Category Archives: Fall 2015

Combs Slughorne shot

Camron Combs

This excerpt is from the final essay I wrote as part of the Senior Seminar. It combines a topic that interests me, truth and different perceptions of truth, and draws on different elements of philosophy in order to form a thought that is bigger than a close reading of a novel
The Price of Empathy: Objectivity and Subjectivity in Night Train

The main character in Martian Amis’ Night Train, detective Mike Hoolihan, demonstrates that the only way to reach a complete emphatic understanding of another is to combine objective input with subjective instinct. Amartya Sen wrote an article, “Positional Objectivity,” where he includes subjectivity in a concept that he calls ‘positional objectivity.’ A person is able to think objectively from their perspective, and even though it is from an individual’s perspective doesn’t mean that they are thinking subjectively. The things that we commonly associate with being objective are the product of something Sen calls “trans-positional objectivity” where a bunch of positional objectivities are combined with a similar outcome from every unique position. In Thomas Nagel’s book “The View From Nowhere” he talks about how objectivity needs to be independent of the individual. This is more in line with what we colloquially think of as objectivity, concepts that do not originate from a particular point of view, but somewhere on its own.
Positional objectivity is able to help the reader understand Jennifer’s mindset when she committed suicide, as well as demonstrating the divide that the two characters have in their views of the world. Both Jennifer and Mike exist in opposite, extreme ends of society. Mike sees the world with easily identifiable dividing lines between people. She is unable to pass judgment on the criminals she pursues because “It’s not the worst thing she’s seen.” Jennifer sees the world in the context of the whole universe and realizes that the best that the world has to offer isn’t that impressive in the context of the whole universe.
Nagel’s concept of a “view from nowhere” helps the reader understand why almost everyone is willing to accept the ultimately false narrative of Jennifer as the seemingly happy girl who is hiding severe depression. She decides to end her life because she can’t handle it any more. This isn’t enough for Mike, Jennifer’s police family must be relevant to the case.
This combination of objective thought and facts paired with Mike’s subjective instinct are what eventually break the case. Everyone else is left with a collection of facts and a false narrative that only builds them a plausible outcome, not giving them the true understanding that they claim to want.
The reader has to combine these view points along with their own in order to create the “trans-positional” objectivity or truth. They need to see the scope by which Jennifer measures the universe and its confining nature, while also understanding that the distance between people isn’t as simple as their physical distance from one another. Most people never get close to one extreme or the other, they aren’t the greatest lover and they aren’t the dregs of humanity. Both women are right in their own way, but both are fundamentally flawed. By killing off Mike at the end of the novel Amis forces the reader to come to their own conclusions since neither of the ideas are left standing.
The question remains, if Mike and Jennifer are so different in their positional objectivity, how is Mike able to understand and comprehend the thoughts and feelings that Jennifer had at the end of her life? In order to gain a better grasp on how this works we need to shift our definitions of objective and subjective slightly. By looking at Thomas Nagel’s views in The View From Nowhere where he defines “objective” as an external force and subjective as an internal force (Nagel 4). According to Nagel: “a view or form of thought is more objective than another if it relies less on the specifics of the individual’s makeup and position in the world, or on the character of the particular type of creature he is” (Nagel 5). Being objective comes from something that is independent of one’s own viewpoint. It is a view from nowhere.
The reason that Mike is able to understand Jennifer is that throughout the course of the novel Mike is inserting herself into Jennifer’s life from her own perspective. Nagel claims that this work represents “an experience from the outside by imagining it subjectively is the analogue of representing an objective spatial configuration by imagining it visually. One uses ordinary appearance as a medium.” Mike is able to take a concept of Jennifer’s life and begin to understand it by reassembling it from her own position. Due in large part to the segmented and clearly defined nature of Mike’s view, she is able to know which pieces to assemble to recreate a working model of Jennifer’s life on a fundamental level. She is able to clearly label the differences between them. Mike is able to create a model of what was going on with Jennifer.

