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Infantalization, Anti-Feminism, and The Female Sexuality of Vivisection in Wilkie Collins's Heart and Science by Mariah Merriam

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In Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science, gender is handled very carefully and intentionally. The women within this novel are characterized into two categories: sexually inexperienced and intellectually provocative. Women in the novel that represent the ideal English woman, such as

In Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science, gender is handled very carefully and intentionally. The women within this novel are characterized into two categories: sexually inexperienced and intellectually provocative. Women in the novel that represent the ideal English woman, such as Carmina, are presented as sexually inexperienced and full of compassion for animals. The ideal woman was child-like in her sexual inexperience and naivety towards topics easily understood by men. Meanwhile, women who represented the New Woman, such as Mrs. Gallilee, are presented as intellectually provocative and cruel. The New Woman was a woman who did not conform to societal expectations of women in the 19th century, and Collins’s interpretation of the New Woman as void of compassion reflects the public tensions against the insertion of women into male-dominated fields during the Women’s Rights Movement. This strain is integral to understanding the insurmountable pressures placed upon Victorian women in a society, such that society would dissect her choices and presentation regardless of which category she fell in.<br/><br/> Both the ideal woman and the New Woman in Wilkie Collins’s “Heart and Science” are repeatedly compared to children and animals, exposing the degraded stance of women within nineteenth-century society. Women were viewed as having lesser intellectual and emotional capabilities than their male counterparts, resulting in the association of women with other “lesser” beings. Collins’s negative portrayal of the New Woman and the pedophilic sexualization of the ideal woman represent how the Victorian woman was “vivisected” by patriarchal society. The meticulous and nonconsensual dissection of a woman’s entire being, from her sexuality to her intellectual capacity, resulted in women identifying with vivisected animals and thus resulted in a strong feminine presence in the Anti-Vivisection Movement. <br/><br/>The connection between women, the Anti-Vivisection Movement, and female sexuality provides context for the success of the Women’s Rights Movement. Victorian women stood against vivisection because they understood what it was like to have their bodies be used without their consent, and they understood the battle between men’s desires and women’s rights to their bodies. Women also identified with being picked apart by society, as a woman’s worth lay in her physical appearance and her sexual and intellectual reputation. Through the Anti-Vivisection Movement’s success, women realized that they could insert themselves into scientific conversation and succeeding at helping those who are voiceless. The traction from the Anti-Vivisection Movement carried into the fervor for the Women’s Rights Movement, because women stood together in a way that had never been done before and rejected all preconceived notions of their status in society.

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2021-05

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(Re)memories of Slavery: An Examination of the Traumatic Past,Present, and Future Depicted in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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The application of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a lens through which one can analyze intergenerational trauma on an individual and communal level results in a blueprint towards a remedial process. The characters and their experiences in her novel are representative

The application of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a lens through which one can analyze intergenerational trauma on an individual and communal level results in a blueprint towards a remedial process. The characters and their experiences in her novel are representative of a myriad of ways in which trauma is manifested. I have broken down the concept of intergenerational trauma into the idea that it can be seen as the state where one is both simultaneously “falling” and “fallen” at the same time. Used here, the term “falling” refers to the consistent, individual trauma that one is experiencing. On the other hand, the term “fallen” refers to the trauma that a community as a whole has experienced and internalized. This framework that I establish based off of Beloved is a launching point for the conversation surrounding the topic of remedial actions in relation to intergenerational trauma that resulted from slavery. Using it as a basis of knowledge allows one to truly gather the weight of the situation regarding trauma postbellum. Considering the current climate surrounding any meaningful dialogue, knowledge is one of the most important aspects. Along with the concepts of “falling”/”fallen,” I also coined the term productive memory, which refers to the act of confrontation as well as the remembering of intergenerational trauma. The use of productive memory is imperative in addressing the prior ideas presented regarding intergenerational trauma and the possible pathways to move forward.

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2021-05

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The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly: Gendered Moral Teachings in American Murder Ballads

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Once planted firmly in America, murder ballads old and new sparked the Southern imagination, and familiar motifs and formulas were sung with a distinct American twist. The moral standards and beliefs of Christianity, specifically those of Baptist and Methodist denominations,

Once planted firmly in America, murder ballads old and new sparked the Southern imagination, and familiar motifs and formulas were sung with a distinct American twist. The moral standards and beliefs of Christianity, specifically those of Baptist and Methodist denominations, are weaved through a majority of Southern murder ballads, which reflects the impact of the Second Great Awakening, a religious revival founded in the South during the 1790s and early 1800s. Murder ballads found in the American South from 1800 to 1950 follow a structure that reinforces southern expectations for men and women, emphasizing moral and immoral traits in a way that encourages the listener to adhere to strict gender roles. The question of who the villain is and who the victim is must be confronted while examining American murder ballads, because the answer is not as clear cut as one would assume. Virginal women and sinful women, hapless men and cold-blooded men, each play a role in these ballads and the way in which they are perceived shifts the moral weight of the song. Heterosexuality and gender norms are heavily enforced in murder ballads from the South, and any deviations from these norms leads to murder, execution, or eternal damnation.

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2020-05