Part I of this blog post offers a look back at excerpts from some of the comments that you posted last week. Although I never would have chosen for us to communicate exclusively online as we are now, I am grateful for the opportunity to see your thoughts on the screen. And I hope that reading your classmates’ comments has been a comfort. I know it has been for me. If your gravatar isn’t on your blog, I encourage you to add it. It puts a human face beside your words.
From Crowson Roosa:
The past two weeks have definitely shifted my views of the novel. As Jeremy said, “being under quarantine has definitely caused me to become very cautious.” After being alone in isolation, I never really appreciated interacting with my classmates and friends until I could not see them anymore.
From: Joe Van Story:
I have learned to not look at everything at face value and to try to look deeper and try to find the good in what is happening. An example of this is the COVID-19 virus, while it is a tragedy it has brought unexpected joy in my life, such as spending more time with my family.
From Jenna Ramsey:
In regards to Del Toro’s remarks, he states how reading the book showed him “how deep, how life-changing, a monster parable could be–how it could function as art and how it could reach across distance and time to become a palliative to solitude and pain.” This also goes hand-in-hand with the virus. This virus is the ‘monster parable’ that has been life-changing to most everyone, in at least one way or another. While this virus has been ‘a monster parable,’ it could also be considered an ‘art’ of sorts in the way it has caused us to stop and think about what we truly need to be buying (if we truly need to run out to this store or that store), has caused us to spend more time at home with our families and rethink what we are doing with the time we have on our hands. It has also spread all over the world, affecting many people, leaving us to solitude/quarantine and caused pain to those who have had life-altering things happen due to the virus.
From Jacob Palmer:
As Caeley Arney mentioned in her comment, it is true that Victor Frankenstein hid himself from his creation in disgust. But we must not forget that the monster too isolated himself from society, intently watching over the DeLacey family from the safety of their hovel. Being deprived of the company of fellow creatures for such a long time, the monster took an uncharacteristic liking of this intriguing family, longing to be embraced by them and admitted into their ranks. It is in this time of isolation that we may really understand what the monster is feeling, and come to sympathize with him more so than before. One may come to recognize this desire to socialize to be unmistakably human. Thus, while the monster may be confined to the body of a monstrosity, it is evident that the feelings he expresses are none other than those of a human being. This raises questions as to what constitutes humanity and may challenge original notions over who the real monster is in this harrowing story.
Below I’ve included a works cited list as a model for citing comments on a blog post. Yes, there’s actually an MLA-style format for that, and there’s one for tweets as well. If you want to cite one of your classmates’ comments in your Victorian project, look to these entries as models. For more sample entries, see OWL’s page devoted to citing electronic sources.
As we begin our study of Victorian writers, observe how their fiction differs from the prose and poetry of the Romantics:
On the one hand romances were writings that turned, in their quest for settings conducive to supernatural happenings, to distant pasts, faraway exotic places, or both . . . . On the other hand romance also named a homegrown, native tradition of literature, made unfamiliar and alien by the passage of time. (Lynch 18; emphasis added)
The Celtic ballad “The Dæmon-lover” exemplifies those two seemingly disparate accounts of the writing of the Romantic period; it features the supernatural, and its renewed popularity in the nineteenth century illustrates the revival of interest in older forms, “native tradition[s] . . . made unfamiliar and alien by the passage of time” (18).
We’ve also seen the Romantics’ renewed interest in medieval literature in Victor Frankenstein’s early account of his friend Henry Clerval: “He was deeply read in books of chivalry and romance. He composed heroic songs, and began to write many a tale of enchantment and knightly adventure (Shelley 33).
Much later in Frankenstein, Victor’s description of Henry elucidates another trait of the Romantic period, the adoration of nature: “The scenery of external nature, which others regard with only admiration, he [Henry] loved with ardour” (Shelley 139). That observation of Victor’s serves as an introduction to the verse that follows in Chapter 28, eight lines from William Wordsworth’s poem “Tintern Abbey,” the first-generation Romantic’s own recollection of his attachment to nature.
As a counterpoint, consider these descriptions of the Victorian age:
In the eighteenth century the pivotal city of Western civilization had been Paris; by the second half of the nineteenth century this center of influence had shifted to London, a city that expanded from about two million inhabitants when Victoria came to the throne to six and a half million at the time of her death. The rapid growth of London is one of the many indications of the most important development of the age: the shift from a way of life based on the ownership of land to a modern urban economy based on trade and manufacturing. (Robson 3; emphasis added)
Because Britain was the first country to become industrialized, it’s transformation was an especially painful one: it experienced a host of social and economic problems consequent to rapid and unregulated industrialization. Britain also experienced an enormous increase in wealth. (Robson 4)
Lynch, Deidre Shauna. Introduction: “The Romantic Period, 1785-1832.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Romantic Period. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W.W. Norton, 2018. pp. 3-27.
