Thudding Wings of Daedalus

30 Jan 2019

Early on in the Nestor chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen calls upon the muses while listening to the boys answers to his history questions. Stephen thinks, “Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it.” (Joyce 1922.) According to “The Joyce Project” page about this highlighted section of text, the phrase “daughters of memory” referrers to the nine muses, and the sentence, “Fabled by the daughters of memory,” essentially means “produced by the daughters of inspiration (JH 2012.) In this instance where Steven is retrieving the stories of history from the uninspired youths, he is invoking the muses and begging them to inspire the students to retell the past in a more imaginative and interested way.

Joyce’s portrayal of Steven tutoring history works as a fractured retelling of Odysseus’ time with the Phaeacians listening to the heroic tales from the bard. The students’ failure to engage with the stories of the past leaves Steven feeling as if the society has lost its way by ignoring the lessons of the past. Steven thinks, “A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake’s wings of excess. I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame” (Joyce 1922.) The impatience that the students have with their history lesson seems to Steven Daedalus like the thud of wings. And taken with his name as a reference to Icarus the thud of wings is a fall from greatness, a fall that seems likely to destroy civilization as represented by shattering glass and toppling masonry. When compared to Odysseus’ reaction to the song of the Phaeacian bard, Steven’s encounter with the retelling of history rings hollow.

In Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen pleads in silence to be lost in the emotion of a heroic retelling of the past and is thwarted by the by student who would much rather be out engaging themselves in the sport of hockey. However, Homer has his bard bring history to life with such feeling that Odysseus is brought to tears. With the bard singing of Odysseus’ exploits, the narrator says, “That was the song the famous harper sang/but great Odysseus melted into tears,/running down from his eyes to wet his cheeks” (Homer 208.84-86.) The song, as told by the bard, has the power to make powerful Odysseus break down into tears and Odysseus’ tears bring on the sympathy of the king. Therefore history has the power to make real change in Odysseus’ world. Yet in Joyce’s retelling, history is more of an inconvenience that gets in the way of the real fun and Steven’s inner monologue is a reaction to history’s lost power.



Works Cited


Homer. Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles, Viking Penguin, 1997.

  1. “Daughters of Memory.” The Joyce Project : Ulysses : Pigeonhouse, 2012.

Joyce, James. UlyssesThe Joyce Project : Ulysses : Pigeonhouse, 1922.

Homer’s Rosy-Fingered Odyssey

21 Jan 2019

The first thing that strikes me about the first four books of The Odyssey is its use of repetition as an organizational device within the text. As an introduction to each new act, Homer writes, “Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared […]” (Homer 800 BCE.) Homer repeats this phrase or a similarly worded phrase about the coming of morning as a kind of shorthand to let his audience know that he is beginning on a new segment of the narrative. According to New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics, “Homer uses these prefabricated metrical building-blocks to facilitate rapid composition of long narrative poems in an oral setting” (B.G. and T.V.F.B. 378-379.) But the repetition of Homer’s phrase could have other implications as well.

When discussing repetition of a particular ritual in The Odyssey, Jennifer Clavore, in “Poetry and Repetition,” states, “The repetition marks the ritual as ritual, as repeatable; it exists as a form out of time, to be fulfilled in time” (Clavore 31.) Following Clavore’s logic the repetition of the coming of morning and the near exact repetition of the wording of the phrasing indicates that Homer is pointing out the special significance of the coming of day and the sunrise in particular. The repetition could be a promise that the morning will come as it always does and it could have similar meaning to the contemporary saying “tomorrow is another day” signifying the possibility of getting a fresh start despite the difficulties one may have had in the past. According to Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Homer’s epic poems were originally intended to give moral and religious instruction (Szegedy-Maszak 95.) Therefore, the phrase, “the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,” with its personification of the dawn could easily be an allusion to whichever Greek God who is responsible for bringing about the morning as The Odyssey is chock full of Gods that take active interest in the dealings of individual mortals such as Telemachus and Ulysses.

Of the many parallels between the text of Homer’s Odyssey and Joyce’s Ulysses, the appearance of the Gods amongst the humans stands out to me. Chapter one of Joyce’s novel spends much of the text in parodying and blaspheming the Catholic Church which is the dominant religion in the Ireland of the text, yet Steven Daedalus feels that the old woman who delivers the milk to them is a goddess. Joyce writes, “Old and secret she had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger. […] A wandering crone, lowly form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the secret morning” (Joyce 1922.) Steven’s godly messenger stands in stark contrast to Telemachus’ visitation from Minerva who comes in the form of Mentes, the chief of the Taphians and later in the form of Mentor, both characters of high esteem (Homer 800 BCE.) Telemachus’ visitation from the Goddess in the form of heroic characters reflects on his royal status and hints at his possibility of his own heroic transformation. However, Steven’s visitation by a Goddess in the form of a crone shows that he likely has a much more humble fate in store for him. Interestingly, in the quote about Steven’s visitation by the crone there is a mention of “secret morning” that calls back to Homer’s repeated phrase, but I am not sure yet what this emergence of “secret morning” means within Joyce’s text.

Works Cited

B.G., and T.V.F.B. “EPITHET.” New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics, Jan. 1993, pp. 378–379. EBSCOhost,

Clarvoe, Jennifer. “Poetry and Repetition.” Antioch Review, vol. 67, no. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 30–41. EBSCOhost,

Homer. The OdysseyThe Internet Classics Archive,

Joyce, James. UlyssesThe Joyce Project : Ulysses : Pigeonhouse, 1922.

Szegedy-Maszak, Andrew. “Why Do We Still Read Homer?” American Scholar, vol. 71, no. 1, Winter 2002, p. 95. EBSCOhost,

Assessing the Standardized Divide

Marshal and Gibbons compare the teaching of high school students from both Canada and England. In recent rankings of high school English literacy outcomes ranked Canadian high school students much higher than those of English schools. According to Marshal and Gibbons, “This comparison has particular pertinence in that the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which came out in 2016, placed Canada’s score in reading 19 countries ahead of the UK. Canada was second to the UK’s 21st” (Marshal and Gibbons, 2.)The gap between Canadian and English models led Marshal and Gibbons to question the efficacy of standardized testing as an effective tool for improving the English knowledge of students in England and the UK. In the Marshal and Gibbons article, “Assessing English: A Comparison between Canada and England’s Assessment Procedures,” sets up a discussion about the strengths and benefits of subjective and standardized assessment models. Marshal and Gibbons use the Canadian educational system as an example of subjective assessment and the English educational system as an example of standardized assessment.

Marshal and Gibbons found that standardized testing tends to promote the stagnation of learning. The subject of English is a complex one with a wide variety of complementary texts that can be employed, and each text offers its own series of lessons that can be taught. However, a nationwide standardized testing program is not designed to accommodate this level of variety. Therefore, either teachers are required to limit their choices of complementary texts to the novels that are included in the national test, or the national testing program must limit their exams to questions of simple grammar functions and avoid testing students on their ability to critique a literary work in context. Marshal and Gibbons interview a teacher named Lisa, who says, “I don’t think it allows students the time to really engage with a text in a meaningful way and it does mean that often the teaching of English becomes reduced to doing PEE [point, evidence, explanation] paragraphs…” (Marshal and Gibbons, 4.) Lisa states that as a result of the standardized testing, she is forced to focus more on test taking skills than on teaching her students to engage with literary works in a meaningful way. Another of the teachers interviewed by Marshal and Gibbons remarked on how she was able to customize instruction to her students because she was not constrained by standardized testing. According to Chris, “Some classes don’t even do a novel study like a whole class novel study, they do something more like reading circles or book groups so that students have more choice” (Marshal and Gibbons, 6.)

