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Literature & Language
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Final Writing Literature & Language Essay Research (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

Please read the attached instruction carefully, all the requirements are listed. I want you to choose between Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", "A Day's Wait", "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place", " In Another Country" and "The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber". All of the stories can be easily found online, just pick one that you can relate to. Make sure you make up the story that fit my background, I am 24 years old, male, from China, an international student in the U.S. Again, all the information you need are in the attached file, pls read it through, Thx.

 

English 2260: American Literature after 1865 Paper #1: Autobiographical Literary Criticism Summer 2020 Instructions: Autobiographical literary criticism blends personal narrative with close reading and reader response. To be clear: • By “personal narrative,” we mean a story about you, from your own life. • “Close reading” is what we’ve been doing in class all semester: looking very closely at specific passages and specific pieces of language. That is to say, looking carefully at the specific words the author chose, and thinking about why the author chose those particular words, and how those words create the meaning of the text (for example, what does it mean to say that death “kindly” stopped for the speaker of the poem? Why did James Baldwin say it was as though Sonny’s fellow musicians were saying “amen?” And how does that resonate with other passages in the story to create/convey the emotions and ideas (in other words, the meaning) of the text. Think connotation, denotation. I mean, you don’t have to use those words in your paper—in fact it’s probably better if you don’t go using the words connotation and denotation left and right—but that’s the basic text. The simplified version of this is that you quote the text you’re writing about, and write in detailed ways not just about what the author says, but how he or she says it, and why, and what that does to the tone of the poem or story, and how that in turn shapes the meaning of the text. Why are the vultures “obscene” in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro?” What does that say about life, death, et cetera? • “Reader response” means your own personal response to the text. How did it make you feel? What did it make you think about? Note that this is not an excuse to say, “I thought it was boring.” If you thought it was boring, don’t write about it. If you thought everything we read so far was boring, trust me: the literature isn’t the problem. The problem is you. Get over it. Pick the piece of writing you could relate to the most, or the piece that was most thoughtprovoking for you, and write about it. If you couldn’t relate to any of this stuff and none of it provoked the least bit of thought or emotion, read it again, and again, and again, until something clicks. If nothing ever clicks, consider the possibility that there’s something wrong with your immortal soul, and act accordingly to strengthen and nourish and develop your relationship with the divine. Then read again, and find a piece of literature we’ve covered this semester that stirs something inside you—that provokes a response—and write about that. Note that there’s nothing particularly academic about this. It’s just documenting your response, the way you might tell someone why you liked a movie or a song you liked, what it made you think about it and how it made you feel, and trying to explain why. • The only part of the paper that is strictly speaking “academic” is the close reading, and even that’s not all that especially “academic.” That’s just paying attention to what you read, which is what you do sort of naturally when you’re reading something you chose to read yourself, rather than something you are being made to read for school. Now that we’ve defined our terms and covered some general guidelines for selecting a piece of writing and reading it closely and responding to it in a thoughtful and intelligent way, let’s talk a little 2 about what it means to blend those elements of close reading and reader response with personal narrative. What in the world is your humble professor asking you to do? Okay. As concisely as possible, here it is: Focus on one author and one text (or a handful of poems, if the author you chose is a poet and it seems appropriate to talk about more than one poem: Eliot you’d need all the space just to talk about Prufrock; Knight you could easily talk about two poems together) and write an essay about four or five pages long in which you think critically about your own experiences in relation to the text. Note that your humble professor isn’t asking you to share your deepest, most private and personal experiences with him. You can write about any experience you feel comfortable with. For example, are you intensely interested in something that your friends and family don’t see as particularly valuable or important? Do you see any commonalities between the way that made you feel and the way Sonny’s brother might have made him feel? Or, if you want to get philosophical, have you ever had a change of heart about your religious upbringing? Had some kind of “meaning of life” type crisis? Remind you of anything you read in Hemingway, like “Soldier’s Home” perhaps? Were you too shy to talk to that super cute boy/girl/troglodyte? Maybe you can pick up on something in Prufrock, if you feel comfortable writing about it. Unlucky in love? Toxic relationship? Plenty of fodder for that sort of thing in Hemingway—again, if and only if you feel comfortable writing about it. Got a sibling who’s into drugs? “Sonny’s Blues.” Obsessed with music? “Sonny’s Blues.” Plagued by racism (or any other kind of discrimination)? Anything in Baldwin or Knight will do. Destroyed some of your own personal relationships while chasing after things you thought would make you happy? Again, Knight and Hemingway. Problems with the patriarchy? Been on the receiving end of some sexism? Anne Sexton. Kate Chopin. But you don’t have to be talking sexism to talk Kate Chopin—you can talk about anyone in a position of authority trying to control you, anyone who tried to stifle your creativity, any situation you