Zack Franklin

Zack Franklin


I’m including this piece for Slughorne because it was an incredibly fun piece to write. In this major you do get the chance to write about whatever interests you and that freedom is one of the reasons I picked the major in the first place. Take your education seriously, but remember to have some fun with your assignments. Here’s a link to the article that’s discussed below

Why The Fuck Aren’t You In Koh Rong is an offbeat, irreverent and even subversive online travel magazine. The most popular sections of the website are titled “Adventure,” “Party +Sex” and “Travel Porn.” This distinguishes the OffTrackPlanet brand from the more mainstream guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, and markets to an audience of travelers in their early twenties who are seeking unconventional travel advice.  One of the articles on the website, “Why The Fuck Aren’t You in Koh Rong?” deftly persuades the international motley crew of backpackers to visit the often overlooked, mostly unspoiled island of Koh Rong, located on Cambodia’s southern coast. Short and to the point, the article gives a brief overview of the island and information necessary to a traveler, such as the available accommodations, nightlife, and volunteer opportunities. Utilizing an informal, conversational style in the second person, vivid photographs and a repetitive organizational structure, Cheresson attempts to persuade the reader that Koh Rong is an exotic, authentic and must-see alternative to the “beaten pancake trail” of Thailand (Cheresson, P1).

From the first word to the last, this article defies the normal conventions of impartial, objective travel writing, and engages the reader in a conversation. It begins and ends with the title, “Why The Fuck Aren’t You In Koh Rong?” This bookended rhetorical question is addressed to the reader. The use of the pronoun “you” makes the article more personal, while the use of informal language such as “fuck” intensifies the urgency, arrests one’s attention and establishes the character and credibility of the author. Cheresson continues to rely on rhetorical questions to involve the reader, even asking the reader to remember movie scenes or think back on childhood. It is easy to imagine the entire article taking place as a conversation at the Overstay Hostel in Bangkok with someone who just came back from the island and is explaining the basics. This is evident because of the numerous allusions to Thailand, the more dominant player in the Southeast Asian backpacking trail. Cheresson inserts these comments almost parenthetically, such as starting a sentence with “if you’re missing Bangkok already…” (Cheresson, P4). These references are important because they utilize a shared terminology and knowledge base that creates a rather exclusive audience. Cheresson also uses word play to further develop the informality and sense of humor as well as emphasizing her perspective and drawing attention to key points.  This is exemplified in the first header “Koh Rong, But It Feels So Right” (Cheresson, P1). Although originally the phrase “so wrong, but it feels so right” is often used for experiences that connote a guilty indulgence, switching “so wrong” to “Koh Rong” is a pun that links the feeling of guilty indulgence with the island paradise.  Another one of the headings, “Nightlife Schmightlife,” (Cheresson, P6) playfully uses a grade school rhyme scheme to imply that there is no nightlife on the island. However, as she continues, the reader might find this ironic, because there isn’t nightlife in the traditional sense, but Cheresson describes exotic activities ranging from bonfires on the beach to skinny dipping with bioluminescent plankton. This word play is always used to set Koh Rong apart as an alternative to the norm, as something exotic and authentic. This informal tone combined with a conversational style increases the likelihood that the article will resonate with OffTrackPlanet’s youthful and rebellious readership. Through the article’s use of the second person, rhetorical questions, word play and implied familiarity, Cheresson effectively creates a voice for the article that persuades a reader that Koh Rong is a destination that is real and authentic.

Cheresson uses the pictures to provide a context for the reader. However, the inclusion and omission of certain elements creates a manipulated portrayal of Koh Rong that emphasizes natural, almost primitive aspects to show Koh Rong as an escape from modern society. Of the six photographs, only one of them features  a human being. In all of the other pictures, while human structures are shown, any mark of society has been left out. This promotes Cheresson’s viewpoint of Koh Rong as an escape. The first photograph focuses on azure seas and green forests. There is a long white pier leading into the heart of the island, and this invites the reader to go on a journey and walk down this pier as well as continue into the article. Further pictures reveal fishing boats waiting in the sea, rustic bungalows and treehouses unoccupied, and delicious food. When the reader arrives at the final image, they see a Cambodian child playing next to a small fire on the beach looking away from the camera. There are no pictures of other travelers on the island, although the reader knows they exist because they have been mentioned in the informational paragraphs.  The images also progress in a linear manner. The first picture is taken from the vantage point of a boat. Next, the pictures are of the first scenes when you arrive, and they continue to progress as you venture deeper into the island and the article. This progression creates a narrative of adventure and escape that is irresistible to the reader.  The audience of OffTrackPlanet eschews traditional travel narratives in favor of the more high-octane, extreme and adventurous. The audience also craves authenticity. The lack of other travelers in photographs, the focus on pristine and natural subjects, and the narrative progression of the photographs creates a context vital to the article and promotes Koh Rong as an alternative to the mainstream.

