ENG 436: Topics in World Literature                         Response Paper #1 [100 Points]

Choose one of the following options for your initial 3-4 page [1,000-1,300 word] response paper:

Supply Examples from 3 or 4 Stories while developing one of the following Red Cavalry Topics:

  • A fundamental tension exists in Babel's stories between the narrator's Jewish identity and his seeming admiration of the Cossacks. This tension also seems to inform the conflict between the narrator's support of the revolution and his spiritual values. Of course, the tension is shown as early as "Childhood. At Grandmother's" when the narrator both feels a sense of comfort and security but also oppressive heat and a desire to escape while at his grandmother's house. Explore the nature of this tension as it appears in key passages from a number of stories in the collection.
  • While Babel rarely directly engages in political commentary or judgment in these stories, we argued in class that political commentary is implicit in some of his descriptions and recounting of events and interactions among characters. For example, we ended our discussion of the autobiographical stories with an address to "The Journey," commenting on how the elegant but oversized, mended, and stained robe of Alexander III implied a political comment on the Russian aristocracy and Tsarist Russia. Site and discuss other examples of implicit political commentary in the stories. You might discuss how he employs imagery or metaphor to enact political criticism, or you might discuss how he enacts such criticism by shifting narrative voice or point-of-view. Pan Apolek [in multiple stories] and Sidorov's writings [113] might be good examples.

Robbe-Grillet Topics:

  • In both Last Year at Marienbad and Jealousy, Robbe-Grillet attempts to enact some of the principles discussed in his essays, "On Several Obsolete Notions" and "From Realism to Reality." To what extent is he successful? Choose one of these texts and discuss how the scriptwriter or author's denial of established conventions affects your viewing or reading experience. In class, especially when we discussed Jealousy, it seemed clear that Robbe-Grillet's violation of our generic expectations not only caused confusion, but caused us to become quite self-conscious about plot, character, conflict, time, space, and other aspects of film and fiction that we intuitively understand and expect. How did your experience of the film or novel ironically reinforce your belief in the traditional elements of film or fiction that are under assault in his work?
  • Review the discussion questions for Jealousy posted at our web site [Thursday, 1-28] and select the topic in statement 1, 2, or 3 under "A few issues to consider" as the basis for your paper. In other words, discuss how the cited quote on page 84 comments on the nature of the novel, or how the cited quote on page 101 does so, or how the recurring descriptions of the centipede function in the novel.

Hiroshima mon amour topics:

  • The liner notes on the DVD [quoted in our study questions for the film] suggest that the film "delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish." Focusing on a few key scenes, discuss how this delicate weaving effects a statement about fundamental aspects of the human experience: war, love, loss, memory, forgetting. In other words, what is this film actually about?
  • In "The Nausea of Choice," Tony McKibbin suggests that Duras explores a single question in the film: "How do we keep our memories without destroying ourselves; but if we lose them, can we even claim to be a self, an integrated being?" [8]. Relying on a few key scenes, discuss how the film might in fact explore the issues raised by McKibbin.

Of course, as I stated in class, you may develop your own topic about any of these assigned works as the basis for your paper as long as you present me with your idea and get my approval.

Instructions for writing and submitting the paper:

  • Present your double-spaced, typed paper using times New Roman or Cambria 12 font; use 1" margins on all four sides of the page.  Insert page numbers in the upper right hand corner beginning with page one. You will need to re-set your margins if using MS Word, for the Word default is 1.25" margins. You also need to use page layout and format paragraph to eliminate the extra space [10 pt.] that Word automatically puts after each paragraph.  Put your name, the course, my name, and the date of submission in the upper left hand corner of page one.  Do not use a title page; instead, simply center your title on page one just above your initial paragraph.  Of course, paper titles capitalize the first letter of each word [except for prepositions]; your own title should NOT be underlined or put in bold type or italics or quotation marks.
  • Include a list of works cited following standard MLA formatting. You can find MLA documentation and works cited rules at the Purdue Owl site.
  • Introduce the title, author, and year of publication of the primary work that you are discussing in your opening sentence or two. In other words, include a sentence like "Alain Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy (1957) demonstrates the principles..." early in your essay. Provide a brief plot overview keyed to the specific issues that you will discuss.  Good luck with that part. Your opening paragraph should end with a specific thesis statement that explains or identifies the purpose of the essay, what will be proved, and how it will be proved through identification of topics to be discussed.
  • Begin body paragraphs with topic statements, interpretive judgments, and NOT with the next item in the story sequence and NOT with a wordy delay phrase like "Another way that the concept that I am discussing is shown in the way that the story was written is..." or "The reason...is because."
  • Italicize the titles of novels, novellas, or films and place quotation marks around the titles of stories or essays.
  • When you summarize plot, use present tense.
  • Introduce your quotations, establishing the speaker and context, and document properly using the MLA format. For example, 

In the opening of Hiroshima mon amour, as images of the two lovers' entangled bodies are intercut with scenes from the Hiroshima museum and newsreel footage of the aftermath of the bomb, a women's voice saying, " Like you, I know what it is to forget. Like you, I want an inconsolable memory....Like you, I have forgotten." Of course, quotes from a novel or short story are followed by the page number in parentheses. If the quote itself is a question, the question mark remains inside the final quotation mark and a period is placed after the parentheses. Periods, however, do not appear before the quotation mark and are placed after the parentheses.

  • After presenting a quotation, be sure to discuss its significance or to explain how the quotation furthers your argument, unless the quote is simply illustrating a point made in the material immediately preceding the quote.
  • Indent and Block quotations that take up three or more lines of your text.  Never end a paragraph or an essay with a block quote, or any undiscussed quotation.  Blocked quotations do not use quotation marks unless the quotation marks appear in the original text. In block quotations, the period goes before the parenthetical presentation of page numbers.
  • Avoid the following wordy delay structures:  In my opinion, I think, I feel, I believe, There is, There was, There are....Do not open sentences with wordy phrasings like "Another way that..." or "One of the reasons that" or any similar structures.  Make subjects act through verbs in the beginning of your sentences.  Instead of "There are many ways that Gillis affects the colony's chances for survival," write, "Gillis affects the colony's chances for survival by consuming 20% of their stored food during his 32 years alone on the Alabama."  Note that the second version of the sentence includes specific details of Gillis's actions, while the "There are" opening tends to lead into vague references to his actions--"many ways."  List or name the ways instead of writing general references.

Paper Length: 3-4 typewritten pages [1,000-1,300 words]; when judging your paper’s length, use the word count function to determine whether you have written more than 1,000 words. 

Paper Due Date: Sunday, February 14, no later than 11:59 p.m. Contact me if you need a little more time.

Submit your paper as an e-mail attachment to my ISU e-mail address: jake.jakaitis@indstate.edu


Title your MS Word file with your last name followed by your topic designation. For example, if I were submitting a paper on Red Cavalry, my Word file would be titled Jakaitis.Red Cavalry Paper.docx.