In an essay of about 5 pages in length (1500 words), write about how two of the authors whom we have studied so far


In an essay of about 5 pages in length (1500 words), write about how two of the authors whom we have studied so far (Gandhi, Ghosh, Ondaatje, Mustafa) deal with one of the following broad thematic areas:

1. The trope of the sea

2. Migration

3. Alternative histories

4. Gender

5. Diaspora

6. Subalternity

You can be as creative as you like in your interpretation of these themes. In your writing, I want you to pay particular attention to the form (how the author writes about these issues), and think about how the form and/or genre (the Bildungsroman , or historical writing, for example) interacts with, supports, undermines, complicates, kills [insert verb here] the content. So, for example, you might think about how Ghosh’s interweaving of personal history, anthropology and historical writing has an impact on the story he is telling, or how Gandhi’s use of stories that are like parables undermines the sense that this is the history of his own subjective formation.

Think of this as an extended close reading, in which you weave readings of two or three (or more if you need) passages together. Begin with what the text says, and how it says it, rather than any large-scale claim that you cannot support. So, for example, a paper on migration might look at the very final pages of The Cat’s Table, when Michael arrives, or a paper on Diaspora might examine Gandhi’s speech to the Indian merchants as a moment of diaspora formation. As we do in class, you will want to build from close observations about a passage into a larger claim.

You are not expected to do any secondary or critical reading for this essay, though I don’t discourage it. If you feel you need to read more about your topic or the authors, please feel free to do so. But don’t use the Google—the library is stacked full of excellent paper and virtual resources.

What I’m Looking for:

For this assignment, I have in mind to allow you to practice and also demonstrate ability in the following key areas of our learning goals.

1. enjoy an increased understanding of the relationship between text, context, and history

2. be comfortable writing both formally and informally about literary texts

3. have an improved ability to read and make use of secondary texts

In particular, I am keen to see how you link texts and authors together to provide a compelling and coherent reading of a topic, theme, image, or generic convention. As always, I will be looking for clarity of expression, coherence of structure, and originality of argument. Be interesting—it’s your job!

Writing is a process, and this paper will allow you to concentrate on key skills in comparison and synthesis that will become vitally important for your final essay. Remember, though, that all arguments in literary criticism begin with careful and close analysis of the words in front of you, not vague generalisations. Try to draw your evidence from the text(s) before moving to a more general conclusion.

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