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Archive for October, 2012

BOP Paper Project

While the project as a whole was challenging, there were many aspects of the project that helped to further my knowledge on the subject matter.  Our group focused on the works in part 184, the June, 1894 issue of the Boy’s Own Paper.  I had never held a text that held so much history.  I am used to readings works from different time periods, but never have I been in contact with a work in its original form.  To look at our copy of the BOP just as someone might have seen it in 1894 is an awe-inspiring idea.  This was my favorite part of the project.  It is easy enough to find this material online, but when you hold it in your hand and see all of the illustrations and advertisements you get a sense of the time that can not be captured online.

As project manager one of the things that I was most proud of was the fact that my group did work collaboratively and did not just divide up the work.  While not everyone in the group wanted to work collaboratively and choose not to participate to the full extent, we still worked as a group.  I felt that this ultimately benefited our group because we were on the same page with where the project was going and we got to know one another better.

As with everything that is being done for the first time there are bound to be things that one notices that can be improved upon in the next go-around.  Overall I thought that all of the presentations went really well.  As someone who is shy and finds public speaking very intimidating I was very proud that every group got up there and did a wonderful job presenting their material.  I was a little disappointed that every group decided to use some version of a Power Point to present their material.  On the assignment sheet there we a lot of suggestions for how to present the material and I was surprised that more groups did not utilize these forms to present.  Our group choose to use Power Point because we wanted to focus on the visual material in the BOP and that was the medium that we all felt would best lend itself to that purpose and it was also the tool that we were most comfortable with.  I think in the future it could be helpful to provide a tutorial on some of the other presentation tools.  That way the presentations would be more varied and in the future it would could be a useful thing to know.

A problem that our group encountered was that there was so much information about the BOP and so many interesting ways that we could have taken our project that we found ourselves under a mountain of information.  It was a challenge to scale back the research and what information we wanted to present to the class because there were so many interesting things that we discovered and wanted to share with our classmates.  Luckily there was another BOP group that helped us cover the information that we did not get to focus on.  Overall I felt that we were able to deliver

