Saturday, October 28, 2006

Deep Fried Coke?

Because we don't already have enough fried foods
Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:34am ET

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters Life!) - A new fast food is making its debut at U.S. fairs this fall -- fried Coke.
Abel Gonzales, 36, a computer analyst from Dallas, tried about 15 different varieties before coming up with his perfect recipe -- a batter mix made with Coca-Cola syrup, a drizzle of strawberry syrup, and some strawberries.
Balls of the batter are then deep-fried, ending up like ping-pong ball sized doughnuts which are then served in a cup, topped with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry on the top.
"It tastes great," said Sue Gooding, a spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas where Gonzales' fried Coke made its debut this fall. "It was a huge success."
Gonzales ran two stands at the State Fair of Texas and sold up to 35,000 fried Cokes over 24 days for $4.50 each -- and won a prize for coming up with "most creative" new fair food.
Now other fairs in North Carolina and Arizona are following the trend, and other people are trying to emulate Gonzales' recipe.
Gonzales gave no indication of the calories in his creation and said he would not patent it.
"The best I can hope for is that it's the original and hopefully the best fried Coke out there," he said.
But Gonzales said the success of his fried Coke had inspired him. Next year's fair-goers can look forward to fried Sprite or -- for those watching their weight -- fried diet Coke.
"We are trying to cut a lot of the sugar out of it. It has less calories but it's still very, very sweet," he said.
Ray Crockett, a spokesman for Coca-Cola Co., said: "We're constantly amazed at the creative ways folks find to enjoy their Coke and make it part of celebrations like fairs and festivals. This is one is definitely different!"

Friday, October 20, 2006

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses, and with eglantine.

- A Midsummer Night's Dream II.i.259-262

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I was walking home from the video store the other day [side rant - why decide to stock a series and then only have the store purchase the first two discs!!?], turned the corner and just down the path were two coppers threatening what looked like one of the streetbums that hangs around the shops. I don't what the hel he was supposed to have done but they had something pulled him on him, whether it was mace or a taser I don't know. They grabbed him, slammed him against a brick wall and put handcuffs on him before one of them started searching through his bag. As I was trying to decide how to get past them and get home, without looking like a bloody rubbernecker, another police car swings up. I ended up walking down the berm so that I wouldn't get in the way - which proved wise as an undercover cop car suddenly screeches off the road and drives up the pavement! It seemed a little overzealous for one guy.... I'm left wondering now what the hell he was supposed to have done. I'm hoping he's some kind of violent offender being removed from our streets rather than someone who got hungry and shoplifted from Foodtown one time too many...

Pub Quiz

We've been going along to a pub quiz for the past couple of weeks now; it's a bit of a lark and it's nice to acquire new if not necessarily applicable facts. Last week we were right at the absolute bottom of the pack and did shockingly. We were in utter shock this week therefore when we saw our team rise up to 3rd place after one of the rounds. A fluke! we told ourselves and regretted that the cellphone camera wasn't of suitable quality to capture our moment. The teams slid fluidly around each other for a few more rounds and we realized with shock that we'd made 2nd place! By the end of the quiz we'd tied for 3rd, and Gareth won the tiebreaker for us :) It's an adult pub, rather than a student one, so the prizes aren't huge but it was still fantastic to know that a) we'd placed and b) we'd had two rounds of perfect scoring :) One of which was Ben's sudden epihany about a film called 'On Golden Pond'; he'd never heard of it before, we'd never heard of it before but it was the right answer :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nazi Propaganda - Final History essay - yay!

A wise man will build his house upon strong foundations, or, to word the proverb in a different way, a wise leader will build his political power upon strong and existing beliefs. Historians have questioned how an obscure Austrian beer-hall agitator could become the leader of a great nation and possess the support of many of the German people; others have gone on to question how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party retained this support, genuine or assumed, first during peace and then during war.[1] Jay Baird argues that an intrinsic part of the Nazi Party’s success was the ability of its leaders, primarily Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, to merge the themes of traditional German biases and patriotism with Nazi ideological motifs.[2] By anchoring National Socialist ideology upon existing German beliefs, the Nazis hoped to legitimise their regime, to create acceptance for ideologically based policies that would become increasingly radical as time passed, and to make the concepts of the National Socialist state and the German nation virtually indistinguishable in the minds of the public. These aims were still of vital importance on 1 September 1939 when World War II began and so was the propaganda that could be used to achieve them. Words alone cannot win a war, propaganda takes its place among other considerations such as military might, resources, production, and tactical strategy; propaganda can, however, help to ensure that a war remains focussed on external enemies and military success (or failure) rather than being undermined by active resistance at home. The identification between public and state that Nazi propaganda sought to create during the years of peace was a key factor in ensuring, during the war, that while support for Hitler and the regime would crumble, it did not collapse entirely.

When Hitler wrote Mein Kampf [My Struggle] he believed that propaganda was an essential means of attracting support for a regime and achieving at least passive recognition and understanding of its ideological aims.[3] It could be used to gain the heart of the masses and, ultimately, to win increasing numbers of active advocates who were willing to fight for and defend the ideology that the regime represented.[4] Accordingly, when Hitler came to power he created the Ministry of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment [the RMVP] under the direction of Joseph Goebbels.[5] In his inaugural speech, Goebbels explained to the press that the function of the Ministry was to create an open dialogue between the people and the state.[6] The Ministry’s name reflected the new government’s desire to do more than simply enlighten the populace by providing information; it also wanted to instruct people how to interpret this information, so that government decisions could be easily understood.[7] By educating the populace about the aspirations and actions of the Nazi regime, the RMVP hoped to stimulate a genuine sympathy for and belief in Nazi ideology that, in the long-term, could translate into active participation in achieving the regime’s goals.[8]

The message underlying Goebbels’ speech, however, was that propaganda is the “deliberate and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions and direct behaviour to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”[9] Propaganda does not necessarily require misinformation or lies but it does require a selective filtering of the truth and the use of appropriate biases; Goebbels’ speech was an example of state policy being presented as benefiting the people although it was the Nazis that were really the intended beneficiaries. In order to maximise the Party’s influence over the German public, Goebbels sought to centralise ideological and actual control of German media under the RMVP.[10] Propaganda is most effective when it is able to create a common cognitive environment; in this way certain ideas or values become so consistently prevalent that they can become internalised and appear normal.[11] By regulating the content of the German media to present a consistent, cohesive ideology and banning alternative or critical viewpoints, it was possible for the RMVP to influence belief often on an unconscious level.[12] For instance, the film Jud Süss (1940), with its anti-Semitic theme, carried an obvious propagandist message but the light-hearted romances and comedies that made up the majority of German films produced under the Nazis had to pass equally stringent censorship.[13] These films, produced for entertainment, seemed to audiences to lack overt propagandist themes but they still selectively reinforced the social and economic order desired by the Nazis, for instance by endorsing marriage or romanticising military life.[14]

The Nazi ideology present in these films, and elsewhere in the German media, did not significantly change when war began, however, the necessity of reacting to changing circumstances did mean that ideological themes could be adjusted, suppressed or expanded in their scope. The function of Nazi propaganda during the war was still to integrate individuals within a National Socialist ideology and to create support for governmental policies and actions. Aristotle Kallis argues that integration can be psychologically achieved through positive or negative ideological themes; the first appeals to desire and the latter creates fear.[15] Nazi propaganda prior to the war had used both positive and negative integration but had predominantly focussed on the former.[16] When war broke out, it was necessary to adjust these negative integration themes to new circumstances. The Nazi-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression meant that it was no longer advisable to include anti-Bolshevik themes in German media, however, as anti-Bolshevism was considered a key part of Nazi ideology, the media was not permitted to speak positively of the Soviets either.[17] Instead, propaganda focussed on France, a traditional enemy, and plutocratic Britain as being stirred against Germany by international Jewry; the anti-Semitism used to link Germany’s enemies also linked the negative themes of wartime propaganda to those propagated pre-war.[18] Constancy in propaganda was also assured by Germany’s military successes in the early years of the war; as in peace, the RMVP was able to focus on positive integration and was able to gain support for the war through reinforcing positive ideological themes.[19]

The government’s awareness that the populace did not desire war meant that domestic propaganda produced by the RMVP carefully portrayed each new offensive strategy as being defensive.[20] The Wehrmacht’s [Armed Forces] actions were presented as pre-emptive counterattacks against strong enemies poised to assault Germany, rather than as aggressive manoeuvres.[21] War was shown as an unfortunate necessity but one that could greatly benefit Germany and her people. In this way war was linked to the positive ideological themes promoted during peace; Germany would fight to defend itself and at the same time could win additional lebensraum (living space) and glory.[22] In 1942, Goebbels wrote in his weekly article for Das Reich that the “limitless fields of the east” contained enough corn to feed Germany and all of Europe; the war would allow Germany to gain fresh fertile lands and vital resources with which to support itself.[23] The necessity of Germany’s territorial expansion was linked to Nazi racial myths of Aryan physical and cultural superiority. [24] Germany’s mission as culture-bearers, passively promoted during peace was promoted as being actualised during the war.[25]

The RMVP united the different themes of positive integration exhibited in domestic propaganda within two focal points.[26] The first of these was the greater German Volk [people]; the concept of Volksgemeinschaft, a united people working together for a common cause and for mutual benefit, was central to Nazi ideology both prior to and during the war.[27] Propaganda campaigns, such as the ‘One Pot Supper’ and Winterhilfesspende [Winter Aid], that involved mass participation were considered by the regime as symbols of having successfully created a National Socialist society that cared for its members and could work together to build a better future.[28] The second of these focal points, which the concept of the Volk was subjugated to, was Germany’s Führer [leader], Adolf Hitler. Ian Kershaw has written extensively about the creation of the ‘Hitler myth’, which began in the late 1920s.[29] Nazi propaganda spent years prior to the war creating Hitler as a mythic symbol; he was presented as a saviour, prophet, statesman, and father to the people.[30] During the early years of the war all military successes were attributed to his personal genius and he was described as a brilliant military leader.[31] The RMVP’s aim to combine the Nazi Socialist state and Germany as a nation into a single, indivisible concept in the minds of the people was reflected in propaganda that described the armed forces as “soldier(s) of Adolf Hitler” who were “ready to fight and die for the Führer”; Germany and Hitler had become interchangeable terms in German media.[32]

