Adapting Your Essay for the Web

When you adapt your seminar project for the web, you’ll need to think about how to translate your ideas for a new context and audience. That will mean the following:

  • Devising a structure that works well for the web, probably including main page and a series of main pages–or including a single page with a table of contents built of live links that take you to various sections on that page and subheadings for each of those sections. See U Mass Dartmouth’s suggestions for “Writing for the Web.”
  • Adapting your prose style so that it captures complex and nuanced ideas in ways that will be accessible for online readers.
  • Including some combination of video, images, links, and sound files–with the intent that these will do new kinds of rhetorical work, that they will help you communicate in ways that you couldn’t in a traditional essay.
  • Considering questions about copyright and fair use when it comes to images, video, and sound files. For links to material in the public domain or made available through a Creative Commons license, see The Educators Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons.
  • Deciding whether to stick with the motive and thesis that govern your essay or to revise these somewhat for the new format.


Ruining the effect

Much in the same way that reputation proceeds the characters in Victorian literature such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the novel’s twist proceeds its unveiling. The story by now is all too famous for collegiate readers to experience the shock. This is a very interesting example of how the reputation of a story can affect the way it is experienced.

When first published the novella was a smash hit, at least according to this Glencoe Library study guide. This begs the question, for how long was the mystery of this novel still a mystery. While classic murder mystery novels such as those written my Agatha Christie (some of my favorites guys, you must read at least And Then There Were None), retain some degree of infamy, they rarely achieve pop cultural status that lasts over a century. Jekyll and Hyde has become synonymous with split personality disordered individuals. As such the fact that Jekyll and Hyde are one and the same does not surprise readers, a fact which may have surprised Stevenson.

As I was reading I could not help but wonder what the effect would be if I had not known they were the same. H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds suffered a similar but opposite effect when it was read on the radio and people did not think it was fictional. In this case the story’s reputation, in this case, the reputation that it was a story, failed to proceed its delivery, causing mass pandemonium and uproar. Ironically, a great mystery novel author, should never write a mystery novel too great.

Jekyll and Hyde and The Moonstone

In Anna Stiles article Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Jekyll and Hyde” and the Double Brain, Stiles discusses how Stevenson may have been influenced by the “late-Victorian ideas about the brain as a double organ” (894). Stiles argues that these ideas influenced Stevenson’s portrayal of the conflict between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stiles also, however, discusses the relationship between the Gothic and the format of the text as a case study.  Stiles highlights that “the Gothic emphasis on psychological interiority and emotion may seem at odds with the eminently rational aims of the scientific case study” (888).

Despite these seemingly disparate genres, Stiles points out that the elements of the Gothic and scientific case study are actually interconnected.  The text’s format adheres to the traditional conventions of a case study while implementing Gothic elements and using subjective narrative voice to blur the lines between fact and fiction. Ultimately, Stiles argues that the combination of these two genres parallels the double brain of Dr. Jekyll; Stiles states, “ The logical, left brain perspective of science combines with the primitive, emotional, right-brain perspective of the Gothic, demonstrating how Stevenson incorporates the polarities of the dual-brain theory into the literary form of his famous novella” (891).

Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reminded me, in many ways, of Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. They both have elements of mystery and Gothicism and they both take the form of a case study that relies on both science and subjective narrative perspectives. The idea that Stevenson combines both aspects of science and with the romantic elements of the Gothic reminds me of The Moonstone. In my last blog post, I questioned the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity in the text. I also relayed Lewis Robert’s article, “The ‘Shivering Sands’ of Reality: Narration and Knowledge in Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone,” that explored this question; Roberts states, “For Collins, realism is not only a process of scientific discovery in which everything can be explained, in which all secrets will be revealed and all revelations will be apparent; but also, realism is a state of recognition of the complexities and the mysteries involved in ‘knowing’ anything” (177). Roberts highlights the interconnectedness between the binaries in the text; Stiles argues a similar point.

For me, there is a key difference between the two texts.  In The Moonstone, the multiple views of narration seems to add to the mystery, while in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both “Dr. Lanyon’s narrative” and “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case” literally solve the case and answer the mystery.  I wonder if this difference highlights a difference in views of Stevenson and Collins concerning the relationship between subjectivity and science.

Duality and Conservatism

The Victorian Era was a clash between traditional values and progressive thoughts. The purpose of conservatism was to preserve the traditional values. Conservatism influences social behaviors, attitudes, and actions, which means people not only have to consider the hasty changes, but also the expectations of conservative ideals. As a result, there was an increase in internal conflicts and self identification. Some people have to hide behind their conservative facades and others want to separate themselves from either conservatism or society itself. As a result, many individuals begin searching for a solid definition and position of self in the whirl wind of the Victorian era,

“Nothing characterizes Victorian society so much as its quest for self-definition.” (1049 )

Stevenson, from “The strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” portrays the struggle for self identification in the period of inconsistency and capriciousness:

If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that unbearable; that unjust might go his way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.(1809)

Stevenson reveals that human beings possess dual natures. By this he means one to be the animalistic side and the other a man’s rational side. Stevenson presents the scenario by having Dr. Jekyll consume a special potion to turn him into Mr. Hyde. The potion rouses a dormant character that is emphasized by a physical mutation. In some ways it parallels the urban and city area after and during industrialization. The city area consists of slums and shanty towns that have to support a large population. Congestion, pollution, sanitation and hygiene are some of the few problems the city life entails. However, Mr. Hyde also represents the morally corrupt aspect of industrialization. For instance, the increase of inequality, child labor, injustice among the poor is in itself an illness that permeates throughout England. The true ugliness lies within these flaws. There is a stark contrast between the urbane, illustrious gentleman and the impulsive animal.Dr. Jekyll is similar to the conservatives. He is a socially acceptable and repressed individual who has a dark side, though he can hide it. Conservatives similarly have to hide behind their sophisticated and fancy attire. However, Hyde is the complete liberated side. He is the boundless individual that gives into all desires. One can say that the fundamental basis of the duality in Dr. Jekyll is his desire to be closer to his “dark” side. He can not behave the way he wants to because he does not want to risk losing his high social status. In the disguise of Mr. Hyde, he can lurk around “dark”, prohibited area where he can fulfill his sinister desires without putting his important reputation at risk. The constant struggle on what to do and what not to do is part of Victorian society and continues to add to society’s fear of insecurity and uncertainty that no one really knows a person based on exterior personas.

This idea of dualism is seen throughout this semester’s reading selections. For example, Charlotte Bronte manages to show female duality through various female characters. Jane just like Dr. Jekyll has been molded and shaped to fit what society deems acceptable or conservative. Most of the novel revolves around an older Jane who wants people to see her as the plain, meek, and wallflower of a girl. Then we have Bertha who is a lot more like Mr. Hyde. She represents insanity, a result of women who have been repressed and limited by the conservative patriarchal society. But are Jane and Bertha really different? Are they two separate individuals? Or Jane like Dr. Jekyll has a repressed Hyde in her? We see the “insane” or “animalistic” side of Jane when she is a child. As a child, Jane shares many similarities with the character of Bertha in relation to dealing with a male dominated society. At first Jane holds in her passion, despite her oppressive environment with the Reeds. However, Jane eventually asserts herself against John in a physical and violent way. Not only did she physically hurt John Reed, but she verbally abuses Mrs. Reeds. I as a reader felt her rage, and saw Mrs. Reed’s fear. This is comparable to Bertha’s violent outbursts and temper toward Mr. Rochester and those in his home. Nevertheless, the differences lie in the fact that Bertha remains violent, while Jane comes of age and begins to conform in order to thrive in a male dominated society. She suppresses her “dark side”, but we as a reader see it in Bertha. Not only is Bertha a symbol of the repressed and “dark” side of Victorian women, but also a reflection of Jane herself.

