First drafts of your cultural artifact paper are due Thursday–main bloggers will present their drafts tomorrow

Posted in prompts at 1:47 pm by Dominique

Hi all,

I hope you feel full and rested after Thanksgiving break. Enes Mrkulic and Victoriane Liz will be our main bloggers for this week. During tomorrow’s session, our aim will be to use the main bloggers’ papers to collectively devise a rubric for the cultural artifact paper (paper 2).  We will treat their papers as our “texts” for the week, discussing how we see the writers applying a particular critical lens and considering what aspects of their approach we might replicate ourselves. If anyone else would like to have their drafts workshopped by the class, please contact me asap and make sure your first draft is in the Dropbox folder by midnight tonight.  

Once the main bloggers have posted their drafts in the Dropbox folder, I will post them here as well. I will then ask all commentators to respond to the drafts by Wednesday at midnight while you compose your own first drafts (to be submitted to Dropbox before Thursday’s class).  I will respond to all drafts posted in Dropbox individually between Thursday night and Saturday.

As you compose, remain aware of your reflections on your process. If you’re not someone who usually steps away from a paper to “incubate” while writing, try to leave a little time to do that–this means starting the paper today (if you have not already) and coming back to it for a couple of hours a day over the next two days. If you find that you settle too quickly on a starting point, try to start writing and then narrow down your starting point (your “perception of the problem”) later on. I’ll ask our main bloggers to say something about their own process when we begin class tomorrow.

Lastly, we’re meeting in I-Building 213 tomorrow afternoon. Please go straight there! (See my email for a reminder about this.)

See you on Tuesday,



No official main bloggers for next week … and an extra credit opportunity instead

Posted in prompts at 6:35 pm by Dominique

Hi all,

We ended class today with a run-through of the terminology you’ll want to use when crafting a Marxist reading of a text (an approach which some of you may still want to consider using for the cultural artifact paper).  When we reconvene on Tuesday, we’ll be coming back to the terminology on your handout, and spending some time with Bruce Robbins’ Marxist analysis of The Turn of the Screw. Then we’ll think about whether we see any crossover between Marxist criticism and reader-response– something I’ll ask you to write about during class, so please be sure you’ve read Wayne Booth’s “‘He began to read to our hushed little circle’: Are We Blessed or Cursed by Our Life with The Turn of the Screw?” (and the review of reader-oriented criticism that precedes it). 

For now, anyone who would like to blog this weekend will receive extra credit for reviewing the following New York Times Topics site on Occupy Wall Street (a portion of which was distributed in class today) and conducting a Marxist analysis–using the Bressler book and the packet of critical lens questions distributed last week–of the Occupy Wall Street movement: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/o/occupy_wall_street/index.html?ref=topics

Please keep your analysis to 500-550 words and we will discuss your thoughts at the start of class on Tuesday.

We’ll pick up with our main bloggers as soon as we return from Thanksgiving. Enes and Victoriane (and anyone else whom would like to complete his or her draft early and have it workshopped by the class…) will be posting the first full drafts of the cultural artifact papers by next Monday, November 28th.

Ah, and one last thing! I caught a typo on your assignment sheet for paper 2. The drafts of the cultural artifact paper for anyone submitting at the normal deadline are due on Thursday, December 1st (not Thursday, Nov. 28th…a day that does not exist).

As always, I’m looking forward to seeing you folks again on Tuesday,




For Tuesday, November 15th

Posted in prompts at 3:45 pm by Dominique

Hi all,

AnnMarie Mark and Emina Basic are our main bloggers for this coming week. By Monday at midnight, after reading chapter 8 on Marxist criticism in the Bressler book, they should respond to the following prompt in a two-paragraph post of 500-550 words:

In one paragraph, isolate certain aspects of Marxist criticism that seem similar to other critical lenses we have discussed this semester. Please discuss those similarities. (You may want to use the packet with questions from each critical lens I distributed on Thursday to help you see connections between multiple approaches. Read through all the categories of questions together and leave yourself time to reflect on the assumptions and focus of each type of criticism.)

In a second paragraph, please write a Marxist critique of the passage in The Turn of the Screw that hints at Peter Quint and Miss Jessel’s relationship, beginning at the top of page 58 and going through the end of section 7 (page 59); you may want to re-read sections before and after this as well for additional context.

Commentators should build upon either of the two paragraphs that AnnMarie and Emina have written, adding in their own thoughts about crossover with other lenses or Marxist ways of reading the particular scene in James’s novella, in posts of 150-200 words.

You also have a 2-3 page summary of your cultural artifact due before class this Tuesday; please be sure it is posted in the appropriate Dropbox folder before our Tuesday session. This summary should give both a detailed sense of the plot and main characters in your “text,” assuming that your reader knows little to nothing about it; it should also indicate and describe scenes that seem absolutely essential to understanding this text.  This is NOT an analysis; you are not being asked to apply any one (or more) of the lenses at this point. We’ll discuss your summaries in class on Tuesday, in addition to discussing the quizzes from last week, and covering a basic introduction to Marxist criticism.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of the weekend!





