Thoughts on Final Paper Topic

I’ve had this train of thought in the back of my mind these past few days about what Dr. Gates asked us to discuss in this post regarding our paper and research. After getting feedback for my topic proposal, I realized that I was being a bit too negative toward St. Leon. Obviously, that was not my original intent, but I guess when I was mentally comparing the novel to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which is my favorite anime), I was ignoring what is actually important in regards to my paper. I don’t want to just slam St. Leon for not being what I had wanted which is honestly a bit more adventure, drama, and thrills like in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. My research since writing my topic proposal has helped me to think more objectively about the novel.

I think what I want to answer with my paper is why St. Leon has survived two centuries and recognize the brilliance of it. Before my research, I had no idea some of what Godwin was critiquing or the other layers he had written into the novel. That’s because I’m not the original audience. Now that does not mean that the novel’s brilliance is lost on modern audiences necessarily, but it does require more research to understand what Godwin was doing. After all, that’s why when we read older novels, short stories, and poetry, we usually are doing so in a classroom setting or at least have to google some things to get what else the writer was doing.

After realizing my bias towards the anime and researching some more, I realized that there is a reason that I wanted to write about St. Leon before I had even considered its connection with my favorite anime. I had been emotionally involved when I read the novel and wanted to know what happened next despite my gripes with Reginald’s actions. So even though I’m not the original audience, Godwin was doing something there that transcended audience, time, and even country that I could resonate with. That’s what I want to answer. Using Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as a lens/comparison, what was it about St. Leon that kept me going even with its faults?

(Word count: 370)

Mary Robinson’s Genius

Okay, how Mary Robinson argues in her A Letter to the Women of England is genius. The way that she questions that women are inferior to men due to being weaker to men is my favorite section. Robinson puts it so brilliantly when she says: “if woman be the weaker creature, why is she employed in laborious avocations?” (218). She points out that despite women being “weaker” than their male counterparts, women are performing jobs and tasks that take a lot of strength and energy to do. Robinson draws a direction comparison between the men’s work and the women’s work, suggesting that “men are employed in measuring lace and ribands; folding gauzes; composing artificial bouqets; fancying feathers, and mixing cosmetics for the preservation of beauty” (218). She is not pulling any punches at all. I love that section’s closing line as well: “are women thus compelled to labour, because they are of the weaker sex” (218).

Robinson is out to show a piece of the reason why women are not simply the weaker sex (and thus explaining why they are oppressed). If that was really the reason why, then she is right; why would women be allowed to do such hard labor? Why would they be allowed to do energy-draining, very demanding housework? Housework, especially concerning the time period in which Robinson lived, was not easy. Want a clean floor? Well, get on your knees and scrub it. Want to wash dirty laundry? Wash it all by hand and hang it up to dry. And that’s not even including dusting, cleaning general clutter, the kitchen, and so on. I think it was quite brilliant on Robinson’s part to not only point to labor outside the home but the work that a wife would perform inside the home as well. Because that was the point; that was the work that was labelled as “acceptable” work for women, but that did not mean it was not hard labor. After all, if the women were “weak,” then how did they get all this stuff done?

So, yeah, Mary Robinson is a genius.

(Word count: 348)

Tentative Source for Final Paper

Article: “(Fullmetal) Alchemy: The Monstrosity of Reading Words and Pictures in Shonen Manga” by Lesley-Anne Gallacha

Okay, I have this article listed as tentative because I’m uncertain it will help with my argument. I didn’t put it in my annotated bibliography due to that. Lesley-Anne Gallacha is more concerned about how manga and comic books tell compelling stories with just dialogue and hand-drawn pictures. However, Gallacha touches on that Ed and Al (the protagonists of Fullmetal Alchemist) are like “monsters” and that the audience has to be willing to “accept” monsters in order to get into the story. Honestly, it’s a bit odd because in reading the manga and watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I did not see Ed and Al “monstrous.”

