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Cave and Dickinson

Important quotations from Cave on literature:

Literature= “signature of cognition in action” (20).

“Literature is the most far reaching and enduring vehicle…most revealing product and symptom of human cognition” (14).

Mind reading= “the ability to read minds certainly passes through the body…and the fact that all our bodies resonate physically with other bodies, real or imagined” (17). This brings us to “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain”, in which the reader moves with the poet following the procession through imagery.  Dickinson uses imagery in her poem to highlight movement: “creaking”, “mourners…to and fro”, “treading”, “beating like a drum”, etc.

In poetry, this is known as kinesthesia. It gives the poem a sense of natural and physical bodily movement- ex: heart beat, pulse, breathing. Further, it creates a tension along with the movement and images that are both figurative and descriptive.

Cave on kinesis:

Kinesis= “a faint but distant echo in the reader’s own motor response what it takes in sensorimotor terms to preform a highly specific gesture” (29). It’s not symbolic but reflective. Similarly, Dickinson’s imagery reflects emotions and thoughts.

Kinesic reading “brings to the surface something you’ve always felt when you read the text properly, but somehow ignored” (29)…

“a cognitive reading of literary texts then, would seek to uncover the hidden work of rapid inferencing and on-the-wing construction of meaning that makes it possible for an experienced reader…at times this may seem self-evident…we’re on the right track (23).

Kinesis plays are fundamental role in mind reading (two different aspects of the same process)

Mind reading is never unproblematic.

Other texts: “The Yellow Wallpaper”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “Bartleby the Scrinver” using unnatural narratives and movement.

Snow Much Research

  1. Emily Dickinson’s Poems
  2. “The Yellow Wallpaper” BLUE
  3. “The Tell-Tale Heart” BLUE
  4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream GREEN
  5. The Importance of Being Earnest GREEN
  6. “Ode to a Grecian Urn”
  7. “Bartleby the Scrivner” GREEN
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao YELLOW
  9. Fun Home YELLOW

Okay, so this post isn’t really my way of thinking things out/studying so it’s going to be a little messy and then in a week or so when I work out all my research I can make it a lot clearer. So, I really want to have about 10 works prepared. I took 9 from the list. I haven’t decided which book I want to take as my extra.


Genre: For genre, I would probably prepare the yellow texts and discuss the coming of age genre told through two different mediums: novel vs. graphic novel. I still have like 100 pages left of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, so I’m going to hold off on researching and committing to a stance on it.

Alternatively, I could also use “Ode to a Grecian Urn” and speak about the genre of Ekphrasis and compare it to Achilles’ shield in the Iliad, which, technically can also go for historical context if I find the right research to support me.


Historical Context: I would probably work with my green texts and show how identity in literature differs through history. I’d show who has what agency and how it mattered- i.e. women’s identity, wealth, etc.

Alternatively, I could use these works for the genre category because one is fantasy and one literary fiction and discuss how the two provide different depictions of identity.


Theory: I did my presentations on “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” and both of these texts had unreliable narrators that descended into paranoia. “Bartleby the Scrivner” has this as well. I could group these three (or two or one, depending on the question) and use the theories I used for my presentations to make a convincing argument.

Alternatively, I could probably do a feminist theory reading of Emily Dickinson’s poems and “The Yellow Wallpaper” (or Fun Home).


Flexibility and Modularity: I think my alternatives (written in italics) allow me a lot of flexibility, so I’m not super concerned. I think it ‘s really plausible for me to find research on the topics I proposed and once I have that, and read through it/mark it up I’ll be in a pretty solid place. I also intend to pick a book that fits into all the categories as my extra. So far, I think Catcher in the Rye would fit into a lot of these categories, especially my coming of age genre one. But I think I’m just saying that because I really like that book. But yeah. So, over the weekend I’ll pull some research on these topics and I think that it’s just a matter of being overly prepared research wise and organizing my research so that I can quickly find things to write about. (Also I wrote this on Mircosoft Word and when I put it here my nice organized highlights went away)


“The Yellow Wall-Paper” Presentation

Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wall-Paper” in the late 19th century. In this story, the woman is significantly restrained by those around her and has no agency in her action. “The yellow Wall-Paper” is often read from a feminist view point; however, this is not necessarily the intentions that Gilman wished to draw attention to.

