October 30, 2007

Narrative Causality

"The absence of a narrative of causality is precisely what prevents Edward from identifying with her tales and from believing - or even wanting to hear - her side of her mother's story."
Carine Melkom Mardorossian, "Double (De)Colonization and the Feminist Criticism of Wide Sargasso Sea"

I'll admit, my English brain must be a little rusty - for the life of me I couldn't remember what narrative causality was. So, like most college students, I took my search straight to Google's homepage. (I'm not perfect after all, and I do have some prior knowledge - I just don't remember it.)

What I came up with was some lecture notes from George Kampis at JAIST: Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. I thought they were kind of interesting in general. But, according to Kampis, the role of causation in narrative, "is made explicit here: actions and events do not just freely 'follow' each other but are consequences."

In Wide Sargasso Sea, I agree that this is the case. Events don't simply 'follow' each other - and Rochester had his mind made up before any events occurred, is that really narrative causality? No, it isn't. Problems, problems, problems.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 12:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Seeing Double

"Antoinette possesses two doubles in Christophine and Tia, and Rochester finds his own doubles in Daniel Cosway and Sandi."
Robert Kendrick, "Edward Rochester and the Margins of Masculinity in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea"

I've always liked the idea that we are all a combination of our influences. That idea is I think what Robert Kendrick is trying to get across in this section of his article.

Antoinette's doubles, according to Kendrick, are Christophine and Tia. These two characters are also the most influential for Antoinette. Her character is then likewise 'doubled' in them, or theirs in hers.

Rochester's doubles are Daniel and Sandi. Daniel is everything outside of what Rochester wants to be - almost an anti Rochester. But still Daniel is the one that believes in Rochester, or, as Kendrick put it, "Daniel Cosway believes in the fiction of 'Edward Rochester, Gentleman.'"

I agree with Kendrick. We are all a mish mash of our influences - we all have a certain number of 'doubles.'

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2007

The Romance of Judgement Day

"Soon we were back in the shifting shadows outside, more beautiful than any perpetual light could be, and soon I learnt to gabble without thinking as the others did. About changing now and the hour of our death for that is all we have."
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

Antoinette Mason blows me away in this passage. The simplicity that she states such a religiously loaded philosophy baffled me. (Really, I'm serious - blown away.)

Now, and the hour of our death, that is the only time we have.

That cuts out almost all future dealings, beyond the ultimate. Live for the present moment and for when you die. The old saying "you can sleep when you're dead" keeps running through my head . . . What does this kind of sentiment really make of Antoinette's character though? Is she so mindful and desirous of death that there is no future but death? I haven't finished Wide Sargasso Sea yet, but, as I've read Jane Eyre, I know the ending.

Is this a kind of foreshadowing that I'm just picking up on now?

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 8:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 17, 2007

Making Use of Yourself

"Summer approached; Diana tried to cheer me: she said I looked ill, and wished to accompany me to the sea-side. This St John opposed; he said I did not want dissipation, I wanted employment; my present life was too purposeless, I required an aim; and, I suppose by way of supplying deficiencies, he prolonged still further my lessons in Hindostanee, and grew more urgent in requiring their accomplishment: and I, like a fool, never thought of resisting him - I could not resist him."
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

I am not usually the type to throw myself into my work when depressed. Jane doesn't seem to be either. What baffles me is how Jane portrays St John as so vile for suggesting that she do so.

Throwing yourself into your work is a method to avoiding the emotions that are plaguing you, but it isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it can be very good to throw yourself into your work - sometimes your mind does need a break from whatever is nagging it. (For example, me, writing this blog entry, instead of worrying over the fact that I missed a week of classes because of illness - a VERY depressing thought.)

I guess I just wasn't fond of the idea that St John wasn't trying to look after Jane, as seems to be portrayed here. He was taking care of her in his own way, it just didn't happen to be a way that worked for Jane.

I understand Jane's desire for love and its haunting reverberations, but honestly, enough is enough. I'm with St John on this one. It doesn't matter what he was trying to get Jane to learn (though he wants it to be schooling for his future wife) he mainly is trying to help her.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 11:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 11, 2007

The Science of Studying Literature

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'"
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

The science behind studying literature follows the scientific method, just like all areas of science do. The science in the case of Literature is more metaphorical, like a vast amount of Literature is. What I've compiled here is my metaphorical lab report.

