recent conflict .” – report H u m a n i t i e s

recent conflict .” – report H u m a n i t i e s

  1. In Chapter 2, W. Scott Poole partly argues that monsters during the nineteenth-century became symbols to discuss conflicting ideas about how American identity and nationalism should be shaped. He writes: “[This era] witnessed a new kind of internecine struggle, an emerging clash over social and ideological values that has remained a part of the American cultural conversation into the present […] In the aftermath of the [Civil War], the U.S. continued to summon new monsters from the depths as warring cultural visions each had its frightening tale to tell” (55). Review this chapter and examine how an array of monsters became a means through which people could negotiate rivaling ideas. How did nineteenth-century monsters help the country to make sense of American identities and social conflicts? Be sure to name at least two specific monstrosities and make your case for why you think they were important tools for navigating a particular social tension.
  1. Scott Poole frames Chapter 2 through the concept of “Goth Americana.” Review this chapter and discuss what you think are some of the key themes and ideas that tie monsters to the American gothic tradition. What are some characteristics of the American Gothic tradition during this time and how did this genre influence the ideas encapsulated by monsters in American culture? Be sure to cite Poole in order to identify what you think are some key themes and ideas behind the gothic tradition.
  2. Scott Poole examines a number key historical and political events that were shaping American consciousness before, during, and after the U.S. Civil War. Some of these perspectives were captured in magazines, photographs, and other early forms of mass media. Review the chapter and analyze one of the cultural artifacts below by describing its details, by setting its context (from Poole), and by making an informed speculation about its meaning and cultural work. What message is being communicated and how is it being communicated in relation to some key idea, event, and/or social tension of the time? Be sure to cite Poole for context when analyzing your choice of cultural artifact.

    The Female Abortionist.jpg

    “The Female Abortionist” (1847)

    Henry Louis Stephens - The New Frankenstien.jpg

    Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper-May 17, 1862(1).jpg

    “The Rebel Lady’s Boudoir” in Frank Leslie’s Newspaper, May 17, 1862.
    The corresponding commentary and caption read:“The outrages upon the dead will revive the recollections of the cruelties to which savage tribes subject their prisoners. They were buried in many cases naked, with their faces downward. They were left to decay in the open air, their homes being carried off as trophies, sometimes, as the testimony proves, to be used as personal adornments, and one witness deliberately avers that the head of one of our most gallant officers was cut off by a Secessionist, to be turned into a drinking-cup on the occasion of his marriage.“Monstrous as this revelation may appear to be, your Committee have been informed that during the last two weeks the skull of a Union soldier has been exhibited in the office of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives which had been converted to such a purpose, and which had been found on the person of one of the rebel prisoners taken in a recent conflict.” – Report of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of WarLady (reads)—“My dearest wife, I hope you have received all the little relics I have sent you from time to time. I am about to add something to your collection which I feel sure will please you—a baby rattle for our little pet, made out of the ribs of a Yankee drummer-boy,”

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