Heart of Darkness: Group 4: The Truth

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/219/219-h/219-h.htm

  1. Using the link above, locate the passage that begins “’Absurd!” he cried. ‘This is the worst of trying to tell….’” and ends with “They—the women, I mean—are out of it—should be out of it.”
  2. Read the passage and answer the following question: Why does Marlow believe that women should be prevented from knowing the truth? What is the truth that he thinks they shouldn’t know?

Heart of Darkness: Group 3: The Complaining Clamour

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/219/219-h/219-h.htm

  1. Using the link above, locate the passage that begins “A complaining clamour, modulated in savage discords…” and ends with “…how they would live.”
  2. Read the passage and answer the following question: a. On the rare occasion that Africans speak, what can be inferred about what they say (and when they say it)? b. What do you make of the contrast between the way the Europeans and the Africans on the steamer react to the “clamour” on the shore?

Heart of Darkness: Group 2: The Hunger

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/219/219-h/219-h.htm

  1. Using the link above, locate the passage that begins “Why in the name…” and ends with “…whiteness of the fog.”
  2. Read the passage and answer the following question: If the “cannibal” African helpers on the steamer are so hungry and know that they are facing death why do they not eat Marlow and the European pilgrims? Why does the behavior of the crew differ from Marlow’s expectation?

Heart of Darkness: Group 1: The Contamination

Illustration by Matt Kish

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/219/219-h/219-h.htm

  1. Using the link above, locate the passage that begins “You should have heard him say, ‘My ivory…” and ends with “Not be contaminated.”
  2. Read the passage and answer the following question: Is the “light” of English civilization enough to combat the encroaching “darkness” of “prehistoric” or pre-modern civilization? Or is the entire ideology of the civilizing mission called into question? Give examples from the text.

Dracula: Group 4: The Unknown

How does the vampire—i.e. both the Count specifically and vampires more generally—manifest as a figure of the unknown? What power does obfuscation lend the vampire? Why is this a power at all (i.e. what is this lack of clarity’s relationship to knowledge)?
Examples you might examine (you may choose others, of course): 
—Vampires as non-corporeal 
—Dracula appearing to Mina as a mist
—Dracula destroys the manuscripts, sets fire to the archive

Dracula: Group 3: The Known

What is the role of technology in the most recent sections of the novel, particularly in its relationship to information and knowledge? What can be said about the building of information systems or networks in the fight against vampirism?
Examples you might examine (you may choose others, of course): 
—recording and ordering accounts.
—phonograph, typewriter, telegraph.
—the sharing of information.

Dracula: Group 1: The Body

In reviewing the terms you’ve gathered from the recent sections of the novel, do you find that discussion and description of the body converges mostly on certain characters or genders? If so, please elaborate. If not, explain your reasoning.
Examples you might examine (you may choose others, of course): 
—Lucy’s “voluptuous” transformation
—Mina’s forced feeding
—‘Unclean’ blood

Dracula: Group 2: Cultural Consciousness/Identity

Consider the spaces inhabited (and/or invaded) by vampires in the most recent sections of the novel. If we see these choices as deliberately made by Stoker to draw our attention to the relationship between space and cultural identity, what do they reveal about the state of Englishness at this point in the narrative? Select one or two spaces on which to comment.

Examples you might examine (you may choose others, of course): 
—Lucy in the London Cemetery.
—Dracula’s lodgings in Mile End and Bermondsy (both average ‘Londoner’ districts) and Picadilly, the center of the city.
—Dracula feeding in the English bedroom: implications for gender and sexuality.

Welcome to Signals & Noise!

Hello, everyone! Our course blog is live now. We’ll be using this space to gather our thoughts, create connections between our readings and the world around us, and post student-curated content. Please feel free to use this space to post any links to course-relevant online materials that you’d like, even when you do not have a specific blog assignment.

First Thoughts

In The Information, James Gleick argues

“Information is what our world runs on: the blood and the fuel, the vital principle….Now even biology has become an information science, a subject of messages, instructions, and code. Genes encapsulate information and enable procedures for reading it in and writing it out. Life spreads by networking. The body itself is an information processor. Memory resides not just in brains but in every cell. No wonder genetics bloomed along with information theory. DNA is the quintessential information molecule, the most advanced message processor at the cellular level—an alphabet and a code, 6 billion bits to form a human being. “What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life,’ ” declares the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins. “It is information, words, instructions.… If you want to understand life, don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology.” The cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding. Evolution itself embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment” (Gleick, 197).

As we launch our semester of investigating the implications of this understanding of information, what thoughts do you have as you make contact with these preliminary concepts? Does this way of looking at energy, biology, social organization, science, literature and other arts—in a word, life— as information challenge ways that you’ve seen things before? Do you have any questions or ideas you want to explore at this point?