lecture notes

 

midterm notes

thanks for working out submissions

midterms returned via email later this week--check email, welcome to reply

 

research proposals

reply?

first research post due next week

if late, communicate

 

Research

MLA bibliography

can use previous research projects as sources

can use website pages as sources

research posts as information or knowledge based--examples

Oxford Companion to Women's, African American literature

 

What you'll see in email--

Initial grade report + midterm notes

 

Welcome to follow up with email, phone call, conference

what does college do for you / why such a determinant of later success?

somewhat predetermined

Also discuss research project possibilities

I usually tell you more than you want to hear, but also usually helpful

also good practice for professional behavior--college as training for professional life--professors as bosses who want you to do well because it's good for all of us

learn to work together, mature as thinker and writer

 

 

 

spelling Poe's name; discouragement of Poe's personal life; biographical fallacy

spelling Poe's name; cf. Douglass

 

 

 

Discussion lead for Poe

 

gothic

Usher 24 The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light; lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment. [correspondence?]

WW [9] But the house!—how quaint an old building was this!—to me how veritably a place of enchantment! There was really no end to its windings—to its incomprehensible subdivisions. It was difficult at any given time, to say with certainty upon which of its two stories one happened to be. From each room to every other there were sure to be found three or four steps either in ascent or descent. Then the lateral branches were innumerable—inconceivable—and so returning in upon themselves, that our most exact ideas in regard to the whole mansion were not very far different from those with which we pondered upon infinity.

 

correspondence

17 as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe in one unceasing radiation of gloom. [reverse correspondence]

26 it infected me. I felt creeping upon me, by slow yet certain degrees, the wild influences of his own fantastic yet impressive superstitions.

 

 

twinning

WW 54 A large mirror,—so at first it seemed to me in my confusion—now stood where none had been perceptible before; and, as I stepped up to it in extremity of terror, mine own image, but with features all pale and dabbled in blood, advanced to meet me with a feeble and tottering gait.

+ Roderick & Madeleine

 

 

correspondence in Hawthorne

28 catching a glimpse of his figure in the looking-glass, the black veil involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others. His frame shuddered, his lips grew white, he spilt the untasted wine upon the carpet, and rushed forth into the darkness. For the Earth, too, had on her Black Veil. [<correspondence]

43 a new feeling took the place of sorrow: her eyes were fixed insensibly on the black veil, when, like a sudden twilight in the air, its terrors fell around her.

 

 

Usher

1 eye-like windows

2 correspondence, mirroring, twinning

3 mansion of gloom

4 house as twin

5 superstition, terror

6 excessive antiquity [gothic]

6 fissure

7 gothic archway, maze

8 [gothic architecture]

9 pity and awe

10 ghastly pallor

12 morbid acuteness of senses

17 reverse correspondence + 18

19 vault below surface of earth

20 "The Haunted Palace" [desire-loss]

22 catalog of texts

24 Mad's tomb beneath narrator's chamber : correspondence, gothic as subconscious, unconscious

25 sympathies as correspondence, twins

27 rising tempest

30 its terror and its beauty. [sublime]

31 romances

32 history of mental disorder  [gothic as psychology]

35 text-twinning

42 we have put her living in the tomb

43 ebony; blood upon white robes

44 blood-red moon

 

 

 

Fall of House of Usher

1 correspondence; unredeemed; x-sublime

2 a shudder even more thrilling than before—upon the remodeled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows. [mirroring correspondence b/w mind and house > psychology of gothic; Poe’s twinning is cubed by tarn’s inverted reflection]

3 mansion of gloom

5 atmosphere, vapor, fancy

6 fissure

7, 8 gothic arches, windows

9 a feeling half of pity, half of awe [sublime?].

10 ghastly pallor of skin

12 a constitutional and a family evil; a morbid acuteness of the senses

14 superstitious impressions in regard to the dwelling

15 he severe and long-continued illness—indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution—of a tenderly beloved sister . . . many passionate tears.

