Project 1 Assignment Description

For this project you will write an analytical paper related to one or both of the texts we have read for this section:  The Odyssey and Pride and Prejudice.  As long as you engage critically with the material, there aren’t too many restrictions but you should make sure to discuss your ideas with me over conferences, during office hours or over email.  Here are some possible topics:

1. You can analyze the way one or both texts portray a concept, such as heroism, romantic or parental/filial love, family, villains/monsters, goodness, loyalty, cruelty, happiness, tragedy, etc.  If you choose to use both texts, you will compare how each one of them addresses the concept you’ve selected.  Your research might include other scholarship on that issue and/or historical scholarship about the time during which the works were written.

2. You can do a critique of one or both texts from a certain perspective, such as gender, class, race, sexuality, age, etc.  If you choose to use both texts, you may want to argue that one text is in your opinion more successful in its representation of women, underprivileged classes, etc. than the other, and explain why you believe that to be the case.  Your research might include theoretical works from the perspective you’ve selected (feminist theory, working-class studies, etc.) and/or historical scholarship about the time during which the works were written.

3. Both works have had a variety of film adaptations.  If you choose this option, your paper would examine the directors’ choices in taking a piece from literature to the screen.  You should focus on only one work and one adaptation.

Odyssey adaptations:  Ulysses (Mario Camerini, 1954), The Odyssey (Andrei Konchalovsky, 1997), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Cohen, 2000).

Pride and Prejudice adaptations:  Pride and Prejudice (miniseries, 1995), Bridget Jones Diary (Sharon Maguire, 2001), Bride & Prejudice (Gurinder Chadha, 2005), Pride & Prejudice (Joe Wright, 2005).

Your research might include articles on film theory and film adaptation as well as criticism about the films themselves.  As with the two previous options, you could also use historical scholarship about the time during which the works were written.

If none of these options seem appealing to you, we can discuss other possibilities.

Keep in mind the concepts of ethos, pathos, logos and having a clear thesis that we have discussed in class, as well as audience awareness, tone and language.  Remember to take into account what your audience knows about this topic and what their already established opinions are.  If you think illustrations, graphics or pictures would add to the power of your project, you are welcome to use them, but you must address them as you make your points.

Your paper should be double-spaced and 5-8 pages long (around 1,500 – 2,400 words). You will need at least three sources.  One from the web, one from print or the library catalogue and a third that can be whatever you wish as long as it’s credible.  You can have more than three sources but don’t get carried away.  No more than eight would be advisable.

Your name must be on the assignment and you need to give it a title.  Your first draft is due on Wednesday, February 23.  You should have an electronic copy of the paper that you can email to your fellow workshop members.  Your final draft is due on Friday, February 25. I will return work electronically.  Everyone will receive their graded assignments within a week of turning them in, but not all at the same time.  I will return them as I grade them, and I will grade them in the order that they reach my inbox at:

A “C” project should:

• Meet all requirements of the assignment.

• Provide appropriate description so that an audience can understand the situations and issues


• Have a thesis that follows logically from the body of the paper.

• Control surface errors.

• Use MLA citation to document all sources.

A “B” project should do everything a “C” paper does but should also:

• Show evidence that possible audience objections have been anticipated and responded to.

• Incorporate sources smoothly.

• Include an analysis that interrogates the experiences, observations and sources critically.

An “A” project should do everything a “B” paper does but should also:

• Arrive at a thesis that is original, insightful and sensible.

• Show a flair with language and/or visual rhetoric.

• Have a clear organizational strategy based on audience needs.


A Few Thoughts on Pride and Prejudice

Here are a few things I want you to keep in mind as you read Pride and Prejudice. Although the novel wasn’t published till 1812, Jane Austen wrote the first draft in 1796 and this is roughly when the story takes place. Austen, like Elizabeth Bennet, the main character in Pride and Prejudice, was a member of the English gentry. The Bennets (like the Austens) were not wealthy members of the gentry. They had enough money to cover their expenses but not enough to save.

One thing to keep in mind about English law in the 1700 and 1800s, because the plot of Pride and Prejudice centers around it, is that only the first born son is allowed to inherit the parents’ estate. Women are not allowed to inherit if they have brothers or even cousins who might inherit instead. The reason for having only one heir is that it kept fortunes from being divided up by siblings. The eldest son would not work, and would instead be in charge of running the estate. Younger sons who were not to inherit the family’s estate would be trained in one of three possible professions: law, the military or the clergy. While it wasn’t exactly shameful to work, having a son work was perceived as a sign of lesser wealth.