A through science experiment covers all the bases, as I've done here. (Coverage)

  • The Way Things Are. Go Structure. - Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature
  • Our Daily Bread - Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Idea Searching: Much Like Soul Searching, But Not. - Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature
  • Natural Born Tendencies - Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  • Harsh Temper - Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

    One of the best ways to ensure the subject doesn't go stale is to experiment when the moment is right. (Coverage and Timeliness)

  • "A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" - Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman
  • Claudius, King of the Backbone? Not So Much. - William Shakespeare, Hamlet

    Lab work is sometimes lonely, but I've been fortunate enough to have others interested enough in my work to do some of it for me. (Discussion)

  • Claudius, King of the Backbone? Not So Much. - William Shakespeare, Hamlet

    No true experiment would be complete without attempting to draw others interest in. (Interaction)

  • Idea Searching: Much Like Soul Searching, But Not. - Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature

    Analysis has its advantages as well. (Depth)

  • "A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" - Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman

    Sometimes it helps to throw a little of your own personal flair into the mix. (Blog Carnival and Wildcard)

  • Academic Writing and "Fun" Writing (Blog Carnival)
  • Who Deems it Academic? (Wildcard)

    Science learns from others, as does the analysis of Literature. I've attempted to snatch up learning where I can. (Xenoblogging)

    William Shakespeare, Hamlet

  • The Sick Genius Known As Hamlet - Kevin Hinton (Informative)
  • Methodical Madness - Jennifer Prex (Primo)
  • Call Me Crazy?????........ - Daniella Choynowski (Primo)

    Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature

  • "To be or not to be..." - Jennifer Prex (Primo)
  • Boooooooooo, I'm a ghost.....and I may or may not be lying - Daniella Choynowski (Gracious)
  • The Keys to the Gate - Kevin Hinton (Grande)

    Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

  • Dumb and Dumberer: when Rozy met Guildy - Daniella Choynowski (Grande)
  • Wait... Who am I? - Jennifer Prex (Primo)
  • "Give Us This Day, Our Daily Mask" - Kevin Hinton (Gracious)

    Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature

  • "Carefree" - Jennifer Prex
  • "Purposely Clueless" - Daniella Choynowski

    Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

  • Becoming Jane - Daniella Choynowski (Grande)
  • Different Outlooks - Jennifer Prex (Grande)
  • Must Keep In Good Health - Kevin Hinton

    Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

  • This Sounds Familiar - Jennifer Prex (Primo)
  • To Forgive and Forget - Kevin Hinton (Grande)

    Hopefully my experiment with science has benefited more than just me.

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 1:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • Harsh Temper

    "'Give me back nine pounds, Jane; I've a use for it.'
    'And so have I, sir,' I returned, putting my hands and my purse behind me. 'I could not spare the money on any account.'
    'Little niggard!' said he, 'refusing me a pecuniary request! Give me five pounds, Jane.'"
    Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

    Mr. Rochester's anger in this statement is apparent, even if it is followed up by the demand that Jane return as soon as she can. What was startling about it was the use of the words niggard and pecuniary.

    To call his governess (even when his feelings about that governess have not remained professional) such a base term would be an extreme insult, both to her person and her station. The position that the term implies is harsh and cruel, even in 1847 England where slavery was not legal. (An entire war was still due in the United States.) I don't understand why Brontë threw in it so lightly, especially as no other such offensive term really appears.

    I understand that authors of the 19th century used this term far more liberally than we do today, as the meaning and social implications have changed. However, in the context that Brontë uses the term it is clearly meant as an insult. One that no one seems to pick up on.

    The use of the word pecuniary in Mr. Rochester's statement also got to me. I'll be honest, pecuniary isn't a word that I hear in everyday conversation and was thus forced to look it up. (No complaint mind you, vocabulary expansion is very valuble.) The meaning of it was as to be expected from the context, "of or relating to money." Another mentioned meaning though bothered me, "involving a money penalty or fine." Was this the type of pecuniary to which Mr. Rochester was referring? To me this seems probable, considering the change in harshness of language Brontë had already used in the statement.

    Harsh, Mr. Rochester, harsh.

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 11:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Natural Born Tendencies

    "Not three in three thousand raw school-girl-governesses would have answered me as you have just done. But I don't mean to flatter you: if you are cast in a different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours: Nature did it."
    Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

    This comment of Mr. Rochester's caught me off guard. I've never read Jane Eyre, nor do I know the story. (I'll admit it, before opening the novel I didn't even read the back cover because I didn't want anything to be given away plot-wise.) So this comment seemingly about Nature vs. Nurture took me completely by surprise.

    In today's world the Nature vs. Nurture argument is most commonly applied to for the question of sexuality. Do people have a natural tendency to have a certain sexuality (Nature) or does their environment cause them to have it (Nurture)? Here, in Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester's comment claims Nurture all the way.

    Jane didn't have a choice as to her upbringing and it is what caused her to act as such (in his eyes). What shocked me about this statement was how soon into their conversation he said it, and he followed it with, "And then, after all, I go too fast in my conclusions: for what I yet know, you may be better than the rest, you may have intolerable defects to counter-balance your few good points."

    So what is he really arguing? Does the Nature vs. Nurture argument apply here or is it another sick delusion of mine?

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 12:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 10, 2007

    Academic Writing and "Fun" Writing

    "I once asked this literary agent what writing paid the best, and he said, 'ransom notes.'"
    Harry Zimm, Character in the Movie Get Shorty

    The things we study in the field of English aren't always old. New literature is coming out all the time. We study that too. The question is, who gets to call the shots on what that literature is? I know I've read Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling has received awards for several of the various books in the series. Is Harry Potter literature? or merely pop culture writing gone wild?