17 as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe in one unceasing radiation of gloom. [reverse correspondence]

18 An excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphurous luster over all. [reverse correspondence]

18 an intensity of intolerable awe

20 The Haunted Palace

21 sentience of all vegetable things

22 catalog of book titles

23 one evening, having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeline was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight (previously to its final interment), in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building.

24 The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light; lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment. [correspondence?]

24 door of massive iron

25 A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them.

26 secret

26 it infected me. I felt creeping upon me, by slow yet certain degrees, the wild influences of his own fantastic yet impressive superstitions.

27 bewildering influence of the gloomy furniture of the room

30 a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful night, and one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty. [sublime]

31 electrical phenomena > romances

31-38 parallel storytelling

42 We have put her living in the tomb!

 

 

 

 

William Wilson

3 self-willed, guidance of my own will

[4] My earliest recollections of a school-life, are connected with a large, rambling, Elizabethan house, in a misty-looking village of England, where were a vast number of gigantic and gnarled trees, and where all the houses were excessively ancient. In truth, it was a dream-like and spirit-soothing place, that venerable old town. . . .  the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with undefinable delight, . . . the fretted Gothic steeple lay imbedded and asleep.

6 house old and irregular, prison-like

[7] At an angle of the ponderous wall frowned a more ponderous gate. It was riveted and studded with iron bolts, and surmounted with jagged iron spikes. (cf. Scarlet Letter)

[9] But the house!—how quaint an old building was this!—to me how veritably a place of enchantment! There was really no end to its windings—to its incomprehensible subdivisions. It was difficult at any given time, to say with certainty upon which of its two stories one happened to be. From each room to every other there were sure to be found three or four steps either in ascent or descent. Then the lateral branches were innumerable—inconceivable—and so returning in upon themselves, that our most exact ideas in regard to the whole mansion were not very far different from those with which we pondered upon infinity.

10 crossing and recrossing in endless irregularity

13 a scholar [student], who, although no relation, bore the same Christian [first name] and surname [last name] as myself;—a circumstance, in fact, little remarkable; for, notwithstanding a noble descent [a standard claim by Poe's protagonists], mine was one of those every-day appellations [names] which seem, by prescriptive right, to have been, time out of mind, the common property of the mob [rabble; common people]. In this narrative I have therefore designated myself as William Wilson,—a fictitious title not very dissimilar to the real.

14 unwelcome affectionateness of manner

15 Assuredly if we had been brothers we must have been twins; for, after leaving Dr Bransby's, I casually learned that my namesake was born on the nineteenth of January, 1813—and this is a somewhat remarkable coincidence; for the day is precisely that of my own nativity.

16 many points of strong congeniality in our tempers, operating to awake in me a sentiment which our position alone, perhaps, prevented from ripening into friendship. It is difficult, indeed, to define, or even to describe, my real feelings towards him.

[19] The feeling of vexation thus engendered grew stronger with every circumstance tending to show resemblance, moral or physical, between my rival and myself. I had not then discovered the remarkable fact that we were of the same age; but I saw that we were of the same height, and I perceived that we were even singularly alike in general contour of person and outline of feature.

20 his singular whisper, it grew the very echo of my own.

21 the imitation, apparently, was noticed by myself alone

24 with difficulty shake off the belief of my having been acquainted with the being who stood before me, at some epoch very long ago—some point of the past even infinitely remote.

[25] The huge old house, with its countless subdivisions, had several large chambers communicating with each other, where slept the greater number of the students. There were, however (as must necessarily happen in a building so awkwardly planned), many little nooks or recesses, the odds and ends of the structure

26 a wilderness of narrow passages from my own bedroom to that of my rival.  [maze / labyrinth]

27-28 recognition scene?