Your cultural artifact selections

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:03 pm by Dominique

After you respond to Alessandra and Cassandra posts in the forum below this one, please leave your three cultural artifact selections as a comment on this post (you may number them in order to indicate the one that seem the most compelling subject for analysis, if you’d like).  I will review these before class early Thursday morning in order to prepare for our workshop–please make sure your choices are represented here!


Reading about/as/through the gender critics…

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 pm by Dominique

Hi all,

Alessandra Cervinaro and Cassandra Ramlochan have agreed to be our main bloggers this week. They will continue the discussion we began at the end of class on Thursday by composing an analysis of The Turn of the Screw using a gender studies approach. Using the steps outlined on the handout you received in class, and selecting a useful “passage” (as modeled in class) that will support a gender-focused analysis, each main blogger will write a carefully-structured paragraph of 500-550 words using the guidelines below. These paragraphs should be submitted by this Monday at midnight.

First, consider the questions we addressed from a feminist perspective. (See the handout from last class on 11/1–also in your email box–especially for Steve E. who didn’t get a copy in class! A lot of feminist issues overlap with gender criticism–just remember what we said about gender critics approaching gender as a social construction.) Think specifically about how gender and sexuality were conceived of when the text was composed and/or published. See the gender criticism essay assigned for Thursday in the back of The Turn of the Screw about two central historical factors that make gender an interesting and challenging topic in the late 19th century: Oscar Wilde being put on trial for homosexual behavior and the rise of early women’s rights movements. You’ll want to acknowledge these historical circumstances as you dive into your analysis.

Then, focus on the following two-step method. Don’t think about responding to these questions in list form–rather use them as a guide to construct a fluid paragraph. If you focus more on some parts of the questions and leave others out in order to develop your ideas, that’s okay!

1. (More descriptive) How are gender norms established: What kinds of gender norms are present in the text? Are specifically gendered codes of behavior explicitly or implicitly dramatized in the text? (Are certain things assumed about how “males” and “females” should behave–how they should dress, interact, pursue a career, etc?)

2. (More analytical) How are gender norms transgressed: Do characters transgress general social codes of gender? If so, how does the text respond to this transgression? If not, why not? Do characters exhibit unexplained desire (or desire without a coherent object of that desire)? Are characters depressed or melancholy for reasons that are relatively unexplained? How are same-sex friendships described? Are these more or less passionate than opposite-sex couplings? Are these friendships seen as problematic?

When you think about how to craft your paragraph, try using the following outline:

I. In a sentence or two, establish the historical and cultural importance of gender issues at the time James is writing and consider why such issues might be reflected in James’s text, whether consciously or not. (This is where you establish your motive for using this particular critical approach. Alternatively, if you were using post-colonialism, you might discuss how the author is invested in/aware of how imperialism. If you were using psychoanalysis, you might want to note when the text was published in relation to Freud’s work and why the notion of the unconscious would capture people’s attention at that time.)

II. Describe the way gender roles are treated in the text more generally (see question 1 above). The purpose of providing this context is to help set you up to focus on one specific illustration of the way these roles are enforced and/or transgressed later on in the paragraph (and later on in an essay, if you were writing an essay).

III. Include a “passage” (carefully transcribed, properly indented, and cited, please!) that will allow you to focus in on one character, one relationship, or one type of gender “norm” that you can then analyze in more detail (thinking ahead to how you will use question 2 above as you cite your passage).

IV. Present your analysis of the passage, responding to some aspect of question 2 by highlighting the implications of specific language used or assumptions made in the passage.


Commentators should do this same exercise in a shorter form–in 150-200 words, by Wednesday at midnight–providing only one sentence for each part of the outline. While these paragraphs will clearly not be as well developed as those of the two main bloggers, this a useful approach to test out anyway; I hope it’s one with which we’ll grow more comfortable during the remainder of the semester and beyond this course.

This is also a model that I would like to see all of you adopt in your second paper, which you’ll be working on over the next four weeks and which I’ll tell you more about on Tuesday! I loved that we found a way to think about the Snickers commercials as feminist critics at the start of last class (thanks, Victoriane!). The upcoming paper assignment will allow for more of a similar kind of cultural analysis.

So, we’ll begin Tuesday’s class by returning to the handout on writing around “passages” from Thursday and briefly talking more about gender criticism. Then we’ll discuss Alessandra and Cassandra’s paragraphs. Next we’ll do…well….something else.**  And then we’ll end with a discussion of the next paper assignment. **In preparing for that “something else,” please make sure you have reviewed The Turn of the Screw, as well as your notes on psychoanalysis, feminism, and gender criticism, looking at any critical essays assigned for each of those lenses.  You may also want to practice using the paragraph structure above on your own so that you can see whether you run into trouble; if you hit a wall, contact me to show me how far you got, or stop by my office on Tuesday. As many of you have already realized, we might think we understand a critical lens when we’re discussing it in class but when we try to apply it in writing that can be a whole ‘nother ball game.

I’m looking forward to seeing you next week and will do my best to leave comments on the final versions of your Heart of Darkness essays by then.

Have a great weekend,



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