Congratulations to Caeley Arney, the first student to solve the mystery of May the fourth.
And the early-bird bonus points go to Caeley and these nine additional students: Grey Sacona, Breanna Bowman, Paige Lewis, Bryan Alba, Luke Noble, Madison St. Clair, Ruben Castillo, Joe Van Story, and Joe Robins! Well done, and May the Fourth be with You!
What links English 242 to the British actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller? The answer is three characters, two that we reflected on when we moved online in March and a third that’s the focus for the final week of the course, which begins today.
Both Cumberbatch and Miller have played the role of Sherlock Holmes; Cumberbatch portrayed him in the BBC series Sherlock (2010-17), set in present-day London, and Miller played him in the CBS series Elementary, which transformed the Scotland Yard detective into an investigator in present-day New York City. In between the launches of those two series, Cumberbatch and Miller performed together in the Royal National Theatre production of Frankenstein (2011). The two actors alternated the roles of Victor and the Creature and shared the Olivier Award (the equivalent of Broadway’s Tony) for their performances. The pairs of photographs that follow feature Cumberbatch and Miller as Holmes and in their dual roles in Frankenstein.
Playwright Nick Dear‘s Frankenstein and the series Sherlock and Elementary are but three of the many adaptations that attest to the enduring appeal of the narratives that bookend our semester. The popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s detective and his many incarnations in film and television inspired the first of three options for your blog response this week.
Have you watched Sherlock, Elementary, or one of the Holmes films featuring Robert Downey, Jr. as the title character? If so, address the similarities and differences between the portrayal of the detective on screen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s portrayal of him in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” If you write about Sherlock or Elementary, don’t focus on the obvious difference in the time setting, ditto for the location (New York City) of Elementary. Include both the title of the series/film and the actor’s name in your response.
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” belongs to the subgenre of detective story known as the locked room mystery, in which a murder occurs in a closed space where the perpetrator seemingly vanishes into thin air, and there are few, if any, suspects. Which detail about the locked room mystery of Julia Stoner’s death, or her bedroom where the murder took place, do you find most intriguing?
It’s no mystery why the force is with us today, but how does May the fourth figure in one of the works of Victorian literature that we’ve studied? In your response, cite the two lines that together solve the mystery. Follow each quotation with a parenthetical citation.
Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates.
Robson, Catherine. Biographical Note: “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Age. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W.W. Norton, 2018. pp. 920-21.
Congratulations to Breanna Bowman, the first student to identify the error in “Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative.” And the early-bird bonus points go to Breanna and these nine additional students: Joe Robbins, Madison St. Clair, Joe Van Story, Ruben Castillo, Luke Noble, Caeley Arney, Allison Lasher, Kenna Sipe, and Ashton Canipe! Well done!
The date of Jekyll’s letter to Lanyon should be January 9, not December 10. Here’s the note on the error in The Norton Anthology of English Literature:
Stevenson’s own error; the first sentence of ‘Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative’ makes it clear that the letter should be dated ‘9th January.’ Literary critic Richard Dury attributes the slip to the following circumstances: Stevenson had originally wanted to publish his story in time for the Christmas market and align Lanyon’s witnessing of Hyde’s transformation with December, a time for mysterious events. Later he forgot to change the detail. (794n1)
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 1886. The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Age. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor; Catherine Robson, Volume Editor. W.W. Norton, 2018. pp. 767-809.
As I reread the last chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, John Tenniel’s illustration of the cards “flutter[ing] down” on Alice reminded me of my earliest memories of Robert Louis Stephenson. He was part of my childhood not only as the man behind A Child’s Garden of Verses but also as one of the faces that stared out from the cards in my hand when my sister, my cousins, and I played the game of Authors.
Writing of Stevenson as a children’s author, the Scottish novelist Margot Livesey notes:
That I and so many others came to his work so young has made us consider him a children’s author from whom we have little to learn as adults. This opinion is one that his contemporaries would not have shared, either in his particular case or as a general rule. Victorian adults felt free to embrace so-called children’s books without apology. Stevenson’s father often reread The Parent’s Assistant, a volume of children’s stories, and Virginia Woolf records being taken to Peter Pan on her twenty-third birthday with no signs that this was a childish treat.
Writing of the experience of reading Stevenson’s Gothic tale, Livesey observes that
[s]lowly but inexorably we are being led into a strange country, where the relationship between Jekyll’s prim white hand and Hyde’s orgiastic hairy paw will be revealed. The two are not merely opposites, or alter egos. In [novelist Vladimir] Nabokov’s helpful analogy Hyde is a precipitate of Jekyll. We might also think of him as Jekyll’s son.
That idea of Hyde as Jekyll’s son inspired the first option for this week’s assignment.
Henry Jekyll’s scientific ambition and its monstrous product, Edward Hyde, link Stevenson’s novella to one of its Gothic precursors, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Do the similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll seem more apparent in Dr. Hastie Lanyon’s accounts of Henry Jekyll, or in Jekyll’s own “Full Statement of the Case”? Why?
The editor of the Victorian volume of The Norton Anthology of British Literature notes that “our familiarity with the outline of the story may not prepare us for the psychological and ethical complexity of the original” (Robson 766). What passage in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde best exemplifies that complexity?
In “The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson,” Margot Livesey names Mr. Utterson, Jekyll’s lawyer, as “the best possible witness to the horror of Hyde.” Do you think Utterson is the best character to guide readers through the story? Which other character might serve as guide, and how would that change alter the narrative?
