2005 Thesis Abstracts
Elizabeth R. Donnelly
Mary B. Fay
Laura Kathleen Ricci
Spatial Pathology in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Forerunner Nonfiction: Repetition and Double Boundaries of a National Narrative
By Kate Bloomquist
By 1900, Charlotte Perkins Gilman had already written two of her most influential texts: Women and Economics and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Yet, Gilman shifted her focus to the Forerunner, her self-written magazine (1909-1916), where she published an array of serialized works including Our Androcentric Culture and Herland.
“Between” these larger works are short nonfiction essays that articulate a narrative of their own. By focusing on the only two “trios” of essays—Gilman’s 1910 spatial-mindedness (kitchen, parlor, nursery) essays and the 1916 “Social Pathology” essays— I analyze the boundaries of Gilman’s national discourse through a nexus of theoretical insights from Mary Wollstonecraft, Judith Butler, Susan Sontag and Homi K. Bhabha. A reading of the Forerunner within an Enlightenment tradition and as a “forerunner” of future theories reveals a striking contrast between Gilman’s thought before and during World War I. In the 1910 spatial-mindedness essays, Gilman questions the limitations of these spaces, focusing heavily on theireffects on the public sphere. But in the 1916 essays, Gilman relies less on space and more on labeling and shock value to locate responsibility for “social pathology” within individual agents.
Through this analysis, I will show that Gilman’s 1916 essays do not merely repeat earlier 1910 spatial ideals, but instead enact interruptions and new rhetorical strategies to convey a complex national narrative. This essay generates and explores the spatial and pathological boundaries of Gilman’s Forerunner , by analyzing these essays as agents of a national narrative’s “pedagogical” and “performative” elements, as discussed by Bhabha.
Power in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
By Michael Borgia
This project explores the operation and dissemination of power in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man through the work of social theorist and historian Michel Foucault, particularly his model of the Panopticon. The paper argues that power in the novel operates primarily according to this model and that the Invisible Man and other characters are disciplined and regulated through aspects of panoptic functioning. The paper discusses the battle royal and factory hospital scenes as direct replicas of Foucault’s ideal model; it then analyzes various other characters, episodes and images according to Foucault’s theories of how panoptic discipline is applied to general society outside the highly controlled prison or mental institution for where the model was original conceived. Characters analyzed include Dr. Bledsoe, Mr. Norton, Brother Jack and Reinhart and episodes and images include the Trueblood and Golden Day scenes, the Liberty Paints scene, Clifton’s death, Brother Jack’s eye and the Invisible Man’s final meeting with the Brotherhood. The epilogue and prologue are also discussed thoroughly for their notions of visibility and invisibility.
The essential element of panoptic functioning is the regulatory gaze. In the Panopticon model — both in the ideal and the applied — the subject develops a sense of being constantly under surveillance and thus regulates his or her behavior accordingly. Although the subject images the gaze to be external, the gaze is ultimately internalized as the subject comes to careful scrutinize and regulate his or her own actions. Thus, the subject — in this case, the Invisible Man — becomes both guard and inmate. Through the Panopticon model, subjects can be carefully divided into groups and placed into identities, they can be scrutinized and classified according to any trait or series of traits in order to regulate their behavior. In Marxian fashion, the Panopticon can regulate subjects according to their use value in a particular social, economic or political system and inculcate them to accept their proper role.
The greatest power of the internalized regulatory gaze is the power to render people or aspects of people and information visible or invisible. In this sense, the Invisible Man is rendered both hyper-visible — he is constantly scrutinized and classified by the external and internal gaze — and completely invisible — he appears to various individuals (and often to himself) as a particular series of useful traits rather than as a complex individual with agency. The Panopticon inculcates subjects to accept their role within a system by rendering for the subject and others visible and controllable what is useful and invisible what is potentially subversive or extraneous.
