Choose from the following essay suggestions. You may create your own topic, with approval, if you consult me before 17 July. You must use secondary sources appropriate to your topic in both focus and quantity. Your paper should demonstrate a grasp of both the primary text(s) you choose to write on and the critical materials available. This means that you must show an understanding of the reliability of critical materials, how to find scholarly criticism, and an ability to judge whether a work is dated or current. While some topics will have more or less critical materials available than others, I advise a 3–4 sources minimum. You may wish to consider biographical materials, letters, print history, journals, or other such sources as well.
1.Many of the works we have studied this term derive from a cultural context where social imbalances are reflected in the texts (ie: class, race, colonialism, etcetera). Consider one or more texts (that you have not previously written on) by taking into account how they respond to their cultural and historical circumstances.
2.Several of the authors we have studied seem to be inspired by or interested in each other’s work. Consider two or more authors’ relationships (personal or purely literary) and how they can inform their writings. Is it a mutual influence? Does a later author alter the way we read an earlier one? Try to consider as many levels in the texts as possible, such as allusions, style, setting, themes, argumentative purposes, or even related texts and biographical information.
3.Eliot’s poetry is both “traditional” and “new,” in both instances largely in connection with its use of allusion. Consider how allusion functions in The Waste Land. Does it connect the poem to a long literary tradition or does it mark a rupture from tradition that coincides with Modernism? You might choose to focus on the role of a particular allusion in the poem, such as Eliot’s references to Shakespeare or Ovid.
4.Joyce\’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Woolf\’s Jacob\’s Room, and Wilde\’s The Picture of Dorian Gray all shows significant interests in form and style (as distinct from social or thematic concerns). To what degree can Jacob\’s Room appear as an answer or rebuttal to A Portrait of the Artist or Portrait as an answer or rebuttal to Dorian Gray?
5.Texts as stylistically and politically distinct as Wilde\’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Woolf\’s Jacob\’s Room are still considered modernist and hence part of a shared aesthetic tradition. Please discuss any two or more texts from this term as either contiguous works in a common movement or as disjunctions in contested practices. Based on such a comparison, what information emerges with regard to modernist literature in general?
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