Flashcards in Wieland Deck (26)
What event inspired the novel?
In 1781 in New York, John Yates murdered his wife and 4 children as the result of a religious delusion
What were the two major intellectual currents in America at the time of writing
1. Christian Theology and belief in the supernatural (divine providence, miracles etc)
2. Enlightenment philosophy and the privileging of reason, order and science as a means of gaining knowledge
Which characters are 'spokespeople' for Christianity/ the supernatural and enlightenment philosophy respectively?
Henry Pleyel (Science/ Enlightenment)
Wieland jr (supernatural)
In what way is the Wieland family similar to the founding fathers/ 'first' American people? (4)
- Come from Europe (Germany)
- Dramatic conversion to evangelical Protestantism
- Desire to come to America to convert the Native Americans
- Live an agrarian lifestyle
Difference between first and second generation of Wielands and what symbolises this difference
- First generation are radical evangelical protestants
- Second generation are strong believers in reason and art
2. The father's temple is converted into a setting for lively intellectual conversations, in which Cicero is recited
When was the novel written in relation to the US constitution and what was the general political atmosphere?
- written 9 years after the US constitution
- Time of mass disillusionment, more and more people began to wonder about the failure of the American project
Founding father quote about disillusionment/ the failure of the American project
'Every day proves to me more and more that this American world was not made for me.'
Alexander Hamilton in 1802
what was the alien and sedition act?
-a series of acts implemented after the XYZ affair (a diplomatic conflict between France and America,in which a war between the two countries was feared)
- these acts included 1) deporting non-citizens who were deemed dangerous 2) speaking/ writing critically of the federal government
What was controversial about the sedition act of 1789?
- It violated the first amendment (right of freedom of speech)
Difference between the Federalists and the Republicans?
- Federalists (led by Jefferson) wanted a strong central government and a loose interpretation of the Constitution. They favoured commerce/ manufacturing as a means of production
- Republicans (led by Hamilton) favoured a more central government and they had a strict interpretation of the consitition. They favoured agriculture as a means of production.
What was the elocutionary movement?
- Movement which emphasised the movement of speech from being argumentative to performative.
- Speech became to be seen as a art/ a full body experience, rather than just speaking
- performance/ delivery valued as much as content
The art of speaking: who is it by, what does it argue?
A text by James Burgh (1766) which:
1. Lists specific gestures to go with specific emotions e.g. "Wonder: Arms ‘lifted up as high as the face’"
2. advises people to pracise the way in which they speak
3. suggests the universality of the language of hands/ gestures
quote from the art of speaking which encapsulates the elocutionary movement
'What we mean does not so much depend upon the words we speak, as on our manner of speaking them'
What is the main failing of the characters in the novel in relation to speech?
- they are unable to detach body from voice (they only question whether they have heard something or not, not whether that sound comes from who they think it is)
cultural shift (in terms of medium of buisness, commerce, agreements etc) and its significance for the Wieland family?
Shift from Oral/ physical culture to Written/immaterial agreements etc (written constitution, use of bank notes rather than coins, written trade deals rather than face to face agreements)
what contemporary figure does Carwin evoke? (+ evidence)
-The silver tongued preacher (print was used to counteract them)
- He looks, dresses and walks like preachers
why was preaching so feared/ seen as being so dangerous in America?
Anyone could be an orator, black people, women, poor people. In fact many emancipated slaves would become orators (e.g. Fredrick Douglass)
Describe the affect that Carwin's voice had on Clara Wieland?
what contextual and intellectual context can this be linked to?
- provokes an extreme bodily reaction which she describes as 'incontrolable' and caused her heart to 'overflow with sympathy'
- this almost orgasmic effect that carwins voice has on clara illutstrates the sheer physicality of speaking/ the power of the voice to imapct the real world
- this can be linked somewhat to J L Austin's speech act theory (the idea that some works have real life consequences) and also Fleegleman's idea that in a 'democracy' the voice 'of the poeple' is consigned to a select group who speak behalf of everyone
- The US consitution/ the declaration of independance, which is signed on behalf of the 'American people'
how do the plot/ central themes of the novel influence the way in which someone reads the novel?
- the novel is so strongly centred around the danger of voice, it makes you a paranoid reader, causes you to question all voices (even the narrative voice)
Examples of narrative ventriloquism
- there are many embedded narratives in the text: e.g. on page 187, where Charles Brockden Brown is ventriloquising the voice of Clara, who has embedded the voice of Carwin, whi is quoting shakespeare, who isventriloquising characters
- this trick of ventro-regression of textual authority is underminded by the footnote, as we are unaware of who writes this
Clara and language
- Clara is aware of the failure of language, she often wonders how you can communicate the incommunicable
- clara removes herself from language, becoming the OBJECT of language, rather than the SUBJECT
- Clara is constantly navigating between speech and writing
- She attempts to control her narrative by distancing herself from the narrative
how is writing shown to be linked to living?
clara says 'my existence will terminate with my tale', to delay this termination her writing is fulled with punctuative delays (commas, dashes, clauses)
The novels view on belief an interpretation?
- on a first reading it might appear to be a novel which warns against following your own creed blindly, however, after further reading it is more about the danger of any form of unquestionable belief.
- Science fails to bring consolation, religion fails to bring consolation, empiricism is deemed unreliable
Native Americans and Wieland?
- The first generation of Wieland's come to America to convert the 'natives'
- they settle on stolen land and benefit from the labour of enslaved people
- Ventriloquism was often used by Native Americans- both to mimic animals and as calls
Carwin as the villan (is he evil, is he punished etc)
- We never know the extent of Carwin's guilt
- We arent fully sure of Carwin's fate; he is not punished/ arrested, nothing really comes of him, clara doesnt seem to care anymore about him (after previous manifesting a v violent rage towards him)
- In a sense he does no evil- he just speaks and exposes the evil which already is present in the society