Week 9b (11)

The schedule got a little crooked this week. The Tuesday class read The Tempest together and the Wednesday class dug deep on your ideas for your theses. And I find myself feeling like each group missed what the other group got, so I have a scheme to even it all out in the weeks to come. So, onward.

Wednesday people, I invite you all to come to the Tuesday class next week: Nov. 13, 1:40-4:30, Honors Hall 12. If you can come, that’s ideal. If you can’t, it’s ok.

Tuesday people, I’ll explain that when I see you on Tuesday!

Ok, everybody, a couple more things.

Don’t forget about the deadline coming soon for the accelerated M.A. application.

I just created a page for the exam, and I posted a lot of info for you there. We’ll get to the details about the exam itself later, but I think it’ll be helpful for you to know more about the format for it now as we keep talking about your reading list.

I also updated the page of info about the proposal, including information that is relevant to you for you this week. We’ll do a draft workshop for about half of the session in the Tuesday class, so:

  • Bring three copies of your working draft of your proposal. Don’t freak out! You’re not turning this in; you’re just sharing it with your friends, who are here to help you. We all know that this is just a draft, and we’ll work in groups to address any questions you have so that you can make your revision really strong.
  • Consider volunteering to have your draft discussed by the whole group. We’ll discuss one working draft together to help its writer decide the best way to proceed toward the revision of the proposal. Might this be you?

If you would like to volunteer have your proposal draft discussed, email me now to let me know!

The person who volunteers will have the benefit of the whole group’s eyes on their thesis idea as we think together about a question that is relevant to all: How can you strengthen your thesis idea earlier than later, to make the writing process as good for you as it can possibly be?


As you might imagine, I have some ideas. And I’m really excited about the ideas you’ve discussed with me so far. You’re raising questions that are subjects of real debate among professional critics, and you’re raising them in a spirit of genuine curiosity. That is exactly what I hoped you’d do!

I’m also setting aside time in the weeks to come to talk to you about your thesis at every stage, so check here to make an appointment.

All right. Now back to the discussion for this week.


I just reread the Federici chapter, and I am pretty excited about it. I’m going to bring you hard copies at our next class, and I suspect that I might put it on your reading list for the exam, because it lends itself so well to our discussion so far. I think it can be really useful to a lot of you for your theses, so we’ll talk about it with that in mind, asking:

  • What are the main ideas here, and what are the most interesting ideas?
  • Where do you see her making a claim that seems important to her argument?
  • Where do you see her making a claim that resonates with other texts we’ve read, and other discussions we’ve had?

I think this text might seem “hard” at first, but you’ll get into it as you go, particularly if you focus your attention in this way. I’ll just tell you that I was struck by the applicability of Federici’s argument to so many of the texts we’ve discussed, even though they might seem to have very little in common otherwise: Bartleby, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, Antigone, also this.

What else?

And note that we’re going to discuss this chapter pretty closely in class, along with The Tempest, so you should read them both carefully, too.


As you think ahead to that, I would like to look more closely at specific passages from The Tempest, so you might use your blog post to note them in advance. I like this one:

Alonso: These are not natural events/ they strengthen
From strange to stranger. (V.1.228)

And these two are very canonical, for good reason. How do you interpret them?

Caliban: You taught me language; and my profit on’t
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!

We talked about that one briefly, I think, but we didn’t get to this one, which interests Federici, too.

Prospero: “This thing of darkness I/ Acknowledge mine.”

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12 Responses to Week 9b (11)

  1. One main idea that intrigued me in Sylvia Federici’s “Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation” was this discussion of how the body is viewed in literature. She asserts, “The body, then, came to the foreground of social policies because it appeared not only as a beast inert to the stimuli of work, but also the container of labor-power, a means of production, the primary work-machine” (Federici, 3-4). Federici discusses how the body is not only used for doing work, but how much work one can do. This word “work-machine” captured my attention because it caused me to think how slaves were treated as if they were machines rather than human beings. Slaves were also viewed as disposable like a machine. Then, it’s here where I started to think about Professor Fisk’s quote on Caliban. Caliban proclaims how, “You taught me language; and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you / For learning me your language!” (I.2.363). Caliban announces in Prospero’s presence how he has been taught a language that people can make money from. He explicitly states how he wishes he was never taught their language.

