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Summative Entry

The Nineteenth Century gives me real insights into human and social issues that are still current in the 21st century.

The work of the Romantics alongside writers such as Dickens and Earnest has raised my awareness of the universality of the concerns they raise in society. Examining all of the blogs I’ve made this semester in hindsight there is a common thematic thread of freedom. Freedom of expression, of thought, of knowledge, of possibility. This incorporates the Romantic values of imagination and the openness of nature, Dicken’s repudiation of the narrow desire for facts and Earnest’s satire of a society of surfaces. What all these notions also share in one manner or another is the importance of Wordsworth ‘wise passivenesses’, of taking the time to be receptive to the world and what it has to offer you without being overwhelmed with the demands of society. Indeed all these principles are highly relevant to the present day and arguably so long is civilization they will continue to resonate with readers of their works.

In my first blog, a critical analysis of the film Pandaemonium, I explored this very question of the film’s relevance to the 21st century. I began with a series of comments on freedom throughout the world, both historically and today. Pertinent to this discussion was the constant bombardment of information we receive in the digital age, to disseminate knowledge on a scale hereto unimaginable, yet coming at the cost of mindfulness. As I discussed, distractions lurk in every corner.

This would subsequently serve as a direct inspiration for my second blog; The Siren Call of technology. Taking the opening line of Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much with Us”, I retained his use of pagan mythology and fears of a world detached from nature and transposed them to the modern day. I sought to poetically convey the constant lure of phones and social media and the thrall they hold upon 21st Century society, often to the detriment of our appreciation of each other and the world. Indeed, it attempts to do so as I write this!   

My third blog, a creative piece on a grandiose artwork depicting the visit of Queen Sheba from the NSW Art Gallery, was in many ways a reflections of the painter’s intentions, escapism. Just as the art sought to distract from the state of England at the time, which the writers in this unit have critiqued in one form or another, so I sought to take a momentary respite from its concerns. From a technical standpoint I enjoyed the process of writing this blog the most, as I feel my skills are most developed in descriptive prose writing.

The fourth blog I wrote on Dickens finished on an uplifting note. I discovered that for all the fallibilities of Mr Gradgrind the fact-finder, he proved himself to be a decent person. This message is a positive and timely reminder for today’s world of the possibility for redemption. It is never too late to be humble and open to others. Likewise, the emphasis on the value of creative expression was personally appreciated.

Taking this course has made me more conscious of my technological dependence, the consequence of an industrialised, capitalist society.  Personally speaking, it also provided me with validation for my choice to pursue literature at a tertiary level. The level of importance this notion of creative expression is given throughout the entirety of this unit is evident in the course of my blogging this semester. The concerns of the 19th century find themselves conceptually reflected in the 21st century, indeed some to an even greater degree in an ever more connected and artificial world. In the current climate of isolation and worldwide pandemic, it is a timely reminder of what is truly significant in our world.

‘Picturesque London – or, sky-signs of the times’, Punch, 6 Sept 1890.


One thought on “Summative Entry

  1. Wow, what a fabulous image to use to capture the mood and times of the 19th Century. This summary of all your blogs is wonderful! It covers such a great range and in such detail. Thank you for all this great work during the semester Andrew!


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