UnAuthorized Meaning: Paul Auster's Postmodern Parody in the “New York Trilogy”
by Patrick Carney
Throughout the 1980s, debate raged in critical circles about the status and significance of postmodern art. For some, postmodernism and its attendant kitsch signaled the death-knell of seriousness in art. Others, however, viewed practitioners of a postmodern aesthetic more favorably, arguing that the appropriation and juxtaposition of past forms, the characteristic “pastiche” of postmodern art, allowed a critical re-engagement with the past as an historical/discursive reality and with its artistic styles and forms. This paper proposes to situate the “New York Trilogy,” three detective novels written by Paul Auster and published over the span of 1985-1987, within this critical dialogue, with the former perspective articulated by Fredric Jameson and the latter by Linda Hutcheon. I argue that Auster undermines the expectations of the detective genre by refusing a tidy resolution and instead depicting a world whose mysteries are resistant to human rationality. I then argue that, not only does this subversion of the generic strictures refute the rationalism of the Enlightenment, but it also opens the text to a multiplicity of interpretations. By thus upsetting the traditional power dynamic that locates a text's meaning solely with the genius and intentions of the author, I conclude that Auster creates a postmodern text with the “New York Trilogy” that can retain formal and political significance.
Hybridity and Transnationalism in William Faulkner‘s Absalom, Absalom!|
By Elizabeth R. Donnelly
This thesis focuses on William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and aims to explore the two opposing cultural models proposed within the text, contrasting the 19 th century Southern model (typified by Thomas Sutpen) and the cultural model exhibited in New Orleans society. Utilizing this dynamic, this paper examines the possibility for hybridity or transnationalism as it is presented in the text; this possibility, though not presented in a utopian manner, does offer a new vantage point from which to evaluate the novel.
Concentrating on the central image of the cross-weaving loom proposed by Judith Sutpen, this thesis investigates the novel in terms of current theories of hybridity and creolization. In applying these theories to the text, this paper attempts to isolate the moments when the novel departs from the pervasive and, arguably, insidious viewpoint of the Southern white males and offers an alternative perspective. In isolating these moments of unorthodoxy, this thesis argues for the inexorable hybridity and interconnectedness that characterizes human existence.
In an exploration of this aspect of the novel, this paper focuses on the characters of Thomas Sutpen, Charles Bon, and Judith Sutpen, the competing sites of Sutpen’s Hundred (and, to a limited extent, Tidewater, Virginia) and New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as the layered composition of the novel, most notably the non-linear, fragmented narration which allows for multiple, though ultimately unreliable, narrators.
This paper contends that the nativist sentiments that flourished during the period from 1919-1924 in America are represented in the fiction of The Saturday Evening Post. The nativism of the early 1920’s grew out of many different movements and ideologies, but united in its commitment to the passing of the 1924 Immigration Act, which set quotas for entering immigrant populations based on the 1890 census. The editorial staff of The Saturday Evening Post strongly encouraged this anti-immigration trend. This paper seeks to illuminate how this historical context and editorial policy manifests itself in the fiction of the magazine.
The analysis of this aesthetic of nativism, which runs in various ways throughout the fiction of the Post from this period, is broken down into two main considerations—the fear of racial and ethnic diversity and the threat of cultural difference. Perpetuating stereotypes and de-individualizing its characters of non-Anglo-Saxon descent, some Postfiction adopts a nativist aesthetic in its eugenics influenced portrayal of race. Lothrop Stoddard’s definitions of race and claims of Anglo superiority are used to assess the depiction of various ethnic and racial groups in Post fiction. Then, Walter Benn Michaels’ claims about modernist concerns regarding family and heritage are applied to thePost’s fictional insistence on Americanism being an inheritable rather than an acquirable characteristic identity.