Marshal and Gibbons show that the Canadian system, which does not rely on standardized testing, allows much more room for teachers to work towards creating a holistic English program rather than one focused solely on teaching toward a test. They say, “When interviewing the teachers, unlike their English counterparts, they do not constantly refer to the examination system. They only do so for clarification with the interviewer. What they do talk about far more are curricular concerns, the way they organise what they teach” (Marshal and Gibbons, 6.) In fact, the Canadian system looks at assessment as teaching philosophy. Assessment is even worked into daily classroom instruction. The Canadian system uses an assessment philosophy known as AfL (Assessment for Learning.) By assessing the student’s learning early and often, AfL allows teachers to gauge what knowledge the students are learning and redirect their students understand by asking leading follow up questions if necessary. When Marion was interviewed by her use of AfL in the classroom, she said, “I could see that they were in the neighbourhood of a point and wanted to give them an opportunity to . . . To hit the target more by posing the questions specifically […]” (Marshal and Gibbons, 11.)

While Marshal and Gibbons do seem to be disillusioned by the many drawbacks of national standardized testing programs, they do hold some reservations when it comes to forgoing standardized testing altogether. They understand that assessment based on a teacher’s subjective scoring of a student’s work is subject to receiving a different grade if the grading is done by a different teacher. They also understand that just because one country can achieve higher English literacy rating without standardized testing does not mean that this will hold true for another country. Marshal and Gibbons conclude with the thought that England and the UK should find their own way to improve their standing in English literacy and including some of the techniques used in Canada could help them to achieve their English literacy goal.


Bethan Marshall, & Simon Gibbons. (2018). Assessing English: A Comparison between Canada and England’s Assessment Procedures. Education Sciences, Vol 8, Iss 4, p 211 (2018), (4), 211.

The Demise of Syllabus 753

John Hodgson and Bill Greenwell’s article, “The Work of the Course: validity and reliability in assessing English Literature,” discusses the assessment philosophy that preceded the current reliance on standardized testing of English Literature in the UK. Hodgson and Greenwell feel that much of the quality of the education is lost when assessment is farmed out to and outside assessment institution which has neither a connection to students being assessed nor an understanding of the coursework engaged in by said students. They feel that obtaining a high score on a standardized test is an insufficient proof of the validity of an academic curriculum. Hodgson and Greenwell claim that a curriculum is better assessed through a teacher evaluation of a portfolio of work done throughout the course rather than by a standardized test created and scored by an outside agency.

Hodgson and Greenwell outline the aspects of the English curriculum and how it was assessed before the UK introduced standardized testing in 2000. Starting in 1977, UK schools began offering courses titled Syllabus 753. These were considered alternate courses, and they put a premium on students’ personal reaction to texts of English Literature. Therefore, teachers began submitting examples of students’ written work with national exam packages. According to Hodgson and Greenwell, “Not only did 753 offer coursework (initially a third of the assessment); it also had two open book papers, one of them also containing practical criticism (the Shakespeare paper)” (Hodgson and Greenwell, 102.) The prompts that the students were expected to answer in their papers neither were simple questions of fact nor were the prompts asking the students to regurgitate answers that the teacher had given in class. Hodgson and Greenwell say, “Buckroyd’s tasks drew attention to a debatable feature of the work and asked clearly and plainly, with prompts, for appropriate answers” (Hodgson and Greenwell, 102.)

The freedom allowed by Syllabus 753 led to a further broadening of the accepted curriculum as well as a broadening of accepted student responses. Many instructors had felt constrained by the narrow list of texts that had previously been considered canon and allowed their students to branch out and study other texts that were not typically offered. Hodgson and Greenwell said, “[O]ne [school], for instance, listed Larkin’s poetry as a core text, supported by readings of both canonical and modern poets” (Hodgson and Greenwell, 103.) The list of acceptable literary texts was not the only thing that was expanding under the new freedom. The ways in which a student could respond to the text was expanding too. Not only could students write critical essay responses to the assigned texts, but also they could use the assigned text as a jumping off point for their own creative project. According to Hodgson and Greenwell, “The syllabus encouraged creative responses to texts, for example in the form of pastiche or parody; and it allowed oral response (discussion, presentation, drama) and for this to be assessed, as well as open-book examinations” (Hodgson and Greenwell, 104.) The flowering of student thought in English Literature led to many more high school students excelling when they made it into college. Hodgson and Greenwell said, “Several Cambridge University Directors of Studies in English wrote to the Times Educational Supplement to say that students who had followed coursework A levels showed exceptional mastery of and skill at handling texts” (Hodgson and Greenwell, 109.) Therefore, Syllabus753 had a large impact on student learning.

Just the same, in 1993 the UK government greatly reduced the level of course work allowed in national assessments. The reduction of course work allowed in the assessments greatly increased the reliance on standardized testing. The greater focus on standardized testing led to a contraction of the English curriculum. According to Hodgson and Greenwell, “[T]he pressure on students and teachers to produce “results” ensures that the extrinsic value of a grade or mark matters more than the intrinsic value of authentic student creation and interpretation” (Hodgson and Greenwell, 110.) Therefore, as students and teachers focus of readying for national assessments with a narrower focus, the English Curriculum shrinks and the students’ ability to engage with a text in a meaningful way suffers.




Hodgson, J., & Greenwell, B. (2017). The Work of the Course: validity and reliability in assessing English Literature. English in Education51(1), 100–111. Retrieved from,shib&db=lfh&AN=121852209&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307

Disco is Dead: Enter the Heavy Metal Inferno

1 April 2019


Bryan Bardine’s article, Elements of the Gothic in Heavy Metal: a Match Made in Hell, explores the connection between Gothic Literature and heavy metal music. Originally, Gothic Literature only referred to literature written between the 1760s and 1820s, but later the definition was expanded to include literature from other time periods that shared elements typical to the genre (Bardine 126.) According Bardine “Typically, Gothic stories from the period took place in medieval settings, which were often archaic, like castles, abbeys, convents, or just dark cave-like structures. Also, the literature contained supernatural elements, the occult, suspense, violence, vice, religion—in particular the demonization of the Catholic Church […]” (Bardine 126.) While there seems to be no direct historical connection between the Gothic elements of heavy metal music and the gothic elements of Dante’s The Inferno, Dante’s book and the musical genre are loosely connected through shared themes.


Like heavy metal music, The Inferno clearly contains the cave-like structure, the occult, representations of vice and violence, and the demonization of the Catholic Church that is characteristic of Gothic Literature. Dante’s Hell is a cave-like structure as well as a physical representation of the occult. In fact, Dante describes the entrance to hell saying:

And I found that I stood on the very brink of the valley

called the Dolorous Abyss, the desolate chasm

where rolls the thunder of Hell’s eternal cry,

so depthless-deep and nebulous and dim

that stare as I might into its frightful pit

it gave me back no feature and no bottom. (Alighieri 4.7-12)

Dante’s Hell is a cave that descends into the depths of the Earth perpetually emanating the cries of the damned as they suffer for their sins.


The ritualistic punishments that take place within hell are violent allegorical recreations of vice. When describing the hypocrites in the sixth Bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell, Dante says, “[A]s Minor Friars go they walk abroad,/All wore great cloaks cut to as ample a size/as those worn by the Benedictines of Cluny” (Alighieri 23.2, 58-59.) The oversized robes block the sinners’ vision and weigh them down as they walk in a circle for all of eternity (Alighieri 23.57-64.) The sixth Bolgia shows the hypocrites allegorically reenacting their vice and suffering the violence of perpetual punishment for their sins.