had no control over but were desperate to escape. Maybe nobody did anything wrong. Maybe the relationship was just over. Well, there’s Miranda July all over the place. Note how in “Mon Plaisir” the relationship is momentarily revitalized by the couple’s participation in the film. Have you had an experience like that? Trouble with the boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/family member momentarily relieved by something you did together, but then, when that activity was over, it was just that much more clear how, in ordinary life, you and that person no longer saw eye-to-eye? The relationship had to either change or end? Have you found yourself valued for being pretty, thought you were valued for being you, then been bitterly disappointed to discover that you didn’t matter at all: only your prettiness did? “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Just about any experience and any author will do, as long as you can quote the text and relate it back to your experience—that is to say, as long as you can view it through the lens of your own experience, and come to some conclusions about the meaning of the story or play or poem or set of poems that seems relevant and interesting and correct. I mean, don’t be stupid, obviously. Use qualifiers and disclaimers to make it clear your experience wasn’t exactly the same. If you want to write about your friends not understanding your problems, you can write about “Previous Condition,” but unless your problem is racism and you’ve just been evicted from your home, make sure you say something along the lines of: I don’t mean to suggest that my problems are identical to or as serious as Peter’s problems, but, in a general way, I can relate strongly to the experience of having friends who simply do not understand, and whose efforts to sympathize are less comforting than condescending. Or whatever. 3 Again: your humble professor honestly doesn’t want to put you on the spot or force you to share deeply personal information about your life with him. Heavens, no! No, no, no. I mean, if you feel comfortable with it, you’re welcome to write about something that’s deeply personal. I’m not going t share your paper with anyone, or judge you for anything you say. Think of it like I’m a Catholic priest and it’s confession: it’s between you and me and God and no one else, with the exception that, unlike a Catholic priest, I will tell the cops if you are a serial killer. I won’t tell them if you’re a drug deal, but if you’re a serial killer, well, hopefully if you’re a serial killer you have better sense than to write a paper about it. But that aside, you’re free to tell me about any experience you want to tell me about and I absolutely a) will not repeat it, or b) judge you in any way, on any basis other than the quality of your paper. That said, your humble professor’s belief is that there are experiences we all have that are not too highly personal or private that we can use to talk about these texts in meaningful ways. For example, your humble professor was more than happy to tell you about his chronic pain condition and, in general terms, how it affected his relationships and his life, and how as a result he can sort of see himself in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and come to some conclusions about how that story tells us to deal with pain, loss, and regret, if perhaps not death: your humble professor wasn’t dying, after all. I’d also be happy to tell you about getting into trouble at school when I was trying to do artistic things—write stories and such—when I was supposed to be paying attention in class, and how the teachers came down on me and how I reacted, because in a lot of ways I could relate that back to The Awakening or “Sonny’s Blues.” I would just have to be very clear to say something along the lines of: “I am not suggesting that my problems have anything to do with being a victim of White America’s systematic racism,” or “I am not suggesting that the stifling of my creativity at the hands of Catholic school teachers is analogous to the way Edna’s freedom was curtailed as a late 19th Century wife and mother in this country,” and then I would go on to say but… “I could relate strongly to the way Sonny’s music (or Edna’s painting) was central to his (or her) identity—that is to say, I could relate to the way the need for creative self-expression was such that, for Sonny (or Edna), it became the only way to really relate to the world—and I can similarly relate to the way that need to be creative was sublimated or trivialized by family members and the society at large, in my case, my teachers.” See how that works? I mean, that’s just a story about me getting in trouble for horsing around during class, scribbling stories in my notebook when I was supposed to be listening or doing some other activity for class. And that’s another qualifier I would have to put in the paper, I suppose. I mean, I could graduate from high school. Sonny’s not going to graduate from his brother, or from systemic racism, and Edna’s not going to graduate from being a woman in the late 19th/early 20th Century. But still, I can relate in a dozen ways, and there are quotes I could easily pull from the text (how she painted when she was happy, and felt like everything was meaningless when she didn’t, for example), and none of this is deeply private or personal. So if you give it some thought, you shouldn’t have any trouble doing this. In fact, you probably don’t need to give a ton of thought to which text you’re going to write about you, because you knew which one resonated with you and how it resonated with you when you read it. If none of these works resonated with you, it’s because there’s some of them you either did not read, or did not read closely. Because the books we’ve covered deal with an extremely wide and diverse array of human experience, not necessarily on the factual level (you are not a wolf), but certainly on the psychological and emotional level (I sure feel like they cut me open and filled me with bricks for doing only what came 100% naturally to me). So just think about it and pick something you feel comfortable talking about, and then read closely and write an essay wherein you tell me a little about yourself through 4 the lens of a particular piece of literature, or, to be more precise, tell me a little about a piece of literature through the lens of yourself. Make no mistake: as much as this is a personal