Finally, the study turns to issues of culture, like the definition of an American race established through the aesthetic of nativism in Postfiction, the definition of a distinctly American culture is, in this era of raging nativist fears, exclusive and thereby vulnerable to the intrusion of foreign beliefs, ideas and customs. Benedict Anderson’s study on the foundations of nationalism in Imagined Communitiesand Edward R. Lewis’ 1928 book America: Nation or Confusion? are used in the consideration of the American value system, fictionally represented by the stories of the Post. This notion of a distinctly American culture grapples with concerns regarding religion, art, economics and democracy itself. The examination concludes with a brief reflection on the complexities of the aesthetic of nativism revealed in Post fiction, and two examples of stories which employ the facets of this aesthetic only to subvert its very foundations of belief.
Bridging the Great Divide: To the Lighthouse and Woolf's Common Reader
By Beth Franzosa
“Am I a snob?” asks Virginia Woolf in her 1936 essay, and many contemporary readers are likely to ask the same question. When critics of modernism note the “snobbery” that led Woolf and her Bloomsbury companions to distance themselves from accepted styles of writing, they also note how efforts to, in the famous words of Ezra Pound, “Make it new!” tend to distance modernism from mass culture. Recent Woolf scholars, such as Sean Latham and Melba Cuddy-Keane, however, present Woolf’s “democratic highbrow” as a less severe distinction. Drawing on their work, I explore the ways in which Woolf’s idea of the “common reader” bridges Andreas Huyssen’s “great divide” between the modernist elite and a wider readership. I use To the Lighthouse as a case study, especially noting Woolf’s use of the character of Lily to present her ideas about the common reader, as Lily paints her impressions of Mrs. Ramsay and struggles with the fact that the other characters, especially academics, criticize her work based on their established standards. An epilogue to this paper extends Woolf's idea of the common reader by finding a theory of pedagogy in her writing. Although teachers often see modernism as too advanced for adolescents, Woolf’s essays invite all common readers, including high school students, to form their own impressions of literature and create work based on their personal subjectivity, not others’ academic standards. The epilogue presents the study of modernism as a way for high school students to develop their own styles of writing and interpretation and be able to assert, as Lily finally does, “I have found my vision.”
From Wonderland to Neverland, Rebellion to Conformity, and Femininity to Masculinity: An Analysis of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan
By Elizabeth Jones
In examining his 1856 text, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I propose that Lewis Carroll constructs an unqualified fantasy realm that undermines any sense of stable reality in terms of time, language, and identity. Then, I argue that J. M. Barrie’s early modernist work, Peter Pan, published in 1912, similarly plays with language, time, and identity but nonetheless relies on stable conventions of reality for establishing its form of fantasy. I ultimately consider how the use of gender reinforces the texts’ narrative forms, while exploring the shift from the Victorian fixation on the little girl to the emergence of the little boy at the turn of the century. By exploring the influence of Romantic ideology and the rise of imperialism, I contend that as the twentieth century approached, the image the young girl was no longer the archetypal embodiment of childhood, which is a phenomenon that underscored society’s increasing unwillingness to conceive of femininity and youthfulness as truly unadulterated and pure. Hence, the surfacing of the young boy articulates a less romantic, and therefore a seemingly more ‘realistic,’ approach to conceptualizing childhood, and this attitude is reiterated in both the narration and form of Peter Pan. Because Barrie’s use of realism helps to fashion a fixed conception of heroic masculinity, whereas Carroll’s more fluid text refrains from adhering to any specific or essentialist notion of femininity, we can conclude that Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are not simply juvenile explorations of new, capricious fantasy worlds, but these two canonical works are enlightening cultural artifacts.
Jane Austen is a Conservative Feminist: How Gender Complicates the Class Hierarchy in Emma
By Rachael Larson
This paper argues that while Austen clearly sees class roles as difficult to change or overcome, gender roles become the mode in which women are able to subvert the system. Nancy Armstrong puts forth the idea that Austen’s novels “deal with a closed community of polite country people who tend to be undistinguished by either great fortune or title.” In such a community, she argues, “social relations appear to be virtually the same thing as domestic relations,” and “the community can therefore be represented in terms of a household and of a relationship among households.” Thus if Austen’s particular brand of fiction aligns social relations with the interior domestic space, gender begins to play a larger role in how the community is constructed. Nineteenth century fiction is extremely interested in ideas of feminine power and influence. In this novel, Emma is both empowered by her femininity and limited by class issues. Gender undermines not only the class hierarchy in Emma, but also Emma’s attempts to be a progressive and independent woman in a patriarchal society.