Her purpose was to draw attention to how unfairly and how drastically medical professionals treated women suffering from mild hysteria, or similar disorders. Gilman’s doctor, S. Weir Mitchell, diagnosed her with a strain of nervous prostration or Neuroasthenia. Gilman was placed in isolation and could not express herself through writing in order to “recover.” Gilman writes about this in her article: “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wall-Paper” in this article Gilman writes her story was: “ It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked.”

John Bak provides a different argument in his article: “Escaping the Jaundiced eye: Foucauldian Panopticism in CPG’s “The Yellow Wallpaper””

In it he discusses Foucault’s envisioned panopticon and compares it to the house that the protagonist was locked in.


FOUCULT (Taken from Discipline and Punish 1975)

At the periphery, an annular building; at the centre, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building; they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; the other, on the outside, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other. All that is needed, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower and to shut up in each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker or a schoolboy. By the effect of backlighting, one can observe from the tower, standing out precisely against the light, the small captive shadows in the cells of the periphery. They are like so many cages, so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visible. The panoptic mechanism arranges spatial unities that make it possible to see constantly and to recognize immediately. In short, it reverses the principle of the dungeon; or rather of its three functions – to enclose, to deprive of light and to hide – it preserves only the first and eliminates the other two. Full lighting and the eye of a supervisor capture better than darkness, which ultimately protected. Visibility is a trap…

Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too little that the prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector: too little, for what matters is that he knows himself to be observed; too much, because he has no need in fact of being so. In view of this, Bentham laid down the principle that power should be visible and unverifiable. Visible: the inmate will constantly have before his eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so. In order to make the presence or absence of the inspector unverifiable, so that the prisoners, in their cells, cannot even see a shadow, Bentham envisaged not only venetian blinds on the windows of the central observation hall, but, on the inside, partitions that intersected the hall at right angles and, in order to pass from one quarter to the other, not doors but zig-zag openings; for the slightest noise, a gleam of light, a brightness in a half-opened door would betray the presence of the guardian. The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen. It is an important mechanism, for it automatizes and disindividualizes power. Power has its principle not so much in a person as in a certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes; in an arrangement whose internal mechanisms produce the relation in which individuals are caught up. The ceremonies, the rituals, the marks by which the sovereign’s surplus power was manifested are useless. There is a machinery that assures dissymmetry, disequilibrium, difference. Consequently, it does not matter who exercises power. Any individual, taken almost at random, can operate the machine: in the absence of the director, his family, his friends, his visitors, even his servants (Bentham, 45). Similarly, it does not matter what motive animates him: the curiosity of the indiscreet, the malice of a child, the thirst for knowledge of a philosopher who wishes to visit this museum of human nature, or the perversity of those who take pleasure in spying and punishing. The more numerous those anonymous and temporary observers are, the greater the risk for the inmate of being surprised and the greater his anxious awareness of being observed. The Panopticon is a marvellous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces homogeneous effects of power.

According to Bak, the Panopticon developed into an “unscrupulous method of inquisition that perpetuated fear and bread paranoia” (40). The Panopticon created a symbolic relationship between the observer and the observed. It was an instrument of fear and power. Through the transparent cells, the authoritative power inside the Panopticon was irreversible because only the warden could spy on the inmates, not vice versa. The constant unknowing gaze of the warden creates a sense of paranoia amidst the inmates. That being said, inside was relatively pleasant. This is similar to our protagonist’s living situation. She speaks about the house being nice but plagued by terrible yellow wallpaper. Foucault says that the Panopticon created a “faceless gaze” similarly in the story, the observer is unidentifiable because it stems from the protagonist’s paranoia. She speaks of “two bulbous eyes” personifying this gaze.

Bak writes, “what begins as a perfunctory dismissal of the paper’s “optic horror,” however, gradually develops into paranoia that Foucault says is inevitable with unabated surveillance” (43). Once she becomes aware of these unblinking eyes watching her she believes there is something behind the paper. This fuels her madness.

