Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tentative Final Paper Proposal

Tentative Argument:
Religion is an important part of our society. There are obviously many different stances on religion, whether it is necessary at all, when it is appropriate and the validity of most religious claims. We live in a self-proclaimed Christian society so the morals and values held by religious individuals also become a part of our daily lives. Religion may be one of the most polarizing topics of discussion there ever was so it is obvious that it would appear frequently in literature.            
Edward O. Wilson in his novel On Human Nature devotes a whole chapter to religion and how it is in human nature to have religious beliefs. He analyzes the validity, necessity and overall sociobiological explanations for religions and beliefs in a god or gods. In effect Wilson gives his highly educated sociobiological examination of religion and how it is a vital part of human nature.            
I want to use this chapter to analyze and observe the appearances of religion in other literary pieces we looked at this year. I want to use this chapter to make a claim about the overall purpose of religion in these novels and the intent the authors had in including it.
 In order to make my argument more clear and concise I will focus it on three novels, The Invisible man, Moby Dick and Litith’s Brood. I feel that these novels are all progressions on one another, Butler was influenced by Ellison and Ellison by Melville. There is also a progression of time in these novels as well so I feel that the ideas about and of religion will progress also. These three novels have distinct and related instances where religion plays an important part in the narrative. Some ideas are as subtle but omnipresent as a character’s name, while other my be long and drawn out scenes that are all centered around religion and religious practices. I want to analyze the majority of there instances and see not only if they are connected but if there is an over arching point of relevance. I feel as though this is an important topic because it so prevalent in these three novels. All of the authors included religion and religious allusions as an integral part of their narrative so it has to be an important topic of discussion.  The only real question is whether these references have connections with each other and have a conjoining element. 

Counter argument:
Like I said previously, religion is basically everywhere, it is such a polarizing topic that all three authors could have simply included religious themes to keep the readers intrigued. There could be no real correlation or connection in the three books to eachother in terms of religious references. Just because religion is a part of all of these novels doesn’t mean they have to be connected through that one theme. All of these references could stand as individual unconnected entities and have no relation.

On Human Nature – Edward O Wilson
            I want to use Wilson as the litmus test for what religion is, what it means, and how important it is to human nature. Wilson’s analysis of religion and my interpretation of it will be the backbone of my discussion.
Bridging Science and Religion - Edward O. Wilson

            I will use this piece to add supplemental ideas and evidence to the crux of my argument.
[Edward O. Wilson, , dir. "Talk of the Nation." Bridging Science and Religion. NPR: 08 Sep 2006. Radio. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5788810>.]

Moby Dick -  Herman Melville
            I want to start with Moby Dick because it comes 1st in chronological setting. I will beginning with a discussion of the characters names then go into more details by analyzing certain scenes from chapter 2 and chapters 7-9.

The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
            This will be used as a continuation of my argument about Melville and a comparison of chapter 2, looking closely at the prologue and at other instances in the novel (as we read them).

Lilith’s Brood Octavia Butler
            This will be used not only as a comparison be as a contrast. I will be discussing the Oankli’s lack of religion and Lilith’s namesake.

Steve Rosenthal - How Science is Perverted to Build Fascism
This will be used to gain contrasting ideas to Wilson’s about religion and do develop a counter argument on the subject.

[Rosenthal, Steve. "How Science is Perverted to Build Fascism: A Marxist Critique of E.O. Wilson's Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge." Southern Sociological Society meeting. Department of Sociology, Hampton University. Hampton VA. 1998. Keynote.]

1 comment:

  1. This is a very, very big argument. I'm not totally opposed to it, because if you can demonstrate a single line of thought running from Melville to Ellison to Butler on the topic of religion (which is then to be interpreted through Wilson) I think it's theoretically possible for it to work. But you need to find ways of tightly focusing it, and to not just demonstrate an ongoing religious theme, but to find a particular argument you want to make about how the religious views/vision of these authors relates.

    You don't yet have an argument, though. It's an idea, but not an argument. What, exactly, is the continuinity in religious thought here? You'd need to identify that first in order to form a coherent argument.

    One thing you might consider is narrowing it. Focus on the Melville -> Ellison connection (which is definitely, 100% there), or on the Ellison -> Butler connection (less obvious to my mind, but at least possibly more interesting as a result, if you want to focus further: there's plenty going on in either one, once you bring Wilson into the picture, especially.

    Short version: this is a fine general topic, but you need to find ways of foccusing/narrowing it from a theme to an argument. I'll look at another version if you want to try to narrow it down at the proposal stage - or send me a draft if you're having trouble focusing as you write.