Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lecture Q&A

This post is a permanent link that records answers to student questions from the Q&A sessions in Wednesday lectures.
  • Q. Was it said that A Christmas Carol was a response to Origin of Species?
  • A. Strictly speaking, no; indirectly, yes. Both of the Charles D.'s authoring our opening two course readings were reacting to Whig ideology. Upper-middle-class Darwin was a Whig (a Whig of Whigs, in fact, born from the unity of two high-capitalist families); and lower-middle-class Dickens was anti-Whig. A Christmas Carol, like many of Dickens' novels, was directed against the Whig ideas that Origin of Species encodes as scientific law. So in this sense the texts form an excellent dialectic of the dominant Whig ideology of the early and mid- Victorians.

  • Q. How does the triangle relate to A Christmas Carol?
  • A. The triangle is one small example of one of the resonances that Dickens captures with his use of particularly three Spirits. The resonance here is the Classical: the number three was a central number for Plato, for instance, and, among the examples from Plato given in lecture, the triangle--with its a geometric axiomata-- was one of them. Rationalist triangles can be seen recurring in many guises through Western history: Marxism's thesis, antithesis, synthesis being just one (Freud's Id, Ego, SuperEgo was alos given in lecture.)

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