LITR 5431 American Romanticism 2010
Student Midterm Samples

#4 research proposals

midterm assignment

Denielle Alexander

I primarily want to focus on the effect women writers had on the Romantic era, or what influences that they gave in writing during this time, and how they contributed in Romantic literature. I am also interested in the cultural influence of society during the Romantic era, and how these influences affected women and their writing during this time. Religion, arts, politics, family values will be researched, along with the roles women played in their work environments, home and churches. I will also research the freedoms which these women were allowed or denied. I also want to discover the most popular genres of women who wrote in the Romanticism era and the popular topics that saturated their culture.

My final research results will consist of exploring and scratching the surface only. I am not looking for a definite answer. I am more interested in researching this topic out of my personal curiosity. I hold strong feminine views which entail a split between conservative and liberal’s values. In the scope of my research, I am also interested to find out what women pushed the envelopes of main stream society, such as the Lady GaGa’s and Madonna’s of the Romantic era. Who were the most popular female writers, rebels who futuristically wrote before their time?

I know this is a lot of information, but I am curious about this topic and kind of eager to start the preliminary research now. For the sake of this class and my experience with you as a professor, I know you want more structure and limitations what I should research so I can be more thorough. So this is where I need your help Dr. White. I need suggestions on what I should primarily focus on or what I should neglect as part of my research.

Sarah Coronado, 4. Research Proposal

I opt for the essay option for our Research Paper later this semester. I would like to focus on Hawthorne. I remember reading The Scarlet Letter in school, but I had never read The Minister’s Black Veil or Young Goodman Brown. When I read these two stories, I was just struck with how beautiful they were.

When discussing in class, you had mentioned that Hawthorne is eloquent with his gothic, that it was more delicate and not “as over the top” as Poe’s. I want to research what makes Hawthorne more delicate in his writing. And maybe explore whether the more delicate approach is more effective or is it just prettier? I do not know if I should compare/contrast Hawthorne and Poe or if I will just focus on Hawthorne and his method of writing…

Christina Crawford, 4. The Gothic and Fantastic

          I’m not sure if what I’m thinking about would be better suited to a Research Paper or Journal.  I’m leaning towards a journal, I like the idea of moving through several steps of knowledge and argument in more of an investigative or storytelling fashion that writing a traditional research paper.

          I mentioned in class a relationship I saw between fantasy and gothic romanticism.  As a long time reader of fantasy texts I would be really excited to explore this relationship of romanticism to the supernatural.  Many fantasy novels embrace the traditional romantic narratives of “the quest” or “captivity stories” that we have discussed in class.  The biggest issue I’d be facing is in choosing the material to look through.  Most fantasy work is (to the best of my knowledge) more modern than the established romantic period.  I think the best subjects for comparison in so short a paper would be short stories.  It would be appropriate to use the two of Poe’s that we have looked at in class and then reach outside of class for two short fantasy stories that parallel some of the romantic structures while relating to the supernatural in an opposite manner.  I think it is interesting that the unknown inspires both horror and wonder in an audience, and that is what I would like to explore.

Julie Garza, Research Proposal

The Sublime Elements in American Romanticism Slave Narratives

     I have not decided which direction my research assignment should go. I feel that if I acquire enough information on the topics of the Sublime, I may have enough for a journal, but if the research I find can express itself in fewer words, with more details, then the essay appears to be the better choice. Regardless of Option 1 or 2, I would like to focus on the aspects of Objective 2: Cultural Issues: America as Romanticism, and vice versa. The slave narratives that deal with reality and romance, are familiar stories from Minority and Immigrant Literature. There is much to say on the harsh treatments of slaves, and how each narrative seeks freedom or takes flight.

     The slave narratives I speak of are, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. In Minority Literature, I was intrigued by the themes of these two stories:  trial and loss, nostalgia, flight, and the Sublime. I plan to compare and contrast the nature of the Sublime in both slave narratives, and if relatable, compare and contrast the two slave narratives with the Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Rowlandson.

     Dr. White, is it reasonable to compare and contrast the nature of the Sublime in both slave narratives along with Mrs. Rowlandson’s narrative? Or, would the results be too broad to explain in a single essay or journal?

     If I may proceed with the thesis provided, the resources I would use come directly from the narratives, accompanied  by my own interpretations. If applicable, I will provide one or two scholarly articles to compare and contrast my own interpretations of the stories.

Chrissie Johnston, Essay#4 – Research Proposal

                I see a solid connection between American Romanticism theme of desire and loss (Obj. 1) and the American Immigrant Narrative’s theme of a search for a better life (Obj.1-The American Dream). Both genres describe the journeys, whether physical or mental, people take in order to find something new and/or better. It is my belief that you cannot gain something without losing something.

I am really stuck on which option to choose. I want to examine at least two texts from American Romanticism and two from American Immigrant Literature. I plan to analyze how each genre fits a universal theme of gaining something while losing something. My questions for you would have to be, which research option would work for what I want to explore and am I on to something?

Mary Ann Kane, Research proposal

As you have probably figured out, I am a great fan of Edgar Allan Poe. I would like to do my research and essay on how Poe uses the elements of nature, desire and loss, Gothic and haunted spaces to bring his works to life. I would focus on The Fall of the House of Usher, Ligeia, Annabel Lee, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, incorporating how these poems and stories adhere to Objectives 1a and 1c.

I plan to set forth Poe's brilliance in Romantic writing by emphasizing the following:

1.              The Fall of the House of Usher – how his use of nature, Gothic themes and haunted spaces draws the reader into the world of the narrator.

2.              Ligeia – how Poe uses the themes of desire and loss as well as Gothic themes to see and commiserate with the narrator.

3.              Annabel Lee – to show how Poe uses such beautiful and vivid descriptions in illustrating the elements of nature and desire and loss, allowing the reader to sympathize with the narrator for the loss of his love.

4.              The Tell-Tale Heart – to show how Poe uses the elements of Gothic themes and haunted spaces to enthrall the reader as the narrator's sanity appears to unravel.

5.              The Cask of Amontillado – to show how Poe's use of the narrator's revenge exemplifies the themes of desire and loss, Gothic themes and haunted spaces in this story of intrigue and death.

I also plan to introduce criticisms of any or all of the above works, and tie them together to defend my idea of Poe's brilliance in Romantic writing.

Cristen Lauck, La Fem

          For my research option I would like to use the research essay style. In this style I will research a single theme, share my findings as well as those of other scholarly critics. I will most likely clarify both sides of a single issue but explain why I have chosen my side.

          As of now, I am thinking about exploring the theme of feminism and/or growth through adolescence as found in Susan Warner’s A Wide, Wide World.  I am thinking that the women characters should not be seen as being strong feminine characters but instead negate feministic ideals. I want to explore the idea that these women characters are stereotypes even though the story is written by a woman.    

Elena Luquette

The Proposal… (enter scary music here)

          Proposals, it seems are all I have to work on lately and the words have been less than forthcoming. I am struggling with what I want to write about for my research paper. I have two very different ideas and I am hoping you can help me sort them out.

          Being a poet and quite the fan of British Romantic poetry, I am interested in comparing British Romantic poetry with American Romantic poetry. How are they alike? How are they different? It seems a little broad though. I would probably just look at a couple of poems from the major authors of the time (Brit- Blake, Wordsworth, Byron; Amer.- Poe, Whitman). What defines an American Romantic poet vs. a British one?

          Another option I am considering is taking a closer look at the transcendentalists. I have some understanding of the concept, but I find that sort of thing intriguing, so it is something I would like to pursue. Again, it’s a little vague, but I’m not sure which direction I should go.

