century. Rarefied abandonments to feeling leave heroes and heroines in tears at the slightest melancholy thought and fainting at the smallest shock. Powerful feelings are legitimately expressed in the responses to the magnificence of the scenery through which heroines pass. Radcliffe draws upon eighteenth-century notions of the picturesque and the sublime as well as the work of travel writers and painters.
Such taste is reinforced with quotations of poetry from, or in the style of, the works of writers associated with the imaginative genius and natural sublimity of the Gothic age. Its four volumes tell the story of Emily St Aubert. Brought up in a rural chateau in southern France by a caring father, Emily is educated in the virtues of simplicity and domestic harmony. She is prone, however, to overindulge her sensibilities. Her father, before he dies, warns her that all excess is vicious, especially excessive sensibility.
Taken in by her aunt, Emily almost marries Valancourt, a similarly sentimental young nobleman. Instead, her aunt marries the Marquis Montoni and takes Emily to Venice and thence to the castle of Udolpho. She flees from his persecution and the imagined terrors of the castle by way of the mouldering vaults of a ruined Gothic chapel. Later, supposedly supernatural terrors are explained, as is the very worldly identity of Montoni: he is leader of a group of banditti, not a demon.
Emily returns to France and to the security of an aristocratic family who live in the region in which she was born. Despite the return to the simplicity of country life, fears of ghostly machinations propel the narrative, until an exhaustive series of explanations unravels both the mysteries of the castle and those disturbing secrets closer to home. The novel announces its moral: that the power of vice is as temporary as its punishment is certain and that innocence, supported by patience, always triumphs in the end. With a clear moral concluding the tale, Radcliffe, like Reeve, gives Gothic fiction a more acceptable face.
The Mysteries of Udolpho was praised for its correctness of sentiment, its elegance of style and its bold and proper characterisation in the Monthly Review Aspects of her style, however, provoked a degree of critical amibivalence. Her technique of prolonging the mysteries through her use of suspense was considered excessive.
Readers are thus enlisted in the narrative as dupes of the false and terrifying expectations it sets up and then distanced from the credulities and superstitions of heroines and servants by the disappointing explanations. By the end, virtue, reason and domestic felicity are restored along with a discriminating readership. None the less, the ambiguity of this technique of inviting and depicting the superstitions that it disavows produces ambivalent effects. The novel as a whole depends on the play of antitheses. It is only in contrast to the dark world of Udolpho that a world of happiness and light can be valued.
Only by encountering the effects of excessive sensibility and imagination can Emily learn the virtue of moderation. In the passions and selfishness of the unscrupulous Montoni are manifested the terrifying effects of a loss of virtue and self-control. Against the rural simplicity and domestic happiness of the family home stands a threatening image of the social world as a place of artifice, corruption and violence.
Linked to Montoni it is a symbol of egoism, but it is in the imaginative eyes of Emily that it becomes awful. Evil, focused in the castle itself, is a result of both the individual passions that are engendered by social corruption and the excessive sensibility that gives it supernatural power. The articulation of these two strands of vicious excess, vicious precisely because they lead away from the simplicity of reason and morality, is made possible by the excesses of the narrative: its artificial stimulation of terrors allow readers, like heroines, to imagine such power.
In this way Udolpho is concerned with the effects of representation and the way that it can discriminate between, or blur, the boundaries of good and evil. Towards the end of the third volume of the novel an exchange takes place that manifests a degree of self-consciousness about Gothic novels themselves. Our ghosts are more civilized than to condemn a lady to a purgatory severer even, than their own, be it what it may. In the context of the novel, however, the distancing of ghosts from its present is a little more complicated.
It is among this family that Emily arrives after escaping the terrors of Udolpho.
The two female speakers participating in the discussion of ghosts from the security of their domestic position, as aristocratic daughters or family retainers, constitute doubles of Emily: one is rational, the other overindulged in imagination and sensibility. These two, indeed, represent the extreme positions allocated for the reader by the novel. But the secure world of the de Villefort family is not so neatly divided nor so clearly distinguished from Udolphos world of terrors.
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The world of the de Villeforts is also populated by ghosts, suggestively animated by strange noises and spectral figures conveyed along subterranean passages. Other ghosts, emanating from a source that is closer to home, are raised up. These letters, too, are ultimately furnished with a rational and innocent explanation. If Udolpho restores domesticity, virtue and reason to their proper places in the eighteenth-century order of things, it does so only at a price.
