jhameia: ME! (Totes Me!)
It's been a while since I posted an academic paper, and I just handed this one in today. Presented a truncated version for our class mini-conference, and my prof seemed to like it a lot, so I felt confident handing it in as it is. I just don't want to worry about it anymore, although upon re-reading there're definitely some awkward wording issues, and clarify issues I could improve. Anyway.

Contain the Crazy: Space, Time and Disability in Amin Maalouf's Ports of Call and Charlotte Perkins GIlman's Yellow Wallpaper )

I celebrated the last class by going out with my classmates (who are both Vietnamese, one V-Am and the other from Northern Vietnam) for dinner. It was nice. Hopefully we'll get to hang out a lot more next quarter now that we're more comfortable with each other.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So I heard from one of the upper-year PhD students (because I like to keep in touch with my seniors, being that it cannot possibly be a bad thing to learn from your elders and all) that some people have managed to get into the fall program even with a Very Late application. So I asked Lorraine, who's in charge of admissions, while I happened to run into her at the department office, and she said she could have the graduate secretary open up the system for a short while so I can sneak on and apply.

They only have two spaces left for this fall's PhD cohort, and waiting to hear back from the applicants they've accepted. However, there's still a chance that the applicants wouldn't take the offer. The fact that Lorraine's willing to have the system opened to let me in seems to be a good sign.

My statement of interest is currently a mess. I know I want to continue working with science fiction and postcolonial theory, but I also want to work with theories on power, and how the discourses of power are scripted to maintain systemic control. I'd like to look at Foucault, Isaiah Berlin, Arendt and Marilyn French (particularly the latter; she's basically the first feminist writer I read who really broke down how kyriarchy works).

And I'm still kinda stuck on Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, and I'm especially fascinated by how compelling I find it, even knowing Gilman's pretty racist tendencies as a white feminist speaking in the early 1900s. And it makes me think about other utopian settings, and how they're constructed too, and what in them is a reproduction of the discourses of power, what is a diagnosis and what is a subversion? And what alternatives did they really provide? Are they viable or not and why or why not? And if they're not any good, then what alternatives can we imagine for ourselves now, what kind of visions do we have? And I think I might want to look up WOC feminist writers like bell hooks and Gloria Anzaldua for this project too, as well as other postcolonial writers. It's gonna be glorious, I think. If I can get this statement of interest out.

Or someone else might already have done it and I should be thinking of something else.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Two texts in class that we read, and I have to put them into conversation, and ground it in a case study.

Text 1: Nancy Fraser's "Justice Interruptus" in which she talks about publics and counterpublics, basically pinpricking Habermas' (and liberals') ideal of the public sphere, which ought to be singular and democratic because everybody gets a say (I'm having flashbacks to reading Catch-22 where Milo Minderbinder keeps repeating to everybody "Everybody gets a share"). I'm focusing on her thing about stratified societies needing counterpublics because a singular public sphere will marginalize certain groups' concerns by favouring the dominant groups, thus, marginalized, multiple counterpublics will form in order to address these things. (She also has this thing about egalitarian multicultural societies which will necessarily have multiple publics because a single public sphere will enforce a single standard discourse which defeats the purpose of multiculturalism. I think it must be the mythical land of the unicorns or something.)

Text 2: Sara Ahmed's Promise of Happiness, in which she discusses the concept of conventional happiness and how feminist killjoys, unhappy queers, and melancholic migrants basically sabotage the conventions of happiness just by existing. This is actually going to be the primary text I talk about. In my original response paper I talked about how melancholic migrants who refuse to assimilate sort of kick at the conventions of happy multiculturalism and immigration. I also questioned whether happy multiculturalism was really a democratic ideal, or some sort of vision by a dominant group imposed on immigrant groups and other coloured bodies who refuse to assimilate according to the ideals of said dominant group. I still want to explore what multiculturalism is supposed to be like, and what a democratic multiculturalism would look like that offers space outside conventional scripts of happiness imposed on POC by white norms.

Case study: WisCon POC Safer Space seems like the ideal example of a space that both refuses to adhere to scripts of happiness, that serves as a reminder of how normative scripts of happiness have failed, and serves as a sphere for a counterpublic that is both a retreat from larger normative spaces and a knowledgeshare space on how to deal with the selfsame normative spaces of Fail.