Robson, Catherine. Introduction: “The Victorian Age, 1830-1901.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Age. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W.W. Norton, 2018. pp. 3-27.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818, 1831. Introduction and Notes by Karen Karbeiner. Barnes and Noble, 2003.
One of the challenges of reading A Christmas Carolnow is seeing beyond the images that are part of our collective memory. Even those who have never read Charles Dickens’ novella see in their minds Ebenezer Scrooge, the ghosts, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim . . . . We have watched the iconic miser’s story unfold on-screen over and over. Whether we see him as Michael Caine (in The Muppet Christmas Carol), as Disney’s Scrooge McDuck, or as Alastair Sim (A Christmas Carol, 1951), he’s there in our minds.
Your assignment this week is too look beyond those images and see the story anew through Dickens’ own words. I have assigned each of you one of the five staves. Dickens labeled each section or chapter as a stave, an archaic term for a stanza of a song or poem, to underscore the idea that the story is a Christmas carol in prose.
Study the stave assigned to you in A Christmas Carol (see the lists below), and identify at least one detail that isn’t familiar to you, something you haven’t seen or heard in an adaptation: a description, a line of dialogue, an unfamiliar term, etc.
Compose a response of twenty-five words or more that addresses that detail. Include the stave number in your response. If you include a quote, follow it with a parenthetical citation: stave with a lower-case s followed by the number (stave 1).
If you’d like to address the experience of reading Dickens’ novella in the days of the novel coronavirus, you’re welcome to do that in addition to (not in place of) addressing your assigned stave.
Post your comment as a reply to this blog post by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 9.
To avoid the risk of students restating what classmates have written in earlier posts, I will not make the comments available for view until after the posting deadline on Thursday.
Stave 5: Carmen Bonilla, Gabe Carswell, Dakota Clawson, James Erwin, Caleb Fountain, Deanna Grogan, Allison Lasher, Paige Lewis, Emma Maltba, Hayleigh Marshall, Jaanai Mendez-Santiago, Mason Nance, Shea Ortiz, Andrew Parker
Stave 4: Amelia Price, Caroline Riddle, Grey Sacona, J.D. Sharpe, Kenna Sipe, Josh Sloan, Joshua West, Autumn Yang
Stave 4: Cierra Ballard, Mariana Bonilla-Quesada, Ashton Canipe, Allie Desantiago, Sarah Fox
Stave 3: Cristian Gonzalez-Sanchez, Candace Johnson, David Long, Hannah Maltba, Keara McCann, Peyton Moore, Jacob Palmer, Roberto Perez-Perez, Jenna Ramsey, Chandler Rhyne, Joe Robbins, Jeremy Simpson, Alex Xiong, Madison St. Clair
Stave 2: Ahira Yanez, Anna Young
Stave 2: Bryan Alba, Caeley Arney, Eden Austin, Breanna Bowman, Emily Brown, Ruben Castillo-Martinez, Landon Childres, Breanna Church, Colin Coffey, Chandler Danner, Noah Dietrich, Courtney Gant, Cole Harris
Stave 1: Jachin Jenkins, Caleb Little, Kayde Morgan, Luke Noble, Declan O’Halloran, Brian Paz-Tellez, Courtney Powell, Crowson Roosa, Lauren Setzer, Cole Sharpe, Madison Starnes, Joe Van Story, Riley Whitener, Linsey Wike
The first ten students to post will receive bonus points, and the first student who correctly answers the questions below will be awarded an extra credit assignment in the participation and preparedness category.
Extra Credit Questions
Along with the ghosts that visit Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, there’s a reference to another literary ghost. Who is the ghost, and in what work of British literature does he figure?
Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.
As we begin a new chapter online, consider how less remote we are than the arctic explorer Robert Walton was when he wrote to his sister, Margaret Saville, in England.
Since our seated classes were canceled before your copies of the Victorian volume of the Norton anthology were issued, I have included in this blog post a list with links to texts that we’ll study that are available through Project Gutenberg.
Before I write more about the list, I should address the subtitle of the paper-craft graphic above (one I created recently during some much-needed time away from the screen). The phrase “like the dickens” is not a reference to the Victorian author. It’s a euphemism. More specifically, it’s a minced oath: an expression that’s created by altering the spelling or pronunciation of a word that’s considered profane. Shakespeare penned the minced oath “like the dickens,” for “like the devilkins” (little devils), in his comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he wrote more than two-hundred years before Charles Dickens was born.
Now to the list, and a second one that follows. The first is a chronological list of the longer Victorian works that we will study. The second includes the MLA-style works cited entries for the four texts, plus MLA style entries for both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on Project Gutenberg and your Barnes and Noble paperback edition. When you write about these texts, you will need to include MLA-style documentation. Bookmark this page for quick reference.
Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.
*Longer readings for English 242. By Victorian standards, these book-length works aren’t long; A Christmas Carol and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are novellas, and “The Speckled Band” is a short story.