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ENGL 200- Transatlantic-Romantic Era lecture notes.docx

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ENGL 200
Gwynn Dujardin

Transatlantic/Romantic Era Jan 8, 2014 England's exploration in the centuries leading up to DeFoe's publication. The theme will be the "writing of the New  World," where I will relate how the new world was already written in many ways in advance of England's  exploration, and indeed how the earliest writings on the New World drew from the very strategies and tropes (a word  we'll use more this term) we discovered and discussed in early modern English writing.  With this information and insight we will begin with the writing of Daniel DeFoe's Robinson Crusoe. What seems  familiar, and what doesn't? What does this new material introduce to English writing, and how can start to make  sense of it both as eighteenth­century writing, in the ways we were introduced to it based around the City of London,  and as... a novel form of writing?  Key Terms: Britannia, Great Britain, United Kingdom, terra incognita: unknown land, plantation: from colony to tract of land, empire: from Latin imperre- to command; merchant trade v. slave trade; providence: (over simplistically)- God's plan Writing Precept of the Day: Proper Apostrophe Use Its (no apostrophe)- possessive pronoun • the dog chewed its bone. • The cover of the book contains an image from its first chapter It's - it is - contraction, where the apostrophe takes the place of a letter • it's a good idea to master apostrophe usage • it's not easy to get high marks when you make punctuation errors Laws of Wales Act 1535, 1542 Y Deddfau Czfreithtau yng Nhymrn: Bring Wales under English law and administration Acts of Union 1706, 1707: Unite England and Scotland under one kingdom of Great Britain • "Great Britain" --> combined empires of England and Scotland, suggest new "greatness" • at this period Great Britain not equivalent to United Kingdom Treaty of Union 1801- kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland become United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The anthem itself "Rule Britannia" refers to England's expansion to water travel • Union flag ordered to fly on all British ships effectively marking what is British in distinction from other European powers • "rule Britannia, rule the waves" • "Britains will never be slaves" - composed in a context wherein Britain dominates the slave trade market throughout the 17th century --> implied distinction Britain refusing for itself what it is conducting over the waves in the form of the slave trade o Robinson Crusoe written during a time when they dominated the slave trade over the seas The composer of the song- James Thompson is from Scotland When the Romans arrived, the island was populated by the Celtic tribes, the Romans push them North to Scotland and west to Wales the anthem representing the culmination of the peoples/languages/texts coming into this island • and marks the voyage outwards, represent the empire of Great Britain Writing the New World: Letters and Licences • the functions of writing in exploration and colonization • in the early years of exploration: written recollection of discovery (like Robinson's journals) • European powers dictating by law which portions of the globe belonged to whom • when the pope draws the lines, puts the line in the ocean, representing divisions abroad on water and land o letters and licences give explorers permission to pursue colonies • 1493-4: Treaty of Tordesilla: Pope Alexander VI (de España…) divides territory between Spain and Portugal, barring England “license” to navigate/trade/claim territory (pirates!)! • 1497: Amerigo Vespucci’s first voyage: “documented” in writing> one model for Utopia! English alternative: the “Northwest Passage”:! • 1495-7: Henry VII grants John Cabot – Giovanni Caboto – “letters patent” to try to reach India via the Northwest Passage, which lands him in… Newfoundland!! o “ authority, faculty and power to sail to all parts, regions and coasts of the eastern, western and northern sea, under our banners, flags and ensigns… to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown [terra incognita] to all Christians.” • The Reformation contributes to further “divisions,” as Protestant and Catholic nations compete for territory out of political and mercenary self-interest – merchant trade – that developed into objective to expand their religion through conversion. • 1577-1580: Sir Francis Drake circles globe (after Magellan), claims what is now San Francisco for England as “Nova Albion,” or “new England”! • 1580s: First colony established in Virginia, named for Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen! • Letters patent grant Walter Raleigh “… free liberty and license… To discover, search, find out, and view such remote, heathen, and barbarous lands, countries and territories not actually possessed by any Christian prince nor inhabited by Christian people; the same to have, hold, occupy and enjoy to him, his heirs, and assigns forever…”! Writing the New World: Trading on Familiar Tropes in Search of Riches • gender is the operative category used to represent the people in the new world • maidenhead = virginity Writing the New World: Trading on Humanity … the Transatlantic Slave Trade Late sixteenth-century: John Dawkins, first English slave trader; bought and sold slaves on merchant expedition to St. Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic) Transition from search for riches to cultivation of natural commodities (e.g., tobacco in the Americas, sugar in Barbados(the Dutch), colonists – “planters” needed a labour force: slaves England “triangular slave trade”: England, Africa/Caribbean, the Americas; dominates the slave trade in the 17th century (with Portugal), estimated 3.1 million Africans transported to the Americas Slave trade unpopular in England, e.g., Ann Yearsley, “A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade” (p. 823) 1807: Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade outlaws the slave trade 1833: Slavery Abolition Act outlaws slavery itself Robinson Crusoe published 1719 Jan 10, 2014 check slides to fill in notes here Key Terms: terra incognita: unknown land, plantation: from colony to tract of land, empire: from Latin imperre, to command, merchant trade --> slave trade, providence: (over simplistically -->) God's plan Writing Precept of the Day: MLA conventions in literary punctuation • We put commas around the titles of (short) poems, eg. "The Canonization"; "Rule, Britainnia"; "Ode on a Grecian Urn" • and short stories "Fall of the House of Usher" • do not italicize the titles of poems • rather italicize the titles of longer works such as epic poetry eg. Beowulf, Paradise lost, plays eg. The Tragedy of King Lear, The Country Wife, Endgame • and prose fiction eg. Robinson Crusoe, North and South, As I lay Dying • Do not put the titles of these longer works in quotation marks the successive stages of the book, starting with the "populated" first 40 pages, then turning to the period of solitude on the island. Let's start back in England with Robinson's interactions with his family.  While the book is published in 1719, Crusoe is portrayed as being born earlier in the 17th century (1632), and the book opens during the  interregnum, when Parliament governed England. His family are Puritans, who would have backed the commonwealth; his father is a  member of the new moneyed, middle class we discussed last term, and we're given a considerable description of his views on society, as  he holds forth on his expectations where Robinson should fit in it. Indeed one lens we might think that through is that which we  discussed regarding the "consumer culture" of Restoration and eighteenth­century London, and how that extends, literally and  figuratively, to the merchant trading these ships are engaged in throughout the Atlantic. How (if at all) does that translate here?  Is there a  way of making connections to where we left off to this introduction to Robinson's choices "character"? Next section, Robinson abroad: pirates (!), captured and enslaved, escaping to encounter other cultures, then enjoying (or not) some  success, to undertaking the voyage that ends in shipwreck. At that point I will briefly finish informing you of the development of the English slave trade, indeed how what began as exploration of  the new world in search of gold and other mined riches turned into the cultivation of crops (e.g., tobacco in the Americas, sugar in  Barbados etc.) that required a labour force: slavery develops, in effect, that serves a different kind of merchant trade than the early  explorers sought. I have attached the slides from that PowerPoint to this message. With the book printed in 1719, as I noted, it appears as  England is a superpower in the Transatlantic slave trade. How is that relevant to this section? Then let's turn to period of solitude, as it were, and the strategies Robinson deploys to survive. What are his initial reactions and  realizations? What do you make of his choices and/or initiatives, or at least the way he represents them? I might direct your attention here to the frontispiece, or title page, on page 43, which name Crusoe as the author on the publication,  indeed a publication that would have circulated in those circles of London society we discussed at the end of last term. Paratexts: text that accompany the "main" text of a publication and are relevant to the text's overall meaning; in RC, the frontspiece/title page and Preface are paratexts Adding the concept of neoclassicism: "teach and delight", can be traced to Roman poet Horace ("dulce et utile"), revived and reinforced by Philip Sidney in the Renaissance; a key feature of 18th century neoclassicism "Prodigal son" narrative: prodigal (wasteful, extravagant); from parable in the Gospel of Luke, in which a younger son wastes the fortune his father gives him, ultimately