Saturday, July 16, 2005

Final Paper

Your Final Paper, three thousand words of literary-academic excellence long, is due in my Department mailbox at midnight Monday August 1st. Yes, I know this is overly-generous and I appreciate your plaudits; I know also that you view the three-per-cent-per-day penalty for papers received any later than that as being excessively lenient. But there you are.
The choice of specific topic is yours; however your argument must refer to at least two course texts, one each from the chick-lit and lad-lit sides. Note that you may focus your essay on only one of the genres; you will in that event have to allude meaningfully to the complementary genre. Secondary sources are recommended, conforming in execution to the English Department Style Guide.
The course lectures have used Darwin's theory of sexual selection heuristically: that is, as a device designed to improve understanding. (I would never direct scholars to wikipedia, and I would always direct them to the OED, but if one were to go the Wiki route,
it would say of hueristic that it is "...a way of directing your attention fruitfully.") Your paper does not have to refer to sexual selection, or to my trichotomy of "cad, curate, or Colin Firth" - however some alternative organising schema for the genres is required of your essay.
I am available at all times by e-mail, in my regular Office Hours, or by mutual appointment to exchange ideas, edit a thesis paragraph, or engage in dialectic.

6 comments:

maggie said...

On the news last night I heard that because of the excessive crop of mosquitos this year somewhere in Ontario I think, the authorities are going to release dragon flies and damsel flies in an attempt to control the mosquito population. Does this mean that the female mosquitos, the ones that draw blood, are pricks? And could this be a topic for our final essay?

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

Ha ha!

maggie said...

I'm nit-picking, probably, but what if we don't think there are two sides, two genres, complementary or otherwise? What if we think Villette and Rob Roy, for instance, are similar, not different or complementary? I presume we are to take works from the two "sides" that we've been following in course, but do we have to argue that they are sides/genres--complementaty, different or otherwise?

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

Well, I promise you that I can construct an argument that says of any two works of fiction that they are similar. That is because of the (trivial) point that the novel has formal elements that, by definition, all members of the class "novel" share.
And more than that, the two novels you name are both written in the same period and so have structural and archictectural elements which are periodically similar.
But that being said, at the level of _fiction_ Villette and Rob Roy are radically dissimilar -- and their (critically identifiable) elements are sufficient to have them classified as belonging to separate genres.
As I say, give me any two apparently disparate works - "High Fidelity" and "War and Peace" say -- and I can argue that they are similar. But for all that, they are substantially not!

maggie said...

OK, but wouldn't it also be possible to argue that any two novels are different?
But my question is really this: may we take novels from the two different sides and talk about them without making their difference our major claim? I mean, may we write about two or three works, one of which will be from a different side, using a motif as our organizing schema?

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

Absolutely: and a good point. So we agree on terms and state that under the rubric of (say) romance and adventure, Villette represents one genre and Rob Roy represents another, and those genres are complementary.
The thesis you sketch here is fine, but I'd like to see how you expand it to express a thesis related to the criteria of English 369 -- i.e. "Studies in Prose Genres." And a paper critical of the division between chick-lit and lad-lit is also fine: as long as that is explicitly part of the thesis.
Great engagement!