Saturday, March 31, 2012

Prompts for this week and next week

Yes, there's a reason it's all in one post.

For this week and next week (the assignment will be the same), you have three options.  I strongly recommend that you do option #3 (in either week), but this is not required.  You ARE required to do it, but if you'd rather discuss a briefer or more tentative proposal with me, possibly slightly later than either blog entry is due, I'm ok with that (in this case, it won't be formally graded).  You must, however, submit some kind of proposal to me in the next couple weeks - I'll send out reminders.

Option 1:  Focusing on a limited set of cited passages, but displaying knowledge of the larger text, use Marcuse to make an argument of your choice about Ellison.  Optionally, you might include research.  Your argument should either be distinct from our class discussion, or move beyond it in some clearly defined way, or challenge it in some clearly defined way.  Anything is fair game as long as it has an argument, uses specific passages from Ellison, and makes use of Marcuse.

Option 2:  As the epitaph at the start of the novel shows, Melville was a major influence on Marcuse.  Another interesting note:  Butler, like Ellison, is a famous and influential African American author with a deep interest in science and technology, who is often understood as operating in a particularly white-dominated area (science fiction now; "literary" or "high literary" fiction then.  Use these observations as a guideline to make an argument about Ellison which is influenced by Melville, or an argument about Butler which is influence or conditioned by Ellison.  For instance, we might argue that we can understand the narrator's position in Invisible Man, especially in relationship with the hospital machine (you'll know it when you read it), through Ahab's monologue on Prometheus.  Again - the details of the argument are up to you.

Option 3:  Write a proposal for your final project.  This proposal might be a little shorter than our usual blog entries (it should still be more than a page long, however).  It must include the following:

  1. A bibliography (see below for the number of sources) of your proposed sources, with a sentence or two each regarding how you plan to use those sources.
  2. A clear statement of your proposed argument, or a limited number of alternative arguments, or a clear question which is intended to lead to an argument.  This should include the following:
    1. A clearly stated counterargument to your position stated in (2) above, or a discussion of why your question in (2) above is a reasonable way to generate an argument.
    2. A clear statement of why your reader should care about this argument.  It might have small or large significance, but it should be clear why you think it's worth making.
  3. A clear statement of the role that Marcuse, Lewontin, or Wilson will play in your essay, including a discussion of at least one passage from the appropriate work.
  4. If you are revising an earlier draft (again, see below), a paragraph explaining, with specifics, what you plan to keep and what you plan to change, and why.  If you are not revising an earlier draft, just explain your argument at greater length.
You can use an outline, or just a regular text document, or a mix of the two.  You will be evaluated on this plan, as with any other blog entry.

Explanation:  My hope is that everyone will get a head start on their final project this way, but that those of you who need an extra week to start formulating your ideas will have it.  I am not going to require, but I will recommend, that everyone do a proposal for one of their blog entries either this week or next week.

Final Project Guidelines:

Your final project should offer a serious contribution to the work of the class.  It should show both that you understand our collective work, and that you have have your own direction or role within it.  You should have a clear, interesting, and worthwhile argument, which you make using both external sources and texts which we read as a class.  Ideally, you will draw on your own individual strengths and interests in this project (including, for instance, material from your own fields of study).  You may either begin a project from scratch or revise one of your existing essays, including existing revisions.  You should ideally do work which interests you, and which you feel contributes in some way to the class as a whole.

Specific guidelines:

  1. Your project must be at least 8 pages long, including at least 5 pages of new material (if you are revising).  8 pages is sufficient; I prefer that you not go above 12 pages, but this is preference, not a requirement.
  2. Your project must include at least 2 additional academic sources (generally, academic books and journal articles) beyond any that you might have used in an earlier revision.  If you feel that you're best off with non-academic sources, please discuss that preference with me.  You should, however, do as much research as your argument requires.
  3. Your project must include some close readings of particular passages from at least one literary figure we have read collectively (Ellison, Melville, Eliot, Shelley, or Butler).  Some projects, though, will need more close reading than others.  Some highly research-oriented projects may do relatively little; some may revolve primarily around close readings.
  4. Your project must make sustained use of either Marcuse, Wilson, or Lewontin.  This does not mean that you need to agree with them, however.  "Sustained use" does not mean that Marcuse, Wilson or Lewontin need to dominate your argument; they do, however, need to be part of the conversation, and you do need to show a good understanding of one of them.
  5. You should display a good understanding of all of your chosen texts, as well as of any relevant class discussions.  I don't expect perfection, and I do expect differences of opinion, but I also expect you to know your material.
  6. Your project should make a single sustained argument from the first sentence to the last.  This does not mean you cannot make use of any tangents, nor does it mean that you must continually remind us of where you are, at a particular moment in your project, within the larger argument.  Your goals and direction should, nonetheless, by clear, even if they might sometimes become subtle.
  7. Think of this as your lasting contribution to the class, and your opportunity to teach something to 

I'm sure questions will arise about all of the above; I'll do my best both to answer questions you raise in comments, and to revise as needed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just wondering if this is due tomorrow at 5:00 or if we have this whole week to work on it and it's due next Tuesday?