Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Blazing World, 1-33 The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.
What is the context of Cavendish’s story? Who’s the audience for this book? How does Cavendish respond to her audience?
Where does The Blazing World Overlap or seem to respond to More’s Utopia and/or Shakespeare’s Tempest?
Just as the fictional futures you are creating solve potential threats to continued existence of life on earth, what sorts of threats or problems has Cavendish solved in the world she imagines? What sorts of wishes is Cavendish fulfilling here?
So far, we have seen how imagined worlds have a tendency to subordinate whole groups of people to the overall goals of the society or personal ambitions of the author. How does Cavendish first mark herself off as a member of a historically marginalized group? And then how does she use the discourse of world building OR future promise of impinging worlds to come as a means to redress the inequity she experiences in her real life?
How does the lady arrive in the Blazing World?
Why don’t we see two suns from our world?
How does Cavendish organize and classify the inhabitants of the Blazing World? Does she rely on “scientific” and/or narrative techniques? Can you tell the difference? Implications?
On what sorts of technology do the inhabitants of the Blazing World rely? For example, what role do machines that enhance perspective play? Is technology/science in part responsible for the peaceful lives the characters lead?
Why is Paradise, the seat of the Emperor, safe from all “Foreign Invasions” (20)? Why do the people in Paradise live “in continued Peach and Happiness” (20)? In other words, what adjustments to architecture, language, economics, education, etc. does Cavendish make in her world?
Are there any political elements at odds in this text, i.e. rigid hierarchy and not traditional gender roles? For example, how does the lady become the Empress?
Is the Empress a scientist? How does she benefit from her work in natural philosophy?
Would you want to move to or visit the Blazing World, why/why not?