Employing a simple, repetitive format holds the attention and removes distractions from the audience. This article is written for backpackers, and they aren’t necessarily reading this article on a full size computer. They’re reading this on phones and tablets and they’re also reading this on the move. It is vital for informational travel writing to be quickly scannable to allow for the reader to find the specific information they need. In addition, is set up for readers to view a wide variety of articles at a quick pace to increase their ad revenues. Short and concise is key at  Cheresson consistently uses the same organizational pattern: a cycle of an attention grabbing header, a vivid photograph followed by an informational paragraph interspersed with humor and snarky side comments. This simple repetition frees the reader to focus on the content instead of the form,  while at the same time allowing the reader to find the information they need without having to search through the entire article. The large pictures and short paragraphs create a fast pace to the article, which lends a sense of harshness and abruptness. This appeals to the typical reader of who seeks out uncomfortable experiences. The format of the article allows the reader to easily find pertinent information, focus on the content instead of the form, and creates a tension in the article that is appealing to the anticipated audience.

The closing sentence echoes the title, but after traveling through the article, the reader likely has a different reaction. Rather than a question, It is now an imperative statement that compels the reader to seriously consider making a trip to the island to experience this for themselves. Through the informal style, shared terminology, and second person perspective, Cheresson gains the reader’s trust, appeals to her audience and personally involves the reader. Through the use of vivid photographs, Cheresson has manipulated  the perception of Koh Rong into a primitive escape from modern society and created a sense of exclusivity for the few travelers that make it there.  Through the use of a repetitive format, Cheresson tailors her article for the needs of a digital nomad-backpacker audience, allowing them to quickly find information and also creating a sense of tension and abrasiveness that the reader finds appealing.


Hunter Harrell

“Culture, Race and Changing Views in My Antonia” is a reflection essay written for Senior Seminar. In the class discussion, with Professor Craig Dionne, the themes focused on were nostalgia, race and ethnicity, and the general landscape. The most striking question asked was, “Does the narrator, Jim, change over the course of the novel?” Most people thought that he did not really change, although in my essay, I argue that he has.


Culture, Race and Changing Views in My Antonia

What most stood out to me as I read My Antonia by Willa Cather was the race and gender politics throughout the novel. That is of no surprise as the book was published back in 1918. The first assumption was to write off the gender and race politics as a product its time. That works for most the time too, because there was not anything really offensive in the novel that is not a result of outdated thinking. There are a few things that seem almost schizophrenic though, as the narrator bounces between his feelings towards foreigners and women with little to no explanation. This bouncing could be acceptable if the novel was being told as it goes, instead of as a memoire.

Very early on in My Antonia there is a simultaneous celebration and demonization of various ethnicities centered on immigrant status. There is absolutely no editorializing by our narrator, Jim, leaving it unclear where he stands on the issue. This lack of commentary is further confused by the overall sense of nostalgia running through the novel, leaving it in an uncomfortable place. When we are first introduced to Antonia and her immigrant family, Jake, one of the foreigners that is praised all throughout the novel says, “…you were likely to get diseases from foreigners” (Cather 6). This quote is recorded by Jim verbatim. These kinds of offhanded negative remarks against certain foreigners are spread all throughout the first book.

Antonia and her family are constantly described as being foolish, reckless, or rude by virtue of them being “Bohemians.” For example, when Antonia wanted to give Jim a ring when they had just met he remembered, “I didn’t want her ring, and I felt there was something reckless and extravagant about her wishing to give it away to a boy she had never seen before” (Cather 15). Also, there was the bit where Jim recalls the way Antonia constantly violated his understood gender conventions by commenting, “Much as I liked Antonia, I hated a superior tone that she sometimes took with me. She was four years older than I, to be sure, and had seen more of the world; but I was a boy and she was a girl, and I resented her protecting manner” (Cather 21).

It seems though that the Shimerdas are being unfairly depicted. As Otto Fuchs, an Austrian immigrant, says, “[they] belonged to the rat family” (Cather 32). That the Shimerdas are poor and wretched by their birthright is something we know is false. In their old country they were well to do. It is only in the new country that they are struggling. Yet, it seems like their condition is being blamed on their foreignness because they are unfamiliar. It is easier to see this if you look at another immigrant, the same one that called the Shimerdas rats. Otto Fuchs is described as a hard worker, is always looked up to by Jim, and treated with respect by his family and the community. His heritage is a wondrous thing to the narrator.