Unfortunately, the ideas of the Führer and victory also became indivisible in the minds of the public.[33] This proved problematic when, from the fall of Stalingrad in 31 January 1943, the war began to turn against Germany and victory no longer appeared certain.[34] Hitler’s decision to go to war with the Soviet Union, on 22 June 1941, would prove to be a decisive turning point in the war; mismanagement of military strategy, ultimately, led to German forces failing to control the Eastern Front, allowing Soviet troops to advance on Germany. In turn, mismanagement of propaganda strategies relating to the Eastern Front, compounded by later military failures, resulted in a growing estrangement between the regime and the German people.[35] The announcement of war with the Soviet Union mirrored earlier aggressive actions, the Soviets were portrayed as traitors who had been preparing to strike at Germany and when Hitler discovered this, a pre-emptive strike had been ordered.[36] The RMVP was now able to renew anti-Bolshevist themes, however, there were differences of opinion as to how these themes should be expressed.[37] Some within the Nazi Party, such as Goebbels, wanted Germany to be presented as a liberator of the ‘oppressed Eastern peoples’, others, such as Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, saw Germany as liberating land and resources from their racial inferiors, who were only suitable as slaves.[38] This resulted in the RMVP producing propaganda that lacked consistency.[39] The Soviets were portrayed as subhuman, bestial, torturers who deserved to be destroyed but also as a suffering people in primitive conditions that required German assistance.[40]

The inconsistencies within portrayals of the Soviets, and other Eastern peoples, were highlighted by the growing opportunities for the German people to interact with them.[41] Thousands of people considered to be of ‘inferior racial stock’ were brought into German controlled lands to be used as workers, predominantly on farms.[42] Those working with them soon realized that rather than meeting inferiors, they were meeting intelligent, hard-workers who often shared the same religious beliefs as them.[43] On the Eastern Front, soldiers were realizing that they were fighting soldiers as determined, intelligent and well-equipped as themselves.[44] Propaganda works best in an environment where alternative information is not available to contradict it. As the war continued, increasingly events in people’s lives were revealing information supplied by the RMVP to be false, overly confident, or inadequate.[45] This was not merely true of the Eastern Front; as bombing raids of German cities intensified, it became progressively apparent that the Luftwaffe [German Airforce] was inadequate to protect Germany from air attacks by the English and Americans.[46] Internal reports indicate there was a growing concern within the Nazi Party that state propaganda was being actively questioned by the public and compared with information obtained from other sources.[47] Morale reports, formulated by the Sicherheitsdienst [Secret Service],[48] showed that repeated delays in announcing important events occurring during the war, vague information and a fear that the government was couching setbacks within optimistic phrases prompted the public to turn to rumours, letters from soldiers, and foreign radio reports for additional information with which to form their own judgements on the war situation.[49]

As public distrust in state media increased and the German military moved, largely, onto a defensive footing, propaganda produced by the RMVP shifted from focusing primarily on positive themes to negative integration.[50] The Nazi government needed to retain at least the passive support of the populace; it needed the factories to keep producing and the soldiers to keep fighting.[51] In the final years of the war, propaganda emphasising the mythic status of Hitler and the Nazi state was intensified.[52] Despite shortages and poor working conditions, as film supplies ran out and infrastructure was destroyed by bombing raids, new films were produced that promoted Germany’s great destiny or compared Hitler with Frederick the Great, whose visionary leadership saved the Germans from defeat.[53] The government was aware, however, that support for the Nazis, and even for Hitler, was deteriorating, as victory seemed increasingly unlikely.[54] Therefore, as the Soviets began to move towards Germany, domestic propaganda sought to retain the obedience of the public through fear of the enemy.[55]

When the RMVP was first created in 1933, Goebbels expressed a desire to genuinely win the support of the German public for the Nazi Party and its ideology. In the final years of the war he was forced to realize that this no longer seemed possible, however, even if they did not love the regime it was necessary that they obey it.[56] Nazi propaganda had spent years building in the public’s mind the association of state and nation; the Nazi Party was equated with Germany itself and Nazi ideological motifs had been merged with traditional German patriotism.[57] The RMVP actively sought to remind the public that their external enemies also equated the Nazi Party with Germany. Goebbels advised that the new message that was to be present in domestic media was that ‘no matter what an individual German’s attitude was to National Socialism, everybody would have their throat cut if Germany were defeated;’ the consequences of defeat would effect everyone, not only Nazis.[58]

The RMVP began producing large amounts of propaganda detailing the atrocities committed by Soviets against those their army encountered; this ranged from accounts of the Katyn Massacre, to assaults on German non-combatants as the Soviets reached German occupied areas.[59] The aim was to produce a sense of terror within the population and a determination to continue fighting, whatever the cost, because the alternative was too horrifying to consider.[60] Years of being exposed to anti-Bolshevist propaganda, combined with the very real threat that Soviet troops posed, made the German population particularly receptive to these terror tactics.[61] Goebbels believed that if the German people were not willing to fight to defend the Nazi regime, then they would have to be convinced that they were fighting for their lives and Germany’s continued existence.[62] The Soviets, English, and Americans, unified by international Jewry, were presented as a combined enemy force determined to destroy Germany.[63] The threat these countries represented, and the fear resulting from it, was designed to unify the German people and keep them focussed on these external enemies, rather than looking inwards and potentially challenging the regime itself.

In 1945, Germany was forced to surrender to the superior military forces of the Allied nations, however, this surrender was significantly different to that offered in 1918. Despite the death of key leaders, such as Hitler, the government that surrendered was one run by Nazis; there was no revolution or domestic crisis that prompted the surrender.[64] The RMVP cannot be said to have been fully successful in its aims. When the war ended, the Nazi Party was not loved and Hitler’s cult-like status had greatly deteriorated.[65] It was only in the final year of the war that domestic propaganda was completely centralised and run along unified themes determined by the RMVP.[66] Prior to that the RMVP suffered, as did all the ministries, from the competitive conflict and duality of responsibilities that Hitler promoted in state-run bureaucracies.[67] Propaganda issued by the RMVP, for instance through the radio, could be contradicted by press releases authorised by Otto Dietrich, as Reich Press Chief and adjutant to Hitler.[68] Similarly, the daily communiqué issued by the Wehrmacht and edited personally by Hitler, often took a different, and far more positive, approach to interpreting events than did the RMVP.[69] As the war progressed the German public increasingly sought information from non-state sources and actively questioned the information they received. Yet, despite it’s failure to retain the public’s trust the RMVP proved remarkably effective in producing propaganda that integrated Germans into a Nazi-led society.[70] This, to Hitler at least, was the ultimate definition of successful propaganda, that a society would remain committed to war as the years passed and continue to turn its guns towards external enemies.[71]

The reasons explaining why there was little active resistance, in terms of sabotage or open revolution, against the Nazi regime during World War II are complex.[72] The war remains a sensitive issue in the psyche of those nations that were affected by it. It is difficult to judge how objective personal reports of thoughts, feelings or actions during the war are; under the Nazi regime there was the possibility of being reported to officials if one’s opinions conflicted with Nazi ideology and aims, after the war there was the risk of being judged and condemned by an international audience. Examining those primary sources that are available and applying general psychology indicates that there was no single reason why the German people continued to serve the regime. Some would have genuinely believed in all, or part, of the Nazi Party’s ideology and aims, especially where they incorporated patriotism.[73] Others would have gone to work, despite the bombed infrastructure and lack of transport, to retain some semblance of normality in their lives.[74] Some would have feared the consequences of failure and invasion by enemy troops.[75] Others would have feared the repercussions if they were caught acting against the regime and would have hoped to survive by simply remaining inconspicuous.[76] It is my belief, however, that the propaganda produced by the RMVP, during the years of peace and of war, did have a cumulative effect on the population and was a significant factor in causing the German people to appear to offer at least passive support to the Nazi regime until the end of the war.[77]

