Structural Opposition in The Talented Mr. Ripley

| March 9, 2014

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An opportunity to work through your reading and our discussions at greater length in your own way. The choice of question is yours—and probably the hardest part of the paper. The choice of voice is also yours. Please focus on The Talented Mr. Ripley and tell a single story. (There’s no room for research or the territorializing of a topic.)
Many of our discussions have ended up identifying structuring oppositions (not all symmetrical or stable!) in the texts we’ve been reading: for example, story/novel; narration/narrated or storytelling/story or telling/tale; description/performance; ideal/reality; reading/“real life” or knowledge/experience; knowledge/ignorance; here/there; there as specific place/there as “not here”; teaching/learning; superiority/equality; guest/host; accident/design; anticipation/retrospection or before/after; past/present; future/present.
Work through one of these oppositions in relation to The Talented Mr Ripley. The emphasis will be on your uncovering and analysis of a logic of a particular passage/quote (its structure, language, figure, voice, and address, e.g., as well as its argument). When in doubt, be specific—unpacking the consequences of a single insight can be more than enough. You should be sure to include a sustained analysis of a passage from the text or a specific aspect of its narration. Here—and throughout—precise observation and carefully detailed writing will be key.
In general, it will be hard to avoid questions of authorship and authority: how the text and the figures within it establish their authority, their credibility as storytellers, and the authenticity of what they relate. Put another way, you will be expected to attend in some way to the narration or performance of the text you are writing about. Otherwise, I’m as interested in the nature of your engagement with the text (and your understanding of your responsibility to it) as in any “knowledge” of it.
And your own form? The parameters here are somewhat wider than standard academic prose. The form of your “narration” may connect with that of the text you are engaging with. In any case, you must also consider and take responsibility for the form of your presentation.
The length of your presentation may vary from 4-6 pages (say, 1200-2000 words) as required.
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