ENG 334 Blog Post #4

ENG 334 Blog Post #4

Post blog entry #4: Briefly describe Murphy’s project and then discuss one specific way you might forward her analysis.

In this absolutely riveting piece, Murphy explores the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876 and the questions it raised about the distinctions between animals and humans. More specifically, she wishes to “look at some ways in which the prevailing conception of the human, embedded in the regulatory character of the 1876 law, came to be a site of contestation in vivisection debates” (367). Murphy examines the writings of antivivisectionists, including that of Wilkie Collins’ Heart and Science, to determine how the Act both answered and created questions about humanity, its shortfalls in the regulation of vivisection, and how writers and critics reacted to these very uncertainties.

Already, we can see Murphy doing some forwarding of her own. She uses the ideas set forth in Heart and Science to advance her own dialogue by paraphrasing, quoting directly, and providing analysis. For example, she exemplifies the wide scope of uncertainties regarding vivisection that were prevalent in Collins’ time: “…[Collins] is also opening the door to the argument that we have seen made by Coleridge: that vivisection practices ramify beyond the suffering inflicted on animals in a laboratory, threatening the fundamental qualities attributed to humanity” (377). If I am interpreting Harris’s chapter on forwarding correctly, I believe that here Murphy is, to use Harris’s term, borrowing.

To further forward Murphy’s analysis, I might like to examine, if possible, how the general public came to interpret Heart and Science in the midst of the confusion surrounding the 1876 law and the concepts of vivisection. I believe it’s important to examine the text in a cultural context as a way to supplement Murphy’s observations on how it could be used to interpret antivivisectionist sentiment in the 19th century. To use, once again, Harris’s specific terms, I would invoke Murphy’s authority in my writing, seeing as she has done an incredible amount of research on the subject of vivisection.

3 thoughts on “ENG 334 Blog Post #4

  1. Hi Grace! Your post here is very thoughtful and leaves me with a few questions for you. I know you said that your’e interested in “how the general public came to interpret Heart and Science in the midst of the confusion surrounding the 1876 law and the concepts of vivisection,” and so am I. Like you, I also believe that is its extremely important to examine the text in a cultural context. Do you think that because the general public did not know as much about vivisection as people do now that they were more prone to support anti-vivisectionist beliefs? I personally think also that because dogs and monkeys were being used in these experiments instead of mice and rats that the general public did not support the work of Ferrier. Do you think that the general pubic upon reading the work connected it to Ferrier? I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this.

  2. Grace, a good place to start investigating public reaction would be the literary reviews of the novel, some of which are included in the appendices of our Broadview edition. Since these are professional reviews, they aren’t “public” in the sense I think you mean (as in the average reader’s response, for which even sales figures of the novel wouldn’t be definitive), but you’d get a sense of how readers at the time were being asked to think about it.

  3. Grace I thought you did a very nice job of using your first paragraph to really take what Murphy was talking about and informing your blog readers in a way that I think Murphy would most definitely recognize. I also found it interesting how you were able to identified times in Murphy’s work that she was herself forwarding works from other authors. It just goes to show you that all great authors will forward others’ ideas. This reinforces the concept that writing is a conversation not just a one way street. Another piece of your post I found interesting was your third paragraph and your train of thought regarding the response to Heart and Science in 1876. I always think it is interesting to think about how literature of a day may not be popular at all, but then becomes an object of study years later as part of high culture. It makes me wonder what works from today will one day gain the status of high culture.

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