[1] Richard F. Schier, [Review] ‘Hitler: A Study in Tyranny’, The Western Political Quarterly, vol.6, no.3, September 1953, pp.573-5.
As the focus of this essay is on the relationship between the Nazi regime and the German people, I will be confining the essay to a consideration of domestic propaganda. I recognise that one function of the Reich Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, a function that it shared with other ministries, was that of foreign propaganda. However, a full discussion of Nazi foreign propaganda, including its purposes, methods, effectiveness and limitations is outside the scope of this brief examination of Nazi propaganda.
[2] Jay W. Baird, The Mythical World of Nazi War Propaganda 1939-1945, Minneapolis, 1974, p.4.
[3] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim and intro. D.C. Watt, London, 1992, reprint, 2001, p.529.
[4] Hitler, pp.164-7, 529.
[5] The Reichministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda [Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda], commonly abbreviated to the RMVP, was created in March 1933 after Hitler had become Chancellor.
[6] Goebbels, Joseph, ‘Speech to representatives of the press on the tasks of the Ministry for Propaganda,’ 15 March 1933, in: David Welch, The Third Reich. Politics and Propaganda, 2nd edn, London and New York, 1993, reprint 2002, p.177.
[7] Ibid. p.174.
[8] Ibid. p.173.
[9]Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, Propaganda and persuasion, 2nd edn., Calif, 1992, p. 4.
[10] Aristotle Kallis and David Welch both offer excellent overviews of the regulation and consolidation of the German media, during the 1930s, by the RMVP.
Aristotle A. Kallis, ‘Chapter 1: Propaganda, ‘Co-ordination’ and ‘Centralisation’: The Goebbels Network in Search of a Total Empire’, Nazi Propaganda and the Second World War, Houndmills and New York, 2005, pp.17-40.
David Welch, ‘Chapter 3: Restructuring the means of communication’, The Third Reich. Politics and Propaganda, 2nd edn, London and New York, 1993, reprint 2002, pp.28-57.
[11] Kallis, p.2.
[12] For instance, the Editor’s Law, 4 October 1933, required all newspaper editors to be German citizens, classified as Aryans, and prohibited them from producing newspapers that criticized the regime; they were effectively turned into state censors.
‘Editor’s Law’, 4 October 1933, in: Welch, pp.191-3.
[13] Jud Süss, dir. Veit Harlan, Terra-Filmkunst, 1940. Welch, p.55.
[14] Welch, p.55.
[15] Kallis, pp.64-70.
[16] Welch, pp.60-72.
Norbert Frei, ‘People’s Community and War: Hitler’s Support,’ The Third Reich: Between Vision and Reality. New Perspectives on German History 1919-1945, (ed.) Hans Mommsen, Oxford and New York, 2001, pp.63-4.
[17] The Nazi-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression was signed on 23 August 1939 and was in effect till 22 June 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
Jeremy Noakes, (ed.), Nazism 1919-1945. Volume 4, The German Home Front in World War 11. A Documentary Reader, Devon, 1998, p.473-4. Kallis, p.76.
[18] At the beginning of the war Goebbels issued directives for the media to link France, Britain and the Jews as warmongers who wished to limit German freedom. The media were to show that it was necessary for Germany to defend itself and prevent further shameful restrictions like those contained in the Treaty of Versailles. ‘Conference Notes’, 17 September 1939, in: Noakes, p.471.
Baird, pp.98, 116-7, 120-1. Kallis, pp.72-6.
[19] Ernest K. Bramsted, Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda, 1925-1945, East Lansing, 1965, p.233. Noakes, p.466. Welch, pp.124-5.
[20]For instance, newspaper articles about the outbreak of war describe Germany as desiring peace but being forced to defend itself against envious enemy nations planning to suppress German military and economic development. Dr F., ‘Warum und wofür?’, Die Wehrmacht, vol.3, no.19, 1939, p.2, in: German Propaganda Archive, (accessed 13 October 2006). Joseph Goebbels, "Englands Schuld," [England’s Guilt] Illustrierter Beobachter, Sondernummer, 1939, p. 14, in: German Propaganda Archive, (accessed 13 October 2006).
Welch, p.117. Kallis, p.72.
[21] During Goebbels’ daily media conferences he issued directives emphasising that Germany must be shown to be defending itself and must not be portrayed as an aggressor as they were during World War I. ‘Conference Notes’, 11 May 1940, in: Willi A. Boelcke, (ed.), and Ewald Osers (trans.), The Secret Conferences of Dr. Goebbels. The Nazi Propaganda Way, 1939-43, New York, 1970, p.40. Baird, p.42.
[22] Noakes, p.466.
[23] Joseph Goebbels, ‘[Article title not supplied]’, Das Reich, 31 May 1942, n.pag., in: Noakes, p.486.
Bramsted, p.255-6.
[24] Kallis, p.65.
[25] For instance, Goebbels in a public speech described the occupation of Czechoslovakia as being part of a larger plan to reorganize, reinvigorate and unify Europe. Germany’s advanced culture would be shared with those around them and German might would protect Europe from attack, for instance by the English.
Goebbels, Joseph, ‘The Coming Europe’, 11 September 1940, in: "Das kommende Europa. Rede an die tschechischen Kulturschaffenden und Journalisten," Die Zeit ohne Beispiel, Munich, 1941, pp. 314-323, in: Randall Bytwerk (trans.), German Propaganda Archive, (accessed 13 October 2006).
[26] Welch, p.18.
[27] Kallis, p.65.
[28] The ‘One Pot’ Meal campaign encouraged Germans to have one single-course meal each week so that they would be better able to give to welfare. The Winter Aid campaign in 1941 called upon every individual to support German soldiers on the Eastern Front by donating winter clothing and equipment.
Frei, p.65. Baird, p.173. Welch, p.72.
[29] Ian Kershaw, The ‘Hitler Myth’: Image and Reality in the Third Reich, Oxford, 1987.
[30] Ibid. pp.41, 80. Welch, pp.107-116.
[31] For instance, the poem ‘Der Führer in Compiègnè’, published in 1940, after the successful invasion of France, portrays Hitler as a great leader guiding Germany towards eternal glory. ‘Der Führer in Compiègnè’, 1940, in: Welch, p.125. Bramsted, p.219.
[32] Ritgen, Wilhelm, ‘Legacy’, Das heldische Jahr. Front und Heimat berichten den Krieg, (eds.) Wilfrid Bade and Wilmont Haake, Berlin, 1941, in: German Propaganda Archive, (accessed 13/10/06). [The book collates ninety-seven German newspaper articles on the war that were first published during 1940.]
Kershaw, The ‘Hitler Myth’: Image and Reality in the Third Reich, pp.151-2.
[33] Bramsted,, p.225.
[34] Bramsted, p.289.
[35] Baird, pp.205-6. Kallis, p.81. Noakes, p.537.
[36] Baird, p.152, 174.
[37] Kallis, p.76.
[38] Baird, pp.157-161. Welch, p.131.
[39] Z.A.B. Zeman, Nazi Propaganda, 2nd edn., London and New York, 1973, pp.162-3.
Welch, p.131.
[40] Baird, pp.158-161.
[41] Welch, pp.134-5.
[42] Noakes, p.540.
[43] S.D. report, 20 July 1942, H. Boberach, ed., Meldungen aus dem Reich. Die geheimen Lageberichte des Sicherheitsdiensts der SS 1938-1945, Herrsching, 1984, p.286-9, in: Ian Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, Bavaria 1933-1945, Oxford, 1983, p.288.
S.D. report, 17 August 1942, Boberach (ed.), pp.3089-3090, in: Noakes, pp.539-540.
[44] Noakes, p.540.
[45] Morale reports formulated by the Sicherheitsdienst [Secret Service] speak of the German public’s frustration when state information did not seem to accurately represent events, for instance by being overly optimistic. S.D. report, 7 October 1941, in: Welch, p.126.
[46] Baird, p.127, 132. Welch, p.145.
[47] Party Chancellory summary of Gau reports for 7-20 March 1943, BAB NS 6/414, in: Jeremy Noakes, (ed.), Nazism 1919-1945. Volume 4, The German Home Front in World War 11. A Documentary Reader, Devon, 1998, pp.546-8.
[48] The Sicherheitsdienst were an intelligence-gathering arm of Himmler’s Secret Service. Gruppenführer Otto Ohlendorf, who edited the S.D. reports, is attributed as ensuring the reports were characterized by an honesty that was uncommon in the Nazi state. Baird describes their reports as objective assessments of public opinion, despite being written by members of the Nazi Party, due to their willingness to offer criticism of the regime even when this incurred official disfavour.
Baird, p.39.
[49] S.D. report, 22 January 1942, Boberach (ed.), pp.3195-6, in: Noakes, pp.537-8.
Baird, pp.38, 133, 153-4, 179, 200, 203. Kallis, p.131, 137-8.
[50] Bramsted, p.316. Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, Bavaria 1933-1945, p.385. Welch, p.143.
Although anti-Semitism was present in these themes of negative integration, the Jews were presented as a malevolent force in the background while the Soviets were focussed on as the actual danger and represented the threat of physical violence. I have focussed, therefore, on the RMVP’s use of the Soviet threat to control the population, rather than on racial propaganda and policies relating to the Jews which require an essay of their own to receive adequate consideration.
[51] One critic of Goebbels, a staff member of the RMVP, commented after the war that he felt that Gestapo terror was not sufficient by itself to keep munition workers in the factories or to keep production at a high intensity; his personal opinion was that propaganda had played a large role in successfully keeping the factories operating.
W. Stephan, Joseph Goebbels: Dämon einer Diktatur, Stuttgart, 1949, pp.271-272, in: Bramsted, p.357.
[52] Baird, p.241. Bramsted, p.227.
[53] Kallis, pp.150, 193, 199-201. Noakes, pp.505-6.
[54] S.D. reports commented on increasing criticism of the Nazi Party in the later years of the war, for instance in: S.D. report, 8 July 1943, Boberach (ed.), pp.5446ff, in: Noakes, p.117. Kallis, pp.4-5.
[55] Baird, p.194. Kallis, pp.89-90.
[56] Kallis, pp.4-5.
[57] Baird, p.4. Welch, 9.
[58]A month later Goebbels added that the public must be corrected of the idea that the Bolsheviks would only hang Nazis. ‘Conference Notes’, 21 January 1943 and 17 February 1943, in: Boelcke, pp.319, 333.
[59] In 1943 mass graves were discovered in the Katyn Forest, near Germany. The graves contained the bodies of thousands of Polish citizens and officers. Nazi propaganda used the discovery to instil fear in German citizens living near the border that the Soviets would commit similar atrocities against them. Baird, p.194. Bramsted, pp.328-9.
[60] Bramsted, p.249, 316.
[61] Noakes, pp.638-9.
[62] Goebbel’s speech advocating ‘total war’ is one example of RMVP produced propaganda that describes the threat of Soviet destruction or enslavement of Germany. Goebbels, Joseph, ‘Nation, Rise Up and Let the Storm Break Loose’, [radio speech], 18 February 1943, in: German Propaganda Archive, (accessed 29 August 2006).
Baird, pp.246-7.
[63]In representing these enemies, Nazi propaganda drew upon existing biases within German society, for instance anti-Bolshevism and anti-liberalism. Baird, p.194, 201. Kallis, pp.70-1.
[64] Noakes, p.637.
[65]Ian Kershaw argues that the extent of belief in Hitler, which built up in the years prior to 1940, helped to mitigate disillusionment and greatly slowed a decline in his popularity. Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, Bavaria 1933-1945, p.171. Welch, p.146. Kallis, p.148.
[66] In June 1944 Goebbels gained the power to veto Otto Dietrich’s daily press directives but conflict between the men continued until 30 March 1945, when Hitler fired Dietrich.
Baird, p.31.
[67] Kallis, pp.7-9, 39.
[68] Rudolf Semmler, a staff member at the RMVP commented in his journal about the conflict between directives issued by Goebbels and by Dietrich, and how their personal standing with Hitler affected which directive was obeyed. Rudolf Semmler, 13 March 1943, Goebbels – the man next to Hitler, with an introduction by D. McLachlan and notes by G.S. Wagner, London, 1947, p.74.
Baird, p.166-7. Kallis, p.112.
[69] Baird, p.32. Welch, p.118.
[70] Noakes, 507.
[71] Hitler, p.168.
[72] Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler. Consent and coercion in Nazi Germany, Oxford, 2001, p.224.
[73] Noakes, pp.638-9.
[74] Noakes, pp.640-1.
[75] Jeremy Noakes argues that propaganda was highly influential in this respect. Noakes, pp.638-9. Welch, p.155.
[76] By the end of 1943 terror related not only to external enemies but also to Himmler’s secret service agents such as the Schutzstaffeln [SS] and Gestapo; defeatists were denounced as traitors endangering all Germans and their deaths were publicly announced as deterrents. Ernest Bramsted argues, as does Noakes, that fear of the regime and fear of the Soviets meant that German citizens felt they had little option but to continue in the war effort. Bramsted, p.275. Noakes, pp.639-40.
Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, Bavaria 1933-1945, p.295-6.
[77] Welch, p.158. Kallis, p.213, 223. Noakes, pp.638-9.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright.
Through the transparent bosom of the deep,
As doth thy face through tears of mine give light.

