SEPTEMBER 13, 1997 Seen though the eyes of Carole Meyers.


Ann Campbell 
Elizabeth Fay 
Bruce Graver 
Steve Jones 
Gary Kelly
Greg Kucich 
Michael Laplace-Sinatra 
Mark Ledden 
Carole Meyers
Irena Nikolova 
Liz Rackley 
Charlie Robinson
Andy Stauffer

several guests

Welcome to EmoryMOO, home of the Villa Diodati. If you have a
player character already the connect using the command connect
  If you don't, then use the following
command instead connect guest Be aware there is only a limited
number of guest characters available. If you cannot login
immediately, please try again a little later... If you would like
a character, contact Carole Meyers, cmeyers@emory.edu.

co Carole *******

---------- The message of the day ---------- Welcome to EmoryMOO!
This fall we are featuring two mini-conferences on Mary Shelley's
_The Last Man_ (9/13 from 11am-1pm EST) and Percy Shelley's "The
Devil's Walk" (10/18 from 11am-1pm EST).  These texts are
electronic editions posted at the Romantic Circles website.  All
are welcome. Remember--{@who} tells you who is logged in right
now. --Carole --------------------------------------------

The Dining Room A richly decorated room dominated by a long
dining table adorned by two brass candelabras.  Heavy mahogany
chairs with red velvet upholstery surround the table.  This is a
moderated discussion area.  Here, only a limited number of people
can speak at the same time.  To speak or emote something, use the
command {request} and the room will tell you when it is your turn
to speak.  To stop talking, type {yield}.  If you talk too long,
the moderator can force you to yield using {yield }. 
To see who is currently speaking, use {speakers}.  To see who is
waiting to speak, use {waiting}.  You can whisper or page without
requesting permission.  To the [north] you see the Villa's

You see a Lord Byron here. AndrewS, AnnC, SteveJ, BruceG, and
IrenaN are here.

GregK arrives from the Villa Diodati. CarlS arrives from the
Villa Diodati. LibbyF arrives from the Villa Diodati. mark
arrives from the Villa Diodati. michaelLS arrives from the Villa
Diodati. AlanR arrives from the Villa Diodati. GaryK arrives from
the Villa Diodati.

You say, "Okay, here's the rules -- if you want to speak, type

You say, "then, you'll get to speak.  Once you're done, type
yield so that someone else can talk"

You say, "I am the moderator, so if you don't yield, I will yield
for you"

Liz arrives from the Villa Diodati.

AndrewS says, "since we're on the subject of politics, maybe we
should start with AlanR's essay on empire."

You say, "no insult intended"

A red guest arrives from the Villa Diodati.

AlanR says, "Which doesn't exactly portray MWS as a

You say, "And I should mention that I am logging this portion of
the conference so we can post it on the web"

GregK says, "On the topic of Alan's essay, did everyone note the
contrasting point that Anne M raises about racial integration in
The Last Man.  These conflicting views could be explored."

A guest arrives from the Villa Diodati.

SteveJ says, "Yes, and Alan's right--see my notes on balloons for
an example of MWS's use of Empire in a conflicted way. That's at

AndrewS says, "Is MWS's work, and specifically The Last Man,
primarily political or expressive, and if political, reactionary
or revolutionary?"

BruceG says, "that should be

AlanR says, "I though Anne M's reading of the moment of contagion
was, well, utopian.  I'm more struck by the evident disgust and
horror expressed by Lionel."

Liz says, "Can we reconcile the idea of Shelley's novel as a
"history of the heart," due to its subjectivity and the
understanding of her novel as Anglo-centric and jingoistic?"

IrenaN says, "Maybe we should also consider the text as a vision
and as a prophecy."

SteveJ says, "actually it's
http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/mws/lastman/balloons.htm (and can we
agree MWS thinks she's being progressive?)"

A silver guest arrives from the Villa Diodati. A white guest
arrives from the Villa Diodati.

look silver By definition, guests appear nondescript. His/Her
nametag indicates that s/he has logged in from south-surge-30.um
d.edu. S/He is awake and looks alert.

GaryK says, "I imagine that if things as they are had been
different in 1832 and revolution had broken out, we would be able
to look at the well known picture of MS on the barricades in
Fleet street, pistol in one hand, republican flag in the other."

GregK says, "I agree with Liz that MWS can express human
sympathies and jingoistic attitudes at the same time; but
engaging in a history of the heart should also mean expressing
sympathies to racial others.  I take Alan's' good point, but I
also wonder if there isn't some hybridity in MWS's stance on

AlanR says, "I'm not sure various elements of MWS's work *need*
to be reconciled--I become increasingly skeptical of holistic
readings. For me, the imperialist strain doesn't necessarily
connect with other strains in the novel."