suffers and returns to repent Puritan values and concepts: temperance and moderation; "the middle way" providence (pro = ahead, videre = to see), God's role in overseeing/intervening in human affairs Fifth commandment: "honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days be long on the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee" Plantation: in early days of English exploration, refers generally to colonization, to founding settlements; increasingly comes to refer to specific tracts of land claimed by settlers, which still represent a form of colonization pg 48-49- represent the relationship b/w Robinson and his family, the contrasting desires important pages: 52-53, 57-58, 60-61, 68-69, 74-75, 77, 78-79, 92-93, 102, 112, 121-123 Title page of the first edition: • more superficial advertisement for the book, the way it singles out the narrative for the centerpiece of the book (makes you read the book through a certain lens- creating expectations for the reader) • tells the end of the story already • can see the way in which the text advertises itself in the consumer culture, circulated as a consumer good • "an account... written by himself" --> signifies a single perspective of the story - circulated as Robinson Crusoe is the author (not Daniel Defoe) o implies bias? a shade of meaning o a report of what happened o signifies different in the text in ways that we might consider an account of the book in terms of narrative and storytelling in relation to "accounting" - debt and credit, money, things earned, sought and pursued, mercantalistic attitude o in the end the relationship between the meanings of this word will in many ways represent the text and its interests (commercial money interest, and also concern) Preface • assert that it's non-fiction, but because of lack of technology at the time, how accurate is this account? • qualifies the account • first line: advertising that if there's any story of a man that you should know, and buy, it's this one • introducing the concept of manufacturing/creating Robinson Crusoe's life and selling it as if it's a materialized product to be sold • creating a set of expectations Neoclassicism - the elevation of ancient authors as models • the notion of instructing others : to be instructive in some sense • a reformulation of a classical ideal of poesy - literature should teach and delight - be useful and delightful • so what is diverting about taking digressions in this text and what are we to learn from it? • sounds like an epic story with a heroic figure going through trials to learn something along the way o like how the red crosse knight learns to follow and stick with Una, the one true church o RC fails to learn from his first episode of wandering 48-49: Taking the road of the middle class as the best • Puritan virtues of temperance and moderation, avoiding extremes • dad TEACHES to take the middle of the road, but RC diverts himself from the path that his father had set out for him • wants the adrenaline of adventure, calamity, disaster for the body and soul --> gets a brief glimpse of insight but then comes back to his wandering inclination of extremes o he claims that he was too ashamed to go back to his parents • link between his earthly father and his heavenly father, God o WHAT ARE THE FATHERS TEACHING TO THE SON? o 5th commandment: Honour your mother and father and your days on land will be long which the Lord gives you o he doesn't honour his parents, so his days are long on another land • the prodigal son narrative - son turns against his father, squanders his riches, runs to ruin, but ultimately returns to the father repentant o raises the expectation- is there going to be repentant pg 52-53 I resolved that I would, like a true repenting Prodigal, go home to my father ... --> gets drunk with sailors and drowned all my repentance, reflections, and resolutions for my future 57: another "father figure" taking the place of his father to give him advice (he doesn't listen) • RC says that he came on this voyage to make a "trial" a test to go abroad --> which leads to actual social/religious trials 60: turning away from earthly father representative of turning away from God • notes that other shipmates was praying to God --> RC is not praying • first voyage that he considers as "successful" because it made him a sailor and merchant o desires connected to money and fortune o makes some money so he wants more and wants to go on another voyage • development of the slave trade: plantations that require cultivation of products (sugar, tobacco) • gets enslaved himself --> supposed to learn, but takes this experience to get slaves for himself when he gets to the island, perspectives and values change --> once was so fixated on money and goods, but then realizes that since he can't use them anymore • upon educating other people about slavery, gives these people ideas of getting some slaves • the shipwreck happens when the people themselves form a kind of good that he aspire