ENGL 4106-03W/5106-03 – Fall 2012
This assignment is a literary analysis essay on Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. It must be minimally 5 full pages, stapled, typed, double spaced, in 12 point Times New Roman font, with one- inch margins. Use correct MLA format, include a Works Cited page, and proofread carefully. You are not required to do research for this paper, but if you choose to incorporate secondary materials, you must credit them accurately.
*NB. Students taking this course for graduate credit should write a paper of minimally 7 full pages.
You can access the departmental grading rubric for upper-level courses here: http://www.westga.edu/~engdept/fr/Ruby.doc
I encourage you to visit office hours to consult about the paper, at any stage of its development and as often as you wish. Bring drafts, partial drafts, notes, whatever you’ve got.
You are free to devise your own topic or to select one of the following prompts. You may also combine more than one prompt. In either case, you must develop your own argument, supported by persuasive textual evidence and insightful analysis. Your essay should be logically structured and carefully edited. Since the prompts listed here are very broad, you will need to narrow them down significantly in order to assert a claim appropriate for a 5 page paper.
1. The most widely known characteristics of Gothic fiction may be its settings: castles, underground tunnels, labyrinthine corridors, etc. Analyze the physical surroundings in The Castle of Otranto as metaphors for one or more characters’ internal landscapes (their psychological conditions and experiences).
2. Fred Botting defines Gothic literature as “a writing of excess” that employs exaggerated, extreme situations and language to raise questions about aspects of our lives that we do not often think about, such as the nature of identity. How does The Castle of Otranto unsettle conventional assumptions about personal identity?
3. According to Robert Miles, “A historical concern for the decay of models of legitimacy pervades the Gothic [from The Castle of Otranto onward]…a concern with authenticity, legitimacy, and power.” In The Castle of Otranto, what assumptions underpin claims to authority and legitimacy, and what challenges are leveled toward those claims? (I am not looking for a summary of, for instance, Manfred’s spurious claim to the castle. In-depth analyses might focus on claims to spiritual authority, moral authority, patriarchal authority…even the types of authority claimed by Walpole in the prefaces.)
4. Analyze the position of women in The Castle of Otranto. What kinds of power do they hold (by virtue of the social structure, the behavior of others, their own actions and attitudes)? To what extent do they claim agency for themselves? How does virtue relate to agency for the women? Does the novel challenge or uphold the social structures that affect the options available to the women?
5. I encourage you to develop your own topic on some aspect of the novel that excites your interest.
Note: Failure to complete the notes and the rough draft in full and on time will result in losing the option to revise and resubmit the paper after it has been graded.
Thursday Sept. 6: Notes due. I will collect these. They will be returned to you with comments the following week.
By this point, you will need to have chosen a topic and to have started developing your ideas. Type out a minimum of 5 passages from the novel that you think will be central to your argument. Follow up each quotation with at least 5 numbered ideas (these could be tentative interpretations of specific language, questions the passage raises, contradictions it suggests, theoretical links, brilliant insights—anything that might be useful to you as you move in the direction of formulating an argument). These numbered “ideas” should be articulated in complete sentences, and might even stretch into paragraphs.
Thursday Sept. 19: Rough draft due, on paper, minimally 4 full pages. I will not collect these; the purpose of this assignment is to peer edit. I will answer questions and help with essays during peer editing, but for in-depth discussions, please bring your draft to office hours.
Tuesday Sept. 25: Essay due at the beginning of the class period, minimally 5 full pages.