    Caliban is there to work as Federici discusses in her text. We see that Prospero tells Caliban, “Hag-seed hence! / Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou’ rt best / To answer other business” (I.2.366). Prospero makes it clear that he doesn’t care what Caliban told him. It’s as if he wants him to shut up and continue working since he has another task to get done. Again, it’s like Caliban is a “work machine.” Prospero wants him to be quiet, which machines are. In other words, machines don’t speak. Then, Prospero has other tasks for him to do. I also noticed that Prospero calls Caliban a “hag-seed” meaning he is the child of a witch. So, Prospero is basically insulting him, while telling him to get to work at the same time.

  2. Venessa says:

    Federici’s piece was very interesting in the way that it commoditizes the body in a capitalist perspective. She says, “the reform of the body is at the core of the bourgeois ethic because capitalism makes acquisition ‘the ultimate purpose of life’ (2). Labor becomes the meaning of life in a capitalist world, and the body is merely a tool for that use. Caliban in The Tempest is therefore a metaphor for a capitalist slave. His deformed body is the effect of a labor-induced society, which is bound to. Federici also points out, “By transforming labor into a commodity, capitalism causes workers to submit their activity to an external order over which they have no control and with which they cannot identify” (2). This is seen in The Tempest, when Caliban is given orders he cannot refuse. Prospero tells him, “Hag-seed, hence! Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou’rt best, To answer other business” (19). Caliban is subjected to doing what Prospero wants. While he is an actual slave in the story, he is symbolically a representation of the body as a slave to capitalism. In the capitalist world, people do their jobs for a wage. Even if they don’t like what they do, they have to do it. They may or may not like their boss, but they have to listen to them. That is definitely a form of slavery. Having to yield to the will of another is the form of capital slavery that is labor. Federici also says, “Capitalism also attempts to overcome our ‘natural state,’ by breaking the barriers of nature and by lengthening the working day beyond the limits set by…and the body itself” (2). This is another representation that Caliban embodies. His deformity has been caused by his servitude. That is the body of the laborer. They wilt away working, until they can no longer work. It is not done out of enjoyment, but out of the capitalist requirement. It is a form of bondage that is represented through Caliban.

  3. Emily Abrams says:

    Sylvia Federici provides a clear historical overview of the ways in which societal perspectives on the “body” changed with the emergence of capitalism. Citing notable French and English philosophers, Federici makes the case that the growth of capitalist economies shifted perspectives of the “body” came to the “foreground of social policies because it appeared not only as a beast inert to the stimuli of work, but also as the container of labor-power, a means of production, the primary work-machine” (137-138). Federici identifies this capitalistic perception as a departure from the feudal societies of the Middle Ages, where mysticism became “incompatible” with the “capitalist work-discipline and the requirement of social control” (143). What drives Federici’s argument is how capitalism places pressures on the individual to conform to society’s demands to achieve acquisition, the “‘ultimate purpose of life’” (135).

    Here, I see echoes of Jodi Melamed’s “Making Global Citizens,” where globalism and capitalism-geared education stand as one source of social pressure on the individual—this “mechanization of the body,” as Federici characterizes (154). As for the literature we have previously read, we can this individual-state tension exemplified in Bartleby most prominently, through his civil disobedience of Wall Street’s work demands (a capitalist emblem so to say). The Creature from “Frankenstein” is repudiated by society on the basis that his “body” was not the ideal human; instead, his society denies him the chance to even engage with the labor society. Rooted in the drive to control, Bartleby and the Creature are good examples of the nuances of work-discipline: the former refuses to comply while the latter is eager to enter society but is denied due to the form of his “body.” Curious…

    Lastly, of course, Caliban in “The Tempest,” through his “indiscipline” and “lack of productivity,” likewise underscore the social pressures of the state on the individual. Maybe we can see this best exemplified in Caliban’s hatred for learning the language, where language could stand as metaphor for society’s demands. He says this to Miranda, who had just prior rebuked him, saying, “Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good natures / Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou / Deservedly confined into this rock, / Who hadst deserved more than a prison” ( I.2.358 – 361). Here, Federici’s argument finds clear connection. Echoes to Bartleby and the Creature as well!

  4. maggie c. says:

    Sylvia Federici’s “Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation” mentions how the “Most important, the figure of the witch, who in The Tempest is confined to a remote background, in this volume is placed at the center-stage, as the embodiment of a world of female subjects that capitalism had to destroy: the heretic, the healer, the disobedient wife, the woman who dared to live alone, the obeha woman who poisoned the master’s food and inspired the slaves to revolt.” This quote interested me in particular because of how women who are strong or have a lot of power are often glossed over in terms of literature. If you think about Macbeth, the witches hold the most power there and they’re not in a large part of the book. Sure, there is Lady Macbeth, but she’s largely regarded as a villain/not portrayed to be as an example (Though me, along w/ many others would agree she’s actually a great character, but that’s a different argument for another day.) Many times when a woman has a position of power, expresses/acts explicitly on anger, or is nonconventional (i.e. living alone etc.) she’s usually a character that’s afforded very little time in many works of literature, if mentioned at at all. Alternatively, while we can make the argument about certain cases-it also has to do with purpose-sometimes a woman will be afforded more presence in a Shakespearean play (Think Viola in Twelfth Night or Hermione and Perdita in The Winter’s Tale-although one is pushed aside and the other is basically martyred.) This isn’t to say these texts can’t be explored or put on productions where these parts are made w/ more autonomy over the roles but it’s still not necessarily originally written that way and a lot of liberties are taken to make the texts interpreted that way than perhaps how they were originally meant so they can be kept relevant.

    This can be said for a lot of other books. I mean, even books written by women it happens with. Think about Frankenstein. How many times I’ve re-read Frankenstein (of my own volition as I only read it once for class, surprisingly-) and thought “what was Elizabeth thinking throughout all of this?” Or think about The Great Gatsby-Jordan is written off very quickly as being hard and cold, but her perspective would have grossly changed that story, let alone from the perspective of a character who wasn’t assumed white/straight/decently wealthy by some means within the context of the narrative. This also reminds me of Alonso’s line The Tempest about how “These are not natural events/they strengthen from strange to strange.” (V.1.228). While I know he’s referencing the storm, again, it can’t help make me think about Federici’s insight into the play/literature and how when things are unexplained it’s often written off to a woman with power who gets very little stage/dialouge if mentioned at all. It’s something that definitely needs to be explored more throughly because the lens we look at through literature, especially Eurocentric would tell a very different story/have a lot more to say if it focused on these women.

  5. Deepika Khan says:

    After English 244, I thought I had escaped all this talk about Capitalism and the bourgeoisie and all the effects they have on our society. After reading Silvia Federici’s “The Great Caliban: The Struggle Against the Rebel Body,” it’s safe to say I was wrong. Familiar phrases such as “means of production” and “work-machine” (Federici 4) have come to haunt me, once again. From what I could gather, the main idea of Federici’s essay is the human body has lost value as the body of a human, and gained value as a body of the “capitalist economy” (Federici 2). My previous statement makes more sense in my mind, so hopefully, I can explain it better in class. One of the most interesting ideas Federici proposes is the “dissociation from the body” in a capitalist society (Federici 2). The human body is disregarded as belonging to an actual person and identified as a means of labor to contribute to the economic state. For our purposes, I would say any time Federici uses Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is important to her argument. For example, Federici includes a few lines spoken by Prospero to Miranda that sees him admitting to the “value of labor” Caliban’s body brings to Prospero’s household (Federici 3). I can certainly see how Federici’s essay could be applied to Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout,” especially in regard to Hominy’s body as a labor source. Regarding the body as a “machine” (Federici 9), I could say Hominy’s body follows the “Hobbesian model” since he gives most of the control of his body to the Sellout (Federici 9).