Bak argues that Gilman’s character ultimately escaped. He writes, “in objectifying herself through this imaginary woman, the narrator can free herself, if only in mind, from the external prison her husband places her in” (44). She doesn’t need complete freedom from confinement, rather specifically from the wallpaper that she believes to be monitoring her. That’s why she exclaims she has escaped after ripping the wallpaper. “And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” Once she transcends all levels of consciousness she is no longer aware of the gaze and denies The Panopticon’s reality. By doings so, she eliminates the control it has over her. Although she is clinically insane, internally she is devoid of the identity that her husband had inscribed upon her. As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, who study 19th century literature writes: “the cure is worse than the disease”

“Tell Tale Heart” Presentation


Edgar Allan Poe wrote the “Tell Tale Heart” in the mid 19th century just a few years before his death. In this gothic short story, a nameless narrator, who is in fact very “nervous” but not “mad” and claims to have a disease that heightens his senses. This disease proves to be very problematic because his heightened senses become fixated on an “old man.” This old man’s pale blue eye drives the narrator crazy. He starts referring to this eye as his “evil eye.” On the night in question, he notes that never before had he felt the extent of his powers. Prior to this night, the narrator goes to the old man’s room every night at midnight and watches him sleep. During each visitation, he considers killing the old man, but he cannot see his eyes so he can’t justify murdering an innocent man. However, on the eighth night the old man wakes up and the narrator sees the eye, growing “furious as [he] glazed upon it.” He then attacks him and places the bed on top of the old man so that his eye would trouble him no longer. After, he dismembers the corpse and puts the pieces under the floorboard. Policemen arrive to question our narrator because they heard screaming. The sly narrator explains that was his own screams in his sleep and that the old man is out of town. However, he begins to grow pale and worried and cannot escape a beating noise. He jumps up and confesses to the murder and that the ticking noise is the old man’s heart.

“Unnatural Narrative, Unnatural Narratology: Beyond Mimetic Models” by Jan Alber (et al):

According to Jan Alber, narratives “do not only mimetically reproduce the world as we know it. Many narratives confront us with bizarre storyworlds which are governed by principals that have very little to do with the world around us” (115). Therefore, characters can do things beyond possibility in the physical world. According to the Theory of Mind (ToM), we can understand other people because we construct their minds on the basis of our own. This is reminiscent of our readings that dealt with autism (neurotypicals). Unnatural minds often obstruct this process through narrative features in the text because the narrator’s values do not necessarily match up with the reader’s values. It’s important to note that in Unnatural narrations, the Narrator does not have to predominantly be the ‘I’ voice in the texts.

Unnatural narration often takes place in an unnatural storyworld. Unnatural storyworlds contain physically or logically impossible scenarios and events, along with the aforementioned unnatural minds, which force the reader to construct consciousness that defies the continued conscious frame.

In “The Tell Tale Heart” the narrative challenges the distinction between narrator and narrative. Firstly, the title suggests that the heart can “tell” on someone. The TELL tale heart. So, the heart reveals our first person narrator as the murderer, however, in order for this to work we need to trust that our narrator is actually hearing the heart beating. Or, the heart can be telling the reader a tale. Look at the last passage of the text- it alternates between tenses. There is narration, ongoing and narrated, as well as past narration, which are merging together. The narrator prefaces and says he will be calm in his story telling. The exposure and repetition converge and become indistinguishable. Therefore, it’s impossible to tell which words belong to the supposedly calm narrating ‘I’ and which come from the actual event itself. The end of the passage speaks of the heart. The heartbeat tells a silent story that we cannot find (and neither can the police). As the two converge, we see the unsteadiness of the narrative ‘I.’ This creates an unnatural and slightly confusing narrative. The article quotes James Phelan, a professor at Ohio University to summarize the argument: “the story seems to give us a character so overcome by guilt that he imagines the heart beating so loudly as to be heard, that when he becomes narrator his guilt remains so strong that he loses the calm and retrospection…and his narration is influenced by his once again hearing of the heart as he heard it before”(128). Further, the text has an obsession with eyes. It is not the old man who the I wishes to kill rather his vulture like eye. The old man’s evil eye.