Throughout The Inferno, Dante demonizes the Catholic Church in subtle ways. First, Dante uses the gibbering of the monster, Plutus to subtly infer that the Catholic Church is a debased organization. Plutus says, “Papa Satan, Papa Satan, aleppy” (Alighieri 7.1.) According to John Ciardi, “The word ‘papa’ as used here probably means ‘Pope’ rather than ‘father’” (Alighieri and Ciardi 65.) While Plutus is characterized by speaking only in gibberish, his naming Satan as God’s vicar in hell and the most powerful leader of the Catholic Church not only shows the power that Satan holds within hell, second only to God, but also infers a state of systemic corruption within the Catholic church reaching all the way up to the office of the Pope. Later, Dante names Pope Anastasius as one of the Heretics in the sixth circle of Hell (Alighieri 9.8.) Therefore, The Inferno could be described as one of the progenitors of the Gothic Literature genre despite the fact that it was written hundreds of years before the genre’s inception.


Bardine unknowingly cites another striking similarity between The Inferno and heavy metal music when he discusses the album cover of Black Sabbath’s debut album, Black Sabbath. Bardine cites Black Sabbath’s first album as the original heavy metal album (Bardine 125.) Bardine cites Ian Christe’s Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy

Metal and says, “The interior of the album’s gatefold sleeve contained few details beyond a grim gothic poem inscribed in a giant inverted crucifix” (cited in Bardine 134.) While a reading of the poem from the cover of Black Sabbath’s initial album shares little more than gothic themes with The Inferno, the presence of the poem on the inside cover of the first heavy metal album stands like the inscription on the gates of Dante’s Hell. The poem on the first heavy metal album cover stands as an invitation and a warning of what the heavy metal musical genre will bring. In Dante’s words, the poem on the Black Sabbath cover invites us to “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE” (Alighieri  3.9)


Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante, and John Ciardi. The Inferno. New American Library, 2003.

Bardine, Bryan. “Elements of the Gothic in Heavy Metal: A Match Made in Hell” (2009). English Faculty Publications. 68.

Black Sabbath. “Still Falls the Rain.” Black Sabbath. Vertigo Records. 1970.

Assessment Adult Information Literacy

The article, “Information Literacy and Adult Learners: Using Authentic Assessment to Determine Skill Gaps,” assesses the differences in library research skills between traditional and nontraditional students. While the authors submit that nontraditional students come in with some advanced skills that many traditional students do not have, they find that nontraditional students fall behind traditional students when it comes to accessing research information through the college library system. In this article the authors cite studies from both Mississippi State University and Washington State University that show that library research orientation programs and library research courses have a positive effect on nontraditional students’ ability to access and evaluate research information, but these research reports did not offer any empirical data to back up their findings (Rapchak, Lewis, Motyka, and Balmert, 2015.) Rapchak et al. designed their assessment to give empirical proof that shows how offering library orientation and library research courses benefit both traditional and nontraditional students giving them improved library research abilities.

In order to create empirical data about the benefits of library research training through orientation and courses, Rapchak et al. devised a rubric with which they could evaluate students’ work and express the quality of the work in numerical terms. The students were required to complete annotated bibliographies which would stand as a provable example of what each student had learned. Then, the annotated bibliographies were given numerical grades. According to Rapchak et al., “We assigned a quantitative value to determine the average rating for each category, with excellent worth 3 (range= 2.49-3), proficient worth 2 (range= 1.5-2.49), developing worth 1 (range= 0.5-1.49), and unsatisfactory worth 0 (range= 0-0.49)” (Rapchak et al., 2015.) When each of the annotated bibliographies were assessed and given numerical values, the quality of the students’ learning could be broken down in different ways to give a variety of ways in which to understand the data.

Through their assessment, Rapchak et al. found that overall students improved in their library research skills through library orientation and library research courses. They found that nontraditional students showed marked improvements in all areas assessed except in the area of evaluating the quality of the research in which they scored 1.07 marking this as a developing skill (Rapchak et al., 2015.) Because of the students’ low improvement score in evaluating research quality, Rapchak et al. advise that instructors continue to support nontraditional students in evaluation of research quality. Rapchak et al. offer up the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose (CRAAP) Test as a possible device to help nontraditional students evaluate research in more effective ways.

This article offers several good ideas that can be used to create one’s own assessment program. First, the article has a clear goal in mind. The authors have set out to assess how well library orientation programs and library research classes help to bolster the research abilities of nontraditional students. Second, the authors find articles that support their goals and design their assessment to add on where those articles left off. Rapchak et al. saw that the Mississippi State University and Washington State University articles did not offer empirical data to show how well their library programs helped students to learn, and Rapchak et al. designed their assessment to create empirical data that can be evaluated in a number of ways. Third, Rapchak et al. gave the results of their findings. They showed that library orientation programs and library research courses improve nontraditional students’ research capabilities in most of the important areas. Last, Rapchak et al. offered advice to help bolster the one area in which nontraditional students fell short. They offered the CRAAP Test as an evaluation criteria for students to follow. Therefore, the article, “Information Literacy and Adult Learners: Using Authentic Assessment to Determine Skill Gaps,” is a good learning tool for creating one’s own assessment program.



Rapchak, M. E., Lewis, L. A., Motyka, J. K., & Balmert, M. (2015). Information Literacy and Adult Learners. Adult Learning26(4), 135.

Assessment Dystopia

“A Second Dystopia in Education: Validity Issues in Authentic Assessment Practices” by John Hathcoat, Jeremy Pen, Laura Barnes and Johnathan Comer (2016) is written as a reaction to the common distrust of standardized testing. According to Banta and Pike (2007) “Various researchers have been skeptical toward the capacity of standardized tests to assess changes in student learning outcomes” (cited in Hathcoat, Pen, Barnes, & Comer, 2016.) Hathcoat et al. (2016) find that the general distaste for generalized testing drives institutions to develop assessment programs that look to evaluate students’ critical thinking capabilities using examples of students’ essays and projects, yet Hathcoat et al. (2016) do not trust the validity of assessment programs that rely on the aggregate of such divergent examples of students’ work as Hathcoat et al. state, “[A]ggregate-based estimates at an institution level may be biased due to differences in assignment characteristics” (Hathcoat et al., 2016.) In response to their suspicions about the validity of such assessment programs, Hathcoat et al. sets up two separate assessments of students’ work to find out whether or not these types of institution level assessments can deliver reliable results.

Hathcoat et al. sets up the first assessment using a sampling of student’s papers from across the entirety of a large research institution. The results from this test show a statistically significant 18% variation in critical thinking scores from the aggregate score from one type of test to the next. Hathcoat et al. believe that the variation in critical thinking scores could be controlled for using elements derived from standardized testing. Hathcoat et al. (2016) say:

“Institutions of higher education comprise subgroups, thus any comparisons at an aggregate level, irrespective of whether assessments are ‘‘authentic’’ or ‘‘in-authentic,’’ necessitate comparable scores. Standardization is a technique traditionally used to provide some level of fairness and comparability when making comparisons across subgroups” (Hathcoat et al., 2016.)

In the next test, Hathcoat et al. (2016) use strategies of standardization to try to lower the variation in critical thinking scores from one type of test to another.

Hathcoat et al. find that many of the faculty raters complained that they had a difficult time rating the critical thinking in within the students’ papers due to the poor quality of the writing. Therefore, Hathcoat et al. take steps standardize the tests by having the raters give a score for both critical thinking and writing content. Hathcoat et al. (2016) state, “[W]e sought to estimate the proportion of variance in CT [critical thinking] that may be unique to WC [writing content], or an estimate of construct-irrelevant variance” (Hathcoat et al., 2016.) The results of the second test shows that only 25% of the variance could be controlled for by separating poor writing ability from critical thinking (Hathcoat et al., 2016.) Hathcoat et al. (2016) contend that the variance between tests that could not be accounted for by separating out the writing and critical thinking scores is likely due to the construction of the assessment and how it tries to compare results from tests that have not been standardized .

