You’ve Got Nerve

I have really mixed feelings about public speaking. I did a LOT of public speaking in high school, but my school was extremely small compared to others. I’ll never forget my first class speech in my freshman year of high school– I had to present on seasonal allergies, and the first thing out of my mouth was “sneeze-onal allergies.” Presenting to small groups (especially with something scripted) has always been more exciting than nerve-wracking for me. However, since going under the radar (as much as over-involved Michelle can be) in college and not joining many clubs or hosting events that required public speaking, I’ve definitely grown a bit more nervous. Recently I performed a slam poem that I wrote to a small group (about 10 people??) and I’ve never been so nervous– but that’s also a lot more personal than my thesis, although I’m always a bit nervous talking about my thesis because I worked so hard on it and I feel like it can be so easily dismissed, not understood, or argued against. In summary, I used to be the queen of public speaking; now, it’s a bit of a rare thrill under the right conditions.

Luckily, I firmly believe that our honors conference will have those “right conditions.” Even for our roundtable discussions, it seems like everything is going to be scripted– and I appreciate that. I bet on-the-fly conversations would be fascinating, but I definitely don’t feel confident enough to engage in such a discussion without having done my research and having at least bullet point notes in advance. I’ve really enjoyed the three presentations I’ve done in my classes so far this semester, and for each of these I had a set of notes and felt informed enough to take questions and share my interest for the topic. I have no doubts that our conference will be any different and, although I’m worried people will not understand or “like” my thesis, I feel like the speaking portion isn’t a big concern of mine!

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“A Modest Proposal:” A Flexible, Before-the-Exam Approach

“A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public” (that’s the full title!) was written by Irish satirist Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) and published in 1729. “A Modest Proposal” confronts Ireland’s poverty issue head-on, proposing that the best way to alleviate child poverty is to consume (yes, eat) young children that cannot be taken care of adequately. Swift uses satire and light tone to make readers question their instant revulsion to this text.

Moral sense theory consists of the immediate, emotion-driven judgments that may conflict with the rational explanations offered to account for their responses” (Herron 418). This directly applies to “A Modest Proposal” (and you can use it on the theory section of the exam!), as Swift offers countless explanations for (and benefits of) his seemingly horrifying proposal:

  • “There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast” (paragraph 5).
  • “But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can reasonably expected” (paragraph 19).
  • “It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public, to their annual profit instead of expense” (paragraph 26).

Shane Herron’s article “Dark Humour and Moral Sense Theory: Or, How Swift Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Evil” focuses on the sweet spot in which “A Modest Proposal” uses moral sense theory to its advantage. In other words, Swift expects this natural revulsion to occur and therefore uses his light tone and detailed explanations to make us question ourselves, creating this satire. As Herron writes, “A Modest Proposal” “[satirizes its] target through a hyperbolic mimicry designed to evoke strong negative feelings…the dark humour emerges from the ironic contrast between the intuitive horror and disgust readers experience, and the blandly cheery factuality that conveys the disturbing material… [the text employs] an idiom of folksy collegiality to underscore the familiarity and sociability of the characters, which contrasts sharply with the strong feelings of revulsion they generate in readers” (419). Just as a note, Herron refers often to Francis Hutcheson. Hutcheson was a contemporary of Swift (they both lived in Dublin in the 1720s), and he wrote  An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725). Unlike Swift, who believed that mankind was inherently selfish, Hutcheson believed that humans were naturally benevolent.

As for the exam, you can use the materials I have presented here (moral sense theory) and discuss “A Modest Proposal” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” This turns out to be really interesting because in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator is only attempting to use moral sense theory to justify his killing his neighbor, but it never makes us question whether the man’s eye was ever truly evil. Conversely, although we are repulsed by “A Modest Proposal,” the significant amount of statistics does support his argument in a sick way. You can also work this text into a discussion about Bhabha’s “unhomeliness,” although this text will work slightly differently from the others. This “unhomeliness” is actually how we feel about the text, not how a character in the narrative feels. More generally, you can work this text into a discussion about satire (using The Importance of Being Earnest) or even history, using the disagreement between Hutcheson and Swift in some way.

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Psychoanalysis, Cultural Studies, and The Transmission of Affect

Hi, everyone! I am putting my notes for psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and The Transmission of Affect here, and I am including a key! Text that is italicized is, to me, most important in each section. Bold text relates directly to our exam. I hope this helps!

In Chapter Five (Psychoanalysis), Parker first describes psychoanalysis as it pertains to analysts and psychologists. “So how can a method of analysis and therapy be applied to literature?” you may be asking. Well, Parker tells us that we can draw on the structure and approach of psychoanalysis when thinking about texts– without actually performing psychoanalysis. This caution may seem simple– don’t try to evaluate a novel’s childhood issues– but it can be really difficult, and wind up putting us in not-so-academic positions! For example, we may want to use psychoanalysis to look at the author of a work. However, this can be a dangerous move! By psychoanalyzing an author to learn more about something they’ve written, we are treating an author as the sole producer of the work, and therefore ignoring the influence that society and the historical moment have on writing as well. Something we have probably all been tempted (and tried) to do is psychoanalyze a work’s characters. Parker also warns us about this! We cannot psychoanalyze a character because characters are, first of all, NOT PEOPLE. They don’t exist outside of the text– they have no life before or after what is actually written down. “So then what good is psychoanalysis? It seems as if it only causes more trouble.” Well, we can use psychoanalysis when looking at form, audience, and culture. In other words, by a text telling a certain story, specific details are being left out– and furthermore, other stories are not being told. Looking into what is concealed (or repressed, in Freud’s terms), is a legitimate way to analyze a work using psychoanalysis.

Parker defines cultural materialism as “weaving together literary studies with the study of popular culture, cultural history, and Marxism” (275). He describes that cultural studies investigates the reproduction of certain ideas through popular culture– most of these ideas being things that oppress people or encourage them to remain complacent (with, for example, having or even aspiring to have a working-class job). Most importantly, Parker presents us with a tension between cultural studies scholars, best worded on page 276: “By taking the people and the pleasures of popular culture seriously rather than scornfully, cultural studies scholars shifted the study of popular culture from how its fan are dupes of the broader cultural hegemony to studying how they use popular culture to speak back to and perhaps resist or begin to resist the expectations of dominant ideologies, such as consumerism, sexism, racism, capitalism, class elitism, and so on.” This tension between scholars is centered around popular culture– some believe that popular culture keeps us (and could even be argued to be designed to keep us) complacent with our lives and the systems we live under, while others think that popular culture can actually motivate us to create change and fight oppressive systems. In class, Professor Tougaw also mentioned the term “interpolation,” which he defined as “absorbing the norms of culture and that becomes who you are.” Kelly and I thought that a great connection for the exam would be to use The Brief Life of Oscar Wao, as it significantly involves popular culture. The novel stages questions about popular culture and its influence– is pop culture liberating or constraining? Oscar is indeed limited in his social status by his obsession with popular culture, BUT the popular culture that he is interested in doesn’t fit in with the culture in which he’s living, which motivates him to keep breaking out of the norm and, no matter how many times the narrator tries, he goes back to his odd but comfortable life with no girls and few friends.

Brennan’s introduction to The Transmission of Affect begins with the idea of “feeling an atmosphere,” which I related to the more common term “vibe.” She writes that this “vibe” can be both objective and certain, and involves both physiology and psychology, as opposed to just one or the another. As she puts it, “I am using the term ‘transmission of affect’ to capture a process that is social in origin but biological and physical in effect” (3). At first, the difference between feelings and affects can get confusing, so Brennan sets the facts straight: “In other words, feelings are not the same things as affects. Putting it simply, when I feel angry, I feel the passage of anger through me. What I feel with and what I feel are distinct” (5). Brennan discusses the different pathways for affect, sight and smell, but focuses on smell (aka hormones). Brennan is establishing an idea that we’ve all felt at one time or another– that we can feel and are affected by one another. However, this does not mean that we all process these “vibes” the same way. In fact, “the point is that, even if I am picking up on your affect, the linguistic and visual content, meaning the thoughts I attach to that affect remain my own: they remain the product of the particular historical conjunction of words and experiences I represent” (7). Although we considered “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a clearly relevant text, Kelly and I were more interested in Fun Home‘s direct connection to this last quotation. Just as Brennan describes that the thoughts that are attached to the same affect vary by experience, Alison and her father have clearly different feelings regarding their museum of a house. To her father, the house is a project that must be perfect. To Alison, the house is her replacement– the child her father always wanted. Brennan also writes that “there is no reason why one person’s repression could not be another man or woman’s burden, just as the aggression of one can be the anxiety of another” (12). This refers to her idea of “self-containment,” or when one projects unwanted affects onto another person that he or she depends on– something that is definitely going on between Alison and her father in both directions. Any quotations from pages 11 to 16 of Fun Home, in which Alison is describing her family home and her and her father’s interesting (and interconnected) relationships to it would work on our exam to demonstrate the complex affective relationship Alison has with her father. 

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Let’s Get Down to Business

Having been so busy with everything going on these past few weeks– between presentations and graduate school/job plans and my other courses– I admit that I’ve been putting off (but still becoming increasingly anxious about) the exam. It seemed so far away until I realized that today, we’re halfway through March and the test is during the first full week of April. Yikes! However, this snow day assignment made me sit down and draft out a plan. I’m really appreciative of this, because just putting my ideas down will allow new ideas to pop into my head.

Texts I’m Comfortable Writing About:

  • Fun Home
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  • “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain”
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
  • “Bartleby the Scrivener”
  • “A Modest Proposal”


  1. Sara’s presentation on image and text – using Barthes to discuss “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and/or Fun Home (using words to create images, and vice versa)
  2. Satire – using Spininger’s article about The Importance of Being Earnest to discuss domestic comedy; could also use “A Modest Proposal”

Historical Context:

  1. Masculinity and identity – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (I can also use Davenport’s article on the typical hero up to Gawain in the Norton edition of the text), Fun Home, and/or The Importance of Being Earnest
  2. Hysteria – using “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman’s essay on “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and/or Lady Audley’s Secret (QUESTION: Is using my thesis text a smart move or an excessive one?)


  1. Using Bhaba’s idea of the uncanny (when one’s own home becomes terrifying) in the postcolonial and applying it to Fun Home, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and/or “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  2. Zahava’s presentation on the Panopticon – Using the idea of the Panopticon and applying it to “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and/or Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Flexibility and Modularity:

I’m still working on becoming more flexible. I notice that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is in almost every plan, and there are texts like The Brief Life of Oscar Wao that I’ve completely left out. I think that, with some advice and opinions on these strategies, I can further revise them. I think that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a great flexible text for me. I also recognize that specifically The Brief Life of Oscar Wao as well as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (aka heavily historical texts) intimidate me, and I feel like I’ll never know the history well enough to discuss the texts– even though as texts, I think they’re great. I feel weakest in the “historical moment” section, although the idea of discussing Sir Gawain and Fun Home in the same essay is really fascinating. I also am worried that the genre topic can get general really quickly and prevent anything productive from happening in the essay– I just sense that that’ll be a problem for me. Any ideas on how to avoid that problem?

As for other ideas I have, I could use the moral sense theory that I’m going to present for “A Modest Proposal” for many of the texts, including The Importance of Being Earnest. I chose to present those two texts because of how well they go together, and I think putting them together in any of the essay sections could make for a nice essay. The idea of the Panopticon may also work well in the historical moment section, as the woman feels like she’s being watched and her home resembles an old asylum– it’s as if her home was part of the Panopticon a century before she moved in (or she’s somehow gone back a century, even just in treatment/setting). Something interesting that also came up last week in one of my other classes was the comparison of tense between “The Yellow Wallpaper” (present, even at the end, which leaves us confused) and “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” (past, post-apocalyptic in a way). Would this fit in at all? Should I just drop any other “The Yellow Wallpaper” ideas? Am I using that text as a crutch?

I appreciate any and all help with my plans! Even just writing out these ideas has gotten me thinking– and slightly less anxious!


The Final Countdown!

This is such an exciting stage of the writing process for me. I’m so surprised by myself! I had an especially big realization about my argument while working on the latest revision, and couldn’t be prouder of my progress. I had felt really lost in my argument for almost the entirety of my writing, except for another insight I had had when I initially started writing. Really, this realization (in my opinion) completely changed my paper– or at least, my attitude while writing, which I think transforms my language (because I’m passionate about what I’m saying)! It was really difficult to start this process last semester, but watching my classmates only start working on their senior projects now, I can’t help but beam. Only a few more days left, and I will have completed the longest writing project I have ever worked on. WHOA!

As for this final revision, I know that I need:

  • add some more information that interests my reader during my introduction
  •  move Hacking’s definition of “transient mental illness” earlier on
  • take the time when I name his criteria of transient mental illness to elaborate on them and explain
  • incorporate some more details from the novel while initially discussing transient mental illness
  • address some issues with awkward wording
  • find a more exciting title!

I really can’t believe that we’re finally here, and I can’t wait to hold in my hands the final product! We’re almost there, everyone!

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The Importance of Being Earnest (AND Being Ernest)

Hi, everyone! This past Wednesday, I presented on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, a play about double lives and meaningful names. I connected the piece to Northrop Frye’s definition of the “domestic comedy” as well Spininger’s argument that Wilde’s play both meets the criteria of a “domestic comedy” and parodies the genre by conveying a meaning opposite to the play’s events. The Importance of Being Earnest attaches the quality of being “earnest” or dedicated (specifically in the marriage sphere) with the name Ernest– creating an ideal man that women fall for and no man can possibly be. Therefore, two men (Algernon and Jack) both pretend to be Ernest (an act that isn’t earnest itself), to woo the women they admire. The women discover they are engaged to the man and are outraged, but eventually decide to marry the men anyway– and Jack finds out his name has been Ernest this whole time (although he is the one that starts the idea of double lives in the play in the first place!).

Together, Frye and Spininger argue that Wilde purposefully meets the criteria of the “domestic comedy,” something his audience would have been used to, in order to break the exact social norms it seems to enforce. We obtain criteria to base our concept of “domestic comedy” on from Frye’s book Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Frye postulates that all domestic comedies meet the “Cinderella archetype,” having a happy ending that involves “the incorporation of an individual very much like the reader into the society aspired to by both, a society ushered in with a happy rustle of bridal gowns and banknotes” (44). In other words, like Cinderella, a domestic comedy usually ends in marriage (perhaps more than one, like in Wilde’s play) as well as a rise in social status. However, Frye also writes that the best domestic comedies also “involve a social promotion…with moral ambiguities,” or that although the comedy ends in marriage and financial stability, we may question whether the ending was morally acceptable considering the rest of the play (45). In The Importance of Being Earnest, we could argue that Frye’s latter criteria applies well. Although the characters end happily, all four main characters had to jump through multiple hoops (pretending to be someone else, or accepting your betrothed to be a person completely different from who they were telling you they were) in order to reach this ending. As Spininger will argue, Algernon and Jack have deceived their way into getting married. Although they come clean about their identities, they still lied multiple times about their entire lives to the women they were engaged to marry– and on top of all this, Jack realizes that he was Ernest all along. Do their marriages at the end of the play seem morally called for?

As Spininger puts best in his article “Profile and Principles: The Sense of the Absurd in The   Importance of Being Earnest,” the fact that the men still get married at the end of the play “shows how absurd the ending itself really is and exposes the fact that deception and illusion are the very fabric of [Victorian] society” (51). Wilde is turning the genre of domestic comedy on its head by purposefully making his play an obvious domestic comedy but allowing the conditions that make the play meet the genre’s criteria absolutely ridiculous. Wilde parodies his play’s own genre to create a compelling discussion on marriage and the lack of genuine emotion that he believes is behind contemporary marriages. Spininger furthers Frye’s domestic comedy by comparing the happy ending to the means it takes Wilde’s characters to reach it. He notes that Wilde’s characters’ negative comments on marriage are never proven wrong– instead, the characters get married anyway, keeping their negative comments about marriages intact and perhaps even proving them correct by following through with marriage after a mess of deception (50). Spininger even uses Wilde’s own title to argue against the meaning of the play, writing that the characters fit in perfectly with the rest of society because of their deception and that “the most important quality in this society is not being earnest” (Spininger 52).

I found this idea of using a genre that has specific societal value to completely disprove and almost scandalize that value is fascinating. I had understood that the characters’ marriages were absurd– who would marry someone who has been lying about their identity? Why should you need to lie about your identity to get someone to want to marry you? And even finally, is marriage important enough to inspire deception? Without doing any historical research (and I think you definitely could to add even more value to this argument!), we can already tell just how important marriage was at Wilde’s time– although we can wonder just how valuable something is that is built upon lies. Some other works on the reading list that may be interesting to pair with this piece are: A Midsummer Night’s DreamFun Home, or Invisible Man (double lives); or perhaps even “The Yellow Wallpaper” (narratives about marriage). Let me know if you have any other ideas or questions!


Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. 1957. Princeton University Press, 2000.

Spininger, Dennis J. “Profile and Principles: The Sense of the Absurd in The Importance of Being Earnest.” Papers On Language & Literature, vol.12,   no .1,  1976, pp. 49-72. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

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Revision Tasks

In order to successfully revise my draft, I need to accomplish/work on the following:

  • Better articulate my thesis (talking it out may help)
  • Take time to describe Lady Audley and the mixed feelings that come with her complicated character (in the novel as well as the film).
  • Integrate feminism, possibly into my mental illness section (mental illness in women as an issue)
  • Come up with a better way to organize and separate my sections. (sub-headings?)
  • Orient better when discussing Hacking.
    • Who is he? What does he argue? Why do we value his criteria?
  • Create a short literature review near the beginning, prepping readers for the types of arguments and theories I’ll be using
  • Find and address some counter-arguments besides the general unhappiness with movie adaptations of novels

Most of these points are tasks that I was insecure about in my previous drafts, and know I need to work on. Thank you, Professor Tougaw and Kelly, for your advice and continued support! I will definitely be coming to you with questions as I begin revising again!


Feedback and Plans

Thank you so much Professor, Caitlin, and Francesca for such encouraging and helpful feedback! I’m motivated to continue working on my draft and can definitely see where your comments are coming from. All three of you gave me extremely similar feedback– which really lets me know that these are things I need to work on to make my ideas more clear to my readers! The most important comment relates to structure and organization. In my draft, I organized things in a way that would help me figure out my plan, but I can also see that because my ideas are complex and the two areas I’m trying to connect aren’t connected already, I definitely need to work on making my paper come together with a more clear and easy-to-follow structure. Like Hayot says, after writing this draft, I’ve noticed that structure is something I can work on and having something written out helps me see that. I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to connect unrelated ideas and show my readers how I see the situation. Caitlin also suggested working on stitching, which I think will be really helpful with tying my newfound structure together. I think my favorite piece of advice from Hayot is the Uneven U, and I definitely want to use it within my paragraphs and for my paragraphs’ organization as I revise. I think one of my hardest jobs with this paper is to keep developing my ideas and bringing them back to my main point. And Hayot’s piece on clustering really opened my eyes to establishing some core ideas in the beginning that I can refer to, instead of expecting my reader to draw out my ideas as I continue complicating without regrouping.

With establishing the Uneven U, I think that this will help me clear up any overcomplicated wording that I have. I tend to write really long sentences and I feel like my writing is always either too casual or too overly “fancy,” so I think breaking these sentences down and really figuring out what each one is doing will help me make things clearer. I think also now that the scary part of filling a blank document with words is over, I can relax and make sure I’m writing as myself and that my excitement for my topic comes through. Professor and Francesca also suggested that I find several more sources, specifically about mental illness over time, and I think that’s a great idea– because I know that that was lacking in my paper, and it’s pretty much the main source of evidence! Good news is that Hacking’s Mad Travelers came in the mail Friday night– literally right after I submitted my draft. But I can start reading it and work on including Hacking’s research in my next draft. I’ll also work on finding a few more sources and see if they help me too! Thank you again for such helpful and motivating feedback, and I look forward to working more on this project! It’s definitely not as scary as it originally was. HAPPY HOLIDAYS/END-OF-FINALS!

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Research Project Progress

I’m slowly but surely making progress on my research project. I’ve been mostly working on a graduate school interview I have tomorrow, but I’ve been trying to work on my thesis project as well. My project is overall really exciting for me to write. With all of my sources and the steps we’ve had to do (the proposal, annotated bibliography, and ballroom diagram), I also feel prepared and knowledgable enough to write and feel pretty confident (and motivated). I guess it’s not the worst issue to have, but my biggest problem right now is time. I’ve been trying to use any spare time I have to at least think about my project or try to visualize it, figuring out how my argument will develop. It’s just really hard with finals and my intense interview, which isn’t just an interview. I have an interview, sample lesson, group interview, in-person essay, and online essay all for tomorrow, and it’s been really stressing me out (especially because I have limited teaching experience and have to teach high school students). However, enough complaining. I think the best thing for me (which I have been using) is Hayot’s suggestion of writing a little bit a day. Days like today are hard for that, but even if I just go into my Google Doc and move things around or figure out how to not constantly repeat the differences between the film and novel and instead introduce analysis, I’m recognizing that as being on the right track.

Honestly, the best strategy for me has been using Professor Tougaw’s writing suggestions quite literally. I copied and pasted his suggested paragraph topics into my Google Doc and keep adding ideas and sentences bit by bit, categorizing what I want to say. I think that has been the hardest thing for me to tackle– I know what I want to say, and I know all of the information. How do I put all of it into words and paragraphs that have a progression and equip my readers to keep reading and understand what’s going on? This method has really helped with that. I’ve ordered and reordered the sections, and finally figured out that I need to first present the differences in the primary sources, then the current research, then my analysis of the differences within the primary sources, all before going into what I have to say. (I think. Things are still moving around.) I also categorized these prompts by my desire to do them (aka their difficulty). For example, my introduction is last because I feel like it’ll be the hardest to write when I haven’t figured out what exactly I’m trying to introduce yet. Establishing the existing research and my primary sources (and my analysis) are easier, thanks to the prep work we did on the annotated bibliography and ballroom diagram (it’s all pretty much put together– I just needed it in sentence form). So progress is being made. I’m a slight wreck from everything going on this week, but I’ll survive. Writing this draft is actually my most exciting project of the week because of just how interested I am in the topic (and I’m looking forward to figuring out how to put all of my interest into words). I’m going to keep fleshing out these paragraph suggestions and I think that’ll also lead to more ideas as to what to do next. I hope everyone else is having a good week, and figuring out their process! Wish me luck for tomorrow!

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Annotated Bibliography and Ballroom Diagram

Braddon, Mary Elizabeth. Lady Audley’s Secret. 1862. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Braddon’s sensation novel is one of my primary sources for my research project. Through a story about a woman who has changed her identity and attempted murder twice to protect herself from poverty, Braddon investigates madness in females in the patriarchal society of the 1800s. I will be comparing the novel to the 2000 film adaptation, looking into the different expressions of Lady Audley, Robert Audley, and Dr. Mosgrave regarding Lady Audley’s mental illness diagnosis and her own reasoning behind her crimes. My use of the novel will channel Gaipa’s Piggybacking and Leapfrogging strategies, bringing Braddon’s novel into a larger conversation about film adaptation and the changes of the definition of mental illness over time.

Cox, Jessica. “From Page to Screen: Transforming M. E. Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret.” Journal Of Gender Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, 2005, pp. 23-31. Academic Search Complete, doi: 10.1080/0958923042000331461. Accessed 1 Dec. 2016.

Cox’s article directly compares Braddon’s novel to the 2000 film adaptation, using (in my opinion) Stam’s “iconophobia” to attempt to explain the problematic qualities of Hounam’s writing for the TV film (Stam 5). Cox holds Hounam and his masculinity responsible for the film’s divergence from the plot and, as she believes, the feminist qualities of Braddon’s novel. Cox’s article is helpful in helping me identify the differences between the novel and the film and offers interesting insights on the feminist qualities of the novel (and why she believes that the film is less feminist). I will use Gaipa’s Picking a Fight and Leapfrogging to argue against Cox’s premise that the film needs to be compared to the book (instead of coexisting as Stam describes) but also utilize her comparison information as her article is one of very few that directly compares my primary sources.

Hachaichi, Ihsen. “‘There Is Sex In Mind’: Scientific Determinism and the Woman Question in Lady Audley’s Secret.” Brno Studies In English, vol. 38, no. 1, 2012, pp. 87-102. Academic Search Complete, doi: 10.5817/BSE2012-1-6. Accessed 1 Dec. 2016.

Hachaichi discusses the presence of phrenology within Lady Audley’s Secret as well as within the 1800s, focusing on the field’s complicated relationship with women. Although the field encouraged women to recognize themselves as individuals, phrenology also enforced patriarchal values. Hachaichi connects this history of the ideology of phrenology to Braddon’s novel, pointing out incidences in which phrenology’s ideas may have been at play in the motives and reasoning behind the characters’ actions. This article gives me an account of contemporary medicine in the 1800s, something the characters would have been familiar with and would have informed their behavior. I can utilize this information and use Gaipa’s Crossbreeding with Something New to connect Hachaichi’s article with Hacking’s book about the repercussions of mental illness and the history of mental illness’ connection to today (or what had informed the 2000 film).

Hacking, Ian. Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses. Harvard University Press, 2002.

Hacking’s book uses a case study to describe the history of mental illness and the consequences of diagnoses, and connects it to the wealth of information surrounding mental illness today. Once I obtain this source, I hope to be able to Ride Hacking’s Coattails (Ass Kiss) and Piggyback off of him in order to learn about the changes in mental illness and diagnoses over time and apply his research to connect the film and the novel through their differences (and time span between their productions). Hacking’s book will help me support my idea that the differences in production years inform the novel and film separately and allow the characters to express new ideas about similar topics each time.

Lady Audley’s Secret. Directed by Betsan Morris Evans and screenplay by Donald Hounam, Carlton Television, 2000.

The 2000 film adaptation of Lady Audley’s Secret is my second primary source. The film diverges from the novel’s plot in Dr. Mosgrave’s treatment of Lady Audley and Lady Audley’s motive behind her crimes. Mosgrave diagnoses Lady Audley as mad and “unfeminine” for her, as she puts it, attempt as a woman to simply survive. I will Piggyback and Leapfrog from this film so it can “[take] up a legitimate place alongside the novel,” incorporating information about the progress mental illness diagnoses have made up until the production of the film, and suggest how this information could have impacted the characters’ free expression on television (Stam 10).

Matus, Jill L. “Disclosure as ‘Cover-Up’: The Disclosure of Madness in Lady Audley’s Secret.” University Of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 62, no. 3, 1993, pp. 334-355. Academic Search Complete, Accessed 1 Dec. 2016.

Matus argues that Braddon’s use of madness to explain Lady Audley’s murderous behavior serves as a cover-up for the true underlying issues of class and power, or the true reasoning behind Lady Audley’s attempted crimes. Interestingly, this article was published before the release of the TV film and explains the exact reasoning behind Lady Audley’s actions as the on-screen Lady Audley seven years later. In a reverse way, I believe that this article can Ride on My Own Coattails (Ass Kiss), supporting my idea that the scientific and cultural knowledge of the late 1990s and early 2000s informs the diverging final scene of the film and gives the characters an opportunity to express the same views as the novel in a different, contemporary way. I can also describe this as a form of Crossbreeding with Something New, but instead Matus’ article predicts correctly the film’s new ideas.

Showalter, Elaine. The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980. Pantheon Books, 1985.

Showalter’s book focuses specifically on madness in women during the time of Lady Audley’s Secret. The book even has a chapter entirely about the misconception of hereditary madness from mother to daughter, which is included in both Braddon’s novel and the 2000 film. Although the idea of hereditary madness is rejected by Dr. Mosgrave in both instances, Lady Audley (both on page and on screen) had grown up believing and identifying herself by this idea. I will Ride Showalter’s Coattails (Ass Kiss) and Crossbreed with Something New to utilize her information on madness in women, which was in the novel and film as well as in society, and how the diagnosis of mad women reinforced gender roles (including those of Lady Audley, especially so in the novel). However, I will also apply Showalter’s ideas to the film, which presents Braddon’s story in the same time period as the novel but incorporates 2000 logic and scientific advancements, even if unintended.

Stam, Robert and Alessandra Raengo, editors. Literature and Film: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation. Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Stam provides a comprehensive guide to adaptation theory in film and literature in the introduction to this book. He goes through basic vocabulary, from explaining various reasons why film adaptations of novels are condemned to bringing his readers to present-day ideas regarding adaptation theory. Specific ideas of his such as narratology and transcoding are of specific interest, as they describe “story as a kind of genetic material or DNA to be manifested in the body of specific texts,” mine being Braddon’s novel and the 2000 TV film adaptation (Stam 10). I will be Riding Stam’s Coattails (Ass Kissing) throughout my research project and to inform myself about the progress of adaptation theory over time as well as support my ideas of coexistence between the novel and the film (as opposed to the fidelity discourse that Stam describes, and as I had found in more dated articles while researching).

Ballroom Diagram:


In my ballroom diagram, I started at the center with Braddon’s novel and Evans and Hounam’s 2000 film, providing in the film’s bubble what differences the film presents that I will be addressing (Walk’s #3 about a mystery or puzzle needing answering, as well as #7, there’s an inconsistency that needs addressing). From there, I branched out to the left. There is an interesting conversation going on between Showalter, Hacking, and Hachaichi. Hachaichi focuses on the novel and points out the presence of phrenology and its ideologies that are present in the book, specifically regarding how they affect women’s feelings about their individuality but also how these feelings are still constrained by the patriarchy around them. I think that Hacking will help me further Hachaichi’s ideas (Walk’s #5, we can understand a larger issue by studying this smaller one) beyond phrenology and focus more on the diagnoses of mental illness. Showalter also enters this conversation, as she discusses madness in women specifically at the time of the novel, adding to Hacking’s information as well as expanding Hachaichi’s ideas (Walk’s #6, this seemingly insignificant matter is actually important). Matus connects to Showalter as well as the novel and the film, as she comments that the idea of madness at all in the novel acts as a veil for Lady Audley’s true issue, her class struggles– which, hence my crystal ball drawing, actually predicts what happens in the film seven years after the publication of her article (Walk’s #1, the truth isn’t what one would expect). Cox connects to Braddon, but has an X on her arrow with Evans and Hounam because she believes that the film’s adaptation took away from the important feminist ideas in the novel. I will use Walk’s #7 to address this tension between Cox and Stam, who explains adaptation theory and the idea that a novel and its film adaptation can share the same story and add to it in interesting ways (instead of comparing the two and picking a favorite, putting down the other choice). Stam also helps me understand Cox’s reasoning behind her comparison.