This article reveals how Edward Berdoe's St. Bernard's: The Romance of a Medical Student (1887) critiques the evolution of medical science at the fin de siècle. Berdoe deploys the discourse of degeneracy to challenge the culture of medical education that produces monstrous medical students. St. Bernard's reflects not only the ambiguity towards scientific materialism and knowledge, which entails learning how to prolong life by encountering death, but also critiques the foundations of late Victorian medical education by articulating how the middle class was complicit in the horrors that the novel would expose, ultimately suggesting that middle-class health was built on the bodies of the poor. The text's ethical imperative to reform the medical establishment, however, derives its rhetorical power from provoking anxieties of corrupting middle-class health with working-class and pauper bodies. This reveals the novel's problematic use of degeneracy, as St. Bernard's reinscribes some of the very tenets about class that it aims to critique.
The Degenerate Medical Students of Edward Berdoe's St. Bernard's
Jean-Paul Sartre and Ronald Aronson
In early 1945, with the war not yet over, Sartre travelled to the United States for the first time. He travelled with a group of correspondents who were invited in order to influence French public opinion favourably towards the United States.1 Sartre was sent by his friend Albert Camus to report back to Combat, the leading newspaper of the independent left. Once invited, he arranged also to report back to the conservative newspaper, Le Figaro. Simone de Beauvoir reports that learning of Camus’ invitation in late 1944 was one of the most exciting moments of Sartre’s life.
Reel to Real: race, sex and class at the movies by bell hooks. New York and London: Routledge, 1997.
Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The paradox of race. The 1997 Reith Lectures by Patricia J. Williams. London: Virago Press, 1997.
William Harrison Riley, Transatlantic Celebrity, and the Perils of Working-Class Fandom
This article focuses on attempts by working-class intellectual, William Harrison Riley, to act as a transatlantic bridge connecting John Ruskin and Walt Whitman, and on what this reveals about nineteenth-century celebrity culture. Despite contrasting attitudes to fame, Ruskin and Whitman both constructed public profiles as generational prophets with broad appeal to the working classes, at the same time pursuing rhetorical strategies stressing their own exceptionalism. Because their lofty elevation depended upon the existence of disciples, their public outreach only seemed to offer disciples opportunities to transcend the hierarchical structures underpinning celebrity culture. Riley is of particular interest as a marginalized working-class writer who sought equality with Ruskin and Whitman by joining Ruskin's Utopian Guild of St George, and by attempting to negotiate Ruskin's support in raising Whitman's profile. The costly failure of these enterprises suggests that celebrity culture often reflects, reinforces, and polices prevailing social divisions of late nineteenth-century capitalism.
Walter S.H. Lim
In this comparative article focusing on the representation of the migration experience of two recent first-generation Asian-American authors, I consider the ways that Mukherjee and Lim's possession of important symbolic capital, their solid tertiary education, and excellent first language proficiency in English condition their portrayal of this transition from the old to the new country. If possessing such symbolic capital lends important support for any immigrant desire for American naturalization and belonging, does Mukherjee's portrayal of Jasmine's insertion into American social and cultural life and Lim's own professional positioning in the American academy register tensions and contradictions in their literary representation of the experience of successful assimilation? Do Mukherjee and Lim's prior identities as postcolonial subjects (India and Malaysia were once British colonies) inflect in distinctive ways their representation of assimilation and marginalization and home and homelessness in the American Promised Land that is the controlling telos of Asian immigrant desire?
In a 1909 article for the North American Review on ‘The American “Tramp” Question’, Bram Stoker turns his attention to the issue of vagrancy and urges the necessity of swift action to deal with the ever increasing problem of the ‘wilfully-idle class’: ‘When certain persons – or classes of persons – are manifestly dangerous to the more peaceful and better-ordered classes of communities’, he declares, ‘it is the essence of good government – indeed, a necessary duty to responsible officials – to keep them in restraint, or certainly under observation’. There is consequently a need for some means of identifying these ‘undesirable’ characters, so that they can easily be located and detained in order to be taught to be industrious. Anticipating the introduction of GPS (Global Positioning System) or electronic tagging, he suggests that while the primitive system of ‘ear-marking with a “hot yron”’may not be acceptable to the modern age, ‘surely the resources of science are equal to some method of personal marking of an indelible quality’.
James F. Lee
Nettie Honeyball and Florence Dixie founded the British Ladies Football Club (BLFC) in 1894 with the aim to provide football-playing opportunities for girls and young women, but also as a means of making money. Theirs, in effect, was an attempt to create a professional football league for women. Public interest in 'the lady footballers' was enormous, at least in its early stages, and generated considerable attention from the press. Overall, press coverage of the BLFC was negative (football is a man's sport; football is a working-class sport; women are physically incapable of playing the game; women shouldn't appear publicly in bifurcated garments, etc.), with only a few notable exceptions. Did the stance adopted depend on the political leaning of the newspaper? Or were the reporters simply reflecting the social and economic realities of their time, struggling to 'explain' a marginal group - women athletes, or more specifically, middle-class women football players - engaging in a working-class male game? This article examines the press coverage of the BLFC. The double standard evident in the newspaper coverage was, on the surface, as one might expect: if a woman played well, she was a freak, possibly a man in disguise; if she didn't play well, it proved that women shouldn't play football. But on closer examination, the double standard was actually rather nuanced: if she played well and looked the part of a woman, she could be subject to praise; yet if she played well and didn't conform to the standard of feminine beauty, she faced ridicule, and her gender called into question.
Fictions of Shakespeare the Deer Stealer
In fiction as in biography, Shakespeare's life is often politicised. Originally, the story of young Shakespeare caught poaching deer and forced to flee Stratford served to illustrate the role of fate in the creation of genius, while his irresponsible behaviour was downplayed. Later, the poaching was represented as rebellion against aristocratic privileges, and even as a deliberate political protest against enclosures of arable land. In more recent fiction, Shakespeare needs to be forced into a social awareness by the deer stealing episode, or even becomes a heartless landlord himself. Thus, Shakespeare's fictional lives reflect political developments in society, from class conflict to cultural levelling.
Whereas questions of race, class and gender may be uppermost in the minds of many late twentieth-century scholars and critics, in the early modern period tradition and belief were the predominant preoccupations, in practical terms, custom and Christianity were inextricably intertwined within the changing culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. An awareness of these past concerns motivates each of the seven articles in this issue, articles which re-examine literary and historical texts, not as past mirrors in which we might speculate upon our own particular preoccupations, but as sources of a more anthropological and spiritual history.
The writing of this paper was prompted by the recent publication by Harvill Press of The Last Voyage and Other Stories, an anthology which brings together Hanley’s earliest published shorter fiction from the 1930s. Two of these two stories – ‘The German Prisoner’ and ‘A Passion Before Death’ – were privately printed owing to the prevailing prohibitions on representations of sexuality. Hanley was originally an ‘ordinary seaman’ who subsequently built a reputation as a writer on his stories and novels of the sea-going working class. However, such an identity masks a diversity evident in his work from its inception and which developed over some fifty years, beginning with the publication of his first novel, Drift (1930) a narrative of unemployment and Catholic anguish in contemporary Liverpool. The five stories in The Last Voyage, of which three are directly concerned with maritime life, are a reflection of Hanley’s range, yet they all bear the traces of his preoccupations and tendency – compulsion even – to focus on the extremes of contemporary working-class experience.