to acquire, very materialistic kind of way with the slow introduction of society, how does his perspective/interactions with people change? Jan 15, 2014 trace out a symbolic, thematic specific thread in the text, pulling something out of the text with focus 4 sections: • materialism and economy Terms: materialism, mercantile economy shifting the value of worth Account (tale) vs account (accompt) • tale: inventory of goods, condition, hunting weapons, • accounting is materialistic in nature • concerns over tracking the days is very meticulous • organizing and cataloguing his goods • disparity between usefulness and their worth in the mercantile economy • --> maintaining an account of debit/credit balance and spirituality Value (moral and spiritual virtue) vs Value (monetary/economic worth) • RC's virtue outside of economic mercantile is doubtful • keeps falling into the material worth of objects • market value vs moral value • RC ends up very wealthy in the end with lots of money and property • despite Crusoe's fall into trials and tribulations, he ends up as a rich INDIVIDUAL 1) was there a spiritual conversion? • appearance of spiritual growth and conversion? 2) does the novel's focus on materialism and accounts reinforce the values of commercial enterprise (individualism) ? pg 74, 88, 92-93, 94 pg 74 • RC develop a real friendship with Xury and is reluctant to sell him, but when the captain offers him freedom in 10 years if Xury converts (another value transaction), he sells him • captain becomes a trading partner, Xury becomes a commodity o valued of what they are, not what they've done • trading in values--> captain showed kindness, so he then trade the kindness back • quantifies character values into monetary amounts • values the moral and spiritual only for the material benefits (organizes his accounts by QUANTIFYING IT) • uses own moral spiritual values to justify his trading (ie. sold Xury so that he could convert and gain freedom in 10 years) • to busy accounting to make any sentimental connection to the selling of Xury pg 88 tools were much more useful than an entire ship loaded with gold (at the time) pg 92-93, 94 "I smiled to myself at the sight of this money, O drug!" • he's personifying the money, addressing it directly • diction is a completely different tone, proto romantic tone • even when there's no one around the island to share the value of the money, he still wants it • he doesn't need to not take the money but he still values it • still takes the money and can't abandon the mercantile economy values that he was raised with • catalogues all the materials of his past life as a merchant • usefulness over conceptual worth (momentarily) • has an increasing inventory (accumulation of things for the entire story) • salvages the currency "it was my Business to be gone before the tide of flood began" • Business, Thing capitalized for more importance pg 101 insertion of a textually different segment: instead of RC telling us about the account, he gives us the actual account • balance sheet of debit/credit • last entry: I don't have anyone to talk to ... but thank God that He sent me all this stuff o but there's the cut off of - "but I can talk to God" o "I have no soul..." • in a capitalistic economy, it is a very individualistic style of economy • main features of the novel - individualistic focus, not "about God", about individuals --> so is materialistic economy • when he has nothing moral/spiritual value left to latch on to, he has to latch on to the material values of his stuff • keeps himself together by accounting his stock o rebelled and ran away from his parents, but tries to justify his actions by trying to prove that he's acquired some kind of success even being shipwrecked • his list is his way he confuses himself of what's actually important --> thanks God for giving him all this stuff --> not actually trusting in God, still putting his trust in money and stuff the mass accumulation at the end of the book is insane pg 285-287 • repetition of the word "account" • increase of wealth • everything that happens somehow just contributes to his wealth 286 "by the same fleet ... dy'ed upon the spot" • definitely not Job, went through trials, ended up with a lot of wealth ... but doesn't display the same kind of faith that Job had in God after everything that he went through • Wealth (capitalized) • really loves being rich - is overcome by the "joy" that he gets from having a lot of money and property Crusoe's rescue was there any growth in character? or was the only growth in material wealth? reversion back to mercantile economy • but there are moments of genuine spiritual growth --> so because of that, he's being rewarded in the end ? • christian value and virtue is in poverty and relying on God for provision, finding joy in not material things, but heavenly things • "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven" • RC thinks that providence is rewarding him with all this wealth but is actually condemnation