Gender, Class, Freedom and Identity: the Master/Slave Dynamic

Gender, Class, Freedom and Identity: the Master/Slave Dynamic

Negotiating the arena of political philosophy, this section will consider the individual in light of social class theory. Filtering Shaw through the Hegelian Master/ Slave dynamic, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Nancy Hirschmann, Luce Irigaray and Bell Hooks this approach will locate—or relocate—his work in a progressive vein.

Gender, Class, Freedom and Identity: the Master/Slave Dynamic
Negotiating the arena of political philosophy, this section will consider the individual in light of social class theory. Filtering Shaw through the Hegelian Master/ Slave dynamic, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Nancy Hirschmann, Luce Irigaray and Bell Hooks this approach will locate—or relocate—his work in a progressive vein.

A CATALYST: DEVELOPING A LANGUAGE
What do we mean when we talk about Identity?

Use http://www.etymonline.com/ to look up the history of each of the following words:

Gender
Class
Freedom
Identity
Master
Slave

How did each of these words enter the English language?
How did their meanings change? Evolve?

MAPPING SOME BIG IDEAS
Review the following. Some are mere glosses, others primer and others are straight from the source.
Don’t expect to get it all or in some cases any of it, BUT don’t give up:

Take notes as you go;
Talk about it;
Try and distill the ‘big ideas’ into practical examples;
Write down your questions and keep a list of them all, even of those that you consider answered.

Identity in History Ep.4.5- Hegel’s Master/Slave Dialectic- in a nutshell
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYk9e2NobjA

Karl Marx Sociology
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbNKHyh54IE

Max Weber: Sociology Theory
http://ssr1.uchicago.edu/PRELIMS/Theory/weber.html

What’s Right with Positive Liberty: Agency, Autonomy, and the Other – Nancy Hirschmann
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjEQKODGh70

Of relations and rights — interview with Luce Irigaray

bell hooks Pt 3 cultural criticism and transformation

Use an application with visual and textual capability (or pen and paper) to chart a system of relationships, between these figures. Cluster key concepts and terms (limit of five) around figures and link ideas, themes and language that resonates from one to the other.

THE UNNAMED: THINKING THROUGH IDENTITY IN ARMS AND THE MAN
George Bernard Shaw was a socially conscious man. His writing was cognizant of issues relating to class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. He was particularly attentive to the socioeconomics of having and not having, and how these two very different sets of conditions produce very different kinds of relationships and attitudes in the broader world.

THE UNNAMED, ONE
As it is published in Plays Pleasant, the first time we meet Captain Bluntschli in Act I, he appears as a disembodied voice. In fact, even to the actor who plays him, he is, as yet, nameless. Shaw denotes his presence only with the monikers, ‘A MAN’S VOICE’ and ‘THE VOICE.’ At first, he hides in the darkness ‘subdued,’ but ‘threatening[].’ Later, he is ‘warning,’ ‘commanding[]’ and finally ‘menacing[].’ He represents the enemy, after all. Even when he fills out and becomes ‘THE MAN’ his actual identity remains a mystery until half way through Act II. Of course, Raina labels him her Chocolate Soldier, offers him a place to sleep and her father’s coat, but this says more about her than him.
It is not that we know nothing about him, we do. In the course of the act, we learn how he feels about being a soldier, what he thinks of Sergius Saranoff’s ‘heroic’ charge, and we learn of the preference for chocolate over bullets, but all the things that ‘matter,’ later; all the things that provide for his agency in the broader world and that make him a viable suitor for Raina’s hand, remain unknown…

In Act II, Sergius also first appears as a voice; this time as ‘MALE VOICE OUTSIDE.’ The evolution of his stage identity, however, takes a different direction. How might is be described as different? What makes it so?

At this point, stop and prepare to view the following link:

Pre-viewing Questions:
What could be dangerous about a single story?
What could be singular about a narrative?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘The danger of a single story’
http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

Post-viewing Questions:
What is the argument that Adiche is making?
Does her position, hold up?
What connections can be made between what Adichie’s talk and the subject of identity?
How might Adichie’s talk have relevance to Arms and the Man.
What questions do you have after the viewing?

THE UNNAMED, TOO
(now back to Arms and the Man) This of course all changes in the third act. No longer a vulnerable enemy—but rather a confederate who has been fleshed out by history and association—Bluntschli must erase his presence from the indelicate events of the first act. He must protect Raina’s honour. What transpired in her bedroom in Act I is being circulated in the form of a humorous anecdote. She remains, as yet, unnamed, but to be exposed would likely bring a scandalous end to her engagement to Sergius. Besides her mother and her Chocolate Soldier, the only other character in, ‘the know,’ is Louka, who has called on Sergius’ honour to publicly acknowledge their love. The only evidence is Major Petkoff’s coat and the inscribed portrait that Raina concealed in its pocket. The comedy or tragedy lies in how it will unpack from here.

Identity, then, even something as simple as a name, has the potential to both empower and negate, or expose.

Visit Michael Nye’s site About Hunger and Resilience: http://www.michaelnye.org/hunger/statement.html. Read the artist’s statement and visit the Photographs/Audio tab:
How do you feel about Nye’s project?
Are there invisible characters in Arms and the Man?
How could you research what they might say, if they could speak?

UNNAMED, ACTIVITY
Go back to Shaw’s Arms and the Man. Identify the stock, the nameless, the referenced but absent (‘the Serb,’ ‘ignorant country folk,’ the Russian Officer, Bluntschli’s late friend and confidante, Bluntschli’s father, etc.).

After Michael Nye’s About Hunger and Resilience, create—using your medium of choice—a portrait of one of the nameless in Arms and the Man. Research, who such a person of that time, might have been; what their life, roots and experiences might have been like. Then, write and record a 250-300 word monolog in role. Link the two together on youtube.

CLASS, GENDER, MARRIAGE AND IMAGES OF SOCIAL FREEDOM IN SHAW: A WIKI ACTIVITY
Alone or with a partner, work your way through the following articles. Consider employing a table, chart or app to gather and shape your ideas and evidence. Ultimately, you want to develop a wiki that sources each of the three critical articles and Shaw’s own novel preface to inform your findings and conclusions on class, gender… as they are being explored and interrogated in Shaw’s work.

Fatemeh Azizmohammadi and Zohreh Tayari’s ‘Sexism or gender differentiation and class differentiation in George Bernard Shaw’s arms and the man’
http://article.sciencepublishinggroup.com/pdf/10.11648.j.ijla.20140201.12.pdf
Vita Vendityaningtyas’ ‘The Petkoffs’ Social Status and its Impact on Louka’s Desire for Social Mobility in George
Bernhard Shaw’s Arms and the Man’
http://www.ikippgrimadiun.ac.id/ejournal/sites/default/files/vita_0.pdf
Anna Månevik’s ‘What Makes a Man? Hegemonic Masculinity in Arms and the Man by G.B. Shaw’ http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:484345/FULLTEXT01.pdf

Preface to The Irrational Knot
http://www.online-literature.com/george_bernard_shaw/irrational-knot/0/
The Open University

Glossary of Terms

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