Eng 277
Spring '00

 

Write an essay, 5 pages long (double spaced) on one of the following topics. You may, if you wish, devise your own topic, but I would like your essays to engage with issues as they pertain specifically to narratives of women, nationalism, and/or postcoloniality. I encourage you to work into your analysis, wherever possible and relevant, the non-fictional texts you have read so far for the class. The questions below are deliberately broad, and part of your work in preparing for your essay will be to narrow down and focus your analysis so that you will be able to develop a substantive analysis of an issue in the allotted number of pages. Please drop off your papers by 5:00 P.M. in my office on Feb. 18.

 

1. Feminine resistance takes varied and yet strong forms in the by Desai, Antherjanam, and Hossain. Discuss the representation of resisting women in any one text. What are the sources of their subversive energies? What do they resist? What are the consequences of their actions or insights? What are the textual strategies--reworked stock figures, image clusters, choice of genre--by which this resistance is represented? Comment on the critical and political relevance of such narrative representations.

 

2. In Clear Light of Day, writing in the postcolonial context seems to involve skepticism and even critique of linguistic, cultural, and literary traditions that are nevertheless crucial to the narrative's development. Explore the details and implications of this ambivalence, focusing on a particular narrative device such as narrative voice, imagery, shifting points of view, parallels and counterpoints, or literary allusion.

 

3. Discuss the ways women are represented as agents (or victims) or change in any one text. Are the text's images of feminine agency politically empowering or discouraging? How does the novel relate to the constructions of femininity discussed by Jayawardena and/or Omvedt?

 

4. Analyze the ways any one text moves from recounting the experiences of a particular character towards an understanding of the larger social conditions and arrangements affecting women's lives in particular contexts. How does the text make sense of these contexts? What does the text suggest about the position of women and the possibilities for their empowerment within these contexts?

 

5. Consider the narrative arrangements of one of the texts: its temporal arrangement, its treatment of setting or narrative space, the narrative voice, parallel characters or events, and image clusters. What is the significance of these narrative elements and how do they help shape and develop the novel's central issues?

 

6. How are mother-daughter relations represented in the text of your choice? How does the story of this relationship tie into the story of colonization, internal hierarchies and/or exploitation?

 

7. Home is the place where we seek sanctuary from the world. Explore this proposition in relation to a novel of your choice. How mutually distinct are home and the world?

 

8. Analyze the symbolic meanings of landscape, the disposition of domestic space, and the significance of travel in a novel of your choice.

 

9. Consider the ways modernity is represented in a text of your choice. How does the text figure modernity, and what are the implications of this figuration? Specifically, how does the representation of modernity and what it does to and for people facilitate an understanding of the past, a critique of the present, or a vision of the future?

 

10. Explore the role of religious faith or sensibility in a text of your choice. What are their textual manifestations? How are the resources of religion--storylines, figures, structures of belief, matters of faith--deployed in the text? What does the text suggest to be the relation between women's lives and religious practice?

Whether your essays are written in response to these topics or not, I expect them to be focused on a clearly articulated set of issues. Clarify keywords and concepts in your essay (resistance, agency, patriarchy, etc.). Base your analyses on the text, and support your points with quoted or summarized evidence. Follow footnote and citation conventions established by the MLA (Consult the MLA handbook, which is available in the reference section at Magill).