First Response Paper Assignment

The first response paper is now due Tuesday, Sept 27. In it, you will do a close reading of one passage from The Maltese Falcon. In two pages, analyze your block quote and connect it to a larger historical, theoretical, or cultural issue. In response to popular sentiment, I am giving you three options:

1.   Analyze the argument Hammett is making about gender, race, ethnicity, and/or sexuality. Some questions to consider: what kinds of behaviors and characteristics does Hammett argue are wrong or grotesque? Who is rewarded, and who is punished? How do these behaviors and characteristics correspond to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality? Do you think Hammett is critiquing stereotypes, reinforcing them, or critiquing some while reinforcing others?

2.  What argument does the book make with regard to the culture of speculation that was so rampant in the 1920s? You can answer this question in one of two ways: simply analyze a passage closely to get at Hammett’s stance regarding speculation, or compare a passage in The Maltese Falcon with one passage from Raskob’s “Everybody Ought to be Rich” or Kettering’s “Keep the Consumer Dissatisfied.” How is Hammett critiquing or otherwise commenting on the culture Raskob and Kettering seek to create?

3. Do a Marxist reading of Hammett. Using the ideas about workers’ alienation and exploitation that Marx outlines in the quotation I gave you in class, analyze a passage from the novel. How does Hammett’s writing demonstrate the upside-down relationship between people and things that Marx posits?

Answer whichever question you choose with specific details from your passage.If you would like, bring in a copy of your thesis statement on Thursday, and I will look at it during the film. Your thesis, again, should go from specific to general:

In his depiction of  (character, setting etc.) , Hammett (argues, reinforces, critiques) ______(a particular ideology).

See you Thursday, and let me know if you have questions about the paper before then.


About mollygeidel
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