    Moving onto Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” I would like to talk about Caliban’s outburst of words in Act I, Scene ii. As evil as Caliban is, what he says in retaliation to Miranda’s claim he was “deservedly confined into [a] rock” (I. ii. 360) makes him the ultimate rebel. He exclaims, “You taught me language; and my profit on’t/ Is, I know how to curse” (I. ii. 362-363), rebutting Prospero and Miranda’s attacks on Caliban. The fact that this unbelievable line is stated in only the second scene of the play highlights Caliban’s treacherous nature. He freely verbally attacks his masters any chance he gets while they do the same to him. It’s a constant battle of the words (or the classes of Capitalism) between Caliban and Prospero. Also, ironically, Caliban claims to “profit” from Miranda’s lessons in language by now being able to talk back to his oppressors. As the one that is supposed to be profitable to Prospero and Miranda, it’s kind of funny to think Caliban regards the knowledge of language as his profit in life.

  6. In Federici’s text, “The Great Caliban: The Struggle Against the Rebel Body” it was interesting to see how Federici chose to discuss how bodies relate to capitalism. In the text, Federici states, “It was in the attempt to form a new type of individual that the bourgeoisie engaged in that battle against the body…as a means for the satisfaction of our needs..”(135). From this it’s clear that the body wasn’t seen as anything, besides it being able to produce what was necessary, which is how labor became more important than the body itself. It was also interesting to see how the body was viewed very negatively, as Federici referenced it “as the source of all evils” (137). The fact that Federici chooses to discuss how the body plays such an important role in the way that it contributes and is a part of labor, was interesting to see how it relates to our current text. And although we might think of Caliban as the obvious example from the Tempest, he isn’t necessarily the only example from the text. In The Tempest, it’s clear that Caliban is a slave and is important to Prospero and Miranda, as he has to fetch their wood and constantly serve them. In The Tempest, the text states, “And then I loved thee/ And showed thee all the qualities o’ th’ isle,/ The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile./ Cursed be I that dd so!” (1.2.336-339). From the text, it’s clear that Caliban did everything he could to help Prospero and his daughter, however he regrets it. After realizing that he became Prospero’s slave, he seems to realize that he has lost control and instead, we see that he does have moments which he argues back with Prospero, but we also still see that he abides by Prospero’s rules. Due to the fact that Caliban doesn’t live freely, his body is in a sense controlled by Prospero, for the labor that he provides for him. But he isn’t the only example of how a body contributes to labor.

    You could argue that the character, Ariel, could also be an example of this. As Ariel is constantly assisting Prospero, he is another example of how people had no control of their body, due to the labor they had to provide. In the text, Ariel constantly shape shifts into different forms in order to assist Prospero with his tasks. In The Tempest, the text states, “All hail, great master, grave sir, hail! I come/ To answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fly,/ To Swim, toddle into the fire, to ride/ On the curled clouds. To thy strong bidding task” (1.2.189-192). From this we see that Ariel is very loyal to Prospero, and that Propsepro uses Ariel’s shapeshifting ability to his own advantage, constantly using it to manipulate others. Through this we see how physically, Prospero very much has control over Ariel’s body and that control seems to ensure that his tasks will get done to Prospero’s liking. Although, with Ariel, he does this because he believes that Prospero will one day allow him to get his freedom. We also see that Miranda is in a similar position to Caliban and Ariel. Although Miranda is Prospero’s daughter, even she is being manipulated and her body is being used for Prospero’s labor. Even though she is unaware of Prospero’s intentions, she is being used by him to carry out his tasks. So it’s interesting to see how Federici’s idea of how the body is related to labor, is represented in this text.

