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Susan Jarratt Comparative Literature DECLARATIONS IN DIALOGUE.

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Presentation on theme: "Susan Jarratt Comparative Literature DECLARATIONS IN DIALOGUE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Susan Jarratt Comparative Literature DECLARATIONS IN DIALOGUE

2 THE HUMAN AND ITS OTHERS: FORGING BONDS Bourgeois tragic drama: individual and community (reading literary texts) Drama and short story; multiple characters, voices, stances Declarations: texts that enact political bonds--citizenship (reading rhetorically) How different are these ways of reading? Do literary texts transform society? Can we find irony, contradiction, indirection, multiple voices in political texts? Can political texts be comedies, tragedies, satires?

3 Christopher Weyant New Yorker, 14 January 2013 p. 45

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5 TALKING BACK, TAKING UP, RECIRCULATING Declaration of Independence (1776), Thomas Jefferson et al. Letters of Abigail Adams to John Adams ( ) The Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804), Jean-Jacques DessalineS “Declaration of Sentiments” (1848), Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et al. - Seneca Falls Convention on the Rights of Women Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” (1852 speech) Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Written by Himself (1845)

6 The Declaration: set in stone? “Words are the building stones of systems” (Goethe’s Faust, , p. 155)

7 WORDS, IDEAS, GOODS, AND PEOPLE IN CIRCULATION

8 RHETORIC: SOME DEFINITIONS Language in action; doing things with words; a mode of analysis that brings forward the performative nature of texts KEY WORDS representation ethos publics, public sphere, circulation genre

9 FROM “Questions for rhetorical analysis” (HANDBOOK CH. 12) Who appears to speak (write, perform, etc.) in this text? How would you describe the speaker’s ethos (the character, style, stance, capacities)? For or on behalf of whom? i.e., does the speaker purport to represent a group? What are the difficulties entailed in “speaking for” a group? Does this rhetorical text allow for multiple voices? What genre (type) of product is it? Letter, speech, manifesto, editorial, essay, dialogue, debate, etc.? Are the features of this genre well established? Does this text strain or violate them? Play with or parody them? What do you know about delivery and/or circulation of this rhetorical act? Through what media (print, oral presentation) does it come to life?

10 “ WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL...” – What do you think? A. The United States in the 21 st century has realized the promise made in the Declaration of Independence. B. We’ve done a pretty good job, but we have a way to go. C. I disagree with the statement. D. It’s not the responsibility of the government to assure that these rights are fully realized for every citizen. E. Another opinion

11 Enlightenment background—four interwoven strands of influence WHERE DID THE DECLARATION COME FROM?

12 POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY John Locke, English philosopher ( ) Two Treatises of Government Social contract theory --an agreement by the governed (rational individuals) on a set of rules by which they are governed --civil rights based on the contract --violation demands renegotiation or legitimates rebellion

13 18THC POLITICS: --rejection of the divine right of kings --regime change through popular movements and violent protest: revolution --from relation of monarch/subject to nations of sovereign selves/citizens

14 Louis XVI, King of France : Ancien regime Absence of rule of law: lettres de cachet French revolution, 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

15 AN 18TH-CENTURY REPUBLIC OF LETTERS Immanuel Kant, German philosopher ( ): “The public use of a man’s reason must be free at all times... [by this I mean] the use which a scholar makes of it before the entire reading public” (134). A bourgeois public sphere: spaces where people read, discussed, and wrote about opinions, issues, and ideas “Spheres” are actual spaces (salons, pubs, coffee houses, academies, debating societies), textual spaces (newspapers, books, journals, pamphlets, cartoons, broadsides), and imagined spaces:

16 Polemics -- wars of words; attacking through language Defender of civil liberty and freedom of religion; opposed censorship, Attacked abuses of royalty and clergy who perpetrated superstition and intolerance Wrote 20,000 letters; 2,000 books and pamphlets Voltaire, French polemicist ( )

17 Anciet Charles Gabriel Lemonnier (French, ): Madame Geoffrin's salon in 1755, oil on canvas, Château de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France. Painted 1812.