The reading selections not only demonstrate the internal struggles of a Victorian, but the catalyst to those struggles; because the characters in these reading are a manifestation of the events surrounding the Victorian Period. The Victorian Era represents both spectrum of extremes: one side a sense of hope and optimism and the other a sense of fear and doom. It is said the

“Victoria’s reign were marked by momentous and intimidating social changes, startling inventions, prodigious energies; the rapid succession of events produced wild prosperity and unthinkable poverty, humane reforms and flagrant exploitation, immense ambitions and devastating doubts.” (1049)

In the midst of productivity and urbanization the people also have to witness the unstoppable backlash of the movement. For instance, the drastic increase in crime and the degeneration of the sprawling cities because the infrastructures can not handle the influx of new workers. Furthermore, depredation becomes the fact of life for majority of the working class, and inequality and injustice becomes prevalent and obvious than ever. The idea that progress may also mean the destruction and corruption of many is an uneasy feeling, that anyone at anytime including the wealthy can get lost in the upheaval and have no choice, but to continue living. Those who are in fear then welcome the concept of conservatism. Thus, the notion of dualism and the exterior of an individual not truly representing the interior begins to develop.

Carmilla’s Discreet Actions

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s story Carmilla had an intersting way of coming together, which I thought was done well. At the beginning of the book when the carriage and horses are witnessed by Laura, her father, and governess it does not seem to be an issue besides what I think is curiousness because the carriage looks “of a person of rank.” The first symbol given is the cross which are against vampires; “Just before you reach the castle drawbridge, on the route they were coming, there stands by the roadside a magnificent lime tree, on the other stands an ancient stone cross, at sight of which the horses, now going at a pace that was perfectly frightful, swerved so as to bring the wheel over the projecting roots of the tree.” This stood out to me because the it is placed in this description that to the characters would not seem to be a big deal, a tree–a stone cross. Followed directly by a crash and these interesting looking people which definitely took the characters attention.

Another discreet symbol that got my attention was what Carmilla says herself, “Good night, darling, it is very hard to part with you, but good night; tomorrow, but not early, I shall see you again.” But not early; Laura does not question her saying this, and why would she. She has a new friend and is excited to finally have company and not just any company but a girl around her ago which she has seen years before. Carmilla not being up early goes together with the sun being out. Everyone knows that Carmilla and her mother and the people she was with are mysterious, and most importantly that they will never know about them or where they are going and Carmilla does not say. I also think that is significant because they are just taken by these people when in reality these questions would have to be answered. In this part Laura’s father plays a huge role in because he adores his daughter very much, allowing and actually persuading Carmilla’s mother to allow her to stay in his home. Laura was just let down by her guest who did not arrive because she had died, so this new guest just seemed to fit right in. Laura falls in love with her new friend which makes her father happy that she is happy. When Carmilla went missing I also thought Laura’s father was kind of making an excuse for her when they checked everywhere for her.

Laura and Carmilla’s relationship stood out to me. It was very weird and actually a bit too close in a sexy way (lol). The way Laura described their interactions: “And you asked for the picture you think like me, to hang in your room,” she murmured with a sigh, as she drew her arm closer about my waist, and let her pretty head sink upon my shoulder. “How romantic you are, Carmilla,” I said” and “Her soft cheek was glowing against mine. “Darling, darling,” she murmured, “I live in you; and you would die for me, I love you so.” They are so deep, if that can describe it, mostly Carmilla though.

I do not Laura too so much, for the reason that she ever really has anyone around so maybe she does not know the right way to act or something? She does say herself how she is not all there (when the funeral passes by and Carmilla has that weird moment) but she still cherishes their friendship after all that. On top of that the power Carmilla has over her, for example putting her arm around her making her feel weak and kind of sucked into the moment. Carmilla’s beauty was also mentioned so many times in this story. Everyone thought she was a beautiful girl, and I think that had a lot to do with the characters accepting her, especially Laura.

Wanting to wake up at a certain time of the day and locking her door do seem like normal things a guest would want to do, nothing to call out. Laura even reasons with her when she sees that she gets tired easily when they go for walks. She remembers how her mother did mention she was ill. The description of Carmilla coming out of the carriage when she first arrived was also comes to her attention. She was weak, both of the governess went to her aid and she was not even aloud to go to speak to her right away because she was sensitive still. I think this story at first places the characters in a state of understanding and acceptance because although these weird things are happening around them they are not able to connect it to Carmilla being a vampire and these young girls dying. When the general arrives he gives an explanation to  the loss of his daughter, but still Laura seems to be in confusion, I believe with who Millarca being Carmilla.

Forbidden Fruit

The idea of what vampires are was always a mystery to me.  The way they were portrayed in movies and novels was that they were these vicious blood sucking murderers that lived in secret away from the rest of the world and one thing I’ve always noticed was that vampires were always men it was very rare to come across a female vampire.  The use of a female vampire in LeFanu’s Carmilla and his way of using sexuality and eroticism in a Victorian novel through women is what makes the novel appealing.  
Usually in a Victorian era novel sexuality and eroctism is discrete and if it is openly used, its between men and women.  LeFanu takes it a step further by creating a sexual relationship between two women.  Which is totally unexpected especially for the time the novel was written.  As if this relationship between Carmilla and Laura wasn’t enough, LeFanu takes it another step further when it’s revealed that Carmilla is a vampire.  Everything about Carmilla is completely out of the ordinary for the time it is written.  The power and manipulation she has over Laura is incredible. Carmilla has a power that draws people to her. She is evil but is able to disguise herself so well that even when it’s sensed that something isn’t right about her, still  attracts Laura to her.  Which reminds me of the story of Adam and Eve, they knew what was forbidden to them but they let the evils of the devil overpower them.  Which is exactly what Carmilla is to Laura, the devil.  She can’t help but take part in the seduction, she is blinded by the evils of Carmilla and the more she tries to pull away the deeper she got sucked in.  Laura knew the relationship she shared with Carmillia wasn’t natural and frowned upon but she couldn’t help herself.  As the saying goes, “how could something so wrong, feel so right.” 
“Now the truth is, I felt rather unaccountably towards the beautiful stranger. I did feel, as she said, “drawn towards her”, but there was also something of repulsion. In this ambigious feeling, however, the sense of attraction immensely prevailed. She interested and won me; she was so beautiful and so describably engaging.”
LeFanu paved the way for many vampire novels and now they’re seen everywhere from the big screen to TV shows.  One show in particular that I feel has some influence from Carmilla is True Blood.  It is full of seduction, forbidden desires, sexuality, eroticism and unexplainable deaths.  There’s also the feeling of not being able to resist something that is known to be wrong but feels so right.  The characters of Bill and Sookie and their looked down upon open relationship is one representation of this.  But the relationship between Tara and Pam is more fitting when it comes to comparison with Carmilla.  Tara, a newly created vampire wants no part of her new lifestyle but through the manipulation and power of her maker Pam, she has no choice but to partake.  Pam is Tara’s maker because she transformed Tara from a human into a vampire in turn Tara becomes some what of a servant to Pam for the entirety if her vampire life.  She is forever indebted to Pam unless she is released by her or until one of them dies. In the world of True Blood, Carmilla would somewhat be Laura’s maker because of the power she has over her and Laura isn’t free from her until she’s dead.  Here is a clip from True Blood that shows the power and manipulation a maker has over their subject.


After reading the selection in Embodied Selves regarding French anthropologist Paul Broca’s 1864 publication “On the Phenomena of Hybridity in the Genus Homo,” it made me curious as to the characters we have been introduced to that may be so-called hybrids.   Hybridity is defined simply as a mixture.  Hybrids often combine both human and animal features.    Two characters that come to mind are Carmilla from Carmilla and Bertha Rochester from Jane Eyre.  Each may be, according to definition considered a hybrid.  Broca claimed that “human hybrids tended to be prone to cephalic deformity.  This logic appeared to validate the attribution of bestial features of mixed race persons in literature of the Victorian period.  According to Broca, hybrids were also supposed to be genetically inclined toward criminal behaviors and desires.”

Le Fanu’s Carmilla tells the story of Laura and Carmilla, portrayed as a nineteenth century lesbian vampire.  A vampire by definition is a mythical being whose existence relies on feeding off of living creatures, usually their blood. Laura has nightmares of an animal that prowls near her bedside in panther form.  “I saw something moving that resembled a monstrous cat, a sooty-black animal.” (p. 39). According to William Veeder, “Carmilla did not resemble the traditional cadaverous vampire.  She is “the prettiest creature I ever saw…’so gentle and nice’…’absolutely beautiful with such a sweet voice and a slender pretty figure.”

