Thursday, April 3, 2014

Final Project Proposal

     The focus of this argument is the prove that Jimmy’s social and emotional problems stem from his lack of a father, and the turnaround Jimmy is able to invoke at the end of the comic is a direct byproduct of Jimmy meeting his father, and is a revision of my second revision. 

     Possible counterarguments include the idea that Jimmy did not in fact have a life-changing experience throughout the events of the comic, and remains unchanged from the Jimmy seen in the first pages. Another possible counterargument is that the emotional catharsis that sparked Jimmy’s change was less driven by the events concerning his father, and more by the rejection he faced by everyone in his life, including his mother, his dying father, and his half-sister Amy. Both of these statements are possible cases present in the text, but can be successfully defended against.

     This analysis of Jimmy, concerning his change, and the causes of these changes, helps deepen the reader’s understanding of Jimmy as a character, and appreciate the depth of characterization Chris Ware is able to provide the characters in a visual medium, with limited amounts of text. At a surface level, the comic “Jimmy Corrigan” seems very plain and dull, but sustained analysis of the text provides the reader with a greater appreciation for the nuances of the text not visible immediately. This argument makes the reader re-examine all of Jimmy and his father’s actions in a context of a failed father-son relationship, and see the visible effects upon Jimmy.

     The final project will make use of Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man”, specifically Marcuse’s arguments about the role of art. Marcuse used art as a method of representing hidden truths to the world, a concept that Jimmy Corrigan does well, in that it establishes the need for a stable home life in order to rear a well-adjusted child, a topic the comic covers, though never explicitly. However, I do not expect that Marcuse will play a large role in the main argument of the essay, as it has limited application. Instead, it will play more of a supporting piece of the argument. Not vitally important, but still useful.

     As this is a revision of my previous revision, there are a number of changes to be made. First and foremost, the introduction and conclusion will need to be scrapped, and rewritten from scratch. Both of those paragraphs were extremely general, and contribute little to the essay outside of introducing the tile argument. Through rewriting, the introduction will be able to more clearly define the argument, as well as make a good case as to why the reader should continue reading past the first paragraph. In this save vein, the concluding paragraph should serve as a more solid wrap-up, leaving the reader thinking. It would also relocate the analysis of the “The End” scene to the body of the argument for more sustained analysis.  Both paragraphs will concerning the psychoanalytic background necessary for the analysis of the book will remain mostly unchanged in content, but rewritten for clarity and applicability to Jimmy Corrigan. Possible additions to the psychoanalytic background include parental abandonment and the need for childhood individuation, as both of these concepts play a role in Jimmy’s emotional development. The analysis paragraphs will be broken down into more discrete elements, each dissecting a particular scene, instead of all bunched together as they are now. This provides for more targeted and specific analysis. In addition, more scenes will be analyzed. In the original revision, the scenes used for analysis were the most obvious, but there are more subtle scenes (such as the bacon plate, or the conversation Jimmy has with his grandfather) that can provide solid support to the thesis that were not discussed in the original piece. Finally, most, if not all, scenes discussed will have the accompanying frames from the comic for the reader to see, within the text of the document. This helps the reader make immediate connections with the text of the essay and the art of the comic, as well as reduce an ambiguity the page number citations would have (as “Jimmy Corrigan” has no page numbers, all marked citations are unofficial).
Sources to Use:

  • Baker, Kaysee, and Arthur A. Raney. "Equally Super?: Gender-Role Stereotyping of Superheroes in Children's Animated Programs." Mass Communication and Society 10.1 (2007): 25-41. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
    • This source is important as it shows the relationship children take with superheroes as role models, applicable in how Jimmy often projects the image of Superman onto himself, his father, and people who save him.
  • Bowlby, John. A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development. New York: Basic, 1988. Print.
    • This source details how abandonment can interfere with normal emotional development in children, and is useful in the analysis of Jimmy Corrigan as a character.
  • Claiborn, Charles D. "Dynamic Psychotherapies." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
    • This source defines what true emotional catharsis is, and how it can change the views or actions of an individual.
  • Mussen, Paul, and Luther Distler. "Masculinity, Identification, and the Father-Son Relationship." The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 59.3 (1959): 350-56. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
    • This source is vital in understanding the psychology behind the father-son relationship, which is the central theme of this revision. This source helps show how males tend to pattern themselves after role models.
  • Nichols, Michael P., and Jay S. Efran. "Catharsis in Psychotherapy: A New Perspective." Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 22.1 (1985): 46-58. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
    • This is another source about emotional catharsis, and shows exactly what steps one must take to reach a true catharsis, applicable in aligning Jimmy’s actions to emotional progress.
  • Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print.
    • This is the comic itself. Without it, the final project would not happen.


Kyle McManigle said...


I think this is a very thorough explanation of what you want to do for the project, and I think it is a solid groundwork to produce a very good one at that. I don't know how crazy this is or if it's useful, but it's a thought I had about counterarguments, though it's not actually a counter argument. Is it possible that Jimmy was so lowly because of a lack of solid figures in his life and constant interference from his mother, that in meeting his father, he doesn't make a turn around, but only wants to see his father before he would have killed himself? Was his father the reason that he wouldn't have? And how does his father's death relate to how you would think about that situation? Like I said, just a thought, and it might not be wildly good or even provoking to you. I am just putting pen to paper. Also, is there anyway to say something about Chris Ware and his personal life to strengthen your argument about the relationship or the importance of it in the writing? I know we briefly discussed this in class, but it might be a good area of research to see if he had predisposing factors to this kind of writing. (I just did a quick search online and found an interview with Chris Ware. He gives a brief answer about being raised by his mother, spending a lot of time with his grandparents, and only meeting his father once. There are probably other sources that would be better with more research, but thinking about it this way might be helpful in constructing your thoughts more clearly. Personally, I think making use of almost an equal amount (if possible, but if not at least more than two) of subtle scenes where the father-son relationship will be a very good way to display your knowledge of what is happening with Jimmy. In a closing thought for you, though this might also not be all that helpful, is there any part of Jimmy's family history of father-son relationships that would be beneficial to consider? If not actually talking about it in your essay, but to keep in mind that, Jimmy wasn't necessarily the only son in his family that was neglected, which had a somewhat snowball effect, falling down the generations, and ultimately ending with him (since he actually got to start to have a relationship with his father). Does that make the catharsis any stronger? And so what? What does this say to us or what does Chris Ware want us to learn?

These ideas are not meant to harp on anything particular, and you may not want to take anything I said seriously. The main point I wanted to make in an attempt to help you the most, was to try to spark your thinking in a few different ways so you could possibly have a clearer state of mind of something you may have been thinking of yourself. Overall, I think you have a strong project and putting it together correctly will lead to something very interesting.

Adam said...

I think this is a generally good strategy and approach. There is one obvious pitfall which we need to talk about.

It is obvious and trivial - to some extent - that Jimmy needed his father around. No reader could possibly miss that point *at some level*. This was, I believe, a bit of an issue in your previous revision.

The challenge is to avoid saying the obvious, and especially to say what is interesting/specific/unique about his needs. Hence, arguing that he *has* had a turnaround because he *has* found his father (and dealing with counterarguments to the claim that he has had a turnaround) is more interesting and distinctive than just repeating that he needed his father.

So focus on doing work which moves beyond the obvious into the distinctive & interesting, and you'll be fine.