-Love's Labour's Lost IV.iii.7

Damn that weed!

Troops battle 10-foot marijuana plants
Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:50am ET

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet-high marijuana plants.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.
"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.
Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.
One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

You know that you're stressed when it seems like too much pressure to save a Word document under the title 'assignment' - after all, what if you come back to it the next day, decide that it's utter crap and begin from scratch in a totally different way (been there, done that)? With major assignments (Stage III and at the 50% mark) due pretty much every week I've gradually moved from saving files as assignments to drafts to thoughts and finally, nervously, to simply 'Document 2'. I've also decided that I'm thankful that I chose English as my major and not history as it's far easier to write an English assignment. Drawing on other people's opinions is a good thing but ultimately it's all about your own and you can stubbornly criticise the very subjective arguments of others. History on the other hand is far more touchy, it, after all, makes the attempt at claiming to be objective. There's the illusory grail at the end of everything - that promise of truth and 'what actually happened'. Which is partially correct and partially bollocks as everything is subjective and some are more subjective than others. Nazi Germany is one of those things. It's still far too fresh, recent, and provocative for one to approach this still bleeding wound in western civilisation's mental psche without being very, very cautious. Each word has to be justified with care and can prompt a divergent discourse on a completely different, but still associated, historiographical debate. I had naively thought that writing my final essay on propaganda would be easy, especially having covered it in various political parties. The problem with living history is that the analytical and theoretical approach that my Political paper advocated doesn't go down particularly well. There is still a very real sense that any argument made effects the way that you are seen to view the much larger arguments - like the 'special fate' (Sonderweg) debate, or 'collective guilt', or the Holocaust. I'm beginning to feel that to do this essay justice I needed to research three seperate essay topics, since discussing the effectiveness of propaganda should almost inevitably lead to questions of race and resistance. Both of which were seperate essay topics of their own. Damn.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
- Umberto Eco

Monday, October 09, 2006

Essay for Adolescent Fiction - done, yay!

Fast-talking Dames and Beautiful Blondes: the representation of women in romantic comedy.

When a woman appears on screen, what the audience sees is not a woman in front of them but the representation of a woman. A series of choices have been consciously made as to how she will be filmed, for instance what camera angles will be used, what her appearance will be and what dialogue she will speak. Her portrayal in the film may depict the desired role of women in society, as perceived by the director or studio producers, or it may present an alternative image of femininity. Traditionally, ‘acceptable’ femininity has been portrayed by women who are passive, obedient, nurturing and who take care of their appearance; these are women who are wives, mothers and who receive desire rather than acting on their own.[1] In romantic comedy, however, gender roles are often playfully inverted enabling these films to explore the idea of confident, intelligent, active and sexually aware women.[2] On the other hand, the women in these films are considered atypical and the ideological threat that they represent is normally ‘contained’ by the films having a conservative ending that restores the gender balance.[3] Most commonly, the films uphold the values of society, by ending with a wedding, or the hope of a wedding.[4] They thus reaffirm one of the most traditional Western institutions and they imply that the woman, by becoming a wife, has been returned to the restrictive world of submissive domesticity.[5] As society changes, increasing numbers of feminist film critics are questioning whether the representation of women in film has altered or improved.[6] In examining modern representations of femininity, for instance in the adolescent films 10 Things I Hate About You or Legally Blonde, it is worth considering whether the images of women presented in earlier romantic comedies, such as Bringing Up Baby or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, are as conservative as they appear at first glance.[7]

During the 1930s Hollywood introduced a new kind of woman to American audiences, the ‘fast-talking dames’ of screwball [romantic] comedy.[8] These films combined the verbal repartee that the advent of sound allowed, with the physical slapstick popular in the silent films of the 1920s.[9] These films paired strong female protagonists with weak male partners; the normal gendered power dynamics were reversed and this generated part of these films’ pleasure and comedic value for audiences.[10] The charm of these heroines, like Katharine Hepburn’s Susan Vance in Bringing up Baby (1938), was their polysemous nature; they both endorsed conservative values of femininity and they questioned whether all of these were truly desirable.[11] Susan, in Bringing Up Baby, in some ways, portrays an ideal woman: she doesn’t work; she is nurturing; she is associated with childrearing, with her leopard, named Baby, symbolically representing the live child she can give David; and she wants to marry him. Susan’s free-spirited vibrancy, however, consistently resists restriction by conventionality and this is part of her appeal. For instance, Susan steals David’s golf ball, and his car, and then proceeds to lecture him on his use of the possessive pronoun when he rebukes her. The ball and the car are his but Susan’s word play illuminates the narcissism underlying his focus on ownership; although Susan will also become his at the end of the film it will be as a willing companion not as an objectified possession.[12] Susan’s active pursuit of David, as the object of her sexual choice, sets her apart from the passivity expected of women, as do her confident sexuality, vitality, spontaneity and sense of play but these prove to be positive qualities.[13] By teaching David to embrace the vitality of her worldview she saves him from the deadening sterility of his museum work displayed in the film’s opening scene.[14] Susan’s confidence and determination throughout Bringing Up Baby work to undermine the conservative elements of the film; the ending is not one forced upon her but one that she has actively brought about on her own terms.

The fast-paced wit of Hepburn’s Susan is strongly contrasted by the languid sensuality of Marilyn Monroe’s Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), but the two heroines have a great deal in common. Both of them are used to take familiar concepts associated with a patriarchally defined femininity and examine them in a new light. Wes Gehring argues that the promise of marriage that usually ends screwball romantic comedies detracts from the strength of the female protagonist and that these endings reassert a “man-above-woman world order.”[15] Susan, in Bringing Up Baby, however, shows that marriage can be about partnership rather than dominance. She endues David with her energetic sense of play and he offers her his stability, most notably at the end when he saves her from falling. At the end of the film Susan has not changed whereas David significantly has; the power of Susan’s confidence is to force the world to change around her.[16] In Gentleman Prefer Blondes, although Lorelei’s marital status alters she remains unabashedly the same; instead, she forces others, such as Mr Esmonde Sr., to alter their view of women to agree with her perspective.

The opening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ indulgence in opulent sensuality would, at first, seem to support Laura Mulvey’s feminist criticism of film. Mulvey argues that narrative cinema favours masculine pleasure by objectifying women and determining them as the passive receivers of the desiring male gaze.[17] Monroe’s Lorelei and Jane Russell’s Dorothy Shaw in their colour saturated red sequin dresses certainly offer an erotic spectacle that unifies the gaze of its diegetic and extra-diegetic male audiences.[18] The film, however, is ambivalent as to whether this male gaze is something to be condemned. Maria Pini recorded interviews in 1997 and 2001 where numerous young women spoke about the pleasure they took in cultivating a particularly sexualised appearance for clubbing. They emphasised that this did not represent a sexual invitation but rather was geared to their own pleasure at being looked at.[19] Similarly, Dorothy and Lorelei take pleasure in their attractiveness to men; the looks they receive add to their sense of empowerment. When they first attend dinner on the liner, the camera pulls back to a long-shot that shows they are controlling the space around them. They are aware of and invite the male gaze but they are simultaneously looking back.[20] This sense of self-awareness and of control is also present in the film’s ending. The film’s narrative indicates that Lorelei is aware that the capitalist society she lives in is designed to allow men, rather than women, to work and grow rich.[21] Lorelei uses her beauty and vocal talents to support herself but sees marriage as an alternative economic contract where she exchanges her beauty for male wealth. Although not a romantic idea, it was in part a realistic assessment of the opportunities available to women at the time; the validity of her economic understanding is seen in her convincing the pragmatic Mr Esmond Sr. to accept her worldview and allow her to marry his son.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was pragmatically aware that there was a gender imbalance in economic power present in society; however, Lorelei addresses this in the film by defending her right to capitalize upon the assets she has, her good looks. Lorelei, like Susan, represents a mix of traditional feminine values; her attention to her appearance and desire to marry appear conservative but the film portrays her as knowingly using these to her advantage and confidently asserting herself within a patriarchal society.[22] The world has moved on since Marilyn Monroe, there are new employment opportunities for women and the 1990s was a decade that recalled the height of feminism as the media filled with images and sounds promoting female empowerment.[23] Tizzy Asher and other feminist critics, however, argue that the fundamentals have not changed; women still live in a culture of heterosexual, patriarchal privilege that attempts to enforce traditional ideas of acceptable femininity.[24] The tension between conservative and revisionist representations of women in film has, therefore, continued although the setting has shifted to include the burgeoning youth market.

