From the Instructor

When Daniel Collins first asked me if Mr. Hyde, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, could be related to the figure of the golem, I had to tell him that I wasn’t sure, although the question was certainly an interesting one. To the best of my knowledge, no scholar had looked at Stevenson’s novella in that particular way. But I could see where Daniel’s ideas were coming from, and I encouraged him to pursue the line of inquiry he had started. I’m glad he did: the paper he wrote is an original work of scholarship that shows us something no other scholar has about the novella and its central antagonist, the uncanny Mr. Hyde. It provides us with greater insight into how Stevenson conceived of Hyde’s character and just what it is that makes Hyde so disquieting.

This paper assignment, for the first major paper of WR 150, was left intentionally open-ended. Students were simply asked to write an academic research paper focusing on a central question they had formulated based on the readings. What makes Daniel’s paper important as a work of scholarship is not only the originality of the question he raises, but also the care and specificity with which he researched that question and responded to it through reasoned arguments supported by textual and historical evidence. He makes a convincing case that Mr. Hyde is a golem figure, and addresses clearly and thoroughly the implications of that argument. To me as a teacher, his paper demonstrates that students at any level can engage in the ongoing conversation that is academic research, adding to that conversation their own observations and insights. It is unusual for an undergraduate to add a significant contribution to the scholarly research on a nineteenth-century literary work, but that is exactly what Daniel has done here.

WR 150: Fantasy at the Fin-de-Siecle

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