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2140_Melville and the Refusal to Work

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Jennifer Forsberg

on 12 February 2018

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Transcript of 2140_Melville and the Refusal to Work

Professionalism in the American Renaissance and Beyond
"Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853)
Classic Literary Analysis

What is Melville trying to say?
The Refusal and the Resolution
Classic Literary Analysis

19th Century Writers Gaining Acclaim and Possess Character
Ex: Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, Emerson, Cooper, Whitman, Twain
Fame, Celebrity and Recognition as distinct voices, representatives
19th century activism?
poor management?
a destructive American work ethic?
individuality and originality?
urban life?
generational rifts?
The Economy of the Short Story
Melville and the Refusal
to Work

Many, like Melville, had professional careers before success as a writer.
Well traveled and socially progressive
Connection between work and art being forged; cultural work
How do the opening paragraphs provide an efficient yet comprehensive frame for the story?

What information is revealed and why?
Where is the story located?
How does the environment impact the action? Characters?
What kind of details/description does Melville provide?
Who is the narrator?
What types of characters are included?
What unique attributes are they assigned?
How do they interact?
Why does Melville give us certain details?
Are there rational reasons to refuse to work?
How does Melville structure the refusal?
How do characters (esp. narrator) respond? What is to be done?
How does the refusal impact the plot?
What is the point?
Why is fiction better able to capture this point than the other genres we have read?
Next Time: Davis' "Life in the Iron Mills"
Davis' short story depicts the difficult lives of factory workers in a realistic way.

Things to consider:
Who is the narrator? What audience do they address? Why?
What do we know about Deb and Hugh (Wolf)? What happens to them and why?
What is the importance of art, both in terms of Davis' story that you are reading and the korl sculpture?
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