In this assignment you are expected to formulate a rigorous argument pertaining to at least two of the novels we have read this term. Your argument should move beyond observation to articulate a critical claim that situates the novels in relation to each other, to the course’s overall set of concerns, and to some of the key contexts in question: aesthetic, cultural, political, etc. Your papers need not do all these things, but some combination of them is most welcome. We will be modelling and practicing precisely this mode of reading and thinking about the novels over the course of the term, so by the time you write the paper you should be capable of producing such readings handily.
I will be looking in particular for papers that articulate non-obvious arguments about the novels, advancing them carefully through perspicacious use of textual evidence, logic, and effective rhetoric. The best thesis statements
- begin with an observation (e.g., In The Good Soldier, Dowell seems more than conventionally fond of Edward),
- formulate an argument based on that observation (e.g., this fondness suggests a deep homoeroticism at the novel’s core),
- and then articulate the significance of the argument being made (e.g., this unconventional theme allows us to read Ford’s formal experiments as a powerful mode of social critique).
All three are essential to top-quality work.
It should go without saying that spelling, grammar, and rigorous logic are hallmarks of sophisticated work. I expect papers that are free of elementary errors in spelling and grammar in particular, and live in the perpetual glow of papers that bring such perfection together with elegant argument and surprising insights. Wow me. Please.