Apr 5, 2011

Feminist Pragmatism

Hello, everyone.

Here are the chalkboard questions from today's class to keep in mind as we continue reading in this sphere, and especially to consider as we finish discussing Rebecca Harding Davis's "Life in the Iron Mills":
  • How much have our writers in this sphere contributed to the development of American pragmatism, and how much have they gained from it? This question is somewhat hypothetical -- perhaps we should ask how much they appear to have contributed and appear to have gained. I am thinking primarily of Wells-Barnett, Gilman, Davis, Addams, and Schneiderman.
  • What role do definitions of "feminism" play in definitions of "pragmatism" (according to Charlene Seigfried)? What is "feminist pragmatism" in Seigfried's discussion?
  • What defines a "pragmatic" lens to literature? A "feminist pragmatist" lens to literature? How do we read "pragmatically"?
  • "Feminism" was not a widespread critical term until the 1930s, but we have used the term quite liberally to describe a number of our writers before 1900. Is it possible to argue for any of our writers in this sphere as "proto-feminist"? If so, how? If not, why not?

-Professor Graban

Mar 31, 2011

Annie Besant's Use of Irony

For Phase 3 of the Archival Project, I decided to discuss Besant's use of irony in her pamphlet "Is the Bible Indictable?" and how it further strengthens her argument. In this work, Besant seems to be arguing exactly why the interpretation of obscenity, in reference to her and Bradlaugh's publishing of Knowlton's book on birth control, cannot and should not be tolerated. She does this by reiterating the implications of the law in her case and applying it to other works that were circulated at the time which would never be prosecuted with such a charge.

Victorian Women on Women: Phases Two and Three

For phase two I used the card catalog in relation to Victorian Women in the 19th century. I took down a couple of texts that had interesting titles, two being "Beauty's Triumph" and "An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex." "Beauty's Triumph" had no author, and rightfully so. Its format, argument, and conclusion all show very risky approaches to woman's role in the 19th century. It is divided into three sections with an argument by a woman named Sophia, a response to Sophia by a male writer, and Sophia's conclusion about the superiority of women over men. The concept intrigued me because it sounded so modern in its ways of retort.

Hapgood: Tying Two Issues Together

For the final phase of the archival project overview, I will discuss the topics, organization and prominent rhetorical strategies in Mary Hapgood’s short stories, “Jerry the Mine Mule,” “Big Tim’s Daughter” and “Why Do Intelligent Women Marry?”, to make an argument about women and social reform.

Nightingale on Nursing (Option 1)

Here I continue to further investigate the Nightingale collection that I have been focusing on since he beginning of our archival studies at the Lilly Library. While I am looking at a relatively limited number of materials, still find this collection in particular extremely fascinating in that each phase of the project has allowed me to look for and analyze new information. In doing so, I have found myself most drawn to her shrt handbook, Notes on Nursing. Specifically, the introductory or overview chapter provides a great deal of insight into the purpose and function of the text. I love that Nightingale approaches the subject of nursing so matter-of-factly. She wastes no time jumpling in and explaining that the intention of her work is to improve the field of nursing by shedding light onto the art of it.

Besant Calling for Reforms

In phase two of this project, my partner and I found a website that contained the titles and information of all the Little Blue Books. The Little Blues Books are hundreds of books published by the Haldeman-Julius Publishing Company. Emanuel Haldeman-Julius had the idea to get literature and information on almost any subject out to the people at prices they could afford. The Little Blue Books were the result of that idea. On the website (http://www.haldeman-julius.org), a list of titles can be found. The titles include well-known works such as #32 Poe’s Poems and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing” as well as lesser known works including many books on self-help, how-to, and self-education.

Mar 30, 2011

A Letter in Reply to Whom?

In phase three I looked more closely at Item #15, "Justina's Letters in Reply to Miss Garrett's Defense of the Contagious Diseases Acts," published in 1870. When analyzing the letter in order to look for examples of topoi and strategies used by women writers in public discourse I found that Christian morality and the fear of epidemic were seen as possible bases for the implementation of the Contagious Diseases Acts.

Mrs. Malleson, Morality and Gender

For phase three I looked further at Mrs. W. T. Mallesons "Reply" to Miss Garrett. Though her writing we can see the themes and norms of the time. I will also look at her manor of writing, and whether it would have been acceptable at the time.

Gordimer As A Social Commentator

For phase three, I continued with the works of Nadine Gordimer. I chose option two which asks for me to briefly discuss topics, organization and strategies in Gordimer’s early short stories and play. For this phase, I focused more on her play because many of the same themes kept showing up in her short stories.

