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English 312

Final Paper Assignment

Due: Last day of class

This project has multiple stages; do not wait until the last minute. You have seven weeks to work on this; there won’t be any last-minute extensions. The first thing to do is to read one of the novels listed below. As you read, think about themes, techniques, characters, styles, plots, etc. that run through the book and how those reflect on the discussions of the various elements of women’s lives that we have discussed so far this semester. The second thing to do is to review your selections of Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and Virginia Woolf’s, “A Room of One’s Own.”

In your paper, you will consider your chosen book in light of either of the other readings. Think about what Wollstonecraft or Woolf would tell your author about their depiction of “women’s lives” as they are demonstrated in their novel, and consider what questions or comments your author might have for Wollstonecraft or Woolf. You may consider the way your author directly demonstrates any of the points that Wollstonecraft or Woolf makes. Your paper can take the form of a conversation between your author and Wollstonecraft or Woolf or perhaps as a panel discussion, moderated by you. That conversation/discussion should demonstrate your research and understanding about the nature of women’s lives and literature at a given point in the 18th-21st centuries and how that is worked out in the novel you chose.

In order to construct a good conversation, you will need to gather a little extra information to fill out your knowledge. You should do research in the following areas:

  1. The biography of your author
  2. The general social, political, and economic nature of the period
  3. Important happenings of the decade surrounding the book’s publication
  4. The way both general readers and literary critics viewed the work in its own time
  5. Further information about the situation of women in the time the book was written
  6. Anything else that interests you that I didn’t already list

In your paper, you will use the information you find in your research to help inform your discussion. Remember to cite (in MLA form) whenever you use information that doesn’t come out of your head. Your paper also needs to be formal; your conversation or panel discussion is taking place in an academic setting. It should be typed, double-spaced, MLA formatted, and 5-6 pages. I hope this is an enjoyable assignment that lets you explore these ideas in an imaginative and different way.

18th-19th Century:

Jane Austen: Emma, Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility

Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights

Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre

Elizabeth Gaskell: Cranford

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss

Maria Edgeworth: Castle Rackrent

20th-21st Century:

Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

Doris Lessing: The Golden Notebook

Iris Murdoch: The Green Knight, The Sacred and Profane Love Machine

Zadie Smith: White Teeth, Swing Time

Chimamanda Ngozi Adeche: The Thing Around Your Neck

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale