Thursday, April 5, 2012

Proposal!  YAY! A further edit. (and hopefully I will have a better understanding of stuff to write an essay for next week)

For my final project I am going to continue to edit the paper I am working on about comparing Androids from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  With prostitutes in Victorian England.  I am drawing parallels between the post-nuclear fallout society of Dick and the technological world of Victorian England.  Although on the surface the two seem to be very different, the societies are very much alike.  Victorian prostitution is probably one of the most studied subjects; the juxtaposition of the prude Victorians who covered the piano legs because one doesn't mention body parts in public with the proliferation of sex added to the perceived notion that it was wealthy men and poor women predominately involved has created a large body of work on this era.  THESIS:  Because of the similarities between the two societies, by looking at Dickisian Americans through the lens of Victorian prostitution and the Contagious Diseases Acts, one can further understand these foreign Americans, and by understanding, extrapolate as to the motivation behind the desire to kill the androids.  This could be improved upon; the argument could use some work.  I am thinking of changing this to be explicit in why the Androids are being killed,but I am not sure if this change is necessary; if it were a history paper the answer would be 'yes,' but it has been a while since I have written a paper for a lit class.

The structure of my paper does need improvement.  Right now I don't really have connectors; I am using the old history paper standby, headings.  I open the paper with an intro and then have the following headings: A Brief Introduction to the Victorians and the Place Prostitution Has in the Society;THE CONTAGIOUS DIESEASES ACTS: What they were;ACTON AND THE VOIGT-KAMPFF TEST;DECKARD AND THE METROPOLITAN POLICE: The Implementations;EMPATHY AND MORALS; and then I have my conclusion.  In each of these sections, except intro number 2 and what the CDA were, I am comparing an aspect of the CDA and victorian society with Dick's world.  

I am happy with my argument, but I need to add something to what I have already.  For this, I have decided to do one of two things.  Choice 1 is to talk about "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon," a piece of sensationalist journalism which is most notable for 'exposing' the seedy underbelly of the already seedy underbelly of society, child prostitution, especially the 5 quid virgin.  I would relate this to the book of prices and talk about how they both served similar purposes.  This would probably be a weaker argument and although I feel as if the Maiden Tribute is an important part of Victorian prostitution, I would then have to connect it to the CDA which would be a tangential connexion at best.  my other option is to bring Marcuse into the paper instead of just causally throwing one of his idea in.  However, I am not sure exactly what I would do with this or where it would go.  I would need to query people   as to how this best might work.  


Primary Sources:
Acton, William, ‘The Career of Prostitutes,’ Prostitution, considered in Its Moral, Social, & Sanitary Aspects, In London and other Large Cities.  With proposals for the mitigation and prevention of its attendant evils. (London 1857).
Dick, Phillip K., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (New York 2007).
Secondary Sources:
Foucault, Michel, Hurley, Robert, Trans, The History of Sexuality: Vol 1, (New York 1978).
Need, Lynn, ‘The Magdalen in Modern Times: The Mythology of the Fallen Woman in Pre-Raphaelite Painting’ in Oxford Art Journal , Vol. 7, No. 1, Correspondences (1984),
Walkowitz, Judith,  Prostitution and Victorian Society, Women, Class, and State, (Cambridge 1980)


Caia Caldwell said...

You have quite an interesting argument proposed, one that most people would never think of comparing. However, I am a little confused on understanding why it is that Philip K. Dick’s new America and Victorian England are similar. First you mention comparing technology, but then you talk about prostitution. When you said “Contagious Diseases Act” I think I understand your argument a little more. Is this about alienation is both societies? My new understanding is that what happened in Victorian England (alienation? segregation? inequality?) is similar to the persecution the Androids felt in Dick’s novel.
If I were going to structure your paper, I would start off with a very clear thesis that outlines a couple aspects of both societies that are similar. I would then move from there to compare each of these aspects talking about Victorian England, and then Philip K. Dick. I would be careful not to talk only about Victorian England for half of the paper, and then move to Philip K. Dick’s for the last half. As a reader, I generally find it more conducive to compare the texts side by side from one aspect to another.
Good luck with your project!

Adam said...

I think Caia's advice is good, and maybe not totally dissimilar from similar advice I've given in the past. But your wording has also helped me formulate an issue or disjunction here.

For this to work to its fullest potential within the context of *this* class, it can't be strictly historical work. Your tendencies lie in that direction, but then making the connection between DADES and the history is tough.

So here's my ongoing challenge to you, somewhat reworded. You need to find a way of demonstrating *why* a reader of DADES should care about the connection you make with Victorian laws re: sexual hygiene, etc.

While you could use Marcuse, I also expect that you could lean more heavily on the History of Sexuality than you do currently. What I mean is that Foucault is useful and important for thinking about underlying structures. Why do we think about sex the way we do, for instance?

To put it another way: there is a continuity between victorian sexual obsessions and the ones portrayed (parodied?) in DADES. Your implicit task is to articulate not just what those obsessions meant in Victorian England, but what their continuation in PKD's imagination means.

Shorter version: because it's an English class, not a history class, meaning gets privileged a little bit. The similarity/relationship you expose needs to mean something. Show us that, and not the relationship alone.