  7. Kaitlin Margaret McDermott says:

    Federici’s theoretical piece “Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation” traces the historical evolution of the self (specifically, the body) in respect to economic and political changes from the 16th century on. Citing the transformation of the “individual’s powers into labor powers,” Federici’s explanation hinges largely on the work of dominant thinkers, most of whom likely konown to the reader familiar with leaders in the social sciences — Descartes, Hobbes, Foucault, Marx, Weber. Her imposition of an economic and historical understanding to literary studies and ideas such as magic, spiritualism, and witchcraft, though noble in attempt and indeed fascinating in moments, fell short, in my opinion, due to her style of writing. I found the gross inflation of her language to be cumbersome and, frankly, unnecessary. Granted, this frustration with Federici may be rooted in a larger gripe that I have with critical scholarship. There seems to me to be a culture of showing-off with big words to people who then feel similarly compelled to show-off with other, bigger words, and so on until the expression of a simple idea is so inflated that the meaning is all but completely obscured. I think that in a class on the good of literature, or the good that literature can do, we should question the methods of those who study and write about literature. As young scholars soon to be writing theses in this field, questions related to this idea may be (should be) also at the front of these next few months: who are we writing for? Should understanding of the ideas articulated be limited to those who have advanced degrees in the field? Or, should these samples of writing be more inclusive and accommodating to the reader, whoever they may be? To be clear: this is not a frustration with the difficulty of texts assigned — certainly, there is value in reading challenging works and dissecting them. Rather, the issues raised refer to the pervasive inflation of simple ideas, their complicated wording hiding the lack of novel intellectual thrust behind a thin veil of tough words. Federici walks the line between interesting analysis and this showing-off, with the effect that I, a reader with interest at the outset, felt myself completely disengage by the final pages of the article. Take, as an example: “Magic, moreover rested upon a qualitative conception of space and time that precluded a regularization of the labor process” (162). Was there really no simpler way of expressing this idea? Not to harp, but…

    Anyway, I though that the part of her argument that touched on the persistence of the body-machine today as no longer being completely out of sync with magic and spiritualism was interesting. When I read that short section of her piece, I was reminded of a book called Personal Days that I read for Professor Chu’s genre class a few years ago. The novel is a dystopian story about an office workplace and the downsizing of an unnamed company in the early 2000s. Each member of dwindling staff adopts a number of “magical” superstitions to decrease the risk of their being the next to disappear, never to be heard of/contacted by the team again. The institutionalization of the workday and the identification of the character’s so much with their work identity that they fade completely after the loss of work hits many of the same points that Federici gruelingly raises.

  8. Jude Binda says:

    In “Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation,” Sylvia Federici redefines the “body” in ways that seem to be heavily influenced by the Marxist ideology. The body, in this context, is a term that is interchangeable with the vehicle of labor in a given structure. Federici states, “the individual underwent the transition to capitalism, we can see that the development of the ‘human machine’ was the main technological leap, the main step in the development of the productive forces” (7). This compares the creation of technology to the creation of social structures. The body, which is essentially the means of production in a capitalist society, is owned or controlled by the dominant class. Because there are always forces at play that set certain people up to fulfill predetermined roles, these structures go widely unrecognized as created. The body is used by the elite as pawns to reach goals and quotas that benefit the bourgeoisie.

    Speaking of the powerful using the powerless to carry out their bidding, Prospero has many characters carry out his orders. Prospero manipulates several people into doing things for him; for example, Miranda. Despite being his daughter, Miranda is at the mercy of him as he uses her body for labor. In The Tempest, Prospero constantly casts spells on her to put her to sleep. Miranda goes in and out of being awake depending on when her father wants her to be conscious, so she is largely unaware of what is happening around her. This could be seen as representative of the bourgeoisie keeping the proletariat in the dark about their influence on the world. We see Miranda’s body being used for labor again when Prospero orchestrates her meeting with Ferdinand. Miranda seems to be nothing but another piece of her father’s plan. Miranda is unaware of her purpose, so she doesn’t have complete control of her body. She carries out the labor in accordance with the endgame her father wants to achieve.

  9. So this has been two weeks of rereads now. I read the Federici article early this semester, and ironically enough I had the same complaints Kaitilin did about the lack of readability the article had. Federici’s article is an examination of the changing social constructs that came about with the industrial revolution in England, and how this came to redefine the “good” the body does. Supporting her arguments with works from Foucault, Descartes and Hobbes (and implicitly Marx, though he doesn’t get credited) , Federici posits that changing economic conditions (like longer work weeks, wage-labor, etc.) caused the body’s worth to be tied to the efficiency with which it can produce commodities, instead of its capacity for humanistic endeavors.