The best part about this is that I won't have to make a bibliography if I can manage to just stick to these texts. I'm currently doing a kind of live-blogging of my re-reading Sara Ahmed. It is good times.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Wow, it's been a long time since I posted one of these.

What I have so far )

Boring stuff under the cut! )

To be frank I'll be lucky if I even get to 12 pages. I'm really just procrastinating some more =/ This is gonna be a terrible paper T_T

Blargh

Apr. 14th, 2011 09:47 pm
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I had enough sleep but still got out of bed only at 10am.

This sun setting thing at 7pm or something is throwing me off or something. I'm taking forever to wind down from the day so I sleep later, and wake up later.

Submitted just in time to Steam-Powered 2, and now to work on a paper for Queer and Trans Theory, due next Thursday. I started reading stuff today but it was SO DEPRESSING having to plow through all these cisgender writers writing about trans issues and.... a lot of stuff just seemed really problematic.

My paper is going to be on Virginia Woolf's Orlando. I'm not sure what exactly my argument is, but basically, I was really uncomfortable with the prof saying it has potential to be a trans text (and a couple times he did actually call it a trans text) but the thing is, I don't see it as a trans text? Not a transgender one, anyway. It has transgender themes, but not really a whole lot. It's really a book about writing. I personally hate this book. But then, I dislike a LOT of stuff I've had to read from the Modernist era. I see it as a lesbian text, and I see it as a trans-genre, satirical piece, but not a trans one. The fact that I can find just about NOTHING from the transgender/transsexual community on Orlando (besides Jan Morris' biography, and that was... I don't know, there was a lot of very gender-normative stuff in there) just tells me that it's not really a text that reflects trans experiences that much.

So... I think first I'll explore what kinds of transgender issues that Woolf DOES tackle, then go on to interrogate whether or not it pushes the limits enough in terms of how much work it does on queer issues (there's that bit where Orlando, now a woman, cross-dresses to look like a man and picks up) and then go into the implications of a cisperson writing a text which has a kind of a magical sex change trope attached to it.

I mean, I know in class I had a discussion about how it's almost like a piece of spec fic and SO THESE THINGS HAPPEN but I just am not comfortable with that IT'S SPEC FIC ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN stuff, even if it IS a piece of Modernist crap. I'm going to read stuff about language tomorrow, and then start outlining my paper. But right now I'm going to tackle the databases again. Blah.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So, as it turns out, most people in class didn't even understand the article, and as a result, only three people and the professor even engaged with my questions at all.

But here is the script if people were interested.

Under a cut to save your f-list )

Thanks a bunch to Jaded16 for letting me quote her post!
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Got comments back on my proposal. Two from the CSCT committee, and one from my hopefully-supervisor to be.

Click through to see proposal and comments if you're interested )

SO far, so good. I'm going to synthesize all these comments this coming week to work on the next draft.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I was only allowed 350 - 500 words, so this one's topped at 566 words:


A very incomplete view of The Human Condition )
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Because it's been a long time since I posted anything remotely academic on this LJ! I've been posting stuff over at my Tumblr, but this is a nice neat response, and my prof told me it was good, and I even presented on this reading, so, here it is.

Read more... )
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I’m reading Jameson’s book on culture and postmodernism right now, and he’s gone through describing Van Gogh’s painting of peasant boots and comparing them to Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes, and how we can apply hermeneutical readings to Van Gogh’s shoes (that is to say, you can interpret / infer stuff from the boots by looking at them, and imagining them belonging to a greater context) and how we can’t with Warhol’s shoes, because it’s superficial and flat, and even though it’s colourful it’s still kinda flat, and as such, it’s kind of repressed the way it is.

Anyway, moving on, he starts talking about pastiche, and whew I thought, I’m on familiar ground here. Because I understand, or thought I understood, pastiche, being the concept of a thing that has been put together from various other things, has influences from all over, not just geographical space, but temporal. Except it got really depressing? Because pastiche means the disappearance of the individual subject. The name itself implies the idea that there is nothing which is intrinsically what it is, but made out of many components, fragments, and, well, stuff, which are not subjects unto themselves. Then he says something which gives me pause: If the ideas of a ruling class were once the dominant (or hegemonic) ideology of bourgeois society, the advanced capitalist countries today are now a field of stylistic and discursive hetereogeneity without a norm (17).

This is where I know Jameson ain’t talking to me or about me. Because, see, as much as I subscribe the the idea of pastiche as a state of being that has come about with postmodernism, I don’t believe the capitalist countries of today are hetereogenous. They LOOK like it if you’re assuming that homogeneity has a very specific image. But capitalism has always taken diverse forms, always always with an undercurrent of exploitation, always always coming back down to setting up an economy to which everyone who’s not part of the ruling class is beholden to. Kyriarchy, power, control, domination - these are all features of capitalism and is pretty much the dominant, normative discourse of consumable culture product today. Take control of your life! Overcome your problems! Get what you want! Because life will be better when you do all of these!

“For with the collapse of the high-modernist ideology of style - what is as unique and unmistakable as your own fingerprints, as incomparable as your own body … - the producers of culture have nowhere to turn but to the past: the imitation of dead styles, speech through the masks and voices stored up in the imaginary museum of a new global culture” (18).

Now, although this is perfectly applicable to the new subcultures of today like steampunk, I can’t help but wonder… is the anxiety expressed here REALLY all that unique? Doesn’t history work in cycles where everyone sort of goes “oh nos the new generation! It don’t know what it’s missing!” and everyone starts recounting the good old days of yore, even though things are so much better now. I know that Western Civilization has been able to give itself a very linear history of Great Things That Happened, Great People That Lived, One After Another, and When, in neat chronological order. When I learned music theory, I also learned about the Baroque period, versus the Classical, versus the Romantic, versus 20th Century, and how each of them have been very different from each other, because they have had their own features.

But what if it’s because we’ve had so much distance from the masters of the times I mentioned, that we can now step back to see the patterns of how they were similar or different from each other? What if back then they were also going “man, look at the great masters back then, they knew exactly what they were doing in making something new”? Where this theory of “modernists and everyone before them has a linearity and post-modernism doesn’t have linearity” falls apart is that we can only know so much historically. And the reason why today is so chaotic is that never before have we had the means to give voice to so many different kinds of folks all at once, creating a cacophony of voices that are sort of incompatible? But still quite democratic, as democratic as we can get.

Yes, we are still copying from our elders, but isn’t that how culture gets reproduced? And doesn’t that sort of imply our elders were copying from their elders? Which means culture itself is a simulacra, and culture itself as a pastiche, and has been historically. And which implies that a couple hundred years from now, our descendants will be picking up the pieces of all that’s left of us in the here and now, decide what was the most important part of our age, and draw patterns of what we were really like, list down our features into a unified epoch, and go, “those 21st century folk, they really knew what they were talking about, this is how you know this is from the 21st century, see this bit here and here, indicative of…”
jhameia: ME! (Sparklez for Efferyvun!)
I am reading Leela Gandhi's critical introduction to Postcolonial Theory and I am nodding my head so fucking much, I realized all my yapping about race theory in my statement of interest is completely bunk, and what I really want to do is *ahem* explore the potential of the steampunk literary genre and roleplaying subculture in the practical application of postcolonial theory. In particular, using the de-centering theory of Derrida and the exploration of power dynamics as expounded by Foucalt, I want to answer Spivak's question: "Can the subaltern speak?" My answer is yes, and my quest is to find out how, and I have a very strong feeling that steampunk is a key.

Names I must look up: Homi Bhabha, Albert Memmi, Ashis Nandy. (At this point, I think I am much more comfortable reading PoC analysis, although I can't escape the greats like Derrida, Lyotard and Foucalt.)
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So like I promised, here's an analysis of President Barack Obama's speech at the Inauguration Ceremony, and while I can't say these are true for all his speeches, there is a pattern to this particular speech which makes it very powerful, and you should be able to find it in most charismatic speeches through the ages.

