• Throwback Thursday: George Bernard Shaw Revisits his Plays

    ShawGeorge Bernard Shaw is revered as a distinguished playwright in the theatre world. Having composed more than 60 plays, Shaw’s reputation is unparalleled. He is the only person in history to be award both the Nobel Prize in Literature as well as an Academy Award.

    However, very few are away that Shaw’s was constantly making changes to his plays. The evolution of his first play, Widowers’ House, displays the improvement and development of Shaw as a playwright that would eventually lead him to be recognized as one of the greats. In “Shaw Improves Shaw” from Modern Drama 6.1 (1963), Bernard F. Dukore sheds a light on the evolution and revisions Shaw made to his plays. He devotes special attention to Charles H. Shattuck’s comparison of the 1893 and 1898 editions of Widowers’ House. Take a look and see George Bernard Shaw’s prodigious growth first-hand!

  • Throwback Thursday: "Keep Calm and Fall in Love" Jane-Eyre Style

    Image of manuscript Jane Eyre by Charlotte BronteCharlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre has often been classified as both a story of woman in love and a story of a woman’s fight to express her own personality in love.  These two conceptions of the novel’s purpose are correct. However, while Jane Eyre is both of these things, as M.H. Scargill points out in his reevaluation of the book, it is also something more. In addition to its simple theme of being in love, it is also a record of the eternal conflict between flesh and spirit, and one that is not solved until all passion is spent (121).

    Therefore, not only did Brontë add the new quality of “the voice of a woman who speaks with perfect frankness about herself,” but Jane Eyre is also remarkable for its sheer intensity and profound symbolism, seen through the book’s varied cast of characters, including Mr. Rochester (temptation), Bertha Mason (love madness), and St. John Rivers (asceticism).

    Jane undergoes a momentous struggle to pass through the first kind of love that is consumed by violent, physical anguish and then comes out unscathed and transcends into the calmer, nobler love Image of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester reconciled at the end of the novelthat the reader finds her and Rochester in at the end, with “all passion spent” (124).

    While many critics have criticized Jane Eyre for its lack of probability (a common feature favoured by the English novel during the time), Scargill decamps from their school of thought. In his opinion, Jane Eyre has enlarged our idea of fiction by making it poetry, while at the same time solving the Victorian dilemma of how to love accordingly.

    Are you just as troubled by love and its inspiring of unbridled passion as the Victorians were? Perhaps, reading more of Scargill’s article “‘All Passion Spent’: A Revaluation of Jane Eyre will quiet your fears and inspire you to act as Jane does, in addition to seeing the true brilliance behind Brontë’s novel as a whole.

    Scargill’s article was published in the University of Toronto Quarterly in 1950.

  • Throwback Thursday: “That terrible disease, [urban] consumption” -- Rural Depopulation & the Slow Decay of the Traditional Way of Life

    Image of a farmer's field with animals and people harvesting a crop of hayWhile it may not be so obvious anymore, especially for those living in large urban centres,  Canada was even more of a  rural country than it is today, with a majority population of dedicated farmers working the land, harvesting crops, and raising livestock. There were no sprawling suburbs or overpowering skyscrapers dominating the landscape or the skyline.

    Now, if one drives through the country back roads, one can easily come across old abandoned farm houses with broken window panes, engulfed by overgrown foliage. It is an unfortunate growing trend, and one that started even before the First World War, as urbanization created rural isolation. As a result, a growing fear of a gradual breakdown and eventual extinction of rural social institutions spread in the minds of Ontario farmers during the early 1900s.

    Rural depopulation was becoming a worrisome epidemic as urbanization increasingly drew rural offspring from the country and into the cities, where there was both more opportunity and better pay. The swelling numbers of great cities was described by local newspapers as what furnished the “natural conditions for the creation of despotic government,” which  included “elements of vice and weakness and squalid helplessness” (Young 295).