By presenting vice, corruption and irrationality as evil in the text and as an effect of representations that produce over-sensitive imaginations, it also suggests that the values it espouses and reinforces are effects of representation as well. Like the unnatural or overly imaginative evils the novel tries to cast beyond the pale of good society, the moral and domestic values that it would like to naturalise are glimpsed as part of the fiction.
Like the ambivalence perceived by critics in its overuse of suspense, there is a degree of uncertainty and instability in the way that the novel returns to conventional eighteenth-century values. This is of particular importance in respect of the roles given to women in the fiction. Leaving the security of privileged domestic space, the female protagonists, and readers too, are supposed to learn, especially in the encounter with the violence and corruption of the outside world, of the advantages of family life.
The escape from confinement, in narrative or reading, is no more than a prelude to a welcome return.
A Disturbing and Alien Memory: Southern Novelists Writing History (Southern Literary Studies)
The ambivalence remains, not only in the way that the home seems to conceal horrifying secrets but in the possibility that the escape, especially for readers, into imagined worlds and events may be more pleasurable than the return to domesticity. Not only that, they and their reactions are the principal focus of the narrative.
Apart from the malevolent villains, men play a very small and generally ineffectual part in the narratives. It is for these reasons that, despite the rational explanations and strongly moral conclusions, the distinctions of virtue and vice, good and evil, become rather precarious. While the former are advocated and brought within the sphere of domesticity and good society, the latter are never fully excluded or completely externalised.
In stories of orphaned heroines with all the virtues of middle-class domestic values discovering their aristocratic birthright after a series of terrors, persecutions and imprisonments, readers were offered familiar plots, settings and protagonists. U of Wisconsin P, Explores how local residents represent themselves and their neighborhoods via events, symbols, stories, and landmarks. Baker, T. Focuses on the production processes and economic and social uses of postcard advertisements of the early years of Route Bar-Kochva, Bezalel.
U of California P, Identifies ethnographic stereotypes in representations of Jews by Greek writers of the Hellenistic period. Barnet-Sanchez, Holly, and Tim Drescher. U of New Mexico P, Presents aesthetic, political, and cultural analyses of the construction of Mexican American identity through community murals in East Los Angeles in the s. Bell-Scott, Patricia. Random House, Uses diaries, letters, journals, published and unpublished manuscripts, and oral histories to chart the evolution of a friendship and an alliance for social justice.
Ben-Horin, Michal. De Gruyter, Highlights the way post-World War II German and Austrian writers use music to trouble official narratives and traditional perspectives on the National Socialist past. Berzon, Todd S. Provides ethnographic classification of identities, origins, doctrines, and customs of heretics from the second to the fifth centuries. Blake, Sarah. The course will consist of discussions of poems from the various traditions of poetry: from anonymous ballads to spoken word poetry. Cultures tell many of their most profound truths in their fictions.
We will look at the truths of fictions across a range of narrative forms, from the faery tale to the novel. As we read we will develop an awareness of the elements of fiction: plot, setting, character, point-of-view, style, and theme. We will pay attention not only to the story told but also to who is telling it and to whom, its narrator and its audience. And always, we will think about the values, or truths, promoted by the fiction and the ends it seeks to achieve in its telling. From its humble origins as a sideshow spectacle, film quickly matured into the dominant medium of the 20th century, and remains a towering cultural and artistic form to this day.
This course aims to foster those skills. Through the course of our discussions, students will become familiar with the terminology, techniques, and historical context necessary for analyzing and writing about film from a textual studies perspective. Along the way, students will be exposed to multiple primarily English language films from across the history of cinema in order to apply and practice their analytical skills, from the early days of proto-cinematic technologies to the post-celluloid films of the digital era.
This course will touch on topics such as: formalist concepts of film; narrative traditions in Hollywood cinema; counter traditions in avant-garde works; discussions of genre; and the influence of marginalized voices in cinema. This writing-intensive course introduces students to methods of interpreting nonfiction. While we often believe that nonfiction conveys truth and reality, in this course we will focus on how different texts construct their claims to truth and arguments about reality.
To do so, we will study and interrogate the rhetorical strategies authors employ, the relationship between form and content, the generic conventions of different nonfiction forms, and how texts construct both a speaking position and an audience. In addition to introducing ways to interpret nonfiction, this course aims to introduce students to a wide variety of nonfiction media forms such as the essay, the graphic novel, autobiography, memoir, poetry, documentary video and digital documentary, reality television, photography, digital games, and digital nonfiction forms like the listicle.
We will not just work through these different forms and how they make meaning in a vacuum, instead we will focus on a variety of themes, topics, and issues throughout the course, including food politics, feminism, sexuality, race, photography, disaster narratives, and screen representations of the environment. Cinema has often been called a universal language and it is certainly made all over the globe. But world cinema has a richness and complexity that defies a single model, despite the cultural dominance and economic power of Hollywood cinema.
This course examines how the international history of film has been shaped by the larger historical processes of modernity, colonialism, postmodernism and globalization. We will explore the diverse pleasures, politics and aesthetics of cinema from around the world, including German Expressionism, post-revolutionary Soviet cinema, French New Wave, Bollywood, postcolonial African cinema, Hong Kong action films, Hollywood blockbusters, Iranian neorealism and contemporary indigenous cinema.
We will trace how aesthetics, technologies and economies of cinema have mutually influenced filmmaking traditions in diverse regions of the world. Moreover, we will investigate how cinema contributes to our understandings of the world, our places within it, and our relations to other parts of it. In sum, we will discover how world cinema is always both local and global. The weekly screenings scheduled for this course are required.
Film and Screen Studies Course. Parallel to the ways that writers affect and engage social class, critical readers can engage with the concepts of social class as they read. Concerned with the social divisions of privilege, wealth, power and status, class, like race and gender, is a social construction that is imposed on, and performed by, all of us as a way of stratifying and defining who we are.
Though the restraints of social class readily subject us to the power of others, these restraints may also, when well understood, provide a springboard for advocacy and direct social action. This course provides an introduction to these concepts and exposes students to key texts in literature, film and other media as a way of fostering critical engagement and developing richer social responsibility through textual interpretation.
get link This course will examine the complicated relationship that exists between literary production and concerns of social, economic and cultural class. Looking at a large cross section of Anglophonic literature, we will examine the historical, theoretical and lived experiences of class both as it exists apart from and within a complicated web of intersecting social forces. We will be examining texts which cover a wide range of periods and forms, from medieval poetry to contemporary novels with an eye tuned towards the ways in which these texts serve as mediating objects that help us better understand the construction of classed identity throughout history.
The course will focus on the social construction of class and the ways in which class serves to organize and define social commonwealths and communities. Treating literary texts as important objects in the construction and interrogation of classed identities, students will be asked to read several literary texts and produce written work analyzing those works through the lens of class. This course satisfies the writing-intensive requirements of the Liberal Arts Core. The purpose of a writing intensive course is to familiarize students with the thought processes, structures, and styles associated with writing in the liberal arts.
As multiple theorists on race have noted, although the concept of race is a historically contingent social construct with no basis in biological fact, it is a construction that shapes our daily lived experience and our relationship to society at large. The influence of race can be felt not just in the world we live in, but in the worlds we explore through art, music, literature, and visual culture — worlds which may mirror, mediate, or resist this influence in equal measure.
To do so, we will be drawing works from a variety of primarily English language sources across genre and historical contexts, from early explorations of the racial imaginations to 20th century realist novels to contemporary sci-fi and fantasy. Through classroom participation activities, close-reading exercises, and formal essays, students will learn how to utilize close-reading skills to interpret and analyze texts that encourage us to engage with race as an identity and cultural category.
By taking students through a progression of section topics that together build a coherent understanding of race, the state, history, and cross-racial solidarity, this course will help illuminate the ways in which past issues and concerns surrounding race resonate with contemporary concerns. We will use literary and other cultural texts to interrogate issues of race in America in the twentieth and twenty-first century; to explore how racial categories have been re created; and to investigate how categories like gender, class, and sexuality intersect with race.
Through classroom participation, close reading exercises, and three extended essay assignments, students will learn how to use the practice of close reading to interpret and analyze the ways texts encourage us to engage with race as an identity and cultural category. Whither the American Dream? This course examines literary works by writers such as Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison, and Bich Nguyen, who explore how race, class, and sociopolitical contexts unevenly determine who has the opportunities and resources for realizing this dream and why it remains an illusion for so many.
Elucidating the stark realities for minoritized communities, these writers leverage the American Dream as a platform for social justice to demand changes to the disconnect between ideal and reality. Accordingly, their imaginative works grapple with the possibilities for realizing a more perfect union while radically expanding our vision of what such dreams entail. A wide-angle panorama of great stories written by Jewish authors, including S.
Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, I. Peretz, Franz Kafka, S. Agnon, Elie Wiesel, and Yiddish women writers. Topics include shtetl life, superstition, modernization, alienation, rebellion against authority, radical textualism, love, marriage, and the Nazi genocide. Our literary approach to works in the Jewish literary tradition emphasizes interconnections between theme and rhetoric.
The strategy has limitations. Classic Yiddish Stories of S. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I. Ken Frieden. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories. Nahum N.
- German Women for Empire, 1884–1945 (Politics, History, and Culture)?
- The Year’s Best Collections & Anthologies.
- Project MUSE - Annual Bibliography of Works about Life Writing, –.
- Best Thrillers of All Time.
- AWP: Conference Schedule.
Agnon, S. What is ethnicity? In this class, drawing on texts about ethnic as well as cross-cultural diversity, we will consider these very questions, not only to understand the identities that we construct for ourselves but also those that are imposed upon us by others. Consequently, we will reflect on the ways in which literature helps construct and maintain those identities, and how different spaces are created around different ethnic identifications. While we will use some theoretical texts to foreground our discussions, much of our focus in this class will be on the reading and interpretation of literary texts themselves.
In this course, students will read and analyze the portrayal and role of gender in a collection of literary texts, focusing on the ethnic, cultural, racial, sexual, historical, and creative implications of gender in relation to the texts' writers and characters. Cross listed with WGS This course takes as its central premise the idea that gender is a useful category for literary analysis.
To that end, this class will use gender as the central lens through which to explore literature from a variety of genres and time periods. But what is "gender" and how has it been defined variously across space and time? This class will answer these questions and more. Assignments will include formal essays and at least one in-class presentation. In this class we will read and discuss American literature that takes up environmental values and makes an inquiry into the relationship between humans and non-human ecological communities.
ETS M Introductory Poetry Workshop M pm Instructor: Brooks Haxton Weekly meetings of this workshop will focus on careful, constructive analysis of student poems, and on supplementary readings of other poetry. Sophomore Fiction. Workshop format critiquing two student stories a week plus chosen readings. This course will acquaint students with the fundamentals of writing fiction.
Each week students will read and critique fiction written by their peers, as well as published work by modern writers. Students must come to class prepared and willing to discuss these stories. There will be in-class writing exercises and prompts which will lead students to create stories of their own.
Class attendance and participation are mandatory. ETS introduces students to the discipline of English and Textual Studies, stressing not what we read but how we read it. We will learn how meanings are created through acts of critical reading as well as demonstrate the consequences of pursuing one way of reading over another. This course is designed to enhance your ability to read and interpret contextually as well as closely, to help you to articulate your understanding effectively and to draw connections through reading and writing.
Through close, deep and thoughtful reading of literary and non-literary texts as well as essays by critics and theorists, we will explore the ways readers produce meaning. Each section of ETS takes up issues of central concern within contemporary literary and cultural studies. These include representation, language, reading, authorship, subjectivity, ideology, culture, history and difference. Students will discuss, analyze and eventually reproduce the various techniques of published prose writers in various nonfiction genres, including the personal essay, the polemical essay, literary journalism, and the lyric essay.
Students will be required to produce both creative and analytical responses to the texts studied. All creative disciplines depend on the study and imitation of the particular art form for mastery of their elements. In this course you will read and analyze a number of short stories in order to deepen your understanding of a variety of concerns in storytelling, including voice, style, description, story, and character. We will attempt to answer the question: how have authors generated emotions, interest, and power in creative texts?
You will be required to display an understanding of these issues by producing creative and analytical responses to the texts studied. This course will provide you with basic concepts and strategies to be able to answer this question and begin to call yourself a cultural critic. By comparing and contrasting the strategies of literary texts with other cultural forms and practices in specific situations we can consider what makes literature particular as a mode of signification meaning-making. We will also learn the importance of situating everything we study—and ourselves-- historically.
Hence, we will study literature alongside mass cultural forms such as advertising, television shows, or digital culture as well as everyday practices, such as shopping, reading the newspaper, or going to the movies, to try to understand how we learn to make sense of a globalizing world and live a particular culture—or cultures—in the U.
