Monthly Archives: February 2012

Household Management (HUM225)

The etymology of the term “economy” comes from a compound of two Greek words, oikos (house) + nemein (management). In its root form, then, economy means household management.

Thursday we need to think about economy, in particular Lalu/Polly’s role within the various economies that are present in the novel.

Consider Part One. There is an economy at work in northern China, one characterized by deprivation and crime. Bandits, who are themselves from the lowest classes of society, prey on impoverished peasants. Living so close to the margins of subsistence, there is scarcely any possibility of advancement. In such a set of conditions, Lalu herself is one of the only salable articles to be found. She becomes a commodity.

Slideshow Notes/ Lecture Audio (HUM225)

From What is a Novel?:

“To call something ‘realist’ is to confess that it is not the real thing…. Realist art is as much an artifice as any other kind of art…. [R]ealism is calculated contingency. It is the form which seeks to merge itself so thoroughly with the world that its status as art is suppressed. It is as though its representations have become so transparent that we stare straight through them to reality itself. The ultimate representation, so it seems, would be the one which was identical with what it represented. But then, ironically, it would no longer be a representation at all” (10).

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Rights (HUM455)

From the Constitution of Saint-Domingue (1801), written by Toussaint L’Ouverture:

Art. 3.

There cannot exist slaves on this territory, servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French.

Art. 4.

All men, regardless of color, are eligible to all employment.

Art. 5.

There shall exist no distinction other than those based on virtue and talent, and other superiority afforded by law in the exercise of a public function. The law is the same for all whether in punishment or in protection.

From the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1793):

1. The aim of society is the common welfare. Government is instituted in order to guarantee to man the enjoyment of his natural and imprescriptible rights.

2. These rights are equality, liberty, security, and property.

3. All men are equal by nature and before the law.

4. Law is the free and solemn expression of the general will; it is the same for all, whether it protects or punishes; it can command only what is just and useful to society; it can forbid only what is injurious to it.

5. All citizens are equally eligible to public employments. Free peoples know no other grounds for preference in their elections than virtue and talent.

Was not Christ crucified? (HUM470)

Here’s the transcript for Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property:


University of North Carolina’s Documenting the American South webpage, which includes a collection of first person narratives: docsouth.

Recall that one of the questions to consider is how the Burnett fulfills his project in terms of methods and techniques. What are the formal elements of this film narrative and how do they work?

On Tuesday we’ll talk about Douglass, Turner, and, I hope, Blues music. Regarding the latter, the Fred Hay article is brief, direct, and informative.

Key terms (HUM455)

Here are some of the key terms we discussed today in class.

geographical imaginary (see this pdf entry– geographicalimaginary –from the Encyclopedia of Human Geography)



To this short list we could add an idea we discussed last week: the notion of “the Other.” See what you think about the following.

The colonized, as Albert Memmi notes, is wedded to the colonizer in that each in some sense is constitutive of the other. Moreover, she internalizes her abjection: “Willfully created and spread by the colonizer, this mythical and degrading portrait ends up being accepted and lived with to a certain extent by the colonized.” The colonizer produces the colonized by erasing him; the colonizer renders the colonized an object lacking any distinguishing features, with no individual worth or existence– the native is simply an amalgamation of negative traits. “They all look alike,” says the colonizer. “They’re lazy and impecunious. If you don’t watch them they’ll steal you blind.” Exploding this non-identity, this stereotyped subjectivity, is accomplished with destruction of the one who imposes it.

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Title/Key Terms/ Student Voices (HUM470)

Page 85: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself.

I may begin to tape our classes in order to record the ground we’ve covered. In the meantime, I’ve formulated a short list of key terms we discussed today. If you can think of anything of note that I’ve missed, please pass it along.

moral suasion

miscegenation [for PJ, et al: miscegenation Etymology:  Irregularly < classical Latin miscēre to mix (see mixed adj.2) + genus race (see genus n.) + -ation suffix.]

partus sequitur ventrem= that which is brought forth follows the womb


manliness (The classic cultural history of this concept is Gail Bederman’s Manliness and Civilization. Great book.)

Finally, Student Voices, an SFSU website, collects testimony from students who have been adversely impacted by tuition raises and budget cuts. Student Voices is linked with the California State Student Association’s The Buck Starts Here campaign.