Review of Criticisms

I’m stealing a page from Meg’s book and posting my notes on the criticisms- Please, PLEASE comment and add to them! I went back and read them again and went through my class notes, but if I missed any crucial points let me/us know!

John Carlos Roe: “Antebellum Slavery and Modern Criticism: Edgar Allen Poe’s Pym and “The Purloined Letter”
– Poe’s pro slavery outlook, evidenced by Pym and the Paulding Drayton review demonstrate that he was sympathetic to the southern aristocracy and very racist himself, post structionalists tend to modernize Poe and remove him from historical context
Terence Whalen “Average Racism: Poe Slavery, and the Wages of Literary Nationalism”
– Poe’s use of race doesn’t reflect his personal opinion; it demonstrates his appeal to an audience Poe’s goal was to make money, and he is merely a product of ‘average racism’- not particularly pro or anti southern
– Also, he didn’t write the Paulding-Drayton review and Pym is as well just a product of average racism

Peter Ripley: “The Autobiographical Writings of Frederick Douglass”
– Douglass developed his intellectual skills in writing this and as he discussed it further and further he was both an ex slave and an intellectual
– Departure with Garrison
– Authentication by A.C.C Thompson (accidental on ACC’s part) and by Garrison and Phillips
– International attention further helps authenticate
Deborah E. McDowell: “In the First Place: Making Frederick Douglass and the Afro-American Narrative Tradition”
– Douglass was sexist
– he has become mythologized, but he is not representative of all slaves left out of his narrative are black women’s voices, which is a necessary omission but an omission nonetheless
Jean Fagan Yellin: “Written by Herself: Harriet Jacobs’ Slave Narrative”
– discovery of a cache of letters from Amy Post authenticates the narrative, as due her interactions with William C Nell, Lydia Marie Child, Nathaniel P Willis (Mr. Bruce)
– she didn’t originally want to writer her narrative but Harriet Beecher Stowe wouldn’t do it
– her interactions with these authors makes her special and challenges white racism

Frances Smith Foster: “Resisting Incidents”
– HJ is constantly resisting the stereotypes – she is different in race, class and gender from her other writers, which she has to constantly deal with
– She ‘stole’ other techniques to legitimatize her story and tell it well
– She created a ‘brilliantly innovative autobiography’
F.R. Levis “Mark Twain’s Neglected Classics: the Moral Astringency of Puddn’head Wilson”
– Puddn’head deserves more credit as a representation of folk narrative- it does what Huck Finn does but better
– complex- concerned with both human nature and the complexities of human nature
– plays with popular modes – the sensational and the melodramatic for the purposes of significant art
– shows extremes of human nature- neither judges mankind nor condemns civilization
Linda Morris: “Beneath the Veil: Clothing, Race and Gender in Mark Twain’s Puddn’head Wilson”
– “The text is rich with masquerading, with layering of clothing, with cross dressing and misleading gender markers, with foppery, veiling and unveiling, and with clothing as cues (and miscues) to sexual and racial identity”
– With regard to Roxy and Chambers, “representations of their clothing simultaneously confound the already problematic categories of gender… further destabilizes the precarious social order of Dawson’s Landing and the post Reconstruction South of Twain’s own time”
– Performances of being black, being female
Nancy Walker “Feminist or Naturalist?”
– Edna’s awakening is result of her realization of the sensuality of the Creole culture, not her freedom as a woman
– “Chopin writes The Awakening from the perspective of a naturalist, giving Edna little control over her own destiny, and it is important to note at she is controlled by her own emotions, not by men or society. There is, in Chopin’s novel no stance about women’s liberation or equality; indeed the other married women in the novel are presented as happy in their condition”

Patricia Yaeger “Language and Female Emancipation”