One of the ironies of the insistence of Hathcoat et al. trying to separate poor writing from critical thinking is shown in the clunky way that this article is written. There are many examples in this article of unneeded restatements of sentences such as when Hathcoat et al. say, “Authentic assessment broadly refers to an alignment between assessment tools and skills manifest within valued criterion situations. Stated differently, authentic assessment calls for assessments to align with the same skills that are needed in ‘‘real-world’’ settings” ( Hathcoat et al., 2016.) Many of the statements of Hathcoat et al. have unneeded redundancies such as the repetition of the word “student” when Hathcoat et al. say, “Student motivation is an issue in testing that is low-stakes to the student” (Hathcoat et al., 2016) Hathcoat et al. also create a confusing statement when they claim that one student has been treated unfairly compared to his or her self when Hathcoat et al. say, “Student 2’s assignment was not only more difficult than Student 2’s [assignment]…” (Hathcoat et al., 2016.) But following Hathcoat et al. in their contention, these writing content errors do not take away from the strong evidence of critical thinking shown in this article.








Hathcoat, J., Penn, J., Barnes, L., & Comer, J. (2016). A Second Dystopia in Education: Validity Issues in Authentic Assessment Practices. Research in Higher Education57(7), 892–912.

Reinterpretation through Future Revelation: Shakespeare in the Light of Victimhood Politics

4 Dec 2018

As Shakespeare’s writings are still in circulation today—as his plays are still in production—as his works are still being interpreted through modern eyes, Shakespeare is not the author of the works that are attributed to him, or at least, he is not the sole author of his attributed works. He builds his repertory of works on the backs of the writers that came before him and his works are heavily imbued with the culture of the time in which he lives, but the culture of the people who read Shakespeare’s work continues to change. With the passage of time and the changing culture, Shakespeare’s works are irrevocably changed by the influence of modern literature.

The ideas of contemporary literary criticism call into question whether or not the author is the final authority on his or her text. The writings of Michel Foucault, Roland Barths, and those who follow their ideas develop a picture of modern literary criticism where the authority of the author is questioned and other more contemporary influences are given priority within the critical discussion. In Michel Foucault’s essay, “What is an Author?” he says that an author is both author of his or her original text and of the “transdiscursive” field of study devoted to his or her work (Foucault 309.) In Marnie Binder’s article, “What is an Author?” she distills Michel Foucault’s ideas even further saying that the reader of a text has difficulty differentiating between the intentions of the author and the reader’s projections of his or her own thoughts on the text (Binder 25.) But in Roland Barths’ article, “The Death of the Author,” he argues that the intentions of the author are wholly inaccessible and the only place that the text exists in its complete form is in the mind of the reader (Barths 1967.) While the views of these critics seem to exclude the historical perspective of a text as a valid field of discourse, a more useful way to use their ideas is to frame the traditional field of discourse encompassing a text as no more or no less valid than any other critical perspective. This argument for an equally valid study of all critical perspectives is developed further in Francesco Cassetti’s work on film criticism.

While Francesco Cassetti is mostly concerned with the adaptation of a text to a visual format, his arguments have other implications as well. Cassetti’s article, “Adaptations and Mis-adaptations: Film, Literature, and Social Discourses,” allows for a critical discussion that bridges the gaps between genres of critical interpretation. Cassiti states, “Calling attention to the communicative situation does not just imply considering a text and its surroundings, but, more importantly, it means dealing with the relationship between these elements and the way in which they, together, bend the text one way or another” (Cassiti 84.) Cassiti also defines a mis-adaptation as an adaptation that either sticks so close to the original source material as to remain virtually identical to the original text or as an adaption that strays so far from the original version of the text that it has become virtually unrecognizable as a retelling of the original text (Cassiti 88.) Therefore, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange operates as a mis-adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure as Burgess’ novela bears almost no outward resemblance to Shakespeare’s play.


While there is no definitive proof that Anthony Burgess set out to create A Clockwork Orange as an adaptation of Measure for Measure, he was a well-known lecturer about Shakespeare’s works. In the web article, “Anthony Burgess and Shakespeare,” the Anthony Burgess Foundation says, “Anthony Burgess was fascinated by the writing and life of William Shakespeare. He wrote articles about Shakespeare’s language and reviewed books about Shakespeare” (Anthony Burgess and Shakespeare.) The Anthony Burgess Foundation also attributes a quote to Burgess in which he describes a “sartorial kinship” between Shakespeare’s plays and the lives of the students who read them (Burgess Teaching Shakespeare.) As “sartorial” relates to the tailoring of clothes, Burgess’ quote relates directly to the exchange between Pompey and Abhorson in Measure for Measure where they discuss the trade of hangman. Abhorson states, “Every true man’s apparel fits your thief./If it be too little, your true man thinks it/big enough; if it be too big for your thief, your/thief thinks it little enough[…]” (Shakespeare and Blakemore 4.2.43-46.) Therefore Burgess’ students, like Abhorson’s thief, are able to dispense with the “dead body” of the play and clothe themselves in the principles pulled from the play as a hangman would make use of executed men’s clothes accepting the parts of the texts that fit the students’ needs and tailoring the ill-fitting parts of the text to fit their needs (Shakespeare and Blakemore 573.)

Like his students’ ability to use Shakespeare’s texts in their own lives, Burgess was able to take freely from Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure adding here and cutting there to create his own unique vision. In Burgess’ most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange, he includes an allusion to Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure in the mysterious character of Doctor Ludovico and his “Ludovico’s technique” and makes use of several of the themes found within the play. However, Burgess does not just borrow themes from Shakespeare’s play; he subverts and distorts the themes creating new fields of discourse surrounding the texts of both A Clockwork Orange and Measure for Measure.


The most obvious connection between Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange is the repetition of the name of “Lodowick” with its alternate of “Ludovico.” In A Clockwork Orange, Doctor Ludovico is the name of the doctor who is credited with having created “Ludovico’s technique” that uses psychological programing and a cocktail of drugs to impel criminals not to use violence. Ludovico’s technique is appropriated by the totalitarian state and used to moderate the criminal threat and relieve overcrowding in the prisons (Burgess 56, 75, 76, 82.) And in Measure for Measure Friar Lodowick is the assumed name of the Duke of Vienna disguised as a friar. Both Lodowick and Ludovico are mysterious characters. Friar Lodowick shows up in the Vienna prison unknown by any but Friar Thomas, and Friar Thomas is the sole character aside from the Duke himself that knows the Duke’s intentions to watch politics from the hooded robes of a friar (Shakespeare 1.3.44-48.) In the broader conversation between the two texts Friar Lodowick’s decision to go in to hiding as a Franciscan Friar creates a new field of discourse about the purpose of the state in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure following Foucault’s ideas on power.

Measure for Measure starts with Escalus and the Duke making arrangements for the transfer of state power from the Duke’s to Angelo’s control, but there is never a reasonable explanation as to why the Duke must relinquish his power. The Duke does say to Friar Thomas, “I have on Angelo impos’d the office” (Shakespeare 3.1.40.) While this does sound like the Duke has freely appointed this office to Angelo, the Duke follows those words directly with others that put the earlier interpretation to question. The Duke continues, “Who may in th’ ambush of my name, strike home” (Shakespeare 3.1.41.) The Duke speaks of what Angelo might do using words with military connotations like “ambush” and “strike home.” And when the Duke continues in his next lines he says, “And yet my nature never in the fight/To do in slander” (Shakespeare 3.1.42-43.) In these lines the word fight also carries a military connotation. Therefore, the text shades the Duke’s words with a growing tension that he may be in fear of being deposed in a coup. And if it is not in the Dukes nature to fight in slander, then the Duke must be planning to watch Angelo with the intent of finding actual criminal infractions to use against him. If the Duke is correct in his fear of losing his power to Angelo, then his plan to hide in the prison and churches where no one would look to find him would be a reasonable act of self-preservation.

In fact, the Duke is not the only character that seems uneasy at the installation of Angelo as the new governor. Claudio also questions Angelo’s rapid ascension to power. When discussing his recent imprisonment with Lucio, Claudio says:

And the new deputy now for the Duke—

Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,

Or whether that the body public be

A horse whereon the governor doth ride,

Who, newly in the seat, that it may know

He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;

Whether the tyranny be in his place,

Or in his eminence that fills it up (Shakespeare 1.2.158-165.)