As the world’s population has, demographically, grown increasingly younger, Hollywood has increasingly sought to cultivate this potentially lucrative market.[25] In 1999, 10 Things I Hate About You brought Kat Stratford, played by Julia Stiles, to international fame. Wearing combat fatigues, reading feminist literature, listening to ‘Riot Grrrl’ rock, she could have been presented as a confident, articulate, intelligent young woman who unashamedly lived life according to her values.[26] Unfortunately, the film seems uncomfortable with the sassy woman it creates; the narrative more readily endorses beautiful Bianca who simply wants to be popular and enjoy her adolescence.[27] Critics examining femininity in 10 Things I Hate About You have encountered similar problems to those considering William Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew, on which the film is loosely based.[28] Michael Friedman argues that Kat is so rigidly antagonistic in her feminist ideology that she has significantly alienated herself from her peer group;[29] she is referred to as a “heinous bitch”, has possibly hospitalised a young man, and her feminist statements are so repetitive that Bianca can finish them for her. Friedman argues, therefore, that the conservative ending, which shows Kat wearing a skirt for the first time, being publicly vulnerable and breaking down crying over her love for Patrick, actually shows Kat moving towards a gentler feminism[30]. She has learned how to interact with others in a more personally fulfilling and rewarding way.[31] The problem with Friedman’s arguments is that he sees Kat’s violation of traditional gender roles as a fundamental problem in her character that the film must resolve by changing her. Kat is most reminiscent of Hepburn’s Susan when she plays paintball with Patrick; this scene better captures a sense of play, confidence and romantically interacting while remaining herself, than the ending does. Despite classroom banners advocating self-reliance rather than conformity, Kat alters to conform to her peers, far more than she changes the world around her.[32]

10 Things I Hate About You contains contradictory messages of what a modern young woman should be like. Kat is a far more conservative heroine than Susan or Lorelei, although she doesn’t appear so at the beginning of the film, unlike them she is remarkably passive and chooses to conform to a more acceptable femininity at the end of the film. Surprisingly, it is her sister Bianca, beautiful and manipulative, who is more consistently portrayed as self-assured, willing to aggressively pursue whatever, or whoever, she wants, and as capable of asserting herself against the patriarchal order.[33] Bianca represents a move towards what Melissa Klein calls ‘third-wave feminism’ where women claim their right to be both assertive and glamorous.[34] A few years later, in 2001, Legally Blonde offered an updated version of Bianca in the form of Elle Woods. Her character positively affirms the right of women to take society’s traditional expectations of them and make them their own, while simultaneously revising women’s role within society.

Elle Woods is beautiful, blonde, rich and her school’s homecoming queen; her looks and situation result in society expecting her to be vacuous and content to become a ‘society wife’.[35] The film doesn’t condemn women who choose to embrace this, like Elle’s friends Serena and Margot, but it does condemn those who judge others based on superficial appearances.[36] Elle is incredibly smart, yet even her love object, Warner, can’t see past her looks to the woman underneath and this prompts her to re-evaluate her goals.[37] Even in her moments of self-doubt, Elle is presented throughout the film as a woman supremely capable of forging her own way through society and retaining her unique sense of style and self while doing so. The film reclaims the idea that women’s interest in fashion, female friendships and the trivial are positive things.[38] It is Elle’s warm nature and belief in female solidarity that single her out in Professor Callahan’s legal team and allow her to discover Brooke’s innocence; additionally, it is her attention to ‘trivial’ details that wins Brooke’s case. In the courtroom Elle combines the familiar motifs of the ‘fast-talking dame’ and the ‘beautiful blonde’ to show that looks and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Nor are these shown to preclude love; her developing relationship with Emmett is one based upon mutual respect.[39] The film does end with the promise of a wedding but the adoring gaze Emmett directs at Elle recognises more than her beauty, it affirms her confidence in herself and her personal success as she graduates from Harvard Law School as the keynote speaker for her class.

Legally Blonde, like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, is pragmatic in the way it considers the representation of women in society and actively considers the way that women are perceived. Elle’s appearance, like Lorelei’s, invites the male gaze but the narrative indicates that this is for her own pleasure rather than being a sexual invitation.[40] Moreover, the narrative repeatedly focuses on the message that identity is a composite that involves more than just appearance. Through Elle and Professor Stromwell the film shows that beautiful women can be intelligent and intelligent women can have an interest in beauty.[41] Legally Blonde contains powerful female figures that have achieved independent financial success by believing in and remaining true to themselves, even when they encounter men like Callahan who will always see women as inferiors who should fetch their coffee. Legally Blonde, more than 10 Things I Hate About You, presents a revised femininity that draws upon past heroines, like Susan Vance and Lorelei Lee, while embracing the new opportunities available to women. It emphasises that women have the right to choose what values they embrace and that it is possible for women to achieve personal, economic, and romantic success without having to conform to the standards that others set them.

[1] Kathleen Rowe Karlyn, ‘ “Too Close for Comfort”: American Beauty and the Incest Motif,’ Cinema Journal, vol. 44, no.1, 2004, pp.69-93.
Tina Olsin Lent, ‘Romantic Love and Friendship: The Redefinition of Gender Relations in Screwball Comedy’, Classical Hollywood Comedy, (eds.) Kristine Brunovska Karnick and Henry Jenkins, New York: American Film Institute, 1995, p.317.
Matthews, Nicole, Comic Politics. Gender in Hollywood comedy after the new right, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000, p.80.
[2] Wes D. Gehring, Screwball Comedy. A Genre of Madcap Romance, New York: Greenwood Press, 1986, p.3.
[3] Lent, pp.315, 319.
[4] Gehring, p.155.
[5] Ibid. p.155.
[6] For instance in: Patricia Erens, (ed.), Issues in Feminist Film Criticism, Blommington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
[7] 10 Things I Hate About You, dir. Gil Junger, Touchstone Pictures, 1999.
Legally Blonde, dir. Robert Luketic, MGM Pictures, 2001.
Bringing up Baby, dir. Howard Hawks, RKO Pictures, 1938.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, dir. Howard Hawks, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 1953.
[8] Maria di Battista, Fast-Talking Dames, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001, p.176.
Gehring, p.3.
[9] Lent, p.327.
[10] di Battista, p.181.
[11] An excellent essay on the critical importance of polysemy in media texts is: John Fiske, ‘Television: Polysemy and Popularity’ in: Robert K. Avery and David Eason (eds.), Critical Perspectives on Media and Society, New York: The Guilford Press, 1991, pp.347-355.
[12] di Battista, pp.190-1.
[13] Ibid. pp.176, 179-180.
[14] Gerald Mast, ‘Bringing up Baby,’ Bringing Up Baby (Rutgers Films in Print), ed. Gerald Mast, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988, p.297.
di Battista, p.200.
[15] Gehring, p.155.
[16] Mast, p.295. di Battista, pp.185,189.
[17] Laura Mulvey, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Issues in Feminist Film Criticism, ed. Patricia Erens, Blommington: Indiana University Press, 1990, p.33.
[18] Misha Kavka, FTVMS 202 lecture, University of Auckland, 7 April, 2005.
[19] Bill Osgerby, Youth Media, London and New York: Routledge, 2004, p.123.
[20] The idea of the ‘female gaze’ is most heavily emphasised in the film during the ‘Olympic athletes training scene’. Dorothy’s song lyrics become increasingly earthy as she, accompanied by a diegetic-audience of female swimmers, watches the muscular bodies of the almost naked male athletes.
[21] Lorelei is very open during the film about the necessity of women being open-eyed about their position in the world and that this is why she intends to marry well.
[22] Alec Foege, ‘The Return of the Dumb Blonde’, Adweek, vol.45, no.9, 1 March 2004, pp.22-24.
[23] Osgerby, pp.122-4.
[24] Tizzy Asher, ‘Girls, sexuality, and popular culture’, Off our Backs, vol. 32, no.5/6, May/June 2002, pp.22-5. Karlyn, pp.69-93.
[25] Hugh H. David, ‘I Was a Teenage Classic: Literary Adaptation in Turn-of-the-Millennium Teen Films’, The Journal Of American Culture, vol. 29, no. 1, March 2006, pp.59-60.
[26] The ‘Riot Grrrl’ phenomenon of the 1990s was spearheaded by all-female rock bands such as Bikini Kill. Many of the bands were self-consciously feminist; they advocated women’s rights and personal empowerment. One of their motifs was requiring female-only mosh pits at their concerts, Club Skunk is an acknowledgement of this, and these bands, in 10 Things I Hate About You.
Osgerby, p.122.
Michael D Friedman, ‘The feminist as shrew in 10 Things I Hate about you’, Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 22, no.2, Summer 2004, pp.45-65.
[27] Friedman, pp.45-65.
[28]William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, (ed.) Stephen Orgel, New York: Penguin Group, 2000. Academic arguments relating to the portrayal of Katherina are covered well in: Margaret Jane Kidnie, ‘Chapter 6: Critical Assessment’, The Taming of the Shrew: a guide to the text and its theatrical life, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006, pp.146-162.
[29] Friedman, pp.45-65.
[30] Ibid. pp.45-65.
[31] Kidnie, pp.147-8.
[32] [The yellow banner on the wall of Mr Morgan’s English class reads: “What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular.”]
Monique L. Pittman, ‘Taming 10 Things I Hate About You: Shakespeare and the Teenage Film Audience’, Literature/Film Quarterly, vol.32, no.2, 2004, pp.144-52.
[33] Unlike Kat, Bianca consciously chooses which men she wishes to have in her life and actively pursues them, whereas Kat is the object of Patrick’s aggressive drive and boyish charm. Bianca turns Cameron’s interest in her to her advantage by convincing him to find someone willing to date Kat, as this would then allow her to pursue and date Joey. Bianca’s self-awareness allows her to gain dominance in her relationships with young men and this assertion of her feminine power continues to the end of the film, when she righteously punches Joey at the prom.
[34] Melissa Klein, ‘Duality and Redefinition: Young Feminism and the Alternative Music Community’, Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism, (eds.) Leslie Heywood and Jennifer Drake, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1997, pp.207-8, in: Michael D. Friedman, ‘The feminist as shrew in 10 Things I Hate about you’, Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 22, no.2, Summer 2004, pp.45-65.
[35] See for instance her interactions with the boutique assistant, her father and her guidance counsellor.
[36] When Elle considers giving up law school it is because she is tired of having to fight so hard for her people to see her as a person rather than a pretty face. “All people see when they look at me is blonde hair and big boobs. No-one’s ever going to take me seriously…Callahan never saw me as a lawyer, just as a piece of ass. Just like everybody else.” Elle’s frustration and Professor Stromwell’s assessment of Callahan condemn this kind of superficiality.
[37] Despite Elle’s 4.0 grade average and 179 on her LSATs, Warren can’t shake his view of her as a dumb blonde, a ‘Marilyn [Monroe] rather than a Jackie [Kennedy]’.
[38] Kelly A. Marsh, Dead Husbands and Other “Girls’ Stuff”: The Trifles in Legally Blonde, Literature/Film Quarterly, vol.33, no.3, 2005, pp.201-206.
[39] Their friendship contains a playfulness reminiscent of Bringing Up Baby, for instance when Elle teases Emmett on the way to the day spa, and this sense of camaraderie is supported by a mutual respect for the other’s intelligence. Emmett consistently encourages her in the film and is supportive of her career aspirations; he is the first to reassure her that she earned her internship due to her intelligence and not her appearance.
[40] Elle’s pleasure in fashion and her appearance are indicated throughout the film. Her shocked refusal of Professor Callahan’s sexual advances and her subsequent disgusted discussion of them
[41] On Elle’s first day, Professor Stromwell asks her to leave the class for not being prepared; on Elle’s final day it is Professor Stromwell who proudly introduces her as keynote speaker. When Elle’s despair prompts her to leave Harvard Law School, it is Professor Stromwell, also receiving a manicure, who convinces her to stay.