Danielle Maldonado (includes previous communications)

Essay 4: Research Options

I would like work on the research journal because I’m still fleshing out my topic. At this time, it seems to make the most sense. I understand that the Romantic period lasted from the 1820s to the 1860s but I’d like to focus on the Pre-Romantic period of Literature and how it relates to the course. I have an interest in the Puritans, how heavily they relied upon their religion to carry them through life and how they may have contributed to this period’s literature.

I’d like to focus on Jonathan Edwards with his Personal Narrative as well as Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. But then I’d also like to work with Hawthorne’s The Minister’s Black Veil and Young Goodman Brown. Finally, though it was written much, much later, I’d like to work in some images/aspects of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

In case this doesn’t work (because of the Pre-Romantic period) I also jotted down several other topics of interest:

·       Hawthorne as an anti-romantic but gothic.

·       Post-romantic Lit – Gatsby? (One of my favorite novels.)

·       Also interested in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily.

·       Gothic Elements in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

Your response:

A journal on pre-Romanticism may not be easy but it’s worth doing.
One essay I recall that you could review is Perry Miller, “From Edwards to Emerson,” I think in Errand in the Wilderness in the 1940s or 50s. It’s a classic essay and still convincing.
You could also start with John Smith’s account of Pocahontas and review how it becomes increasingly romantic with each new version (though that recent film The New World may have gotten closer to reality). Anyway you can cut both ways—that is, Disney romanticizes, but The New World takes a more realistic approach—how?
For Hawthorne, consider his “May-Pole of Merry-Mount” with the historical documents in Bradford and Winthrop—I can help if that doesn’t get you there.
Likewise Miller’s Crucible could be compared to the historical texts—he obviously romanticizes some elements.
The gothic in Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper could serve for question 2b in our midterm.
My response:

I will probably go with pre-Romanticism and see how it works as I begin writing.

I also got the idea to use Romanticism to classify more modern depictions in film and on TV. Too far off topic?

Christine Moon

The romantic era has been my favorite genre in literature, music, and art. I personally find that it is important to understand the writers, composers, and artists when trying to interpret their works. While working on my midterm and web highlight submissions, I was fascinated with the idea of isolation and seclusion contributing to the sublime. I’ve been interested in Transcendentalism and am eager to continue researching it.

          For this project, I would like to do a research journal. My inspiration comes from writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Edwards (among many others); and like them, I want to focus on nature and a personal exploration. In the research journal, I want to set it up like Thoreau’s journal: daily entries, daily thoughts/musings/concerns, and daily research on romantic and literary topics and ideas. To be in the same mindset like these writers, I want to put myself in their shoes—in isolation. I know that I can’t go off to the woods and build myself a house at Walden Pond for two years, but I would like to recreate isolated moments in my daily life to replicate the lives of these writers.

          I hope to accomplish what many of these writers have accomplished: a deeper look into my soul, and perhaps a look into other people’s souls as well. I want to be inspired by life and everything in its natural setting just like them.

Samantha Billups Outlaw

I am completely fascinated with the Gothic in American Romanticism. I absolutely adore African American literature because it uses discourse as a way of fighting and retaliating against prejudice and discrimination, particularly the earlier works, and primarily poems. I’m hoping in my research to make a connection between the gothic and its ability to convey the genuine emotions and feelings of the African American writer. The gothic, I believe is able to heighten the perception and emotional response of the audience. It makes the experience of the African American writer more palpable.

Although most African American literature dates Post-Romantic, I truly do believe the gothic exists.

Please let me know what you think. I look forward to your response.

Kyle Rahe, Part 4 Research Proposal:

Idea 1) I have never read The Scarlet Letter completely.  I was thinking I could get the Norton edition, read the novel, and then use the secondary sources.  What I am proposing is keeping a journal about the novel.  Review other student’s assignments posts about the novel pertaining to romanticism, read some essays and write in the journal about their interpretations all the while focusing on romanticism and the huge influence the novel has on American literature, rom., and the sublime.  I would like to do the journal because it would allow me to focus a few pages on each essay, student post, the way the novel has been portrayed in popular culture, etc.

Idea 2) I thought I could expand upon my short essay topic and with more space and time I could expand upon the ways in which the Beat Generation was a romantic movement and show the different authors differing views of America. 

Veronica Ramirez, Research Proposal

Looking at texts in preparation for the midterm, I came upon a couple of ideas for my research topic for the essay or journal type research paper. The particular topic that I would like to discuss would be the different types of Gothic Love and what “happily ever after” entails for Gothic love stories.  Some examples that I have already come across:

Unfulfilled/ Impossible/Beyond the Grave-Eternal Love:

Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights

Cora and Unca in The Last of the Mohicans

Parson Hooper and Elizabeth in “The Minister’s Black Veil”

Ligeia and Narrator

Madeline and Roderick?

Since this topic is rather broad I believe that this might be a Journal Research Project.  I have a backup for an essay that would compare/contrast Poe’s short stories and Edith Wharton’s ghost stories. Dr.White, I would appreciate any input you have on my original journal article topic in case I have to continue to develop the ghost stories topic.

Amy Shanks

I would like to propose an option 1 paper where I explore Objective 1C in relation to the Southern Gothic. Possibly addressing the following authors: Faulkner, O’Connor, and Eudora Welty.

Helena Suess, Research Essay on J. L. Borges

At present my idea for the research project is to write an essay on how J. L. Borges creates mental Gothic space. All Gothic fiction is on some level psychological, but Borges uses the architecture of presumably rational intelligence to create texts that act like mazes of intelligence itself. For example, “The Library of Babel” envisions a universe made entirely of the linguistic signifier: a near-infinite amount of books in a near-infinite series of rooms contain all the knowledge that can be written down in any language, including recursive knowledge of the Library itself. “Death and the Compass” creates a metaphysical labyrinth out of mysteries, using the clues to murders as pathways. “The Garden of Forking Paths” describes another labyrinth that is also a book, altogether made out of time; the labyrinth is doubled in the text itself, which pivots on the protagonist’s efforts to direct the course of history. In all these cases space is contrived as intellectually and psychologically bewildering, frequently intersecting likewise confusing schemes of time, and often in a state of increasing disorder.

These and possibly other stories will be the focus of my essay. I have found several critical articles on Borges’ uses of architecture and time, and on his recurring themes of writing and revision, which I hope will help me in concentrating my ideas. However I have not found Borges to be very prominent in critical literature, and I would appreciate any assistance in finding more criticism on Borges’ fiction, as well as any advice whatsoever that could aid in forming a stronger thesis and argument.

Kimberly Yancey, Reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a Gothic Slave Narrative

I am opting to write a research paper that reveals the romantic aspects of  Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved as containing the elements of the slave narrative and the gothic. We have briefly discussed in class how Toni Morrison’s works are a mixture of representative and classical literature because they tend to depict the struggle of African Americans and often revert to the history of slave culture.  Interestingly, Morrison’s characters experience major conflict and struggle within the beginning of the action and often go on a journey seeking some sort of transform from their current state.   Beloved is a great example of such literature.

 Morrison offers a fragment of what life was like for Sethe, her protagonist, as a slave who escaped from the pervasive South to the free North.   Sethe’s trials and journey are based on the reality of what it was like to be an African American slave woman with children, and certain aspects  of the novel itself appeals to slave traditions, which include African American folklore, and superstitions.  Sethe kills her infant daughter in a desperate effort to keep her former slave master from claiming the girl as a part of his slave harem. Morrison captures the gothic and supernatural in this story as she details how the murdered infant haunts Sethe’s home and eventually  reincarnates as a grown woman, at the age she would have been had she lived.  Beloved  is immensely gothic in text as Morrison frames the living bemoaning the dead and the gore of Sethe’s  Medea-like act against her child.  The character Beloved  is dark and demonic in nature  and comes back to life to claim her place in Sethe’s family and torment her mother.  All and all, I believe that there is enough evidence in the text to support elements of the slave narrative and also substantiate the novel as a gothic text.