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Al Drake, UC Irvine

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Selections drawn from The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth edition, Volume Two, and in some cases from Trilling and Blooms Victorian Poetry and Prose.  

Gould, Stephen Jay. “Introduction” to The Mismeasure of Man

1. Explain Gould’s allied terms “reification” and “ranking.” (The first term has to do with an erroneous assumption, and the second with the consequently twisted interpretation of reified data.)

2. What does Gould say are the social consequences of reification and ranking?

3. Is Gould optimistic about the future of science? Can it be a vehicle for social progress? What do you think about this question?

Gould, Stephen Jay. “Measuring Bodies,” Ch. 4 from The Mismeasure of Man

1. Explain the terms “recapitulation” and “neoteny.” How does Gould say they were enlisted in the service of reification and ranking?

2. Cesare Lombroso figures heavily in this chapter--describe the methods and errors involved in Lombroso’s alleged science of criminal anthropology. Connecting the all-important term, “stigmata” with Gould’s concept, “reification” would help you understand the flaws in Lombroso’s whole scheme, which scheme is, of course, yet another variation on recapitulationist theory.

3. Look up the term “stigma” and any of its variations in a Greek and/or Latin dictionary. (In Latin, the terms to look for are stigma and stigmatias; in Greek, stigma and stigmatias.) The Oxford English Dictionary provides etymologies, too, and so can sometimes provide valuable historical contexts for a given word. Wherever you find the term “stigma,” what do your findings imply about the social implications of Lombroso’s science of criminal anthropology?

Lombroso, Cesare. “Physical Anomalies of the Born Criminal” from Criminal Man (L’uomo delinquente)

1. What manner of treating lawbreakers does Lombroso’s daughter oppose? How is criminal anthropology better than punishment? (He is not exactly supporting later Nazi eugenics--that is not his intent.)

2. What is the fundamental assumption of the “modern science of jurisprudence”? (The classical method is different.)  Modern jurisprudence is founded upon evolutionary science: recapitulation explains atavistic behavior.

3. How does race figure in the selection we are reading? I.e., what does race have to do with criminality?

4. How does Lombroso make connections between animals and people? (He offers a breviary of degeneration: birds of prey, apes, etc.)  Atavism, savage characteristics link criminals to such animals. 

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. “The Final Problem”

1. Nothing rouses the sometimes opium-drenched powers of Sherlock Holmes like a confrontation with his evil opposite, Professor Moriarty. In fact, Holmes is nearly obsessed with Moriarty. How does he describe the Professor’s appearance and manner? What degree of power does he attribute to him in London’s criminal underworld?

2. Characterize Sherlock Holmes and his crime-fighting method. According to what principle does his mind work?

3. Explain how Doctor Watson, the retired army surgeon who is both Holmes’ friend and the narrator of his exploits, serves as a foil for the detective.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

1. What effect does the sight of Mr. Hyde have upon Enfield and Utterson? Early in the story, how do they describe him and the effect he has upon them?

2. Describe the Carew murder that occurs on pages 14-16. In what circumstances does it occur? How does Hyde behave, and what is the victim’s class or status?

3. Find places in the story where the issue of class or social status either openly or subtly influences the characters’ actions, treatment of one another, or the advice they give.

4. What kind of character is Dr. Jekyll when we are first introduced to him? In what sense does he appear to be a model or admirable character? But is he a flawed character, too? How?

5. Compare Dr. Jekyll with Mr. Hyde. What are the physical and mental differences between them? Are they in some way allied or even ultimately one being? If so, how?

6. In what sense might the Victorian period’s rigid moral standards be responsible for Dr. Jekyll’s tragic transformation into the evil Hyde? In other words, according to Stevenson’s story, what makes a man like Jekyll--a good Victorian, really--become the criminal Hyde?

7. By what specific mechanism does Dr. Jekyll transform himself into Mr. Hyde?

8. In an earlier short story called “Markheim” (1874) Stevenson wrote that “evil consists not in action but in character.” How is that statement applicable to the various characters’ interest in discovering the facts behind “the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”?

9. What happens to Dr. Lanyon as a result of his contact with Jekyll and Hyde, and what story does he write down before his death?