Alfred Street to close

After many, many years of campaigning and negotiations, Alfred Street will be closed to traffic at the end of this year [bar buses]. It's fantastic in terms of health & safety because it really is predominantly a student thoroughfare. It's kind of sad to see it go though and I imagine it will prove as annoying to drivers as it will satisfying to students. A) Because it means you get stuck having to do a really big loop of the block when looking for parking or dropping people off, B) that's a chunk of parking for the Maidment gone (which sucks as parking at uni just keeps getting worse; trying to go play squash at the gym at night is a nightmare!), C) we students do love that 10min and bus zone parking in front of the library... sure it's illegal but there's crap all buses at night and it's extensively used by people who only need to stop for a few minutes to pick someone up or to drop off a pile of books.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

And also from the land of the odd...According to the website the ring warms up the day before your anniversary; it gets hot for ten seconds every damn hour just to make sure you get the point. They're marketing angle is that "It's like a handgun...its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it." What to get for the guy who has everything huh? Lol :P

Americans truly worry me sometimes...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Empress

I was checking out Mira's blog and decided to do the test she'd linked to, *g* I got the same result as her.

You scored as III - The Empress.

The Empress is a maternal symbol. She is the mother figure who loves, nurtures and protects. She will protect you, she will always be there when you are in trouble. When you fall over and graze your knee, the Empress will kiss it better. Yet she is not a weak figure. Her compassion is strength. If her children are threatened she will stop at nothing to protect them. If well aspected in a Tarot spread, the Empress can symbolise security, protection and unconditional love. If badly aspected it can represent over-protectiveness, fear of risk taking and refusal to face the real world.
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III - The Empress 100%
VI: The Lovers 81%
XI: Justice 69%
IV - The Emperor 63%
II - The High Priestess 63%
I - Magician 63%
0 - The Fool 50%
XIII: Death 50%
XIX: The Sun 50%
X - Wheel of Fortune 50%
XV: The Devil 38%
VIII - Strength 38%
XVI: The Tower 25%
My resolution's plac'd, and I have nothing
Of woman in me; now from head to foot
I am marble-constant, now the fleeting moon
No planet is of mine.

Antony and Cleopatra V.ii. 290-293.
Yay!! My blog is now one year old :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Quest for the Holy Grail

Centuries have passed since someone sat down and began the opening lines of the medieval French text, The Quest for the Holy Grail, yet the themes that it explores continue to fascinate audiences today.[1] While the Grail itself has been the focus of many texts, the Quest looks beyond the Grail to also consider the wider context in which the quest takes place. It makes use of the romance genre and Arthurian literary tradition to allow it to function as a text intended for entertainment and relaxation. However, at the same time it provokes critical thought and is used as a vehicle for societal critique and spiritual instruction. Although the Arthurian romances were set in an idealized past, the chivalric ideals and courtly society in which they were set clearly linked them to the society and time period in which their writers and contemporary audiences were themselves situated. This allowed writers to use the distancing qualities of fantasy to discuss contemporary issues with greater freedom. In the Quest one of the key issues that is addressed is the issue of violence in society, where violence was a defining characteristic of the patriarchal ruling class. The author’s treatment of violence, the values that they choose to endorse and the narrative tensions that they explore make the Quest significantly different to other medieval romances. The Quest encourages its courtly audience to reconsider the values that are familiar to it and to question whether they truly understand what it means to be a true and gentil knight.[2]

The Quest for the Holy Grail was written in France in the early thirteenth century; narrative links to other texts in the group commonly known as the ‘Vulgate Cycle’ indicate that it was most likely finished between 1215-1235 A.D.[3] In the Quest the knights frequently encounter holy men living austere lives of prayer and meditation;[4] the simplicity of their lives and their white garb indicates that they represent the Cistercian order, of which the unknown author was probably a member.[5] The Cistercians arose as a religious order in 1098; they were a reform movement protesting against the perceived worldliness of the Benedictines.[6] The Cistercians hoped to return to a stricter observance of the Benedictine rule. Their order emphasised asceticism, confession, prayer, fasting and chastity; all of these are virtues that are repeatedly exemplified in the Quest.[7] By the thirteenth century, the Cistercians had become a great monastic force and achieved a high level of popularity.[8] However, thanks to the twin virtues of austere living and hard work, they too had accumulated a great deal of wealth and their spiritual simplicity had begun to be corrupted as their lifestyle became more relaxed.[9] The Quest is written during a period when many Cistercians may again have been seeking spiritual renewal and would have seen a need to promote the values of their order. A story written for the French courts would ensure that their message could hope to reach, instruct, and renew the faith of both the priests and those that they were meant to teach.[10]

A text written in purely religious format might not be greeted with the same level of enthusiasm as those of a more entertaining nature; therefore, the Quest forms its didactic elements within a romance narrative. The romance had become an immensely popular narrative form, especially in northern France and Anglo-Norman England, by the end of the twelfth century.[11] These romances were expected to entertain an aristocratic audience and in order to flatter the nobility they needed to reflect a desirable self-image. The values of the nobility still revolved heavily around warfare and martial skill; there was, however, also a move towards creating a courtly culture that valued etiquette, cultured elegance, chivalry, courtesy and largesse.[12] The romances therefore promoted an idealised, favourable image of the nobility and these were often set in a romanticised past. The Arthurian legends provided a setting for many of these romances that allowed them to indulge the wish-fulfilment fantasies of their audience, such as the desires of younger sons to marry beautiful, rich, land owning women or to engage in passionate, illicit love affairs, while having the safety of being set in the past and, to some extent, in a fantasy realm.[13]

Despite being fantasy, the Arthurian romances contained narrative tensions that alluded to social concerns of their courtly audiences. These narrative tensions usually revolved around gender relations and conflicting loyalties, as the male protagonist sought to reconcile contradictory societal expectations of his behaviour.[14] On the one hand, their loyalty should be first to their kinsmen and lords, they should be able to support and defend their family, and they should be valiant in battle and display their martial skills whenever an opportunity arose. On the other hand, the romances often portray the men as subjugating themselves, and their loyalties, to a woman rather than their kinsmen or lord,[15] as receiving their wealth from a woman,[16]and as retiring from fighting or fighting badly because of a woman.[17] In these romances, the narratives explore whether love is an ennobling or emasculating emotion and they playfully invert gender roles in order to flatter women and safely indulge male fantasies. The Quest, however, reveals the inadequacies and dangers of these flattering fantasies by portraying them as focussing on the temporal world and as pandering to human pride. The Quest emphasises, for instance, that a man’s martial skills should be used in the service of God, rather than to gain the acclaim of his fellows or the attention of a woman.