Clickies for MOAR! )
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
There are five women in the Revenger's Tragedy. Of this five, one is long-dead, the other is freshly deceased, and thus, silent. The three women with voices are Castiza, the protagonist's sister, Gratia, his mother, and the Duchess, related to the protagonist by an accident of fate and plot-writing. These three women are different from each other in various ways, psychologically and socially.

There are two kinds of status I wish to explore in this paper, in examining these women: one is moral status, which is measured by abstract concepts such as chastity and honesty. The other is material status, measured by physical wealth and prominence in the court in which this play is set in. These three women fall into different measures of status: Castiza, the epitome of chastity, rejects material status for moral status; Gratia tries to gain material status at the expense of moral status; and the Duchess has material status which seems to insulate her from any problems with moral status. I will demonstrate all this by deconstructing their speeches, to see how they negotiate their status within the world against or with other characters. As much as possible, I will focus upon their actions and reactions only. However, these women exist in a patriarchy, where it is difficult (read: downright impossible) to separate the identities of women from the opinions of the men in their lives, so after examining the voices of the women, I will pick out the few lines by the male characters of the play which either dictate or undermine the status of the women.

Castiza's moral status depends on her integrity to her chaste status. She repeatedly refuses to condone unchaste acts, and the reader's first sight of her is when Hippolito announces the rape of Antonio's wife. As her mother sympathizes with Antonio for the loss of a chaste wife, Castiza's reaction is to condemn the rapist, and she is one young lady who minces no words in making her opinion clear: "Royal blood! Monster, he deserves to die, / if Italy had no more hopes but he" (1.1.112-113). Castiza is not impressed by the trappings that material status can bring; Vindice, in disguise as Piato, wishes for her material wealth: "Lady, the best of wishes to your sex: / Fair skins and new gowns." To which she replies, rather coolly, "Oh, [other women] shall thank you, sir" (2.1. 27 - 29) and the reader gets the implication of "but not me." The text implies that she has been angered by Lussurioso's previous messages and is getting more and more annoyed at his insistent attempts to win her into his bed, to the point where she doles out violence of her own: "I swore I'd put anger in my hand / and pass the virgin limits of myself / to him that next appeared in that base office / to be his sin's attorney" (2.1.32-34). In fact, Castiza does not think very highly of Lussurioso's proposition at all, valuing her chastity too much (or perhaps, valuing Lussurioso's offerings too little) to give in. She is, as a result, scornful of his material wealth and political clout: "Tell him my honour shall have a rich name [despite his wealth] / when several harlots shall share his [name] with shame" (2.1.38 - 39). By the end of the scene, it is quite clear that very little can change Castiza's mind, not even her own mother. When Gratia tries to persuade her that chastity is not worth as much as the "advancement, treasure and the Duke's son['s affection]" (line 162), Castiza replies, with much drollery, "I cry you mercy, lady, I mistook you. / Pray, did you see my mother? ... / Pray God I have not lost her" (2.1.163 - 165). Not only is she not intimidated by her mother's authourity and threats, she challenges the older woman, telling her that her procuress-like speech on how risks are necessary for richness "is a pretty saying of a wicked one / but methinks now / it does not show so well out of your mouth; / better in his" (2.1.177-180). Even more, she takes it on herself to test her mother in Act 4, scene 4, pretending to have given into the original proposition in order to see if Gratia would take the bait and give her over to Lussurioso. When Gratia hastily tells her to change her mind (line 134), Castiza throws her words back at her: "No? / Deny advancement? Treasure? The Duke's son?" (line 135). When confident of her mother's regained integrity to chastity, she embraces and reconciles with her, and to the end, declares, "...no tongue has force / to alter me from honest" (4.4.150-151), a statement which is more than words, as her actions have proved it even before she says it. Not everyone appreciates Castiza's opinion of herself, though: at the start of the play, it is clear that Lussurioso's proposition does not just stem from her beauty, but also her lack of political stature at court and the relative poverty in which she and her family live - as such, she becomes a supposedly easy target for Lussurioso to undermine her: "The dowry of her blood and of her fortunes / are both too mean - good enough to be bad withal" (1.3.101-102). Obviously, his opinion did not count for much, and Vindice has the last word on her, saying to Hippolito, "... our sister's true" (5.3.145). Castiza suffers no further fallout with her mother by the end of the play, nor is she approached again by Lussurioso before Antonio takes over the court. Interestingly, there is no indication of any encounter with her brothers Her moral status is continually maintained, even as her material status has no improvement, which to her seems to be a small sacrifice as long as she retains her chastity.

