Assignments

Film Review – 1000 words – 15%

Choose the film version of one of the novels we are reading and write a review. Your review must identify differences between the novel and its film version and formulate an argument about those differences. You need not comment on all the differences. Instead, you should try to identify a related set of differences that allows you to articulate a claim about the nature of the changes made. For example, if all the male characters in a novel are changed into women in the film, that might lead to an argument about sexual politics. It will not be sufficient simply to write a review that pans the film for not being as good as the novel, or vice versa; this has nothing to do with what you like. Instead, it’s about doing a careful analysis of differing representational strategies.

Quizzes – 8%

On the first day of study of a new novel we will have a very short quiz that will test whether you have read the work. We will also have one quiz on secondary readings. The questions will be very easy and fact-based, but you will not be able to pass the test if you have not read the novel. This should be an easy set of marks to pick up.

Short Paper – 1500 words – 25%

In this paper you will be asked to demonstrate stylistic and thematic links between one novel and its immediate socio-cultural context. This context may include contemporary music, drugs, sexual practices, popular cultural phenomena, political events, wars, the Cold War, class, terrorism, decolonization, style (in its manifold manifestations), etc. At this level of analysis, it will be enough to demonstrate that the novel in question registers and captures some dimension of its context – or that it conspicuously fails to do so. You will have to conduct research into the contexts of the novels beyond what we are able to cover in class. The paper will also have to demonstrate some close attention to issues of form and style in and of the novel as they relate to its contexts.

Term Paper Draft – 0%

This draft of your term paper will not be marked by me, but must be handed in to receive mark for final paper. You are to hand in to me an exact copy of what you give to your peer assessor for his or her critique. I will simply check to see that it has been done, which will allow you to receive a grade for the final paper. I will not be marking these drafts, but they must be full essays; notes or outlines are not acceptable.

Critique of Peer’s Term Paper – 500 wds. – 12%

Two weeks before the term papers are due, you will bring a copy of your draft term paper to class. Email one copy to me. The other will go to one of your peers, who will write a 500-word critique of it. These critiques will be thorough, attending to spelling, grammar, style, content, argument, use of evidence, thesis statement and follow-through, sophistication, persuasiveness, intelligence, and knowledge of both the works and their contexts. I will be looking for you to provide strong – but constructive – feedback on your peers’ drafts. Each of you must do at least one critique, and each of you must have at least one critique done. I encourage you to do more of them, and to seek input from more than one peer in the process of fine-tuning your final paper. I will be marking the critiques for the usefulness of the advice they give, for the clarity and incisiveness of their criticisms, and for the evidence they show of the critiquer’s knowledge of the work and its context.

Term Paper – 2500 wds. – 40%

Your term paper will be the major research project of the term. In it, you will be expected to move beyond the “reflective hypothesis” to show how at least two novels actively engage with their contexts. The aim here will be to show how they re-work their contexts, emphasizing certain elements, minimizing others, and eliding still others. Close attention to form and style are essential here. For this assignment you may choose to compare popular journalistic discourse about youth culture with its representation in the novels, later film adaptations with the original novels, the connections and distortions between youth cultural styles as they walked the streets and how they appear in the novels, issues of race, colonialism and empire, gender and sexuality, ideology, class, modernism versus postmodernism, and so on. The influence of American and other youth cultures may also be pertinent, as might contrasting representations of youth culture on television, in comic books, and films.

For all written work, spelling and grammar are of utmost importance, as is a strong thesis statement. This is a fourth-year English class; as such, I expect flawless language in your written work. A brilliant paper that has more than three serious grammar errors (e.g., comma-splice, sentence fragment) or persistent, itchy minor errors (e.g., pronoun-verb agreement problems) will not receive a grade higher than a B-; a less-than-brilliant paper with the same errors will suffer. Likewise, a perfectly written paper with no strong thesis statement will not receive a grade higher than a B-; a less-than-perfectly written paper without a strong thesis and argument will suffer accordingly as well.

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