10. Examine the final chapter, “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case.” How does Jekyll tell his story--how does he account for his scientific motivations, his evil actions, his need for secrecy? How does he characterize his ultimate fate and his relation to Mr. Hyde?

11. What effect on you as a reader does the book’s partly epistolary structure have? (The term “epistolary” refers to the writing of letters.) In other words, we sometimes read a chapter that describes events or their consequences, and then, in a subsequent chapter, the person most directly concerned in those events tells his story by means of a letter read by us and several other characters.  

Carlyle, Thomas. “Manchester Insurrection” from Past and Present

1. What does Carlyle appear to think of “insurrectionism”? What, that is, does he seem to think about that working class gathering at St. Peter’s Fields, 1819? And what does he say about the government forces that dispersed it by violence?

2. Try to explain what Carlyle means by the “Sphinx riddle” (pg. 20). Does he offer in this chapter any hint of a solution to the human problem this riddle implies?

Carlyle, Thomas. “Gospel of Mammonism” from Past and Present

1. Can you expound upon the Gospel of Mammonism? Give us a brief sermon from this gospel, and explain who, according to Carlyle, most loudly preaches it.

2. What effect has Britain’s practice of this gospel’s precepts had upon all human bonds, all sense of belonging and identity?

3. Why is it impossible to help that poor Irish widow, the one who dies and infects seventeen others with typhus?

Carlyle, Thomas. “Captains of Industry” from Past and Present

1. What is Carlyle’s solution to Britain’s social problems? What, that is, does Carlyle say should be done with the working classes and the unemployed, and who should do it?

2. Does Carlyle want to go backward to a feudal, agrarian order, or forward to a just industrialism?

3. Is Carlyle interested in what we might call democracy? Why does he call his new hero-class an aristocracy?

Mill, John Stuart. “On Liberty”

1. What does Mill say about the middle class’ concept of liberty? To explain this, examine the passages in which he writes of “public opinion,” “our times,” “the tendencies of the times,” and so on.

2. If Mill blames middle class liberty for much that is wrong in Britain, what, then, is his concept of liberty, and by what agency does he propose to encourage it?

3. What would Mill perhaps say about Carlyle’s ideas? about Arnold’s, when you read them?

Arnold, Matthew. “Doing as One Likes” from Culture and Anarchy

1. Compare and contrast Arnold’s description of Britain’s social ills with that of Carlyle.

2. Do the two authors seem, at times, to be addressing different audiences?

3. What is Arnold’s proposed solution to the problems he describes? Here, you must try to explain and relate Arnold’s key concepts: sweetness and light; disinteredness; culture; the best self; reason; the state.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Communist Manifesto

Section I: Bourgeois and Proletarians.

1. Trace the development of the bourgeoisie. That is, within and against what historical conditions did this class arise?

2. What distinguishes the “bourgeois epoch” from all previous ones?

3. In what way do the defining characteristics of the bourgeoisie, combined with the activity of the proletarian class that has necessarily arisen alongside it, spell trouble for this new ruling class? In other words, trace Marx and Engels’ narrative of the bourgeoisie’s eventual, and perhaps imminent, self-destruction.  

Darwin, Charles. “Tierra del Fuego,” Ch. 10 from The Voyage of the Beagle

1. The HMS Beagle set sail in 1831 with a commission to explore the South American coast and compile longitudinal data. As a naturalist, Darwin had the task of cataloging the region’s flora and fauna. To see how he carries out this task when dealing with the Fuegian tribes, make a list of Fuegian (i.e. “savage”) qualities and list their “civilized” opposites in a second column. Why might a modern anthropologist trained in the study of comparative culture find such binary categorizations disturbing?

2. Compare and contrast Darwin’s attitude and his method of observation when he describes the natural environment of Tierra del Fuego and when he discusses the Beagle crew’s contacts with the region’s human inhabitants.

3. Do Darwin’s accounts of Fuegian cannibalism and other misbehavior sound convincing to you? If those accounts are not accurate, how might Darwin have come to believe in them and present them to his readers as the truth?

Darwin, Charles. “Struggle for Existence,” Ch. 3 from The Origin of Species

1. What is natural selection? How does it compare to the kind of selection that humans have long practiced on domestic animals? Incidentally, what to you think Darwin would say about today’s experiments with cloning--would he approve?

