You will be responsible for writing a close reading based analysis paper on the book you are working on for your final “book about a book” project. You should use at least one of the close reading strategies discussed in class and posted on the site. You must have a clear, cogent, and appropriately focused thesis. Your thesis must posit an interpretive claim deduced by close reading analysis. Your analysis should focus on either a very small passage in the text or a small, specific detail that recurs throughout some part or all of the text. Under no circumstances should your thesis attempt to make a claim about the whole book, philosophical ideas, human nature, or even the main character or major themes. It may be that your thesis has implications for how we might read the main character, a dominant theme, or the whole novel (or what you believe the novel is trying to say about the nature of humanity). In which case you might discuss these stakes in the introduction or conclusion or some other relevant place in the paper. However your actual claim should be much more focused and based on a localized close reading.
There are no requirements about what exactly you have to write on. As you and your group members are likely to draw on this material for the close reading analysis aspects of the book, it may be good for you in your brainstorming to consider some of the following themes and questions:
- How does the text itself define greatness? What definitions of great does it push against and/or reify?
- How does the text itself define work and/or labor? What kind of work does the text imagine itself doing?
- What depictions of greatness and/or labor occur in the text?
- How does the text depict the contrary (i.e. idleness, failure, inferiority, restful)?
- What part of the way the text is put together (i.e. an image, a rhythm, a particular juxtaposition of moments, etc.) makes the work pleasing to you?
- What part of the way the text is put together (i.e. an image, a rhythm, a particular juxtaposition of moments, etc.) makes the work uncomfortable or difficult for you?
- What part of the way the text is put together (i.e. an image, a rhythm, a particular juxtaposition of moments, etc.) makes the work a great or good piece of literature to you?\
Note: While many of these questions ask for your personal experience and even your evaluative assessment of a text (i.e. it’s great; it’s boring; or it’s bad), your thesis should not be an evaluative thesis. Your job is NOT to assess how great a writer the author is. Your job is to study the text, analyze how its elements work together, and make a claim about how the text in its content and/or its forms figures and tries to figure out the ideas of greatness, labor, and hard work.
Draft of Introduction: One week before you paper is due, you should submit a draft of your introduction, with your thesis, and with a brief road map indicating for your readers the major points/lines of argument you will move through in order to illustrate your claim.
Revisions: On a case by case basis, I will grant requests for revision. If you wish to revise your grade, you must let me know within 48 hours of receiving your grade. I will then request to have a meeting with you, at which point, we will discuss where you are with the paper and responding to the comments. We will then work out a revision plan and a due date for your revision. I will take the higher of the two grades.
Formatting: The paper should be 5-6 pages long (at least 4.5 pages), double spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font.