    From protesting rural conscription to the creation of the United Farmers of Ontario, farmers started to fight back against urban domination while at the same time revealing the unwillingness of governments, both federal and Image of the United Farmers of Ontarioprovincial, to take agriculture into their political calculations.

    Interested in finding out more about the farmers’ experience, subscribe to read more of W.R. Young’s article “Conscription, Rural Depopulation, and the Farmers of Ontario, 1917–19,” published in the Canadian Historical Review in 1972.

    Do you feel the rural is still being bullied by the urban? Tweet us your thoughts at @utpjournals!

  • Throwback Thursday: Wiping Away the Blood and the Gore of 300

    the movie 300I’m sure everyone knows about or has already seen 300: Rise of an Empire, the sequel to the blockbuster hit 300. This second movie picks up where the first one left off with King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans lying dead and taking over as the main Greek hero, General Themistockles continues the battle on water  in the Battle of Salamis up against the beautiful and cunning Persian naval commander, Artemisia.

    While this movie franchise is a hit with moviegoers for its over-the-top display of blood spouting limbs and topless women, the sequel also contains the same added discriminatory and historically inaccurate elements that had Iranian critics up in arms when 300 was first released.

    The author of this article, Lena Roos, points out that 300 is set up so that viewers are moved to identify with the Spartan warriors as defenders of reason and justice. As a result, the viewers are then made to feel repelled by the Persian invaders, portrayed as monstrous, superstitious, and sexually perverted. This connection of religion and sexual perversion with the image of the Other is a feature added to the story of Thermopylae by the creators of 300, and one that Roos thoroughly explores in her article as a promotion of normalcy in line with mainstream, heteronormative Western values ---a trope that is sustained in the sequel currently in theatres (1).

    The lethal combination of religion and sexuality is not the only extravagance added to Herodotus’ ancient account of the Greeks versus the Persians, and there is no doubt in my mind that many scholars, from classics to religious and cultural studies, will have a lot to say about this second installment of obtuse historical inaccuracy for the sake of entertainment.

    Interested in learning more about Lena Roos’ opinion in her article “Religion, Sexuality and the Image of the Other in 300” published in the 2010 or other analyses of popular culture phenomena? Consider subscribing to The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.

    Have an opinion of the new 300 movie? Tweet us @utpjournals!

  • Throwback Thursday: All the King's Horses

    Canada stamp featuring Canadian Horse

    With the same line of reasoning for the “King’s Daughters” being brought over to New France in the seventeenth century, King Louis XIV also brought horses from his personal stables. This foundational horse would become what is known as the French-Canadian horse. This distinctly Canadian breed was contemporarily described as “low-sized . . . his demeanor proud and courageous . . . [and] an indefatigable undaunted traveller, with the greatest endurance, day in and day out” (Jones 131).

    An extremely hardy breed, the French-Canadian horse was a valuable general-purpose animal to be used on the winter roads of Lower Canada and in light farm work. The French-Canadian horse was also highly sought after as a lucrative animal in the business of trade and auctioned for as little as $700; however, this sum was quite substantial for the mid to late 1800s (142).

    While the old French-Canadian horse disappeared as a distinct race toward the end of the nineteenth century, its ancestry continues to be evident in the common horses found today in the Maritime Provinces, New York,Image of a French-Canadian horse and a man holding the head Michigan, and Illinois (154). Surpassed only by the Thoroughbred as a contributor to the development of the leading American horses, the French-Canadian horse, despite the extinction of the pure breed, is worthy of acknowledgement by breeders, historians, and horse lovers everywhere—who knows, you may be riding one of its descendants!

    Interested in learning more about Canada’s founding horse or Canadian livestock in general? Consider purchasing Robert Leslie Jones’ article "The Old French-Canadian Horse: Its History in Canada and the United States," published by the Canadian Historical Review in 1947, or subscribing to the Canadian Historical Review to get full access to the journal’s archives and its most recent historical scholarship.

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