For this week: feminism, gender criticism, and more of The Turn of the Screw

Posted in prompts at 8:16 pm by Dominique

Hi everyone,

This weekend you’ll be revising your drafts and preparing to submit your final copies of the first paper on Heart of Darkness to the appropriate folder on Dropbox before class on Tuesday. Please see the sample essays and the “reminders” handout I distributed at the end of Tuesday’s class as you prepare your revised version of the essay. Please see my comments on your work in teh Dropbox folder.

Everyone will also be reading chapter 7 in Bressler’s book on feminism. Our main bloggers this week are Kathleen Ocampo and Maria Serrano. In posts of 500-550 words, to be submitted by Monday at midnight, each blogger will answer TWO of the following sets of questions to answer about The Turn of the Screw:

1. Who are the women in the text? Do different generations of women seem to have access to the same kinds of power and/or possibilities or not?

2. What does the domestic space look like?  Are women responsible for most of the  labor in this space?

3. Do women interact with each other the same way that they interact with men? (and vice versa)  Think about speech, diction, tone, etc.  In either case: how and why do interactions take place as they do? Do women speak for themselves or are they spoken for?  When, where, how?

4. Are there communities of women?  If so, are these communities offered as self-sufficient or do they require the presence of men?

5. Do women transgress? [socially, economically, sexually, etc?]  What are the ramifications of these transgressions – or lack thereof? (Think of Miss Jessel!) What does the text suggest as the “lesson” the reader is to learn about women’s roles and opportunities from the way transgressions are handled narratively?

6. What is the relationship between women and money?  Do women provide for themselves, make important economic decisions, etc?

7. Consider the traditional representational options for women: virgin, mother, or whore.  Does the text buy into these distinctions?  Does it resist them?  How and to what end?

8. How (if at all) are femininity and masculinity figured by the text?  Are they represented in the ways you might imagine or is there something surprising about those representations?  Are there moments when these representations break down?     If so, how, why, and to what end?

9. Is marriage and/or reproduction offered as the end-goal for all women or does the text offer other possible modes of happy existence and  satisfaction?  If marriage and/or reproduction are the goals, are these goals offered in seemingly traditional or untraditional ways?  Where do female authority, power, and control fit (if anywhere) in these relationships?

10. Do characters seem to learn their gender identities or are these identities offered as intrinsic and unquestioned realities?

11. How do female characters understand themselves? What role does gender play in these understandings?

12. How does class, race, disability, reproductive ability, or history interact with a particular character’s understanding of her gender and/or identity  (if at all)?  How do these features affect gendered representation?  Are certain kinds of women more “womanly” or feminine than others?  Who is offered as marriageable or desirable options and who is not?

13. Where are female desires and aggressions in the text?  What are its objects and directions?  Are these appropriate or transgressive?  What do these desires and aggressions reveal about the character, society, and/or female representation in the text?

14. Does the text assume a male or female readership? (You may need to know something about the reading practices of the time to answer this question. See the “Cultural Context” material in Part II of our edition for a little more on this.)  What bearing does that have (if any) on the way relationship that the text develops with its     reader?

Commentators will submit posts of 150-200 words by Wednesday at midnight that either build on Kathleen and Maria’s responses or select  ONE other question to answer.

Have a great weekend–eat some candy–and watch out for Peter Quint and Miss Jessel.


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