of RC since now with all this wealth, he's being pushed farther away from heaven • can't serve two masters, God and money, have to choose only one choosing to go back to get the Bible, reading the bible daily, he thinks that whenever he prays or reads the bible, he expects something back • ask for something, receive something back, quantifying providence • uses own efforts to domesticate the goals --> but sees it as providence at the beginning- father preaches moderation • on the island on 2 extremes, in despair or king of the island • no repentance, parents are dead, he's rich OT also has a lot of cataloguing, and specific lists of quantities 164: actually trying to appreciate God when he's in despair Jan 17, 2014 Key terms: empire, from Latin imperre, to command writing precept: the rules and art of the sentence A "full" or "complete" sentence states a complete idea. Grammatically a full sentence contains a subject and predicate. A phrasethat does not contain both elements is called a sentence fragment; don't put sentence fragments after semi-colons. Also, don't link two full ideas, or sentences, with only a comma; eliminate "comma splices" from your writing. Train yourself to think, and thus write, in full sentences. Ie. full ideas. Topics are fragments and not full ideas; write sentence outlines to prepare for drafting. Discussion questions: 1) How might we compare Crusoe's and Rowland What kind of an account do we perceive RC to be? "Landmarks" in Trade, Exploration, and Colonization... in writing In the beginning we had explorers in nations interested in TRADE • starts with something that should yield some kind of profit • finding an alternative route to India, ends up finding North America Comparing RC to Utopia - 2 different islands Naming matters because it is a form of language and representation of values (representing what they are, or with a kind of investment in mind) Piracy develops over the religious divide • pope wants to expand Catholicism • who's going to claim what -wanting to expand their political and religious empire • "hostile" territory- correspondence between how the explorers could get out of the land (mining, from the people) so the native inhabitants there were named "hostile" as well • pre-defining the people that they expect to find there - in relation to Christianity - the justification of colonization and invasion --> if it's not possessed by a Christian prince, then it's not possessed at all and is therefore available for colonization • interest in items of luxury (ie gold) - these lands will be mine to be of value to give me luxury in my homeland • "plantation" - attractive land where Europeans would plant themselves to cultivated other goods to gain profit (ie. sugar, cotton, tobacco) which require labour force - so slave trade is developed • people becoming commodities used and exploited to cultivate goods The Role of religion • reformation politics - division of land • to convert inhabitants - expectation of using the slave workforce of Africa/America and to convert them • "the people asked to be converted" • political gesture - a way to expand Protestantism - have more power Defoe uses RC to represent the exploration, colonization, slave trade at the time. Some threads and connections to consider: 1. How might we compare Crusoe’s and Rowlandson’s depictions of their encounters with “others”? Jeff had us link and explore Robinson’s island solitude to “individualism,” a philosophy that privileges the moral worth, self-reliance, and self-interest of the individual, and indeed regards individualism as beneficial to society as a whole. Jeff raised the question as to the book’s overall stance on individualism as considered in relation to Robinson’s relationship to things. What we haven’t yet discussed are his relationships to other people (Friday, the cannibals, and the rescuees), particularly as they represent Robinson’s gradual re-entry to “society” before he goes back to England. How would you describe and characterize those relationships? If we were to consider Robinson in some way representative of the “European man” in the period, what do those relationships, in miniature, symbolize about the relationships between the Europeans and the inhabitants of the territories the British encounter and colonize? 