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Essay #1

Due in class #10

Please write a 5-7 page essay on one of the following two topics. If you have questions, problems, or simply want to talk through your proposed thesis, feel free to schedule a meeting with me.

  1. 浪漫時期的小說家,在描述或定義理性時,多半將其和人類其他的官能狀況(情緒/熱情、迷信、瘋狂等)相較。論述在戈德溫、埃奇沃斯或奧斯汀小說中,理性和其他官能狀況的關係;或選擇兩位小說家,對書中人物具有(或缺乏)理性能力的界定和評價做討論。顯而易見地,在所有階級中,理性被視為值得擁有的特質,各小說家如何描述這種能力及其理想的表現方式?具有理性的人的特質為何?理性行為的主要障礙是什麼?和人類其他能力和經驗如情緒和信仰相比,小說家如何認定理性的地位?這些能力間的關係是必要的嗎?它們互相強化?還是相互對立?
    Novelists of this period frequently describe or define the faculty of reason in relation to some other human faculty or condition (emotion/passion, superstition, madness, etc.). Write an essay reflecting on the relationship between reason and its others in Godwin, Edgeworth, or Austen; or, if you like, you may consider how two novelists define and evaluate characters based on their possession or lack of reason. While clearly reason is a desirable quality in all cases, how do individual novelists describe this faculty and its ideal exercise? What are the attributes of the reasonable person, and what are the principal obstacles to reasonable behavior? Finally, how do novelists conceive the status of reason relative to human faculties and experiences such as emotion, faith, etc.? Are these faculties necessary to each other, mutually reinforcing, or dangerously opposed?

  2. 討論至今,可見小說家頻繁回應和參與當時主要社會/政治的理念。當然,小說和政治論文的本質相異,但身為其中的一份子,小說家自然會回應政界。論述高德溫、埃奇沃斯或奧斯汀小說和伯克與吳爾史東克拉夫特(又名瑪麗•雪萊)的政治文本間的關係。如果小說能和政治理論家展開對話,對話的內容為何?小說家會認定、反對、修正或顛覆對話內容的用語?小說內容中角色的意見並不一定代表作者的意見,在小說家的眼中,超過一個角色以上的意見可能才含括真理的要素。小說家在政治討論中能提供一種或多種的角度嗎?這些觀念一貫相連嗎?伯克和吳爾史東克拉夫特會如何回應這些虛構角色對他們思想的反應呢?
    In discussion thus far, we have had occasion to observe how frequently novelists reply to and engage with central social/political ideas of their time. While obviously fiction has qualities distinct from political prose, novelists do clearly respond to the political world of which they are a part. Write an essay reflecting on the relationship between one novel (by Godwin, Edgeworth, or Austen) and one or both of the political texts by Burke and Wollstonecraft. If we can see the novel as entering into a conversation with the political theorist, what sort of conversation is it? Does the novelist confirm, oppose, modify, or subvert the terms of the argument? Remember that the views of one character may not be the same as the novelist's, and that more than one character may contain elements of truth in the novelist's eyes. Does the novelist offer one perspective on the political argument, or several? Are these views consistent? Finally, how might you imagine Burke or Wollstonecraft responding to these fictional engagements with their ideas?

Essay #2

Due in class #24

For your second assignment, please write a 8-10 page essay on one of the following two topics; or, if you prefer, devise a topic of your own. You may, if you wish, write an essay on a single novel, or you may focus on and develop an argument out of a reading of two novels. In either case, be sure to organize your observations and reflections into a tightly-focused argument about the text(s) in question. As always, please feel free to contact me for an appointment to talk about your essay.

  1. 這個學期中,在我們閱讀的許多小說中,都和教育息息相關。從瑪麗安娜生病的嚴厲教訓到皮皮的感性教育,許多十九世紀的小說家常藉由書中角色的學習、成長及改變,作為情節的中心內容。相同的,小說家也描述各類錯誤的教育,如人物生活在有缺陷的智力或情緒的教養環境,最後導致脫離正軌。分析「教育」主題在下列小說中的意義:《理智與情感》《威弗利》《癮君子的自白》《科學怪人》《最後一人》《遠大前程》。將人物的教育重點放在多元的面向中—他/她的經驗形成以及所接受(或缺乏)的教育。小說家如何看待教育的目標及受過良好教育者的特性?接受教育潛在障礙為何?錯誤教育的來源為何?該如何避免此類陷阱?書中教育的主題是否支持小說家的訓誨目的?
    Scenes of education are integral to many of the novels we've read this semester. From the harsh lessons of Marianne's illness to Pip's sentimental education, many 19th-century novelists make the processes by which characters learn, grow, and change a central component of plot. Just as often, these novelists describe various forms of mis-education, depicting characters whose flawed intellectual or emotional upbringing causes them to take a turn for the worse. Write an essay analyzing the theme of education in any of the following novels: Sense and Sensibility, Waverley, Confessions, Frankenstein, The Last Man, Great Expectations. Feel free to focus on a character's education in a broad sense - his/her formative experiences - as well as on one's formal education (or lack of it). How do novelists conceive the objectives of education and/or the attributes of the fully educated person? What the potential obstacles to education or sources of miseducation, and how are these pitfalls to be avoided? Finally, how if at all does the theme of education support the novelist's didactic intent?

  2. 作為一種文學形式,敘述人物從年輕到成熟的發展過程,這種「教育小說」(Bildungsroman)可詮釋為書中主角努力有成、脫離困境,最後有所成就。但在本學期所閱讀的小說中,很多書中人物的自主性,通常與他們無法控制的力量緊緊關連或相互界定,事實上,許多人物多半被身處的環境所形塑。根據高德溫、雪萊、司各特或狄更斯的小說中,討論人物和環境間的關係。思考不同小說中的人物和其環境與形塑他們境遇間的關係:家庭背景、社會階級和教育等。這些不同的環境因素如何影響或定義個人?為何有些人物掙扎對抗外界環境?有些卻被動地接受生命的安排?那個選擇才可能導致更大的成功和幸福?除此外,這些作者是否建議個人有能力成為自身生命的主宰?
    As a literary form narrating a character's development from youth to maturity, the Bildungsroman might be understood as the story of a protagonist who rises above his/her surroundings to become the person s/he is. In many if not all of the novels we have read this semester, however, a character's capacity for self-determination is often closely entwined with or defined by forces beyond that individual's control. Indeed, many characters in these novels are shaped by the various contexts in which they find themselves. For your second essay assignment, discuss the relationship between character and context in texts by any of the following authors: Godwin, Shelley, Scott, Dickens. Consider the lives of different characters of the novel in relation to their surroundings and the contexts that shape them: familial background, social class, education, etc. How do these various environmental factors act on or define the individual? Why do some characters struggle against their external circumstances while some passively accept the roles they are allotted in life? Which if either possibility leads to a greater degree of success and happiness? Above all, what do these authors seem to be suggesting about the capacity of the individual to become the author of his or her own life?

  3. 最後是自選題目,但須事先預約和我討論題目的內容。
    As a third alternative, you may write an essay on a topic of your choice, provided that you meet with me in advance to discuss your ideas for the topic. See me to schedule an appointment.

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