Paper topics
English 104
Spring 1996

Papers due Friday, April 4, no later than 4:00 pm.

These paper topics are jumping-off points; your essay should be a coherent argument that builds logically towards a synthetic conclusion. You are welcome and encouraged to bring in ideas that we have discussed in class, but please do not simply regurgitate class notes. These are to be original essays based on your own close readings. Be sure to anchor your argument in textual detail, that is, in quotation and analysis.

You are welcome to stray from the assigned topics. If you choose not to write on one of the topics below, however, please discuss your paper ideas with me (in person or over e-mail) before beginning to write. You do not have to have a definite thesis when you speak to me, but you must have my approval of your topic if you choose to depart from those assigned.

1. Take one image or cluster of images (for instance, bats and birds, water and fluids, dogs, or the color green) and trace it through one chapter of *Ulysses*. What is the significance of that image in the larger context of the chapter? Do not simply list occurences of the image; explain their importance as you progress through your paper. Consider, too, the way Joyce uses the image(s) you choose: does the image change? is the image a consistent metaphor? can you make any larger comments about the significance of Joyce's use of language?

2. Consider the final section of *The Waste Land*. In this section, the thunder ostensibly says "give, sympathize, control." What do you think this means in the context of the section/poem? Is it a directive, a request, a summary, a hope? How are these words connected in the poem? Why are they important? Anchor your essay in close readings.

3. Time is an important element of *Mrs. Dalloway*. Consider the places in which time is invoked, and how different characters deal with time. What might Woolf be saying about time and how it shapes human experience (or how human experience shapes it)? How does the representation of time tie into other themes/issues the book treats? You might choose to frame your argument by examining different characters' approaches to time, but you should also consider the way the narrative itself represents time and the passage of time.

4. *Waiting for Godot* is not only an existentialist play; it is also a play about the theater. Consider the places in the play where the actors gesture toward the audience, or make references to watching or acting. What might Beckett be saying about acting, drama, and/or the place of the theater? Does reading *Godot* as a play about theater work against reading it as an existentialist drama, or does it add to the existentialist reading?

5. Consider Burroughs's theory about taping and language, and compare it to one of Joyce's works. Are there similarities between Joyce's and Burroughs's style (a question to consider if you've decided to discuss *Ulysses* or *Finnegans Wake*)? What about the two writers' attitudes towards authority? privacy? sexuality? You need not answer all of these questions in your essay; focus on the concepts you think are most productive and interesting to compare.

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