Emma is a novel about a society in transition. Austen is calling attention to the fact that the social order in England is shifting and changing, yet by having all her characters marry within their own rank she is actually making a very conservative statement about the class hierarchy. In this novel the classes tend to resist change while Austen puts forth progressive ideas concerning gender. That Austen is able to incorporate two seemingly opposed forces into her novel demonstrates not only the complex nature of social change, but also how clever she is to hide such a fascinating study of society in a novel that is just supposed to be about marriage.
White Rage: Race, Riot and Nation in The Marrow of Tradition
By Gregory Laski
In my thesis, “White Rage: Race, Riot and Nation in The Marrow of Tradition,” I take Charles Chesnutt, Marrow’s author, as a keen observer of the psychology of American whiteness, its construction and its attendant view of the nation in a deeply significant historical moment: turn-of-the-century America. For as Homi K. Bhabha asserts, it is in the fin de siécle that we experience a “sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction.” It is precisely this notion of turn-of-the-century trauma, I contend, that Chesnutt diagnoses as the source of the rage enacted by his white protagonists in Marrow, whose historical counterparts raged against the African-American citizens of Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898. Fearing dislocation from their dominant position within the American social hierarchy, newly rewritten in the post-Civil War era as one in which whiteness reigned supreme, Chesnutt’s white protagonists find themselves confronted with the material and cultural signs of African-American progress: a black hospital, black lawyers, and even black political officials. Traumatized by these material proofs that belie their notion of black “inferiority,” and thus unable to establish a stable correspondence between their past vision of a national space that assured their own local dominance, Chesnutt’s white protagonists lash out, first rhetorically and then physically, at Wellington’s African-American residents.
I trace Chesnutt’s delineation of what I am calling the logic of white rage in three sections. In section one, “Angry (White) Americans,” I sketch out the theoretical stakes of my essay, drawing upon David Wood’s conception of the intimate relation among identity, projection and violence as well as upon Lauren Berlant’s notion of national iconicity, through a reading of two contemporary instances of white rage: country singer Toby Keith’s 2002 song, “Courtesy of the Read, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and Joel Schumacher’s 1991 film Falling Down. Section two, “‘Mining’ the White Psyche: Chesnutt’s Theory of Race, Whiteness and Nationhood,” puts into dialogue with one another a cluster of Chensutt’s non-fiction works in order to examine his conception of race and whiteness as American social constructs and to explore his notion of the efficacy of language to effect social change. In section three, “Profiles in Whiteness in The Marrow of Tradition,” I explore the (different) ways in which each of the novel’s white main characters sees his horizons of continuity disturbed and tries to reestablish them by way of violence, rhetorical or physical. The fourth and final section, “Future of Whiteness, Future of the Nation,” offers a reading of the complex conclusion of the novel, with particular attention given to the significance of Dodie as the “Future American” type. Most broadly put, my thesis tells the story, according to Charles Chesnutt, of the problematic connection between “Anglo” and “Anger,” race and national identity, and white violence and black sociopolitical progress in American (literary) history.
“Truth” and Narrative in Family Storytelling
By Meghan Martin
This paper argues that it is in the nature of family stories not necessarily to pass on indisputable fact, but rather to create narratives that convey other, more personal messages. The article explores the oral nature of these family stories and their place within the narrative genre to demonstrate how they are used to tell stories that can create a tension between written and oral sources of historical “fact.” The essay suggests the myriad reasons why older generations often tell these stories: to secure their identity (often as immigrants or second-generation Americans); to re-integrate their past into the present as a part of their ongoing self-image; to forge a connection with younger generations; to preserve the memory of those family members who have died; to ensure that they themselves are not forgotten after their own death; to pass on traditions or morals; to serve as a cautionary tale; and to perform the necessary function of personal life review. This essay explores the nature of personal experience narrative as it relates to family stories and family histories as adaptable and fluid.
