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In this chapter the author probes beneath the melodramatic surface of the story of Count Dracula, to reveal more subtle narrative threads, relating to Bram Stoker's critical social observations, both looking back in time, where many metaphorical dimensions of ‘blood’ are in play, and forward in time to late-nineteenth-century changes in gender relations, particularly as encapsulated in the figure of the ‘New Woman’. Just as blood-steeped history is conspicuous on the melodramatic surface of the fiction, so a forward-looking, scientific, and liberated future is discernible just beneath that surface.
The editors recount how the volume came about and the choices that were made to invite contributors. The themes of the volume are discussed, both those in the organisers’ minds at the start, and those that emerged during the course of the lecture series.
Blood is life, its complex composition is finely attuned to our vital needs and functions. Blood can also signify death, while 'bloody' is a curse. Arising from the 2021 Darwin College Lectures, this volume invites leading thinkers on the subject to explore the many meanings of blood across a diverse range of disciplines. Through the eyes of artist Marc Quinn, the paradoxical nature of blood plays with the notion of self. Through those of geneticist Walter Bodmer, it becomes a scientific reality: bloodlines and diaspora capture our notions of community. The transfer of blood between bodies, as Rose George relates, can save lives, or as we learn from Claire Roddie can cure cancer. Tim Pedley and Stuart Egginton explore the extraordinary complexity of blood as a critical biological fluid. Sarah Read examines the intimate connection between blood and womanhood, as Carol Senf does in her consideration of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.
Florence Nightingale was the indisputable heroine of the Crimean War during the conflict and after. Though she treated the cholera, her greatest success came in the realm of public opinion. The press bathed Nightingale, an unusually capable and energetic professional, in sentiment. Vaulted to celebrity, the Lady with the Lamp found her place in poems and on porcelain. Postwar labors in public health, nursing, and statistics across her long life had farther reaching effects. Yet, the image of the young Nightingale endured. She was the subject of statues, pageants, and radio shows; she became the emblem of the nursing profession. Complex and malleable, Nightingale was an icon of Englishness and a global heroine. She was an embodiment of Victorianism and a modernizing force. She inspired loyal proponents and fierce detractors. Nightingale bedeviled the army’s medical men in her lifetime; she attracted ire from modernist critics after her death. The greatest rebuke came from the British nursing profession; it discarded Nightingale as its emblem in favor of more current role models in 1989. This most enduring Victorian heroine was ultimately out of step with contemporary Britain.
This chapter examines Freudian psychoanalysis as a source of inspiration and ambivalence for Surrealism. Freudian postulates such as the centrality of subconscious activity in human behavior and its manifestation through automatic processes helped determine surrealist methods of art-making and poetical practice in the movement’s early years. Yet surrealists would gradually reappraise their reliance on automatism and other key psychoanalytical concepts which had been appropriated into the movement’s theoretical body, mainly by André Breton. Breton and his coterie developed forms of creative activity based on a looser interpretation of the inner life; in doing so, they helped provide inspiration for new psychoanalytic concepts – the most notable example was Jacques Lacan and Salvador Dalí’s iterative notion of paranoia. This novel understanding of the disorder illustrated how the same idée fixe could appear to manifest itself in different external phenomena by virtue of the subject’s delirious projections. The chapter demonstrates that, while Surrealism was influenced by psychoanalysis at its inception, in its later years it was Surrealism that influenced psychoanalysis.
This chapter explores the literary use to which the bishop Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) put two of his female relatives: his sister Marcellina, who was a consecrated virgin in Rome, and their ancestor the martyr Sotheris. I will argue that Ambrose exploited the meanings conveyed by these two women to justify his past as an imperial officer, strengthen his legitimacy as bishop, and depoliticise his interventions in imperial politics. Ambrose’s discourse relied on long-established Roman and Christian notions of femininity that depicted women as domestic and vulnerable objects of pity. At delicate moments during his episcopate, however, Ambrose reinterpreted these traditional images and narratives in original ways and used the symbol of his female relatives to foreground a distinctively Christian model of authority, which differed from aristocratic rule and imperial bureaucratic structures.
Chaucer’s God considers how characters invoke God, both in terms of the everyday language of late medieval England and in the ways that the idea of God is reflected in Chaucer’s fiction. Conventional, non-theological utterances of the names for God by Chaucer’s characters as part of their, by turns, outwardly pious and unthinkingly impious phraseologies are discussed in the opening section, God Woot – ‘God knows’. Under the heading God Forwoot – ‘God foreknows’, some of the more challenging invocations of God are considered, such as the implications of divine foreknowledge and predestination on human free will in the Knight’s Tale, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale and Troilus and Criseyde. The concluding section, God in a Cruel World, asks whether in the Clerk’s Tale and the Franklin’s Tale, if Chaucer allowed his tales to reflect, and characters to reflect upon, the heretical notion of a God lacking in compassion for humanity.
Rather than trawl through medieval philosophical texts for references to selfhood, I analyse a story Chaucer knew well: that of Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus’s fatal encounter with his own reflection suggests a number of points: i) that self-awareness is associated with sight (the word ‘introspection’ means ‘looking within’); ii) that beauty also is associated with sight; iii) that love makes one self-aware (Narcissus understands that his love-object is himself, not that that helps him any); iv) that sight can be ironically linked to moral blindness. Chaucer explores all these points, often with reference to mirrors, and to women in love or being loved. Medieval mirrors were usually small and convex, requiring the viewer to stand close to interpret the distorted images from multiple angles that they generated. Chaucer especially represents women experiencing how it feels to ‘be me’, making of his own poetry a mirror that reflects from oblique positions.
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