Where do you find Bly’s single most stinging critique of the Blackwell’s Island asylum? Why do you think that particular passage is more pointed or troubling than others?
According to David Rothman, what are one or two of the most important forces bringing the insane asylum into existence in nineteenth-century America?
At several points, Miss Lonelyhearts seems very aware of Melville’s Bartleby, The Scrivener. Do you think the city is alienating in the same way to Miss Lonelyhearts as it was to Bartleby? Does Miss L respond to the same way as Bartleby?
Why does Julius tell stories to John and Annie? Do they react identically or in different ways?
********I’m happy to see whatever people post here, and many of the posts have awakened me to unnoticed details, so write as you please. At the same time, my intention wasn’t to assign people six short papers over the semester. Even if I start with several questions, feel free to write only a well formed paragraph, to offer a single thoughtful idea, that others might respond to. This can be a conversation.***********
Vandover’s mental and physical degeneration through the novel is accompanied by a downward social spiral. How are these two movements connected? What is the relationship between the social structure of the city and Vandover’s degenerative pathology? Why does this happen to him, in particular, and not to other characters? What kinds of implicit fears of urban space does the novel seem to have?
What drives the actions of one or two characters in Vandover? Are these characters rational? Conscious and intentional about what they do? Look at one or two particular moments in the text as examples.
Do you have ideas about what makes up a conventional ghost story? Is The Turn of the Screw consistent with those conventions or not? How would you describe the way that the narrator listens to Douglass in the framing section at the start of the story?
How would you describe Edna Pontelier’s connection to reality, to the tangible world and social interactions around her? How would you characterize her emotional reactions? Is there a particular passage that speaks to your understanding of Edna’s way of seeing the world as it exists outside herself?
How would you compare the voice and the situation of the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” to the voice and situation of the obsessed narrators in the Poe stories we read? How, if at all, does the introduction of medical professionals affect your reading when compared to other stories we’ve read?
Among the Poe and Hawthorne stories we read this week, which one did you find disturbing and why? If you found none of them at all disturbing, why didn’t you, since to unsettle seems to be at least part of their intent? All of them call upon the 19th-century concept of monomania, but how is Hawthorne’s “Wakefield” different from Poe’s “Berenice” or “Ligeia” in its portrayal of it? You don’t, of course, need to address all of these questions in your brief post.