Paper 2 Assignment
Length: 3-4 typed, double-spaced pages (750-1000 words, but can be longer if you wish)
October 11: Paper must be uploaded to Angel by 9 p.m. (no class on 10/11)
- This paper does not require research, although secondary sources may be helpful. Rather, its purpose is to demonstrate your ability to choose a significant, appropriately limited topic in literature; to investigate and support a thesis of your own devising; to analyze with skill and insight the evidence from specific literary works; and to present the whole in a clearly organized, well-written fashion.
- The essay should incorporate at least one work read in class. You may choose your own topic for the paper if you consult with me ahead of time.
- Your paper should be limited enough to provide a specific thesis and a close analysis of the texts; repeating broad, obvious generalities (i.e., "Women were limited by society's expectations in the nineteenth century") or ideas we have discussed in class will not be sufficient.
- Content is very important, but good organization, sentence structure, and editing skills are also important. Citations and the Works Cited page should follow MLA format. More guidelines for turning in papers in this class are here: http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/format.htm. You can find good information on citing sources online here:http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch04_o.html
These topics are broad and are meant to suggest ideas to you; you should think about developing your own ideas using these as guidelines.
1. During this segment of the course, we've read a number of works in which characters are mad or act irrationally, often while in the grip of the delusion that they are engaged in the only sane course of action. Is their madness inherent in their characters? Or does it respond to some external stimulus, such as the advent of new knowledge or a movement toward modern industrial life? Choosing one or two works, develop a thesis and write an essay in which you discuss the role of madness as well as the stylistic features of how it is conveyed. You may want to compare characters, for example.
2. Examine the way in which the environment (either natural or industrial) operates in one or two of the works we've read. Does it indicate a character's thoughts? Provide a means of expressing his personality? Shape his actions?
3. Hard Times and Frankenstein have different perspectives on the nature and purpose of education, although both suggest that it can have a deleterious effect on human health. Using one or both of these books or other works that describe education in the 19th century, develop a thesis and write an essay on this topic.
4. This period of the early nineteenth century saw a redefinition of the concept of the hero, as we've discussed in class: Romantic heroes, Byronic heroes, outlaw heroes, and so on. Write an essay in which you closely analyze the concept of the hero in light of one or two characters, especially some (like Bartleby) who would not appear to be heroes in other periods in history.
5. Choosing at least one work we've read, analyze a theme, image, character, or other feature in light of another work by the same or another author. For example, you might analyze a feature or theme (incest? living burial? the role of the artist?) in "The Fall of the House of Usher" in light of another Poe story.
6. Several works we've read have tested the boundaries of what we'd consider ordinary humanity; do ordinary concepts of what it is to be human break down in the work, and if so, why? What character or characters challenge the definition, and how do they do that? What kinds of identities do they adopt or impersonate?
7. The idea of a person creating or befriending and then bearing responsibility for another is at the heart of "Bartleby" and Frankenstein, and it raises questions about the idea of the social contract and social responsibility for others as well as calling into question the motivations of both parties. Indeed, even Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass posits a social contract between slaveowner and slave: even in this horrific system, the former has a moral responsibility to protect his slave that he grievously fails to uphold. Examine one or two of these works and the characters involved in light of the human bonds or social contracts that might be involved (either upheld or violated).
8. Your own topic. Please let me know what you're planning to do.