Women of the gentry did not work unless they were terribly impoverished. If so, the most acceptable occupation was that of a governess because it meant that the woman would stay surrounded (and in theory protected) by other members of the gentry, meaning the parents of the children she looked after. Being a governess was a sign of great shame. A gentry woman’s goal in life was to marry. For that purpose they were given a sum of money by their parents, which they would contribute to their husbands’ income. Remember that since the woman did not work and was likely to have children with her husband, marriage was an expensive proposition to a man. If a woman did not marry (and women who remained unmarried by their late 20s had a very hard time finding a husband), she would have to live on her parent’s inheritance, on the charity of relatives, or become a governess. Women who became pregnant out of wedlock or who ran off with a man without marrying him were shunned by society. Gentry women who became pregnant might be sent to live in the countryside and be separated from their families for life, or they might be abandoned, in which case they often turned to prostitution, having no other means for making a living.

Pride and Prejudice will mention people’s “livings” a lot, as well as how much they have a year. This is part of people’s inheritances and most of them would take the money and put it in a bank and live off its interest, which is why they had a fixed income each year. As you will see, a man’s fixed income, as well as how much money a woman has been granted by her parents, was a very important thing to consider when people were deciding whether or not to marry each other.

As you navigate the language and the storyline, try to think of the ways in which Elizabeth Bennet is a hero and compare her to Odysseus’s own turn as one. How are they different? How are they similar? How do they fit within their historical time periods?

Introduction for reading The Odyssey

Here are a few things you need to know about Homer’s Odyssey to understand what we’re reading:

The Odyssey is a continuation of Homer’s Illiad. In the Iliad, the Greeks fought a war against the Trojans for ten years because a Trojan prince, Paris, had kidnapped the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen, who was married to King Menelaus at the time–bear in mind that the Greeks had many kings, whose dominion was small, sort of like Medieval Europe. After ten years of war, King Odysseus with the help of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, had the idea that helped the Greeks win the war and take over Troy–the Trojan horse. However, he upset some of the gods and was unable to return home with the others. The Odyssey follows the story of his ten-year journey home during which he faces his share of monsters, has affairs with a few goddesses and goes through much suffering.

Odysseus is famous for being cunning and tricky. He is also arrogant, but arrogance was not considered problematic in Greece the way it is for us today. In those days, it made sense for him, an intelligent, strong, handsome and rich king, to be boastful. Humility wasn’t something the Greeks celebrated the way we do. The Greeks also had slavery, so that the men fighting with Odysseus don’t really have a choice. They must obey him.

As you may know, the Greeks had many gods, and these gods were always involved in their own fights and quarrels–they all took sides during the Trojan War. The gods had favorites among humans and helped them. To be a favorite of the gods, as Odysseus is of Athena, was very lucky since the gods used their magic and superior minds to help the humans they championed. Ultimately Odysseus’s journey home becomes a war between Athena and Poseidon, who, as you will see in the “One-Eyed Giant,” has ample reason not to want Odysseus to get home.

Waiting for Odysseus at home is his wife, Penelope, who, like her husband, is very cunning. There is also his son, Telemachus, who when Odysseus left was only a baby but is now in his early 20s. Since Odysseus hasn’t come back in so long and is presumed dead, the Greek custom is that Penelope needs to remarry, since women couldn’t be independent in Ancient Greece. Since Odysseus’s kingdom is wealthy, there are 108 suitors who are pursuing her, hoping to become the new king. As was the custom, when pursuing her they can eat and drink in her home. Thus, for about a decade over a hundred men have been destroying Odysseus’s kingdom and using up all his wealth. Penelope will not marry any of them, however, because she thinks Odysseus is still alive and he’s the man she loves. To deceive the suitors she claims to be weaving a shroud for Odysseus’ father’s burial. She claims that when she finishes the shroud, she’ll choose a suitor. However, what she weaves during the day, she undoes at night, so that the shroud takes years to make. Her son, Telemachus, unaware of her scheme is frustrated that his mother is allowing the suitors to consume his inheritance and in desperation sets off to find his father, without much success.

This should give you a good basis for reading the sections we have. We’ll talk more about it as we discuss the pieces.

Welcome to English 106

Dear 106 students,

Welcome to our English 106 Spring 2011 class. Our class belongs to the ICaP  Composing with Popular Culture Approach, and we will focus on participating in, creating with, and deepening our relationship with pop culture.  During the semester we will work around the theme of Heroes, Superheroes and Antiheroes as we learn to compose together in different genres from essays to videos to websites.

In this site, you will find the syllabus and our assignment descriptions.  Although I will use email to communicate with you outside of class, I will check this site regularly in case you would like to leave messages for myself or each other here.

The point of the site is to provide you with a space where you can access all our class materials electronically so you can have them with you no matter where you find yourself (with internet access, that is).

I am sure we’re going to have a wonderful semester together.  Welcome to English 106!