In his 1994 book, In the Metases of Enjoment Slavoj Zizek defines the phrase Ego-Evil. For practicality, I’m using Magdalen Wing-chi Ki’s essay, “The Ego-Evil and The Tell Tale Heart” to define this phrase because can Zizek get kind of dense and hard to follow. The Ego-Evil is about the elevation of self-love. The overidentification with the self’s views and interests, which can lead to a narcissistic denigration of an other. According to Zizek, it’s the most common form of evil. This is something were all fairly guilty of. Hopefully we don’t act out to the extent that our narrator does; however, many times we do things that our good for us instead of good for others. Therefore, The evil-I and the evil-eye both bring about the Narrator’s demise. The Ego-evil blinds (eye) the narrator who judges the old man based on his eye, which mirrors the narrator’s blindness (to his wrongdoings and to the lack of a police investigation). The evil-I becomes synonymous with the evil-eye because they cause one another. (Which comes first?) The evil-I makes the narrator obsessed with the evil eye- or does the evil eye create and evil I? At the end, both eye/I are conquered because the character becomes so overcome by guilt that he looses touch with reality creating an unnatural storyworld and narration.



To Do List

Things that I need to do:

-Modify my thesis

-Reorganize my paragraphs

-Add some new psych articles I found

-Add a little bit more about the domestic/adventure functions

-Because I’m ripping my paragraphs out and a sticking them into new places I then have to completely re-work transitions and stitching.

But overall, those tasks shouldn’t be too bad. I think I’m in a good place, and I think I have a better understanding of what I want to do with my paper now.

[▆▆▆▆▆▆▆__________________________] (it’s a progress bar)

Professor Tougaw and my writing group have given me excellent suggestions as to how to progress with my paper, and I’m very thankful. My writing group is reassuring because they made my draft seem like less of a mess than I had thought it was, so I’m really grateful to them.

I agree with a lot of the feedback, and a lot of it mirrored the critiques I had given myself, which makes me feel like I have a fairly good understanding of where I currently am. Occasionally, the commentary conflicted with one another, leaving me slightly uncertain as to the status of certain things, but I guess that just means that it’s left up to my own discretion.

At the moment, I’m very overwhelmed by my paper. I haven’t really been able to look at it because I’m frustrated with it and can’t decide whether I should fix everything that’s wrong with it or if I should finish writing and then go back and mess around with it. I’m also mad that I don’t have a real thesis yet, because people keep asking me what my paper is on and I don’t have a short answer. I think I just need a week or so away from it before I can face it again.

So, as of now, I’ve been reading up on some primary sources for the topics I haven’t written yet. I hope to resume writing it sometime next week. I think I’m going to work on finishing a complete draft before I start fixing it, but I’m not really sure yet. I’m just happy to be done with finals, and I’m happy that we had these drafts due because it forced me to actually start writing the paper, instead of just thinking about it in theory.

So, happy holiday guys, and enjoy your vacation!

Research Updates

What progress have I made with my research paper? That’s a terrifying question to ask a week before it’s due. I don’t know what progress I’ve made. It’s finals week. I don’t even know if I’ve slept recently.

My strategy for this paper has been to take advantage of the fact that it’s only a rough draft due and just rant and hope for the best. My sources are definitely coming together, which is very exciting. My paper seems to actually be progressing well and I’m enjoying writing it. However…

My frustrations are as follows:

  • I constantly switch back and forth between worrying that I’m writing too much to worrying that I’m not going to have enough to talk about.
  • I’m sick of hearing myself talking. I want the paper to stop being so long, so I can stop talking in my paper.
  • I’m still missing a book, which makes me feel like I’m wasting my time because what if the book I’m missing is magical and needs to be weaved into every paragraph I already wrote?
  • I’m not so confident I have enough information on the aesthetics of horror and shockingly, on gothic literature itself? Like it’s really hard to find helpful sources on that (this is why I need that magical missing book).
  • I feel like my paper is structured weirdly.
  • I’m using a book by Stephen King and he talks so much. I’m almost as sick of hearing his voice, as I am mine.

I don’t think I write with a conscious awareness of Gaipa, Walk, Hayot’s strategies. I think my best and most helpful strategies right now are: try to write a little bit every night (even if it’s just a small paragraph), organize my thoughts, and try and make the paper easy to read (not dull). However, I’ve definitely been doing a lot of Gaipa’s piggybacking. I’m finding that helpful.

Nonetheless, I’m excited to see where this paper takes me and if I’ll emerge alive (I’m kidding. It’s really not that bad. I’m getting there).