“The Visuals of Verse”: The Influence of Ut Pictura Poesis on Shakespeare
By Elizabeth Melly
William Shakespeare’s use of intensely visual imagery has been extensively researched throughout the history of literary criticism, but his underlying interest in the nature and purpose of visual art has been less documented, although several critical studies exist. The sheer quantity of pictorial images present in his poetry and drama, along with many specific references to the practice of painting and its theories, as well as the increasing use of artistic themes throughout his work, all suggest that Shakespeare was familiar in some degree with the craft of the visual artist, and likely also with the prominent aesthetic theories regarding the interaction between poetry and painting which had developed during the Italian Renaissance, most notably ut pictura poesis. This paper, “The Visuals of Verse”, explores the influence of ut pictura poesis and related art and literary theories on the work of Shakespeare, tracing his increasing interest in and knowledge of the visual arts as reflected in his poetry and drama. I treat in depth the origin of his involvement with the theory in the narrative poems “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece”, and conclude with an analysis of the ultimate result of his involvement with art theory: the fundamental integration of ut pictura poesis in both the text and the structure of The Winter’s Tale. Beginning with the episodes most commonly treated to critical analysis, I extend these extant treatments to consider the integration of the theory into the entirety of these selected works, an analysis which has been severely neglected in critical studies. While most analyses concentrating on the possible artistic influences on Shakespeare’s works seek to locate specific paintings, sculptures, or other artworks that may be directly referenced, I believe more insight might be gained into Shakespeare’s interest in the visual arts by placing his works in reference to the artistic theories with which they interact.
Creation and Ownership: The Problematics of Authorship in American Copyright Law and Culture
By Ryan Metheny
In this essay, the author argues against the dogmatic and constraining authorship ideal that currently influences both the law and American culture on the whole. The large corporations that depend upon strong copyright law have grown increasingly influential and powerful, creating a “copyright regime” that limits creativity and the production of culture. In defense of this regime, its supporters have appropriated the dogma of Romantic authorship: that each author is a lone, solitary genius creating wholly original works, and that, because of this, each author should have sole ownership of the work he or she produces. The increasingly stringent and powerful structure of copyright law turns upon this dogmatic view of authorship, allowing for a drastic and imbalanced strengthening of the laws that protect copyright.
The essay’s first concern is to outline the rise of the copyright regime; its second concern is to deconstruct the assumptions that lie at the heart of the dogma of authorship. The first of these assumptions is that the author is a transhistorical, objectively extant figure. This assumption is shown to be highly fallacious through an examination of the history of authorship and copyright law from the seventeenth century onwards. Other assumptions concerning authorship and authoring are also debunked, including the idea that an author is a sound theoretical construct, and that authorship is by nature a solitary activity. The last part of the essay suggests that the Internet may provide the means by which to break free of the dogma of authorship. Ultimately, this essay argues for a more ironic, rather than dogmatic, approach to the problem of authorship in copyright.
