Annotated Bibliography Medusa

Cixous, Hélène, et al. The Laugh of the Medusa. Vol. 1, ser. 4, University of Chicago Press, 1976.

Hélène Cixous and describes her thoughts about women and literature. She also talks about, and states her opinion on women and “their inevitable struggle with man”. This essay goes on to mention the “liberation of the New Woman from the old” which parallels to the transformation of Medusa from her old mythical meaning to that of her new symbolic, feminine meaning. Cixous tells of how almost nothing is written on femininity and feminine sexuality.

Siren - Cixous uses this mythical term to talk about how different things would be if historical roles were switched (if the sirens were actually men).

Crime - The author talks about crime being that men have led women to hate themselves.

Suppression - An important theme throughout the writing, several times Cixous talks about how the feminine has been suppressed throughout history, and that has led to her fear of masculine superiority.

Direct Quotes: “Men have committed the greatest crime against women. Insidiously, violently, they have led them to hate women, to be their own enemies, to mobilize their immense strength against themselves, to be the executants of their virile needs”

“Wouldn’t the worst be, isn’t the worst, in truth, that women aren’t castrated, that they have only to stop listening to the Sirens (for the Sirens were men) for history to change its meaning?”

“It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her - by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be, as an arrow quits the bow with a movement that gathers and separates the vibrations musically, in order to be more than herself”

Helene Cixous is a renowned feminist writer who received honorary degrees from the likes of Georgetown University and University of York, while also being a Professor at Cornell University. These along with her expert vocabulary and strong support in her essay establish her ethos for this paper. I chose this work because Cixous uses personal opinion backed up by corresponding literary evidence to make a strong argument about femininity. I plan on using this source when I bring up how along with Medusa, femininity is growing/changing with the progression of time.

French, Lawrence. "Supernal Dreams: Ray Harryhausen on the original CLASH OF THE TITANS." Cinefantastique. Cinefantastique Online, 4 Apr. 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

This article is a one on one interview with the cinemation director Ray Harryhausen. In the article, the interviewer asks Harryhausen multiple questions about his rendition of Clash of the Titans, including ones about the Medusa character Harryhausen created. Ray Harryhausen describes his inspiration and his spin on the gorgon that has triggered the way Medusa has mostly been depicted as since.

Inspiration - Harryhausen is descriptive of his inspiration for the Medusa he created, including his lengthy research and desire to depict the Gorgon with a stronger aura.

Mysterious - This is the feeling he wanted to give off with Medusa and her environment.

Dramatic - Harryhausen really strived to make Medusa frightening and demonic to give off the dramatic effect he desired.

Direct Quotes: “most of the classical Medusa’s were simply a rather attractive looking woman’s face with snakes in her hair. That wouldn’t turn anybody to stone”

“I gave her a scaly face, and a more evil face than most of the classical concepts"

“I thought it would be a good way to have her enter the scene—having her pull herself along with her arms. It gives a very weird impression when you first see her. She seems like a freak, so you feel a bit sorry for her”

The interview is directly with the animator Ray Harryhausen, so that gives the interview the credit it needs to be believable. I chose this as a source because it is the first record I could find of Medusa being depicted differently than the classical sense, especially in popular literacy. I plan on using this in the beginning of my paper to introduce the change of Medusa from her classical representation to her present day meaning, then use that to introduce her as a symbol of feminism.

Leonard, Miriam, and Vanda Zajko. Laughing With Medusa : Classical Myth And Feminist Thought. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2006. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

This book is about classical myth and compares it to politics, history, science and poetry. Throughout all of those comparisons, the authors put Medusa and several other ancient myths through a rigorous psychoanalysis. These analyses deeper understand how the meaning of these stories/characters has transformed throughout history, and how they have differently affected the subjects listed above.

Threat - The authors use this to talk about how masculinity is threatened when the gender is being criticized. This goes along with (“You lost your man card?) etc.

