Event Title

The Madness of the Gold Bug: A Troublesome Reordering of Species and Specie

Presenter Information

Megan Davis

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Art & Letters

Major

English

Session Number

3

Location

RM 216

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Chad Luck

Juror Names

Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Anderson

Start Date

5-17-2018 4:10 PM

End Date

5-17-2018 4:30 PM

Abstract

If one were to begin a literary exploration into the works of Edgar Allan Poe, one needn’t look far or with care to see a parade of stories speaking to and from the concept of madness. Human madness and its vulnerability to paranoia and violence is quite commonplace in his works, including but not limited to The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart. And yet, his piece The Gold Bug seems to be lending itself to the notion of madness in a queer way, one that is not solely begotten from an exclusively human condition or emotion. The Gold Bug. The story follows one William Legrand, and his downward spiral of obsessiveness with a slew of cryptography that he believes will lead him to a pirated fortune. This encrypted message comes to him vis-à-vis a scrap of parchment, parchment that was originally used to draw a picture of a strange bug he had found. This bug boasted a gold coloring and markings in the shape of a human skull. Legrand however, discovers the symbols and thus begins his fanatical quest to unlock the code and follow its instructions to a hidden fortune, thus disregarding the story’s namesake nearly altogether. This madness, however, this obsession with the elusive treasure, seems to indicate that Legrand inhabits his psychosis from a distinctly inorganic and unnatural trepidation. His character was so enamored by symbols, money, and the distinctly inorganic (a marked disconnectedness from nature), that one can wonder if his madness was linked to the explicit rejection (of the gold bug) in favor of a type of commodified notion of value, wasn’t indicative of a blatant rejection of the natural world. If one can assume this, it is possible that Legrand’s madness foretells of a larger anxiety in response to a rapid deterioration of appreciation for the natural world, in favor of a larger fetishization with an impending commodified culture.

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May 17th, 4:10 PM May 17th, 4:30 PM

The Madness of the Gold Bug: A Troublesome Reordering of Species and Specie

RM 216

If one were to begin a literary exploration into the works of Edgar Allan Poe, one needn’t look far or with care to see a parade of stories speaking to and from the concept of madness. Human madness and its vulnerability to paranoia and violence is quite commonplace in his works, including but not limited to The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart. And yet, his piece The Gold Bug seems to be lending itself to the notion of madness in a queer way, one that is not solely begotten from an exclusively human condition or emotion. The Gold Bug. The story follows one William Legrand, and his downward spiral of obsessiveness with a slew of cryptography that he believes will lead him to a pirated fortune. This encrypted message comes to him vis-à-vis a scrap of parchment, parchment that was originally used to draw a picture of a strange bug he had found. This bug boasted a gold coloring and markings in the shape of a human skull. Legrand however, discovers the symbols and thus begins his fanatical quest to unlock the code and follow its instructions to a hidden fortune, thus disregarding the story’s namesake nearly altogether. This madness, however, this obsession with the elusive treasure, seems to indicate that Legrand inhabits his psychosis from a distinctly inorganic and unnatural trepidation. His character was so enamored by symbols, money, and the distinctly inorganic (a marked disconnectedness from nature), that one can wonder if his madness was linked to the explicit rejection (of the gold bug) in favor of a type of commodified notion of value, wasn’t indicative of a blatant rejection of the natural world. If one can assume this, it is possible that Legrand’s madness foretells of a larger anxiety in response to a rapid deterioration of appreciation for the natural world, in favor of a larger fetishization with an impending commodified culture.