Thursday, July 17, 2014

One More Source for A Christmas Carol

I would also like to add one more thing, before we move on from A Christmas Carol (as I know that some of you are chomping at the bit to do!).  At least two of our readings quoted from this source specifically, so I wanted to publicize it as a seminal text in terms of how A Christmas Carol has been viewed as a text over the last 20 years.  When I first read it, the article fundamentally changed my reading of the story (in a good way, I think), and it has informed my research and teaching of A Christmas Carol ever since.

Jaffe, Audrey.  "Spectacular Sympathy: Visuality and Ideology in Dickens's A Christmas Carol."  PMLA 109.2 (March 1994): 254-265.

Here is a link to it on JSTOR:

The article discusses the role of "commodity culture" in the text (which is a term that I threw out at least a time or two in our discussions so far), which is a concept that combines the story's emphasis on not only human fellowship, but also on economic spending.  For Jaffe, Scrooge must learn to change into a man that is not only friendly to his fellow humans, but he also must learn to shed his miserly ways and engage in the economic marketplace.  In discussing commodity culture, Jaffe connects the financial economy to the human economy of affection, which is a combination that is now consistently emphasized during the Christmas holiday.  Being nice to people during Christmas is good, and even buying gifts for them is not only nice to do, but it also helps out your fellow humans in a financial sense by strengthening the economy.

Anyway, it's a great article, and it also helps to reconcile the Christian emphasis on goodwill towards men and the Reason for the Season and all of that to (rather ironically) the importance of material gift-giving during Christmas.

Well, on to Great Expectations...

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