29 vortex of thoughtless folly

31 no light at all was admitted, save that of the exceedingly feeble dawn

31 morning frock, cut in the novel fashion of the one I myself wore at the moment. This the faint light enabled me to perceive; but the features of his face I could not distinguish. Upon my entering he strode hurriedly up to me, and, seizing me by the arm with a gesture of petulant impatience, whispered the words 'William Wilson!' in my ear.

33 the character, the tone, the key, of those few, simple, and familiar, yet whispered syllables, which came with a thousand thronging memories of by-gone days, and struck upon my soul with the shock of a galvanic [electric] battery. Ere I could recover the use of my senses he was gone.

34 a sudden accident in his family had caused his removal from Dr Bransby's academy on the afternoon of the day in which I myself had eloped

38 In a very short period he had become my debtor to a large amount, when, having taken a long draught of port, he did precisely what I had been coolly anticipating—he proposed to double our already extravagant stakes.

39 sudden and extraordinary interruption which ensued. The wide, heavy folding doors of the apartment were all at once thrown open, to their full extent, with a vigorous and rushing impetuosity that extinguished, as if by magic, every candle in the room. Their light, in dying, enabled us just to perceive that a stranger had entered, about my own height, and closely muffled in a cloak. The darkness, however, was now total; and we could only feel that he was standing in our midst. Before any one of us could recover from the extreme astonishment into which this rudeness had thrown all, we heard the voice of the intruder.

45 My evil destiny pursued me

47 that in this, my arch-enemy and evil genius, I could fail to recognize the William Wilson of my school-boy days,—the namesake, the companion, the rival,—the hated and dreaded rival at Dr Bransby's? Impossible! But let me hasten to the last eventful scene of the drama.

48 given myself up entirely to wine; and its maddening influence

49  was hurrying to make my way into her presence.—At this moment I felt a light hand placed upon my shoulder, and that ever-remembered, low, damnable whisper within my ear.

54 A large mirror,—so at first it seemed to me in my confusion—now stood where none had been perceptible before; and, as I stepped up to it in extremity of terror, mine own image, but with features all pale and dabbled in blood, advanced to meet me with a feeble and tottering gait.

55 Not a thread in all his raiment [clothing]—not a line in all the marked and singular lineaments [features] of his face which was not, even in the most absolute identity, mine own!

56  I could have fancied that I myself was speaking while he said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man of Crowd

1 essence of all crime

2 coffee house in London

2 positive pleasure even from many of the legitimate sources of pain

2 promiscuous company

2 peer through windows to street

3 two dense and continuous tides of population were rushing past the door

4 innumerable varieties of detail, dress, air, gait, visage, and expression of countenance.

[10] Descending in the scale of what is termed gentility, I found darker and deeper themes for speculation.

[11] As the night deepened, so deepened to me the interest of the scene [correspondence]

[13] With my brow to the glass, I was thus occupied in scrutinizing the mob, when suddenly there came into view a countenance [twinning? does narrator see his own reflection?]

 13 a craving desire to keep the man in view

14 his linen, although dirty, was of beautiful texture

15  lurking of an old fever in my system

15 passengers had gradually diminished to about that number which is ordinarily seen at noon in Broadway near the Park

18 plunging through a great variety of devious ways [maze],

19 most noisome quarter of London, where everything wore the worst impress of the most deplorable poverty, and of the most desperate crime. By the dim light of an accidental lamp, tall, antique, worm-eaten, wooden tenements were seen tottering to their fall, in directions so many and capricious that scarce the semblance of a passage was discernible between them. The paving-stones lay at random, displaced from their beds by the rankly-growing grass. Horrible filth festered in the dammed-up gutters. The whole atmosphere teemed with desolation. [urban gothic!]

20 stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly in the face. He noticed me not,

20 the type and the genius [spirit] of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. He is the man of the crowd.

 

 

Philosophy of Composition

 

Poe's affection for puzzles, codes, taking things apart

4 effect, impressions

5 detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion

6 Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy [madness]—an ecstatic intuition

7 the work proceeded step by step, to its completion, with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem. . . .

