ENGL 2110 ~ World Literature: Globalization, Immigration, and Culture
1st Essay Assignment ~ Summer 2009
Writing about literature involves quoting short, relevant passages from the text and then ANALYZING those passages thoroughly, with the goal of making some point about the text as a whole, and your insights into that text in terms of its message, characterizations, themes, symbols, allusions, etc. So you should choose 2 of 3 key quotes from the reading that will help you answer one of the questions/topics below, and work with those quotes IN DEPTH (interpreting what the words of the quote say, mean, and or imply – though all interpretations must be clearly PROVED in your analysis). Remember that ANALYSIS means taking something apart and studying it in order to better understand both the parts and the whole. For each SENTENCE in your quotation, in general you want to give 2 sentences of your writing explaining what that quotes means and how it is helping to make your point.
Reference all quotations from the texts used in class with the authors' name and page number. Compose your answers yourself and be sure to include what you think. Feel free to use the word “I.” But make sure your reading does not stray from the text or make huge leaps that are hard to prove. Go back to the actual words of your quote to show how they mean what you say those words mean. This is not about intuitive leaps so much of clear persuasive work at interpretation.
Be sure to number your pages and reference all quotations (with proper citations). I encourage the use of gender inclusive language. Proven cases of plagiarism will result in an F in the course.
You may work on these essays in advance to departure for Italy. Therefore the due date is the 2nd class meeting, Wednesday, July 1.
Essays should be about 1000-1400 words. Please include a word count.
Compose your essay as a response to one of the following topics:
1. What point might Baricco be making about world travel and globalization in his novel Silk? How has travel (and its impact) influenced the key characters (or points of the novel)? You might consider in your discussion the way the Orient is exoticized, the extent to which and ways in which his travel change both Joncour and his community, and the character and opinions of the Japanese woman he visits in France, or even that of Joncour’s wife Hélène.
2. Some critics have noticed that Baricco’s background as a musicologist is evident in the style of the novel Silk, and call it an extended poem or aria. Analyze some specific passages with attention to stylistic or formal elements of the novel to show how it has musical or poetic qualities. You might for instance focus on the rhythm (or repetition), sensuality, brevity, and/or descriptive elements of the text.
3. Joncour may seem like he has it all, as a wealthy, respected, man of the world. But some have described his story as “a romantic fable of sensuality and passion blended with bittersweet irony.” Demonstrate this “bittersweet irony,” and discuss the character’s own sense of his success.
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