Saturday, March 29, 2014

Prompts for Danielewksi and/or Project Proposal

Option 1: Theory

Use Marcuse or Heidegger (if you’re brave) - showing good knowledge of your critical source, and making use of specific passages - to make a coherent argument about some aspect of Danielewski. If you wish, you are welcome to engage with Danielewski’s own use of Heidegger, though if you do so you need to read enough of the surrounding material in Heidegger’s Being and Time to make sense of it.

The details of the argument are up to you.

Option 2: Music

Find and purchase “Haunted,” an album released by Danielewski’s sister, whose stage name is Poe. Here’s the iTunes link and the Amazon link. The albums operates, on one level, as a kind of soundtrack for the book. After listening carefully, present an argument re: how some particular part of the reading assignment could be interpreted differently through the album, or vice versa. When writing about music, try to deal with music as such and not just with the lyrics.

Option 3: Project Proposal

If you wish, you may do your project proposal this coming week instead of the following week. Note that the following description of final projects is both extensive and incomplete.

Note: the default format for a final project is an essay. You don’t need to do an essay! You can create a video game, comic book, interactive essay, mock blog, etc., etc. (people have done all of these in the past). But you should read and understand the “normal” requirements first, so you can explain why using some alternative form will allow you to do better/different work.

Final Project Proposal Guidelines for Essays:

Write a proposal for your final project. This proposal might be a little shorter than our usual blog entries (it should still be more than a page long, however). It must include the following:
  1. A bibliography (see below for the number of sources) of your proposed sources, with a sentence or two each regarding how you plan to use those sources. This does not need to be a final list - you are just demonstrating the viability of the project.
  2. A clear statement of your proposed argument, or a limited number of alternative arguments, or a clear question which is intended to lead directly to an argument. This should include the following:
    1. A clearly stated counterargument to your position stated in (2) above, or a discussion of why your question in (2) above is a reasonable way to generate an argument.
    2. A clear statement of why your reader should care about this argument. It might have small or large significance, but it should be clear why you think it’s worth making.
  3. A clear statement of the role that Marcuse, Heidegger, or Dreyfus (or possibly Joy, if you can make a case for him) will play in your essay, including a discussion of at least one passage from the appropriate work. It is not an absolute requirement, but it is a strong guideline, to include this theoretical component in your essay.
  4. If you are revising an earlier draft (again, see below), a paragraph explaining, with specifics, what you plan to keep and what you plan to change, and why. If you are not revising an earlier draft, just explain your argument at greater length.
You can use an outline, or just a regular text document, or a mix of the two. You will be evaluated on this plan, as with any other blog entry.

Broad Final Project Goals

Your final project should offer a serious contribution to the work of the class. It should show both that you understand our collective work, and that you have have your own direction or role within it (although this might even take the form of a challenge). You should have a clear, interesting, and worthwhile argument, which you make using both external sources and texts which we read as a class. Ideally, you will draw on your own individual strengths and interests in this project (including, for instance, material from your own fields of study). You may either begin a project from scratch or revise one of your existing essays, including existing revisions. You should ideally do work which interests you, and which you feel contributes in some way to the class as a whole.

Specific Final Project Requirements:

  1. Your essay must be at least 8 pages long, including at least 5 pages of new material (if you are revising). 8 pages is sufficient; I prefer that you not go above 12 pages, but this is preference, not a requirement.
  2. Your project must include at least 2 additional academic sources (generally, academic books and journal articles) beyond any that you might have used in an earlier revision. If you feel that you’re best off with non-academic sources, please discuss that preference with me. You should, however, do as much research as your argument requires.
  3. Your project must include some close readings of particular passages from at least one literary figure we have read collectively. Some projects, though, will need more close reading than others. Some highly research-oriented projects may do relatively little; some may revolve primarily around close readings.
  4. Most projects should make sustained use of Marcuse.  This does not mean that you need to agree with him, however. “Sustained use” does not mean that this critic needs to dominate your argument; they do, however, need to be part of the conversation, and you do need to show a good understanding of one of them.  If Marcuse really doesn't fit with your project, you should make use of a third academic source instead - ideally a theoretical/philosophical one.
  5. You should display a good understanding of all of your chosen texts, as well as of any relevant class discussions. I don’t expect perfection, and I do expect differences of opinion, but I also expect you to know your material.
  6. Your project should make a single sustained argument from the first sentence to the last. This does not mean you cannot make use of any tangents, nor does it mean that you must continually remind us of where you are, at a particular moment in your project, within the larger argument. Your goals and direction should, nonetheless, by clear, even if they might sometimes become subtle.
  7. Think of this as your lasting contribution to the class, and your opportunity to teach something to the rest of us.
I’m sure questions will arise about all of the above; I’ll do my best both to answer questions you raise in comments, and to revise as needed.

Final Project Proposals for Non-Essay Projects:

If you want to do something other than an essay, you should be ready to work harder, with an even clearer purpose, than those doing a conventional project.

Thus, I expect a 1–2 page description of your goals, of why you want to do something in the chosen form, of your argument (even creative projects, for this assignment, need to have something like an argument), with a paragraph explaining in detail why you expect to do better, more ambitious work by doing creative or formally unusual work rather than an essay.

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