Paper #2 Assignment
-- read this page all the way through --
(99% of all questions about the paper as answerable as "Read the website.")
|Nick Melczarek, instructor
||Department phone: 392-6650|
|Office: Turlington 4357
(send no attachments!)
|Office hours: TR 9:35-10:25 a.m.
||Office phone: TBA|
»»Paper due TUESDAY 29 April, by 4 p.m., in my mailbox (Turlington Hall 4th floor), stapled, with cover sheet and Works Cited page, all in MLA format.
»»Paper Rationale & Assignment
As stated on both the paper and online syllabus, your two 5-7 page papers for this course -- which together constitute 50% of your grade -- are designed to reflect your comprehension of and responsible engagement with course topics and literature through textual evidence and extra-textual critique. These papers take the place of exams, so take them just as seriously.
Given the easy availability of collegiate papers for sale either on the Internet or through any of hundreds of other sources, as well as the pressures on college students to "perform" (i.e. grades vs. an "education"), I've sadly found it necessary to assign paper topics. I still believe, however, that course papers rather than informational exams are students' best opportunites to display what they can creatively do with the given information and approaches of a course; therefore, I've allowed for (and encourage) as much lattitude as possible within the available topics. Remeber, however, that you're producing a scholarly paper, not a piece of "creative writing." Scholarly work has its own sense of creativity, yes, but the two rhetorics are not necessarily the same. Be serious about both the work you do and the fun you have with it.
You have the three novels we have discussed thus far to choose between:
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia.
Choose one of the following options to create an 6-7-page paper (25% of your course grade):
Option 1: Pick one of the novels, and discuss it through either a visual artwork or a musical composition of the same period.
This project entails either of two courses:
-- that you research artworks of the 1960s, 70s, and 90s for their tenets, methods, and concepts. Find a particular sculpture, painting, lithograph, architecture, photograph, film, or other visual artwork from that same period that not only strikes you as similar to your chosen novel either thematically, mechanically, or technically, but that you can also read your novel "through." That is, were you to "teach" a particular artwork to someone, then consider how you might "teach" your chosen novel through the same terms as those for the artwork, using that artwork as a visual example of your chosen author's technique on the page; or
-- that you research musical compositions (including songs) of the 1960s, 70s, and 90s for their tenets, methods, and concepts. Find a particular orchestral or operatic composition, or popular song, from that same period that not only strikes you as similar to your chosen novel either mechanically or technically, but that you can also read your novel "through." That is, were you to "teach" a particular music piece to someone, then consider how you might "teach" your chosen novel through the same terms as those for the music, using that piece as an audial example of your chosen author's technique on the page.
Caveat: This is not a simple comparison paper: I will not accept papers thast state any variation of "this novel is like this artwork/music because--". Nor is this an act of illustration: I will not accept papers along the lines of "1919 includes scenes of protesting workers, and so does the mural Protesting Workers by Phillip K. Blatt" or "the song 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary' is about the war, and so is Dos Passos' 1919". Rather, this option offers you the opportunity to bridge two distinct means of expression, visual arts/literature or music/literature, and see how one helps you read the other.
Option 2: Trace any theme, motif, or concept we have discussed in class through any two of the novels. Some example of this kind of business (just to set you thinking):
-- narrational uses of history in The Crying of Lot 49 and Ceremony;
-- the influence of multiple histories or senses of "history" in Dreaming in Cuban and The Crying of Lot 49;
-- history as motif in Dreaming in Cuban and Ceremony;
-- presence/being as an effect of memory in Ceremony and The Crying of Lot 49;
-- use of speaking in The Crying of Lot 49 and Dreaming in Cuban;
-- different "ways of knowing" in The Crying of Lot 49 and Ceremony.
This option gives you the opportunity to explore how two distinct novels deploy a similar theme, trope, or idea -- you're showing how two different texts develop that idea.
Caveat: This is not a simple comparison-contrast paper: I will not accept papers thast state any variation of "well, novel X does it this way, but novel Y does it this way". Rather, this option offers you the opportunity to trace the permutations of on idea over time, using any two of our novels as examples. What "shape" does each novel give that idea? How does each novel give that idea a "voice"?
Option 3: What kind of "America" do we see through the literature we've read since mid-term? If "America" is the legacy that Pierce Inverarity leaves to Oedipa Maas, what "America" has he left her? What is the "America" that Tayo comes to know through his experience in the Second World War and then back on the reservation? What does "America" come to mean for Celia, Lourdes, and Pilar, the multiple generations of Garcia's novel?
