Essay 2

Due Tuesday, November 21st
6-7 pages double-spaced

Write a 6-7 page essay on one of the following prompts:

1. Autofictional Authors

In both Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (2013) and Ben Lerner’s 10:04 (2014), main characters share not only the names of their authors but also many other autobiographical details, especially those related to their lives as successful writers and the circumstances affecting the production of their novels. What happens when metafiction, which Patricia Waugh defines as “fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality,” is leveled at the autobiography of the author?

In this essay, you will compare the autofictional representations of “Ben Lerner” and “Ruth” in 10:04 and A Tale for the Time Being, respectively. Examine how Lerner and Ozeki represent their autobiographical authorial selves both aesthetically and stylistically. How do Lerner and Ozeki draw attention to the fictionalization of their autobiographical figures? Why? What vision of contemporary authorship and literary production do they present in these self-conscious reflections? How do they play with the contemporary reader’s expectations and with assumptions about contemporary reading practices? Do these autofictional representations suggest a kind of sincerity on behalf of the author or do they suggest an even more distant irony, an inability to ever truly access the author?

You might consider these autofictional representations in relationship to the ways in which the internet and new media platforms make literary authors more accessible to readers, their “real” lives more exposed. Or you might think about how contemporary literary success depends in large part on marketing and the cultivation of the author as a celebrity, a narrative in and of itself.

2. Global America and Immigration Narratives

Both Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (2014) tell American immigration narratives that end with return—to Nigeria and Japan, respectively. Compare how these novels represent American immigrant experience in the global 21st century. How do these novels invite, play on, subvert, or critique stereotypes about non-Americans and American immigrants as well as traditional narratives about American immigration? What do these representations suggest about the status of American identity within this moment of increasing demographic diversity, immigration, and globalization? Examine how American identity stretches, expands, becomes hybridized, retrenches, regresses, or closes itself off. How does the eventual return “home”—to Nigeria and Japan—revise or reimagine the Americanness of the American novel as well as the concept of “home” itself?

You might also think about how narratives of the internet and new media, especially those that emphasize ease, instantaneity, and democratic potential, converge or clash with narratives of immigration.

3. Trolls, Followers, Friends

For better and for worse, new media platforms such as blogs and social media sites have allowed and invited new forms of participation, collaboration, and community-building. Think about these “for better and for worse” consequences by comparing the representations of new media in Jarett Kobek’s I Hate the Internet (2016) and either Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) or Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (2014). How are these new media platforms represented aesthetically and stylistically? Why? What does it suggest about them? How do these new media platforms allow characters to amplify their voices, reimagine or explore their identities, and connect to others in a meaningful way? How do these platforms silence characters’ voices, threaten their identities, and isolate them from others in a harmful way?

Consider how these authors imagine alternatives to the way these new media platforms were designed, the way they are used, as well as alternative futures. In this vein, you might also consider literature’s role in relationship to new media platforms. Can, and should, contemporary literature represent, critique, subvert, or oppose new media technologies and companies? How do Kobek and Adichie/Ozeki imagine their authorial role in a world shaped by new media technologies and companies?

Please submit a Microsoft Word Document via Blackboard by 4:10pm on Tuesday, November 21st
with the file name saved as “Second_Paper_YourLastName”