The Quest, however, doesn’t focus on the conflict between love for a woman and the expectations of a society traditionally orientated around male-bonds; instead, it focuses on the conflict between the expectations of society and one’s love for God. For instance, Bors is tested when he has to decide between saving his brother from being beaten and saving a maiden who is being kidnapped with the intention of rape.[18] He should help Lionel in the name of kinship but the maiden asks for aid in the name of God; Bors chooses, correctly, to save the girl.[19] In order to be ‘knights of heaven’ the Quest indicates that they must transcend feudal loyalties by serving God as their first priority. The text suggests that without a strong spiritual foundation that sets loyalty to the ‘King of heaven’ above all else, secular power hierarchies are doomed to corruption and failure. This is clearly illustrated in Gawain’s meadow dream, symbolic of the Round Table.[20] It is also dramatically emphasised by Lionel’s violent rage at Bors abandoning him.[21] Lionel represents the earthly knights whose ‘eyes and hearts are choked’ and who are ‘enwrapped in black and hideous sin’;[22] he is so blinded by the prideful, martial values of the court that he is willing to murder a kinsman, a brother-in-arms, and a holy man.[23] Bors, on the other hand, is shown as one of the righteous knights of heaven. His refusal to fight, because it would be a sin to strike his brother, is not shown as cowardly but rather as illustrating exemplary moral and spiritual strength, and is rewarded by God actively ending the conflict when Bors finally picks up a sword.[24]

This divine approval of Bors’ refusal to fight, when he considers it to be an affront to God to do so, is one way in which the Quest inverts the values traditionally associated with knights in the romances. These values require them to continually prove their masculine strength, valour and prowess, as well as their attractiveness to women. The writer of the Quest embeds their spiritual teachings in an Arthurian romance, in a courtly setting that reflects the aspirations of a their intended audience, so that the values of these romances, and by inference the nobility, can be shown to be misplaced. For instance, Melias, son of the King of Denmark, stubbornly ignores Galahad’s advice when they come to a warning sign at a forked road; he insists on taking the more perilous route for himself because he wishes to prove his knightly virtues.[25] The text shows that actions and intentions are more important than noble birth; Melias’s presumptuous deeds leave him badly injured. The monks who attend him advise that his focus on the temporal world has led him to the mortal sins of pride and covetousness.[26] The association of the court and knightly values with corruption and sin is marked through the book. Gawain and Hector are warned that the fellowship of the Round Table has become corrupted with lechery, pride, and knights who wallow in dissolute lifestyles.[27] Lancelot is shown not as a hero but as a fallen sinner who must repent and seek God’s grace. Like Gawain, Lancelot had enjoyed the ‘sweet and honeyed’ vices that the Devil and the court lauded but which disguised lust, vanity and pride.[28] The prideful self-love of the knights is illustrated in the warnings they receive that they have more faith in their sword-arm than in God, and that their reasons for fighting are to gain personal glory or the love of women, rather than to serve and honour God.[29]

Its consideration of violence, in the life of a Christian knight, is one aspect that particularly differentiates the Quest from other romances. It provides its audience with numerous tournaments and exciting combats but the elucidating teachings of the holy men the characters frequently encounter provokes the audience to reconsider the purpose of violence in society. In medieval romances violence is often glorified; knights are expected to participate in tournaments and gain renown through great martial deeds lest they be called cowards.[30] However, this expectation that knights will engage in violence is presented in the Quest as the knights being overly eager to do battle and losing sight of why they are fighting. When Gawain meets Hector on the road he informs him, with a mixture of boredom and pride, that he has slain more than ten knights, offering no moral contextualization or justification of these deaths. [31] The danger of this casual embrace of violence is illustrated in the eagerness of Gawain and Hector to fight to the death an unknown knight they encounter in their travels.[32] It is only after Gawain has mortally wounded him that he discovers he is responsible for killing Owein the Bastard, a fellow knight of the Round Table.[33] Gawain’s attitude towards violence and his willingness to take life is strongly reprimanded twice by holy men. He is advised that he should not sinfully seek the “murder of men or the slaying of knights”; rather, he should turn from violence and seek to reconcile himself with God.[34]

The unthinking violence of Gawain and of Lionel marks them as sinners and worthy of the rebuke, which a monk makes to Gawain, “You are a bad and faithless servant.”[35] In contrast, Galahad is named as a paragon of virtue, an example of valour and hardihood, and “a very model of knighthood.”[36] His value system differs from that of Gawain and Lionel and one way that this is illustrated is through his attitude towards violence. Galahad isn’t shown as seeing violence as an end in itself or as a way of acquiring personal glory, in fact he discreetly slips away from one tournament to avoid receiving accolades for his martial prowess.[37] Instead, Galahad fights when it is required as part of his service to God. He fights to protect those who are weak or unable to defend themselves, such as a wounded Melias, or Perceval’s sister, and he fights to defend himself.[38] Moreover, whenever possible he ‘overcomes his opponents without destroying them’.[39] God’s mercy is an important theme in the Quest and Galahad reflects this theme in his combat.[40] He will continue a fight or pursuit until he is convinced that what he is protecting is no longer threatened, but he is shown as considering violence to be defensive rather than aggressive.[41] When his opponent yields or flees, Galahad allows them to live to give them the opportunity to repent and atone to God for their sins.[42] That life is valuable is emphasised by Galahad’s misery at the Castle of Carcelois. Galahad’s party are attacked first, outnumbered and allow those who flee to escape.[43] Nevertheless, he is dismayed when he realizes how many have been killed in the fighting. A Cistercian priest goes to great lengths to reassure him that what he has done was correct in God’s sight. The priest explains that the inhabitants were not Christians, that they were even worse than the Saracens and infidels, and gives a lengthy list of their wicked deeds and acts against the Church.[44]

The importance of defining appropriate uses of violence was of particular relevance to the time in which the Quest was written. Despite the romantic images surrounding the medieval conception of the knight, they were essentially warriors and, primarily, more interested in defending and expanding their own estates than protecting the Church and society.[45] Instead, it was typically the peasants and the Church who suffered most during private warfare; it was those who worked or prayed who most commonly lost their lives and property.[46] In the Quest a holy man informs Gawain that the purpose of knights is to serve God, defend the Holy Church, and safe-keep their souls.[47] This rebuke, like others in the Quest, reminds the audience about the gap between reality and the ideal promoted by the Church. Although the Church could promote ideals such as the ‘Peace of God’, prohibiting warfare against non-combatants and their property, and the ‘Truce of God’, banning warfare during holy days, translating these into a common reality was far more difficult.[48]

The glorification and romanticisation of violence was further inflamed in medieval society by the Crusades;[49] yet the Church actively supported these. Instead of having to do penance for their acts of violence knights now had the opportunity to achieve salvation through them, as successive popes offered a full remission of sins if they fought to reclaim the lands of God.[50] The Church’s justification for supporting violence can be found in the records of contemporary chroniclers, such as Baldric of Bourgueil who recorded an account of Pope Urban II’s announcement of the First Crusade in 1095.[51] This speech condemns knights for their pride, their violent ways and their readiness to butcher their brethren in the fellowship of Christ.[52] Pope Urban II declares that it is “a lesser evil to brandish the sword against the Saracens” and that it is a holy and just cause to unite in saving both their fellow Christians and the holy city of Jerusalem from “pagan tyranny”.[53] Unfortunately, although some undoubtedly went on campaign out of genuine piety, many went to garner lands, wealth and renown for themselves.[54] The Fourth Crusade (1201-4) never even reached the Holy Land; their adventures saw them excommunicated and extremely wealthy after they’d engaged in warfare and pillaging against the Christian inhabitants of Hungary and Constantinople.[55] It is understandable, therefore, that when the Quest was written, the Cistercian author was gravely concerned that the nobility had lost sight of fighting for God and instead come to casually consider violence as a means of increasing personal fortune and renown.

The peaceful holy men present in the Quest, and the values that they express, are a stark contrast to the earthly knights that they teach.[56] They represent the clarity of vision, surety of self and learned wisdom that the knights often lack, for instance when they require interpretation of their dreams or events that have befallen them.[57] These holy figures represent self-contained, content and peaceful lives that are the result of embracing the Cistercian values of chastity, asceticism and meditative prayer.[58] Moreover, the alternative lifestyle that they represent is shown as attainable. The Quest advises that several of these teachers and healers once lived as Arthur’s knights did but voluntarily gave up their wealth and turned away from the materialism, pride and violence of a knightly life.[59] This is portrayed as the kind of life that the knights should be seeking, and some of them, such as Perceval, do choose to embrace it.[60] However, if they choose to remain in the in the secular world of King Arthur’s court, as Bors does, then these holy men act as guides to teach them what a knight should truly value. [61]

Constance Bouchard argues that the spiritual outlook of the Church and the secular, militant focus of the nobility were ultimately incompatible and resistant to attempts to unify them.[62] However, the Quest reveals that, in fiction at least, it was possible to resolve the conflict between these two lifestyles. Three of the knights are considered truly worthy of the Grail, of these Galahad ascends to heaven and Perceval takes on the religious habit but Bors remains part of the courtly, secular world as an example of a ‘knight of heaven’.[63] The narrative of the Quest is placed in an Arthurian romance so that the conventions traditionally associated with this courtly, secular setting can be inverted and de-familiarised to the audience. The pleasures of these texts, that reflect the aspirations of their readers, are shown not to be virtues but rather vices, such as lust, pride and covetousness. The societal equation of knighthood with violence and death is condemned and shown to be dangerous, for instance both Gawain and Lionel threaten the stability of the Round Table’s fellowship with their desire for combat. The Quest offers an alternative view of knighthood, one that is based on compassion, humility and honouring God. Violence is not shown as an end in itself but rather as something that is to be used only when necessary, to protect oneself or to defend those incapable of defending themselves. This emphasis on combat having a defensive focus is shown not as weakness or a lack of martial prowess but rather as a generosity of spirit that reflects the grace of God and the importance placed on allowing opportunities for repentance.[64] While they must have been aware that many who read the text would react as Gawain did, entrenched in their sins and unwilling to listen to counsel, the author of the Quest must have hoped that some would struggle towards redemption, as Lancelot does, or serve, like Bors, as an example of a godly knight.[65]