As the course progresses, you should become a more sophisticated, creative and critical reader of the world in which we live as you learn to see how literature works in, with, and against that world. This course focuses on U. In the course, we will focus on how U. We will read texts associated with High modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, the proletarian literature movement, and mass cultural modernism.
The modern environmental movement found early expression in British poetry, novels, and painting between Assignments will include three five-page papers. Pre Course. This course explores the rapport between Here and Elsewhere in the works of North American and European writers who trace their ancestry to the Caribbean region.
The course looks at their accomplishments as literary artists, the place of ancestral heritage in their systems of significance, and the ideological negotiation of their diasporic location. Considering the tension stemming from their speaking as American , Canadian or European writers while upholding the banner of their Caribbean ancestral origins, we examine their tendency to fuel their literary imagination by drawing from the cultural, existential, and political tension emanating from the counterpoint of home and location, origin and destination, as well as from their problematic citizenship.
We will cover issues of language, transnationalism, exile, ethnic identity, and literariness while engaging contemporary criticism and theory pertinent to the study of diasporas. Cross listed with LAS This course will provide a substantial background for understanding the literature of the late middle ages. The fourteenth century is a vital period, marked by significant changes in major institutions of the time: the court, the church, and the very social structure of late-medieval England. This setting of stress was also the environment in which three remarkable writers, in whose works one can see attempts at creating order in literary, moral, and social senses.
Examining the ways in which Chaucer, Gower, and Langland focus their attention on order and decay in the England of their day, the course includes readings representing a wide range of genres from all three writers, as well as from that most prolific of all writers, Anonymous. Want to understand IPA? Study runes? Be able to read literature written in Anglo-Saxon? Middle English? Understand Shakespeare? This course aims to provide students with as much knowledge as possible, as interactively as possible, of fundamental linguistic concepts, the basic structures of the English language and representations of its history.
Equally important, the course aims to develop critical awareness of contemporary language issues and the complex ways in which language embeds attitudes. Does it get better? Yet, the encouragement to wait does not adequately address and challenge the conditions that make the world inhospitable for those of non-normative gender and sexual identities. Looking at works by writers such as Alison Bechdel, Audre Lorde, and Rakesh Satyal, this course examines how queer and trans youth navigate their social worlds and the precarious uncertainties of growing up.
These texts underscore how the dangers they face—of bullying, homelessness, homophobia, and heterosexist violence—are intimately shaped by race, class, and other sociopolitical contexts. Yet, far from suggesting a life defined exclusively by sorrow and threat, these writers illuminate the imaginative practices by which queer and trans youth craft possibilities for beauty, pleasure, joy, friendship, and fabulosity, compelling us to envision alternative, better worlds. This class explores the possibility that sex and sexuality have histories and may mean differently across time.
Before the relatively recent invention of heterosexuality and homosexuality in the late nineteenth-century, what was sex? What did it include and exclude? How did people understand their intimate relations? Into what categories did people fit their self-stylizations of gender, affect, and pleasure? Did they have an idea of sexuality as an identity? As something stable and belonging to them? How did social structures--for instance, marriage and the family or the nineteenth-century color line and legal segregation--organize sex, feeling, affiliations, and identities? This course is devoted to the poem and seeks to answer the question that all artists face: how does one transform feeling and experience into something more than the original impulse, how does one create art?
You will be expected to extensively revise four of the poems you write. The course is open to anyone who has taken the introductory poetry workshop ETS Juniors and seniors who have not had a workshop may submit a portfolio of seven pages of original poetry to be considered for admission. This fiction workshop will develop and expand upon the skills introduced in ETS Most of the class will center on the writing and subsequent discussion of original work created by you; there will be some for-credit in-class writing exercises and previously published work to critique as well.
We will cover a wide range of texts and topics, from medieval manuscripts and Shakespeare to romance novels and e-readers. We will sometimes meet at Bird Library, to examine archival materials in Special Collections related to our course topics. A research project will require you to work with Special Collections archival material, on an aspect of book history of particular interest to you. From 13th to Amy , from Exit Through the Gift Shop to The Jinx , documentary is enjoying a boom time right now, but its longer history reveals even richer and more diverse means to engage the world.
Invented in the late nineteenth century, cinema was inevitably shaped by the modern demand for evidence. But the medium has also long been a tool for personal self-exploration. We will examine not only classic and contemporary documentary films, but also fake documentaries, wildlife films, docudramas, experimental film and reality television.