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The Boy’s Own Paper was started by the Religious Tract Society in an effort to prevent the young boys of the time from reading cheap novels known as “Penny Dreadfuls”. There were different authors and artists inside of the serial, but the entire paper was published by Orchid-House. The Boy’s Own Paper was a long-running serialized magazine that continued well into the 20th century, but for this study, we chose to focus on the work in part 184, the June, 1894 issue of the Boy’s Own Paper. The magazine cost sixpence, which was relatively inexpensive during this time so that the intended audience could afford to buy it. There was a lot of art in the magazines to capture the boys attention and to enhance the non-fiction and fictional works within the Boy’s Own Paper. There were also instructional images within the magazine; for instance, in part 184, there were illustrations of gymnastic moves for the boys to try out. Photography, though fairly new during this time, was also included in the Boy’s Own Paper. One of the most prominent additions to the magazine was the inclusion of advertisements, a big part of the Victorian era.The boys buying this material were from the middle-class and the upper-class because they could afford it, and the fictional works and information inside benefited them. Some parents might have bought the Boy’s Own Paper for their sons in the hopes that it would help them advance in society. The Boy’s Own Paper, which included many works, pictures, and engravings, set about to shape the young men of the Victorian era into the ideal of masculinity through what they absorbed in this serialized magazine.
In British history, the Victorian era marks the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 until 1901. This was a time of peace, wealth, refined sensibilities and national pride in Britain. The Victorian era was also a time of economic, colonial and industrial consolidation. During this time, British culture moved toward romanticism and mysticism in religion, social values, and the arts. In Britain, this was a time of political, industrial and voting reform. Advances in travel and trade were made during this time due to the incredible new power of the steam engine, which was applied to both ships and trains. This is evident in the BOP through advertisements and nautical images. The advancements made in trade culminated in the creation of the first postage stamp, the Penny Black. It was essential because it standardized postage and created a flat price regardless of the distance the mail was sent. The importance of the stamps is evident in the fact that there are numerous stamp advertisements in the BOP.
Society was changing and so were people’s values. To be considered respectable, a person had to conform to certain social standards such as having good manners, owning a house, attending church, and being charitable. People during this time valued duty and hard work, because this was a time of great industrialization. The people who possessed these values were considered to be members of the middle class while people who did not were considered members of the lower class. As for children, they were supposed to be “seen and not heard”. Working class children actually worked and were treated more like smaller adults than children. Children from wealthy families were expected to go to school, study, and most importantly, carry on the family name. Children weren’t cherished as much as they are today. Sometimes, parents couldn’t be bothered raising their children, so the servants did it for them. This passive parenting is where a serial like the BOP would step in to help prune and shape boys into proper gentlemen and avert their attention from the vices of the time.
Colonialism was an important part of the Victorian era and it created a sense of national pride. Within Britain, it also created a sense of racial superiority in which the British people believed that they were performing God’s will by imposing their way of life on others. In Daily Life in Victorian England Sally Mitchell comments, “The English believed that their government and legal system (as well as their sciences and religion) were the best in the world. School books in history and geography said it was good to ‘bring civilization’ to ‘savages’ who welcomed the blessings of peace, security and justice,”(276). This idea is evident in the art of the BOP that accompanies the fictional work about travel and exploration as well as the extreme nationalism and emphasis on the superiority of the British products in advertisements. It also exhibited exoticism in pictures and engravings which supplied fanciful and romantic representations of other nations.
The Boy’s Own Paper often painted an idyllic mega-byronic hero, with the engravings portraying men shooting leopards and lions, fighting savages and wandering in some exotic region. As to prove a good example to the nation’s youth, the heroes of the BOP tended to follow their moral compass more readily than the typical byronic hero. Michael Kimmel breaks down the heroes and adventures of the BOP, “ In their plots and characters these books encouraged the values of the industry, godliness, pluck, bravery, patriotism, attention to duty, and loyalty,”(105). It overflows with imperialist values and British nationalism, and the values that they are trying to supplant on their readership are obvious in the engravings and photographs. The blatant stereotyping of other races and emphasis on the supposed superiority of the British Empire were meant to instill a sense of duty and responsibility in young men.
The most essential change that the Victorian Era produced was the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which has been heralded as “…the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants,”. (McCloskey, Deidre (2004)). With the Industrial Revolution came something new that continues to run the world today-the rise of the modern capitalist system and it’s primary engine, the corporation. While corporations have been a mainstay of civilization since the 17th century, their power and importance to the world was nowhere near as pronounced. However, “By the beginning of the 19th century, government policy on both sides of the Atlantic began to change, reflecting the growing popularity of the proposition that corporations were riding the economic wave of the future.”(wikipedia.com). This change was prompted by the rise of the modern industry, an economic juggernaut unseen through history that was and still is powered by the corporations. The governments of the 19th century were the first to realize this and, “At around the same time, British legislation was similarly freeing the corporation from historical restrictions” (wikipedia.com), granting almost unlimited power and freedoms to the companies that were guiding them into the modern world. This rise of the corporation gave the world the modern economy, the horrors that we primarily associate with the Industrial Revolution (child labor, inhumane working conditions, long hours, etc.), and the rise of advertising. Though advertising had existed since the Enlightenment, this form of advertising is almost entirely alien to the modern world, as, “These early print advertisements were used mainly to promote books and newspapers…”(wikipedia.com). Because corporations barely existed, and were certainly not very important at the time, 18th century societies saw no need to give them advertising space. However, as one can clearly see upon a quick glance at The Boy’s Own Paper, advertising and it’s purpose had completely and utterly changed into the far more familiar modern version we are familiar with today-advertisements that advertise products and services offered by corporations. This was no coincidence, the rise of the corporation that accompanied the Industrial Revolution naturally saw an unprecedented change in advertising. While advertisements were a relative rarity in the past, “As the economy expanded during the 19th century, advertising grew alongside,” (wikipedia.com). This sudden flood of advertisements seen in The Boy’s Own Paper is not just a sudden fad, but rather it serves as an incredible window into the staggering changes in the economies and societies of the 19th century that came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

