Wednesday, 20 February 2008

On Mid-term Question 1

In Office Hours today, I answered a student request for more information about Question 1 on the Mid-Term which it seems only fair to broadcast.

The question does not require you to give specific aspects of the Stalky model: or, at least, one is sufficient (although many more would work.) The requirement is twofold: one, that there is understanding of performative masculinity-- manhood can be lost by failed performance--in twentieth-century Britain; two, that a specific model of masculinity existed before 1945, encoded in British literature (that model being what I term the Stalky model; but, again, it is more important for the question that the fact of a model's existence be recognised than the specific model be anatomised.

To give an example, using one of the Stalky characteristics, in A Clockwork Orange, the close-knit group of contrasting male companions exists, but it has gone awry: it has altered in some way (which you would detail by textual quotation) and thus fails to produce masculinity. This can be seen symbolised in the text--and specifically represented on the cover of the recent Penguin edition of the work--by milk. The glass of moloko on the cover, which should symbolise purity and growth, is, for the droogs, poisoned: poisoned by hallucinogentic drugs.


adam nowek said...

To clarify question #3, then, because the focus of the question is on one of the books (as opposed to three), would it be suggested to discuss each and every point of the Stalky model, with a slightly restrained amount of textual evidence? Or would it be better to examine a handful of the characteristics of the model, with a greater focus on textual evidence of its absence?

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear Adam:

The aspects of the model which empahsise its male confidence & fulfilment--stakliness itself, and rebelliousness--are especially pertinent, and in terms of the question, conspicuous by their absence in the Hornby text.