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US - English 11 - The Great Gatsby (Harris)2018/19: Assignment


The American Literature Research Paper 2019


(Option 1) In The Great Gatsby, what is Fitzgerald implying about modern American society?  How does he use Cugatian symbolism from the cover art in order to imply his point about society?  In your paper, explain Fitzgerald’s Modernist satire of some aspect of Jazz Age America by analyzing three specific scenes involving the symbolic motif of Cugat inspired imagery in the novel.   For example, in terms of style focus, what does Fitzgerald symbolize with his colorful light imagery of an amusement park, the grey imagery of the Valley of Ashes, and the T. J. Eckleburg billboard?  Or, how does Fitzgerald use green imagery in three scenes to imply his concern about a corrupt aspect of modern culture? Or, what does Fitzgerald symbolize with the motif of eyes and face imagery in the novel?  Any Cugatian detail or details can be selected for your focus on Fitzgerald’s satirical use of Cugat’s artwork symbolism in his ekphrastic novel. Your thematic focus on his satirical point about America is up to you to decide.




(Option 2) Compare the Cugat inspired portrait of Jay Gatz and George Wilson in The Great Gatsby with the Van Gogh inspired portrait of Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire.  For a style focus on how the color from the paintings is used in character descriptions, analyze the use of color (such as green and/or blue and/or red) in the scenes describing Gatz, Wilson, and Kowalski.  As you analyze these working class characters and the color symbolism that characterizes them, explain what it is about Stanley’s character that allows him to achieve more than the other two in terms of America’s Declaration of Independence ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Literary Research Guidelines:  Be sure to use at least two critical sources total on the primary work(s) and properly document your research.  Do not simply agree with what the critics think Fitzgerald (and Williams) is implying. You need to have a thesis of your own, and you need to find ways to distinguish your argument above all other readings.  On that note, you should feel free to partly disagree with or qualify the views of critics. The Library has plenty of books of criticism on the novel and will place on hold any such sources you find and want to use.  You may also use MyLatin’s link to the Library’s online databases to locate critical essays on the novel and on your stylistic and/or thematic focus. As a class, we will spend two days in the Library for research. While your research must have a basic focus on a critical reading of the novel, critical readings actually have incredible variety to help you refine your angle in an area of special interest of yours.  Here is a Link to a website that defines types of literary criticism and provides guiding questions for each type to assist you if you wish to specialize to this degree in your paper.  All that is required as a minimum, however, is a properly integrated quote from two critical essays on the primary work(s) and a standard level of rhetorical engagement with such literary research.  


Literary Analysis Research Paper Checklist:

  • Follow MLA guidelines and punctuation rules set forth in OWL
  • Proper format, heading, double-spaced in 12-point font
  • Five pages or so with a Works Cited for all included sources
  • Short & creative title indicating primary author(s) and main issue
  • Introductory paragraph with hook, context, bridge, thesis
  • Clear and consistent analytical focus on how style conveys theme
  • Use of specific stylistic and conceptual terminology we covered in class
  • Avoid use of the royal “We,” the second person “You,” and first person “I”
  • Logical organization, transitions, coherence of your ideas
  • Topic sentences clearly echo your thesis points about style and theme
  • Substantive paragraphs with appropriate evidence for all claims  
  • Plenty of specific examples provided in consistent and balanced manner
  • Plenty of partial quotes and paraphrases documented with parenthetical citations
  • Integrated and qualified quotes about the novel from at least two critical sources
  • Conclusion reviews key points, widens the literary context, ends with a clincher
  • No spelling, grammar, or usage errors.


Outline & Introduction Paragraph Due For Library Research Day on Friday, March  15.

Two Critical Sources & Two Body Paragraphs Due on Friday, March 29.  Writing Workshop.

Last Body Paragraph, Conclusion, Works Cited Due on Wednesday, April 3.  Writing Workshop. Final Draft & Due Start of Class Monday, April 8.