Near Christmas time Otto pulls out all these memorabilia that “had been sent to him year after year, by his old mother in Austria” (Cather 36). It makes the Christmas tree into something truly special. Everyone respects Otto, and his reverence to his old life in Austria is seen as positive. This is in stark contrast to the way the Shimerdas’ reverence to Bohemia is treated. At one point Mrs. Shimerdas gives Jim’s family rare mushrooms that are impossible to find in America and no one wants to eat it, thinking it must be wretched because the Shimerdas live in abject poverty.

The novel does not stay this way though. Without any explanation in the later books the very attributes that originally put Jim and his family off Antonia and the Shimerdas are turned into great and positive qualities. For example, at the end of the novel when Jim meets Antonia and her family after all those years apart, he describes the children chattering in “their rich old language” (Cather 135). There is a certain respect he has for them for not being able to speak English which goes against his feelings earlier. (Earlier being that he described her language as “jabber Bohunk” (Cather 22).) Not to mention how Antonia’s refusal to step into normalized gender conventions of the time turns from Jim not liking her into a deep admiration.

Did these changes occur because Jim became familiar with the originally bizarre Bohemian ways? Did it change because of Jim’s deep respect and love for Antonia? It is not entirely clear, and kind of confuses Jim as a narrator. What it does end up doing, though, is get us to question the prejudices we have. How much of our distrust and anger towards people comes from simply not knowing them? How much of it comes from being unaware of a lifestyle different than our own? These are the kinds of questions I believe that Cather was trying to evoke through Jim’s narration. It does not come out and place these questions in our laps because the time period Cather wrote in probably would not have been too accepting.

The contradictions in essentialism through the novel are deliberate and show us how Jim changes, but never comes out and says it. This is problematic because it allows these changes to be completely missed to anyone who was not paying close attention. I think it is a pretty accurate portrayal of how people change in real life. There really is not any big revelation and self-reflection going on most the time. There is just gradual accepting of difference and connecting with outsiders on a human level. Just like Attridge’s conception of otherness, you cannot encounter the other without changing yourself.


Barbara Hubbard

The following is from an analytical essay titled, “The Other Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath,” I wrote for my LITR450: Major Authors course focusing on the destructive poetics of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. The essay was chosen for presentation for the 2014 Undergraduate Symposium, and the essay is significant because it demonstrates understanding the construction of the writing is just as crucial as understanding the final result.


Through their own linguistic alchemy, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes destroyed themselves to become the other through their language and poetry. For Plath, it was the destruction of her own reality in order to become her true self. For Hughes, it was to become the voice of the decomposing natural world. This symbolic annihilation of self was no easy task, nor can it be understood as something measurable. It called for the dismantling of the language that was being used in poetry during their time periods and how that language and literary tradition plagued oral forms of communication. The symbolic annihilation of self was so closely held, so acutely tampered with, and so utterly tedious that eventually, the process of writing poetry actually became the poetry. This dedication to the derailing of language deemed normal was an all-encompassing burden that plagued the status of both their mental health, their individual pieces of writing, and ultimately their family. The creative discipline and manipulation of language as presented in Plath’s Colossus and other poems, and Hughes’ Lupercal, allows both poets the ability to transcend into otherness. By becoming the other through their linguistic alchemy, Plath and Hughes build the platform to write more freely in their later poetry Ariel and Birthday Letters. Plath and Hughes used their works to defamiliarize the reader with any preconceived notions of their relationship with each other or their personal relationship with the outside world. This defamiliarizing is achieved through the derangement of language which allows Plath and Hughes to become the other. Plath and Hughes achieve otherness with the use of mythological references, the personification and domestication of animals as well as unusual poetic imagery.

