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Literature

Part I: Describe aspects of life in America that TWO of our authors this week criticize. Do you agree with their points of view? Do their criticisms still seem relevant to today’s America?

Part II: Read the Week 2 lecture in Lessons. Conduct a gendered/ feminist reading of 2 readings not mentioned in your Part 1 response. Describe what the writers seem to be saying about masculinity and/or femininity. Are these stereotypes/expectations still present in contemporary life?

Lesson:

Realism, Quoting/Paraphrasing/Summarizing, and Ways of Reading: Gendered/Feminist Criticism

Realism

Realism is a literary movement that emerged in the nineteenth century in reaction to romantic idealism with its mysticism and embrace of intuitive speculation. William Dean Howells, a novelist and editor of the Atlantic Monthly, noted that the primary role of the writer is to “tell the truth.” That truth, however, would be variously interpreted in the movement’s several branches. “Naturalism” insisted that human nature has to be understood in its animalistic roots, while “local colorists” celebrated the nuances of distinct regions of the country distinguished by its speech and folk traditions. Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Sarah Orne Jewett, Joel Chandler Harris, and George Washington Cable sought to capture the distinct nuances, character, and folk motifs of specific cultures tied to regions of the United States and its western territories. At the same time, Ambrose Bierce, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Henry James experimented with psychological realism, exploring the psychoses of minds in crisis. (* From Perkins’ textbook).

Author and editor William Dean Howells wrote that the proper aim of fiction should be Realism, rather than a Romantic distortion of the world: “The novelist might be greater possible help to us if they painted life as it is, and human feelings in their true proportion and relation, but for the most part they have been and are altogether noxious”.

Realism attempted to portray the world as it was, without glorified happy endings or unnecessary beautification. Authors like Edith Wharton and Henry James were masters of telling the truth about life in society, writing a kind of fiction that became known as “the novel of manners.” The works often depicted life in society, among the middle and upper classes in America and abroad. Class distinctions became fodder for such writers as Booth Tarkington, Sinclair Lewis, and Theodore Dreiser. As Realism evolved, it gave rise to both Naturalism and Regionalism.

Quoting, Paraphrasing, Summarizing

We incorporate source support in a variety of ways. The “Owl at Purdue” website has some excellent resources and examples of how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize source material if you need additional review.

Essentially, remember this: you always want to support your ideas, whether you are posting to a discussion forum or writing a paper. However, you don’t want your paper dominated by quotes. Aim for only about 10% of your total word count as quoted material. So if you are writing a 1000 word essay, you should have about 100 words in direct quotes.

If you are quoting, choose only the words from your source that are especially eloquent, purposeful, or revealing. If it’s a concept or idea that is mundane or that you can say just as well yourself, don’t quote it: summarize or paraphrase it instead. Basic biographical information or historical dates should not appear as quotes. Your quotes should be special. When analyzing literature, quote lines from your reading to explain your interpretations.

Don’t use free-standing quotes. Always incorporate quoted material into your own sentence unless you are using a famous quotation for a special reason.

Example:

We may be moving toward sanctioning Iran for nuclear activities. “Sanctions should not be used in a purely punitive manner to starve an opponent into submission” (Cortright and Lopez 735).

Instead, introduce quotes with a few words of your own, or ‘weave’ quotes into sentences of your own design:

According to Cortright and Lopez, “[s]anctions should not be used in a purely punitive manner” (735).

Cortright and Lopez believe that “[s]anctions can help encourage a process of dialogue” (735). * I have used brackets because the “S” appears as a capital in the original, but I wanted to make it lower case.

Cortright and Lopez caution about using sanctioning improperly: “Sanctions should not be used in a purely punitive manner to starve an opponent into submission” (735). * Note that here, I wanted to quote an entire sentence, and I introduced it with a sentence of my own. In order to avoid a run-on, I connect the two with a colon.

Sometimes, in order to trim down our quotes to get to our ideal 10% goal, you might need to use ellipses and brackets.

Ellipses- use when you omit words from a quote

Brackets- use when you change words in a quote

According to Freeman, there is “one universal, governing characteristic of female-lead action films….[which connects] both anti-patriarchal…and feminist themes” (118).

Three dots indicate that words are left out of the original sentence.

Four dots indicate that the quote skips an entire sentence.

Use brackets to indicate added or altered words.

Summaries and paraphrases occur when you read information from a source, then you type the ‘gist’ of that information in a paragraph of your own without directly quoting. You need to put an in-text citation at the end of a paraphrase to show that you are using a source.

It’s essential to know this: a citation at the end of a paragraph covers the last sentence of the paragraph. It does not cover the entire paragraph.

In order for your reader to apply a citation at the end to multiple sentences, you need a ‘signal phrase’ such as ‘ An article in the Journal of Services Marketing states that…..’ at the place where the paraphrase/summary begins. In other words, the paraphrase needs to be “bookended”- with a signal phrase at the start and a citation at the end. If anything in the middle is quoted, you need a citation after the quoted line, and a signal phrase at the start of the next line where the paraphrase picks up. Look at this example from the OWL at Purdue:

In his famous and influential work The Interpretation of Dreams , Sigmund Freud argues that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious” (101), expressing in coded imagery the dreamer’s unfulfilled wishes through a process known as the “dream-work” (102). According to Freud, actual but unacceptable desires are censored internally and subjected to coding through layers of condensation and displacement before emerging in a kind of rebus puzzle in the dream itself (117).

Notice how the writer is careful to use signal phrases to attribute ideas to Freud, even when a sentence does not contain a quote.

Once you have your essay ready to go this week, take a moment to familiarize yourself with MLA style. In addition to the information on setting up your essay that you find in “Assignments”, you can test your knowledge with this fun little Drag and Drop MLA game.

Ways of Reading

Gendered/Feminist Criticism is a way of looking at art/literature/songs, etc. with an eye for what the artist might be saying about men and women explicitly, or what he or she might not have meant to say but still ended up revealing about gender norms/stereotypes relevant to the time a piece was created. You don’t have to ‘identify’ yourself as a ‘Feminist’ to engage in this kind of criticism; you just need to be asking these kinds of questions:

Is the work making a statement about women’s lives? Men’s lives?

How might the work be different if told from the point of view of the opposite gender?

Does the work perpetuate or challenge gender stereotypes?

Examining a work with an eye for messages about sexuality, whether heterosexuality or homosexuality, is also often woven into this ‘school of criticism’, and if you are looking for things to discuss in a work, you might examine what a piece is saying about the sexual norms of the time and how those norms work for or against a main character’s happiness.

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