Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prompts for Danielewski, Day 2

The broad requirements for the final project are included below.  Everybody should read this part, regardless of whether or not you are doing a proposal for your short blog this week or not.

Option 1:  Pick a visual detail from this week's reading.  Create an argument which uses this visual detail to interpret the meaning of some other aspect of the novel.  Usually you would prefer to begin with something on the same page (or two-page spread) as the visual detail in question.  Anything visual, any kind of "image," is fair game.  Spacing or its absence, color, "concrete poetry" (that is, visual representations of ideas or objects which happen to be made out of words), etc.  As long as you  are making an argument which connects the visual and non-visual characteristics of the text, it's fair game.  Make your argument as focused as possible, and be sure to cite specific passages!

Option 2:  Carefully read, re-read, and re-re-read the material on page 42, particularly footnotes 49 & 50.  Then find and read Jorge Borges' short story "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote."  Having read it, present an argument concerning with Danielewski's use of the story means.

Option 3:  Find and purchase "Haunted," an album released by Danielewski's sister, whose stage name is Poe.  Here's the itunes link and the Amazon link.  The albums operates, on one level, as a kind of soundtrack for the book.  After listening carefully, present an argument re: how some particular part of the reading assignment could be interpreted differently through the album, or vice versa.  When writing about music, try to deal with music as such and not just with the lyrics.

Option 4:  Final Project Proposal!

Write a proposal for your final project. This proposal might be a little shorter than our usual blog entries (however, see below for additional guidelines on length). It must include the following:
  1. A bibliography (see below for the number of sources) of your proposed sources, with a sentence or two about each explaining how you plan to use those sources.
  2. A clear statement of your proposed argument, or a limited number of alternative arguments, or a clear question which is intended to lead to an argument. This should include the following:
    1. A clearly stated counterargument to your position stated in (2) above, or a discussion of why your question in (2) above is a reasonable way to generate an argument.
      1. A clear statement of why your reader should care about this argument. It might have small or large significance, but it should be clear why you think it's worth making. If they don't care about the argument, it isn't an argument!
      2. If you are revising an earlier draft (again, see below), a paragraph explaining, with specifics, what you plan to keep and what you plan to change, and why. If you are not revising an earlier draft, just explain your argument at greater length.
    2. After you have finished with the formal description of your project, you need to do one or both of the following.
      1. Begin writing it, possibly in some fragmented way. You might begin with the introduction. That's fine. Or you might begin with some research, and maybe some glue explaning why the research is important, and where you can go from there.
      2. If you prefer, you could begin outling your project. This technique is more useful for some people than for others, and more useful for some projects than others. I sometimes outline myself, but not consistently - if it appeals to you, try it.
        1. Feel free to outline some and write some. If you have a rough plan for an argument, but one part of it is very clear in your head, write that part, while outlining the rest in broad terms.
The total length of the proposal + outline/early draft should be about 2 pages

Final Project Guidelines:

Your final project should offer a serious contribution to the work of the class. It should show both that you understand our collective work, and that you have have your own direction or role within it. You should have a clear, interesting, and worthwhile argument, which you make using both external sources and probably texts which we read as a class. Ideally, you will draw on your own individual strengths and interests in this project (including, for instance, material from your own fields of study). You may either begin a project from scratch or revise one of your existing essays, including existing revisions. You should ideally do work which interests you, and which you feel contributes in some way to the class as a whole.

Specific guidelines:
  1. Your project must be at least 8 pages long, including at least 5 pages of new material (if you are revising). More is not necessarily better!
  2. Your project must include at least 2 additional academic sources (generally, academic books and journal articles) beyond any that you might have used in an earlier revision. If you feel that you're best off with non-academic sources, please discuss that preference with me. You should, however, do as much research as your argument requires.
  3. You should display a good understanding of all of your chosen texts. I don't expect perfection, and I do expect differences of opinion, but I also expect you to know your material.
  4. Your project should make a single sustained argument from the first sentence to the last. This does not mean you cannot make use of any tangents, nor does it mean that you must continually remind us of where you are, at a particular moment in your project, within the larger argument. Your goals and direction should, nonetheless, by clear, even if they might sometimes become subtle.
  5. Think of this as your lasting contribution to the class, and your opportunity to teach something to the rest of us.
  6. All final projects must deal with at least one of our shared texts, although you may touch on other texts as well.
  7. All final projects must deal with the visual character of that shared text, as well as its meaning.  I expect that most argument should be deeply concerned with the relationship or interplay between words and images in that shared text.
  8. Note that the above guidelines apply to standard essays. Those of you who want to do creative projects must, in general, do all of these things (and work harder!), in return for a little more flexibility - for instance, in a creative project the argument can be implicit rather than explicit, and might not always have clear dominion over every part of the text.
I'm sure questions will arise about all of the above; I'll do my best both to answer questions you raise in comments, and to revise as needed.

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