Mid-Semester Essay

Texts are places where power and weakness become visible and discussable, where learning and ignorance manifest themselves, where the structures that enable and constrain our thoughts and actions become palpable.

– Robert Scholes, Textual Power (New Haven: Yale UP, 1985), p. xi.

General Guidelines

  • Focus on a reading of a specific text
  • Take a critical stance toward the text
  • Incorporate some scholarship on postmodern theory and show awareness of issues relevant to "postmodernism"
  • Includes proper MLA citations in the paper and a Works Cited page
  • 6-8 pages long
  • Due in class Tuesday, October 18

Specific Suggestions

  • Use any one of the texts we have encountered so far this semester (Lot 49, Lathe, Intuitionist, Memento, Female Man)
  • By "critical stance" I mean producing a reading of the text that goes beyond the obvious or simply describing the text and avoids personal judgments (e.g. "this sucked" or some  more sophisticated version of the same idea)
  • Consider the text on its own terms, putting aside what others (including the author) think the text "ought" to do or "ought" to be
  • It often helps to begin with an aspect of the text that troubles you, or with a question you have of the text
  • If you know what you’re going to write before you write it, you probably shouldn’t write it.
  • For critical sources, you may want to refer to Jameson, Harvey, hooks, Haraway, as well as books I’ve placed on reserve and the MLA Index (available online)
  • I will be happy to discuss essay topics with you, and I encourage you to run your ideas by me
  • 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)