Annotated Bibliography

Adler, E S, and R Clark. “Adolescence: A Literary Passage.” Adolescence 26.104 (1991): 757-768. MEDLINE Complete. Web.

Adler and Clark’s essay is more scientific rather literary. I will be using their analysis of the break down of the stages of adolescence. Additionally, their research help explain the effects of YA literature (specifically if it should be used as therapy, which tangentially can be applied to my essay). Through character development, they write how these coming of age novels allow young adults to express sympathy towards the children in the texts they read, which is an important development. I will leapfrog this essay by agreeing with the general points, but then pointing out flaws in their lack of desire to use the texts in therapeutic and scientific ways.

GOODYEAR, DANA. “Kid Goth.” New Yorker 85.46 (2010): 48. MasterFILE Complete. Web.

Goodyear’s paper is probably one of the strangest papers I have read for this research paper. The source is mainly a discussion of Gaiman’s odd life choices (written by a seemingly emo fangirl, who is in fact a middle aged lady). There is a brief section on Coraline that will be helpful to my paper. It’s an analytic summary and it concludes that after Coraline’s battles “there was nothing left about school that could scare her anymore” (2). This really ties in with what I’m trying to prove with my paper: after the child emerges from the portal s/he is more mature and able because her/his experiences have conditioned her/him. It would be cool to speak about the thin boundary that lies between writers and readers in the fantasy genre, but I’m not so sure that will tie in with my paper. I think I’ll be ass kissing for the most part, because most of what she says about Coraline is pretty standard and hard to disagree with.

Hintz, Carrie and Eric L Tribunella. Reading Children’s Literature. 1st ed., Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013,.

Carrie Hintz and Eric L. Trubunella’s textbook is a lot less helpful than I had hoped. They provide a fantastic overview of children’s’ literature. Their work is stuffed with great definitions for important topics that I will be working with (genre, psychoanalytic approach to YA literature, the function of the home as a dangerous place, etc.). However, each topic only gets a brief paragraph, which doesn’t really give me so much to work with. Their text is a great starting point for basically every topic in my essay, but leaves a lot to be researched. I hope to piggyback their work by using their brief discussion as a foundation for my further discussions.

Kidd, Kenneth B. Freud In Oz. 1st ed., Minneapolis, University Of Minnesota Press, 2011,.

Professor suggested I look into Bruno Bettelheim’s The Use of Enchantment, but I haven’t gotten a chance to take the book out of the library yet. However, I found this book that quotes Bettelheim a lot and his approach to fairytales and it sounds like this book might be helpful in my research. It’s hard to really tell which side Bettelheim is on (which I acknowledge sounds weird, but the book keeps showing him representing fairytales both positively and negatively), so I hope to check out the book and take a look for myself. In theory, I would either be piggybacking or picking a fight, depending on his view.

MacAndrew, Elizabeth. The Gothic Tradition In Fiction. 1st ed., New York, Columbia University Press, 1979.

MacAndrew’s book will probably be the most helpful and thorough source I have found so far. Her book outlines the genre of horror, speaks about the history, discusses the artificiality of the worlds created (which ties in with my other sources on the uncanny), and the purity of the young heroes. These are all really important topics that will come up in my paper. She touches on the aesthetics of horror, which is great because I’m having trouble finding a good source on that and speaks about the darkness in the text (villains, destruction, etc.) I’m really excited to read her text more closely and apply the tropes she presents to my primary texts. I think I’ll be piggybacking her work by agreeing with it but then furthering it by applying it to my primary texts.

Mendlesohn, Farah. Rhetorics Of Fantasy. 1st ed., Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press, 2008,.

Mendlesohn’s book is really exciting and really gives a thorough outline of portals. She discusses the themes of transition and exploration in conjunction with the portals and furthers by raising the importance of narration in the texts. She also speaks about important tropes like the (magical) guides molding the characters and the fact that it takes time to cross the portals. This will be extremely helpful because my paper will be discussing the function of portals. Therefore, I will be very much ass kissing. I suppose, in a way, I’ll also be piggybacking because I’ll be applying her thoughts to my own texts but pretty much Mendleshon has a monopoly on writing about portals in YA literature (based on my research) so whatever she says goes.

