Paper topics

English 205: Women's Autobiography and Bildungsromane
Fall 97

Remember, you can still write on Jane Eyre and on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl if you have not done so yet. And, of course, there's the possibility of an autobiographical essay.

Whatever you choose, remember: anchor your readings firmly in the text, and give yourselves time to REVISE.

1. Consider the relationship between "private" and "public" in The Diary of a Young Girl. Specific questions you might consider: Is the "self" a private entity? Should it be? Does Anne distinguish between private and public? Does Anne's awareness of herself as a political entity change her vision of herself? Who gets to have privacy? What are the implications of making a private record public? Be certain to define your terms; be aware that those terms might change as your argument progresses.

2. Choose a passage from another version of The Diary of a Young Girl and compare it to the edition we're using. What is the significance of the differences? You might consider not only the role and implications of editing but also translation.

3. Time is an important element of Mrs. Dalloway. Consider the places in which time is invoked, how different characters deal with time, how time passes in the novel. What might Woolf be saying about time and how it shapes human experience (or how human experience shapes it)?

4. Septimus Warren Smith, in Mrs. Dalloway, at one point says "beauty, that was the truth now" (69). How does Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" help us to understand Septimus?

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