2. How does Darwin define his term “Struggle for Existence,” and why must this struggle take place--what “checks to increase” cause hardship for animals?

3. On the whole, what perspective on or attitude toward Nature emerges in this chapter? If you had to personify (give human characteristics to) Darwin’s Nature, what terms would you use to describe how it treats animal life on earth?

Darwin, Charles. “The Moral Sense,” Chapter 4 from The Descent of Man

1. Contrast Darwin’s ideas about humans’ “social instincts” to those of John Stuart Mill. Especially important here is Darwin’s footnote about Mill early in the chapter.

2. To follow up on this question, what reason does Darwin give for the development of the social instincts in humankind?

3. Describe Darwin’s account of the development of the moral sense.

4. Does Darwin’s account of man’s moral evolution strip him of the right to use the term “morality” in the older, religious sense, that of an absolute standard of right and wrong behavior?

5. Is Darwin an optimist, a believer in progress? Pay attention to his rhetorical emphasis in this chapter--does he believe that humanity is already at a high stage of development and that it may evolve to an even higher intellectual or moral plateau?

Carlyle, Thomas. “Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question”

1. What characteristics does Carlyle give his narrator, Dr. Phelim M’Quirk? Why does Carlyle want--or need--such a narrator to make a suspiciously “Carlylean” argument concerning Britain’s West-Indian possessions?

2. According to M’Quirk, in what ways do West Indian blacks differ in nature from British whites? By what artistic means does author Carlyle delineate these alleged differences? Does M’Quirk argue that black people in the West Indies (or elsewhere, for that matter) should be treated differently from Europeans?

3. How does Carlyle’s basic analysis of the situation in the West Indies compare to the analysis of English poverty and social disorder we studied in Past and Present? What has changed, and what remains constant?

Livingstone, David. Chapter 18 from Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa

1. What is Livingstone’s attitude towards the Africans he meets, and how does that attitude compare to that of a young Charles Darwin upon meeting the Fuegians?

2. How does Livingstone discuss the issue of race? How does his treatment of this subject compare to that of Thomas Carlyle in “Occasional Discourse”?

3. Why does Livingstone use phrases like “my children” when he refers to Africans?

4. In what way does the central event of Chapter 18--the tense standoff between Livingstone’s party and the Africans who threaten them--reveal the complexity of the author’s motives for exploring Africa?

Froude, James. Chapter 5 from The English in the West Indies; or, The Bow of Ulysses

1. At the beginning of Chapter 5, how does Froude distinguish between the white and black West Indians aboard his ship?

2. Chapter 5, like the rest of the book, supposedly draws upon Froude’s direct experience as an observer of West Indian people and customs. In light of the material contained in Chapter 5, how legitimate is Froude’s title to claim such experience?

3. In what ways does Froude follow Carlyle in matters of race?

4. In what sense do the West Indies, by Froude’s implication, present a threat to British values and colonial resolve?

Thomas, J.J. “Introduction” to Froudacity

1. List some basic criticisms that Thomas makes of Froude the historian’s powers of observation and objectivity.

2. How does Thomas establish his own authority as an historian and as a critic of Froude?

3. What might be the general motivation for Thomas’ determination to undermine Froude’s book on the West Indies?

Gandhi, Mohandas K. Definition of Satyagraha

1. What is Satyagraha, and how does it differ from the other forms of resistance identified by Gandhi?

2. How does Gandhi, leader of mass movements, distribute the burden of resistance over the entire population? See, for example, what he says about organizing Indians against the Rowlatt Bills. [The Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919. According to the editors of our selection, the Act “gave arbitrary powers to the authorities to arrest, confine, imprison or otherwise punish persons who were suspected to be concerned in movements prejudicial to the security of the State.”]

3. What lesson does Gandhi impart by recounting how he vowed to Kasturba, his wife, to give up salt and pulses for a whole year? In other words, why does the vow serve as an instance of Satyagraha?

4. What danger and responsibility does Gandhi recognize in his position as an organizer of mass campaigns? Refer to the sections on to his arrest and the consequences that followed.

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