Final Research Paper

The final paper should approach journal-quality in terms of critical analysis, intellectual rigor, and historical and social contextualization. Browse through Contemporary Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, PMLA, Postmodern Culture, or other peer-reviewed literary, media, or cultural academic journals to get a sense of what I mean by "journal quality."

You may write about any of the texts we’ve encountered this semester, but I encourage you to reach beyond what we’ve already read, viewed, or discussed in class. Try tackling other works by the authors we’ve read (Morrison, Hagedorn, DeLillo, et cetera). Or branch out to other prominent so-called "postmodern" novelists: Mark Leyner, Leslie Marmon Silko, David Foster Wallace, Robert Coover, Kurt Vonnegut, Kathy Acker, Donald Barthelme, Octavia Butler, John Barth, Paul Auster, Margaret Atwood, Vladimir Nabokov, Bobbie Ann Mason, Bret Easton Ellis, Maxine Hong Kingston, William Gibson, Angela Carter, Joyce Carol Oates, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, E.L. Doctorow, just to name a few. There are many other novelists and short storyists to consider as well. You may also focus on a non-literary postmodern "text": postmodern cinema, artwork and visual culture, architecture, music, hypertext and multimedia, and so on.

Your "reading" of the postmodern text should be informed by postmodern critical theory and by other scholars who have considered the same or similar texts. Consult the MLA bibliography and other academic databases in the humanities to find relevant sources. While I am not specifying a minimum number of sources, you will necessarily need to build upon the works of other critics in order to craft an engaged, sustained, sophisticated argument. Please do not use non-academic or non-peer-reviewed online sources (e.g. Buford J. Tidywidy’s "I Love Vonnegut" site or even the popular Wikipedia).

The essential requirements

  • 12-15 pages long (not including notes or works cited)
  • Include a descriptive title (in the same way that journal articles are titled)
  • Include proper MLA citations in the paper and a Works Cited page)
  • Due Tuesday, December 13 by 5 PM
  • Late papers are unacceptable, or, only acceptable to the point that for every day a paper is late, the grade for that paper will automatically drop one step (A becomes A-, A- becomes B+, and so on)