English Literature

English Literature

critically analyze The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
and the “Jack the Ripper” chapter from Judith Walkowitz’s The City of Dreadful Delight and
counect the these two texts to one other course text that we have already read – “Goblin Market,”
Drcrcnla, “Carntilla,” Mrs. lVaruen’s Profession, or Lady Audley’s Secret. You will need to focus
on a specific Sensational element as a cultural anxiety – sex, violence, crime, sexuality, cultural
perversions, class-crossing, gender, duality, detective, monstrosity, etc. – and consider how the
texts, botlr literary and historic. engage with such a problematic.
In considering that this is the last segment of the course of Victorian Sensationalism, you will
need to explore and reflect upon the historical questions that accompany such critical and
complex readiltgs and re-readings of sensational characters and texts, and how they relate to our
cllrrent historical and cultural climate. Your essay will take a closer look at various historical
er,ents. social. political, cultural, scientific, religious and/or rnedical/psychological discourses (as
seen ir.r the various essays in the “Course Reader”) and examine how they are intbrmed by- and
are reflected in – sensational, gothic, and turn-of-the century (or fin de sidcle) literature, such as
in tlre relationship betrveen the Jack the Ripper murders and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. .lelqtll
and Mr. Hyde.
This investigation will, hopefully, allow you to ask the larger questions of why we become so
engage with the sensational. What is it about these texts that engage and horrify us so? What does
it say about our voyeuristic fetishizations as detective, interloper, sadist (enjoying the horror and
pain inflicted upon others), or masochist (enjoying our own horror and.shock)? What are we to
make of our love and fascination of the horrific and grotesque? How can we. understand pleasure
derived ffom others’ expense andlor pain? And finally, how does our interest in the sensational
play out in our lives and current US culture? How have Victorian sensibilities and anxieties
played out in our world today?

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