English 314
Fall 2004

Paper #1:  Paper Topics


These are clearly fairly open questions; my hope is to give you guidance but not to direct your answers too much. However, you should keep to the questions as stated here. It is your responsibility to create a sustained, coherent interpretive argument (i.e., an essay that sets out to present a fresh interpretation based on an initial thesis with which it is possible to disagree); to anchor your interpretation in close reading of the text (i.e., based on careful attention to and interpretation of the details); and make clear the implications of your reading (i.e., answer the question "so what?").  If you're engaging with another (critical) writer, make sure that you make clear with what you're arguing and also that your own interpretation of the work is clear.

I encourage you to make use of the Writing Center (see syllabus for more details).  I am also available for discussion of papers during office hours and by appointment.  Don't forget to review my guidelines for papers and grading on the Blackboard website.

And remember:  at least one of your papers this semester needs to be on (one or two) poem (s).

1.  Does Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" support (or complicate) any of the ideas presented in Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"?

2.  Does Joanna Baillie's "London" represent the picturesque, as described by Ruskin (517-520)?   What are the implications of Baillie's representational strategy--as Ruskin might see it, but also as you see it? An alternative to Baillie: examine William Wordsworth's "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802" or Dorothy Wordsworth's "Grasmere Journals."

3.  Gustave Dore illustrated "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (see for instance http://ssad.bowdoin.edu:8668/space/Gustave+Dore+Ancient+Mariner+illustrations)  What kind of interpretation of the poem do they provide? You might consider the larger issue of the relationship between illustration and text in your argument.

4. Compare the representation of women in Keats's "La Belle Dame Sans Mercy" and either Keats's "Eve of St. Agnes," Coleridge's "Kubla Khan," or Shelley's "To Jane."  What are the implications of the differences and similarities?

4. Read one of the essays on Jane Eyre written by students on "Charlotte's Web": http://www.umd.umich.edu/casl/hum/eng/classes/434/charweb/ . Find one in which you are interested but with which you have a disagreement, either major or minor.  Write an essay responding to the essay you choose.

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