Claudio appears to be uncertain what has happened within the government of Vienna. He questions whether the Duke has given over his power to Angelo for his own reasons or if Angelo has usurped the Duke’s power on a swell of public sentiment. In fact, the Dukes own speech works to intensify Claudio’s uncertainty as an important question to be wrestled with within the context of the play. The Duke says:

I love the people,

But do not like to stage me to their eyes;

Though it do well, I do not relish well

Their loud applause and aves vehement;

Nor do I think the man of safe discretion

That does affect it (Shakespeare 1.1.67-72.)

The advice that the Duke gives to Angelo works on one level as a guard against possible problems that could occur as a result of his sudden ascension to political power. But the Dukes speech about avoiding the chants and applause of the public could be a reference to Claudio’s question confirming that Angelo came to power on a horse of public sentiment that has installed him as governor without consent of the Duke. It is possible that the Duke’s speech is referring to the way that Angelo had comported himself in an occurrence that happened before the beginning of the play. If the Duke’s speech about avoiding the cheers of the public is referring to Angelo holding public rallies calling for political reform, then the Duke’s statement about distrusting a man who would stir up public sentiment would be seen by Angelo as a biting bit of passive aggression.

While the Duke does say that he is going undercover in order to assess Angelo’s true intentions (Shakespeare 1.3.39-54), the Duke’s intention to disguise himself and hide out in places like the convents and the prisons appears as if he had gone underground to rally his supporters behind him to help him regain the power that had been usurped from him. While Kimberly Reigle only discusses the convent as a place of resistance against the social pressures on women to marry, marriage, in Measure for Measure’s Vienna, has been weaponized as a tool of state sponsored judicial punishment as it is used at the end of the play to punish Claudio, Angelo, and Lucio (Shakespeare 5.1.377, 518.) Reigle states, “[O]nly within [the convent] can […] Isabella escape from corrupt male authorities” (Reigle 500.) Therefore, Reigle shows that Isabella’s status as a novice in the convent puts her in opposition to governmental rule.

The antagonism between the convent and the state is mirrored in the conflict between Isabella and Angelo as symbolic and literal representatives of the church and the government respectively. The state’s antagonism against the rule of the church is evident in Angelo’s soliloquy after speaking with Isabella for the first time. Angelo says:

[B]ut it is I

That, lying by the violet in the sun,

Do as the carrion does, not as the flow’r,

Corrupt with virtuous season. (Shakespeare 2.2.164-167.)

Angelo questions his attraction to Isabella and realizes that there is something in him that drives him to corrupt the virtue in her. He sees Isabella’s virtue as a violet growing in the sun and the vice in him as a decaying body beside it. Angelo does not fear for his own corruption as he imagines himself as already corrupt. He fears that he will corrupt Isabella with his mere proximity to her as the decaying body would contaminate the flower next to it. Angelo’s speech begins using metaphor to describe himself and Isabella as individuals. Then, the metaphor is tweaked into synecdoche to describe the state as the decaying body and describe the church as it were the violet. When he says, “Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary/And pitch our evils there? (Shakespeare 2.2.170-171,) the “we” he speaks from is the perspective of the state, and “sanctuary” refers back to the convent. And while Angelo’s soliloquy does refer back to Henry VIII’s dissolution of monasteries in England (Colston 19,) the line also hints at the state of Vienna’s conflict with the convents in Measure for Measure. And this possible conflict between the church and the state of Vienna within the play informs the Duke’s decision to hide in the guise of a friar.

With the fear of political upheaval due to the appointing of Angelo as a new governor of Vienna, the Duke dons the robes of a friar as a symbol to the reader that he plans to destabilize the power structure of the state. In the article, “Shakespeare’s Franciscans, Kenneth Colston states:

The regular clergy thrive precisely by their rule […], which is their authority, functioning in opposition to temporal power […]: Shakespeare’s Franciscans are freelancing power brokers, operatives not dependent upon someone else’s command, each in a tiny quasi-autonomous Church cell that diffuses in almost guerrilla fashion the related sacraments of penance and marriage (Colston 24.)

Colston describes the church as a check to the power of the state, but he describes Shakespeare’s friars in language that equates them to members of either terrorists or resistance fighters. While ‘autonomous cells’ of terrorist originations may have any one of many motivations for the violence that they create, ‘guerrilla’ or resistance fighters almost invariably fight to topple a government that they oppose. And the Duke works clandestinely with Isabella and others to discredit Angelo and remove him from power.


A synthesis of Pat Gehrke’s argument in his article, “Deviant Subjects in Foucault and A Clockwork Orange: Congruent Critiques of Criminological Constructions of Subjectivity shows that the government maintains its control through the politics of the broken body. Power is maintained “through constant threats and occasional uses of violence” (Gehrke 281-282.) The Duke’s speech with Friar Thomas mirrors Gehrke’s argument. The Duke says, “Now as fond fathers,/Having bound up the threat’ning twigs of birch,/Only to stick in in their children’s sight […]” (Shakespeare 1.3.23-25.) The Duke compares fathers and sons to the state and its citizens. The bindings of twigs of birch represent a collection of laws and punishments to be used to keep the citizens under control. And the comparison of these laws to twigs in the sight of children carries the connotation of violence in the form of corporal punishment. Therefore, the collection of laws and punishments is intended as a public demonstration of violent retribution to keep the citizens under control and obeying the laws.

The Duke goes on to say, “[I]n time the rod/Becomes more mock’d than fear’d; so our decrees,/Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead […]” (Shakespeare 1.3.26-28.) Therefore, the Duke understands that just codifying a set of laws and punishments is not enough to keep the citizens under control because binding laws and punishments in to a legal document, like binding into a bundle the twigs used for beating children, creates an abstract object that no longer bears any visceral threat. As an individual twig, slender and long, limber and fresh off the tree, the twig carries the distinct possibility of its use as an implement of punishment. However, when the twigs are bound into a bundle and set aside they become dry and brittle and carry distinctly different connotations. A bundle of dry twigs is more useful as building materials or tender to help start a fire than they are for punishment. So the state of Vienna has installed Angelo, a fresh limber twig of birch, and invested him with the authority to demonstrate the laws to the citizens in all their brutality as a tactic to regain control of the population.

Angelo, in Measure for Measure, serves the same purpose as do the criminally violent police in A Clockwork Orange. The police of Burgess’ novel are recruited by the state from a pool of violent street thugs and are inclined to meter out measures of brutal summary justice that is incompatible with the severity of the crimes that they are punishing (Burgess 95, 97.) Like Burgess’ police, Shakespeare’s Angelo takes his place as a government appointed thug set upon the public to generate public examples of the cruel violence that is enshrined within the documents of law in an effort to get the citizens back in line.

Both texts bring into question the actual utility of enforcing the law through making public examples of violent punishment. In Measure for Measure, the Duke even questions the worth of unrestrained government violence in controlling the citizenry. When handing over the office to Angelo, he says, “Mortality and mercy in Vienna/Live in thy tongue and heart […] Your scope is as mine own,/So to enforce or qualify the laws […]” (Shakespeare 1.1.44-45, 64-65.) As if he did not fully believe the utility of unrestrained punishment, the Duke urges Angelo to add mercy along with his strict application of the law.

The mention of “mortality and mercy […] in thy tongue and heart” is advice from the Duke to Angelo. The Duke is urging Angelo to make known the limits of the law to the citizens, but to show mercy when actually passing sentence on criminals. The Duke’s description of Angelo’s scope as his own both tells Angelo that he is to enjoy the same power in applying the law as the Duke does and urges Angelo to show similar restraint as the Duke does. The Duke’s repetition of lines so similar in meaning acts to illustrate the question of punishment and mercy as an important element within the play. And at the end of the play the Duke even gives an example of his tactic of fiery words and gentle actions when he threatens to have Lucio whipped then hanged but sentences Lucio only to pay restitution through marriage to Kate Keepdown, the prostitute that he impregnated ( Shakespeare 5.1.506-513.)