Michelle Pagni Stewart,. “Joseph Bruchac’s “Dark” Novels: Confronting The Terror Of Adolescence“. Studies In The Novel, vol 42, no. 1, 2010, pp. 84-98. Johns Hopkins University Press

In Stewart’s work she focuses on texts by Joseph Baruchac, but I’ll be ignoring that and focusing on her research around those books. The section on the uncanny will be most helpful for my paper. In this section she discusses horror-fiction and its strange appeal. Further, she discusses and compares the horror to the “horrors” young adults face with their changing bodies, hormones, and social groups. I will piggyback her essay by applying my own primary texts to her research in place of Baruchac’s works.

Rudd, David. “An Eye For An I: Neil Gaiman’s Coraline And Questions Of Identity.” Children’s Literature In Education 39.3 (2008): 159-168. Education Source. Web.

Rudd’s paper is very focused of Saussure and Lacan. I don’t think I want to use much of their theories because I think I have enough complexities going on in my paper. Rudd’s work does give a fantastic insight into the Freudian analysis of the uncanny, which is extremely important for my paper. I’m still debating how much Freud I want to apply to my paper, because I’m not such a fan of Freud’s psychoanalysis, but as expected if I chose to, Rudd provides a fair amount of Freudian-castration to Coraline. This work is also important because it gave me insight into the mother/daughter (father/son) relationships that I will need to analyze in my paper. I will definitely be piggybacking this work by applying my other two primary sources to Rudd’s analysis. If I chose to work with Freud I’ll probably be picking a fight.

I also think I might look into Victor Turner and Arnold van Gennep and their work on rites of passages. I vaguely remember it from an Anthropology class I took, but I’m not sure how helpful their work will actually be in application.


My ballroom diagram starts off with Professor Hintz, Elizabeth MacAndrew, and Farah Mendleshon at the bottom. Their works in YA literature, gothic fiction, and fantasy (respectively) set the foundation for my paper. They all pretty much have strong knowledge on their one field, except for Hintz, who thinks she knows everything. Stemming from their insights are my primary sources: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Coraline, and The Phantom Tollbooth. Coraline yields two specific works, David Rudd, who spends a great deal of his essay explaining Coraline via Freud, which is helpful because I care about the uncanny in my paper and Dana Goodyear, a strange lady who explains the functions of portals specifically in Coraline, but I will apply this to all my texts. Then we have Emily Adler and David Clark who build on Hintz by using science and explaining the psychological function of YA literature. Lastly, Michelle Pagni Stewart builds on both Hintz and MacAndrew by speaking about the plights of adolescence and the horror genre. The motivating moves I will be using are: 2- The knowledge on the topic has been heretofore limited, because there is very little work that discusses YA literature in conjunction with horror with a focus on the coming of age portal as a rite of passage convention, so I’ll be adding to that and 3-There’s a mystery or a puzzle that needs answering, because I hope to be exploring the aesthetics and the psychology of why people enjoy horror.

Research Proposal

For my research paper I will be working with gothic young adult (YA) literature. The texts I will be reading in conjunction with my research are: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. These works will help me explore the following research questions: (1) Why is gothic literature a popular genre among children? (2) How does gothic literature reflect the psychological struggles, conflicts, identity, and advancements of young adults? (3) How do portals, time loops, and other magical passages convey the “unknown”? (4) How are adults perceived in YA novels and how does this change with the passage through the unknown in each text?

My secondary sources will analyze the texts is a few ways. I will start by analyzing the genres that are prevalent to my research. I will navigate gothic literature using Elizabeth MacAndrew’s book, The Gothic Tradition in Fiction. This book will be specifically useful in analyzing the conventions of gothic fiction. In addition I will work with Farah Mendelson’s Rhetorics of Fiction to analyze the use portals in the texts. Michelle Pagni Stewert’s essay: “Joseph Bruchac’s “Dark” Novels: Confronting The Terror of Adolescence” will lay a strong foundation for my argument and allow me to connect gothic literature to children’s literature. While speaking about children’s literature I will use Professor Carrie Hintz’s textbook (written with Eric L. Tribunella) Reading Children’s Literature to discuss the conventions of children’s literature. I found some essays that discuss identity as well as the uncanny appeal found in the goth subculture and I will use these essays to develop the gothic YA structure formed in Gaiman’s book, as well as Riggs and Juster’s works (the essays are: “An Eye for an I: Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Questions of Identity”, by David Rudd and “Kid Goth” by Dana Goodyear). To support the rite of passage idea, I will use Emily Stier Adler and Roger Clark’s essay “Adolescence: A literary Passage.” I will need to find more sources that speak about the effects of children’s literature and maybe some psychological sources that deal with the effects of combining fear and literature. (In addition I found a book called The Gothic in Children’s Literature: Haunting the Borders that is a compilation of essays but it is not available through online sources or the library, so I am not sure if I will use it yet). Through those sources I will attempt to create a thorough understanding of the underlying psychological and fantastical uses of gothic children’s literature.

