Language and literature section.
Previous directors have often presented the figure of Portia in Shakespeare's The Merchant Venice as an elegant and idealized woman whose unconventionally is frequently downplayed. Director Richard Rose, of the Stratford Festival Theatre, has taken a different approach to Portia's character. In his vision of the play, Rose portrays a comic and witty Portia. She is a woman caught between the structured world of her father and the liberating world of the rising merchant class. Portia is also shown to be a witty, clever and unconventional young woman with her appraisal of her many suitors as well as in her unspoken guiding of Bassanio during the casket scene. The final revelation of her wit is apparent in her confrontation with Bassanio at the conclusion of the play. Rather than appearing to he a scornful wife, Rose portrays Portia's handling of the ring situation as more of a comedic. reminder of her place in her husbands' life. In Rose's version of The Merchant of Venice Portia's character is explored in ways that provide yet another insight as to what Shakespeare may have been insinuating about gender roles during the Renaissance.
"When You Say Nothing at All" Michael Radford's Vision of Jessica in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Hope Beebe, University of Michigan--Flint, Honors Program
The figure of Jessica, the Jewish daughter of Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, has often been neglected in criticism, performance, and film. She is often shown merely as a foil for her Christian lover, Lorenzo. She has very few lines, far fewer than any of the major characters in the play. In his film version of The Merchant of Venice (2005), Michael Radford is forced to reduce her words even further, cutting some of her lines due to time constraints and to a change of medium from text to film. However, Radford uses montages of images, as well as careful casting of the character, film images, and silent but powerful scenes with Jessica as a means to underline her significance and importance in the play and to express in images and through gesture and facial expressions her fears, doubts, and conflicts as a devout Jewess who converts to Christianity out of love for the Christian Lorenzo.
From Mourning Countess to Passionate Lover: Leon Rubin's Portrayal of Olivia in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Todd Butler, University of Michigan Flint, Honors Program
In his 2006 production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Director Leon Rubin develops the character of Olivia beyond the expectations of the text. Shakespeare provides only words in the text, while Rubin, in staging the play, is able to signify Olivia's major transformation form a woman in mourning to a passionate lover through choice of actor, and the use of specific tone of voice, costuming, and blocking. The play is set in colonial Asia. When Olivia first appears on stage, she is wearing the dark, and confining attire typical of upper class nineteenth century British society. She is sitting in a pessimistic and depressed manner. At this point, Olivia physically and vocally conveys her sorrow for the loss of her brother. Gradually, her clothing is transformed as Rubin depicts her changes throughout the play. She moves from a black, confining, floor-length dress with stays, to a flowing Asian costume with many bright colors. Her pessimistic attitude vanishes, as she dances enthusiastically with her lover on stage.
Intensities of Consciousness: Delusion, Dream, and Delirium in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Katherine Anne Porter's "Pale Horse, Pale Rider." Claire Crabtree-Sinnett, University of Detroit Mercy, English Department
Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway ant Porter's novella "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" have in common an exploration of intensities of consciousness, including a continuum of delusions, dreams, and moments of integrative, euphoric vision. Both contain the seeds of a critique of patriarchy and a condemnation of the kind of masculinist quasi-logic which would legitimate, even privilege, the horrors of war. Embedded in both works are attempts to critique and even bridge the binary oppositions evident when male and female identities, logic and feeling, sanity and madness, language and the unspeakable are thrown into relief by the Great War. The forcing of language past its logical limits, a key phenomenon of High Modernism, represents in these works an attempt to create, ephemeral as it may be, what we might now call a sort of "third term" - an alternative to the limitations of subject and object. Not only the innovative, non-hierarchical and unifying vision expressed in both works, but also the exploration of a fluid, perhaps fragmented self and the suggestions of androgyny serve to interrogate then-current notions of patriarchy, sanity, heterosexuality, and logic, as if to point up the inadequacy of established binary thinking from within the restrictions they impose.
Reader Surrogates and Writer Agents: Re-Writing Love in the Twentieth Century. Elizabeth Crachiolo, Northern Michigan University, Department of English
In the second half of the twentieth century, traditional plots of romance have been appropriated metafictionally in many works by women authors. These works range from loosely to explicitly metafictional, yet they express an ideological unity, questioning the nature of romantic love and rejecting the myth of romantic salvation so prevalent in popular and literary Western culture. Included in this discussion are stories by Angela Carter and Isak Dinesen, as well as novels, such as Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle; Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She-Devil; Jennifer Egan's The Keep; and Muriel Spark's The Comforters. This paper examines the ways in which, in these works, reader and writer characters demonstrate what is often considered a typically postmodern loss of faith and respond by either re-writing romantic love or writing it out of their lives entirely.
Maria, Wit and Mastermind: Shakespeare's portrayal of Maria in Twelfth Night. Mousab M. Eteer, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Maria, the maid, is frequently viewed as little more than a side character who plays a relatively unimportant role. However, it we look at Shakespeare's text, we discover that Maria is not only important, but she plays the unconventional role usually played by "player king" characters, orchestrating some of the funniest and most significant scenes in the play. Her high level of intelligence and ingenuity allows her to confront male characters such as Sir Toby, and to win the battle of wits. She completely outclasses Sir Andrew Aguecheek, showing his lack of intelligence simply by reading his palm. The mastermind, Feste, brings out the brightest in her as she matches wits with him. Rut she shows her greatest ingenuity when she weaves a web for the unsuspecting Malvolio. Contrary to traditional expectations of women characters in the seventeenth century, she shows that women do lack neither intelligence nor wit.
In Between Worlds: Richard Rose's Interpretation of Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. Steven M. Ethier, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Jessica has frequently been portrayed as playing a minor role. During the Stratford Canada interpretation of The. Merchant of Venice, Richard Rose depicted Jessica as an important character who displayed a depth of emotion, especially in her choice to abandon her religion and to become a Christian. He used stage business, tone of voice, costuming, blocking and even song to express her difficulty in making a life-changing decision, as well as her sense of abandonment and loneliness.
Emile Zola's Scathing Critique of the Judging Process in The Masterpiece. Ieisha Fitzpatrick., University of Michigan-Hint, Honors Program
In his late nineteenth-century novel, The Masterpiece, Emile Zola demonstrates how the judging process in the Salon used the judging process as a means to reject new forms of art such as impressionism and even went so far as to ridicule these new forms. According to Zola, most of the decisions are made not because of the talent or potential of the artist, but because of personal or political motivation. In some cases, judges vote for an artist only for selfish reasons such as a reciprocal agreement to gain a positive vote for their own work. Or, judges voted against an artist's work, only to change the decision because they remembered they owed a favor to a person of influence. The arbitrary nature of the judging process is especially clear in the case of the impressionist artists. Zola presents the reader with a scathing critique of a process that is both corrupt and biased.
The Literature of Southwest Detroit. Eduardo Guizar-Alvarez, Michigan State University, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
This study analyzes the poetry and narrative produced in Southwest Detroit It simultaneously presents a historiography and a specific detailed study of the major topics that are treated in the literary texts. The literary and artistic production of this geographical area of the city introduces political agendas in terms of racial conflict, gender struggles and urban planning. The presence of Chicano and Chicana writers in this geographical area has contributed to the composition of a culture that has written history by the very presence of the peoples. This paper studies the poetic and narrative strategies utilized to narrate the Chicano culture and heritage of Southwest Detroit.
Exploring Ethnic Identity: Pilar and Mercedes Cruz in John Sayles' Lone Star. Elizabeth Houbeck, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In his film, Lone Star, director John Sayles presents the relationship between Mercedes Cruz and her daughter Pilar as a contact zone, fraught with tension. Sayles explores the complexities of their relationship as first and second generation members of an immigrant family in the United States. Mercedes crossed the Mexican border illegally as a young girl. However, Mercedes completely breaks the stereotype of the single, first generation Mexican immigrant mother. She owns her own business and more surprisingly, she has completely rejected her Mexican heritage. She has forgotten her own past to the point that she has no sympathy for the new immigrants entering Texas. As a member of the city council, she has "assimilated" in the full definition of the word. Her daughter, Pilar, however represents a new type of assimilation. As a teacher, she shows a natural ability to see the history of Mexican-American relations from many points of view. This paper will explore the relationship of a mother and daughter who become representative for two generations whose inability to understand each other stems from a failure to acknowledge or recognize key elements of their shared ethnic past.
"A Lady Richly Left": Portia as an Unconventional Renaissance Woman in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Safaa Issawi, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In the time of the Renaissance, women were expected to be "quiet, chaste, modest, patient, obedient" (Dreher 20). A woman was not only required to listen and not question her father and husband, but they she was admonished to be "a willing servant to the men of her world." A woman who failed to obey and who stepped outside the codes governing female behavior was viewed negatively. She could be ostracized, and her punishment could be as serious as death. However, in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, fair Portia violates these expectations and does not get punished for her behavior. Instead, she is rewarded with marriage, success, and happiness, demonstrating that Shakespeare did not have a negative attitude toward unconventional women.
Border Crossings in John Sayles' Lonestar. Loveleen Khehra, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In a time and place where racial tensions were high, the extremity of the situation is made quite obvious in John Sayles' 1996 film Lonestar. Much of the history of Texas as well as the United States is shown through the many barriers that are crossed in the film. Sayles breaks down these barriers to show the importance of interracial relationships. In an interview, Sayles describes the film as "a story about borders." This paper will focus on three relationships that cross expected borders and break down barriers in the film. Sam Deeds and Pilar Cruz cross ethnic and familial barriers in their love and marriage. Mercedez Cruz crosses borders in her relationship to Buddy Deeds, the former sheriff of Frontera, and also in her successful career as a businesswoman. Cliff and Priscilla violate racial barriers. This paper will explore the strategies used by Sayles to make a social commentary by crossing the traditional boundaries associated with sex, race, class, and ethnicity.
The Evolution of the Hispanic Woman in American Film: Fred Zinnemann's High Noon and John Sayles' Lone Star. Angela Long, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In American Western films throughout, the last five decades and more, the Hispanic woman was portrayed in stereotypical terms as seductive, uneducated, and treacherous, if she was a successful businesswoman, as in Fred Zinnemans's High Noon (1952), then it was through the trade of prostitution. Helen Ramirez played by Katy Jurado, is a prostitute who has shifted from man to man as the power in town shifts from man to man. She is a hardened woman who always acts in her own self interest. In his 2006 film, Lonestar, John Sayles breaks with this expected stereotype. His Hispanic woman, Mercedes Cruz played by Miriam Colon has evolved into a human character who is able to be a successful businesswoman and a respected citizen in a community. By the same token, the Caucasian heroine who was previously portrayed as the angelic counterpart to the Hispanic fallen woman is re-imaged in Sayles' film so that the expected dichotomy between the fallen (Hispanic) woman and the angelic (Caucasian.) woman is put into question.
My Mr. Dickens: A Character Analysis of Mr. Watts in Respect to the Authentic-Self. Benjamin H. Malburg, Oakland University, Department of English
The character of Mr. Watts in Lloyd Jones' Mr. Pip may seem enigmatic due to the variety of masks he wears throughout the novel. Mr. Watts uses his imagination to borrow characteristics from other fictional characters, such as Pip from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.In a sense, the novel enacts Matilda's quest to find the real Mr. Watts. To better understand Lloyd Jones' self-shifter, this paper explores Mr. Warts' character through Erving Goffman's definition of the authentic-self in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956). Furthermore, it also addresses the role that the selves play as a collective and how that collective affects the realism of the other characters. For example by selecting the appropriate persona, Mr. Watts is able to control dangerous situations and to protect the islanders from an ongoing war. Ultimately, there is a grander purpose at work that through his many voices inspired Matilda, a student of Mr. Watts, to understand that Mr. Watts "had taught everyone of us kids that our voice was special"(256).
"Is it not so, cousin Bellario?" Michael Radford's Interpretation of Portia in The Merchant of Venice. Nathan Marzonie, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
Critics and directors have frequently portrayed Portia in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice as an elegant, untouchable, and idealized figure who is dependent on men and obedient to her father and husband. More recent performances of the play have recast her as an independent woman who subtly asserts herself, speaks out overtly, or even plays a comedic role. In his film version of The Merchant of Venice, Michael Radford moves toward the latter interpretation. He stresses her significance as a seemingly traditional, yet powerful woman by using a variety of film techniques, including lighting, camera shots and silent scenes. Radford also employs invented scenes with Portia to show that she holds subtly concealed power and is even rebellious, giving the audience a secret understanding of her character. In Radford's vision, she not only asserts her independence but she also takes control of events from behind the scenes, so that she is of equal importance to the major male characters in the film.
A Thousand Words are Worth One Picture: Photographic Poetics within Whitman's "Cavalry Crossing a Ford." Kelly Massey, Oakland University, Department of English
In a conversation with Harold Traubel, in 1888, Walt Whitman remarked that, "I find I often like the photographs better than the oils--they are perhaps mechanical, but they are honest" (1:131). This statement by Whitman, on the art of photography, plays an important role in the examination of his poetry, especially in regards to his "Drum-Taps" cluster of poems. In this paper I will show how the emerging technology of photography influenced Whitman and motivated him lo develop his own form of what I call "photographic poetics". This new poetic form allowed Whitman to create an accurate representation of the Civil War, where motion is conveyed through the use of present tense and the absence of his ever present "I", where the later addition of descriptive lines add a crucially missing component of color, and where every aspect within the field of view is accounted for within the poem.
The Influence of Turgenev on Hemingway's Early Short Stories. Christopher McDonald, freelance scholar and Kelley Dupuis, freelance scholar
The purpose of this paper is to explore the influence of Russian author Ivan S. Turgenev on Ernest Hemingway, specifically the influence of Turgenev's A Sportsman's Notebook on Hemingway's early work as a short story waiter. Hemingway's admiration for Turgenev and acquaintance with Turgenev's work, especially A Sportsman's Notebook, had an impact on the short fiction that Hemingway was writing in Paris between 1922 and 1925. We will show how A Sportsman's Notebook influenced the stories and sketches that Hemingway published in 1924 under the title of in Our Time. Hemingway, when serving his apprenticeship in Paris in the early 1920s, became a key figure in the literary movement now known as Modernism, and we mean to show that Turgenev was an influence on the modernist movement, from two generations earlier, through his influence on Hemingway.
"Looking through a Jewess' Eye:" Rose's Portrayal of Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. Ashley B. McQuarters, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In past interpretations and productions of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the figure of Jessica has often been neglected and viewed as unimportant. However, in his 2007 Stratford Festival production of this play, Director Richard Rose chooses to emphasize Jessica's significant role as Jewess caught between her Jewish faith and Christianity. In many previous interpretations, Jessica has been viewed as an unproblematic figure who is able to abandon her father as well as her religion and to enter seamlessly into the world of the Christians. Rose uses costuming, blocking and stage business throughout the performance to demonstrate her difficulty in abandoning her Jewish traditions. He portrays Jessica in conflict with the Christian world she lives in and the traditional Jewish world she has left. Rose shows how Jessica's decision to leave her father frightens her as she later recognizes the future rejection she will face from Lorenzo's Christian friends after seeing their cruel and prejudicial treatment of Shylock. Sarah Topham plays an extraordinary role as Jessica, a young woman who becomes, in Rose's vision, an outsider to both worlds.
The Breaking of Hispanic Stereotypes in John Sayles' Lone Star. Zackary T. Neher, University or Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In John Sayles' 1996 film, Lonestar, Pilar Cruz, played by Elizabeth Pena, stands out as one of the significant characters that break the stereotype of the Hispanic woman. Traditionally, Hispanic women have been portrayed in film as seductive, sensual, uneducated and treacherous. Pilar Cruz displays the opposite of all of these traits. Several scenes in the film demonstrate how her character counters Hispanic stereotypes. First of all, she is a teacher, which shows that she is highly educated. Also during the film she is seen working very late into the night, indicating that she is willing to work hard and has a strong work ethic. Also, during the parent teacher meeting she displays her concern for her students and for teaching the many sides of the conflicting views of the history of Texas. Probably the most controversial part of the film is the relationship between Pilar and Sam Deeds. Pilar is a Hispanic woman, and Sam, a white male, with a considerable amount of power in the community, makes the relationship the crosses borders on the cultural level.
"Antic Disposition" or "Mind Diseased"? Feigning Madness in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Shayna Pichette, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
Is Hamlet mad or only pretending to be? The mental status of the title character of Shakespeare's play "Hamlet: Prince of Denmark" is certainly a much debated controversy. Many critics have argued that Hamlet loses control of his mind. A.C. Bradley states that "Hamlet was normally a man of action: his melancholy is not a part of his habitual behavior but, rather, it. is a disease produced by particular circumstances, his father's death and especially from his mother's hasty remarriage" (Barnet, lxxix). The view that Hamlet was "diseased" has been widely held in the past, but there seems to be significant textual evidence against this theory. Shakespeare demonstrates in numerous ways that Hamlet feigns madness in order to cope with the extremely difficult situation in which he found himself. However, grief and its accompanying spiritual crisis plunge Hamlet into despair. Although it may at times imitate the symptoms of madness, it is not the evidence of a "mind diseased."
Celebrating Freedom: Celia as an Unconventional Heroine in Shakespeare's As You Like It. Erika Pike, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In performances and films of Shakespeare's As You Like It, Celia, the daughter of the despotic Duke Frederick, is often portrayed as quiet, conventional, and submissive. However, if we look carefully at the text, we find that she plays an unconventional role in almost all of her words and gestures. Women of her time were not supposed to have wit or to leave the confines of the castle or garden without a male chaperon. It was not acceptable for women to disobey their lather or to rebel against a patriarchal leader. It was also unacceptable for women to be independent, own their own land, or speak their minds openly. Celia consistently shows herself as a strong willed, intelligent woman, who is not only able to carry on a witty conversation, but is able to match wits with Touchstone, the fool. Celia also reveals that she is unafraid to speak out against her father's oppressive rule and rebels against his banishment of her companion, Rosalind, by leaving for the forest.
Scapegoating and Democratic Community in Stephen King's The Dead Zone. April Pitts, Wayne State University, Department of English
In popular discussions of the state of American democracy, a number of writers describe a crisis in democratic institutions. In these accounts, critics often see the existence of corrupt, ineffective political leadership as a major cause of democracy's real and potential failures. For many, the survival of American democratic spaces thus depends on the identification and elimination of political corruption. Stephen King's 1979 horror novel The Dead Zone, however, complicates this issue. In this paper I use King's representation of the American general public to explore the relationship between scapegoating, civic participation, and the formation of democratic communities. Here, I argue that in The Dead Zone, United States citizens will continue to elect corrupt political leaders as long as they avoid responsibility for their choices, project their flaws and fears onto others, and think in morally absolute terms.
"You shall put/This night's great business into my dispatch": Coauthorship and Plagiarism in Macbeth. Sarah Pugsley, University of Michigan--Flint, Honors Program
"My hands are of your color, but I shame/To wear a heart so white" (2.2.68-69). Outwardly concerned with the attainment and loss of authority--political, conjugal, persuasive--Macbeth is, in essence, a tragedy in which the eponymous thane's authorial insecurities are juxtaposed with his consort's evolution from influential muse to coauthor tormented by the subtleties of plagiarism. Many critics deflect blame for Macbeth's regicide and misrule from an emasculated, guileless Macbeth while simultaneously demonizing his apparently castrating queen. In contrast, I would argue that Macbeth is primarily a condemnation of hasty misinterpretation--not an implied criticism of marital imbalance and female monstrosity. Lady Macbeth serves as the play's ablest reader; a hasty interpretation of the witches' prophecy emboldens Macbeth, but it is through his wife that the thane's ambition is refracted.
Beloved Object: Bassanio in Michael Radford's Film of The Merchant of Venice. Saad Qureshi, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
Directors and critics have frequently viewed the figure of Bassanio in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice as an ideal lover who is like a fairy tale prince who comes to rescue Portia, a fairy tale princess, from the lottery designed by her father to choose her husband. In his 2004 film of the play, Michael Radford depicts Bassanio as a complex and dark figure. In Radford's film, actor Joseph Fiennes portrays Bassanio as a beloved object rather than a lover, a man who is willing to take advantage of both his good friend Antonio, and of Portia, whose great fortune will supply his wants. He initially appears as a man with deceptive eyes and greasy, long hair. His untamed appearance contradicts the view that he could be seen as an ideal gentleman. Even when he dresses as a suitor to Portia in wealthy clothing, the viewer sees that Bassanio is more interested in the clothing and a flashy appearance than he is in the woman he is courting. Only toward the close of the film does a more authentic character emerge, a man who could potentially prove worthy of the woman he has won
Flora and Fauna in The Scarlet Letter: Hawthorne's Testing of Reality. Andrew J. Reimann, Oakland University
Nathaniel Hawthorne's narrator in The .Scarlet Letter provides readers with an enigmatic view of reality, beginning with his descriptiveness of the spiritual qualities of the narrator's personal objects in " The Custom-House" and continuing on throughout the remainder at the novel. Hawthorne's use of ambiguous language in narration has been the subject of an enormous body of scholarship. My work presents an analysis of the narrator's use of representations of flora and fauna as they are detailed in Pearl's walk through the forest. By exploring both the varied levels of personifications the Hawthorne uses in the forest and the contextual nature of its denizens, this paper offers a fresh analysis of Scarlet Letter's ambiguous narrator. The narrator tests the reality of his narration after venturing into a world plagued with increasingly surrealistic descriptions. This paper argues that the narrator offers a playful self-reflexive view of the constraints on the notions of the romance that he introduces in "The Custom-House," and retaliates against diving too far into the surrealism of his narration. The playfulness surrounding the narrator's methods allows for a narration that deems the testing of reality as appropriate with regard to the art of storytelling.
"We are the Future!" Claude Lantier as an Impressionist Artist in The Masterpiece. Kimberly Sawyers, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
In his late nineteenth century novel, The Masterpiece, Emile Zola creates a figure, Claude Lantier, who embodies the attitudes and practices of the newly emerging impressionist painters. Claude's portrayal of natural light, his focus on less than ideal nude figures, and his dark painting of his dead son are representative of the revolutionary view of painting espoused by the impressionists. Claude is based on impressionist artists whom Zola knew personally, including Monet, Cezanne, and Degas. Zola depicts the pain and difficulty of the artists themselves and of those involved in personal relationships with them. He also showed how the bourgeoisie rejected their art. In The Masterpiece, Zola expresses his own beliefs about the destiny of impressionists and the moral decay of the times. Although Claude attempts for years to produce, a major revolutionary painting of a woman representing Paris, he fails and eventually finds himself in the bitterest stages of poverty and despair. His passion for and dedication to the principles of a revolutionary form of art become so fierce, that it leads to his suicide. Zola believed, incorrectly, that the impressionists were doomed both because of the audience's response, and because of the unfortunate circumstances and struggles of the impressionists' lives.
Grettir's Last Stand and the Icelandic Frontier: Frank Norris's Retelling of the 13th-century Grettis Saga. Ilse A. Schweitzer, Western Michigan University, English Department
American author Frank Norris's 1890 short story, "Grettir at Drangey," overlooked by most readers and often elided from collections of his works, is a reworking of the 13th-century Icelandic Grettis Saga. By comparing Norris's retelling with both the original Icelandic text and the translation(s) that would have been available to him, we see that Norris has removed the sprawling social and family trees, insights into law and society, supernatural occurrences, and ultimately international ending of the original text, providing us with only Grettir's death on a secluded cliff-island off the coast of Iceland. Norris reimagines the fall of the protagonist in tones that emphasize the grandeur and nobility of the outcast. This idealization of the (originally brutal and at times monstrous) protagonist reveals a trend observed by T.J. Jackson Lears; here, Norris romanticizes the violence of the medieval "hero" as an alternative to what Lears characterizes as the intellectual, effete "Modern." Yet by retelling only Grettir's final years on Drang Isle, we see that Norris's emphasis lies on the individual living on the edge of the world, and not on his trials and contests within society. Although Norris reduces the complexities of the heroic experience in Grettis Saga, the story nevertheless reflects a contemporary struggle with "heroism" in America.
Representing Suicide in Goethe's Werther and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Angela Thum, University of Notre Dame., Department of English
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's The sorrows of Young Werther and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein have both been interpreted primarily as instances of "pure" Romanticism. They are, critics argue, heralds of an anti-rational sensibility, and they thus represent a radical departure from the Enlightenment and especially from Enlightenment philosophy. However, I wish to argue that these texts are not as far removed from the Enlightenment as critics have assumed. Indeed, they may actually be seen as products of the Enlightenment in their depiction of suicide. On the contrary, both Goethe and Shelley draw heavily on the arguments of Enlightenment philosophers in their depiction of suicidal characters. The texts are also linked by the fact that Shelley cites Werther in her novel. In my discussion I will explore the use of suicide in both texts, demonstrating that both novels address this issue in terms of Enlightenment debates, particularly as represented by two eighteenth century works: David Hume's "On Suicide" and Charles Montesquieu's The Persian Letters.
Text and Intertext in Jean Rhys's Voyage in the Dark. Maureen Thum, University of Michigan-Flint, Department of English
In their discussion of Jean Rhys's novel Voyage in the Dark, critics have viewed the first person narrator, Anna Morgan, as a figure whose consciousness is limited, like that of Rhys herself, to a single, restricted point of view, that of the "Rhys woman." Voyage in the Dark is thus viewed as little more than thinly veiled autobiography. While she does present a powerful center of consciousness in her narrator, and while the novel is based loosely on autobiographical events, I wish to make that case that Rhys's vision is not as restricted as critics have allowed. Rhys consciously locates her narrator within a much broader social, cultural, and literary context especially through her embedded intertextual references to such novels as Emile Zola's well known novel, Nana (1880). In using Zola's Nana as her intertext, Rhys does not simply echo the French novelist's stereotypical view of the fallen woman. Anna--an acronym of "Nana"--is, as the reader discovers, the counterpoint and response to Zola's protagonist. While Zola reinforces stereotypes Rhys intentionally breaks them in order to de-objectify and re-humanize what had become, by the early twentieth century, a fixed social and cultural icon.
Exploring the American Experience: Using Humor, Memoir, Movies, and Literature to Reveal the Pain and Progress of America's History. Christina A. Triezenberg, Western Michigan University, Department of English
Engaging undergrads whose perceptions of the world are often colored by a cocktail of 24-hour news, YouTube videos, and FaceBook interactions can he a challenging venture--particularly when one's goal is to raise awareness of America's often-troubled but still inspiring history through the lens of literature. Assigned to teach a freshmen-level Good Books course, I resolved to harness my own love of history and fascination with what we commonly refer to as "the American experience" in a multicultural, multidisciplinary attempt to engage these famously tech--savvy students on a very personal level. Inspired by the historic presidential contest then taking place and intent on engaging students in a dialogue about both the literature we read and our own experiences as American citizens, I sought to introduce my students to a wide range of literary works grounded in American history--a history that has often buried, marginalized, and misinterpreted the experiences of immigrants, minorities, and Native Americans in both history books and popular culture. Analyzing these works and films that document--often falsely--the history of our country we were able to engage in a compelling exploration of our shared but often dramatically different "American experience."
Ambiguity, Personified; Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Emily Ventola, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
One of the more controversial characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet is Queen Gertrude, a woman about whom very little is decisively known. The former wife of the late King Hamlet and mother to Prince Hamlet, she has often been portrayed as the demonic, fallen woman, and a foil to the play's angelic female, the lovely Ophelia. This typecast is thrust upon Gertrude in response to her hasty marriage to her brother-in-law, the newly crowned King Claudius, an act that was seen as both adulterous and incestuous at the time. Critics and directors have frequently portrayed Gertrude as a base, sexual creature who played an active role in her husband's murder. But in spite of the harsh negativity surrounding her, Gertrude is a remarkably ambiguous character. She reveals very little in the way of personal narratives throughout the play. Her private reflections are virtually nonexistent compared to Hamlet, whose lamentations, incidentally, form much of the audience's opinion of Gertrude. Her ambiguity is increased through the audience's inability to determine Gertrude's role, if any, in her husband's murder. Also, Gertrude's relationships with other characters in the play are strikingly enigmatic, making the motivations behind her words and actions all the more unclear.
Pathetic Fool or Political Operator: The Role of Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Cameron Waites, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
Previous critics and directors have seen Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet for the most part either as a senile old fool or as a pathetic but noble man who cares deeply for his children. However, these analyses fall quite short of the wonderfully intricate nature of the character Shakespeare has developed in the figure of Polonius. Father of Laertes and Ophelia, Polunius is the chief advisor to King Claudius and the counselor primarily relied upon to determine the cause of Prince Hamlet's "antic" behavior. As we get to know Polonius from his words and actions, we realize that he is neither senile nor pathetic, but that he is an astute manipulator who puts politics before personal relationships. The central elements of his character revolve around the distrusting nature of his heart, and to a lesser extent around the binary constructions of gender that mold his expectations of men and women. These grossly political qualities are revealed initially in the advice he gives to his son and daughter, also in his decision to send a servant to spy on Laertes, and finally in the objectification of Ophelia when Polonius uses her in a ploy to discover the cause for Hamlet's apparent "madness."
To Suffer with a Quietness of Spirit: Richard Rose's Antonio in The Merchant of Venice. Miri K. Weidner, University of Michigan-Flint, Honors Program
The lights shine down on the stage darting around on the wooden floor. The theatre is entirely dark except for these glowing beams. The characters dance our onto the stage. At first, pig masks hide the characters' faces from the audience. As they turn around in their merriment, Antonio is the first to pull off his mask. What did Richard Rose mean by this gesture? In director Rose's version of the Merchant of Venice, Antonio is not simply the quietly suffering Christian, or the evil anti-Semite portrayed in many productions of this play. Instead, he is a man wearing the mask of an animal, a figure who begins as a brash, bullying bigot but who goes through a series of changes so that his human face is finally revealed at the conclusion of the play, where he is the only one of the Christians to recognize and to regret his cruel behavior toward Shylock. Rose emphasizes Antonio's significance throughout the play by using blocking and stage business that are even more important than his words in expressing his character. In addition, he adds a silent scene which expresses Antonio's remorse at the end of the play.
Living the 'Lively Words' of Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts. Suzanne Zelazo, Ryerson University, Department of English
It was customary of early Stein criticism to equate Stein's personality and her own body with her writing. Often, this blurring resulted in an infantilization of Stein. Despite our contemporary sensitivity to gender and body politics, such misappropriation perseveres in much Stein scholarship. Although clearly disturbing and problematic, this practice nonetheless speaks to the somatic preoccupation inherent in Stein's art. In this paper, I argue that Stein's perceptive understanding of the corporeal aspects of language enable her to generate a radical multi-sensual modernist aesthetic. Rather than simply labeling her work "cubist," "Dadaist," "avant garde," or even "anti-patriarchal," I wish to reconfigure her aesthetic, as, more precisely, aiming towards instantiation through a sensory-engaging discourse. Through her dramatic language of enactment in the libretto for the opera Four Saints m Three Acts (1929), Stein challenges, traditional understandings of narrative as discreet occurrence. Instead, Stein argues for the inherent presence of narrative in language, consciousness, and "being." In a profound democratization of perspective, Stem brings into view those angles otherwise obscured. Thus Stein carved out a landscape on which to stand and expand, a "textual wandering" through the fabric of modernism, and into, as she is now being critically reclaimed, postmodernity.