On the last day of class, members of Dr. Robin Inboden’s Victorian Arts & Society class got to take a trip into downtown Springfield to visit the Mast Mansion (Castle Knoll) to view Victorian architecture and to have a celebratory tea party for the end of the semester.
Local architect Lon Krider designed the mansion for Phineas and Anna Mast in 1882. Taking approximately three years to construct, the mansion has become a center for Victorian architecture in Springfield.
Students can find the Castle Knoll at 901 West High Street, right above the railroad tracks. Tours can be scheduled through Turner Foundation historian Kevin Rose. The mansion, however, is in deep construction to restore it to its grandeur from its days as a nursing home.
There is no set completion date as the Turner Foundation is also restoring other historic buildings in Springfield while working on the Mast Mansion.
Students in Inboden’s 354 got to sample a variety of teas as well as quaint sandwiches, scones, and hobnobs, all while wearing paper crowns, courtesy of Christmas crackers.
“I want to be valued, not valuable.”
Sponsored by the English Department, the Women’s Studies Program, and the Womyn’s Center, students and faculty gathered for a media discussion to talk about the popular book and Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale, late last semester.
Students and faculty discussed differences between the series and the book, the premise of The Handmaid’s Tale and its purpose in today’s society, prevalent sexism and the forms it may come in, critical remarks, analysis of important characters, societal parallels, and how current issues may connect to the tale.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Susan Denaker, is a dystopian tale of a woman, Offred, who is forced to become a handmaid, also known as a sexual slave that is required to bear children for those who are infertile. The woman in this world, specifically the handmaids, are incredibly oppressed and suffer various tortures, such as the gouging of eyes, mutilation, and rape. This a world in which women have been stripped of all rights and are no longer valued as respectable human beings.
While dystopian literature can be an entertaining work of fiction, it can be easy for the material to hit close to home. Some readers even avoid dystopian literature because the content feels too real to them, almost like a cautionary tale of what is to come. Many feel it is better to avoid the genre until society itself feels safer. However, it is important to note that while creating the tale, the producers did not want to include anything that was not already happening to women elsewhere. This means that while some are avoiding the genre for being “too real,” for others this is their reality, a reality they do not have the luxury of avoiding.
The book and the series seem to be telling the same story, but with a different purpose. While they both are created in an era of uncertainty, the Hulu series can be described as more of an inspirational tale, as the female characters are more empowered early on.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a true push between religion and science, where one may question what happens when science fails us and we turn back to religion. In a world where the reasoning behind infertility is blurred, religion becomes an anchor with an extremist mentality. It is a religion of subjugating women based on biblical text, as they are expendable and not meant to be valued – emphasizing Offred’s quote of, “I want to valued, not valuable.”
With parallels between pro-life and the Net Neutrality act – a form of controlling the media and who may have access to it – some may wonder if a tale like this is truly dystopian, if it is truly an impossibility, and if we doing this to ourselves already?
-Written by Nikki Howard, ’20