IrenaN says, "IT would be interesting to think about where the
imperialist project in The Last Man comes from."

mark says, "Here's a provocative strawman assertion -- one of the
reasons there was no revolution in 1832 was because conservative
women like Mary Shelley adopted potentially subversive tropes of
sensibility and domesticated them to the ends of conservative

Liz says, "I'm interested in Mellor's reading of the European's
embrace of the digusting other, especially due to the possibility
that Verney may eventually discover a non-white woman with who to
procreate a new race.  This does seem to suggest a relationship
with colonial experience.  I agree though that MS is basically
cold-hearted to the racial other."

A guest arrives from the Villa Diodati.

GaryK says, "In imagining a revolution in 1832 I just want to
point out that the fact of no revolution was brought about by
people with certain interests, and wasn't an inevitability.  I
have to say I do find MS was a liberal."

AndrewS says, "The book is basically about imperial anxieties, so
of course there will be feelings on both sides of the issue. 
That seems to be the index of the book's value, both aesthetic
and intellectual."

LibbyF says, "I think my last message didn't go through, so I'll
repeat it--that it seems really interesting that nearly all the
essays and responses deal with what seem to me to be the twin
cruxes of the novel--subjectivity and history. And the logical
locus of such issues (or one) would be the imperialism-revolution

The guest says, ""

AlanR says, "In relation to Liz's point, it's interesting that
Clara is removed as a possible quasi-incestuous partner for
Lionel, opening a space for the other: incest/miscegenation."

AlanR says, "And in relation to Libby's point, it's interesting
that none of us has taken up an green reading, one that might
make some of the binaries irrelevant (a point the novel makes?)"

Liz says, "I don't think that I would teach The Last Man for
aesthetic reasons, though I agree that it has value with regard
to understanding imperial anxieties, concepts of historiography
and gender, etc."

SteveJ says, "I think Libby's peroration captures the
subject-history tensions quite effectively. (To Liz:
counterexamples can be useful aesthetic lessons, too, no? Tests
of our definitions?)"

A pink guest arrives from the Villa Diodati.

GaryK says, "I find Libby's observation very interesting; could
she expand a little on the subjective/political ..

A blue guest arrives from the Villa Diodati.

GregK says, "Did my last query about historical context go
through? Shouldn't any discussion of colonialism in Last Man
consider other forms of colonial activity and discourse in the
early 1820s?"

IrenaN says, "I also find Libby's point about Lionel having no
gender interesting, especially in view of Mary Shelley's
(re)-writing of history and creating a visionary history of the

AndrewS [to LibbyF]: do you mean to connect imperialism with
subjectivity, and history with revolution?

LibbyF says, "What I meant was that the very title points to
Shelley's realization that all she has left to her now (at the
point of writing) are subjectivity and history. But the state of
mourning eradicates the possibility of any true experience of
either--so the negation of that experience is logically
revolution, and the binary opposite of revolution is imperialism
(containment and exploitation of potentially revolutionary
energies and raw materials)."

AndrewS [to LibbyF]: I'm not sure what you mean by a 'true

GaryK says, "Yes, Greg; was MS not fascinated by the liberal
revolutions of the South, esp. Spain, and the Spanish colonies
attaining independence in the early 1820s?"

SteveJ says, "And what about those Greeks? A future with that
battle still raging..."

AlanR says, "One of my points, though, was that MWS does *not*,
like Anna Barbauld, imagine a future in which those liberal
revolutions would have led to a shift in the balance of global
power--England is still ascendant, Hispanic America seemingly

GregK says, "Absolutely, Gary and Steve--the Greek experience was
imminent for MWS; what were the reactions to Greek independence
back in England when she's writing Last Man?"

AnnC says, "I think MWS may be punishing Lionel (herself?) if
some ways for his imperialist attitudes-- by the end he is
"other" in his confrontation with himself in the mirror, and he
says he wants any form of human companionship rather than to be

AndrewS [to AnnC]: yeah, and he has all the fruits of empire at
his disposal, but still is unhappy.

GaryK says, "I am trying to work with the idea that the east
represents commerce and its devastating effects--an idea of the
Godwin Shelley circles?  The plague comes from the east . . . so
does the loot of empire."

AndrewS [to GaryK]: those Iberian traders, undoing their corded
bales to prevent contamination.

mark says, "Not sure how this makes sense of commerce, but I'm
struck that The Last Man inverts the story of history
(empire/war) versus subjectivity (domestic scene/peace) so often
told by women in sentimental romances"

AndrewS [to mark]: inverts in what sense?

mark says, "In The Last Man, the feminized hero(ine) out lasts
the history that usually victimizes the hero(ine). And yet the
result is the same, more or less--dead hero(ine) or isolated
Heroine) not sure how to read the importance of that inversion."

AndrewS [to mark]: so History still wins in the end.

AndrewS [to mark]: As always...

AlanR says, "Associating the loot of empire with plague--which we
see in De Quincey as well--can, of course, be a reactionary

LibbyF says, "Gary's point about the east representing
commerce--is one that was already prevalent in the 1780s--as in
Anna Seward's novel *Louisa*. But I think it's interesting how
vitriolic MS's attack on the Ottoman empire is, with
corresponding disgust at Egypt, etc. "

LibbyF says, "It seems the reactionary/revolutionary response to
the 'east' were entwining gestures."

AndrewS [to LibbyF]: It seems that the novel is about the
double-helix of empire and exile, the fear that one will end up
as a patch of English soil under unknown stars.

SteveJ says, "To return to the Greeks: Hellas was arguably a kind
of fundraiser for an English audience. That (and Mavrocordato)
was still fresh for MWS in 1825. A hot issue. [on the plague:]
What do you say to the suggestion that this plague may be
man-made (sic)?"

GregK says, "Considering Libby's point about MWS's vitriolic
response to the East, isn't it useful to consider the collision
and/or conjunction of British feminine and the East.  Feminist
critiques of the East so often focus on the condition of women in
the East.  Aren't these critiques, then, a certain kind of
displaced critique of gender relations in Britain.  As
Wollstonecraft will say, British women are very much like slaves
and women in the seraglio."

BruceG says, "(This was written a while back-but) I believe that
the association of imperial loot and plague begins with
Thucydides; it's not exactly a Romantic or even a peculiarly
British trope. See Georgics III, and nearly every British georgic
of the 18th century."

Liz says, "Mark, that brings us to the idea that Shelley was
attempting to wring from patriarchy some authority over the
telling of history. She seems to combine domestic scenes with
grand historical ones.   As for the idea of the plague as
man-made, sounds like conspiracy theory to me (woman-invented

GaryK says, "Alan, I find that fascinating, too--could you
explain a bit more about it being a reactionary gesture?  Egypt:
the pasha who was helping put down the Greek revolt, yet who also
"modernized" the Egyptian state in some kind of independence from
Istanbul.  Also, exile: interesting link with Hemans' "The Forest

The white guest "If the east represents commerce then what about
Raymond's critique about republican commercialism?

AlanR says, "As Bruce G remarks, there's a long tradition of
republican distaste for empire and trade, which can be
conservative or reactionary--as, say, in Pope's *Rape of the
Lock*--colonial products, corrupt core (Tory) English values."

AndrewS [to AlanR]: literally true, in terms of the _values_ of
English products.

BruceG says, "On the other hand, it can create a perfectly
respectable (and even socially liberal) domestic market for Greek
and oriental imitations, as with the Wedgwoods."

The red guest says, "I wanted to respond to Mark but he left. To
mark, I think the typical gender roles  in Shelley's novel should
be examined extremely closely, because a large part of Shelley's
project is to break down gender roles, specifically by attacking
the expectations you outline. I think, to Shelley, that activity
in the historical--public--world always leads to isolation (as in
PBS's Laon and Cythna, or in Godwin's St Leon."

LibbyF says, "This is in response to Bruce's domestic market for
orientalized goods--what the Wedgwood pottery produced is exactly
the point--purified, cleansed--as compared to Chinese porcelain,
for example, which is still an intrusive material object."

AlanR says, "I'd like to try again to provoke some discussion of
the green/ecocritical dimension of the novel, which we've pretty
much ignored. Was anyone else struck by Shelley's thoughts about
humankind on the level of species?"

SteveJ says, "Yes. The "last of the race" is about extinction, of
course, and that's why I find the idea that the plague is spread,
at least, by man-made explosions interesting. "

GaryK says, "Is "The Last Man" a kind of inversion of the line of
Malthus' Essay on Population?  Also, I was struck by the
resonances between MS's novel and Wilson's "City of the
Plague"--the representation of how mass death relativizes and
redirects social and cultural values and relations.  Is that

GregK says, "Following up on Alan and Steve's eco points--the
question is whether the plague is thought of as man-made or as an
inexorability of nature.  It seems that older criticism
considered it as  a kind of symbol of extra-human energies.  Now
it makes more sense to think of it in these human-generated

AlanR says, "It's notable at least, in relation to Malthus, that
the world population has grown so little in 250 plus years--N.
America still has desert areas, Australia still has plenty of
room for English colonists."

BruceG says, "to GaryK inversion in what sense?"

The red guest says, "I am not so sure that literal ecological
conditions are reflected in the novel. Rather, The Plague is
spread by text and transmits itself like a virus--replicating by
injecting into the minds of readers--It is Ideology, History,
itself. "

Liz says, "Though nature is the overriding force that overpowers
the forces of history, trade, politics, etc. in the form of

LibbyF says, "Nature shouldn't be confused with oriental disease,
either. The plague does start in Egypt as *the serpent's-head*
and then spreads to Asia Minor before hitting Europe, but it is
distinctly man-made. It is also oriental--England is safe from it
for a long time (Ireland is not however). And as Verney notes at
the end, nature is untouched by the plague--even the animals are

GaryK says, "To reply to Bruce: Malthus imagines a subsistence
crisis as population increases; MS (and Godwin replying to
Malthus) focus on human and social values (movingly, I think, and
thus appropriately) and MS shows crisis caused by diminution of

BruceG says, "In Virgil, whose plague I've just been teaching,
the source of the disease is nature, but it is clearly made
analogous to war."

SteveJ says, "That *is* ecology: the technological conjunction of
"nature" and culture, no?"

BruceG says, "Yes."

SteveJ says, "'ecology' is a constructed/ing category."

Liz says, "It is interesting that the plague victims do not seem
to be searching for the cause of the spread of the virus, as far
as I recall.  Though the mention of viruses breeding more in
tropical climes is there."

AlanR says, "Libby, why do you say the plague is *distinctly*
man-made? (Though I appreciate your point about non-human nature
remaining untouched)."

GregK says, "Another great literary conjunction of "nature" and
technology/culture is Camus' The Plague, in which the plague is
loosely connected with Nazism.  Has anyone thought of comparing
this novel with Shelley's?"

A red guest arrives from the Villa Diodati. A blue guest arrives
from the Villa Diodati. A silver guest arrives from the Villa

BruceG, whose daughter is getting bored, must sign off.  But he
eagerly awaits his next bout of MOO-ing.  What have bucolics come

Liz says, "It seems to me that ecology explains the relationship
of humans to the rest of the natural world.  It seems closely
akin to epidemiology:  viruses interact with all kinds of
organisms, human and otherwise."

LibbyF says, "I think MS intimates over and over that the plague
is created and disseminated by men, not nature. MS is inditing
what she sees as men's lust for power (a la Greg's argument in
his essay)--the plague is many things, including religious power
gone awry, but it's not Nature."

BruceG has disconnected.

SteveJ says, "[to Greg] Interesting connection-- Fiona Stafford's
study shows how lastness (and plague) are troped again and again
but become 'ecological' or Darwinian in C19. {good point Liz
about viral virulence}."

AnnC says, "I think the frequent Robinson Crusoe references are
interesting in relation to the nature question. Crusoe thinks of
himself as separate from nature and attempts to control it. To
him, the island is just another as-yet-unpopulated England and he
exploits its resources, and, of course, Friday (whom he considers
as just another exploitable part of "nature"). Lionel, however,
doesn't seem to want to colonize nature. He sleeps outside in
order to avoid empty and desolate cottages. He seems unimpressed
with sleeping in castles. The only thing that makes him happy are
dogs, etc. (domesticated animals) who he finds alive after the


>>> You are second in line to speak...

GaryK says, "Disease and ideology-as-false-consciousness: both
invisible; both deadly, on a mass scale?"

>>> You are next in line to speak...

AndrewS [to AnnC]: That's right; Crusoe is ever the
empire-builder, while Lionel aimed to remain outside of the ruins
of empire.

AlanR says, "The plague is introduced as --it does strike me as a rival species.  AnnC's point about
Lionel is interesting --other characters, esp. Adrian and
Adrian's mother deny their bodies; Lionel lives in his."

AndrewS [to AlanR]: Now we're getting at _real_
: the bacteria culture that challenges the
human empire.

A white guest arrives from the Villa Diodati.

AlanR says, "Lionel also has a naturalistic sense that he will
live on through his progeny--the species question is bound up
with paternity and immortality via what we'd call the
genes--ironically, though, he lives on only through textual

BruceG's friends arrive to cart em off to bed.

>>> You are now a speaker.  Please proceed.

