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Degas: Agency in Images of Women


Many scholars have been quick to read Impressionist Edgar Degas' work as either misogynistic or as privileging women with agency. Recently, feminist art history has provoked a rereading of these two main arguments. This essay argues for the importance of a middle ground because Degas' representations of the female form are so varied that it is both difficult and problematic to make conclusions about his perception and subsequent depiction of women. More...

Enlightenment and the Dissolution of the Court in King Lear


While considerable critical effort has gone into articulating the nature of King Lear's tragic flaw, comparatively little has been said regarding the generative conditions for such a character as the hero of Shakespeare's famously nihilistic play. This essay aims to situate the plight of the disgraced king and his ruined court within a larger context of historical forces that constitutes the background to the play's events and determines the fate of the kingdom. Guided by the seminal insights of Adorno and Horkheimer's essay "The Concept of Enlightenment," King Lear is read as a microcosmic prefiguration of the Frankfurt School philosophers' sweeping, apocalyptic vision of calculative reason gone mad. More...

Filling the Colorless Void: The Cybernetic Synaesthesia of Neil Harbisson


The sensory phenomenon known as synaesthesia has captivated creative individuals since it first entered neuro-scientific discourse in the last decade of the 19th century.  Existing not only neurologically, but as a metaphorical trope employed by artists and writers, synaesthesia is the subjective sensation of a sense other than the one being stimulated (for example, a color evoking a sound).  In the 21st century, contemporary artist Neil Harbisson, born colorblind, made use of modern cybernetic technology to transcribe the colorful world around him into sound waves.  This essay argues that Harbisson's digitally augmented senses have allowed him to become the living embodiment of both neurological and metaphorical synaesthesia. More...

Insect Imagery: Fight or Flight


Examining the presence of insect imagery in multiple works of Holocaust literature, this essay argues that the use of these images was a rhetorical strategy perpetuating negative stereotypes of the Jews during World War II. Considering works published both before and after the Holocaust, insect imagery has detrimental effects on all subjects, whether Kafka's Gregor or Andre Schwarz-Bart's Ernie, suggesting the prevalence of this tactic. It appears as though the motif of people as insects transcends time, always showing the potential mental anguish caused by the impact of words on a person's psyche. Only by reversing these depictions from "vermin" to "victor" can these images represent resiliency rather than defeat. More...

Knowledge and Time in García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold


In his novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez creates something far more expansive than a mere crime solving work of detective fiction. As the narrator uses the form of a chronicle to organize information, he engages in an historical inquiry of both the murder of Santiago and the nature of time itself. Through the chronicle's limited ability to account for the impositions of past and future, time emerges as an entity and calls into question the linear segmentation constructed by human beings. However, where some critics interpret this imposition of the past and future as an indication of predetermination, this essay maintains that Chronicle affirms personal agency through its depiction of Angela's letter writing, which asserts the authority of the present and reassigns meaning to the past and future. More...

Lookout Beyond! Winslow Homer and the Gilded Age


Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was more than an American painter. With work spanning from the Civil War through Reconstruction and into the Gilded Age, Homer's art lends itself to the world of art commentary as an historical artifact. Homer both critiques his times and ruminates on the nation's future, and he marries these concerns in his 1896 painting The Lookout-All is Well. By contextualizing both the beauty and underlying metaphor of Homer's Lookout in terms of the Gilded Age that created the art and the Civil War that shaped the artist, this extraordinary painting takes on new life as a symbol of its times and its nation. More...

Magnolia Secrets


The short story "Magnolia Secrets" investigates the mystery of Maxwell Carter's death and the affect it has on those he left behind. It features two narrators: Isobel, the girl who has a shot with the boy of her dreams, and Landon, the best friend who watches Isobel slowly fall apart in the months after Max's disappearance. A Homecoming victory party, the coldest winter in Pinecrest's history, and magnolias that never stop whispering all swirl together in this atmospheric thriller. More...

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: An Examination of Suburbia, Organization Men, and Conformity in 1950s America


Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit examines the uneasiness about social mobility and "keeping up with the Joneses" in American society after World War II.  The novel follows Tom and Betsy Rath as they attempt to move onward and upward.  Tom works as an Organization Man-though he is miserable in his job and dissatisfied with his life, he tries to follow the American dream by chasing a job with a higher salary.  Betsy is a homemaker who, likewise, is dissatisfied: she loves her children and tries her best to be a good mother, yet is constantly frustrated by the family's tight finances.  As a solution, Tom and Betsy sell Tom's grandmother's home-the ancestral Rath estate. Their hope to profit from this sale mirrors the suburban boom, which occurred in the 1950s as families grew following the post-War baby boom. More...

The Merchant of Venice as a Non-Racist Text


Based on the presumption that it is a primarily racist text, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice has been largely banned from schools and stages in America for decades. While the play certainly demonstrates blatant racism and explores its causes and effects, an exploration of the treatment of Shylock's character due to his Jewish background concludes that the text itself never provides closure on the issue of whether its characters are judged or misjudged based on stereotype. Because it provides no such judgment, Merchant is not only appropriate for modern American stages and classroom study, but should be encouraged as a safe venue in which to discuss relevant issues in contemporary society. More...

Not Your Average Bildungsroman: An Examination of Maturation in the Works of Jeffrey Eugenides


In his novels Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, author Jeffrey Eugenides develops and details the coming of age of socially atypical characters, namely Calliope Stephanides, a Greek-American hermaphrodite, and the Lisbon sisters, an esoteric group of seemingly normal, suburban schoolgirls. The outcomes of their journeys to maturity differ greatly. However, both stories demonstrate Eugenides' emphasis on the inherent value of the underrepresented, strange perspective. This paper provides a contemporary interpretation of how coming of age is fraught with difficulties, a common theme in literature. Eugenides reconstructs the theme in a way intended to make readers question what maturity might really mean and to help readers understand the wide variety of experiences that may encompass "growing up." More...

(Watch Me): The Construction of Masculine Identity in Chaos Walking


Ness's award-winning young adult trilogy Chaos Walking chronicles the coming-of-age of a boy named Todd Hewitt in a dystopian future. The series examines how he learns to be a man from the people around him and from his own experiences. Many studies have examined the construction of gender, but the focus has been primarily on femininity; there is a surprising lack of serious study of masculinity in adolescent fiction. This paper suggests that in his exploration of his own emerging adulthood, Todd investigates the concept of the postmodern hero and learns to both confirm and resist traditional concepts of masculinity, particularly through his relationship with his friend Viola. Constructing and deconstructing Western society's fixation on violent masculinity, Chaos Walking is a poignant examination of the adolescent male psyche shown through Todd's desire to create a different kind of masculine identity. More...


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