I have not yet introduced the research paper. I am starting that on Monday. Below is what I am expecting to hand out on Monday along with some more guidelines. Also, using the annotated bib assignment we looked at a few weeks ago. I was really interested to know if anyone had any ways in which to spice this up or make the paper more interesting? I feel that it is too bland as it is, or too vague.
Research Paper (6-8 pages; front and back of page, double spaced, 12 Times New Roman, 1 in margins). Many of the texts we have read discuss some aspect of reimagining identity or ways of analyzing identity that is apart from the mainstream socioeconomic-culture dynamic. Choose one topic that you are interested in and ready to think through extensively. Then go online, if you’re really daring, the library, and do some research. See what other writers are saying about this same issue. Then, in your paper, you must examine and critique several (2-3) related texts in the course, and evaluate/discuss their relevance to your topic/research. There is a six source minimum, which does not include your primary sources/texts.
“Scarry’s essay gave us something to talk about.”- Miller
Scarry certainly did gave us something to talk about. Something relevant, something related to social responsibility. Scarry’s essay was brilliant. The entanglement of the I, her subjective self, an intervention, I would even argue, for what the scholarly essay can look like, was amazing. It really gave a liveliness and usefulness into what the English classroom, and humanities study itself, can be.
To me Scarry’s essay, continuing from my statements last week about care, was literally a how-to-guide to revitalize and care for oneself in a field where any attempt at addressing injustice and modes of enacting justice is usually met with hostility, or the wonderful question of, “how does that relate to English? Literary study?” Sometimes from administration and other faculty, and even sometimes students. The latter has been the recent audience that has queried the “why does this matter?” and having to constantly reason and justify that is exhausting. So, Scarry’s essay is an excellent reminder of what is at stake and how to energize oneself to continue.
Slogging through English and literary study, in general, and the humanities, in particular, social responsibility, the classroom as a space where “beauty presses us to justice” is a rare classroom, indeed. Many of the classrooms I have been through the call for justice is one uniquely divorced from social justice. Perhaps that is just my experience or my experience of rubbing against predominantly white professors who refused to see the points I wanted to make concerning injustice in such texts as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Conrad, or the classroom cultures themselves.
Alarming;y enough, Scarry’s essay was composed in 2000. It is now fifteen years later. Her call reverberates, somewhere in the deep trenches, to those few scholars who heed it. To those scholars, though, that this call is their life, their reason for graduate study, their intervention, then the essay reverberates very differently. Issues of social responsibility and injustice in the classroom as a brown gay man is not the same relationship as that of white academics and professors. The ability to confront the impediments Scarry theorizes and implementing modes of imagining solutions to them is one that is a daunting, vexing predicament for a faculty of color. Every other day, within academia and in my classrooms I even teach, I must justify my own scholarly interests and questions, particularly ones tethered to discussing injury, redress, and injustice, always to an audience who seem “fed up” with discussing these topics. The duty of justice and implementing discussions of justice, as Scarry articulates by her call for a “commitment to justice” is one that is an especially heavy to carry and to implement for scholars of color.
Scarry’s call is still not heeded, not yet here. And I don’t necessarily know if it ever will. But, perhaps, as Scarry so hopefully notes, we can make footnotes and research that proposes, “an argument in which something actual is at stake.”