Through my research I would like to explore the trope of the “unknown” in gothic YA literature that is used to create a rite of passage for the character(s) to pass through. This marks the metaphoric journey of the ambiguities associated with maturing. I would like to analyze the texts using sources on genre and discuss the books’ adherence to the conventions set forth by the genres. My research will explore the many conventions of YA literature, such as talking animals, the rite of passage, and the perception of adults as phonies. In addition, I believe it is important to address the texts from a psychological viewpoint. YA literature shapes the minds of many children around the world. With the dystopian genre on the rise it is curious why so many young adults are drawn to such dark literature. Therefore, it is important to understand and analyze the theory and purpose behind these texts.

It Started Out With a Kiss, How Did it End Up as a 24-Page Analysis, It Was Only a Kiss.

Disclaimer: I misunderstood the prompt and chose a supplementary reading from our course website rather than the Norton Anthology because I didn’t realize our editions were Norton Anthologies until after I wrote my post despite the fact that it says on the cover “A Norton Critical Edition.”

After reading Dinshaw’s “A Kiss is Just a Kiss”, I was honestly a little more confused with my reading of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight than I had previously been. The essay seemed to fluctuate a lot as to the sexuality of Gawain. The essay’s main focus was supposed to be on kisses but then spent the bulk of the essay speaking about almost every other instance in the book, and then seemingly remembered it was supposed to speaking about kisses, which the author would then sporadically bring up in conjunction with the other events.

One point that this essay did raise, and I questioned this point as well while I was reading, was the seduction in the poem. The women always did the seduction and the men seemed helpless. This is an unusual depiction of a strong patriarchy. Allowing the lady a kiss is an interesting assertion of power in a reversed gender and identity situation. The hunting scene was a keen reminder of the males’ need to demonstrate order over the world around them. It is obvious that the men adhered to strict chivalric and honorable rules. This was further clarified by Dinshaw’s reading. The kisses symbolize both power and chivalry. Their obsession with honoring their word was so strong that Gawain allowed a man to try chop off his head because he had agreed to it a year ago. And then the Green Knight doesn’t actually knock Gawain’s head off because of other promises, but still keeps to his word and slices Gawain slightly because Gawain didn’t return all the material he was supposed to. So clearly there is a strong idea of power relations, specifically patriarchal ones, which define honor and chivalry in the men’s lives. Is that heterosexual? I don’t really think that defines homosexuality or heterosexuality. Sexuality doesn’t really define people’s actions outside of their sexual preferences. So, based on the information we are given I don’t think it’s really possible or necessary to label our characters’ sexuality.

I definitely do hear what Dinshaw is saying though. There are some curious moments that could be analyzed, for example, when Gawain and Bertilak kiss but as Dinshaw notes, “we read the text from a new perspective and contribute to a more accurate history…” (21). While homosexuality was very pertinent (and dangerous) in the 12th century, I think we might be reading into the text a little too much in that aspect based on our own reading of modern day texts. I think that even if homosexuality were present in the text, it wouldn’t have been the main focus of the text because it doesn’t really change the value of the text. Until we get a sequel in which The Green Knight and Gawain are in a happy and stable marriage, I think most of our reading of the text from that angle would be based heavily on unnecessary speculation.

(Also, it was really frustrated that Dinshaw ended the essay titled “A Kiss is Just a Kiss” with “after all, when is a kiss ever just a kiss” (21). I’ll tell you when: WHEN YOU DECLARATIVELY STATE IN YOUR TITLE THAT IT IS.)

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