Southern Lit Review Notes

Here are all of my notes, word from word, directly from my computer, that I took yesterday. I hope you don’t mind any of the mistakes or lack of structure to some of the sections. I also hope this helps in any way:

Poe stories = many times criticized for being all over the place, writing from two views; he’s gotta make money:

1.      Blackwood’s Article, a parody, 2 parts, woman talking psyche zenobia, editor tells her how to write one like inserting other languages everywhere, get yourself killed, make allusions, 2nd half of story is her death where her head gets cut off in front of her midget African American slave and her poodle, eye pops out and watches herself die, last quote: “she is left headless and niggerless”; makes fun of sensationalism: if following a script, not very good art.

2.      Premature Burial; like a newspaper article reporting on people who are prematurally buried; the narrator then gets in the same position, but then isn’t really dying.

3.      Murders in the Rue Morgue, the detective story; Monsieur DuPain; detective and writer are similar and vastly intellectual; detectives are smarter in Poe’s mind; DuPain is supposed to be logical; whist is higher than chess b/c of analyzing people whereas chess is dictated moves; mystery, women are killed by an orangutan.

4.      Masque of the Red Death; the plague in a kingdom, where they lock themselves up and the retreat into material wealth; slightly revenge on John Allen, adoptive father; death still wins; rejects also slave owners.

5.      Hop Frog and 8 Chained orangutans; deformed dwarf slave who gets revenge by dressing up king and his men as primates and chaining them up and burning them alive; slave figure rising up and bringing down the master.

6.      Fall of the House of Usher; critic of aristocracy; insider view; Roderick and Madeline; death and the Old South; just like Blanche loses property and lack of procreation, Roderick does as well; Poe’s is happier because the two creeps are cancelled out and the narrator is free, whereas Stanley fondles Stella’s breasts where the baby is also; static nature; incest = disgusting procreative energies, as unhealthy, breeding within self; the twins look alike, so homogenous culture; Blanche says that Stanley’s blood may “mix well” and rejuvenate the family.

7.      The Black Cat; most direct assessment of race; anti-southern text; cat = slavery; cat = miscegenation = sexually interactions which create a new body (John Pearson, Harriet Jacobs, Freddy D, Roxy, Edna (?)) Sympathetic towards miscegenated slave; first cat = all black, second cat = all black but some white; miscegenation destroys family, especially wife; the wife in Black Cat gets killed and put in the wall behind brick; leads to enslavement of their own bloodline which leads to white people being enslaved.

Definite comparison between Douglass and Jacobs; individualistic vs community; based on gender; one slave narrative speaks for all = McDowell; Jacobs isn’t fury-bound, gender significant; she knows that she has to subscribe to white feminism in order to be read persuasively; she uses her sexuality as a weapon, whereas Douglass uses strength of body and mind; emphasizing 7-years imprisonment to atone for use of her body; both go outside of lived experience in order to make it more impressive to white readers, aka showing the harms of slavery; slave narrative = struggle; quasi-porn on reading abuses of women such as McDowell offers to us.

Twain and Pudd’n Head Wilson = race is arbitrary; anticipates post-modern thinking of innateness of identity; dark novel = critical of southern culture, b/c ends well for no one at end of novel; blackness and whiteness both identified as culturally defined, constructed by culture, not innate; Dawson’s Landing = the cat napping, postcard picture, aw how nice = leads to years of miscegenation, slavery, abuse and violence

Chopin, The Awakening; is her suffering worthy? Her life seems relatively frustrating; feminist backlash with the ending; not positive ending; melodramatic; everyday sufferings can move us towards this; clash of cultures; anti-maternity; Streetcar? = Location, class, race? Edna and Blanche, yay, both die! Pigeon house & Stella’s apartment and then cell for Blanche; Addie Bundgren and Edna? On motherhood; Maybe class of culture with Jonah’s Gourd Vine too.

Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; lower-class focus on whites who most of the time where middle-class or higher in the books of this semester; not white trash because they DO own land, wagon, and mules, but most are given to them by help from others in community; each chapter represented by narrators; reader has to do the work; form compliment content; destabilizations; language is a shape to fill a lack; meditation on death = Edna’s death is romanticized, whereas Addie dies in an ugly way where holes are bored into your mother’s face; sweet versus repulsive; it’s pretty much a happy ending for those that are still alive; new teeth, a graphaphone, bananas = teasing of modernity and technology; medicine doesn’t help Addie or Dewey Dell; alternative to modernity isn’t that much better = fleeting, not gratifying, throw away culture; modernity as literary style, yes, but as historical moment, no; Faulkner doesn’t see future as getting better; but there is a lack of traditional views established too; I think of it like Streetcar, new time coming in, but it’s just as bad as the past, aka not getting better, but not really getting worse either

Hurston, Jonah’s Gourd Vine = she is NOT writing for white people, unlike Jacobs; language and anthropology; Hurston was told to write a novel and make money, so she did; John Buddy vs Freddy D; John Buddy the fallen hero; Freddy D is intellectual, strong, can’t do anything wrong; Hurston tears him down instead of rising him up; McDowell and frustration with Freddy being the literary canon’s view of him as a “big nigger.”

Williams, Streetcar Named Desire = is this an apt text to look at previous issues; multi-cultured New Orleans; bi-racial south leading to multiculturalism; not a binary distinction, more diverse; sexuality is a big thing as well.

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