Early in “Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative,” Robert Louis Stevenson made an error that went unnoticed by his editor. What is it?
Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.
Robson, Catherine. Biographical Note: “Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Age. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W.W. Norton, 2018. pp. 765-66.
In “A Caucus Race and a Long Tale,” the narrator describes the Dodo as standing “for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him).”
And the early-bird bonus points go to Keara and these nine additional students: Courtney Powell, Bryan Alba, Emily Brown, Joe Van Story, Ruben Castillo, Madison St. Clair, Ashton Canipe, Joshua West, and Crowson Roosa! WELL DONE!
The title of this post, “Curiouser and Curiouser!,” is the first line of Chapter 2 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Though the phrase is grammatically incorrect—as Alice acknowledges later in the sentence (the standard comparative is “more curious”)—it’s a fitting response for someone who finds herself, as Alice does, “opening out like the largest telescope that ever was” (Carroll ch. 2). “Curioser and curiouser!”: apt words for Alice, as well as for us as we slog our way through these nonstandard days in Coronaland.
Before the curiousness of Chapter 2 begins, in Chapter 1, Alice asks, “What is the use of a book . . . without pictures or conversation?” With those words of Alice’s in mind, consider the illustrations in the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, ones drawn by Carroll’s collaborator, John Tenniel. (Since they aren’t included in the Project Gutenberg edition that you’re reading, I have included a link to them above).
If you had received your copies of Volume E of the Norton Anthology, you would see in its pages the picture of Alice Liddell here. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Caroll)—who photographed Liddell and was a friend of hers—was an early advocate of photography, which was a new art form in the Victorian era. Liddell was the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, but she wasn’t the model for Tenniel’s illustrations.
Costumed in rags for this picture, Alice Liddell was far from a beggar child; she was the daughter of Dean Liddell, principal of Christ Church College of Oxford University, where Dodgson (Carroll) taught mathematics.
Dodgson’s profession as a mathematician leads me to the first of four options that I have developed for your assignment onAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Be sure to read the directions (below the options) before you begin, and note the extra-credit opportunity that follows the directions.
OPTION ONE: Although the Alice books are his legacy, Dodgson was a mathematician by profession. Address one or more passages in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that are demonstrably the product of a mathematical mind.
OPTION TWO: In The Norton Anthology’s introduction to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the editor notes that both Alice books “provide a wealth of information about the forms and contents of a well-to-do little girl’s education at the mid-point of the Victorian era” (724). Address one or more passages that reveal details of the “forms and contents” of Alice’s schooling.
OPTION THREE: In 1989, two American high school students who were researching Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland made a new discovery about Chapter 3, one that led to the publication of their findings in Jabberwocky, (now named The Carrollinian), the British journal of the Lewis Carroll society. Read the New York Timesarticle about the students’ discovery, and address both the discovery and the “Long Tale” of Chapter 3.
DIRECTIONS: Compose a comment of at least fifty words. Include a minimum of one quotation from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland introduced with a signal phrase and followed by a parenthetical citation. If you name Carroll in the signal phrase, include only the abbreviation for the chapter followed by the chapter number. For example: (ch. 1). If you do not name Carroll in the signal phrase, include the author’s last name, the abbreviation for the chapter, and the chapter number. For example: (Carroll ch. 1). Note that the c is lower case. For more information on citations, see OWL. Post your comment no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 23.
EXTRA CREDIT: Emily Brown was the first student to identify the ghost of Hamlet’s father as the literary ghost that the narrator mentions in the first stave of A Christmas Carol. That earned Emily an extra-credit assignment in the participation and preparedness category. Shakespeare himself is mentioned in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The first student who posts a comment identifying the sentence that mentions him will receive an extra-credit assignment.
Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.
Congratulations to the winner of our Virtual Victorian Parlor Games! Jacob Palmer selected option three (the first seven letters of a character’s name) and chose H-A-S-T-I-E-L for Dr. Hastie Lanyon in the The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Entering H-A-S-T-I-E-L in the Scrabble Word Builder yields two-hundred and twelve playable words!
Wordplay days gave us opportunities to build our word power, collaborate, and engage in creative problem solving. Now they’re pastimes that can help us forget our isolation. I hope that games, whether table-top or digital, continue to lift your spirits.
With that hope in mind, I designed this assignment inspired by Fred’s Victorian parlor games In A Christmas Carol (stave 3) and our Wordplay Days. Below the directions, I’ve included a list of Victorian authors for your reference.
Choose one of the options below, and post your response as a comment by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17. The first ten students who post comments and the student whose letters yield the largest number of playable words will receive bonus points.
Imagine that seven letters of a Victorian author’s last name (all last, or last plus first letter/s of the first) are the seven tiles on your Scrabble rack. See my sample below.
Go to the Scrabble Dictionary, click the Scrabble Word Builder tab (to the right of Scrabble Dictionary), enter the seven letters, and click “Go.”
Post a blog comment of twenty-five words or more that includes (1) the seven letters that you entered, (2) the number of playable words that you can spell with those letters, (3) at least one of the words in the list that was unfamiliar to you, and (4) the definition of the word.
Sample: Entering the seven letters A-R-N-O-L-D-M (for Matthew Arnold) in the Scrabble Word Builder yields 103 playable words. Two that I wasn’t familiar with are “dolma,” a stuffed grape leaf, and “lardon,” a thin slice of bacon or pork.