With the inclusion of marriage as punishment for crimes, the Duke serves to confuse the citizens on what exactly the government of Vienna conceives of as a suitable punishment for any crime. According to Gehrke, “Blurring the lines between these roles [of the innocent and the guilty], as Foucault and [A Clockwork Orange] do, destabilizes the acceptance of the violence in the law, science, economics, and politics as uniquely legitimate” (Gehrke 282.) By having the ruler of Vienna disguised as a church official generating a nihilistic picture of the world, Shakespeare creates a play that looks forward to the world of totalitarian regimes of A Clockwork Orange who treat human lives as objects and have no compunction against using violence as a tool of governmental control.

When Alex is being tortured by music that activated the aversion therapy programing that the government had implanted in him through Ludovico’s technique, Alex focuses in on the word “death” written in large bold letters on the cover of a political pamphlet that was sitting on the table in his room, and he jumps out the window in an attempt to commit suicide (Burgess 107.) In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, the Duke, disguised as Friar Lodowick serves a similar purpose as the music and the political pamphlet when he says to Claudio, “Be absolute for death: […] Reason thus with life:/ If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing/That nothing but fools would keep” (Shakespeare 3.1.5-8.) While the Duke does not impel Claudio to attempt suicide, when the Duke advises him to “[b]e absolute for death,” the Duke advises him to give up hope. When he tells Claudio that only a fool would want to live, the Duke creates a very modern and cynical interpretation of the world. And by ending line 7 on the word “thing” Shakespeare creates cognitive dissonance within the reader by generating the implication that Claudio is little more than a thing.

A life that is only a thing is a life that has no meaning and no inherent worth other than the worth that the government can draw from it. Then, the Duke alienates Claudio further by specifying that he is just a resource to be used up. Referring to Claudio, the Duke says “A breath thou art […]” (Shakespeare 3.1.8.) In this comparison, Claudio’s worth is no more than that of a breath to keep the state alive. Like a breath, he is an inanimate resource to be used up and discarded in the automatic and unthinking lungs of the state. The Duke, then, deepens this alienation. He denies Claudio independent agency when he tells him, “Merely, thou art death’s fool,/For him thou labor’st […]” (Shakespeare 3.1.11-12.) Under the Dukes scourging words, Claudio can no longer even draw meaning from his life as an insignificant part of the natural process of keeping alive a moral being as his labors inadvertently fuel the state as a personification of death. Therefore, the Duke’s words draw a picture of the state as a malignant being intent on the destruction of life.

Within the context of the morally ambiguous state of Measure for Measure’s Vienna, Shakespeare uses the crimes and convictions of Claudio, Julieta, and Angelo, to blur the lines between the innocent and the guilty. The most severe punishment is given out to the couple that was among the least guilty of the crimes that they were convicted. Claudio and Julieta were imprisoned for an innocent act of premarital intercourse as Julietta has become pregnant before she and Claudio could get married (Shakespeare1.2.147-149.) For their small crime, Claudio and Julieta are paraded through the city and shamed then brought to prison and Claudio was sentenced to death (Shakespeare 1.2.112-140.) Referring to the crime that he is convicted, Claudio says, “Our natures do pursue, […] A thirsty evil, and when we drink we die” (Shakespeare 1.2.128, 130.) When Claudio describes sexual intercourse as something that “[o]ur natures do pursue,” he is rightly describing sexual intercourse as a natural act as human beings are sexual creatures. When he refers to his crime as “a thirsty evil,” he is metaphorically speaking of sexual intercourse as water, a substance that is required to support life. While Claudio’s description of sexual intercourse as a requirement of life is far from true as individual human beings will not die from lack of sexual partners, he is right in the much larger sense that humans as a species would eventually become extinct if none were able to procreate. Through the necessity of continuing the species, the human drive to procreate is almost as strong as the drive to drink when thirsty. Claudio’s sense of sexual intercourse as the water that kills shows the irony of being sentenced to death for prolonging the life of the species.

Julietta, on the other hand, is deemed by the Duke to have committed a greater crime than Claudio because she gave her consent in the sexual intercourse that caused her and Claudio to be convicted of their crime. Concerning Julietta’s role in the crime, the Duke says, “Then was your sin of heavier kind than his” (Shakespeare 2.3.28.) If the Duke’s conclusions about Julietta having committed a greater sin than Claudio is consistent with the laws of Vienna, then Julietta should not be receiving a lighter sentence than Claudio. Therefore, the government sentencing Claudio to the most extreme punishment and giving a much lighter sentence to Julietta for a greater crime—a crime that almost shouldn’t be considered a crime in either case—serves to help blur the lines between the innocent and the guilty.

Angelo’s crimes are arguably the most severe, yet his only punishment is the public humiliation of a summary trial in the public square and a marriage to Mariana whom he once had been engaged to marry (Shakespeare 5.1.363-379.) Isabella gives a list of the crimes which she accuses Angelo. This list includes lies, murder, and adultery among other crimes (Shakespeare 5.1.38-41.) Angelo knows the severity of his own crimes exceeds those of Claudio whom he had sentenced to death. Angelo says, “But let my trial be my own confession./Immediate sentence then, death […]” (Shakespeare 5.1.372, 373.) Even though Angelo had been fooled into having sexual intercourse with a consenting woman—a crime that was severe enough to have Claudio sentenced to death (Shakespeare 5.1.97-101)—Angelo’s intentions were to force a woman who had dedicated her life to chastity into a sexual encounter with him (Shakespeare 2.4.144, 163-164.) Whether or not the society in which Shakespeare wrote Measure for Measure recognized the distinction in the law between adultery carried out by consenting partners and sexual encounters that do not include the consent of both participants, Angelo’s sexual crime of coercing Isabella to have sex with him is a much greater crime than the simple adultery that Angelo himself had punished with the sentence of death. Therefore, the leniency of Angelo’s sentence further blurs the lines between the innocent and the guilty.


In Kimberly Reigle’s article, “Staging the Convent as Resistance in The Jew of Malta and Measure for Measure,” Reigle discusses the way in which the government destabilizes religion; she says, “[T]he rule of the state is morally ambiguous and if followed, would break social and moral codes for Catholics and Protestants alike” (Reigle 508.) But the Duke seems to be able to work within this context as an agent of both the church and the state to bring justice where it had been absent for a long time.

In Measure for Measure, the Duke’s character as a representative of the state disguised as a representative of the clergy incorporates a complicated mix of the points of view of the prison chaplain, Dr. Brodsky, and the prison Governor from A Clockwork Orange. Al three characters, the chaplain, Dr. Brodsky, and the prison Governor are interested in redeeming the criminals, but they have different plans to achieve the same goal. The chaplain believes that the prisoners can be taught to differentiate between right and wrong. When discussing Ludovico’s technique with Alex, the Chaplain says, “Goodness comes from within, 6655321. Goodness is something chosen” (Burgess  56.) The chaplain is does not approve of Ludovico’s technique because it takes away the criminal’s freedom of choice. On the other hand, Dr. Brodsky does not care whether or not the criminals have choice; his only concern is that they do not continue to commit criminal acts. Dr. Brodsky says, “Our subject is, you see, impelled towards the good by paradoxically, being impelled towards evil. […] We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime” (Burgess 82.) The prison Governor believes in teaching the criminals to fit in to society through punishment alone. The Governor says, “An eye for an eye I say. If someone hits you, you hit him back, do you not? Why then should not the State, very severely hit by you brutal hooligans, not hit back also?” (Burgess 62.) As a blend of A Clockwork Orange’s chaplain, Dr. Brodsky, and Governor, the Duke from Measure for Measure prepares the criminals in prison for their next step in redeeming them from their crimes.