    I’m excited to discuss the ending of the play in class, as I think it’s the most interesting bit, if infuriating. I think the whole scene where Prospero returns his staff to the earth and renounces magic is, to be blunt, a crock. That moment, to me, reads as a man who has attained all he desires, and has no need for an implement to control the world around him. Prospero ascends the need to have a magic staff, as he is able to control with the power he has achieved on his “own” (or on the back of those he’s enslaved, but who’s counting?). Despite giving Ariel it’s freedom, pages later he still commands Ariel to ready the boat, which they do without question. Prospero still abducts Caliban from the island, and Caliban’s last lines are used regretting that he followed Alonso. Of course Prospero throws away his staff – he has all of the magic he needs to control the world at his fingertips.

  10. Khurram says:

    Sylvia Federici emphasizes the reduction of the human body during the 16th and 17th century, during a time when demands from developing capitalist economies looked to overcome the restraints of the human body and the constraints of popular, even prevailing thoughts before capitalism’s proliferation. Wage labor separated the individual from personal labor production and labor value, raised its value to become “the primary source of accumulation” (Federici), and influenced how other institutions developed, like science and spirituality, where the body was reduced to sterile, practical, non-superstitious parts. As if reason was an economically oppressive tactic, part of various systems working together to make “all bodily powers into work powers” (Federici).

    The attack by reason on magic is intriguing. Federici writes, “Eradicating these practices was a necessary condition for the capitalist rationalization of work since magic appeared as an illicit form of power and an instrument to obtain what one wanted without work, that is, a refusal of work in action.” We see what happens with the magical natives in The Tempest, and it’s interesting that their magic doesn’t set them apart or allow them to opt out of servitude, which I’ll call labor but very tenuously, under the idea that, unlike slavery, at least Ariel is working towards achieving a currency-adjacent payoff to his service (freedom), and Caliban ultimately gets it, though I hesitate to consider language the wage which Caliban earns. Still, Ariel and Caliban’s labor for Prospero is at least justified as indebted labor versus full-stop involuntary labor, more closely a condition of slavery.

    This idea that the rejection of magic and superstition is a capitalist motive, that reason and science played a part in opting the changing world into wage labor, I mean it is jarring to think it true. It feels oppression-based. Explore how indebted labor changed the movement and individuality of Ariel and Caliban, and an example in literature is there. I’m curious to know if the prevailing thought is that Prospero enriches one life and debases the other, at least in the short term following his arrival: he frees Ariel from prison, that seems improvement well enough. But Caliban is improved only in Prospero’s knowledge and skill economy. Like the passage highlighted in this prompt, does it matter Caliban learned Prospero’s language to Caliban? And for Ariel, freedom came at the cost of indebted service with an indeterminate endpoint. In fact, one could argue, given the needs Prospero has on the island, were it not for the chance close pass that led to his resolution, didn’t Ariel just change cuffs? As an aside: I want to know more about the recent revival of magical beliefs, which Federici says happens because “it no longer represents a social threat.” Ghost stories are popular again because people won’t use the ghosts as an excuse to opt out of an embedded reason-and-reward system.

    No thought is fully formed, I’d need to read both works over again, but labor as the reduction of the body, the individual, of luck and at least the superstitious spiritual, until it is all in service of the labor-maker and not the laborer, now that is both well-worn ground and constantly contemporary.

  11. As much as this reading was about capitalist perspectives, workforce, and labor, I equally found it important regarding the use of language in particular contexts and throughout history—language as a vehicle of history and oppression, and vice versa—history as a vehicle of language. The dangers of language through its “ritual vocabulary” and its infestation of society that leads to control.

    In the very last paragraph this is emphasized for me:

    “As we have seen, the body was increasingly politicized in this process; it was denaturalized and redefined as the “other,” the outer limit of social discipline. Thus, the birth of the body in the 17th century also marked it end… and bec[a]me instead a political signifier of class relations, and of the shifting, continuously redrawn boundaries which these relations produce in the map of human exploitation.”

    As such, some areas that stood out to me were violence and the body, systemic violence, mechanical philosophy—the body as a machine, and fear of magic (as opposed to reason) and its inconveniences to the ruling class.

    The following sentences summed up, for me, the philosophies discussed within the context of the chapter: “In Descartes, the reduction of the body to mechanical matter allows for the development of mechanisms of self-management that make the body the subject of the will. In Hobbes, by contrast, the mechanization of the body justifies the total sub­ mission of the individual to the power of the state.”

    Fatefully and rightfully, the bourgeoise feared for their bodies against retaliation from the proletariat who were forced to work and forced to reckon with their own bodies as merely labor-potential and “work-discipline.” The following quote makes this evident:

    “Yet, there was more. We must not forget that the beggarly and riotous proletariat who forced the rich to travel by carriage to escape its assaults, or to go to bed with two pistols under the pillow – was the same social subject who increasingly appeared as the source of all wealth.”

    The moment that language as violence became clear to me was here:

    “The “bettersorts” agreed that the proletariat was of a different race. In their eyes, made suspicious by fear, the proletariat appeared as a “great beast,” a “many-headed monster,” wild, vociferous, given excess. On an individual level as weU., ritual vocabulary identified the masses as purely instinctual beings. Thus, in the Elizabethan literature, the beggar is always “lusty,” and “sturdy,” “rude,” “hot-headed,” “disorderly” are the ever-recurrent terms in any discussion of the lower class.”

    “This means that while the proletariat became a “body,” the body the body became “the proletariat,” and in particular the weak, irrational female (the woman in is as Hamlet would say) or the “wild” African, being purely defined through its limiting function, that is through its “otherness” from Reason, and treated as an agent internal subversion.”

    Of course, it called attention to some of the texts we’ve read, including “The Tempest,” “The Sellout,” and “Antigone.”

    Regarding, “The Tempest” this quote, as professor Fisk mentions, is important: “Yet, the struggle against this “great beast” was not solely directed against the “lower sort of people.” It was also interiorized by the dominant classes in the battle they waged against their own “natural state.” As we have seen, no less than Prospero, the bourgeoisie too had to recognize that “[t]his thing of darkness is mine,” that is, that Caliban was part of itself.”

    That “Caliban is part of itself” or that the proletariat is part of itself, is as Federici says, “revealing” terminology. When something is “other” than ourselves, or when we consider our condemnation of the “other,” it is not without realizing our part in that distinction.

  12. Zara Diaby says:

    The discussions we had for our thesis was a great thing. Honestly, I think it would help us in the future to continue to have that. When we return, we should swap at least two copies of our thesis with about two people and get commentary and feed back from them as well as you. I think it will help us get different perspectives and help us to see what is clear and needs to be improved upon.
    Spending time talking in class helps to alleviate our fears and provides us with a sense of clarity and assurance that only comes from talking to one another. We all see we are in the same boat, it reminds me of that “imposter” notion you brought up in class.
    Looking at the discussion by Federici, it is interesting to think of the body as a purpose for commodity and production, must like the way in which Smith discusses in his essay. The capitalistic production of the body and the ways in which people are forced into labor by those who are deemed above them. Caliban is a slave, not only to himself but the brutish nature in which he is born, he is no more use than fodder for fire. She states, “violence of the ruling class was not confined to the repression of transgressors. It also aimed at a radical transformation of the person, intended to eradicate in the proletariat any form of behavior not conducive to the imposition of a stricter work discipline.” There was no joy in being a slave, even now it happens within our contemporary workforce. I saw someone allude to Barteby and I concede! His words perfectly reflect the ways in which someone who is resigned to his fate staunchly and respectfully makes his discontent known. Much akin to the words of Caliban Caliban: You taught me language; and my profit on’t
    Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
    For learning me your language!

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