[1] Modern texts have included Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Terry Gwilliam and Terry Jones (dir.), Sony Pictures, 1999 [DVD], film release date 1975; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg (dir.), Paramount Home Entertainment, 1999, film release date 1989; Dan Brown, The Da Vinci code, New York, 2004.
[2] Gentil means noble but also carries wider connotations of nobility of birth, nobility of character, courtesy and honour.
[3] The five French texts composing the Vulgate Cycle are the Estoire del Saint Graal (The History of the Holy Grail), the Estoire d’Merlin (The History of Merlin), the Lancelot Propre (The Lancelot Proper), the Queste du Saint Graal (The Quest of the Holy Grail), and the Mort Artu (The Death of Arthur). Tracey Adams, ENGLISH 340 lecture, University of Auckland, 31 July 2006.
[4] There at least twenty-five encounters mentioned in the Grail with holy figures such as hermits, monks, anchorites and nuns.
[5] The Quest for the Holy Grail, trans. and introduction by P. M. Matarasso, London, 1969, reprint 2005, p.21.
The only times that the garb of the holy figures is described it is always white; see, for instance, pp.53, 119, 136-7, 195, 240, 268. The only exception is the black-garbed priest who appears to Bors as he searches for Lionel and whom he discovers, subsequently, to have been the Devil in disguise, pp.190-194.
[6] C. Warren Hollister, Medieval Europe: a short history, 6th ed., New York, 1990, p.193.
Quest, Matarasso, p.20.
[7] Quest, Matarasso, p.21.
[8] Hollister, p.193.
[9] Ibid. p.194.
[10] By the thirteenth century young nobles were expected to spend many hours on the practice fields, training for combat, however, they were also expected to spend a large number of hours studying with priests for their spiritual welfare and to learn appropriate moral and social behaviour.
Constance Brittain Bouchard, Strong of body, brave and noble: chivalry and society in Medieval France, Ithaca, 1998, p.111.
[11] Linda M. Paterson, The world of the troubadours: medieval Occitan society, c.1100-1300, Cambridge, 1993, p. 63-5. Pamela Porter, Courtly love in medieval manuscripts, London, 2003, pp.28-9, 41.
[12] Sandra Resnick Alfonsi, Masculine submission in troubadour lyric, New York, 1986, pp.38-41.
Joachim Bumke, Courtly Culture: Literature and Society in the High Middle Ages, Woodstock, 2000, pp.311-2.
[13] E. Jane Burns, Courtly love undressed: reading through clothes in medieval French culture, Philadelphia, 2002, p.42. Frederick Goldin, ‘The array of perspectives in the early courtly love lyric’, in Joan M. Ferrant and George D. Economou [et al.], (eds.), In pursuit of perfection: courtly love in medieval literature, Port Washington, 1975, p.55. Bouchard, pp.133-4. Bumke, pp.311-2, 326.
[14] Bouchard, p.113.
[15] Such as in Tristan and Isolde where the narrative tension relies on the tension between Tristan’s adulterous love for Isolde and the loyalty he owes to King Mark, both as a kinsman and as a vassal. Ibid. p.114.
Similarly, in Chrétien’s Knight of the Cart, Lancelot adulterously loves Queen Guinevere despite his place in King Arthur’s fellowship. Chrétien de Troyes, The Knight of the Cart, trans. Burton Raffel and afterword by Joseph J. Duggan, New Haven, 1997.
[16] For instance, in the tale of Sir Launfal, his fortunes are restored and vastly increased by the gifts he receives from Dame Triamoure. Thomas Chestre, ‘Sir Launfal’, in: Donald B. Sands, ed., Middle English verse romances, New York, 1966, pp.201-232.
[17]For instance, Gawain giving up jousting out of his love for Dame Ragnell, or Lancelot fighting badly because Guinevere wishes it. Respectively: ‘The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell’, in: Donald B. Sands, ed., Middle English verse romances, New York, 1966, pp.345-6; de Troyes, The Knight of the Cart, pp.178-180.
[18] Quest, Matarasso, pp.187-8.
[19] Bors is later advised by an abbot that he was right to “set natural love aside” in order to show love and obedience to the “King of heaven.” Ibid. pp.188, 198-9.
[20] Ibid. pp.166-168, 170-4.
[21] Ibid. pp.200-5.
[22] Ibid. p.159.
[23] Lionel murders a hermit and Sir Calogrenant for protecting Bors while Lionel attempts to murder him. Ibid. p.159.
[24] Bors’ prayers and his unwillingness to sin by striking his brother are rewarded by God sending first the hermit and Sir Calogrenant to protect him; then by sending a ball of fire from heaven that stuns Lionel and Bors. Ibid. pp.202-5.
[25] Ibid. pp.65-6.
[26] Ibid. pp.70-1.
[27] Ibid. pp.79, 170-4.
[28] Ibid. pp. 85-6, 88-93, 134, 142-3.
[29] Ibid. pp.42, 71, 89, 143-4, 159-60, 260.
[30] For instance, Gawain is called a coward when he gives up jousting at the end of the romance, ‘The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell’, op. cit., pp.345-6.
[31] Quest, Matarasso, p.162.
[32] Ibid. pp.166-7.
[33] Ibid. pp.168.
[34] Gawain is reprimanded the first time for killing the seven brothers who had been holding the Castle of the Maidens. The second reprimand is at the hermitage where Gawain and Hector seek an explanation for their dreams. Ibid. pp.79, 174-5.
[35] This rebuke acts as a scriptural reference to Matthew 25, where those who have served their Master [God] well are praised with “Well done, you good and faithful servant!” but those who have failed will be told “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” ‘Matthew 25, verses 21 and 41,’ in: The NIV Study Bible, Kenneth Barker, ed., Grand Rapids, 1995, pp.1476-7.
[36]Quest, Matarasso, pp.77, 134.
[37] Ibid. p.208.
[38] Ibid. pp.68, 239, 246-7.
[39] Ibid. p.79.
[40] “For the Scriptures state that there is none so wicked but Our Lord will have mercy on him, provided that he implore Him with a contrite heart.” Ibid. p.80.
[41] Ibid. pp.73-6, 108, 208.
[42] Ibid. pp.79, 240.
[43] Ibid. pp.239-40.
[44] Ibid. pp.240-1.
[45] Hollister, p.156.
[46] Ibid. p.156.
[47] Quest, Matarasso, p.79.
[48] Hollister, p.178.
The Church met with even less success in its condemnation of tournaments, which it felt encouraged vices, endangered souls and risked the meaningless loss of life or limb. Bouchard, pp.123-5
[49] The Crusades were a series of holy wars chiefly fought during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Those that are best known today were the attempts by Christian nations of Western Europe to take and hold Jerusalem; however, as time passed the focus shifted from Jerusalem itself to the perceived threat to Christendom of the Muslim empire. The Crusades also involved other campaigns that had been approved by the Church, such as the attempts to regain territorial control in Spain from the Muslims or the war on heretics in France (the Albigsenian Crusade).
For further information see Hollister, pp.170-186, 196-7;or: Riley-Smith, Jonathan, What were the Crusades?, London, 1992.
[50] Hollister, pp.178-9. Bernard Hamilton, Religion in the Medieval West, London, 1986, p.130.
[51] Baldric was prior and abbot of Saint-Pierre-de-Bourgueil from 1089 to 1107 and he attended the Council of Clermont in 1095. He is one of four contemporary chroniclers whose version of Pope Urban II’s sermon has survived. Baldric of Bourgueil, ‘Account of the preaching of the First Crusade’, in: Louise and Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: Idea and Reality, 1095-1274, London, 1981, p.49.
[52] Ibid. p.51.
[53] Ibid. pp.49-52.
[54] Hollister, p.178.
[55] Ibid. p.181-2.
[56] I have chosen to use the phrase ‘holy men’ to refer to the monks and anchorites met by the knights during The Quest for the Holy Grail due to linguistic ease, as it is a common English phrase, and because the society in which the Quest was written was dominated by men. However, this catchphrase does inadvertently elide the presence of ‘holy women’ in the text, such as the nuns who raised Galahad or Perceval’s aunt whom he encounters after she has become an anchoress.
Quest, Matarasso, pp.32, 96.
[57] For instance: Ibid. pp.70-1, 78-80, 87-94, 121-124, 150-4, 158-60.
[58] “…I am she who was once called the Queen of the Waste Land…I was one of the richest ladies in the world. And yet those riches never pleased nor became me as well as does my present poverty.”
Ibid. p.96.
[59] Ibid. p.69, 96, 138, 209.
[60] Ibid. p.284.
[61] Ibid. pp.79 and 284.
[62] Bouchard, pp.121-2.
[63] The contrast between the ‘earthly knights’ and the ‘knights of heaven’ is explained to Lancelot by an anchoress. Quest, Matarasso, pp.158-9.
[64] Andrea Williams comments that in the Quest there is always scope for reform and redemption; this is echoed in the words of the Quest’s holy figures who state that God’s mercy is available to all who penitently request it. Andrea M. L. Williams, The Adventures of the Holy Grail. A study of La Queste del Saint Graal, Bern, 2001, p.73. Quest, Matarasso, p.80.
[65] Gawain decides that penance is too hard, is too busy at one point to listen to the advice of a holy man, and the final mention of him is Lancelot’s grief at discovering that Gawain has slain King Baudemagus. Although he is encouraged to turn to God, his refusal to repent marks him as a determined sinner. Quest, Matarasso, pp.80, 175, 268.
Lancelot is an example of the sinner who strives towards God but definitely struggles along the way. One example of this is his time in Castle Corbenic where he does get to see the Grail, but is also rebuked twice by God. However, his insistence on continuing to wear his hair-shirt indicates his desire to continue seeking to become a godly knight. Ibid. pp.260-5.