Nonconformity in Bartleby The Scrivener
For this assignment you will be using our readings by Emerson and/or Thoreau to make an argument about Bartleby’s relationship to nonconformity. You have a lot of latitude here, so long as you draw on textual evidence from Bartleby and at least one of the following: “The American Scholar,” “Self-Reliance,” “Resistance to Civil Government.”
Your argument should emerge out of your close attention to these authors’ language, and your essay must demonstrate a careful analysis of a few of the many authorial choices that Melville makes (e.g., perspective, figurative language, sequencing, tone, characterization, theme, motif, symbol, setting, atmosphere, mood, and plot elements, such as complication, conflict, rising action, climax, resolution) as well as the consequences of these choices.
Your essay should begin with a brief introduction that grabs your readers’ attention and leads logically toward your Main Claim, which should appear as the final sentence of the introduction. Your introduction might, for instance, set out which part(s) of which text(s) you’ll be using, define key terms, and generally prepare your readers for your argument.
Your essay should have two or three body paragraphs, each beginning with a Sub-Claim (or what you might have called a Topic Sentence) which both directly supports the Main Claim and reveals the focus of the paragraph. Everything else in the paragraph—textual evidence and explanation of how that evidence supports the Sub-Claim—must work together to clearly support, demonstrate, establish, or clarify the Sub-Claim.
Your essay will end with a brief conclusion that leaves the reader with a parting thought that stems from the essay’s analysis. The conclusion should not merely summarize what you’ve already written, nor should it supply an additional paragraph in direct support of your argument (thus rendering it indistinguishable in function from your body paragraphs). Rather, it might do any number of the following: connect your analysis to another time period, like the present day; raise a research question for potential future inquiry; raise a literary or historical question inspired by your analysis; raise a literary or historical issue that complicates (but does not disprove) your argument; offer a call to action; or another “so what” that emerges out of your essay.
You should imagine your peers as your audience for this essay. They are familiar with the texts (so no need to summarize the texts), but they are not experts (so you shouldn’t feel burdened to say something that would somehow be “new” for scholars in the field). You are free to draw on journal posts or class discussion (with acknowledgement of specific students when possible).
No internet sources.
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