**20% of course grade
Due: Friday, March 13 by 10:00 pm to Blackboard**
While we often talk about a novel in terms of its broad themes, we can frequently discover important nuances simply by focusing on individual, highly “textured” words in the text. For this investigation you will analyze a single word (including its various stems, or plural forms and other variations of the word) from William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition OR the Center for American Progress’s Disrupting College report (and, if you choose the CAP report, the related series of primary sources about disruptive innovation in higher education that we read for Tuesday, February 17). Think of this as an extremely granular – or obsessive – version of the kind of literary analysis, or close reading, that you are often asked to do in literature courses.
- Pick one of the following words, or find a promising textured word of your own from the text(s) you’ve chosen to write about:
Disrupting College (and related news articles from the assigned reading for Tuesday, Feb 17):
Identify all occurrences of the word and its various stems in your text(s) of choice. Note how often the word occurs, in what contexts, how it might be clustered with other words, and anything else significant about the word’s appearance, prevalence, and relevance.
Write a 4-5 page (double spaced, 1” margins, 12 pt font; 1200-1800 words) analysis of the word’s significance for your chosen text. Here are some questions to consider:
- What patterns emerge from this word’s use throughout the text(s)? Are there exceptions to these patterns?
- Is the word associated with one character or context? With one other word or cluster of words?
- Does the meaning of the word shift throughout the text(s)?
- Are there differences between the literal and the symbolic uses of the word?
- Are there tensions between the word’s use in the text(s) and its use in everyday life?
- What themes come into focus by concentrating on this individual word?
As always, these questions are intended to help you get started thinking, not to provide an outline for your analysis. You are free to analyze the word as you see fit. Most importantly, however, you should make an argument about the significance of the word for your chosen text. What interpretation(s) of the text(s) does this word lead us toward? What does analyzing this particular word teach us about the text(s) as a whole? Your analysis should be specific (how could it not?), and it should be based on specific examples from the text.
As always, please come talk to me if you’re not sure where to start or if you get stuck. You should also know that Prompt 6 will specifically address the process of doing this assignment, so if you plan to respond to Prompt 6 (due March 11), you should plan to, at the very minimum, do some preliminary investigating of some potential words and your text before that date.
This assignment is based on an assignment originally developed by Professor Mark Sample.