You say, "I can't help but be impressed by the variety of
interpretations and themes you all are articulating.  Given the
diversity of concerns in the novel, Steve's Web version seems all
the more appropriate because of the ability to draw connections
to widely differing sources.  What does everyone think of his and
Michael's arguments for Web versions?  Will Web versions of both
primary and secondary texts change the way we do scholarship? 
Teach?  Evaluate texts?  Can we preserve coherence within all
this complexity or will we become lost in a sea of hyperlinks?"


>>> You are no longer a speaker.

SteveJ says, "not to answer Carole (yet), but on species and
interspeciation, I (Like Anne M) find Octavia Butler very helpful
in relation to this book. But I recommend *Parable of the
Sower*--anyone else read her?"

Liz says, "What about comparing The Last Man to And the Band
Played On, which though highly aware of biology's role in the
spread of the infection, concentrates on social and political

AndrewS [to you]: It seems that scholarship is turning to
electronic webs, and turning into them.  And this will continue
to produce wonderful teaching tools...

GregK says, "Following Alan's point about threat to species.
Notwithstanding the obvious orientalist overtones of The Last
Man, isn't there a move toward racial interaction in the
presentation of all humanity bound up in the same lamentable
fate?  One of my points about feminist historiography is that it
unites differences by stressing the suffering lot of all
historical subjects."

GaryK says, "To go off at a tangent: I find the novel disturbing
in its lack of a sense of "home"; the ecopolitical space seems
vast and generalized--deliberately so?  Meant to be felt as a
lack by the reader?"

LibbyF says, "Isn't the cottage in Windsor Forest home for Lionel
and Perdita?"

AlanR says, "GaryK's point would go with the pointlessness or, at
best, dubious logic of leaving England for a more Edenic climate,
given that the plague is most virulent where its warmest.  The
last English willfully become exiles--and where does it get

IrenaN says, "It seems to me that there is a sense of
homelessness in the novel, especially when Lionel has his vision
of a depopulated England. And this goes against the domestication
of history.""

SteveJ says, "Like C19 aristos., they have more than one home. On
viruses (again) but also e-texts: Lionel spreads to readers as a
'meme'--and that's why hypertext is right for this book (IMHO)."

GaryK says, "Again, I am reminded of Hemans' representation of
exile as experience of lack."

AndrewS [to GaryK]: a lack amid plenty

AndrewS [to GaryK]: alone, alone all alone, alone on a wide wide

AndrewS [to GaryK]: with lots of water, but none to drink.

Liz says, "Interesting that Windsor Forest is their home
considering Pope's imperialist poem by the same name."

GaryK says, "the image of the frail bark at sea, in both TLM and
H's "Forest Sanctuary.""

AndrewS [to SteveJ]: The novel's frame installs the text as a
kind of hypertext: all those sibylline leaves, which MS must
variously link together...

AlanR says, "Right, Liz, there are those core, landed English
values again. Native oak indeed."

The silver guest says, "To go back to the plague. It seems to
inspire in the novel a similar hermeneutic exercise to the one
we're engaging in. But the plague remains unexplained, an
unavailable real, a form of the sublime. Is interpretation itself
in the terms of the novel a colonizing move destined to fail as
all power moves do in The Last Man?"

AlanR says, "I'd accept that as a suitable moral for this
discussion, much as I'm enjoying it!"

request >>> You are waiting to speak. >>> There are 2 people
ahead of you in the queue. >>> You are second in line to speak...

You [to SteveJ]: "We are coming to the end of our time.  I wonder
if we couldn't take a moment to consider this revolutionary
conference as well as to roam about if you haven't.  How well did
this event work, philosophically and practically?  How are MOO
conversations different or the same?  Is there space within
critical circles for MOO interaction?"

yield >>> You have yielded your place in the queue.

GregK says, "The themes of homelessness and exile here also seem
particularly inflected by gender concerns.  Stuart Curran makes a
point in his altered essay about the alienation experienced by so
many of the period's women writers--think of Wollstonecraft's
Maria, all those emigrants and exiles in Smith, and, yes, Gary
Hemans, too."

LibbyF says, "I think both the fairy cottage in the forest and
the frail bark are both Ulysses references, no? Sorry, this
comment has been waiting for a while."

You [to SteveJ]: "Perhaps we should leave the conference room?
That would give one indication on whether its restrictions are
necessary or whether we could meet in a regular room"

n >>> You automatically unmoderate before you leave. >>> You are
no longer the moderator.

We left the dining room for more informal speech at this point. 
If you are interested in learning more about EmoryMOO, contact
Carole Meyers at cmeyers@emory.edu --Carole