I am going to start using this space to knock around my ideas for my research projects for class, too, so if it doesn’t interest you, stop reading now.
Victorian: I am writing about Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I am tentatively calling my paper Undressing Tess. So far, what I know is that in the Victorian Age, clothing signifies a person’s class, their gender, their occupation, and can also signify a woman’s status as fallen. In Tess, the main character, Tess, is a lower-class woman whose family is actually in the line of an aristocratic family. Tess, however through the manipulation of her family and their desire for upward mobility, is a fallen woman, so her status is mutated. She is outcast. Tess’s child, while he should be swaddled, is a symbol of Tess’s connection to nature. She undresses in the field to feed him. She never actually has an “acceptable” clothing until the end when she is married to the man who fathered her child. All this, of course, is complicated by the love triangle between she and the two men: Alec and Angel, the baby’s death, and the murder of Alec. At the end of the story when Tess dies, she lies upon the altar stone at Stonehenge, returning to her natural significance. In many ways, the story is cyclic, and Tess’s clothing reminds of her status at each cog of the wheel.
Contemporary Brit: I am writing about Miss Jean Brodie and the role of fascism and the homosocial/lesbian continuum with the pack of girls. I am not sure how this paper is going to flesh out, but I think it will have something to do with the elitism experienced by the girls in the Brodie pack and their training in the fine arts. How does that compare with Hoggart and Williams and their desire to keep the fine art fine? How does it relate to the fact that fascism was a movement of the people? How does that relate to schooling post-war in Britain? What does it mean that Spark is looking back on all this from a twenty year, post-war vantage point? How can this all work together to make one cohesive argument about the character who becomes a nun?
I am not sure about my school stuff right now. Maybe I should have aimed higher and tried to get into a more “impressive school.” Would there be so much B.S. there? I need to take French.