The industrialization of Britain created a growing middle class, which affected society’s cultural norms, lifestyles, values and morality. While before work often occurred at home, these two aspects of life were separated during the Victorian Era. Privacy was now a normal aspect of everyday life for the middle class. In this patriarchal society, the husband possessed the authority, which was why the BOP set out to shape boys into the ideal male figure: strong, courageous, and responsible, with a healthy dose of national pride.
During the Victorian era, males had specific gender expectations assigned to them. Considering this was the time of industrialization, masculinity was tied to work. The societal status and masculinity of men was heavily dependent on their work and position as the breadwinner and consequently, idleness was far from ideal and was considered to be feminine. Martin Danahay discusses the victorian work ethic and masculinity, “It’s Victorian version is the internalization of the compulsion to work as a mark of masculine morality…in the Victorian period it was seen primarily as a masculine duty,”(8). Aside from work, there were other influential factors like religion, which also contributed to the concept of masculinity. Sir Richard Evans commented during a lecture “Religion pervaded social and political life to an extent almost unimaginable today.” Consequently, Christianity played a role in the Victorians’ concept of masculinity in that a man of this time was expected to be a strong spiritual guide and a fervent and dedicated believer. The husband/father wielded the power of his household, since in the Christian religion, the leadership role falls upon the male figure. The BOP in its initial conception was created by the Religious Tract Society for this purpose, to shape upstanding, respectable and spiritual British gentlemen. Manliness was also connected with the ability to protect those who were weaker, such as women and children. This can be seen in some of the engravings where a man is rescuing a child from savages.
Masculinity was also connected with the expectation for men to be active in the public in some way. It was also believed that men should not only be well educated, but also athletic. This idea of being more able-bodied and active started when men were much younger. Huggins addresses this ideal, “A second thrust was a generational on, aimed at discouraging middle-class youth from more sinful pleasures and curtailing potential leisure freedoms,”(586). Young boys were introduced to various sports and games in school so they would become more athletic as they continued to grow. The importance placed upon being educated and athletic is seen throughout the BOP with the stories and articles addressing these ideas directly and indirectly. The BOP attempted to instill a sense of sportsmanship and shift from more violent unruly sports. A good example of this in our issue of the BOP was an article that was accompanied with engravings about Swedish gymnastics. It was recommended as a wholesome alternative to other more pedestrian sports. Even the advertisements present in BOP emphasize the significance of athleticism and its ties to masculinity. For example, there are many advertisements for sportswear and cricket supplies suitable for a gentlemen, in part 184 of the Boy’s Own Paper.
History has always been a collaborative process, and it is only through thorough
and careful analysis of all objects of the past that a truly authoritative history can be finally formed. As it has been in the past, so it was once again with the analysis of this 1894 issue of The Boy’s Own Paper. A product of the Victorian Era, this magazine serves as an incredible window into a time when the world was changing forever, when the ways of the old finally made way for the world that we know and reside in today.

Works Cited
“Advertising.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertising&gt;.
“Boys Own Paper.” Boys Own Paper. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://www.stellabooks.com/articles/featuredbooks/boys_own.php&gt;.
“The Boyâ s Own Paper Recruited Youngsters for the Colonial Service.” Historical Articles and Illustrations » Blog Archive » The Boyâ s Own Paper Recruited Youngsters for the Colonial Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://www.lookandlearn.com/blog/15481/the-boys-own-paper-recruited-youngsters-for-the-colonial-service/&gt;.
“Characteristics of the Byronic Hero.” Characteristics of the Byronic Hero. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www.umd.umich.edu/casl/hum/eng/classes/434/charweb/CHARACTE.htm&gt;.
“Corporation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation&gt;.
Danahay, Martin A. Gender at Work in Victorian Culture: Literature, Art and Masculinity. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate Pub., 2005. Print.
Evans, Sir Richard, FBA. “The Victorians: Religion and Science.” Museum of London, London. 14 Mar. 2011. Lecture.
Huggins, Mike. “More Sinful Pleasures? Leisure, Respectability and the Male Middle Classes in Victorian England.” Journal of Social History 33.3 (2000): 585-600. JSTOR. Web.
Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004. Print.
McCloskey, Deidre. “”Review of The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain.” Ed. Roderick Floud and Paul Johnson. Times Higher Education Supplement (n.d.): n. pag. 15 Jan. 2004. Web. <http://deirdremccloskey.org/articles/floud.php&gt;.
Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996. Print.
“One. The Struggle for Manhood in Victorian Fiction: Introduction.” One. The Struggle for Manhood in Victorian Fiction: Introduction. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www.victorianweb.org/gender/heroes/1.html&gt;.
“THE VICTORIAN AGE.” THE VICTORIAN AGE. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://www.atuttascuola.it/risorse/inglese/the_victorian_age.htm&gt;.
“Victorian Era.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_era&gt;.
“Victorian Masculinity.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_masculinity&gt;.
“Victorian Values.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_values&gt;.

