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GNWTC Culture in The Lost Steps and Baroque Marco Polo in Invisible Cities Essay

The last paper asked you to close read a passage. In this paper, you will continue to use that skill, but you will also examine how the text is conversation with another literary work, musical composition, cultural moment, religious belief, or historical event. One of the most common strategies for generating knowledge is to bring two texts or ideas together in a way that helps us to discover new truths about both the texts themselves and our culture more generally. In this essay, you will be doing exactly that.

You may write about any of the authors we have looked at so far from Mark Twain through Alejo Carpentier.

You might look at how Calvino adapts the story of Marco Polo in Invisible Cities or how Elizabeth Bishop retells the story of Robinson Crusoe. You might also look at what medieval world maps can tell us about John Mandeville or you can use Antiguan history to better understand Jamacia Kincaid’s argument in A Small Place. You might ask what Beethoven or the Baroque is doing in the Lost Steps or why James Baldwins begin his essay with a quotation from the British-American writer Henry James.

How much outside research you have to do very much depends on the question you are seeking to answer. But if you are examining the historical or cultural context of a book, you will probably want to find at least two academic article or chapters on your topic. So, if you are writing about Oulipo movement and Calvino’s Invisible City, you will want to skim a couple of articles about it to find the one that is most useful to the specific question or focus of your paper. If you are writing about a literary work is conversation with another literary work, you will want to make sure that you have read enough of it to understand how your author is changing the source material. So, if you want to write about Prometheus Unbound in the Lost Steps, you should read the play.


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