The use of mythology and folklore is present in multiple pieces of Hughes’s and Plath’s work. Written during The Movement period post WWII, Lupercal defied The Movement’s anti-Romanticism witty and sardonic verses. Hughes wrote this collection in his makeshift version of Romanticism based on his belief that “humanity had catastrophically lost connection with the sacred,” and used that belief to fuel his self-imposed obsessive responsibility of protecting the natural world (Roberts 2). After switching his major from English to Anthropology during his studies at Cambridge, Hughes fully believed that “supernatural forces had intervened,” bestowing upon him the responsibility of the shaman, or the link between his people and the world beyond (Gifford 69). Lupercal is concerned with the forces of nature and their interactions with the human mind. Hughes used myth in Lupercal to produce spaces for creativity and expression that would otherwise be unobtainable to begin to explore the relationship between the human mind and natural world.



Amy Dage

Amy Hall

This piece of writing is taken from an African American Literature course. I chose to include it in this project because I think it encapsulates what we are taught to do in this program in terms of analytical research.


Literary Text: Quicksand by Nella Larsen

Research Question: What was Helga Crane’s psychological state throughout the novel and

at the time of her death?

Why this novel? Why this question?

Of all the reading that we have tackled this semester, my favorite piece is Quicksand by

Nella Larsen. The character of Helga Crane, though extremely frustrating and problematic, was enticing due to her constant struggle with self-identification. I was always anxious to see both where her discomfort with life would take her next and if she would, or even could, find happiness. I found myself deeply saddened after reaching the rather unsatisfying conclusion of the novel. Though she was only a fictional character, I was concerned with her psychological state. Was she doomed to eternal entrapment inside the yellow wallpaper?1 Was she ever to reach an awakening or was she only able to succumb to a sea of self-effacement?2 Like many female characters before her, searching for individuality in a world of strict social and assumed racial roles, Helga Crane seemed destined to a life only of internal sadness. Perhaps, sadness would not even do. Perhaps, Helga, like her predecessors, could only find an iota of happiness by detaching herself mentally and physically from her societal expectations. This awareness left me


1 This is a reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

2 This is a reference to Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

wondering about Helga’s psychological state, not just at the end of the novel, but throughout. What exactly was the root of her internal struggle?

My Research Efforts

Search strings: [psychoanalysis in Quicksand] and [Narcissism in Quicksand]

In searching for an answer to my question, I began with the Halle Library databases which have always served me well. I started with JSTOR and discovered an article of great assistance to my effort titled “Death and Desire in Quicksand by Nella Larsen” by Claudia Tate from the journal of American Literary History. There was not a wealth of information on this topic, but this article was almost 30 pages and well-stocked with useful information for my question. All semester long, I have been interested in the psychological aspects of almost every character I have come upon. However, I was particularly interested in looking at this in terms of female characters. It seemed that it was always the women in these novels who went crazy (i.e. Edna Pontellier in The Awakening and Jane in “The Yellow Wallpaper”). At first, I summed this observation up to narcissism, so my initial search had to do with narcissism in Quicksand. There were a few reviews, but nothing very concrete. I decided to broaden my search by replacing ‘narcissism’ with ‘psychoanalysis’ and this article was discovered.


Terrance Puryear

Excerpt from Autobiographical Essay

After reading the Douglass narrative, I developed a curiosity to look for deeper meaning in a text. I became a fan of text interpretation. I would asked myself the questions that every literature teacher asked their pupils; “what is it that the author is saying here?” I became fascinated with how books, essays, articles, even political cartoons reflected and interpreted the world around them. To a fault, I believe that success in life is interconnected to reading. I firmly believe it is not all in who you know, rather it’s in what you read. Even more so, how you read and how you interpret. Being in corporate America, I have had the opportunity to speak to the self-proclaimed great thinkers of industry.

