Final Essay: E 392 – World Literature II, Professor Rives
Due Dates: Upload to “Assignments,” Essay #2 on Blackboard by Sunday Oct. 25 @ 11:59PM.
The following are not questions that you should address one by one, but rather guides for developing your own argument. If you choose to write about a separate topic, please clear it with me (via email or office hours) before you begin. You may also write about a combination of topics, but do make sure that your argument is suitable for the scope of a short paper. You may also use one of your discussion board posts or blogs as a springboard for or as part of the content of your essay.
Please number and staple your pages! You should read this carefully to make sure your essay FULFILLS ALL REQUIREMENTS ESTABLISHED BY THE ASSIGNMENT.
Requirements: I expect to see a focused argumentative thesis with supporting points based on textual analysis. Use the text as support, meaning, you must build your argument through close reading and explanation of actual passages in the text. Fully develop your analysis. A quotation from the text will not illustrate your thesis on its own. You must teach the reader, through close reading and elaboration upon details in the passages, how it relates to your thesis. It is also better to elaborate in detail upon one example than to bring in too many undeveloped examples.
The page length should be FOUR TO SIX PAGES of writing in a reasonably sized font, 12 point times new roman, for example. SHORTER PAPERS WILL BE SUBSTANTIALLY PENALIZED and will receive a failing grade! If a essay is not double spaced and in 12 point font, I will not read it until you have altered the format.
Readings are Borowski, This Way for Gas Ladies and Gentleman; all stories through “Auschwitz, Our Home, a Letter” & poetry by Charlotte Delbo
1. How do any of the texts we have read complicate conventional notions of morality? In an article in The Guardian, for example, Chris Powers writes that for Borowski, “despair itself is moral.” Do the texts offer any sort of coherent ethical vision or are they marked by complete nihilism?
For this you will need to explain, either through your research or your own thought what a conventional notion of morality is. Be specific. It’s possible that this notion is explored also through particular scenes in the text.
2. Borowski writes in “The People Who Walked On” that the memory of the camp surviver “retains only images.” Explain. How might this be relevant to Resnais’ Night and Fog? What do you think is the relationship between memory, time and identity in these texts? May also be useful for discussing Hiroshima Mon Amour.
3. In A Thousand Darknesses, Ruth Franklin charts out some of the problems of representation in Holocaust Literature. What are they, and how do you think This Way for Gas negotiates them? What relation does this have to do with certain choices in narrative and style?
4. What sort of problems does Hiroshima Mon Amour address? How does the film, as Rivette has claimed “underline the horror of contemporary society?” What role, for example, might the love story play in doing this?
5. Kevin Sweeney explains how Gregor’s transformation in Kafka’s Metamorphosis can be interpreted in terms of three different theories of identity: the Lockean-Cartesian perspective, the materialist perspective, and the social-constructionist perspective. Explain one or two of these perspectives and argue how they might apply to one or two of the texts we have read. You should focus your argument. For example, what does the question of “language” have to do with the “social-constructionist” argument? (There is a pdf of the Sweeney article in week 5 weekly guide)
6. Kevin Sweeney argues that the Metamorphosis leaves “unresolved questions about the limits of responsibility towards those whose personhood is in doubt” (152). In other words, our de-humanization of others can become a way of limiting our responsibility toward them. Explain this argument in relation to one or two texts we have read in class.
7. Nina Pelikan Strauss argues that the Metamorphosis illustrates the breakdown of masculine identity that occurs in the desire for a feminine one. What do you think The Metamorphosis is actually about? (May combine questions 5,6, and 7).
8. Family Structure: How do any of the texts we have read alter, re-orient or reimagine family structure?
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