Like A Clockwork Orange’s chaplain, the duke prizes personal choice as a motivation for redemption. The Duke pardoned Barnadine because he had proven that he had the ability to choose and, therefore, the potential to change his life. To illustrate this point, when the duke calls Barnadine to come and be put to death, but Bernadine refuses and returns to his cell (Shakespeare 4.3.50-63.) In response to Barnadine’s refusal, the Duke says, “A creature unprepar’d unmeet for death;/And to transport him in the mind he is/Were damnable” (Shakespeare 4.3.66-68.) Barnadine’s mind is unmeet for death because he has chosen to ignore all outside influences and live life on his own terms.

Barnadine has adapted to life in prison and has spent the last nine years as a model prisoner except for his drinking. While drinking to excess is viewed as unhealthy and distasteful, Barnadine’s drinking serves as a moderating tool. When he is called to execution, he tells Abhorson: “You rogue, I have been drinking all night, I am not fitted for’t” (Shakespeare 4.3.43-44.) The implication is that Barnadine drunkenness makes him unfit to ask forgiveness from the Lord. But Barnadine’s unfitness for redemption cannot be the entirety of the Duke’s reasoning for Barnadine’s stay of execution and eventual release without hint of his having corrected his lifestyle.

Therefore, the Duke must be driven at least in part by the chaplain’s sentiment that goodness comes from change within. Despite Barnadine’s chronic drunkenness, the Duke sees that the reasons that Barnadine has become a model citizen are from a change inside of him. The Duke also calls on Dr. Brodsky sentiment that the reasons for Barnadine’s change do not matter. The Duke gives up on trying force Barnadine into accepting religious absolution for his crimes for pragmatic reasons; if Barnadine is now a model citizen, the process that brought him to that status does not matter. Additionally, prisoner Governor’s sentiment that criminals are redeemed through punishment helped the Duke along in his decision to let Barnadine go free. The provost tells the Duke that Barnadine had been in prison for nine years enduring many threats of execution (Shakespeare 4.2.131, 150-152.) After nine years and untold amounts of mental and emotional abuse in prison, the Duke sees that Barnadine has been punished at least enough to have paid for his crimes. Therefore, the Duke was able to execute his duties as a representative of both the church and the state without having to execute Barnadine. Instead, he has the Provost desecrate the corpse of Ragozine (Shakespeare 4.3.69-79.)

As a mis-adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, Burgess’ novella A Clockwork Orange creates new fields of discourse where Measure for Measure can be dissected and reinterpreted as a critique of a totalitarian government control. While Shakespeare’s and Burgess’ works are both snapshots of specific instances of the ever-developing culture of western literature, they remain vital and changeable without ever changing a word on the page. The changing culture of the reader slowly warps the understanding of the original text and desecrates it like the Duke has the provost desecrate Ragozine’s corpse.





Work Cited

“Anthony Burgess and Shakespeare.” The International Anthony Burgess Foundation,

Barthes, Roland. The Death of the Author. Translated by Richard Howard, Google Scholar, 1967,

Binder, Marnie. “What Is an Author?” Philosophy Now, no. 60, Mar. 2007, pp. 22–25. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=hlh&AN=25077929&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.

Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. Norton, 2011.

“Burgess Teaching Shakespeare.” The International Anthony Burgess Foundation,

Casetti, F. Adaptation and Mis-Adaptations: Film, Literature, and Social Discourses. Wiley Blackwell. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/9780470999127.ch6. Accessed 28 Oct. 2018.

Colston, Kenneth. “Shakespeare’s Franciscans.” New Criterion, vol. 33, no. 6, Feb. 2015, pp. 19–24. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=lfh&AN=100910606&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.

Foucault, Michel. “What Is an Author?”, 1969,

Gehrke, P. J. “Deviant Subjects in Foucault and A Clockwork Orange: Congruent Critiques of Criminological Constructions of Subjectivity.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 270–284. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/07393180128088. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.

Reigle, Kimberly. “Staging the Convent as Resistance in The Jew of Malta and Measure for Measure.” Comparative Drama, no. 4, 2012, p. 497. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=edsglr&AN=edsgcl.317468762&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.

Shakespeare, William, and G. Blakemore Evans. “Measure for Measure.” The Riverside Shakespeare, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, pp. 550–585.

A Multiplicity of Doubles

8 Dec 2018


In her article, “Doubling and Multiplying the Self/Story in Cathrynne M. Valente’s The Ice Puzzle: Readers, Writers, and the Best of All Girls,” Veronica Schanoes discusses the implications of the multiplying of the characters’ self in both The Ice Puzzle by Catherynne Valente and The Girl Detective by Kelly Link. In her article, Schanoes finds connections to Freud’s and Lacan’s ideas of psychoanalysis concerning doubles of the self. She goes on to develop ideas on the connection between mothers and daughters as doubles of the self and develops ideas about readers and writers as doubles of the self. However, she never follows through on her intention to discuss the implications of multiples of the self. Reading Schanoes article alongside Pawel Frelik’s article, “Of Slipstream and others: SF and Genre Boundary Discourses” creates a synthesis of the slipstream genre that helps to answer the question of naming that comes up in Kelly Link’s short story, “Stone Animals.”

The literary doubling in Valente’s The Ice Queen, that Schanoes discusses, works along the same lines as the example from China Mieville’s novel, The City and the City that Frelik gives in his article to characterize the duality of the slipstream genre. Schanoes quotes a line from Vanente’s The Ice Puzzle, “Suddenly there was two of everything: two women, two gazes knotting themselves across the half-mist, and two Mirrors” (cited in Schanoes 197.) Valente’s The Ice Puzzle depicts two characters with one blended identity. They have been blended with the use of the mirror as a magical fetish device to hold their identities intertwined. However, in Mieville’s The City and the City, the inhabitants of the city (or is it cities?) divide one city into two through their allegiance to one or the other. Frelik describes the premise of the novel, The City and the City with a similar literary doubling. However, the doubling from The City and the City occurs as one city with two identities. Frelik says:

[S]ome of their streets and districts may be “total”—located only in one of them—many others are “crosshatched”: they simultaneously exist in both cities, having different architectures and different cultures. […] [F]rom earliest childhood [the citizens] are taught and conditioned to “unsee,” “unhear,” and “unsmell” the elements of the other city. […] Besźel and Ul Qoma are materially two cities overlaid on each other within an identical territory (Frelik 20.)

Both Valente’s and Mieville’s novels work as metaphors for the slipstream genre. Slipstream is the blending of genres. Like Valente’s novel, slipstream can be two distinct genres blending through the magical fetish of the author’s skills, or like Mieville’s novel, slipstream can be a single genre divided by the biases of the readers where one reader sees it as one genre and another reader sees it as the other.

The majority of Shanoe’s article is devoted to exploring the double self within the context of Valente’s novel and Kelly Link’s story, but Shanoe expands the idea of the doubled self to the multiplied self. She explains that the multiplied self is distinct from the doubled self; however, she does not develop the idea of the multiple self to any meaningful distinction. Schanoes discusses the implications of the shattered mirror puzzle in The Ice Puzzle; she says, “Consider a shattered mirror and its refractions; each shard shows its own reflection, creating a kaleidoscopic effect […] part of which is the ice puzzle that a little girl is trying to solve in one of the novel’s through-lines” (Schanoes 196.) And when discussing Kelly Link’s “The Girl Detective,” Schanoes writes, “[T]here is even some indication that the Girl Detective might be one of [the twelve dancing princesses], or might be related to them, or might be another version of them, as they wear the same underpants and all have long, long legs” (Schanoes 197.) Schanoes seems to be saying that the multiple self is little more than a writer’s technique used to make a story more relatable. She says, “Thus it is us who the shattered mirror is reflecting […][Our] various selves come together to make up one identity” (Schanoes 196.) While the use of the multiple self in literature may be a useful tool to teach the reader about inclusion, the multiple self as a literary device creates alienation as well.