2. What does the religious language they share in common — salvation, Providence, redemption — tell us about their spiritual/religious points of view? At this point, it is important to lay out some critical concepts in Puritan theology. First, recall that when England broke with Rome during the Protestant Reformation (in the early sixteenth century), there was a sect of English Protestants who believed that the English Reformation did not go far enough in “purifying” the English church of its Catholic "abuses." The Puritans become a powerful political faction, and in coming to reject the Protestant Church of England, rejecting its “Supreme Head” (after Henry VIII) in the English monarch. Charles II gave them plenty to protest, of course, with his strident belief in the Divine Right of Kings and refusal to seat Parliament. As you know, Puritan Oliver Cromwell’s forces arrest the king, put him on trial, and execute him, and go on to rule the country until 1660, when the monarchy is “restored,” hence the name “Restoration” given to the final forty years (1660-1700) of the seventeenth century. At that time, and going into the eighteenth century, those Puritans who remain in England but opposed to the monarchy are called “Dissenters”: Daniel DeFoe and his family are Puritan Dissenters. Other sects of Puritans nonetheless chose to leave England at different points in the seventeenth century: some “separatists” left when Charles II assumed the throne (and it is evident he is not friendly to them), to migrate to the Netherlands, the West Indies (e.g. Barbados, and locations not far from where Crusoe’s early voyages take him), and to what becomes “New England” in the Massachussetts colonies. This movement is collectively referred to as the “Great Migration,” and, as such forms an important part of the development of writing in English with Britain's colonial expansion. Now, as for those compelling Puritan terms. We have talked about meanings of “account” that relate narrative as well as “counting” (of money, goods, etc.). The term “salvation” carries interesting meanings in both of these texts, inasmuch as both Rowlandson and Crusoe hoped to be saved, or rescued, from their material circumstances; there is fundamental self-interest there in those hopes. But Puritans generally hope for spiritual salvation, or being saved or rescued from damnation by God; one might as if/how this counts as self-interest, then, when it is part of their belief system This is tricky for Puritans, because they believe in “predestination,” i.e., that God has already pre-determined who will be saved; these are the “elect,” and we don't know who they are. “Providence” represents God’s hand in the world, his role in guiding human affairs; as what happens effectively relates to who will be saved, Puritans look to and for signs of one’s salvation... even though it won't make a difference in the end; their lot is cast. How might these concepts help us reconsider Crusoe’s interpretation of events, or of God’s role in them? Finally, there is the idea of redemption, whose many meanings provocatively intersect in these writings. Redemption is a religious concept that, in Christianity, relates vitally to the prospect of one’s salvation. The word redemption itself, or redeem, is from the Latin re-demere, to repay. So we have the spiritual represented through language that is economic, effect. Christ is “the redeemer” because in sacrificing himself for man, he effectively pays for man’s sins with his life, thereby delivering (forgiving, giving absolution for) man of sin. In the Old Testament, one form of redemption refers to the ransom of slaves (think Rowlandson); in the New Testament, redemption pertains to the deliverance (i.e., forgiveness, absolution) of sins as well as… freedom from captivity. All of these features are present in narrative form in each of these “accounts.” In the end, one might ask whether Crusoe redeems himself of his previous sins in his mercantile, materialistic way of life. What signs, if any, does/can the book give us? And what kind of account is it, in the end, in total? In this respect, one might consider the progressive kinds of writing that Crusoe does in the course of the narrative: from his list of “pros and cons,” weighing his state in ledger form, to electing to write a journal (what kind of account is the journal? how does it differ from the overall narrative?), to the overall narrative itself — what gets written and published later under Crusoe’s name in 1719. From this perspective, whatever genre we might assign it retrospectively, what kind of “account” does the narrative mean to be? How should the reader be “instructed” by it, as indicated by the Preface? Lots of ideas to think about here, I know; we’ll work through them. I suggest following up on Wednesday’s discussion model: identify passages you think we should discuss in relation to the depiction of relationships with “others,” terms whose meanings intersect the spiritual and the economic, and, to conclude Robinson Crusoe, just what kind of book it aspires to be. 1) How might we compare Crusoe's and Rowlandson's depictions of their encounters with "others"? RC pg 70-71 - account of his values and ways of life -- giving us something to measure his own potential conversion • RC and Xury on Barbery, are afraid to go on shore • fear of other types of people that he will encounter • using signs to substitute for language - we can rely on the narrator o represent what was attempted to be communicated • representing the inhabitants are simple and primitive • narrators consider their advanced technology as a sign of European superiority (guns, compasses) pg 219 -222 RC's account with