Below are a few prompts to help you think about the final work for the course. You should not make central in this work any text that was central to your previous written work in the course. The completed work should be 9-10 pages and is due via email by 4pm on May 17.
1) Trace a line of literary influence from Herman Melville’s Bartleby to Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, adding at least one other text. How do the sources you chose treat the instability of their protagonists? How is the strangeness or violence of these characters connected to modern New York, or, more generally to the economic and cultural order of modern cities?
2) Trace a different line of literary influence from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening through Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar to Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted. Ask yourself what has changed and what has remained consistent when it comes to thinking about and portraying mental illness in young, affluent women over the last one hundred years, or so. Feel free to substitute for any one of these texts, as long as your texts come from different periods and treat the topic at hand.
3) Compare 3 different depictions of life in an asylum that we have seen or read this semester, being sure to include Nellie Bly’s Ten Days in a Madhouse. What are common strategies for depicting these institutions? How has their depiction changed or remained consistent across the sources you choose? Are the depictions you’re discussing tied to specific moments in the history and evolution of asylums? Alternatively, you could find three sources in a single period that depicted psychiatric hospitals.
4) I’m open to other areas of inquiry and other media for pursuing them. You should, though, discuss at least 3 works, and at least two of them (including movies) should be on our syllabus If you’re interested in putting together a substantial audio piece, that could be interesting and consistent with earlier work in the class. It would probably have to be more formal than a group conversation about material from the class. We should talk together if you plan to depart from the prompts above to avoid any misunderstandings, but I’m happy to have that conversation.