essay, it is primarily a literature paper, for a literature class. Your major claim (or “thesis statement,” if you want to get high school about it) is NOT about you—it’s about the literature. You have to QUOTE the text and ANALYZE the text and talk about the writing itself and what it means. But your personal narrative can really shine a light on why the literature is important and why it matters, not just to you, personally, but in the world. Usually, this has something to do with how the literature “suffers” along with us. Kay Ryan, a Pulitzer Prize winning contemporary poet who is widely regarded as one of the most original voices in American poetry today, famously said that poetry “makes us less lonely by one.” Literature is at its best when you read it and discover clear, concise, artistic articulations of your own feelings. You know all at once that you are not alone in the world, because nothing can get you inside someone else’s head quite the way literature can. When you read the writer’s words, you are, momentarily, inside another human beings head. And what do you see there? Yourself. So that’s one of the major functions of literature. Another useful thing about literature is the sense in which it can serve as a sort of instruction manual. For life, that is. It’s not like it used to be, mind you: it is not my contention that these stories have “morals,” or that their characters are role models, like the turtle who wins the race in Aesop’s Fables. More often, literature tells us what not to do. We see Sonny’s brother endlessly confused and exasperated by Sonny’s apparent lack of interest in living a productive life, but, through his example, we are shown exactly how not to deal with our siblings: we don’t cast them off or shut them out of our lives. And, by the end of the story, we also discover that, if we accept Sonny (our own confusing, exasperating brothers or sisters or lovers or friends) into our lives, and try to see them on their own terms, to go to the club and hear them perform, rather than judging them according to how we want to live our lives (all straight-laced and such), what we see is that Sonny is not in fact a screw-up, but an extremely talented and respected musician. He just doesn’t look at things the way we do, or share our priorities, see? This essay should be about four or five pages long, somewhere around 1,000 words. That length requirement is a guideline, by the way, not a hard, fast rule. The purpose of the word count is to give you some idea of how much thought I want you to put into this. So you don’t just write a page or two and then BS your way through the rest of it to meet the page/word count requirement. I’m asking for about 1,000 words of authentic thought. The thinking is your homework. If you run out of things to say, think harder. Think more. If you feel like you’ve got 800 words of authentic and meaningful thought and you said everything you had to say, stop. If you get to 1,000 words and you’re not quite finished saying what you have to say, by all means, finish. The main thing is to RELAX. This is an easy one. Once you get started you’re not going to have any trouble at all. Because you don’t have to deal with all the background stuff. You don’t have to—and, in fact, you shouldn’t—try to tell me all about WWI and Modernism and Realism and postmodernism and so on. You can just talk about the piece of writing itself, and how you related to it, and you’ll be golden. Double spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman font is an absolute requirement for this paper. No title page, no page number on the first page. All subsequent pages numbered in the 5 bottom right hand corner. Your humble professor can and will take points off if you fail to adhere to the formatting guidelines. Other than that, your grade will be based on the degree to which you follow the directions. Your humble professor put no small effort into writing a fairly detailed and specific set of instructions, clarifying what is meant by close reading and so on, and giving you some examples to work with when you’re thinking about how to approach this assignment. See to it that you follow the instructions to best of your ability. If you read this whole assignment sheet twice and you end up feeling more confused than enlightened by all the details and examples and you feel like you have no idea what you are being asked to do, ASK YOUR HUMBLE PROFESSOR FOR HELP! He is HAPPY to help! It’s his job to help! He really, really, really wants to help! So pretty please, with sugar on top, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or simplification, and if you’re uncertain of your topic—like, maybe you’re not too sure it’s a good topic—by all means, feel absolutely, 100% free to run it by me! I want to hear your ideas. Otherwise I wouldn’t be assigning a literature paper where you get to talk about you. I have plenty of time for one-on-one Zoom conferences this week, and I am happy to respond to your questions via email, too. I just prefer Zoom because you’ve got four pages of written instructions here, and if you’re still not sure you get it, there’s very little chance your humble professor is going to be able to write something that will make it clear to you. In fact, the chances are good that your humble professor’s writing is the problem. Best of luck. Due by Sunday, August 2, 9:00 a.m. Upload to Canvas No late papers No exceptions

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Content:

Hemingway’s A Day’s Wait in Connection with Fifteen Day’s Wait
Literature can stir our sentiment and put our thought on the track intended by the author. It is the influence and power of literature that the audience either burst into tears or roars into laughter in a cinema hall (Pennington and Waxler 38). Our responses are intervened with our unconscious acceptance of the interpretation of life by the author. An influential author like Hemingway can hook our attention toward a specific version of his perspective of life. He is always successful in leading us in a realistic world with fatalistic heroism that inspires us by hitting our unconscious association with the underlined subject (Dearborn 29). This essay is about Hemingway’s “A Day’s Wait” and how this story is connected to my personal life experience of fifteen days’ wait with analogous emotions of the resolution, pangs, and unexpected blissful wind-up.

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