First Paper: Due Friday, Feb. 17 at noon, in the folder on my door,
4-6 pages of interpretation. The first page will be a verbatim reprint
of the complete chosen passage, single-spaced and is not part of the
Single-space the verbatim passage; double-space your interpretation.
The assignment helps you practice your
skills in close-reading, the
foundational skill for all successful literary scholarship. Even
skills grew out of the New Criticism,
you are not obliged to find their
ideals of harmony or unity in your reading. You may wish to work out a
passage that instead reveals some interesting disruption of structure,
complication of apparent theme or moral, or contradiction (logical,
ideological, etc.) between apparent authorial intent and textual
meaning as you understand it.
This paper will be
on your choice of one of the first three works, BalzingWorld, Robinson
Crusoe, or Love in Excess.
Choose a brief passage or scene (no longer
than several paragraphs) that best captures any critical problem or
issue you consider especially relevant to interpreting the whole novel
in which the passage appears.
Consider the language of your chosen passage in as much detail
possible, and then write a brief essay explaining what problem or issue
is at stake, and how the particular details of language in the passage
work to make the passage significant and noteworthy. This will help you
to learn to read prose fiction with the close-reading care (and slow
pace) sometimes relegated to studies of lyric poetry. Pay particular
attention to the sentence-level detail of image, tone, syntax, diction
etc. Focus on what is actually in the passage itself, especially what
is most interesting in it.
For the chosen passage, you need give only page numbers, no author
name, for quotations or paraphrases, and no Works Cited is needed.. If
you use any other edition of a novel besides the ones on the syllabus,
put the complete information for the edition you used in a Works Cited
You do not have to
consult any texts, primary or secondary, beyond your chosen novel. If
you do include any other sources keep them to a minimum, cite them in
MLA author p style keyed to a Works Cited, and be sure to still explicate the passage sufficiently in your own terms,
opinions subordinate to your own interpretation.