Dracula, Sexology and the New Woman
By Cassandra Meyer
During the fin-de-siècle, gender ideals of the Victorian era were questioned publicly by the formation of new gender icons like the decadent and the New Woman. While aspects of the biological determinism of separate spheres ideology were questioned, one feature remained relatively unchallenged and was a source go great social anxiety: the assumption female sexuality is naturally passive. The expanding fields of psychology and sexology labeled active female sexuality as either deviant or homosexual, giving the idea of natural feminine passivity new scientific support. No work illustrates the cultural fear of an active female sexuality better than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Through a close examination of primary scientific and social sources, it is easy to see similar fears of an active sexual female manifest in Dracula in the character of Lucy. Attempting to secure middle class respectability, female activists who were labeled New Women often tried to separate their work from any hint of sexual deviance. Yet the critiques of New Women used the language of sexual deviance to condemn these women. Lucy enacts an active sexuality, trespassing the acceptable gender ideal of feminine passivity. The men in her life act swiftly to end this inappropriate behavior, condemning her and driving a stake through her body, an act of penetration that symbolically reminds Lucy of her proper feminine place as the passive one-who-is-penetrated. Thus the social anxiety of sexuality, gender, the social position of the New Woman and the fear of perceived sexual deviance all coalesce in the character of Lucy.
Ann Hamilton’s tropos: The Search for Meaning in a Liminal Space
by Mark Miller
Born in 1956, Ann Hamilton has established herself as one of the most innovative and important artists of the last twenty years. Hamilton studied textile design at the University of Kansas, and earned an MFA in sculpture from Yale. Although her degree is in sculpture, textiles and fabric have and still do play an important role in her art, which includes installation, photography, video, performance, and objects. Hamilton’s breadth of artistic expression and creativity was rewarded in 1993 when she received a prestigious MacArthur fellowship, which is given to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” in addition to having “a promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment.” Also, in 1999 Hamilton was selected to be the American representative at the Venice Biennale, where she installed a piece, entitled myein, that addressed topics of slavery and oppression in America. Since 1991, Hamilton has lived and continues to work in Columbus, Ohio, after teaching art at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1985-1991.
The focus of my discussion is tropos, one of Hamilton’s most provocative installations, which was on exhibition from October 7, 1993, to June 19, 1994, at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York City. In tropos, Hamilton wrestled with language, as she pushed upon and challenged its boundaries in both its written and verbal forms. It falls in the line of many installations, like the capacity of absorption (1988-1989), in which Hamilton reminds us that we are language-generating and language-comprehending creatures whose knowledge, thoughts, and communications are both complicated by and dependent on language. Furthermore, in tropos, Hamilton continued her explorations of liminal spaces in which boundaries between seemingly fixed oppositions are rendered fluid and porous. As tropos’participants took in the multiple manifestations of language with all their senses, they experienced the porousness of language’s boundaries and the intertwined nature of the oppositions embodied in the piece.
Constantly in the process of materializing and “un-making” discursive (i.e. privileged) language, tropos favored the fluid nature of meaning and sensorial knowledge. The dissonance and polyphony of embodied language reigned over the purity of cerebral discourses (ideologies) that naively claim to explain a multivarious reality. For, intropos, Hamilton’s incomprehensible use of language failed to communicate or produce a concrete message; rather, it evoked “galaxies of meanings” within each participant who became sensually immersed in the installation in his or her own unique way.
Existential Frustration in Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five: Answers within the Absurd
By Laura Kathleen Ricci
This essay analyses two contemporary pieces of American World War II fiction, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, in order to address the question: how is it possible to retain a sense of hope within a violent, meaningless world? Both Heller and Vonnegut follow the Absurdist literary tradition of writers such as Camus by constructing within their novels a logical structure, which precludes the possibility for mythical idealism despite the high psychological pressures of warfare. This leads to a divorce of essence and existence, which has the possibility of crushing the human spirit under the weight of the heavy emptiness of life. In this paper, however, I will argue that Vonnegut’s deterministic fatalism self-consciously leads to its own failure to create meaning in moments of intense horror, while Heller optimistically relies on the possibility of human freedom to struggle for a purposeful existence despite the forces, which hope to control our lives.