8 extent [length]. If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression—

9 the extent of a poem may be made to bear mathematical relation to its merit

11 choice of an impression, or effect

11 Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem.

13 its highest manifestation . . . sadness [desire-loss]

14 the refrain [recurrent / repeating phrase or line in a poem]. . . .

15 The pleasure is deduced solely from the sense of identity—of repetition. I resolved to diversify, and so heighten the effect, by adhering in general to the monotone of sound, while I continually varied that of thought

16 a single word as the best refrain.

17 the long o as the most sonorous vowel in connection with r as the most producible consonant   Poe Style Sheet

18 absolutely impossible to overlook the word "Nevermore." In fact it was the very first which presented itself.

19 a pretext for the continuous use of the one word "nevermore."

19 a Raven as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone. [gothic]

20 "Of all melancholy topics what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?" Death

21 the death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world

22 make this first query a commonplace one, the second less so, the third still less, and so on, until at length the lover, startled from his original nonchalance by the melancholy character of the word itself, by its frequent repetition, and by a consideration of the ominous reputation of the fowl that uttered it, is at length excited to superstition, and wildly propounds queries of a far different character—queries whose solution he has passionately at heart

[24] I composed this stanza, at this point, first that, by establishing the climax

27 a close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident—it has the force of a frame to a picture.

31 contrast between the marble and the plumage  [gothic light and dark]

32 force of contrast, with a view of deepening the ultimate impression.

36 transcendentalists

38 dispose the mind to seek a moral in all that has been previously narrated. The reader begins now to regard the Raven as emblematical [symbolic]

 

 

Notes to The Raven

internal rhyming

repetition

allusions to past

gothic paraphernalia

archaic diction, romantic rhetoric

13.6 "she" (first mention)

 

 

 

 

 

Critical thinking exercise: Poe pro and con

 

 

Poe as classic author

sheer verbal talent / genius

poetry & prose as "musical" in sound and rhythm--started out as poet, carries over into prose

musicality also associated with Tennyson: "Break" & "Song from Maud"

With better luck and support, might have developed further--died at age 40, still productive at time of death

Respected and admired in Europe by Expressionist writers (emphasis on symbols, exaggerated perceptions)

Influence remains pervasive (esp. in Southern Gothic like Faulkner), but may be strongest in popular literature, where authors are less self-conscious of developing genre, sometimes just run with it

3 genres influenced by Poe:

  • gothic / horror

  • detective fiction (invented detective story, distinct from mystery story) with "The Purloined Letter" and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"

  • science fiction--several of Poe's stories and his one novel contain elements of sf, sci-fi, or speculative fiction

Texts remain widely anthologized--some scholars may belittle Poe, but always impressive

 

 

 

 

Poe as popular author

Celebrity--name carries fascination, plus hint of forbidden--married young cousin, lived with aunt

texts appear in popular anthologies or collections

numerous films

Does Poe develop the gothic genre, or just exploit it especially well?

Limits as author:

 

twinning:

a test of great authors is their ability to create distinct, independent characters: Shakespeare, Hugo, Dickens, Faulkner

Poe's characters are all alike except for good-bad

To Poe's credit, he rocks with it, uses the twin over and over without apology

also the twin / doppelganger is a serious literary motif

 

plot development:

Most of Poe's plots in fiction and poetry are predictably similar, repetitious

Desire & glimpse of fulfillment > loss (Ligeia, William Wilson, "Romance")

or a situation or structure barely holds together, then splat or crash ("City in the Sea," House of Usher, William Wilson)

 

Redemption?

Readers love beautiful language

Every fresh reading of Poe, the beauty of his language enchants us again

The glamor of our first reading makes us like children again listening to a story and waiting to be spooked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romanticizing Poe's life

 

"Insane drug addict" (with implications of life of wealth, leisure, decadence)

>unlucky, hardworking alcoholic

constant "rewriting" of Poe's life

influences, contributions by Poe

loss of beautiful woman