Friday • RC teaches Friday English - teaches him to call him "master" (imbalance of power) • RC's relationship with Xury establishes the baseline of comparison with Friday -have things changed? • contest between England and Spain - elevating English above Spanish language • claims ownership of Friday "my savage" - possessive pronoun - commodification o labeling him as a "savage" • RC makes him an effort to teach Friday English, but he doesn't make an effort to learn Spanish • portrays Friday as a mute until he learns English • colonizing Friday using language • naming him "Friday" because that was the day that he saved him --> your life begins, time starts now once I have saved you from your previous condition • Friday learns not proper grammar, talking in fragments • notion of "yielding" - the land will yield goods, the people will give the goods to us o Friday will yield to me • interpreting body language and signs instead of "civility of language" • RC clothes Friday with specific terms of European clothing covering his body so his mirrors RC • RC projecting himself to the parrot to say "poor Robinson", projecting his own image onto Friday • RC is the prototype representation of European colonists • RC never asks Friday of what he wants, how he needs help, puts Friday to works, commands him • parallel of Xury to Friday becomes a commodity --> an object of value o readiness to sell Xury o readiness to exploit Friday for his own needs • parallelism of how RC saved him, call me master, giving him bread of water o like how Jesus gives salvation, is called teacher/master, breaks bread and wine o undertakes to convert Friday to christianity 2) What does the religious language they share in common- salvation, providence, redemption- tell us about their spiritual/religious points of view? • RC fully grasps religion when he's sick --> reflects how he was always in a spiritual sickness in need of healing • does he account for himself religiously effectively ? how is the writing in the journal different from the overall writing in the account? • journal: empirical things about what happened that day, just the facts • account of his labour and work --> evidence of his materialism, but also of his working • marking his labour and time • other writing in the account - he confesses things that he did wrong, things he should have done differently • guilty conscience • conveniently interpreting his rewards that come to him as divine providence • looked for signs of God's hand in what happened, interpreting what happened has a sign of God designating you as one of the elect Jan 22, 2014 For class this Wednesday we will conclude Robinson Crusoe with a brief discussion of what, when critics looked back from the 20 century, they singled out about the book that made it a candidate for the “first English novel.” I would like to keep moving to get to Romanticism later this week, so I will save more discussion of the Rowlandson and Bradstreet readings for our next unit; which is to say, hang on to them but don’t worry about them for the first unit quiz this term. I had two points to make on Friday that I would like to restate, as I felt it just didn’t happen or come across well. On Friday’s class I was concerned to place the novel in its own contexts as it relates to other kinds of accounts and narratives that described exploration, trade, and colonization for the two centuries prior to its publication. The choice to locate significant action in the book in landmark places in that history makes it part of that history, or, more specifically, the history of writing the world beyond Britain’s shores (compare to Utopia, in which More uses the notion of place in other interesting ways). That is, the book reproduces and/or reiterates features of narratives that include: expedition/colonization undertaken for profit motives, whether the mining of precious stones, the cultivation of lucrative crops, and the resulting slave trade; the repeated references to inhabitants as “beasts,” “savages,” and “barbarians,” no matter the location; their representation primitive, either without language (“making signs”) or speaking nonsense (“bar bar”), without any “technology”; the initiative to convert inhabitants not only to Christianity (whether Catholic or Protestant) but also to “Europeanism,” or to European ways of life (through language, clothing, etc.) assumed to be superior; indeed the representation of inhabitants either as complete threats (cannibals) or wilfully yielding to European subjugation (Friday). Here your points about Robinson’s colonization of the island and Friday as representative of European colonialism, broadly speaking, are especially astute and significant. In all these ways, Robinson Crusoe is representative of two centuries of narratives that, given their “conventions,” can be viewed as a kind of genre, at the same time the book is, for lack of a better word, fiction. Which is to say, how is it significant that DeFoe assembles these features the