In this course, we will examine a range of fiction written between and Discussion will place the three major literary modes of the period--Realism, Naturalism and Modernismin a sociohistorical context. We will try to understand how the larger social conflicts and social upheavals of the period prompted writers to become dissatisfied with inherited forms of literary representation and to devise new modes of representation which they claimed were more suited to bringing about—or protesting--social change.
The Victorian novel is often associated with realism, the idea that fiction strives to provide an accurate representation of reality. In addition to reading novels by Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, students will write three papers, keep an in-class journal, and have either a final examination or regular reading quizzes.
How can we best describe what we are doing when we watch a film? How do the spaces and contexts in which we watch shape our response to the film? Are we all having the same experience when we watch, or do different audiences respond in their own ways? This course is designed to explore questions like these in two ways. On the one hand, we will discuss various topics in film studies connected to these concerns, including audience reception, exhibition, theories of spectatorship, cinephilia, and cult movies. Our first-hand experiences will thus become evidence for thinking about and exploring the approaches that film scholars have developed to these topics.
In addition to our viewing of narrative fiction films ranging from the accessible to the challenging, selected nonfiction and experimental films will allow us to explore how our experience changes when viewing these other film modes. Global virus epidemics, drought, flood, deforestation, toxic water and air, food-insecurity: these are but a few of the effects of climate-change brought on or accelerated by human agents, and Shakespeare has much to say about them.
His plays witness and reflect on a period of radical transformation of deep-set ideas and the social and cultural institutions gender, church, city, state, family, market, etc. To that end, our reading of the plays will emphasize dramatic technique and foreground aspects of theatrical performance, which we will consider through experiments in staging and performance wherever possible.
No prior Shakespeare experience required. Pre Class. What are the roles of games and play in contemporary culture and how are these roles shifting? Just as digital games have grown profoundly more complex in the last fifty years, theoretical and critical approaches to games have proliferated and diversified, moving well past early debates between those studying games as narratives and those who examine games as systems of play. Of course, the study of games predates the digital age, and we will engage with the foundational texts which serve as precursors to the contemporary critical approaches which we will also explore.
We will trace the historical development of game studies as a discipline, while also examining both non-digital and digital games as case studies for our critical consideration. We will explore core game studies concepts through writing analytically and creating games that illustrate or challenge these theories. In addition to a variety of games, our study will include screen-based media texts which explicitly or implicitly engage with the concepts of game studies. In five formal meetings, we will cover choosing an adviser, developing a suitable topic with engaging research questions, compiling a bibliography, reading critically, taking notes effectively, and writing a thesis proposal.
Our work should prepare you to write your thesis in the spring semester. The texts covered in class will be your own writing and research for the most part, but some supplemental readings will be posted on Blackboard, so you should budget funds to print these out as well as to make copies of your completed assignments for me, your classmates and your adviser, as directed. This class gives students the rare opportunity to hear visiting writers read and discuss their work. This writing-intensive course offers a survey of British literature from its beginnings until Beginning with a study of Arthurian legend and the Saxon and Norman literary origins of Englishness, the course will move on to study the poetry and drama of Shakespeare, Spenser, and their contemporaries.
The course will close with a look at the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century, and will consider the role of sympathy and sensibility in Swift, Sterne, and others. We will discuss literature and culture: heritage, identity, language, gender, sexuality, literacy, class, religion, and even witchcraft will all be political topics addressed at various points in discussion.
We will learn about specific forms of literature including the lais, the sonnet, the mock heroic, the Restoration comedy, and the sentimental novel, and will write academic essays about them. This course will explore major authors and literary movements in American Literature from to the present. Course readings will include fiction, essays, and poetry from both mainstream and marginalized authors. These readings will provide examples of U. During this course students will read literature emerging during moments of historical and aesthetic transition in American history, and interrogate connections between American literature, culture, politics, and history.
What is the story of the twentieth-century U. ETS Topics in U. Dissent has always been central to the project of American democracy. From fights for emancipation in the nineteenth century to Black Power and Occupy Wall Street, protest movements elucidate and challenge the inequalities innate to the nation, demanding a more perfect union. Practitioners of dissent underscore that how we narrate our demands impacts the possibilities for political efficacy in achieving these goals. They thus compel us to consider the art of dissent.
Accordingly, this course examines how distinct genres of vocalizing dissent i. Taking this suggestion seriously, this course will serve as an introduction to the writing and life of William Shakespeare, the most famous and well-read playwright of early modern England.