Home » Fantasy and the human mind » Burroughs and Gilman

Burroughs and Gilman

English: Cover art by Frank E. Schoonover from...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

Two stories this week from two different authors, Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland

I thoroughly enjoyed A Princess of Mars. It is like a typical western story but set on Mars. You have all the ingredients of the western and it opens with our hero being chased by Apaches.  He rescues the Damsel in distress, brings together the warring factions and saves the day in so many ways.  Of course it is racist and sexist but then what do you expect. from the man who wrote Tarzan. I think it is a great fun read.

The feminist Utopian novel ‘Herland’ was a dismal read. I don’t think I would have continued with it if it wasn’t for the course. It was like an anti man lecture. It just went on and on and on about what a perfect, logical and practical world we would live in without men.  There was no passion no sensuality and life was all about getting things one in the most logical and practical way. For me it felt like a feminist lecture – hours of it.

I wrote about how our damsel in distress would fare in Herland. I think she would be bored silly after her life on Mars.

Please write an essay that aims to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course. Each essay should be between 270 and 320 words.

Here is the essay that I submitted which received a very good 5.


Dejah Thoris in Herland

Herland is a feminist utopia where women live in peace and harmony. Dejah is a princess of Mars in a typical western novel with goodies and baddies fighting. Would this princess feel at home in Herland?

At first glance, Dejah is a stereotypical damsel in distress with no function other than to be kidnapped and rescued by the hero John Carter. A more detailed look tells us that she is intelligent, brave and proud.

Before capture, her ship had been part of a “scientific research party” [1] working in the interests of the planet as a whole [2]. This shows two qualities that would be appreciated in Herland. Firstly, she works and secondly that her interests are for the good of all.

When she speaks in front of the Tharks, she is eloquent and convincing. She invites them to return to the old ways [3]. The women of Herland have no respect for ancient ways per se [4]. If they served the common good, they would be embraced, which seems to be the case here.

Like the women of Herland, [5] Dejah doesn’t see herself as a prize to be possessed and is angry when John says he has fought for her (Ch 14). She also manages to fight off the stronger Sarkoja, who tries to kill John just as the women of Herland fight off Terry when he attacks Alima.

The women of Herland wear practical clothing whilst Dejah sees clothes as ugly. The practicality of clothes would appeal to her, no doubt, in colder climates.

The communal childrearing and genetic selection of Herland is more akin to the Tharks than the Hellians. Dejah was possessive of her egg and went to see it every day (chapter 27). She showed duty to her family and particularly her father – sentiments that are not displayed on Herland.

In conclusion, although Dejah has many qualities that would make her a suitable citizen of Herland, her strong sense of family and maternity would be too big a stumbling block.


Works cited:

Please note that this essay is written in British English.

Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland

[1] “It was a purely scientific research party” (Chapter 10- A Princess of Mars)

[2] “The work we were doing was as much in your interests as in ours” (Chapter 10- A Princess of Mars)

[3] Come back to the ways of our common ancestors, come back to the light of kindliness and fellowship. (Chapter 10- A Princess of Mars)

[4] Ellador explains lack of respect for the past (Chapter 10- Herland)

[5] but we had no sense of–perhaps it may be called possession (Chapter 11 – Herland)


Peer Review 

The review process is split into three parts.

Part one FORM

Please indicate in 30-150 words your judgment of the FORM of the essay you have just read.  FORM here refers to matters of grammar, usage, and structure. Are the sentences grammatically correct?  Are the words properly used?  Is the exposition and argument laid out clearly?  An ideal response would note one aspect of Form that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Form that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

peer 1 → Very well written, grammatically correct and well cited. No one ever cites anything in this class (unless they are going waaaay off book), it’s refreshing to see it and see it done properly.
peer 2 → I really think it’s a clever cheat to put ideas in the citation section that really should be in the main word count. The short paragraphs distract the eye and make the reading choppy. In readings about cultural differences, use of terms like “typical” and “Stereotypical” are not helpful. Bouncing around from one reading to the other is a little confusing – I had to read the essay three times before it was clear what you were saying. All in all, this reads more like a bullet list in a powerpoint presentation than a prose essay.
peer 3 → I graded 2 in form just because you exceeded the maximum words allowed. Otherwise, it is clear and well done.
peer 4 → There are some wonderful specific examples given in this essay to support your arguments. Though I would’ve loved to see the thesis come a little sooner.
peer 5 → The short essay is very clearly structured and well written. The format of citation makes it easy to refer to the original text.

Please grade the FORM of the essay you have just read on a scale of 1 to 3. FORM here refers to matters of grammar, usage, and structure. Are the sentences grammatically correct? Are the words properly used? Is the exposition and argument laid out clearly? An ideal response would note one aspect of Form that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Form that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

Since everyone can learn to write better, at least 10% but no more than 30% of the grades should be 1. Everyone should strive for perfect grammar. However, if someone writes in ways that are particularly vivid or uses particularly incisive key terms to focus the argument or in some other way is outstanding in usage or structure, that essay should be awarded a 3 but no more than 20% of the grades should be a 3 because, by definition, “outstanding” is comparatively rare. Most grades should be 2.

Score from your peers: 2


Part two CONTENT

Please indicate in 30-150 words your judgment of the CONTENT of the essay you have just read. CONTENT here refers to matters of insight, argument, and example. Does the essay show a deep understanding of some aspect of the work or of a pattern that one can see in the work? Does the argument make sense, feel persuasive, and reveal the significance of the insight or insights? Are there concrete details from the text that support the argument and that we come to understand more powerfully because of the argument? An ideal response would note one aspect of Content that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Content that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

peer 1 → Your thesis is simple and clear. It is rare to find a concise thesis in these essays. The idea is well thought out and original.
peer 2 → On the other hand, I really liked the fresh approach you took to comparing the two readings. It could have used fewer points and more idea development. I would disagree with the conclusion that Dejah Thoris had a stronger sense of maternity than the ladies of Herland, but that’s what makes horse races.
peer 3 → The content deserves a 3, for I believe it was a good insight interacting with both books.
peer 4 → This is an interesting comparison you’ve made with the essay. It shows you’ve thought through both stories and characters quite clearly. Though I would say that Dejah’s strong sense of family and maternity is a result of living in a civilization with men. Had she been raised in one where there have only been women for two thousand years, she may probably fit quite well in Herland. I would also argue that the women in Herland also have a strong sense of family and maternity, just not in the heteronormative sense.
peer 5 → A nice comparison is drawn between Dejah Thoris and the females in Herland in both personality and behaviours. It would be even better if the discussion is not limited to the two books, but covers the different opinions of strong, independent women between a male and a feminist.

Please grade the CONTENT of the essay you have just read on a scale of 1 to 3. CONTENT here refers to matters of insight, argument, and example. Does the essay show a deep understanding of some aspect of the work or of a pattern that one can see in the work? Does the argument make sense, feel persuasive, and reveal the significance of the insight or insights? Are there concrete details from the text that support the argument and that we come to understand more powerfully because of the argument? An ideal response would note one aspect of Content that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Content that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

Since everyone can learn to write better, at least 10% but no more than 30% of the grades should be 1. Most people will offer their readers a new insight and some detailed reference to the text that argues for the significance of that insight and for an appreciation of how that detail functions, so most essays will enrich our reading and earn a 2. Some essays will be astonishingly new or persuasive or useful by making the story much richer and even by helping you understand better how to read stories in general. Such essays earn a 3 in Content, but no more than 20% of the grades should be a 3 because, by definition, “outstanding” is comparatively rare. Most grades should be 2.

Score from your peers: 3


Part three COMMENTS 

Please write here any other comments which you feel might be of use to you or the writer of this essay.
Nothing this time.

What I will take forward. 

Sigh. A power point presentation? OK, I can live with that but I didn’t go over the word limit. It isn’t possible and it is not cheating to but citations in the works cited box – that is what it is there for otherwise it would have a much shorter word limit.

It was great to see that although two peers disagreed with my thesis they didn’t mark down for it.

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Sean says:

    Well, I disagree with peers 2 & 3 on form – the word limit was flexible and I liked the short para structure – grrrr
    Peer 5 on the content is just bonkers.
    I really liked this and thought your comment on colder climes was very amusing.
    I’d be interested to see what happened in the reverse case – but I think that might be a very short essay 🙂

    • Louise Taylor says:

      Thanks Sean. I wonder if it could be done the other way round. Maybe with the men that went to Herland – not quite as swash buckling as our hero.

  2. hillary says:

    I have found the reviews on my work to be very conflicting and no help. Peer 1 will say : you have grammar errors / your essay is fun to read but your thesis is not clear THEN SAME ESSAY peer 3 you have impeccable grammar and form this leads me to believe it is not your own work. / Your content reads like a plagiarized cut and paste of other peoples ideas, read the book next peer 4 form good not a 3 because of passive voice use/ very original I would not have thought of mental health in Victorian times was an issue. It makes since if someone could not get therapy or medication they would behave as such. Best concept I have read this whole course. EVERYONE OF THEM GAVE ME A 4!!!! I have had this week after week and no helpful comments. To anyone reading this in future classes NO ONE WILL KICK YOU OFF COURSERA FOR GIVING A 6. Every week I give a 3 if it scores over a 50% on grammarly.com and a 3 If they tried hard and appear to understand the writing. I think a positive encouragement with specific points to how they can improve is sooooooooo much more helpful then taking points off and not saying why. I attach the grammarly report so they can see all they can improve next time but I don’t chastise them for it. Do you have all your essays on here I would like to see how someone else feels about the class xoxo thank you for this post

    • Louise Taylor says:

      Hello Hillary.

      Peer review can be frustrating and I never did manage an elusive 6. All my essays on on this blog. I hope you find them useful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: