Paper 2 Assignment
Revision Option due date: November 24, 2003
Paper 2 due by 4 p. m.: December 5, 2003
The second paper assignment consists of two options, of which you will choose one.
I. Analytical Paper: a 10-page critical analysis of one of the topics listed below.
Since this is a 400-level course, you should consult outside sources in preparing this paper, although your primary focus should be your own critical analysis and close reading of the work or works. The outside sources can be works of criticism, the other works in the magazine (if you choose option 2), or a work that we have not read in class by one of the authors we have studied.
Citations and bibliography should follow MLA format as it is discussed in the MLA Handbook and in most grammar handbooks. Also, content is very important, but good organization, sentence structure, and editing skills are also important and will be graded accordingly. What follows is a list of suggested topics, although you are also free to choose your own. Remember, these are very broad topics; you'll have to narrow them.
1.Many of the works we have read were originally published in the literary journals of the day: Harper's New Monthly Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Scribner's, and The Century. These journals are available online from the Making of America site (available as a link from the American literature sites page at our site) and they are also available in Foley Center. Write a paper in which you interpret one of the works we've read (such as The Country of the Pointed Firs in the Atlantic ) in the context of its original appearance in the magazine. For example, what other stories or kinds of stories appeared in the same issues? Did other works appear that had the same theme? What kinds of advertisements, pictures, letters, and editorials appeared there? What kinds of reviews did the work receive, or what kind of response did it generate from readers? (This last question could be a whole paper in itself.)
2. One topic frequently discussed in criticism of naturalism is that it is a movement that pretends to have scientific objectivity and to have no didactic or ethical purpose, yet individual novels reveal issues of ethical concern and social reform as important features. To what extent does naturalism's exposure of social conditions make it a force in social reform?
3. How does the novel of realism differ from the naturalistic novel? In writing about this topic, you might want to compare characters or the novels themselves. For example, you might compare William Dean Howells's Silas Lapham in The Rise of Silas Lapham and Frank Norris's McTeague.
4. Several of the novels we have read or will be reading pay particular attention to the plight of women in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American culture. Develop a thesis that allows you to discuss one or two novels about women. For example, you might want to look at Carrie Meeber or Lily Bart in light of contemporary social conditions (see the essays in the back of The House of Mirth), or to compare Carrie and Lily. You could instead consider the construction of female characters in regionalism and in naturalism: how do the portrayals differ?
5. Examine the pattern of imagery and symbolism in a particular work and think about this question: can it be said that there is a particular pattern that characterizes this genre?
6. Recent critics in naturalism, realism, and regionalism (June Howard, Elizabeth Ammons, and Kenneth Warren, among others) have sought to define the role of race and ethnicity in these two movements. Look closely at one or two works: what is its role? You might want to consider Stephen Crane's The Monster in writing about this question.
7.What elements of realism, naturalism, or local color were borrowed by early filmmakers to lend legitimacy to their disreputable form of art? You might want to consider looking at some early adaptations of realist and naturalistic works such as Frank Norris's The Octopus or "A Corner in Wheat" (D. W. Griffith's A Deal in Wheat), Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley or other films and Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, or Erich von Stroheim's Greed and Frank Norris's McTeague.
9. Is naturalism indeed a movement in which style is unimportant, as Malcolm
Cowley has charged? Choose one or two works and do a close stylistic analysis.
II. Annotated Story Edition.
Your option to a formal paper is to prepare an annotated hypertext of one story or chapter for posting on the web. Your hypertext would define words, analyze images and themes, and provide a brief bibliography of works consulted. If you choose this option, your prospectus will outline your plans for the project.
This option provides the opportunity to share your work with a broader audience, since if the project turns out well, it can be linked to other sites and become a useful resource for others. You may work in a group if you choose this option; all participants will share in the final grade. Your group will also need to write a 2-3 page essay explaining why you made the choices you did in terms of analysis.
You need not have technical knowledge of web pages to choose this option; I can show you what you need to know.