Mar 27 2009

Tech of Text Paper

by at 10:28 pm

After speaking with Macovski, it looks like I’m going to be changing the focus of my paper. He really liked the parts of my annotated bibliography that talk about bodies and machines (Harraway’s cyborg stuff; Fox’s stuff on “adapting to the machine;” Rhys’s background on Watt and the steam engine work ethic, etc) . While I will be discussing Luddism, the crux of the introductory section will discuss the history of the factory and how technological advances in the factories increasingly lead to the mechanization of the human body (think of the electrification of the factory, which now extends the day…those bodies which have yet to be replaced by machines are now expected to work longer hours, and hence begin to become like the machine). I then plan on connecting this to Sister Carrie. In the beginning of the novel, Carrie moves to Chicago in the hopes of finding a job. She wants to work at a department store, but because she has no previous job experience her only option is the factory. Carrie takes a job at a factory. The bodies of the workers are described as machines, but Carrie is having a hard time keeping up. Carrie finds the job at the factory disastifying because a) she does not enjoy the work, and b) because she does not make enough money to buy the commodites she wants. Here I could bring in the Peiss article from Merish’s class on working girls and how they often suplimented their incomes by giving sexual favors to men. Carrie does this at first with Drouet but eventually becomes a kept woman exclusively and leaves her job at the factory. She eventually becomes a successful actress and she resists adapting to the machine and instead finds success in another venue. So, Sister Carrie is then a neo-luddist novel, which represents Carrie’s rejection of this automized life. Also, Hurstwood’s failure would need to be discussed. It’s a novel about Carrie’s ascent and Hurstwood’s decsent. Why does Carrie succeed and Hurstwood fail?

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Feb 04 2009

Of Blog Banner Images

by at 10:01 pm

I was poking around the Library of Congress’s image database and came across this image from around 1899 of a Washington DC classroom. The room is filled with women studying electrogmagnetism. The image is really quite amazing. You see women drawing pictures of circuits. You also see the notes on the board, which I’ve cropped as the header of my banner. You can see “electric telegraph” and “telegraph” pretty clearly. I get excited everytime I look at it. I wonder what kind of classroom this was. Were these women scientists? Were these girls in highschool? Was this a “normal” part of nineteeth-century female education?

Since Cima’s paper, I’ve become more and more interested in just how much science nineteenth-century women were exposed to. Margaret Fuller talks about women’s heightened electrical compositions; Lydia Maria Child, as mentioned before, is also very much aware of this kind of scientific discourse. My outline and notes on how to take my paper for Cima’s paper further will be posted. Eventually.

On a side note, I’m reading Sister Carrie for Merish’s class now and it’s startling just how much electromagnetic language Dreiser uses. I could definitely see myself writing an analysis of this for a chapter of my thesis.

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