Tutor profile: Jessica R.
“Sexuality – which signifies both physical difference and social arrangements of power and function – provides the underlying metaphorical model for the illustrated book” (Lorraine Janzen Kooistra). In what ways do written text and image in illustrated books embody relationships marked by gender and/or sexuality and/or power?
The sometimes harmonious, sometimes conflicting relationship between word and image has been illuminated by illustrated texts. The breadth of variety in the relationships that emerge from such texts captures so much critical interest because these relationships are familiarly human; the binary nature of word and image is a component seen in all our significant, fundamental types of relationships: Those marked by gender, sexuality or power. Oscar Wilde’s The Sphynx (1894) transcribes a relationship between its words and Charles Ricketts’s accompanying illustrations that is gendered from one perspective and, from another, expresses a classic power struggle. William Blake’s imagetext Laocoön (c.1825-27) attempts to dethrone the word from its often theoretically regarded position as the male or dominating binary in the dynamic between itself and image in his creation of a visually focused piece that side-lines its textual counterpart.
Briefly discuss ways in which fiction / literature of the 1930s processed the effects of World War I.
The 1930s marked a period where understood social, political and economic norms had been shattered as a result of war, and the new world was emerging as notably different from pre-World War One. The weight of grief and trauma from the devastation of an old world, as well as the unease at aspects surrounding this new world was undoubtedly excruciating. Dystopian worlds, such as Burdekin’s Swastika Night (1937) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1931), created for their authors living in the period a separate place and time where such mourning of the past and fear of what its loss means could be explored. In terms of Swastika Night, the fear of replicating the old / past as a result of the rise of Fascism and anxieties surrounding more conflict is the most necessary effect of the Great War for Burdekin to process in this dystopian form. Regarding Brave New World, the threat of the contamination of society by ‘low-culture’ as a highly concerning effect of the Great War is insisted by Huxley through the way it is processed in his dystopia.
Consider the connection between language and the body / bodily experience within two or more of Shakespeare's plays.
It is logical that both the language of a text and the understood ideas of its period reinforce each other, and this is certainly the case for Shakespeare's Hamlet and Titus Andronicus. The Early Modern period produced and upkept significant ideas about the human body. Yet, it is the anatomical ignorance of female bodies in particular, justified by fears of “prostituting and divulging that, which they would not haue come to open light” and other gendered fears that helped create the Early Modern female body as we know it, embodying vastly more telling truths about the society it inhabits. For Hamlet’s Ophelia, ideas such as the porous body and misogynistic articulations on female virginity link together her body / bodily experiences and the language used to describe them. For Titus Andronicus’ Lavinia, it is the reductive ‘one-sex’ model of female bodies as imperfect male bodies, and their demeaning reputation of ‘leaky vessels’ that influences her bodily experiences and the linguistic expressions of them.
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