James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus imagines history as a “nightmare”

James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus imagines history as a “nightmare” from which, he says, “I am trying to awake.” Engagements with history as, broadly speaking, a nightmare—as trauma, as wound, as deprivation—are common in modern and post-modern

James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus imagines history as a “nightmare”

For your second research project that will be due in Week 14, you will be writing a brief researched essay that will address one aspect of your reading in the second half of the course (Modules 3 & 4).

Your submission must be at least 1000 words in length, and it must incorporate the number of primary sources assigned in the prompt and at least two substantive secondary sources from the library databases (no websites).  Make sure that your analysis includes support from the texts themselves rather than simply a summary of those texts. Finally, you should use proper MLA formatting, including heading, parenthetical citations, and a works cited page.

Choose one of the following options.

1. James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus imagines history as a “nightmare” from which, he says, “I am trying to awake.” Engagements with history as, broadly speaking, a nightmare—as trauma, as wound, as deprivation—are common in modern and post-modern American literature. Select two works from Module 3 & 4 that engage with, critique, and/or portray American history (Lowell, Faulkner, Wright, Hayden, and/or Jarrell to name a few) and also write an essay in which you compare and also contrast their literary approaches to history.

2. In her study Female Masculinities, Judith Halberstam argues that:

Masculinity in this society inevitably conjures up notions of power and legitimacy and privilege; it often symbolically refers to the power of the state and uneven distribution of wealth…but, obviously, many other lines of identification traverse the terrain of masculinity, dividing its power into complicated differentials of class, race, sexuality, and gender. (2)

Modern American writers have identified and analyzed many of the problems. Also, benefits of modern masculinity through their characters (think Homer Baron, the tinker, Sykes, etc.). Select two to three works from Module 3 & 4 that portray and analyze the problems of modern masculinity. Argue how those problems connect to a larger issue of class, race, sexuality, or gender.

3. In Sylvia Plath and Theatre of Mourning, Christina Bitzolkais states that “Although Plath’s ‘confessional’ tropes are often seen in terms of a Romantic parable of victimization, whether of the sensitive poetic individual crush by a brutally rationalize society.

Or of feminist protest against a monolithic patriarchal oppressor. Her self-reflexivity tends to turn confession into a parody gesture or a premise for theatrical performance.”

This idea of theatre and parody can shed new light on the quest for self. Also, the role of the individual in a problematic society that we see in Plath and Ginsburg. We have seen this quest before in the poetry of Whitman and Dickinson as well. How can the idea of parody. Furthermore, theatre help to unpack the quest for self in the poetry of these four poets? What ideas of self and society have changed in the hundred years plus that separates them? What has stayed the same? Are these poets demonstrating that we as a nation of individuals are still having the same problems?

4. According to the biography of Audre Lorde in our textbook, her poetry wages a “‘war against the tyrannies of silence’; it articulates what has been pass over out of fear of discomfort, what has been kept hidden and secret” (1490). This war could be against racist practices, a patriarchal society, government control, the boundaries of society as a whole, etc. This “war against silence” can be seen in much of the poetry and fiction we have read during Module 3 & 4. Additionally, using the entry point of a “war against the tyranny of silence,” discuss a social action pushed by two or three of the works we have read in Module 3 & 4. How did this work fight against the tyranny in its time of publication and how is it (or isn’t it) fighting against that tyranny today?

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