The first paper assignment will be a 5-6 page critical analysis of one of the topics listed below. You can also read ahead and write on works that we have not yet covered.
Please note that outside sources are not required. You will need to send me an electronic version of your paper by e-mail or another means.
Citations and bibliography should follow MLA style guidelines. 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, but they are very broad topics; you'll have to narrow them.
1. Choose any one of the many turn-of-the-century social, scientific, religious, artistic, or intellectual movements in The Damnation of Theron Ware and examine Frederic's use of it in the novel. Some possibilities would include aestheticism and decadence, Methodism, Catholicism or anti-Catholicism (especially in its late 19th-century context), the New Woman, the Higher Criticism (Biblical), religious revivals, Darwinism and theories of race, and responses to immigration and the Irish.
2. Both James and Frederic owe a significant debt to Hawthorne. Develop a topic that allows you to trace some parallels between one or both of these authors and their predecessor; for example, you might look at the figure of the doctor, at female characters, at point of view, or at imagery and symbolism. This is a broad topic; you will need to narrow it before beginning your work.
3. One of the interesting features of several of these works and some of the early films is their experimentation-and, in the case of the films, struggle with-the idea of point of view. Develop a thesis and write a paper that examines this phenomenon in one or more of these works.
4. In James, Frederic, Howells, Zitkala-Sa, Sui-Sin Far, Stowe, and other writers, we've seen an unusual number of strong and independent women, but some authors depict the subordinate position of women in a patriarchal or racist culture (Dunbar-Nelson, King, and Chopin, for example). Develop a thesis and write a paper that discusses the female characters in one or more of these works.
5. If realism, as Richard Chase suggests, protects the values and reflects the needs of a burgeoning middle-class against what Amy Kaplan has called the threat of social change, from what kinds of movements, ideas, or people is it defending itself? What is seen as a threat in these works? In what ways do groups of ethnically or racially diverse people "threaten" the middle-class status quo, and how do these works attempt to manage that threat?
6. Your own topic. You may have noticed something in your reading, in class discussion, or on the discussion list that you would like to pursue further-symbols, characters, imagery, style, or some other feature of one or more works.