Brenda Mann Hammack acknowledges in her article “Florence Marryat’s Female Vampire and the Scientizing of Hybridity” that among the best known images of bestial hybridity from the Victorian era are Charlotte Brontë’s nightmarish descriptions of mad Bertha Rochester.  When Jane Eyre first glimpses the Creole madwoman, she perceives a “clothed hyena” scrambling on all fours, then rising onto “hind feet.”  Unsure “whether it was beast of human being,” Jane fuses the two: although “it snatched and growled like some strange animal…it was covered with clothing: and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face.”  Jane is reminded of “the foul German spectre—the Vampyre,” a characterization that seems justified when Bertha attacks her brother with her teeth, threatening to drain the blood from his heart.

In conclusion, one of the novels that I read in a previous class also exemplified the definition of hybrid. Although this novel speaks about hybridity differently than the characters of Carmilla and Bertha, Passing by Nella Larsen tells the story of two friends Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield both of African and European ancestry.  Clare “passes” as a white woman, her mixed race never revealed to her white racist husband, while Irene embraced her African American heritage.  Critics analyze this novel in a number of ways.  Some argue that it is a classic example of the tragic mulatto.  Johanna M. Wagner debates whether their struggle revolves around race as the title suggests in her article “In the Place of Clare Kendry” A Gothic Reading of Race and Sexuality in Nella Larsen’s Passing.”  It is her opinion that Passing may be about security, status, and sexuality as well as the obvious theme of race.

The term hybridity encompasses many perspectives.  Animal and human characteristics, mixed races and genetically altered species, as well as a blending of existing and new cultural ideas may be viewed as examples of hybridity.












What is Hybridity?

1104 x 806 pixels


The image is at:

Buffy the Patriarchy Slayer

In recent times, the once sinister and devilish Vampire race have been castrated by Hollywood Film industry. In their place they have been replaced with dark, brooding and very sparkly vampires who exist to charm girls and men to buy movie tickets. The image of the vampire has shifted from the days of “Nosferatu” to the “Twilight” series but on overarching theme does remain in the narrative; the dominance over women. The story is the same girl meets vampire but is not sure if she meets vampire at all. The next step is the either girl figures out on her own or vampire reveals his true identity inadvertently and then all hell breaks loose. We either have a love story or something sinister occurs and girl must be rescued.

This is a common dynamic in the Vampire/Human dynamic until Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer debut probably around fifteen years ago. (Shit, I am old!) Buffy was probably one of the bigger TV shows in its time and also one of the first to have a strong female character in a vampire dynamic. She was incredibly strong cheerleader that spent her time hitting the books as well as murdering everything from vampires, werewolves and various other devilish creatures in Sunnydale. Buffy does fell into the stereotypical girl/vampire relationship like Bella but her relationships were starkly different. It was a TV show so obviously she had to have those types of romances but she is never made into a victim from it. She was completely capable of saving herself in she was in any trouble from enemies or evil doers. Do her vampire boyfriends help her from time to time? Of Course, but it never turns into a one sided dependency that weakens her as a character. She has even been willing to sacrifice her vampire lovers if it interfered with greater good of the community. So the Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the modern day response feminist response to the male dominated vampire dynamic.

Annotated Bibliographies

The next phase of your research projects will be to compile an annotated bibliography–a list of sources you plan to cite, with a short explanation of what roles they’ll play in your essay.

Cornell University’s library offers a good overview of the genre of the annotated bibliography–including samples of effective ones. It’s worth checking out.

For your annotated bibliographies, you should do the following:

1. Create a full list of works you will cite, in alphabetical order, following MLA Guidelines.

2. Write a few, concise sentences that explain how and why these sources will help you make your argument. For example, a source might help you establish motive or illustrate a point; it might provide background information or a counter-argument you want to address. Describe the source’s content as well as its functions in your essay. It may or may not be relevant to offer some details about the author (field of study, previous works, status, etc.).

3. Identify the discipline or genre the source represents and offer a brief description of its methodology–and, if possible, name this methodology.

4. Conclude each entry by listing which of Mark Gaipa’s “8 Ways to Engage Sources” seem relevant for the source at hand. Feel free also to devise your own categories if none of Gaipa’s seems to apply.