I can see what Gallacha is saying, though. Gallacha is referring to the fact that the brothers (Ed and Al) committed a taboo in attempting to bring their mother back to life and paid for that transgression in losing their bodies. Al loses his entire body, leaving only his soul. Ed loses his left leg due to their mistake and then his right arm in order to bind his brother’s soul to a suit of armor. This means that their physical appearance can be considered quite different and thus “monstrous.”

However, I think Gallacha is forgetting that the automail that replaces Ed’s lost arm and leg is not that uncommon; there are other people who have automail limbs. Think of it as prosthetic limbs that some people have in order to walk or for other parts of their bodies. Regarding Al’s armor body, it merely gets an eyebrow and people thinking it’s for protection and/or part of alchemy training. So it’s not so much as the existence of Ed’s automail and Al’s suit of armor that make the brothers “monstrous,” but really what the metal limbs and body mean when people tie their existence to the brothers’ alchemy and the fact that Al is essentially empty within the suit.

I think that Gallacha, with the wording of that section, glosses over the nuance of how people perceive the brothers’ appearance at first glance versus to how certain people make connections between the brothers’ bodies when they take into consideration of the brothers’ use of alchemy. This is why I am a bit cautious to use the article in my paper, but after writing this blog post, I think Gallacha does have an interesting perspective that I think I can use when I am comparing Ed and Al to Reginald as protagonists. If Ed and Al are “monsters,” then maybe Reginald is a kind of “monster” as well? As a class, we had issues with Reginald, but maybe that is the point. Reginald is a kind of “monster” that we have to accept in order to read and enjoy the story.

I’m honestly just spit-balling. I just thought of that connection so obviously I’m going to have think about it some more.

(Word Count: 494)

Wollstonecraft’s Published Travel Letters: To Be Literary or Not To Be

I can’t stop thinking about our class’ conversation about if Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark could be considered “literary” or not. What are the boundaries? We talked about guide books for fixing toilets isn’t “literary,” but where does that leave works like fanfiction? And a collection of letters? Diaries? We talked about publishing, but when Anne Frank wrote her diary, I don’t think she ever intended or knew that one day her diary would be published. So, to me, publishing does not necessarily factor into the idea.

Iris mentioned something about emotions and feeling something when reading (at least, that’s the bit that I heard and then I started down a rabbit hole in my brain). That got me thinking about the later letters that are assigned for Thursday and how political the letters get. As I recall, Wollstonecraft was a supporter of the French Revolution so it surprised me that she was so in favor of this prince as so wonderful, pure, and selfless that I was waiting to hear the Disney tune from the beginning of the VHS tapes. Yes, maybe he was just that great and perfect, but I did roll my eyes at her description and view of him. That is, until she gets to complaining about a king that, from what I understand and remember, was not all mentally there (connected to age, not mentally disabled since she mentioned he was old). That was when I could hear her frustration quite clearly and she invoked similar frustration within me. I was right there with her, angrily folding towels and muttering about stupid governments. (I should clarify that I was listening to the audio-book while I did housework.) Wollstonecraft got me to feel something about the country that had to deal with a king that had to be babysit by his son and others around him.

That’s the point I’m trying to make: she made me feel something in the midst of chatting (writing) about her travels and observations. It made me feel and think. Isn’t that one of things that “literary” works do for us? To make us see something far away by bringing it closer, cradling in their written words and burning our minds by feelings and stirring up opinions? To provoke the humanity that we sometimes set aside in order to get through our day-to-day lives?

Of course, this is just my opinion, but I think sometimes with labeling what is “literary” and what is not, we lose sight of what the words were trying to say and make us feel. However, I know that it is a conversation that can be fun to have and is, at times, necessary to have when writing academically and critically. As an English major, I am quite aware.

(Word count: 472)

Finding the Right CFP: Why Do I Do This to Myself?

