Essay from the year 2004 in the subject English - Literature, Works, grade: Distinction, James Cook University (James Cook University), course: Strangers in the South Pacific, language: English, abstract: The tradition of island imaginings in European thought existed long before explorers were actually able to reach far away islands and give first-hand accounts of their encounters and observations. Myths of islands are of an extreme age and deeply rooted in European culture, where they were subjected to ongoing transformation by writers of various periods in history. Story telling about islands stretches back thousands of years: from early island myths in antiquity, to explorers, poets and philosophers in the Age of Discovery; from idealizing nature and islanders, to islands that acted as vehicles for social criticism and reflection on social conditions in Europe. The island setting was originally employed as a site and inspiration for spiritual, emotional, or psychological transformation, as a kind of incubator for the initiation and fostering of an individual’s growth. The specific workings of the archetypal place as an agent of change involved a morally challenging confrontation in a magical setting. Appropriate conduct and prudent behaviour opposite the unfamiliar, followed by the resolve of a potentially dangerous situation or conflict, enabled the shipwrecked to finally leave the island and return to their respective societies. This essay provides a historical overview of the island tradition in European literature and links it specifically to the islands of the imagination where the writer travels behind or in front of his or her time envisaging a better world – utopias often take the form of a subversive analysis of contemporary society. Islands and island dwellers were often envisaged as superior versions of the countries and peoples who imagined them, an idea that survived and came to the fore in the positivist scientific and rationalist discourse of the Enlightenment. Island-stories are always set distant in time and place and the remoteness and finite dimensions of islands seemed perfect for constructing a compressed and complete universe, a miniature world, solely governed by the poet’s ideals and ideas.
Essay from the year 2005 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, James Cook University (James Cook University), course: Women in the Nineteenth-Century English Novel, language: English, abstract: The aftermath of the traumas of the American Civil War saw an unleashing of intellectual, cultural and economic forces, which accelerated the rate of transformation in American society. In post-Reconstruction America, after so much controversy about slavery, social and political reformers climbed on the platform to agitate on behalf of the Feminist movement in an “air [that] was thick with theory and controversy about women” (Habegger 9). When Henry James outlined his general idea for "The Bostonians" (1886) in his notebook-entry of 1883, he referred to this new ideology, which he perceived as being responsible for the perversion of the confused and uprooted young American society: I wished to write a very American tale, a tale very characteristic of our social conditions, and I asked myself what was the most salient and peculiar point in our social life. The answer was: the situation of women, the decline of the sentiment of sex, the agitation on their behalf. The undoing of the differences between man and woman and the blurring of the boundaries between the feminine and the masculine and, in particular, the subordination of the masculine hegemony by “the stirrings of feminism in late nineteenth-century Boston” (Lansdown x) might be the root, or at least a symptom of the problem, which was upsetting both public and domestic affairs. The novel is a drama between opposing dogmas: progressive Feminism versus conservative Chauvinism, ultimately, between the forces of progress and reaction. The analysis of the ideological conflict between these two extremes is “dramatically focused in a conflict among characters who, James said, were evolved from his ‘moral consciousness’” (McMurray 339). The notebook-entry reveals that the novel represents James’s response to a contemporary phenomenon: it seeks to investigate the situatedness of individuals in a historical context. James's main purpose was to trace the effects of a confused system of morals in the relations between men and women and he chose to exemplify that idea by portraying a group of people in whom the essence of love had become distorted or vulgarized. The conservative James assumed that the epitome of the American problem lied in the decline of what was generally considered traditional ideals surrounding gender, which he evaluated as a potential threat to the equilibrium of forces that had previously regulated society.
Essay from the year 2006 in the subject Communications - Media History, grade: High Distinction, James Cook University (James Cook University), course: History of Communication, language: English, abstract: The Industrial Revolution was characterized by two intrinsically linked social phenomena. Firstly, a social shift in the transformation of a traditionally agricultural society into an industrial and increasingly urban mass society; secondly, a technological shift resulting in the virtual explosion of the mass production of consumer goods. Towards the end of the nineteenth century these two events, large-scale changes in social structure and mass production, became the basis for the rise of consumer capitalism. This newly generated consumer market was made possible by a steady increase in mass production, characterized by large numbers of diversified goods, often with a built-in obsolescence, which stimulated the process of ongoing consumption. The need for a frequent replacement of commodities, in combination with the striving of urbanised individuals to fill the gaping void within his or her existence that resulted from the demotion of labour productivity in the framework of modern society, gave rise to consumer culture.