Friday, April 20, 2012

Notes for final paper

Some works of literature seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions. For your final paper assignment, read one additional work from the list below, noting which attitudes or traditions the author apparently wishes to modify and the techniques the author uses to influence the reader's views.

The literature of social commentary are those texts that examine a widely held or accepted tradition, belief, custom, or value in such a way as to call it into question, whether through ridicule (satire), exaggeration, irony, or by considering its human consequences or effects.

The objects of social commentary are many. They may include topics of law and legal injustice, power and its corruption, inequities of gender or race or class, religious intolerance or hypocrisy, economics, politics or politicians, exploitation of one group by another, conformity to commonly held beliefs or prejudices, social institutions such as marriage, professional life, family, or many others.

The techniques of social commentary are equally varied. Narrative voice, characterization, irony, and tone are its beginnings. Essentially, what authors seek is to make us as readers feel a certain way toward the topic or subject of the text. The more strongly we feel the need for modification or change, the more successful the social message of the novel.

Your task for this final assignment is to write a paper of approximately 1500 words comparing some aspect of your chosen work to one of the works studied in class this semester. Show how both works suggest a social, cultural, or political problem (not necessarily the same for both works) and determine what you take to be the authors’ implied attitudes toward these issues. What does the writer want you to feel and how does the author accomplish that goal? You may refer to additional sources if you wish, but be certain both to cite these sources correctly, to distinguish carefully between their ideas and your own, and, above all, to draw your own conclusions.