Caveat: This is not an opportunity either to flag-wave, or to bash other nations. Since each of these novels emerges from, and were written within and under the auspices of, the United States, they each therefore qualify as "American Literature." Each of these novels therefore also constitutes a "voice" from/of that "America." "America," whatever that comes to mean, here "talks" itself, much as Dos Passos indicated in his preface to the U.S.A. triology. This option asks you to consider your chosen work(s) of literature as both novel and as voice from/of "America." If, as Dos Passos put it, "U.S.A. is the voice of the people," and authors are people, then what "voice" do we get in your chosen literature?
Option 4: The ubiquitous "choose your own topic" topic. I tell you right now that I encourage these projects, but am very wary/suspicious of them. Unless I have already discussed an idea with you and given you the go-ahead to work on it, you need to clear your idea with me long before you start. Sadly, while some students take this option as an opportunity to develop their own thinking, other students abuse it by purchasing others' papers, lifting papers off the internet, transcribing professional articles or encyclopedia entries, or trying to turn in papers they wrote in high school or for other college classes. Remember that plagiarism in any form of any amount of another person's work will result in your failure from the course and a notification being placed in your permanent UF record. If you pick your own topic, you must meet with me and show me that you arrived at this idea during this semester, as the result of in-class or online discussion, in AML 2070.0541. You must spell out your idea in explicit terms, and show me your notes where you have started thinking this idea through. I am always delighted wth students' original thinking, and will encourage you in such endeavour with all enthusiasm. BUT, at the slightest indication that this idea is not your own, or that you are so familiar with it that you obviously used this idea in another class at whatever level -- in fact, if you raise my suspicions in the slightest with any part of your proposal at all, I will refuse your proposal and insist, then and there, that you choose one of the other three.
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»»What I'll look for in your paper
- a clear, solid, well-defined argument presented early in the paper
(i.e. a clearly-identifiable thesis statement(s) somewhere in first few ¶s)
- actual use of analytical concepts/terms and critical vocabulary
(when/where pertinent) from the course
- use of those concepts & terms that evinces familiarity with them
- copious references to and quotations from primary sources (i.e. the novels)
- quotations from or sufficient glosses of secondary sources (critical articles about literature; literary theory) if they apply
- Caveat: I dislike and will drop your paper a letter grade or more for any and all of the following offenses or variations thereof: padding, waffling, circumlocution, tautology, prolixity, periphrasis; padding by excessive in-line or bloc quotation; and any technical manipulations of font, font size, spacing, indentation, pagination. If you can't do the work, then drop the class.
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- whether you actually follow format guidelines (see "Paper Formatting" on the
Course Policies Page)
- a title page/cover sheet that includes the following information, centred:
your paper title
this course & section number (AML 2070.0541)
the date on which you turn in the paper
- use of writers' full names, qualifications, and source
titles the first time you mention them in the body
of your paper; use of last names and signal phrases
when/where appropriate for each use thereafter
- citations for
each direct in-line or block quotation, paraphrase, or
factoid according to MLA convention for scholarly papers
- illustration of each point of your discussion with
specific examples and quotations derived from the texts we've read
- attention to spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage, basic
proofreading and editing (see warnings on
syllabus about careless writing)
- evidence of proofreading in the form of a general lack of daft mistakes. Proofread your work before you turn it in. Papers made difficult to read through careless and distracting errors will receive an immediate F and must work their way up from there -- no idea is of sufficient quality to compensate for poor writing.
- writing primarily in the active voice
- a properly formatted Works Cited page in MLA style corresponding to
the sources you cite in the body ¶s
- whether you bothered to staple the bloody thing
»»Allowances & Restrictions
(these items are not further negotiable)
- You may bring in outside secondary sources (i.e. critical essays or theoretical pieces about literature you've encountered elsewhere) if and only if you've cleared them with me beforehand (not the night before due date, either).
- You're restricted to literature assigned for the course -- you may not bring in literature read for other courses, or that you've found on your own. Sorry.
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»»Course/Paper-Related Sites Links
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- Course Policies Page -- see the "Paper Formatting" section, and heed its guidelines
- the infamous "Spell Check poem" -- remember, Spell-Check and grammar-Check programs are not resonsible for what you turn in to me: you and not the computer itself hit the "ok" and "print" commands.
- 1000/2000-level paper writing tips -- heartily suggested for revision of drafts and for checking final copies (composed for my ENC 1102 classes, but apply to all my classes).
back to (AML 2070.0541 Mainpage)