Major Paper #1

TS English
Major Paper #1
“The Monster as a Cultural Artifact”
5-7 pages, double-spaced
Times New Roman font, 12pt size
1 inch margins on all sides
Here we are! This longer paper is the culmination of all of our work over the sequence.
In it you will be required to make use of all of the various strategies and “moves” that we have
experimented with over the last few weeks. Above all, your goal is to make a complex claim
that is supported by both textual analysis and research. Those of you who have struggled in
some of these areas can look on this as a new opportunity to practice. All of you should look
back over the comments on your old papers and plan to try to improve in strategic ways.
In pursuit of this goal, you are free to make use of any of the ideas or writing that you
generated in your shorter papers. But remember, the difference between a claim in a longer
essay and a shorter essay is NOT simply to pile on more evidence that simply proves the same
thing. The real challenge with this paper will be to complicate and extend your claims with the
added space.
The central line of inquiry for this paper remains similar to our earlier work. How does Mary
Shelley’s Frankenstein define “monstrousness”? But in order to extend your claim in this
paper I will be asking you to go a little further with this idea. What does Frankenstein’s
definition of “monstrousness” teach us about British society in the early nineteenth
century? In answering this question your central claim will not be about the novel, but about the
history it emerges from. To help you get started:
Historical Change: One approach to Shelley’s novel is to think about how the monster
stands for historically situated anxieties and uncertainties that faced early nineteenthcentury British society. Jordanova, for instance, argues that Frankenstein was motivated
by a more general unease over the professionalization of science in the period. What
specific kinds of anxieties or historically specific fears can YOU identify in the novel?
Construct a detailed and focused analysis investigating how Frankenstein is invested with
the social struggles and crises of its moment.
Cultural Values: Monsters also arguably help to define cultural values and construct
lines between normalcy and deviance of all types. What does Shelley’s monster reveal to
us about the values and social norms of the Romantic Era? What constitutes immoral
behavior or crimes against nature? What kinds of pressures or changes are destabilizing
these values or norms? Construct a detailed and focused analysis which shows how
Shelley’s monster tale serves as a warning, prohibition, or vehicle for communicating
cultural rules and norms.
Social Relations: As figures of “abnormalcy,” monsters are often positioned against the
standards that define and categorize appropriate social relations and identities. Gendered
relations, domestic/familial relations, relations between the classes and of race –
sometimes monsters serve to reinforce and embolden the terms of these relations (often in
dominance or superiority), and sometimes they critique or question them. Often, they do
TS English
Major Paper #1
“The Monster as a Cultural Artifact”
both! In any case, representations of monsters are often tied up in and related to
representations of gender, race, class, family, and other social forms that define how
power and identity work in their historical era. How does the monster help to define
forms of identity, either for himself or his heroic counterparts, and how does it
understand the relations between them? Construct an analysis that helps us to understand
how the monster emerges from a particular social and political context.
Writing Goals:
This paper must contain the following:
A complex and persuasive claim. Remember that your central goal in any academic
writing is to contribute to a larger academic conversation on Frankenstein and the social
history of monsters with an “argumentative” and “arguable” claim of your own. Be sure
that your own ideas are well supported by evidence and analysis from the text. Make
certain that your own ideas are distinct from the ideas of others, and that they develop
centrally within the argument of the paper.
Analysis of the novel that operates in the service of your greater claim. A claim
without evidence/analysis is simply an opinion and will not be considered valid in an
academic context. Be sure to provide several examples/quotes from the text and to use
“close reading” to connect this evidence to your larger claim. And be careful to frame
your use of evidence in a way that makes your purpose clear.
2 academic sources which help you to support your claim and to put it into
conversation with larger academic discussions. Use the strategies that we have
explored to effectively incorporate research into your argument. Feel free to use any of
the articles that we have discussed. Use the research and insights of others to support and
validate your ideas. Use their writing to place your ideas into conversation with larger
academic interests and discussions.
Claim/Analysis draft due in class on Wed, 11/4: Two paragraphs (your introduction
and an analysis paragraph) which introduces your main argument for review
Rough Draft due in class on Fri, 11/6: A complete draft of your paper for submission to
peer review and critique
Final Draft due to Canvas on Mon, 11/9
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