    This type of theme is what we the proud few of Seton Hill's first ever "Writing About Literature" course set out to puzzle over; and the results are in.

    Dani had quite a bit to say on that same Harry Potter topic.

    "That is not, to say, that we could not learn something from say, Harry Potter. But, since that is a piece of what some currently call "popular fiction", the commentary is less obvious because the work is so new and we have to search a little for it. For example, there is a whole underlying theme of racism and class differences in Harry Potter."

    Jen had her own take on academia vs. pop fiction. She took a look at several different works (including that wizard of the literary world, Harry Potter.)

    "Wicked, a popular modern musical, would most likely be considered by most to simply be Popular Fiction. This does contain issues of segregation and racism as well as the ever popular fear and hatred of the misunderstood--as seen all throughout history--but all of this is on the surface. Someone may disagree, but from my understanding, this seems to be one of the main determining factors, since the lines tend to be blurred."

    I had my own take on it as well and I couldn't avoid that green-eyed wizard either.

    "I'm not entirely sure there is a true answer. The answer isn't always who receives awards for their writings. John Banville's novel did earn the Man Booker Prize for 2005, but J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) has won a lot of awards: The Nestlé Smarties Book Prize 1997: Gold Medal 9-11 years, FCBG Children's Book Award 1997: Overall winner and Longer Novel Category winner, Birmingham Cable Children's Book Award 1997, Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year 1998, British Book Awards 1997 Children's Book of the Year, Sheffield Children's Book Award 1998, and Whitaker's Platinum Book Award 2001. Beyond the pop culture phenomenon her series has caused, J.K. Rowling's books aren't studied as truly academic."

    The results differ by person and personality, but they do all strike a similar tone.

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Who Deems it Academic?

    "In Washington, it's dog eat dog. In academia, it's exactly the opposite."
    Robert Reich

    I'm not an expert on academic writing, nor am I an expert on popular writing, but I am somewhere between expert and idiot on both topics.

    What I don't understand is how some popular writing goes straight from popular to being worthy of study right away and other popular writings disappear as the term of its popular closes. Let's take, for example, John Banville's The Sea. This novel has gone straight from the publisher's press to the world of academic study. Rather a quick transition don't you think? (The Sea was published in 2005.) This could be because of the quality of the style Banville uses throughout the novel, but how is that style so superior to say, Terry Pratchett's Small Gods?

    Pratchett's novel is a mass market paperback (originally published in 1994) and I doubt it will ever truly come into the field of academic study despite its truly inspired and analytical look at organized religion. So who gets to make that choice between what will jump into the world of academia and what will stay in the hands of the masses?

    I'm not entirely sure there is a true answer. The answer isn't always who receives awards for their writings. John Banville's novel did earn the Man Booker Prize for 2005, but J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) has won a lot of awards: The Nestlé Smarties Book Prize 1997: Gold Medal 9-11 years, FCBG Children's Book Award 1997: Overall winner and Longer Novel Category winner, Birmingham Cable Children's Book Award 1997, Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year 1998, British Book Awards 1997 Children's Book of the Year, Sheffield Children's Book Award 1998, and Whitaker's Platinum Book Award 2001. Beyond the pop culture phenomenon her series has caused, J.K. Rowling's books aren't studied as truly academic.

    So there you have it, one jumps into the world of the academic, the other on top of the money making and the few that accomplish both quickly are those to be envied.

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 9:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 6, 2007

    Pop Fiction vs. Academia

    "Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. "
    G. M. Trevelyan, English Social History

    I'd like to propose a challenge. Popular culture is the life-force of culture. Popular fiction is what, if any, most people will read. Academic, classic, writings are what is considered valuable and will go down in history. So how is it that the popular writing of the day is so different from the academic writing of the day? (Don't forget, what we study in academia isn't always in essay format . . .)

    Anyone want to take this blog carnival for a spin?

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 7:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 4, 2007

    Testing Trackbacks for Kevin and Jen

    "We are going to be interrupted"
    Kevin Hinton

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 1:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Idea Searching: Much Like Soul Searching, But Not.

    "Because writers of poem, play, and stories are usually not systematic philosophers, it is not appropriate to go 'message hunting' as though their works contained nothing but ideas."
    Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature

    Before I continue I must type this simple two letter word that I am going to ask you read aloud: Ha!
    Thank you Mr. Roberts! I HATE when I'm told to search out the hidden meanings when analyzing literature, I absolutely hate it.

    Now, moving on.

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. In the context of Tom Stoppard's play, they aren't physically dead the whole time, but, as Dani points out so fluently, mentally they are pretty much dead the whole time. Does my nose detect the stench of an idea?
    I think so. The idea is that these two frivolous characters are dead in the context of their own lives, not just the context of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
    Simple and right in your face (it is, after all, the title.) So no, I'm not going to go searching through the play to find an idea, because that isn't what Roberts really wants (nor do I.) The ideas just jump out at you whether you want them to or not.

    Posted by Diana Geleskie at 12:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack