Enlightenment Utopias, Fall 2014

literary thought experiments of the 17th and 18th centuries

by Carrie Hintz

Great workshop today.  Feel free as your project develops to do follow-up posts/ re-written proposals…not required but potentially helpful for follow-up workshops.

forthcoming exercises

by Carrie Hintz

Article-writing exercises/ activities

  1. Choose someone more or less at random from the class. Arrange to meet at least once in the next 2 weeks to talk about your papers.   Plan to exchange what you have written so far and arrange to help each other find at least 2-3 sources/ theoretical works of interest. You will then switch to another discussant after those two weeks, so that you have a chance to work with more than one person.
  1. Optional Analysis of a sample article [encouraged]

Choose an article that you admire—and one that represents the kind of work that you want to do (and that is the kind of work you are capable of doing).

In point form (either in the Dropbox or on the blog) answer the questions below (I encourage point form so that you do not labor too much on your answers…the key thing is to truly examine the article).

You might want to choose an article that is also serving as a secondary source for your paper.

  1. Consider the title of the article. Does it work well? Did it motivate you to read the article in the first place?
  2. How does the article begin and end? How does it introduce its fundamental argument? How much of the article is given over to the introduction? Conclusion?
  3. How does the article marshal evidentiary support and proof? Do you see any flaws in the argument? What aspects of the article render it convincing to you?
  4. Evaluate the style of the article. What makes it well written? What would you change if you could?
  5. How would you describe the methodology of the article?
  6. Is the article interdisciplinary in nature and/ or rooted within the specific discipline of English?
  7. How does the article use/ draw on literary theory or philosophy? History?
  8. How does the article use secondary sources/ work of other critics generally? How does it stake out new territory?  Are you convinced of its originality?
  9. Anything else you’d like to say about the article?

Source recommendation from Stephen

by Carrie Hintz

Stephen mentioned this book in class, which he had heard about from Karl Steel (during his faculty membership seminar):



Discussion Questions for New Blazing World

by Carrie Hintz

Stephen Spencer sent the following discussion questions for next class.  I am posting them because he is experiencing some kind of technical difficulty which is preventing him from joining the blog.  See you Thurs!  CH

1) In the epilogue, I was struck by the rather direct association Cavendish makes between imperialism and authorship (“By this poetical description, you may perceive, that my ambition is not only to be Empress, but Authoress of a whole world”). My impulse is to say that this is motivated by gender politics. As a woman, Cavendish wanted to be able to enter the male dominated public sphere, as she is clearly enormously intelligent. Still, her association of publication with imperialism strikes our modern ears as disconcerting. I think it’s particularly fascinating given debates about imperialism in the early modern period (was their a “nascent” imperialism in early modern texts? Is it anachronistic to consider imperialism in the period?). My question is broad — does gender help us to understand the relationship between imperialism and authorship in the New Blazing World?

2) Animals obviously play a huge role in the New Blazing World, but I found myself thinking of their presence in the text in terms of technology. Not only do they literally assist in the technology necessary in the Empress’s colonial/imperial endeavors (the fish men pulling the submarines, the bird-men and their firebombing), they also form the basis for the Blazing World’s construction of knowledge (the worm-men as geologists/earth scientists). The horse, however, seems to be a privileged animal. The Emperor is fascinated by horsemanship, so much so that he builds an infrastructure for riding and caring for horses towards the end of the text. What is so special about horses?

3) Much importance is placed on the Empress’s relationship with The Duchess of Newcastle. Much of this is framed by the notion of the “Platonic friendship,” which, at the time, was seen as specific to male-male relationships; women were not usually considered “capable” of fostering a “friendship.” Clearly, we see the opposite in the New Blazing World, but my question is related to my scare-quoting: what does their friendship (and friendship in general) mean in this text? To what extent can the relationship between the Empress and the Duchess be considered erotic, as opposed to Platonic?

4) Cavendish constantly reminds us of the importance of both sense and reason in intellectual endeavors. Concerning sense perception, vision, — for me — is privileged in this text. One need only think of the bears and their microscopes to see this; the microscopes are an improver of vision, they say. I’m curious, however, about the role of the other senses in this text. What roles do the four other, “lower” senses play in the New Blazing World?

5) There’s an issue between class and knowledge in the New Blazing World, and this issue seems to be mediated by the question of the animal. There’s definitely a class hierarchy in the Blazing World, but its interesting to think that it is also dependent, or tied to, the kind of intellectual function each class of human-animal occupies (I’m thinking of the experimentalist Bear-Men as working class knowledge-makers of sorts). What does Cavendish mean to convey with this fixity of class and knowledge-production, and why is it all couched in a kind of allegorical reading of animals?

New Atlantis

by Carrie Hintz

Please note that there is a Project Gutenberg edition of Bacon’s New Atlantis in your Dropbox folder in case the EEBO is too tough to navigate.

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