English 481: Popular Then/Classic Now: Advanced Study in American Authors, 1865-1940

Paper 3 (Optional)

Length 3-4 typed, double-spaced pages (750-1000 words, but can be longer if you wish) or as listed below.

3/29 Paper must be uploaded to Angel by 9 p.m. since there is no class on this date. Note: Be sure to follow the filename conventions and other requirements if you upload a written text. If you are doing a video as part of the assignment, send me the link to it (on Vimeo, YouTube, etc.).

Paper 3 is an optional paper; you don't have to write it. Also, you'll notice that there are creative options for this assignment in addition to the traditional literary studies paper.

Since this assignment is optional, if you complete all 3 papers, only the top 2 short paper grades will be counted and the lowest short paper grade will be dropped.

The same basic guidelines apply to this paper: 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

You can choose an author from earlier in the semester (Twain, Freeman, Chesnutt, London, and so on), but please check with me.

Literary Studies Options. Most of these deal with Edith Wharton, since she is the focus of the classes between Paper 2 and Paper 3.

1. Read another Edith Wharton novel, such as The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth, and write a paper in which you analyze and compare this novel with one that we've read. You might want to compare the heroines of two novels, for example, in light of their bad (or good) choices, or analyze them in light of a theme such as anthropology or evolution.

2. Wharton wrote many ghost stories (there are books of her ghost stories in the library, on Google books, and here). Analyze one or more of these stories in light of what you know about Wharton from your reading for class. Does she follow the conventions of current ghost stories or tales of the supernatural, for example? Another possibility: compare one or more of Wharton's ghost stories with those of a contemporary popular writer of horror or supernatural tales, such as Stephen King or Joss Whedon. (Examples of supernatural stories by Wharton: "Pomegranate Seed," "The Eyes," "Miss Mary Pask," "Kerfol," "All Souls," "Afterward," "Mr. Jones.")

3. Read the work of some of Wharton's contemporaries, such as Willa Cather or Henry James, and compare one or more of her works with one or more of theirs.

4. Look up the original publication of Wharton's stories in Scribner's magazine. What stories surround them? What kinds of advertisements, news, notes, or other information would her original readers have seen in looking at her work? (Note: This and some other topics can be expanded for Paper 4, too.)

5. Compare Wharton's Ethan Frome or Summer with other works set in New England, such as Freeman's stories ("Old Woman Magoun," for example). Analyze the perspectives on nature, sexuality, and women's roles in these works.

6. At the MASC or in the library, look through contemporary periodicals and books to research what Charity's (or Mattie Silver's) choices would have been as a poor young girl living in rural New England. Analyze one or both novels based on this contextual information.

7. Your own topic.

Creative Options. These options also focus on Wharton, and they will probably be a little longer than 3-4 pages. As above, you can put your own spin on these ideas, shifting genre and other features as needed.

1. Write a short story in which you rewrite a situation from one of the Wharton texts from a different character's point of view. For example, what would Ethan Frome be like if Zeena or Mattie were telling the story? How would Lucius Harney narrate the story of his summer with Charity Royall? Your story should remain true to the basic ideas and some details of the original, but you can invent whatever you need to make an interesting story.

2. At the present time, two movies based on Summer are planned; one is supposed to be a horror comedy written and directed by Ben Stiller. Write your own screen treatment and at least one scene from a screenplay in which you envision what this movie might look like. Along with the screenplay and brief treatment, write a brief (1 page) explanation of why you made the choices that you made, as if you were going to pitch the story to a producer.

3. If you don't want to be constrained by the above vision, choose another Wharton short story or novel and write a treatment, screenplay scene, and explanation as above. For either of these options, you can also submit a video (live action or animated) showing your scene to illustrate your creative choices. You can also make changes such as setting the story in the present day and so on.

4. Write and illustrate a graphic novel (or extended web comic) using one of Wharton's texts as your basis. Remember what you learned about the features of graphic novels and illustrated texts from the lecture by Susan Duba.

5. If you are a game designer, design (or plan; you don't have to write the code right now) a game that illustrates or encapsulates the experiences of a Wharton novel or a character. What would Lily Bart's life (in The House of Mirth) look like if she were in a game, making choices and getting points for good and bad decisions, or picking up cash/vitality points from the stock market?

6. Your own topic. You need to check with me before going ahead with this.