Let’s Get Down to Business

Having been so busy with everything going on these past few weeks– between presentations and graduate school/job plans and my other courses– I admit that I’ve been putting off (but still becoming increasingly anxious about) the exam. It seemed so far away until I realized that today, we’re halfway through March and the test is during the first full week of April. Yikes! However, this snow day assignment made me sit down and draft out a plan. I’m really appreciative of this, because just putting my ideas down will allow new ideas to pop into my head.

Texts I’m Comfortable Writing About:

  • Fun Home
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  • “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain”
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
  • “Bartleby the Scrivener”
  • “A Modest Proposal”


  1. Sara’s presentation on image and text – using Barthes to discuss “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and/or Fun Home (using words to create images, and vice versa)
  2. Satire – using Spininger’s article about The Importance of Being Earnest to discuss domestic comedy; could also use “A Modest Proposal”

Historical Context:

  1. Masculinity and identity – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (I can also use Davenport’s article on the typical hero up to Gawain in the Norton edition of the text), Fun Home, and/or The Importance of Being Earnest
  2. Hysteria – using “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman’s essay on “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and/or Lady Audley’s Secret (QUESTION: Is using my thesis text a smart move or an excessive one?)


  1. Using Bhaba’s idea of the uncanny (when one’s own home becomes terrifying) in the postcolonial and applying it to Fun Home, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and/or “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  2. Zahava’s presentation on the Panopticon – Using the idea of the Panopticon and applying it to “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and/or Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Flexibility and Modularity:

I’m still working on becoming more flexible. I notice that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is in almost every plan, and there are texts like The Brief Life of Oscar Wao that I’ve completely left out. I think that, with some advice and opinions on these strategies, I can further revise them. I think that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a great flexible text for me. I also recognize that specifically The Brief Life of Oscar Wao as well as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (aka heavily historical texts) intimidate me, and I feel like I’ll never know the history well enough to discuss the texts– even though as texts, I think they’re great. I feel weakest in the “historical moment” section, although the idea of discussing Sir Gawain and Fun Home in the same essay is really fascinating. I also am worried that the genre topic can get general really quickly and prevent anything productive from happening in the essay– I just sense that that’ll be a problem for me. Any ideas on how to avoid that problem?

As for other ideas I have, I could use the moral sense theory that I’m going to present for “A Modest Proposal” for many of the texts, including The Importance of Being Earnest. I chose to present those two texts because of how well they go together, and I think putting them together in any of the essay sections could make for a nice essay. The idea of the Panopticon may also work well in the historical moment section, as the woman feels like she’s being watched and her home resembles an old asylum– it’s as if her home was part of the Panopticon a century before she moved in (or she’s somehow gone back a century, even just in treatment/setting). Something interesting that also came up last week in one of my other classes was the comparison of tense between “The Yellow Wallpaper” (present, even at the end, which leaves us confused) and “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” (past, post-apocalyptic in a way). Would this fit in at all? Should I just drop any other “The Yellow Wallpaper” ideas? Am I using that text as a crutch?

I appreciate any and all help with my plans! Even just writing out these ideas has gotten me thinking– and slightly less anxious!

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