Hope - This is used in correlation with femininity, and talks about how the feminine gender hopes to be masculine (aka they want to be recognized as strong and able).

Homogeneity - This word is used to compare the above two ideas, and how the differences in genders creates an eternal inequality. (Think girls are generally better at organizing, creativeness and men are better at physical tasks etc).

Direct Quotes - “ Femininity hopes(to be masculine)”.

“Masculinity is threatened(with the loss of masculinity)”.

“They open up or rule out certain possibilities, according to their syntactical and semantic nature".

The ethos in the book is established with plentiful resources, showing an intense amount of research. One author Miriam Leonard, establishes ethos because she is a professor of Greek mythology and its reception/understanding. The other author Vanda Zajko is a Doctorate lecturer at University of Bristol, which establishes her as a professional and an expert on the topic. I like this source due to its easy understandability and how it emphasizes the influence of Medusa’s change on the change of society around it.

Richards, Arlene Kramer. "Woman As Medusa In Basic Instinct." Psychoanalytic Inquiry 18.2 (1998): 269-280. PsycINFO. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

This article basically summarizes the movie Basic Instinct. It takes several important scenes and highlights the metaphorical similarities between the characters/events and the traits of the mythical character Medusa. The vocabulary and organization easily highlights these similarities.

Temptress - This is used to describe a woman and her similarities to Medusa.

Vulva - This term is used in the literal meaning, but the context is comparing the appeal of the vulva to that dangerous appeal of the mythical monster herself.

Power - Power appears several times talking about the pull and influence of the feminine physique and aura.

Direct Quotes - “Basic Instinct evokes the primal fear of the vulva, the Medusa that turns man into stone".

“The sight of female genital stuns the whole roomful of men”.

“He is on the road to his destruction”.

Like the previous source, the overall ethos is really established by the amount of sources, and the amount of research the author did on her analysis. The author herself is a practicing psychoanalyst and an author who has written several papers on the female genitalia and its influence on American culture. She serves as a counselor at the American Psychoanalytic Association. I liked this as a source because it took something more exciting than just novels and dissertations, and compared them to Medusa and how she was represented throughout the movie metaphorically. I plan on using this source to talk about some of the unusual metaphors Medusa has been used for (vulva etc).

Showalter, Elaine. "Laughing Medusa: Feminist Intellectuals At The Millennium." Women 11.1/2 (2000): 131-138. LGBT Life with Full Text. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

This article ponders the questions if “the feminist intellectual is dead”. It then takes evidence from several women such as Margaret Fuller who created the character Cassandra, who does not fit into masculine expectations. The article also brings up Florence NIghtingale as a living example of “Cassandra”. Another metaphor is brought up called the “Dark Lady”, who is a “an exceptional intellectual in a community of men”. Throughout the reading, both of these ideas are built upon and and analyzed with the rise of feminists in the current decade.

Messiah - Is used to describe a “feminine messiah, one who would sacrifice herself to change women’s lives”.

Intellectual - This is a recurring term in this passage. The whole article is the contemplation of the so called “death” of the feminine intellectual.

Men - While this is a common, simple word it is important in this article, as it is pertinent to the explanation of the feminine intellectual and her relationship with the community of men around her.

Direct quotes - “The dominant myth of this century has been that of the Dark Lady, the token woman or exceptional intellectual in a community of men”.

“Another important model has been the feminist Messiah, the exceptional female saviour who would sacrifice herself to change women’s lives, but who also has to be superior to them”.

“Cassandras, she declared, `are very commonly unhappy at present', because their intellectual style does not fit into the expectations of the masculine world".

The author has a doctorate in English and was a professor at Rutgers College and later Princeton University. This article builds rapport by using strong comparison of historical and literal figures to the progression of feminism, feminist intellectuals. Several comparisons are to large women of influence in the past such as Florence Nightingale. This article stuck out to me based on its uses of real life examples. I plan on using it bring up the same point.

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