eng359y: american literature, 1880-1960


ENG359Y: Topics for Spring Term Paper
Due in class Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Maximum length: 2100 words; 25% of final mark

Write an essay on one of the authors on the syllabus for the spring term, discussing one of the following topics. Your paper should have a clear argument that addresses the topic, rather than simply restating the topic, and should use evidence from the text to support that argument, using and analyzing quotations from the text as necessary.

Please note that on the term test, you will not be permitted to write your essay on the same author you choose for this paper.

1. Discuss one writer’s use of allusions or references to other texts. What is the function of such allusions? What is distinctive about this author’s use of allusion?

2. “No good poetry is ever written in a manner twenty years old,” Ezra Pound declares in “A Retrospect.” Yet we also see modern American writers struggling to break out of old literary forms and structures—from metrical verse to realist narrative—as they try to create new ones. Examine how one author breaks with conventional forms, and describe and analyze the new literary forms that author proposes.

3. Gender roles and sexuality—from the encounter of the clerk and typist in Eliot’s Waste Land to Moore’s “Marriage” to Loy’s “Pig Cupid”—seem to be in flux or crisis in many of the texts we have read. How does one author represent changing gender roles and sexual norms? Describe particular literary techniques used in such representations.

4. Alain Locke’s preface to The New Negro speaks of “those nascent movements of folk-expression and self-determination which are playing a creative part in the world today.” In what way can one of the authors we have read this term be seen as representing or speaking for a particular community, whether defined by race, nation, gender, or sexuality? What elements of that community does the author choose to represent? Who seems to be the audience for such texts?

5. Analyze the relationship between form and content in the work of one author. How do the techniques chosen by the author illuminate, or even embody, the subject matter being presented? Are form and content always in harmony, or are they sometimes in tension?

If you have a strong interest in a topic of your own design other than the ones listed above, you may write on it, provided you discuss the topic with Prof. Yu no later than Thursday, February 16.