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The List

Monday, December 6th, 2010

OK, I need a break from those critics, so here’s the list of southern stereotypes from the first day for all of you who have been asking for it:

The South: A construct, mythic, created.

slow – lazy vs. laid back; prim and proper women- sundresses and hoopskirts; heat, humidity hurricanes, mosquitoes; speech- drawls, mumbles, y’all, darlin’, drop the g on everythin’; beaten wives, sex, brawls and murder; trailer parks, yard art and Bud cans; bigotry; sweet tea, mint juleps, whiskey, moonshine, Bud and Coke; poverty – blacks and whites; agriculture – Mayberry, plantations (Tara), John Deere, tobacco; incest; NASCAR, hunting (anything that moves), tractor pulls, cowtipping; obesity- fried anything, Waffle House, Cracker Barrel Country Cookin’; immigration issues; evangelism – Southern Baptists, cults, Pentecostals,, river baptisms, mega churches; red necks; Southern gentlemen; music- country, bluegrass, banjos, gospel; conservatism – politics, religion, bigotry; violent; destructive

I think that’s it. Just about everything except the cowtipping was in the stories we read.

We included GA, AL, MS, SC, WV, LA, KY, NC, TN, and AR in the South

We questioned: OK, MD, AZ, TX, VA, FL, MO, NM, IA DE, Dist. of Columbia        (Would anyone move any of these into the South for sure now that we’ve read JGV and Poe?)

Then Professor Richards launched into his first lecture by calling the South the “deviant whipping boy of the U.S.” and here we are fifteen or so weeks later…


Monday, December 6th, 2010

The two different criticisms of Poe we read this semester presented fairly clear arguments that contrasted each other. John Carlos Rowe argued that Poe was in fact a pro-slavery southerner who’s works have been displaced from their moment in history and need to be reconfigured back into it. Terrence Whalen argued that Poe was an average racist who never explicitly disclosed his opinion on the matter. I found these critical perspectives to be interesting because they set us up as a class to look at the texts we read with a focus on the handling of race. As our first glance at criticism, these two texts were essential to our identification of race as an issue within some of the subsequent primary texts. A few of the works we read did not overtly deal with the issue of race, but we knew to look for it within those texts.


Monday, December 6th, 2010

Blogging for class is not my forte, apparently. But seeing as we have our final exam in oh, a little over twelve hours from now, and just as much time to blog as much as possible/necessary, I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and use the blog as a means of last minute studying for the exam. I guess the beginning of this little experiment is as good of a time as any to say that I think what I’ve read on the blog has been very helpful, especially the posts including notes from the study session on Sunday, so thank you all for being way more organized and helpful than I have been! But that’s enough for now, expect at least 13 more posts tonight with material more relevant to our primary and secondary texts.


Monday, December 6th, 2010

Can someone give me a rundown of Ripley & McDowell? I’ve skimmed the essays as well as the summary/critiques… but I must’ve totally zoned out the days we discussed these critics!

Southern Lit Review Notes

Monday, December 6th, 2010

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.

Religion in Southern Lit

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Richards started to ask us about religion in all these works at one point yesterday, but we got going on something else and got away from it. I have a feeling it might come up though, so here are my thoughts on that one:

Let’s start with Poe. Religion is largely absent from his narration. Perhaps the idea of resurrection in the fear of being buried alive, but I think that the hang up on being buried alive has less to do with religion as much as a fear of being forgotten, of disappearing without a trace.

Frederick Douglass. The man gives us a whole appendix justifying his statements about religion. He describes the worst landowners as being the Christian ones and differentiates between slave owning white Christianity and real Christianity.

Harriet Jacobs: Religious rhetoric plays into gaining the approval of her audience. It’s linked in with her sentimentalism as authenticating her as an author and character and mother. She uses it to play up the pathos and ethos of her readers. She also dialogues with Douglass in her presentation of a sort of bifricated Christianity.

Puddn’head: God isn’t completely absent, but he doesn’t really have a role. Perhaps there is something to be said of Roxy trying to play God in switching the babies, and she is thus condemned for it, but largely Twain’s satire focuses on mocking the southern society and their innate ideas of race and class.

The Awakening: The Catholic religion has a definite presence in the formulation of the Creole culture, but how much does religion actually affect Edna’s decision? Is it another element that helps create her ‘outsider’-ness?

As I Lay Dying: Addie lives to die. These people really don’t have a religion. They are immoral, they are grotesque, they drill holes into the coffin. Death for Addie is more revenge than salvation

Jonah’s Gourd Vine: Religion is a sort of tool of John to put himself on par with the white man, but it also means something more- we have these long sermons, but we approached them as having more value culturally than anything else. After all, John the man whore is the ultimate hypocritical Chrisitan- preaches, then goes and betrays his wife. Is Hurston saying something more about the hypocrisy of Christianity – does this link her to Freddy D and HJ?

A Streetcar Named Desire: Stanley and Stella… hm, not really sure when the last time they went to Church was. Sex >God in this one, although I’m pretty sure Blanche could benefit from a confession or two. In comparing the settings of New Orleans in both The Awakening and Streetcar- religion has a different role in each

Review of Criticisms

Monday, December 6th, 2010

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”

Southern Stereotypes

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Okay, first I have to admit that I am running out of title ideas for these posts. I never liked titling my papers either. Second, I am actually posting this cause I’m taking a study break and I’m tired slugging through 16 different authors between 2 literature classes.Third, I need more posts as well, though I don’t know how many.

Though because I am studying, I’ve been thinking a lot about the first day of class when we each gave a southern stereotype. It’s funny how some of the pieces of literature we read confirmed those, and some did not. Think Anse Bundren and no teeth, I believe that was one of ours. And Blanche was definitely not the classy little southern girl she tried to be.

I wish I had written down our list because I think it would have beneficial, but here’s a post that I found online that talks about them. Maybe it will provide some comic relief to your studying.

Seven Card Stud-y Group

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Dr. Richards suggested yesterday that we get in groups and study.  Would anyone like to get together tonight to bounce ideas off of each other?  I have a paper due at 7:00 pm, so I am available to meet before or after that time in Combs.

Poe Review

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

As a complementary post to my last one, here is a quick overview of the main ideas of the Poe texts we read, as a refresher to you all.

“How to Write a Blackwood Article” – The first half of this short story is about Psyche Zenobia, a writer, talking to her editor.  He tells her that to write a successful story she must write about something with a lot of emotion , such as what it feels like to get stuck inside a bell or to take laxatives; she should make allusions to other great works whenever possible; and to sound intelligent, she should put in other languages such as Greek or Latin.  The second half of the story is the story that Psyche writes about herself, her midget slave, and her dog.  Psyche ends up on top of a church, getting her head chopped off by the clock’s hands.  Her dog ends up taken by a rat, her slave falls off the roof, and she watches her dismembered head with her missing eyeballs.

“The Premature Burial” – This is a series of stories about people who have been buried alive in many different ways.  One person was buried alive in their crypt, and the mistake was only discovered much later.  The others were able to draw attention to themselves and get unburied.  The narrator has an obsession with premature burial because of his catalepsy – a disease which causes him to fall into a deep, death-like sleep at random.  This obsession is cured when he wakes up, thinking he is buried alive, but finds that he is only in a boat.

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” – Dupin, our detective, sets out to find out who murdered a woman and her daughter.  The police cannot figure out who killed the two women: the room door was locked, the room was on the top floor of the house,  and neighbors all claim that the murderer was speaking another language (Spanish? Italian?) Dupin manages to solve the mystery – an Ourang-Outang that a sailor lost had escaped.  The animal then scaled into the house, tried to shave the woman with a razor, and ended up killing her. It then strangled the daughter and stuffed her body up a chimney.

“The Masque of the Red Death” – A plague is killing many people throughout the kingdom.  In response, the King and his courtiers barricade themselves in the palace and live there in luxury.  The King decides to throw a masquerade party in the castle.  He sets up seven rooms, each of a different color.  Around midnight, a mysterious guest appears in the Black Room.  The king, disturbed by this guest, demands that he leave.  The guest steps forward, and the king and his courtiers fall dead.  The guest then disappears – death has struck.

“Hop-Frog, or The Eight Chained Ourang-Outang” – A crippled dwarf is the fool/jester of a King.  The King is a jokester, as are his seven council members; and often his jokes are cruel.  He makes Hop-Frog drink, even though the alcohol is bad for Hop-Frog’s disposition.  There is another dwarf, Trippetta, who is very beautiful.  The king mistreats her in front of Hop-Frog.  The King and his council ask Hop-Frog for an idea for a costume for a masquerade.  Hop-Frog says they should be oraung-outangs chained together: to achieve this, Hop-Frog tars and flaxes them and covers them with material to make them look like animals.  They are then chained together.  The eight men come into the masquerade, frightening their guests who rush for the doors – which are locked. The men are then attached to a chain in the ceiling.  The men are then pulled to the ceiling, where Hop-Frog sets them on fire.  Hop-Frog and Trippetta escape through a sky-light and gain their freedom.

“The Fall of the House of Usher” – Our narrator visits his friend Roderick Usher, who is ill. Roderick’s twin sister, Madeline, is also ill. The narrator stays with the Ushers for awhile, to attempt to cheer up his friend. One day, Roderick tells the narrator that Madeline has died and been entombed for two weeks in a vault.  The narrator helps Roderick put Madeline’s body in the tomb. One night, a storm begins, and Roderick comes to the narrator’s room (which is above where Madeline is buried) and is very upset.  The narrator attempts to calm his friend by reading to him. Suddenly, cracking sounds are heard in the house, followed shortly by a shriek. Then a hollow, reverberating sound; at this, Roderick exclaims that the sounds are Madeline, who was alive when she was entombed. Madeline crashes through the bedroom door, and falls on Roderick. Both Ushers are dead. The narrator flees the house and as he looks back sees it breaking and sinking into the tarn.

“The Black Cat” – Our narrator tells us about his black cat, Pluto.  The narrator and the cat are very fond of one another for several years, until one day the man begins to drink.  He wants the cat’s attention, but the cat is “ignoring him.” Therefore, the man gouges out the cat’s eye; and from then on the cat flees from the man.  In anger, the man hangs the cat from a tree. That same night, his house catches on fire, causing him and his wife to flee. Later, he finds another black cat, which is similar to Pluto – including the missing eye. This cat, however, has a white patch on its chest which begins to resemble a gallows. One day, the cat gets in the man’s way while he and his wife are in the cellar of their new home.  The man attempts to kill the cat, but his wife stops him – so he kills her instead. He then walls her up in the cellar; the police find nothing and the man goes free. However, the police come back and go with the man into the cellar. The man, confident he will not get caught, taps on the wall of the cellar.  A wailing sound fills the cellar, and the police open up the wall, where they find the wife’s body and the black cat sitting on her head.