Mar 29, 2011

Conversation Between Nightingale and Nightingale

As an attempt at constructing an investigative lens, I put Nightingale's "Cassandra" in conversation with a passage from her "Subsidiary Notes". With the passage in "Cassandra", Nightingale speaks of progress, new intelligence, and the formation of a woman's role in society. She seems to marvel at the idea that women desire to enter the man's world and struggle with the thought of men doing the things women are "meant" to be doing:
"But suppose we were to see a number of men in the morning sitting round a table in the drawing room, looking at prints, doing worsted work, and reading little books, how we should laugh!" (Nightingale 1034).

A Call for Civic Education

I chose to look into the preface and the first section in Nightingale's Notes on Nursing. I decided to focus on the beginning of her manual to get a sense of how she is setting herself up, and what she is saying to get her readers attention. I also focused on her tone and how she uses it to connect to her audience.

Morality, Injustice and Ignorant Advocates

For phase three I decided to look in more depth at Justina’s letter in response to Miss Garrett’s defense of the Contagious Diseases Act. I examined strategies and tropes throughout Justina’s text that were common in female public discourse.

Gordimer: Political Activist and Literary Master

At an early age, Nadine Gordimer began writing short stories and plays, her first being "The Valley Legend" published in the Sunday Express when she was thirteen years old. This already suggests Gordimer's literary ability, which makes it highly plausible that her later works would be written by a highly skilled, matured writer who knew how to use allegory, metaphor, and direct characterization to work to her advantage.

The Morality of Socialism


Mary Donovan Hapgood was a woman who was stalwart in her beliefs. After developing her basic beliefs on the socialist agenda and American society on the whole she refused to abandon these ideals and decidedly developed her works based upon these. Perhaps her most informative piece of literature while looking at what she values is her essay “The Vanishing Virtue”. While this has no date attached to it, we can assume that this was written after developing some strong views and making sturdy connections within the socialist party. “The Vanishing Virtue is a very direct piece that is openly scathing of some of the practices associated with the reactions to civil protest that Hapgood was involved in. Out of this criticism, we can see two definitions: crime and virtue.

Mar 28, 2011

Morality and Prostitution

For phase three in the London Lowlife Collection, I chose option two which asked me to investigate Mrs. Malleson’s “Reply” more closely in order to discover commonalities during the time it was written and tropes frequently used in women’s writing.

Mar 27, 2011

Schedule Change and Symposium #4

Dear ENG L207 Class:

To be fair to Ida B. Wells-Barnett (and the tradition of anti-lynching journalism in which she participated) I think we'll need to work her back into our reading schedule for the fourth sphere "Social Evolution: Sex, Class, and Labor." She makes an interesting transitional figure by bridging some of our nineteenth-century feminist authors' use of gender or race as tropes in both sentimentalist and anti-sentimentalist fiction, with some of our twentieth-century feminist authors' calls to more explicit kinds of activism. So, I announce this change to our reading schedule for next week:

Thursday 3/31/11
Wells-Barnett -- classpak, "Lynch Law"
Truth -- anthology pp. 509-511, 512-513
Gilman -- classpak, "Women and Economics" but only pp. 360-366 (top)
Jones -- cancelled (although this makes a great piece to read on your own)

Additionally, I announce a schedule change for our fourth and final symposium. The symposium will be held on Tuesday 4/5/11 and Tuesday 4/12/11. I am making Thursday 4/7/11 an independent work day at the Lilly Library to work with your collections on the final project.

Many thanks,
Professor Graban

Mar 11, 2011

Consultations (Optional) on Critical Essay #3

Hello, everyone.

I post here the consultation schedule for Critical Essay #3, after the spring break. If you have a conflict with the time(s) you have chosen, or have not yet signed up, please let me know. There are still plenty of open slots.

Have a restful spring break,
Professor Graban

Monday 3/21/11
11:30-11:50 Emily Taylor
12:30-12:50 Katharine Yugo
1:30-1:50 Hannah May


Tuesday 3/22/11
4:00-4:20 Ariel Daugherty
4:30-4:50 Courtney Rishel
5:00-5:20 Deirdre Hutchinson

Thursday 3/24/11
10:45-11:15 Charlotte Martin
12:40-1:00 Sam Ostrowski
4:00-4:20 Lauryn Roberts
4:30-4:50 Belle Kim
5:30-5:50 Alyssa Kennedy

Friday 3/25/11