ways he does, and to, if we’re to believe the Preface, “instruct and delight”? As we began the book and you discussed with Jeff, reading Robinson Crusoe in view of the consumer culture of the Restoration and Eighteenth century indicates the text’s target in “materialism,” the perpetual acquisition of goods and money. It is difficult not to agree with Robinson when, when re-writing the entire narrative from the vantage point of 1719, he sees how his poor judgment and spiritual illness led to his “wreck” and physical trials. From this perspective, the book represents a critique of the social values of that period. But it also represents a balanced perspective — moderate? middle road? avoiding extreme? — in that, and this is the other point I was concerned to get across, the book’s religious background in Puritanism makes it challenging to disentangle the religious from the economic, as the kinds of terms that form part of Puritan theology have double spiritual and economic meanings, and, as Puritans look for signs of their salvation, they might interpret “rewards” as such a sign (though we might be skeptical). This is (one reason) why many may “read” Robinson as having redeemed himself, and many not, depending on one’s own perspective on ethics and wealth (I find the detail of Robinson’s getting sick again when he realizes his wealth back in England particularly interesting). Looking ahead in time, you may have heard of the phrase “Protestant Work Ethic,” also known as the “Puritan work ethic,” used to refer to people for whom working, their steady industriousness, is not merely a social value but an index of moral virtue, and a sign of one’s salvation, i.e., this ethic was thought to be the result or consequence of having been selected among the “elect” in the theory of predestination. In the 1900s a philosopher/historian — the father of “sociology” (as we’ve met the fathers of modern science and psychology, in Bacon and Locke) observed that the Protestant work ethic helped to stimulate the capitalist system — the more people worked, the more wealth was generated, etc. In this way, we can read Robinson Crusoe in line with other texts that mark significant developments in concepts of the social order, indeed the structure and composition of society itself. But as we put Robinson behind us with some thoughts on genre, think about how Robinson Crusoe differs formally from, say, the epics and romances we read, as well as Utopia. Putting aside what it says just a bit, what does it do that is new, or novel? How does it do what it says that sets it apart from those texts and from the earlier new world narratives? How might we relate what it does to other features of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century literature, such as John Locke’s writings on empiricism and human understanding, indeed what makes up a person’s life? We will jump into this discussion right away, so come with ideas. From there we will turn our attention to other urgent Transatlantic texts and developments. As you can see from our readings for Wednesday they are concerned with “rights.” In this respect, too, they represent significant social and political developments of the late 18 century. Both Paine and Wollstonecraft, in her “Rights of Men” tract, are responding to a pamphlet by Edmund Burke that protested the French revolution. More specifically, Burke objected to a political revolution undertaken in the pursuit of abstract social concepts such as liberté, egalité, fraternité. Burke’s argument was largely pragmatic (versus the “idealism” of the revolutionaries): he believed that reorganizing a society around abstractions left it too vulnerable to the caprice of individuals; and while he advocated a constitutional monarchy that limited the powers of the monarchy and apportioned many such powers to Parliament (remember way back to the Magna Carta), he believed that a political system wherein wealth and title are inherited from generation to generation (remember Utopia; Downton Abbey is pertinent here) helps maintain social stability. For these reasons, Edmund Burke is later considered the father (I know, all these fathers) of modern conservatism. So have these principles in mind when reading Paine’s Rights of Man and Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Man, which are each direct responses to Burke’s pamphlet. Wollstonecraft follows up later with her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which isn’t entirely what you might expect: why does she take the direction she does? For all three, I do recommend you keep refilling your water bottles: they are dry, I fully confess. But an understanding of these debates and the significance of the French Revolution to Britain will light up Romantic poetry in ways you might not expect were you to read it on its own. Key Terms: rise of the novel, enlightenment: individualism, neoclassicism: Reason, the beautiful and the sublime: aesth
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