ENGL 453 Modern American Fiction Essay Topics Fall 2012 Deadline: Nov 29th Dr. Gerald Naughton Choose one of these questions and write a research essay of between 1,000 and 1,500 words. You must include at least four secondary sources in your essay. Your essay should be analytical and not descriptive. Your essay should put forward your own critical opinion. You should refer closely to the text.
Assessment criteria: your essay is 15% of your overall mark for the course. Here is a breakdown of marks illustrating the grading of essays:
Grade Breakdown: 15 marks in total
Appropriate use of quotation / attention to language 20%
Clarity of expression and presentation (grammar, spelling, punctuation) 20%
Awareness of literary and cultural context behind each text discussed 10%
Use of appropriate literary terminology 10%
Demonstration of analytical thinking, critical skills, and originality 20%
Use of secondary sources and correct formatting and citation (MLA style) 20%
Suggested essay questions Questions on Tender Is the Night
Paradoxically, what may be really new about Tender then is the narratives fascination with seconds. In fact, everywhere we look there is a decided preference for the secondhand, (but also) the simulacrum or image (Cummings 232). Discuss the issue of performance and simulation as it relates to Fitzgeralds novel.
F. Scott Fitzgerald described Tender Is the Night as a story of a dying fall. What do you think he meant by this?
How do Dick and Nicole Diver draw on the real life experience of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald? Discuss the autobiographical elements of the text.
"The uncertainties of 1919 were over–there seemed little doubt about what was going to happen–America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. The whole golden boom was in the air–its splendid generosities, its outrageous corruptions. . . ." (from F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up). Explain how this quotation relates to Tender Is the Night.
Questions on Their Eyes Were Watching God :
According to one character in Their Eyes Were Watching God the black woman is the mule of the world. Analyse this quotation, making reference to the text.
Alice Walker describes Their Eyes Were Watching God as a story of self-love and love of community. Do you agree with her reading? Support and justify your answer.
Do you agree that Their Eyes Were Watching God advocates gender equality? Support your answer with reference to the text.
Examine the role of folktales and storytelling in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Questions on Sonnys Blues:
Analyse the ways in which music (particularly jazz) affects the construction of Baldwins text.
At the end of Sonnys Blues, all characters achieve a spiritual transformation that lifts them all out of their suffering. Do you agree with this reading? Support your answer.
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