A multiple self created from many separate characters necessarily creates a plot that is disjointed and nonlinear. A single self with a multiplicity of selves is one who’s motivations are disjointed and nonlinear as well. The multiple self as a literary device creates an alienating confusion that may decrease the relatability of the characters. The confusion created by the multiple self is apparent in a quote that Shanoes includes in her article in a separate context. Discussing “The Girl Detective” Schanoes states that it may be possible that even the narrator is the Girl Detective as the narrator says, “At least I don’t think that I am the girl detective. If I were the girl detective, […] I would surely know” (Schanoes  198.)

Psychoanalytic theory holds some ideas that can shed more light on the significance of the multiple self. According to Betty Cannon’s article, “What Would I Do with Lacan Today? Thoughts on Sartre, Lacan, and Contemporary Psychoanalysis,” “[T]he relational analysts often accept the postmodern idea of the subject as multiple––discovering therein a variety of warring “self-states,” conscious and unconscious” (Cannon 21.) Therefore, the multiple selves in The Ice Puzzle and “The Girl Detective” are more of a meditation on consciousness than an effort to make the text relatable. However, the ideas in Cannon’s article can also be used to explain the practice of naming that Kelly Link’s characters engage in within her short story, “Stone Animals.”

As another example of the slipstream genre, Kelly Link’s “Stone Animals” displays the same cross genre characteristics as do The Ice Puzzle and “The Girl Detective.” In Link’s “Stone Animals,” the narrator engages in a style of literary doubling. When Henry looks over at his wife Catherine, the narrator says, “Catherine was six months pregnant. Nothing fit her except for Henry’s baseball cap, his sweat pants, his T-shirts” (Link 351.) When Henry looks over at his wife, he sees himself in the image of his wife wearing his clothes. While this literary doubling has no noticeable effect within the context of the scene, the distorted image of himself that Henry sees in his wife in his clothes points to the relationship trouble between him and his wife. Cannon says, “For Lacan as for Sartre, the ego is an object based on a fundamental illusion (in Sartre’s case the illusion of substance and in Lacan’s, the illusion of a false wholeness based on taking oneself for another or an image in the mirror […]” (Cannon 15.) Interpolation of the ideas of Lacan and Sartre shows that Henry having glimpsed a distorted image of himself is given a false sense of wholeness. Therefore, the sense that the reader draws from this hopeful scene of a family shopping for a new home is a false sense that cannot last. Not only does Link’s “Stone Animals” show examples of the double self, “Stone Animals” also shows examples of the multiple self.

In “Stone Animals,” the multiple self is invoked through the process of naming. The process of naming occurs in many places throughout the story, but Tilly is the character who engages in the majority of the naming of other characters. The narrator says, “It was Tilly’s joke. […] Tilly would say, Candle-stick’s here. Fat Man’s here. Box. Hammer. Milk shake. Clarinet. Mousetrap. Fiddlestick. Tilly had a whole list of names for the baby” (Link 356.) While the narrator says that the names that Tilly lists out are for the baby, Tilly begins her list of names with “Candle-stick’s here” indicating that she is naming herself as well. On the subject of language, Cannon says, “In the sense that language is practico-inert, it speaks us rather than we it. It brings the meanings of an alien other into our most intimate personal relations as well as into our reflective relationship with ourselves. This includes the meanings handed down to us through the generations from ancestors long dead” (Cannon 17.) Therefore, when Tilly names the baby and herself in this game, she is creating multiple selves for both her and the baby. And the names that she chooses create selves with names that are derogatory like “Fat Man” or inanimate objects like “Box” or “Hammer.” Tilly may feel alienated from the baby that is growing in her mother’s stomach and want to create multiples of the baby’s self that are totally unrelatable, but the idea that she would like to do the same to herself makes less sense. However, if the relational analysts are right about the waring state of the conscious and the unconscious then one of Tilly’s multiplied selves is the likely cause of her intentional/unintentional self-harm.

While Schanoes’ article leads to some answers to the question of naming in Kelly Link’s “Stone Animals,” the unique character of the double and multiple selves in Link’s story reconfigure Schanoes arguments. Like the reflecting shards of the shattered mirror in The Ice Puzzle, all the elements of the slipstream genre work together like the waring of the conscious and the unconscious to generate stories that both challenge and entertain while they alienate and relate to readers through pseudo-psychological literary techniques like the multiple self.



Works Cited

Cannon, Betty. “What Would I Do with Lacan Today? Thoughts on Sartre, Lacan, and Contemporary Psychoanalysis.” Sartre Studies International, vol. 22, no. 2, Dec. 2016, pp. 13–38. EBSCOhost,

Frelik, Paweł. “Of Slipstream and Others: SF and Genre Boundary Discourses.” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 38, no. 1, Mar. 2011, pp. 20–45. EBSCOhost,

Link, Kelly. “Stone Animals.” The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: 50 North American Short Stories since 1970, 2nd ed., Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2007, pp. 351–385.

Schanoes, Veronica. “Doubling and Multiplying the Self/Story in Catherynne M. Valente’s The Ice Puzzle.” Marvels & Tales, vol. 29, no. 2, Nov. 2015, pp. 195–208. EBSCOhost,


Tuscaloosa Truth Value

11 Jan 2019

If the ethical problems of depriving Carmer and/or his estate of income generated from his intellectual property are ignored, Vice’s borrowing from the historical record as recorded in Carmer’s work is little different than the borrowing of other historical elements such as the stories of Paul “Bear” Bryant. According to Jason Sanford, “Vice is quoted as saying that he used some of Carmer’s dialog because, ‘As a nonfiction resource, the dialogue had a truth value outside of Carmer’s text’” (cited in Sanford 2005.) However, Vice does not just take the from Carmer’s words, he changes the “truth value” with the addition of new ideas and situations.


Vice artistically re-envisions Carmer’s characters, their actions, and motivations much the same way that Carmer took from history to create his work in the first place. In “The Literary Lynching of Brad Vice,” Jason Sanford says, “[Vice] was taking the time-honored route of updating and commenting upon a classic literary story. This is the same path recently taken by Pulitzer Prize winning author Suzan-Lori Parks when she wrote Getting Mother’s Body, which is an updated version of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying” (Sanford 2005.) Vice transforms Carmer’s words bathing them in a whole new context. In Carmer’s work, the Klan rally is central to the plot of the story; however, in Vice’s work the Klan rally acts only as background action helping to locate Vice’s story in a specific place and time. Vice also helped to place himself and his work in the company of Carmer and other celebrated writers who deliberately borrow from the intellectual property of others.



In “Fell in Alabama, Brad Vice’s Tuscaloosa Knight,” Jake York discusses how Vice’s work borrows from Carmer’s work much in the same way that Carmer’s work borrows from intellectual property that Carmer did not create. York says that Carmer’s work is “[…] so heavily invested in quotation, taking its name from a popular jazz tune and frequently quoting real people in the course of its narrative” (York 2005.) Therefore, the simple fact that Brad Vice borrowed from Carmer’s work without acknowledging the original author does not diminish the artistic and cultural value of “Tuscaloosa Knights” as a worthy work of literature. Technically, Vice ran afoul of copyright law when he took from Carl Carmer’s “Flaming Cross” without obtaining permission or acknowledging what he borrowed.



Works Cited

Carmer, Carl. “Flaming Cross.” Thicket, 1934.

Sanford, Jason. “The Literary Lynching of Brad Vice.” StorySouth,

Vice, Brad. “Tuscaloosa Knights.” Thicket, 2005.

York, Jake. “Fell in Alabama: Brad Vice’s Tuscaloosa Knight.” Story South.