Winter Progress

The past few weeks have been a busy one for my thesis! I am coming to the end of working on my chapter on the role of hands in “Janet’s Repentance.” This has been incredibly fun to write since this text is so rich in haptic imagery. I have traced the abusive hand of Robert Dempster, through the Christ-like hand of the Reverend Tryan, to the redeemed filial and maternal hand.

One of my most exciting developments this month was deciding to not only consider represented hands – those fully fleshed out, so to speak – but also moments when hands are not mentioned at all. Interestingly, the heroine, Janet, and her mother’s hands are both unrepresented at the beginning of the novella, as Janet suffers the abuse of her husband. Her hands are erased just as she lacks agency. Yet, at the end of the novella, both maternal and filial hands are described clasped together. I think this haptic transformation beautifully speaks to the female triumph over masculine abuse by the end of Eliot’s short work.

With this new discovery in mind, the more I write on “Janet’s Repentance,” the more I feel there is to write! But as I transition into my next chapter on hands in “The Mill on the Floss,” I will have to learn to lovingly turn my attention to my next novel.

Also – I am meeting with President Rowe this week to discuss the role of hands in fiction! Among a host of other things, President Rowe is a literary scholar interested in the haptic, who published Dead Hands: Fictions of Agency, Renaissance to Modern in 1999. I cannot wait to discuss it with her and how it relates to my thesis. More exciting updates on that to come.