Gratia, on the other hand, feels the sting enough of her poverty and lack of material status that she is willing to trade her moral status for it, even if she has to negotiate for it through Castiza. To further examine Gratia, it is necessary to consider events that happen before the play begins: as a woman, Gratia's position at court depended on her husband's, who was banished from court a few years prior, as shown in her exchange with Vindice where he says: "The Duke did much deject him ... / ... / . and through disgrace, oft smother in his spirit / when it would mount, surely I think he died / of discontent" (1.1.124 - 127). Low in political stature, she is also poor; she mentions that her husband would have been "a worthy gentleman, / had his estate been [a match] to his mind," (1.1.122-123) implying that her husband was intelligent, but did not have the wealth that reflected it. She and her daughter "live not far from court" (1.3.90), as Lussurioso points out to Piato, but even as a widow, her chances for remarrying above her status are low: she is only recently widowed and does not appear to have any suitors to raise her from her poverty, nor is she likely to have any since her fortunes are not likely to attract any. When first presented with Piato's proposition, she reacts with horror: "The riches of the world cannot hire a mother / to such a most unnatural task!" (2.1.87-88). However, her material status (or rather, the lack thereof) is a sensitive spot for her, and she begins to consider Piato's arguments more seriously when he brings up her poverty: "He touched me nearly, made my virtues bate, / when his tongue truck upon my poor estate" (2.1.111-112). From here on in, the reader can glean the more negative aspects of her personality: she is covetous ("Ay, these [coins] are they- / ... / that enchant our sex." (2.1.125)), capable of threatening violence to her own child ("I owe your cheek my hand..." (2.1.171) as well as easily seduced by Piato/Vindice's arguments and talk of material status: "Oh, if I were young / I should be ravished!" (2.1.195-196). Since she is not the one being propositioned, she must negotiate for material status through Castiza. and offers to help Piato: "I'll see how I can move / ... / If she be still chaste, I'll ne'er call her mine" (2.1.136-137). Her desire to gain material advancement is clear when she denigrates the ideals of chastity, saying to Castiza, "[Chastity] has a good report, prettily commended; / But pray, by whom? Mean people, ignorant people. / The better sort (the rich), I'm sure, cannot abide it..." (2.1.151-153). Gratia is aware, however, that her ambitions and methods are unseemly, so when she is first confronted by her sons, she at first denies her participation: "That had been monstrous. I defy that man / for any such intent" (4.4.21-22). When Vindice reveals to her his disguise, she quails, but quickly tries to blame him in a back-handed compliment: "Not tongue but yourself could have bewitched me so" (line 33). Eventually, worn down by her sons, she becomes content with her poverty and reclaims a higher moral status: "I wonder now what fury did transport me? / I feel good thoughts begin to settle in me (as a result of her reformation)" (4.4.94-95). By the end, further tested by her daughter, she regrets pursuing material advancement through prostituting Castiza: "Oh, see, / I spoke those words, and now they poison me. / ... / Advancement, true - as high as shame can pitch!" (lines 136-139). Gratia's moral status is at first not in question: Vindice, as Piato, tempts her only because he has been sworn to by Lussurioso, not because he doubts her; in fact, he states outright his belief in her integrity: "I will lay / hard siege unto my mother, though I know / a siren's tongue could not bewitch her so" 2.1.51-53). Lussurioso undermines her first, more for her being a woman and a mother: "The name [of 'bawd'] / is so in league with age that nowadays / It does eclipse three-quarters of a mother." (1.3.155-157). By the end of the play, again, Vindice has the last word on her: “our mother’s saved,” he says to Hippolito (5.3.145), of her moral status.

The Duchess is markedly different from either Gratia or Castiza. Firstly, she has no proper name and is referred to only by title. Secondly, she is the only living female character to feature prominently in the consciousness of the Court (the other female being Antonio’s dead wife) while the others are confronted and dealt with in private domains. Thirdly, she has great material status, and very little qualms about her lack of moral status throughout the play. In fact, she plays an active role in her dealings that further negate her moral status. The first time the Duchess speaks in the play is an action of manipulation of the Duke, who has to sentence her youngest son for raping Antonio’s wife. Although the crime is heinous, the Duchess shows no hesitation in asking for pity for her son: "My gracious lord, I pray be merciful. / Although his trespass far exceed his years, / Think him to be your own, as I am yours" (1.2.21-23). Aside from being a rape apologist, the Duchess is also sexually aggressive in her adultery, actively pursuing Spurio: "Many a wealthy letter have I sent him, / swelled up with jewels, and the timorous man / Is yet but coldly kind." (1.2.113-115). These words also imply that not only is she courting him, she is also using physical treasures to win him over, hinting at material wealth as well besides status at court, if the reader / director takes these words literally. Her reasons for choosing Spurio are two-fold: she is firstly genuinely attracted to him (“And here comes he whom my heart points unto: / His bastard son, but my love's true-begot” in lines 111-112) and secondly, she is feeling vengeful toward the Duke for his inaction in saving her son from duress: "… therefore wedlock faith shall be forgot" (1.2.108). Although she calls Spurio her “love’s true-begot”, she has no misgivings manipulating him, either. When he shows reservations in embarking on an affair with her, she points out to him that as an illegitimate son, his parentage is uncertain, to which Spurio agrees. She takes it further, saying that “had he cut thee a right diamond, / thou hadst been next set in the dukedom’s ring” (1.2.150-151), goading his desire for vengeance: “who would not be revenged of such a father…?” (line 156). Her own moral status is not measured by violence, though; she is not interested in plotting the Duke’s death, although she is aware that it is a favourite method of dealing with husbands such as hers: "Was't ever known stepduchess was so mild / and calm as I? Some now would plot his death / with easy doctors, those loose-living men, / and make His withered Grace fall to his grace" (1.2.95-98). Neither is she aiming to be moral at all, as she says to Spurio: "Why, there's no pleasure sweet but it is sinful." (3.5.209). Her only semblance of innocence lies in the public eye: when she is confronted by Lussurioso, who intended to catch her in action with Spurio but found the Duke instead, she exclaims indignantly, "He called his father villain, and my strumpet - / a word that I abhor to file my lips with" (2.3.24-25). Despite that, she is still shameless in her dealings with Spurio – when they come across Supervacuo and Ambitioso, Spurio warns the Duchess to drop her arm, but she does not, replying, “May we not deal our favours where we please?” (4.3.4). Interestingly, despite indiscretion and all the suspicion she is under, the Duchess never suffers a public fallout on-stage. When the Duke dies, she is absent, and Lussurioso’s only comment about her is that she is “suspected foully bent; / I'll begin dukedom with her banishment" (5.1.173-174). While obviously deprived of some material status by the end, her moral status never quite comes into question as openly as Castiza’s and Gratia’s do.

Negotiating status, moral and material, within a patriarchy is difficult for a woman to do without some sort of yardstick from the men surrounding her, as men set the standards for behavior or speak for them. It is important to note within this play that anything a female character says is within the context of interacting with a male character, rather than a monologue disclosing her own thoughts to a listening audience. Still, their own words give the audience a great deal of insight into their personalities. Each woman is unique from each other, not one of them a single representative of their gender, which adds more flavour to what would otherwise be a dully bloodthirsty play.
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
You guys this is my last undergrad paper! And it's due tomorrow and barely done! Bah!


There are five women in the Revenger's Tragedy. Of this five, one is long-dead, the other is freshly deceased, and thus, silent. The three women with voices are Castiza, the protagonist's sister, Gratia, his mother, and the Duchess, related to the protaganist by an accident of fate and plot-writing. These three women are different from each other in various ways, psychologically and socially.

