Saturday, January 12, 2013

Prompts for First Assignment


  1. These are due before class, by 5:00 p.m. (I try to skim them before class, although results vary), next week - that's January 17th.
  2. Post your essays after proofreading them (I'm not looking for absolute perfection, but for readability).  Also verify that they are readable on the blog after you post them.  Please have a title, even if it's only your name (first names are fine) and the prompt number.
  3. Pick one prompt - don't do all of them.    You're aiming for 2-3 pages, or 500-750 words, very approximately.

Prompt 1:  The Monster through Heidegger

Focus on the creation (or birth, if you prefer) of the monster at the beginning of chapter 5.  Use a specific idea from Heidegger to help interpret what the monster means, or what it is.  Example:  you might use Heidegger's concept of "standing-reserve" to argue that Shelley is imagining what happens when humanity becomes "standing-reserve", or vice-versa.  Cite at least one specific passage from both texts.

Note:  If you don't actually think Heidegger is useful for understanding Frankenstein, this really isn't the prompt for you.

Prompt 2:  Characters as Lenses

Focus on one of the following characters:  Clerval, Elizabeth, or Walton.  Through paying close attention to the role and development of your chosen character through the first half of the novel, argue that we should understand the novel in a particular way through the lens of that character.  To put it another way - what can we learn about what the novel means through focusing on one of these three characters?

There is no specific argument in this prompt, but your essay should have a specific argument.

Prompt 3:  The Purpose of Place

Being careful not to overgeneralize, and citing multiple examples from multiple chapters, discuss the role of place in the novel so far.

Example 1:  We might argue that the use of extreme environments teaches us something about the nature of the monster, or reflects something about the nature of the monster.

Example 2:  There is a great deal of water and ice in the novel, and a great deal said by Victor especially (although not exclusively) about that water and ice.  What does the use of water and ice mean?

Again, I give a general prompt, from which you craft a specific argument.

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