Pope and Swift
First Paper Assignment.
Due by noon Friday, February 15, at my office, Tompkins 270
4-6 pages, double-spaced
typed/printed text. Standard margins (top & bottom 1" margins;
left 1.25" margins). If you have any other format questions, ask me.
You may choose from either Swift's prose in Tale of a Tub, or his poetry. For
the latter, choose any of the Swift poems from my online collection or
the larger Gutenberg edition. Select no more than one paragraph
from the prose, or one stanza or verse paragraph
from the poems (unless the poem is very short, and then you may do the
whole poem).. Pick any piece whose lines
you judge most interesting and relevant to understanding the whole work
from which it comes, and do a
close reading of those selected lines. Slow down to consider the
prosody, allusions, metaphors, meter, rhyme, anything that you feel is
most relevant to discuss and necessary to interpret to read your chosen
lines well in relation to the larger work well.
Then organize your ideas into an argument proposing an interpretation.
Even though you will want to discuss details, whether you organize your
exposition to follow the original order of the primary text or not will
depend on your argument. One challenge with close readings is to avoid
mere summary, and sometimes breaking from the sequential order of the
original text is a good way to help avoid simply replicating it and to
find your own voice.
This assignment requires you to practice your skills in close
reading, You do not, however, have to consult any text beyond
chosen paragraph or part of a poem. You will no doubt make sense of the
selection you choose in relation to the whole work from which it comes,
but stay as focused as possible on the details of language within, not
beyond, your chosen selection. 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.
If you pick a passage or poem that we have discussed in some
detail in class you are obliged to bring out something personal and
original in your reading.
Feel free to discuss your developing ideas with me.