American Literature I (Fall, 2004; Seton Hill University)


20 September 2004

Oral Presentations (Panel A)

Suggested Topics:

1) Soul and Body: How does Hawthorne use physical bodies to illustrate spiritual/moral state?

Probe: Consult what the emerging field of "disability studies" and/or some branches of feminism ("body acceptance") have to say about identifying physical deformity with moral depravity.

2) Individual and Society: In drama, a comedy begins when an ordered society is thrown temporarily into disorder by an individual who does not conform. The comedy ends in order, as the disordered element is either expelled or absorbed back into soceity. A tragedy, on the other hand, shows how the protagonist's actions launch a sequence of events that tear apart the tragic hero and possibly the society as well.

Probe: Consult a dictionary of literary terms (you can find several online) in order to be sure that you use the accepted literary definitions of "comedy" and "tragedy". You might also look up terms such as "comedy of manners". While The Scarlet Letter is not a drama, and therefore does not fit either the classical defintions of tragedy or comedy, in what ways is it comic and in what ways is it tragic?

3) Prose Style: Several students have already weighed in with opinions on Hawthorne's writing style.

Probe: What do literary scholars have to say about Hawthorne's writing style? (I posted a brief observation on Shanna's blog about the contrast between quoted speech and paraphrased conversations, but there are many other ways of framing the question.)

4) Propose a topic (clear it with me in advance).

Due: Quiz 1-2

Discuss Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter 3 (Chapters 16-24)