Okay, so I knew that I would have a bit of difficulty finding a related CFP for my paper idea. My idea is to analyze and explain how the prophetic calling in St. Leon plays a major part of why our class (and others, I’m sure) experienced frustration with Reginald. What makes my idea a bit unconventional is that I will be using an anime called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as a lens to help articulate and explain how and why the prophetic calling creates this frustration for a modern audience. I have a legit reason for wanting to use this anime: it’s plot is centered around the existence of and obtaining the philosopher’s stone just like St. Leon. However, due to the lack of prophetic calling (and actual opposition of it, actually), Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood tells a similar story involving the philosopher’s stone, but one that a modern audience can get behind. (There’s a lot more to this, obviously, but that is for another day.)

Anyway, so with my idea, I knew that searching for a CFP was going to difficult. I tried searching for CFPs related to Godwin or St. Leon, but there wasn’t any that I could find. Then I searched for CFPs regarding British Romanticism, but I could not find any that were actually related to what I wanted to talk about. Some were a bit related, but were not enough to satisfy me. I then searched CFPs for anime related topics and found absolutely nothing that was related to my topic. What a shocker.

Thankfully, I found a suitable CFP in one of the links that Dr. Gates gave us in her email. It’s outdated, of course, but suits me fine for this assignment. It’s for NASSR’s 2019 conference: https://nassrchicago2019.wordpress.com/cfp/. They were looking for proposals about Romanticism “elements,” how to articulate them, what we are supposed to do with them, and how to address them. Though there was no mention of anime or pop culture, what they were asking for is related to my topic. I want to tie down a Romanticism element of St. Leon and what we’re supposed to do with it as a modern audience. Yeah, I want to use an anime to help with that, but this is the closest I’ve gotten to finding a CFP that mostly works.

So, thank you, Dr. Gates!

(Word count: 392)

“Woman and Fame” by Hemans: Fame As Masculine (Back Then)

When I read “Woman and Fame” by Felicia Hemans, the emphasis on womanhood versus fame was hard to miss, but it was not until I read Hemans’ biography in the anthology that I realized that “fame” could be read as masculine during Hemans’ time. Of course, this meant that I returned to the poem and reread it to see how Hemans coded “fame” as masculine.

Before her poem even starts, Hemans refers to a previous work of hers and paraphrases lines 45-48 of her poem “Corinne at the Capitol”:

“Happy—happier than thou,

With the laurel on thy brow;

She that makes the humblest hearth,

Lovely but to one on earth.”

At first glance, I did not think much of it, but after rereading it with the idea of “fame” being masculine, I realized that she is talking to “fame” and is positioning it as opposite of women. This opposition does not necessarily mean that “fame” is masculine, but the opposition is developed further in the poem to the point that a person could interpret “fame” as masculine. For instance, there is a emphasis on the speaker as a woman: ” . . . to me—a woman—bring/Sweet waters from affection’s spring” (ll. 5-6). Hemans wrote it so that “a woman” would be separated on either side by a dash, creating a pause and isolating the label to draw attention to it.

The idea of “a woman” versus “fame” is furthered when there is once again attention drawn to the speaker as a woman instead of whatever “fame” is: “But mine, let mine—a woman’s breast/By words of home-born love be bless’d” (ll. 17-18). Again, Hemans utilizes the dash to separate “woman” from the rest of the line, drawing attention onto the idea. Since Hemans had created such opposition of “a woman” and “fame,” it stirs up ideas of what “fame” could be interpreted as.

After reading her biography, I would say that “fame” is masculine due to men being an obvious opposite of a woman (especially in the early 1800s in England). Hemans does support this idea in the poem with mentioning masculine experiences. For instance, the speaker talks about “fame’s” voice: “as when a trumpet’s note hath blown/Calling the brave to meet” (ll. 15-16). What I found particularly masculine was “the brave.” It made me think of like heroes and soldiers, which would have been only men in Hemans’ time. Thus, I read that part with a masculine overtone.

Despite that instance, I think it is interesting that currently “the brave” would not necessarily reference only men. In some places (like the US), women can now enlist and serve their country. So while I think that “fame” was meant to read as masculine, that overtone and interpretation can be lost nowadays if someone does not think about the publication date and original audience.

(Word count: 470)