The topic of the seminar was “Picaresque Traditions in American Narrative”. For the term paper we are supposed to analyze one primary text in relation to the seminars topic. (list of the texts below)
The paper needs to be developed on the basis of a research thesis that needs to be answered throughout the paper.
The requirements say “The paper needs to proceed from a specific, analytically motivated thesis that you develop in your introduction,
and which you pursue throughout the rest of your paper.”
My original idea was to use Steven Amsterdam’s “Things we didn’t see coming” as a primary source and as a first step analyze how the conventions of post-apocalyptic narrative are realized in the text. (Therefore also include a theoretical part about post-apocalyptic fiction)
After that, I wanted to relate the Picaresque elements of the novel to these post-apocalyptic conventions.
This idea is based on the thought (I’m not sure if its true) that the novel doesn’t come across as a typical Picaresque novel / novel in Picaresque mode and that its Picaresque elements derive from the post-apocalyptic setting itself in which the protagonist has to constantly readjust to a rapidly changing, disintegrating world. The main character is therefore not a typical picaro. His rogue character traits are the product of a permanent struggle for survival.
If you think that is a good basis to develop a reserach question and thesis for the paper than you can use it to write the paper.
Otherwise you can develop your own research thesis as long as it is related to Picaresque fiction. You are free to either use “Thing’s we didn’t see coming” or one following novels as a primary source:
Acker, Kathy. Don Quixote, Which Was a Dream.
Amsterdam, Steven. Things We Didn’t See Coming.
Auster, Paul. The Music of Chance.
Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March.
Jong, Erica. Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones.
Melville, Herman. The Confidence Man.
Tenney, Tabitha. Female Quixotism: Exhibited in the Romantic Opinions and Extravagant Adventures of Dorcasina Sheldon.
I uploaded detailed requirements for the paper as a pdf. Also I included the text about Picaresque fiction we used as a basis to analyze novels in the class. It is an excerpt from the book:
Wicks, Ulrich. Picaresque Narrative, Picaresque Fictions: A Theory and Research Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1989. Print.
Which you can use if you need more input on Picaresque fiction.
Some last remarks:
The professor doesn’t like it if you include things like the author’s biography, it can only be included if it is really necessary to understand the text. She welcomes it if you include some theory, for example about post-apocalyptic narrative/conventions (in case you choose Steven Amsterdam)
There is not a minimum number of secondary sources you need to use but there should be secondary sources in the paper (does not need to be a secondary literature about the primary text itself but can also be secondary literature about genre theory etc.)
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