There are two kinds of status I wish to explore in this paper, in examining these women: one is moral status, which is measured by abstract concepts such as chastity, godliness, modesty, and honesty. The other is material status, measured by physical wealth and prominence in the court in which this play is set in. These three women fall into different measures of status: Castiza, the epitome of chastity, rejects material status for moral status; Gratia tries to gain material status at the expense of moral status; and the Duchess has material status which seems to insulate her from any problems with moral status. I will demonstrate all this by deconstructive their speeches, to see how they negotiate their status within the world against or with other characters. As much as possible, I will focus upon their actions and reactions only. However, these women exist in a patriarchy, where it is difficult (okay, downright impossible) to separate the identities of women from the opinions of the men in thei lives, so after examining the voices of the women, I will pick out the few lines by the male characters of the play which either dictate or undermine the status of the women.



Castiza:
- has moral status - her integrity lies in her chastity and she repeatedly refuses to engage in sexual negotiation with Lussurioso even after being tested by Vindice and Gratia.

first sight of Castiza - when Hippolito announces the rape of Antonio's wife - her first reaction is to condemn the rapist: "Royal blood! Monster, he deserves to die, / If Italy had no more hopes but he." (1.1.112-113)

- unmoved by Piato's wishes for her material wealth:
"Lady, the best of wishes to your sex: / Fair skins and new gowns." "Oh, [other women[ shall thank you, sir." (2.1. 27 - 29)

Implication that she's been approached before:
(after boxing Vindice): "I swore I'd put anger in my hand / and pass the virgin limits of myself / to him that next appeared in that base office / to be his sin's attorney." (2.1.32-34)

Castiza favours a high moral status over the material wealth that Lussurioso, and indicates she thinks Lussurioso's lack of moral status thereof is worth a lot less than he thinks: "Tell him my honour shall have a rich name [despite Lussurioso's wealth] / when several harlots shall share his [name] with shame[ful status]" (2.1.38 - 39)

Not even her mother can change her mind:
"I cry you mercy, lady, I mistook you. / Pray, did you see my mother? ... / Pray God I have not lost her." (2.1.163 - 165)

Not afraid of her mother's threats, still tells her mother it's unseemly:
"It is a pretty saying of a wicked one / but methinks now / it does not show so well out of your mouth; / better in his" (2.1.177-180)

- takes it on herself to tes ther mother
"I did this but to try you." (4.4.149)

- declares her chastity to the last: "...no tongue has force / to alter me from honest." (4.4.150-151)

Lussurioso attempts to undermine Castiza's chastity, claiming that her to be of too low (material) status to be able to be worth moral status: "The dowry of her blood and of her fortunes / are both too mean - good enough to be bad withal" (1.3.101-102)

Vindice has final say in Castiza's status right at the very end, when he says to Hippolito: "... our sister's true" (5.3.145)


Gratia:

- mother of Castiza, Vindice and Hippolito.

- low in political stature since it depende on her husband's, who was disgraced: "The Duke did much deject him ... / ... / . and through disgrace, oft smother in his spirit / when it would mount, surely I think he died / of discontent."

- poor: she mentions "her poor estate" when Piato prevails on her to be a procuress.

- they live "not far from court" (Lussurioso 1.3.90) but since Gratia is recently widowed, she does not appear to have any suitors through whom she could advance her material status.

- when first presented with the proposition, reacts with horror: "The riches of the world cannot hire a mother / to such a most unnatural task!" (2.1.87-88)

- reminded of her status: "He touched me nearly, made my virtues bate, / when his tongue truck upon my poor estate" (2.1.111-112)

- covetous of material goods: "Ay, these [coins] are they- / ... / that enchant our sex." (2.1.125)

- since it's not her being propositioned, she has to negotiate her own material status through Castiza - her desire to advance in material status is clear when she denigrates the idea of chastity: "[Chastity] has a good report, prettily commended; / But pray, by whom? Mean people, ignorant people. / The better sort (the rich), I'm sure, cannot abide it..." (2.1.151-153)

- capable of threatening violence "I owe your cheek my hand..." (2.1.171)

- when confronted with the violence of her sons, she learns to be content with her low material status, and to reclaim her moral status: "I wonder now what fury did transport me? / I feel good thougths begin to settle in me (as a result of her reformation)" (4.4.94-95)
Regrets pursuing material advancement when Castiza confronts her: "Oh, see, / I spoke those words, and now they poison me. / ... / Advancement, true - as high as shame can pitch!"

