a critical reading of EITHER Hard Times OR Heart of Darkness. – Savvy Essay Writers | savvyessaywriters.net
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Select ONE of the following quotations and use it to develop a critical reading of EITHER Hard Times OR Heart of Darkness. Your critical reading should consider the interwoven roles of space, time, and technology in the making of empire. Use the quotation to frame an analysis of a specific aspect of the novel to balance an inside and outside view of British empire-building in the 19th century.
PLEASE do not summarize the plot or restate your chosen quotation in its entirety. You need to carefully connect elements of your quote with elements of the novel. We assume you have read the novel and we do not need you to tell us what happens. Your job on this assignment is to demonstrate your understanding of empire by applying your understanding of a theoretical text (ie a quotation from Scott or Thompson) to a fictional text that is grounded in history (ie specific parts of Hard Times OR Heart of Darkness): we expect you to work with the quotation THROUGHOUT your essay, using it to examine specific examples of language, action, scene, and/or character. So long as you apply the selected quotation from beginning to end of your essay, it is possible to write an excellent essay by working with one or two carefully chosen paragraphs or pages from the novel.
Quotations (choose one of the following)
From James Scott’s Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale UP, 1998:
Certain forms of knowledge and control require a narrowing of vision. The great advantage of such tunnel vision is that it brings into sharp focus certain limited aspects of an otherwise far more complex and unwieldy reality. This very simplification, in turn, makes the phenomenon at the center of the field of vision more legible and hence more susceptible to careful measurement and calculation. Combined with similiar observations, an overall, aggregate, synoptic view of a selective reality is achieved, making possible a high degree of schematic knowledge, control, and manipulation (Scott 11).
If the natural world, however shaped by human use, is too unwieldy in its “raw” form for administrative manipulation, so too are the actual social patterns of human interaction with nature bureaucratically indigestible in their raw forms. No administrative system is capable of representing any existing social community except through a heroic and greatly schematized process of abstraction and simplification. It is not simply a question of capacity, although, like a forest, a human community is surely far too complicated and variable to easily yield its secrets to bureaucratic formulae. It is also a matter of purpose (Scott 22).
From E. P. Thompson’s “Time Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Past & Present, No. 38 (Dec., 1967), pp 56-97:
Three points may be proposed about task-orientation. First, there is a sense in which it is more humanly comprehensible than timed labour. The peasant or labourer appears to attend upon what is an observed necessity. Second, a community in which task-orientation is common appears to show least demarcation between “work” and “life”. Social intercourse and labour are intermingled – the working-day lengthens or contracts according the task – and there is no great sense of conflict between labour “passing the time of day”. Third, to men accustomed to labour timed by the clock, this attitude to labour appears to be wasteful lacking in urgency (Thompson 60).
It is not only that the highly-developed and technically-alert manufacturing industries (and the way-of-life supported by them) of France or England in the eighteenth century can only by semantic torture be described as “pre-industrial”. (And such a description opens the door to endless false analogies between societies at greatly differing economic levels). It is also that there has never been any single type of “the transition.” The stress of the transition falls upon the whole culture: resistance to change and assent to change arise from the whole culture. And this culture includes the systems of power, property-relations, religious institutions, etc., inattention to which merely flattens phenomena and trivializes analysis. Above all, the transition is not to “industrialism” tout court but to industrial capitalism or (in the twentieth century) to alternative systems whose features are still indistinct. What we are examining here are not only changes in manufacturing technique which demand greater synchronization of labour and a greater exactitude in time-routines in any society; but also these changes as they were lived through in the society of nascent industrial capitalism. We are concerned simultaneously with time-sense in its technological conditioning, and with time-measurement as a means of labour exploitation (Thompson 80).
What needs to be said is not that one way of life is better than the other, but that this is the place of the most far-reaching conflict; that the historical record is not a simple one of neutral and inevitable technological change, but is also one of exploitation and of resistance to exploitation; and that values stand to be lost as well as gained (Thompson 93-94).
If men are to meet both the demands of a highly-synchronized and of a highly-synchronized automated industry, and of greatly enlarged areas of “free time”, they must somehow combine in a new synthesis elements of the old and the new, finding an imagery based neither upon the seasons nor upon the market but upon human occasions. Punctuality in working hours would express respect for one’s fellow workmen. And unpurposive passing of time would be behaviour which the culture approved.
It can scarcely find approval among those who see the history of “industrialization” in seemingly-neutral but, in fact, profoundly value-loaded terms, as one of increasing rationalization in the service of economic growth. The argument is at least as old as the industrial revolution. Dickens saw the emblem of Thomas Gradgrind (“ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to”) as the “deadly statistical closk” in his observatory, “which measured every second with a beat like a rap upon a coffin-lid”. But rationalism has grown new sociological dimensions since Gradgrind’s time. It was Werner Sombart who — using the same favourite image of the Clockmaker — replaced the God of mechanical materialism by the Entrepreneur: “If modern economic rationalism is like the mechanism must be there to wind it up.” The universities of the West are today thronged with academic clocksmiths, anxious to patent new keys (Thompson 96).
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