I can remember having the opportunity to speak to a VP of a well-known telecommunications company out of Philadelphia. I was in a round table discussion of about forty people and was given the opportunity to ask this well-known leader one question during a Q&A. I can recall one person asking, “What are your thoughts on our presence in the stock market and do you perceive real earning potential in the next fiscal quarter?” Another asked, “We have seen the cost of healthcare go up constantly, no additional investment in retirement plans, and other companies offering great incentives with better reputations amongst consumers. What are you plans to remaining competitive and retaining employees to handle the demand of our customers while keeping them invested?” The VP would give the best answer they could and people would write things down as the VP spoke. When it was my turn, I asked a question that caused the room to fall silent. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with us today. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you read?” I asked. The VP took pause then asked me to repeat my question, as if there was some auditory distraction that prevented me from being heard clearly. “What do you read?” I repeated. With a smile, the VP responded, “I read a lot of things by Stephen Covey, The New York Times, and I am currently reading The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Can I ask you what you are reading right now?” Flattered that the VP would even show interest, I said “Myles Monroe’s book on leadership and I love reading the funny pages every night before I watch Jimmy Fallon.” The VP laughed, and then with unbridled curiosity to the nature of my question, the VP asked me, “Why do you ask what I am reading?” “Because it gives me insight into how you process. If I know what you read, I have insight into how you process, and if I know how you process, I think like you think,” I answered. Ironically, I was the last person to ask a question for this session, but the VP detained me after the meeting, which was a big deal. They told me that they had never been asked a question like that before in a setting like that one. To say the least, the VP was very impressed and refreshed by someone who really wanted to truly leverage their wisdom and get to know them and the true direction for the company. Upon returning to the office, my boss told me that he had heard all the rumors about “the new kid from Michigan” that got the VP to ask a question (instead of the other way around) and impressed the VP. After that moment, and to this day, once a month, my boss asks the people on his team, “What are you reading this month?”


Brittani Eatmon

The following excerpt is from an essay from LITR 421 talks about nature in The Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn and The Pioneers.

In chapter XIX of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the first paragraphs are beautiful descriptions of nature. The imagery that is created is absolutely amazing because the scene is so carefree. This boy is living on a raft on the Mississippi River with a runaway slave, which would be unnerving to most people, but to Huck, this is comfort. This is safety. This is better than being in society where there are rules and conformity. Everything in these paragraphs represents the calm of nature and the surroundings. This quote shows the carefree nature of Huck:
It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened – Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn’t say nothing against it, because I’ve seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done. (Twain 158)
He feels comfortable lazing about on this river and he feels safe there. Nature is a way of escape for Huck. He doesn’t fit into society.
In The Pioneers, the landscape and environment are described beautifully. Vivid descriptions of nature are throughout the text and there is not a detail missing. Nature is peaceful and calming, but humans and society corrupt this notion. Natty Bumppo is a character in this novel that is not wasteful like the other characters. He respects and cares about nature. In chapter XXII, Natty Bumppo says,
If a body has a craving for pigeon’s flesh, why, it’s made the same as all other creatures, for man’s eating; but not to kill twenty and eat one. When I want such a thing I go into the woods till I find one to my liking, and then I shoot him off the branches, without touching the feather of another, though there might be a hundred on the same tree. (Cooper 174)
Natty does not trust the men around him. They are wasteful; they kill for sport and not for food. I’m sure they’ll eat one, but they are nothing like Natty. He doesn’t want dead pigeons everywhere because you can no longer eat them when they spoil and decay. Natty Bumppo does not trust the society/ civilization around him because they do not live to benefit nature; they live to benefit their own selfish pleasures. This makes Natty different from the other characters that are destructive towards nature.

Works Cited
Cooper, James Fenimore. The Pioneers. New York: Dodd Mead, 1958. Print.
Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Random House, 1996. Print.


Rachael Crain

The following is an excerpt from an essay on reverse colonial anxieties on the Victorian British

consciousness as seen in Bram Stoker’s Dracula which I wrote for my class on Victorian poetry

and prose.

With that in mind, a firmly related threat is illustrated after Dracula escapes a run in with

Van Helsing and the other men. Before he takes his leave, the count warns the men that their

“girls that [they] love are mine already” and that “through them” they and many others will fall

into the count’s possession as well (Stoker 347). Stoker’s inclusion of this line, even when the

fear of this colonizing by the colonized has already been established, takes the anxiety a step

further. Now there is a worry that, should this actually happen, Victorian women might start to

marry the foreign, non-Western men. Not only that, but when Dracula insists that through the

women, others will become his as well, this could very well speak to a fear that children of

mixed ancestry will be born as a result of this reverse colonizing process and as a result, over

time, the foreign culture will take even greater dominance. This is not exactly a threat of British

imperial power, but rather a threat to the British cultural conventions. In the situation described,

British men lose a dimension of social power by losing any claim they would have had to British

woman as defined by cultural conventions. Then if biracial children were to be born, British

culture is put in greater danger as these children form a generation of people whose cultural

practices and values deviate from what is strictly British. Stephen Arata addresses the idea of

British culture being threatened through Dracula’s presence, pointing out that by the Count

choosing to greaten his race though only women, vampiric and female sexuality are intertwined

and are “represented as primitive and voracious, and both threaten patriarchal hegemony” (632).

Therefore, Dracula’s invasion threatens the British patriarchy, a cultural facet, by turning British

women into hyper sexual vampires in addition to taking them away from British men. However,

the vampiric possession of women such as Mina and Lucy transcends from cultural threat to

chilling mirror of colonialism as their bodies are taken possession of, just as land might be.

Not unlike how Dracula’s attack of Mina and Lucy brings them to waste, colonialism is

a violent process that often decimates the cultures that fall victim to it. Harker describes a

scenario that sounds an awful lot like colonial destruction as he grows ever more suspicious of

Dracula during his stay in the castle. The day after the frightening encounter with the three

women, Harker writes the following about the Count:

This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to

come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new

and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. (84)

This description appears to be a metaphor for what is perpetuated by British colonialism in the

time of Stoker’s novel. Similar to Harker’s comment, the British held on to some colonies, such

as India, for “centuries”, where brutal tactics would gratify lust for power and conquest, which

isn’t too far from bloodlust. The growing “circle of semi-demons” could easily refer to the

increasing presence of British military force in a foreign country who “batten on the helpless”

native dwellers. If Harker is talking about Dracula’s invasion of Britain in a way that sounds

incredibly similar to actual imperial conquest, Dracula also becomes an impetus for mirroring the

horrors of colonialism back at the colonizers. In his essay, William Hughes makes a similar

observation by noting that Dracula is a metaphor for “imperial Britain encoded and inverted, the

invading nation invaded by its own processes of invasion and cultural infiltration” (Hughes 96).

Even by just recognizing Dracula’s method of infiltration into the city of London, with his

strategically placed earthen boxes similar to strategically placed military outposts in a soon to be

colony, as an imitation of British colonial methods, it’s apparent that colonialism is being

inverted. Furthermore, just as the colonizing process is fraught with worry and fear for those

being colonized, the British characters in Stoker’s novel struggle with the same emotions during

Dracula’s metaphoric attempt at colonialism.

Works Cited

Arata, Stephen D. “The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse

Colonization.” Victorian Studies 33.4 (1990): 621-45. JSTOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Hughes, William. “A Singular Invasion: Revisiting the Postcoloniality of Bram Stoker’s

Dracula.” Empire and the Gothic: The Politics of Genre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan,

2003. 88-102. Print.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Glennis Byron. Toronto: Broadview, 1998. Print.

Emily Adamek

I wrote this essay for ENGL 408W, Writing for Secondary Teachers. I was excited to write this piece because I have always been fascinated with mermaids.

Mermaids – The Humans of the Sea

The word mermaid literally means maid of the sea. “Mermaid” comes from the words mere “sea, lake” and maid “a young unmarried woman.” A mermaid is a legendary aquatic creature with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids were first introduced in stories from Assyria, in which a goddess transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover. Mermaids are commonly related to the mythological Greek sirens as well as the aquatic mammal, the manatee. Mermaids are usually associated with events such as floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drownings. It is said that mermaids enchanting voices would lure soon-to-be-shipwrecked sailors to nearby rocks and sandbars. Many folktales include mermaids and they can be described as benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans, as we see in Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid. However, there are many myths surrounding mermaids, the most prominent being if they do in fact exist.
The Aquatic Ape Theory is a conventional theory on human evolution which states that some time in the distant past the ancestors of modern homo sapiens descended from the trees, left the forests and moved out into the savannah. However, there is a minority opinion in the field of anthropology that disagrees with this theory. These anthropologists say that by the time Homo sapiens moved into the savannah we had already been through a great deal of evolution, because a close ancestor of Homo sapiens underwent an aquatic phase. According to this theory our ancient ancestors would have spent a great deal of time in the water, perhaps the majority of the day. Thus, Homo sapiens would have begun to exhibit certain evolutionary adaptations to this lifestyle. However, there are certain attributes modern humans share with aquatic mammals, which are not present in savannah mammals. Relative hairlessness and bipedalism are two of these characteristics, which modern humans have. Unlike savannah mammals whose bodies are completely covered in hair, modern humans and aquatic animals lack. As well as bipedalism, which is the ability to walk upright on two legs, which gives humans great advantages over other animals. Modern humans also have a greater amount of body fat than those savannah mammals, as well as larger brains. Some proponents of the Aquatic Ape Theory have insinuated that our brain to body ratio is due to an aquatic past. It is said that the fats and other substances found in seafood contributed to the evolution of a better brain, which only could have happened when our ancestors began to spend more time in the sea. The last of these attributes to modern humans is the respiratory system. The ability that modern humans have today to control breathing is unusual for a land mammal, and is suggestive of those that have evolved in an aquatic environment. Also, the position of the larynx in humans is more like that of an aquatic mammal rather than that of other land mammals.
There may not be legitimate evidence to back up the claim that mermaids do in fact exist, however, there has to be some truth to the mermaid legend seeing as we know what they look like, how they act, and what species they are related to. There is a reason mermaids have been and still are currently popular within our culture. Only twenty-five percent of the world’s oceans have been studied, that means that there is still a seventy-five percent chance that mermaids are real. There have been biologists who have recently come forward to explain strange sounds that have been recorded deep beneath the ocean as mermaids. Although, there is no way to completely prove that these sounds are that of mermaids, with enough research we can identify which marine species is closely related to these sounds. These biologists have said the sounds are very unique and unlike anything they have heard before, but are similar to that of a whale. Therefore, the depiction we as a culture already have of mermaids is pretty spot on.

Elizabeth Buzo

Elizabeth Buzo: Sly As A Fox

This article was written as a way to describe and analyze how a form of media, in this case a magazine article, utilizes rhetoric to present an idea to a reader. This is a short clip from a larger piece of work written for an Eastern Michigan Rhetoric Class.

Sly as a Fox

Fresh Matters magazine features several types of articles such as providing clean water to impoverished countries, informing on supporting local communities who provide natural ecosystem farming, creating awareness on Non-GMO’s and animal testing. Lush, a Canadian based organic company whom creates and distribute Fresh Matters magazine features its products as “cruelty free” (non-animal tested), organic and safe. Lesley Fox is the author of “Fighting the Fur Trade,” an article within Fresh Matters, describing the large amount of animals killed for their fur pelts each year (Fox 21-25). It details the environmental conditions that fur trade animals live in, the history and the reason behind the organization of The Association for the Protection of Fur-bearing Animals. Fox’s article aims towards audiences who buy Lush’s products and to members of The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals in an attempt to create awareness on the facts of the fur trade. When first reading Fox’s article a reader may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information Fox provides. Fox’s writing delivers a devastating picture of animal cruelty and the negative tendency of human nature that provide the framework for fur farming to exist. However, this view of Fox’s article is only achieved through rhetorical strategies. How does Fox involve rhetorical strategies within her article? Why might this motivate the reader to take action and to feel compassionate about animals?
In order to understand how rhetoric works within Lesley’s article it is important to understand what rhetoric is. Reading and writing involves a purpose that persuades the reader or listener to understand a specific point of view. Through arrangement and style it can impress its audience so that the audience believes in its message. The use of rhetoric within reading and writing, can be objective or informative without being overly inflated (although often it is) to influence its reader. There is a system within speech, reading and writing, where rhetoric can be utilized to create or deliver a certain message. It is a process through which artistic or creative ability is exerted. For someone to use rhetoric in writing or speech, they have to be able to understand and see all the available means of persuasion and use it accordingly.
Within rhetoric, there are processes by which a rhetor delivers a message and this is through the occasion. The occasion in rhetoric refers to the external motivation in writing or speaking. Three specifics of areas of occasion include deliberative, judicial, and epideictic. Aristotle states that these areas of rhetoric are highly logical. Deliberative rhetoric persuades its audience to take some sort of action. This typically tells a reader what will or can happen in the future. The audience for this type of rhetoric tends to be political, though it can appeal to anyone who is interested in the future of political matters. Judicial or Forensic rhetoric focuses on using evidence or argument based on the past to demonstrate meaning to an audience. This type of rhetoric or an example of this can be seen from the litigation done within a courtroom. Epideictic rhetoric concerned with the present and it is a way to display or praise a situation to an audience. Lesley utilizes deliberative rhetoric within her argument because she calls the audience to action in taking a stand against fur-farming. Audiences know through statements of request, usually an action such as “join” to commit to her cause.

Work Cited:
Fox, Leslie. “Fighting the Fur Trade.” Fresh Matters