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The concept of imperialism and the empire has often been seen as the pinnacle of many civilizations throughout history: the Romans, the British, the French, and others  believed in the importance of creating and maintaining an empire as a crown jewel of their respective civilizations. Therefore, often accompanying this notion of empire is the notion of civilization, control, independence, and power. While many of these concepts have been unfairly linked primarily to men throughout history, one of the most famous of feminist literary heroes also embodies all these traits that lie at the heart of all empires-that hero is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

Although Jane initially sees herself as plain, unimportant, and un-extraordinary, she possess a remarkable grasp of these traits so praised by the British from the beginning of the story. Even as a child in a hostile environment, Jane quickly made her own way, refusing to have others dictate her fate and leaving her aunt to seek a better life for herself. This strength and determination of character was also supposedly one of the defining traits of the British Empire and one that was cherished by her citizens.This aforementioned strength also served Jane well in her new home at Lowood, an all girl’s school, as it allowed Jane to prevail over a disease that took the lives of many of her classmates, including her best friend. Instead of succumbing to her sorrow, Jane persevered-just as  the British Empire was want to do for “all time”-and rose to a position of  power in the school, becoming a teacher and imparting her knowledge unto a new generation. She takes up the  “white man’s burden” and teaches an uneducated foreigner (Adele) and then goes out into the “wild” and spreads education and civilization, taking an almost missionary position.

This strength of character can be seen throughout the novel, not just when she was at Lowood. Jane demonstrates her independence many times, whether she leaves Thornfield and Rochester behind to seek out a new way of life, or when she decides to go back to Rochester at the end of the novel. She certainly doesn’t have to, she is an independent woman who doesn’t need anyone’s help, but she does go back and when she does, it’s because she chose to. Jane is frequently overcoming the constraints of  her position. Her sense of control can be seen all throughout the novel as well. It is especially obvious when she is at Lowood or when she is still living with Mrs. Reed. In these cases, she is dependent and she has to abide by the rules that are in place so she conforms to them and it gives her a certain respect for authority that was praised in British society at the time.  In her dealings with Rochester, her sense of control is very obvious, at least, until she becomes more familiar with him. She is guarded and wary ,but loosens up after a while. Her time at Lowood really makes an impact on her character and she is careful in all her dealings, not so much so that it stifles her character growth, but enough that it becomes a part of her character. That’s not to say that she is in any way meek or timid; in fact, she is the most influential and powerful character in the entire book.
Mr. Rochester is the foil to Jane’s imperial power. He lives outside of civilization and is almost savage. He is excessively snarky and attempts to marry Jane while still married to Bertha Mason. He sequesters Ms. Mason away in  a hidden room, has affairs, is generally crass, and toys with Blanche Ingram. He is the complete opposite of the Victorian ideals of respectability, responsibility and strict moral behavior ,whereas Jane exemplifies those qualities. She is contained, demands respect, is responsible when Rochester is not, and abandons their plans for marriage when she discovers the existence of Ms. Mason. Rochester is also rescued by Jane on more than one occasion, first during the fire, and then when he is left in squalor and handicapped. Jane also inherits a large fortune, which is often left to male relations, and is able to support Rochester. He takes the feminine role in that instance and becomes dependent of Jane. In the Victorian era, being idle was considered  to be feminine, while working was tied into the concept of masculinity. The men worked and the women stayed home and were busy raising the children and sewing. Rochester takes a passive stance and is often idle, whereas Jane is an active force, enacting change and being a productive citizen in the case with the school in the countryside.This also reinforces Jane’s role as the empire as she lifts up the less fortunate Rochester, much like Britain felt they should do with other nations.

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