Working for the Aesthetic: Challenging Concepts of Work and Reform in the Victorian Era
By Vanessa Sunshine
The concept of deriving aesthetic pleasure from engaging in work and/or reform in the Victorian era was a novel idea. While Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Smiles write about the importance of work to the maintenance of social order and progress, John Ruskin's three-step formula for happiness in one's vocation adds a certain benefit to work that goes beyond societal or religious benefits, or its effect on one's reputation. George Eliot, in Middlemarch, takes Ruskin's notion of aesthetic pleasure in work, and instills these values in the character Caleb Garth. Because other more prominent characters in the novel respectively maintain work ethics solely motivated by religion, society, and/or money, Caleb Garth stands out as the one character capable of producing these effects while at the same time finding pleasure in the activity of work itself. The novel further suggests that this love for one's work inspires one to help others to understand the aesthetic pleasure that comes from working. In this way, the novel suggests that social reform can only be realized through the reform of the individual and their work ethic. It follows that the novel envisions change at a local, community level, where the individuals within society are transformed and developed instead of altering the institutions and practices that organize them. Therefore, Middlemarch succeeds in its efforts to produce a working model for an aesthetic appreciation for one's vocation, work, or reform, using its characters as representatives for various contemporary theories on work. The characters' successes and/or failures illustrate the advantages and weaknesses of each theory, allowing the novel to create its own version of reform that ensures the progression of society, a divine connection to the aesthetic, and happiness in one's work.
The George W. Bush Administration’s Propaganda of Early 2003, the People it Appealed to, and Why They Were Chosen
By Katie Wagner
Several methods of propaganda were prevalent in speeches on Iraq given by President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during early 2003. The speechwriters’ demonizing the enemy, stating “facts” or opinions without explaining their origins, asserting that victory was certain, repeating emotionally arousing words and phrases, fabricating attacks on the nation, and making war seem necessary are all documented. The words and examples incorporated in the propaganda appealed to both Americans that favored ideological principles of conservatism and liberalism and sometimes even both groups simultaneously.
To gain support for the war from more liberal-minded Americans, the speechwriters presented it as a project aimed at bringing democracy, freedom, and material goods to the Iraqis. They also emphasized Hussein’s harsh treatment of his people to generate empathy for the Iraqis, since this type of American is ideologically very concerned about social justice abroad. To appeal to those Americans more concerned about domestic security and maintaining America’s military dominance, the speechwriters described the war as a battle against Hussein and terrorists’ threats to America.
These separate views of the United States governments’ responsibilities stem from the foundations of America’s democracy, in that it was established with the precept of all men being equal, yet only granted this equality to a select group, the white males. This controversy continues to influence Americans’ political ideologies by causing some to see the government as obligated to spread freedom throughout the world, whereas others favor protecting the rights of Americans first. This second group of United States citizens’ considering themselves elite explains why for them preserving America’s safety is of primary importance and the major reason for going to war with Iraq.
The Sane Quixote
By John Welsh
The Sane Quixote is a collection of two long short stories with a brief critical introduction. The introduction addresses a question: how is the modern sophisticated mind—which is simultaneously unable to live without meanings or to believe in their objective validity—to cope with the monotony of everyday life? It goes on to examine the role of a “visionary” view of reality—reality as a malleable object created and shaped by the subject—in the generation of a meaning to order experience. Emblematic of this sort of approach is the title figure, The Sane Quixote, who finds meaning in the belief that chivalry is alive.
“Half Barbecued American Dreams” is set in a contemporary Midwestern neighborhood whose atmosphere alternates between the mundane and the absurd. Franklin Carmichael regiments himself to a strict daily schedule for excellence, unwittingly adapted from The Great Gatsby. His world gradually collapses as he realizes that he cannot actually outrun time or force any of his dreams to come true.
“The Bullfight Confessions” revolves around a cycle of guilt, dreams, and failed communications between Peter Thomas—a day-dreaming, child-hating pervert; his wife Stephanie—who has abandoned living in order to impersonate a former self; and their parish priest Israel—who contrives to create situations of heightened heroism and redemption in a suburban reality in which they do not naturally exist. Each character takes a turn in narration as their bizarre love triangle spins towards a tragic conclusion.