- Lussurioso undermines her moral status at the very start: "If [Castiza] prove chaste and immovable, / Venture upon the mother, and with gifts, / As I will furnish thee, begin with her." (1.3.147-149) and even undermines her motherly status, observing that bawds are often older women, and mothers are older women (usually): "The name [of 'bawd'] / is so in league with age that nowadays / It does eclipse three-quarters of a mother." (1.3.155-157).

the Last word on Gratia: Vindice again - "our mother turned" (from sin) (5.3.145)


the Duchess
- most politically powerful women of the three -
- manipulative: convinces her husband to withhold sentencing her youngest son: "My gracious lord, I pray be merciful. / Although his trespass far exceed his years, / Think him to be your own, as I am yours" (1.2.21-23)

- not violent. The Duchess' moral status doesn't lie in trying to kill her husband: "Was't ever known stepduchess was so mild / and calm as I? Some now would plot his death / with easy doctors, those loose-living men, / and make His withered Grace fall to his grace" (1.2.95 - 98)
Her lack of moral status is measured by her ability to cheat on her husband, involving a distinct lack of chastity and honesty. She's also vengeful: "And therefore wedlock faith shall be forgot." (1.2.108)
The Duchess is sexually aggressive: "And here comes he whom my heart points unto: / His bastard son, but my love's true-begot. / Many a wealthy letter have I sent him, / swelled up with jewels, and the timorous man / Is yet but coldly kind." (1.2.111-115) - a hint that she's also wealthy enough to be courting Spurio with jewels?
- indignant when faced with accusations of infidelity: when Lussurioso trie to spring on her and Spurio, finding his father instead: "He called his father villain, and my strumpet - / a word that I abhor to file my lips with." (2.3.24-25)
- fully acknowledges her lack of moral status: "Why, there's no pleasure sweet but it is sinful." (3.5.209)

Interestingly, the Duchess never really suffers public fallout within the play for what she has done: Lussurioso simply banishes her: "The Duchess is suspected foully bent; / I'll begin dukedom with her banishment" (5.1.173-174)
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
So for my final ever undergraduate essay, I decided I'll write about the negotiation of political power in the tragedies we're studying... namely, the Spanish Tragedy, the Jew of Malta (which would have been great, seeing as it deals with minority status) and the Revenger's Tragedy. Then Dr. Hill said she didn't want us handling more than two plays and I was quite, quite deflated by that.

So I figured I'd work on the Revenger's Tragedy exclusively and explore the power struggles that the characters have to work through. I've conveniently categorized them into three groups:

- people with great political power (ie the Duke, Lussurioso)
These characters obviously abuse their position in different ways - through law and through status / wealth. They usually use this power to negotiate sex from anyone with lesser power, and those who deny them are met with violence.

- People with marginal positions (ie the Duchess, Suprio, Castiza, Ambitioso and Super Vacuo, Gratiana)
These are people who're closely related to those in power, but want to buck the system anyway and claim power for themselves. Spurio and the Duchess do this by engaging in an incestuous, illicit affair, whereas Ambitioso and Supervacuo try to plot to have Lussurioso killed. Castiza is asked to prostitute herself, which she angrily refuses, while her mother Gratiana feels the pinch of her marginal status and persuades Castiza to give in to Lussurioso.

- people who have SOME power but either have lost it or their power/status is impotent in face of higher-powered people (ie Vindice, Antonio)


It's problematic because then I have to define what "power" is, and there're so many dimensions to this. I'm also tying this to Marilyn French's theory in Beyond Power, but it's hard to come up with an aphorism that nutshells her theory.

More on this as I think of it.
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
..... With me working on my draft. =(

Ah well, Word War Tournaments will take care of THAT!

Read more... )
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
It's slow, but coming, I think.

I hate drafts. I wish I could get everything bang-on right the first time around.

Read more... )
jhameia: ME! (Under Control)
Sticking this in here because I'm writing this at school... I've got another paragraph but it's written by hand.

I daresay this is the most incoherent paper ever. )

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