– Edna is limited by her linguistic in capabilities as a woman
– Leonce, Robert speak for her, but she cannot fully emancipate because she doesn’t have the linguistic capability to think
– “even in death she is seeking a register of language more her own”
– “Her language is inadequate to her vital needs[…] it becomes clear by the novel’s end that Robert Lebrun has served as an iconic replacement for that which Edna cannot say”
– “We can locate the power of the novel’s final images in Edna’s desire to “give back a memory, hence a language” to that within her which remains nameless”
Eric Sundquist “Death, Grief, Analogous Form: As I Lay Dying”
– A test of form- Faulkner separates himself completely from the narrative – he identifies himself with the buzzards, “surrendered control of the book, becomes ‘disembodied’ as the author”
– Form becomes dominant brilliant wedding of form and content
– Creates patterns so patterns can be violated
– Who can you trust, no authorial presence, no narrative voice
– Both linear and nonlinear, predictable, unpredictable
Richard Gray: “A Southern Carnival”
– Like Poe, it partakes in the grotesque
– “We, as readers are never quite sure what it is that we are reading”
– Intentional and conscious hybrid: draws on folk tale, folk epic, folk comedy, and ballad where it is recognizably embedded in the traditional cultures of the South
– “the key forms f the carnival is that they are open, requiring participation: the audience is not so much apart from as a part of the proceedings, required to ‘walk around’ and take in events from all sides. Carnival offers the opposite of all those pieties on which the official culture rests: fixed rituals, the prerogatives of power and status, the respect and the closure that comes from distance”
– “true to the discomforting rituals of the carnival, the reader learns by being seduced by a particular voice, a certain way of looking at personality and behavior and then being quietly mocked or chided for permitting the seduction”
– “The ordinary white people of the South weaving an alternative reality together out of a continuous succession of vocal acts- a reality that, in its degradation as well as its energy, reminds us of the vital, grotesque underbelly of official culture”

10 Responses to “Review of Criticisms”

  1. Meg Baker says:

    Ah! I just posted asking for help on Ripley and McDowell… but lo’ and behold the answer was already on the page! Thank you so much for the run down on the critics – I had almost nothing on these two!

  2. Meg Baker says:

    For Morris, a lot of the essay focuses on Tom’s clothing, cross-dressing, the switching of the babies’ clothes, and Roxy’s head kerchief.

    For Yeager, the focus is on discussions between Edna and Robert as well as Edna and Leonce. The final argument is that Edna’s language is inadequate to her needs, and she is inhibited by language.

    My notes are a bit scattered here… was it Sundquist who looked at the replacement of the Mother through the fish, coffin, and horse, or was it Fowler? Or both?

    With Gray, we talked about the Grotesque and Classical: G is outside of the law, abnormal, and mobile; C is the law, normal, and stasis.

  3. lcutler says:

    Sunquist and Fowler both talked about the relations and symbolism with the coffin, fish and horse, but I think it was Fowler who talked about the replacement. I think Sundquist was focused more on the form of using the objects and what that meant for the narrative.

    Thanks for the distinction with Gray- I was trying to get a better idea of exactly what the ‘grotesque’ means and this helps!

  4. Meg Baker says:

    Thanks for the clarification!
    Anyone else dreading getting up at and being ready for a Richards’ exam by 8:30 am?

  5. Stephen says:

    Btw, Lindsay, you’re amazing for doing this.

    • Stephen says:

      You not only nourished our bodies with delicious cornbread and chocolate chip cookies, you now nourish our minds. For that, I thank you. Haha.

      • lcutler says:

        Haha thanks Stephen. Wonder if he would buy it if I pleaded Darl/Blanche before the exam…. I think I’m losing my southern wits about me

  6. hokiepride81 says:

    Lindsey, you are the fricking man for doing this.

    The one thing I’d add for McDowell, she not only goes in-depth about the women in Douglass’ narrative, but a big thing I took away from that was how she said that the women’s beatings were sexual. There’s a whole bunch of psychological mumbo-jumbo in there about how this is true, but that’s one of the bigger things I took away from it.