18 18THC ECONOMY: VAST INCOME GAPS, TAXATION, COLONIAL EXPLOITATION, SLAVERY British colonies in America (see Declaration ) Suffering peasantry in France Saint-Domingue (Haiti), valuable French colony - plantations worked by African slaves (Toussaint L’Ouverture, , leader of slave revolt in Haiti)

19 Local Context – american colonies Levying of taxes on the colonies by the parliament to cover expenses from the French and Indian War (Sugar Act, 1764: Stamp Act, 1765; Tea Act, 1773) Occupation of Boston by British troops; Boston Massacre, 1770 Coercive Acts punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party, 1774 First Continental Congress, September 1774; petitions to parliament and the king; boycott Armed resistance to British troops: April 1775

20 What is a “declaration” anyway? THE Declaration of Independence?

21 Declarations England: Glorious Revolution, : Declaration of Rights -- parliament indicts James II Declaration of war “the very existence [of a declaration] signaled a breakdown in the standard operations of government” (Lucas 150) Related genres depositio apologia: deposing British monarchs -- 7 previous occasions from ; a public “apology” (rationale) for dethroning a “tyrannical” monarch (Lucas 152) Jefferson’s constitution of Virginia Petitions of various colonies and of the First Continental Congress: “humble terms” Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, a pamphlet advocating colonial independence and republican government, January 1776

22 Writing task, process Second Continental Congress: Committee of Five -- a collaborative assignment Jefferson charged with drafting 17 days from assignment to adoption

23 ORGANIZATION 1. “When in the course of human events...” 2. The priority of first principles (warrants): self- evident truths 3. Support: “facts submitted to a candid world” 4. Background: petitions, warning, appeal, regretful separation 5. Conclusion: declaration of independence

24 SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS, UNALIENABLE RIGHTS Pursuit of happiness? A collective enterprise Happiness is “built on the highest Perfection of intellectual Nature”; “the necessary Foundation of our Liberty.” Co Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689 Intellectual and moral judgment; a value of human life derived from self-scrutiny, altruism, and public spirit Laurence Sterne, “Inquiry After Happiness” (Angnlican sermon, 1740s)

25 Revision: From “subject” to “citizen”

26 A Declaration (1)... for a People to advance from that Subordination... (1) “the merciless Indian Savages...” (6) “He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow-citizens...” (6) “He has constrained others...” [impressment of seamen] (6) The unanimous Declaration... for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another “the merciless Indian Savages...” “He has excited domestic insurrection among us... “He has constrained our fellow citizens taken Captive on the high Seas...” WHO IS INCLUDED? DRAFTS OF THE DECLARATION

27 REJECTED PARAGRAPHS (6-7) “He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred Rights of Life and Liberty in the Persons of a distant People who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into Slavery in another Hemisphere, or to incur miserable Death, in their Transportation thither. This piratical Warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. “He has prostituted his Negative for Suppressing every legislative Attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable Commerce, determined to keep open a Market where Men should be bought and sold, and that this assemblage of Horrors might want no Fact of distinguished Die. “He is now exciting those very People to rise in Arms among us, and to purchase their Liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the People upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off, former Crimes committed against the Liberties of one People, with Crimes which he urges them to commit against the Lives of another.”

28 “... slavery was so widely accepted that contradictions between the evolving ideals and the brutish reality of enslavement were overlooked or tolerated” “Life, Liberty, and the Fact of Slavery” Edward Rothstein ( New York Times, 26 January 2012) JEFFERSON, SLAVE HOLDER “These are not just biographical questions; they are national ones.”

29 Our British brethren (7) the ties of our common kindred (8) consanguinity Soldiers of our own blood... These facts have given the last stage to agonizing affections We must endeavor to forget our former love for them... To hold them as we hold the rest of mankind enemies in war, in peace friends. Our British brethren (7) the ties of our common kindred consanguinity... To hold them as we hold the rest of mankind enemies in war, in peace friends. AFFILIATION, IDENTIFICATION

30 WHAT DID THE DECLARATION DO? Unified the 13 colonies: “The Unanimous Declaration...” Put the language of natural rights into circulation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident... “ Performatively brought a nation into being –“We, therefore,... do... publish and declare... “

31 INTERPRETING THE DECLARATION Ethos: Through revision, a citizen-subject came into being. The Declaration as an Enlightenment text: The Declaration attempts to give voice to a new political subject: the citizen capable of uniting with others in a nation for the purpose of realizing the Enlightenment ideals of equal rights, liberty, and happiness. It failed to realize this goal fully by excluding specific categories of “man”: women, enslaved people, and Indians among others. Genre, intertextuality: Although the Declaration drew on existing documents, ideas, and language, it has an inaugural power derived from its genre (declaration), its revolutionary force, and its success at putting into circulation Enlightenment ideas.

32 CIRCULATION

33 CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION (ratified 1879) ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS SECTION 1. All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy. CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS SEC. 2. (a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press. Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, 29 September 2011 As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. MORE DECLARATIONS

34 Obama’s second inaugural address January 21, 2013 “We hold these truths to be self-evident...” “Today we continue a never ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing.”


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